Monday, May 22, 2006

What's wrong with populism?

It is quite familiar to hear these cynical observations muttered by "educated" Indians.

"Politicians are only worried about votes".

"God save this country from populism".

Tell me, as a democracy, would you not expect a government to be populist? Would you expect a government to do what the people do not want? My friends, we are India, not China.

It is indeed spell-bindingly obvious that Arjun Singh has a political axe to grind with the reservation card. And the question I raise here is: if the idea of caste based reservations would have full-fledged support from the masses, why was is not implemented earlier? Was it not a travesty of democracy that something that has had so much support from the masses was not implemented? Wasn't the government guilty of not implementing this earlier, when the popular mandate out these was to implement it?

I feel proud that the hitherto downtrodden are benifitting from reservation; and that we're achieving 8% growth rate despite the reservation. (The reservation in IITs is more or less cosmetic. All of us IITians know that IIT is a decrepit system which churns out mediocre management graduates in the guise of engineers. Look at all the companies recruiting on campus. Citi Financial. KPMG. McKinsey. Stan-Chart. Capital-One. BCG. The only saving grace is the quality of the post graduate research at IIT, which is as good at it gets in India.)

I would like the commend the government in pursuing the reservation issue, despite negative coverage from the press. Populism is good. If you're not a populist, the people will vote you out. You're the masses' servant, not the rich man's. True meritocracy will result only when the poor are given a level playing field.

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