Posted on 03-04-2011
Filed Under (POLITICS) by Shombit

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From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit sen gupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Politicization of every social and industrial aspect in West Bengal is playing havoc with the state’s economy and the quality of people’s lives. In today’s digital world, it’s an uphill task to lift society without industry strengthening the economy. Currently, Bengali politics, with a semblance of festivity on the streets and shouting matches on TV, is only focused on roping in voters for the Assembly election. The sad story through this mudslinging is of the innocents who are losing their lives somewhere in the state every day over election politics.

My proposition to Bengali politicians is to drive the idea of the ruling party taking a selected few members of the opposition party as ministers in the ruling government. The opposition party should welcome and support the move. This paves the way for collaborative governance for people’s benefit. Jawaharlal Nehru had similarly taken Shyama Prasad Mookerjee of Hindu Mahasabha and BR Ambedkar of All India Scheduled Caste Federation into his cabinet post Independence. An election fought by multiple political parties is in line with India’s democratic norms. That’s why it’s important to avoid ruling with one political doctrine as in China’s established single party rule. It’s undesirable for political parties to politicize the public’s every action, compelling people to go through party dictates, as is largely the situation in West Bengal today.

If the winning party can respect the opposition, the government can better concentrate on the state’s development. With whatever margin a political party wins, be it 70% or 51%, the opposition represents a huge mass of people. Today, opposition benches challenge the government’s every move so nothing happens. Isn’t it better for all parties to work collaboratively for the good of the people and economy? The common man/woman and the business community need total emancipation from obstructive, negative and deliberately destructive politics.

Political balance in governance is not new to a country like France where the world’s first Revolution took place in 1789. In abolishing the monarchy, they taught us about “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.” After World War II General Charles de Gaulle returned as a national hero and established a Government of National Unity as the only possible solution to ensure national stability. Pierre Mendes France as President 1954, brought radical and center-right politicians to negotiate ending the Indochina war. In de Gaulle’s next term 1958, he successfully brought in leftists, which allowed France to find the road to recovery. François Mitterrand in his first term restored historical Louvre with a Pyramid, built the modern era with Channel Tunnel, Grande Arche at La Défense, Bastille Opera, and National Library. Co-opting four center-right politicians in the cabinet in his second term, including Michel Jobert and Jean Pierre Soisson, helped to quell people’s protest against usage of public funds for the monuments and complete them. These monuments have helped make France the world’s No 1 tourist destination which 79 million people visited in 2010.

Nicolas Sarkozy may be continuing the tradition as he brought leftist-minded Bernard Kouchner, founder of “Doctors without boundaries” into his government. Sarkozy backed the very important socialist party cadre Dominique Strauss-Kahn to be elected Managing Director of IMF, even though Strauss-Kahn will be a Socialist presidential candidate in France 2012. The ability to balance both right and left, but avoiding the extreme sections, gives a political edge where the mass public gains. By doing that, France today has "best overall healthcare" as declared by WHO, the most comprehensive social security, and free education in secondary and technical schools for her people.

When politics is separated from governance, the people win. Bengal was such an advanced society, but it’s barely been able to show any visible difference after economic liberalization 1991. In contrast, Karnataka’s “retirement paradise” of Bangalore has changed by aggressively inviting investment in industry. Business and the common man/woman are totally isolated from politics which is in turmoil. Karnataka may have its share of dadagiri or matobori (political broker), but people’s daily lives nor business are disturbed, unlike in West Bengal. Bangalore is nick-named “Silicon Valley of the East.” Karnataka’s revenue from foreign direct investment was US$ 7.2 billion from April 2000 to May 2010, whereas it was US$ 1.4 billion for West Bengal in the same period.

Most importantly, what’s in store for West Bengal’s young generation? Researching societal trends these last 10 years, I’ve defined 3 generations: the below-30-year Zappers whose mindset is attuned to globalization post India’s economic liberalization, the 30 to 45-year-old Compromise, and the 45+ Retro. The latter two generations are in commanding positions in most stations of authority. Unless they yield to Zapper influence, West Bengal’s future would remain paralysed. To get better TRP, the electronic media is inviting largely Retro generation speakers from the major parties who talk at cross purposes and throw virtual stones at one another. No one is connecting to Zappers, nor is any analysis directed at them, their future livelihood, the future of business or industry.

A new West Bengal government can invite a talented few from the major opposition party to participate in governance. I’m not advocating an obligatory coalition government, but a voluntary move to co-opt the foe as friend. The defeated political party should never be considered the warfront enemy. In West Bengal, political parties engulf everything in their wake, demarcate people as party supporters or non-supporters overwhelming individual personality and traits. This has to stop so as to prevent the violence, killings and scoring of cheap political points at the cost of the people. Opposition politicians need to understand that to better serve people and increase chances of their own next win, they have to accept participating in government rather than devising ways to pull it down. The common man/woman of West Bengal demands the halt of government-opposition confrontation politics. Shouldn’t the ruling and opposition parties display maturity and work together for the betterment of society and the economy? The situation is such that collaboration government is the only choice today.

To download above article in PDF Depoliticise comman woman

Financial Express link :http://www.financialexpress.com/news/Depoliticise-the-common-man-woman/770784/0

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