All leaders are prisoners of their instincts

Building Institutions

Building Institutions

The only party that has given us specifics about its idea of building India is Rahul headed Congress! All that Kejriwal tells us is that he wants to shake up the system, by bringing Ambani and his ilk down. Modi himself is too busy criticizing the world to tell us how he is going to build India.  In other words the leadership either does not know or does not want to tell.  Why?

Saw/heard three things today, which makes me think that the Modi campaign is not on course. First the morning papers announced Modi’s description of Rahul and Kejriwal as anti-national, or was it Pak agents? Second, a larger than life Modi looking grim in a full page newspaper advertisement. Third, a long radio jingle on how Modi would not let India be sold (nahi bikne doonga), get humiliated (nahi jhukne doonga), and how he wants all Indians to win (jitna hai) how his debt (karz) was to fulfill his duty (farz). So late into the campaign process – when the key points need to come to the fore, the BJP is selling us Modi’s nationalism, as if that alone will carry India through. He will save us from disaster; he will save us from being sold out. But how will he do this? Building infrastructure? Taking quick decisions? Getting investments? Neither he nor the BJP are saying how this will happen.

The Congress to their credit is telling us that more rights based laws are required that protect the underprivileged. Now I think that’s quite dangerous at this time, but at-least Rahul’s agenda is clearly visible. Meanwhile AAP says that neither stability or decisiveness is as important as good intentions – but they have not shown yet why their intentions are better and more effective. I could, for instance, run a very clean government if I do nothing at all!

All three and all the rest suffer from the same problems – they are all prisoners of their instincts. Modi’s nationalism must be deeply ingrained over decades of RSS Shakhas; AAPs shake-the-system instinct is a result of years of fighting with the ‘system’ for range of causes; and Rahul’s instincts are also natural given his background.  And in each case, rational need versus capability analysis is not behind their promises or statements, but it is solely their instincts.

Economics is quite bad at incorporating such psychological factors into their models, and therefore there are few that can tell us much about what kind of leaders and instincts lead to well-functioning organizations. All that economics tells us is that, whatever be the problem we must get the incentives right and good things will happen. For the current situation in India, that is not good enough. So we need to understand the instincts better. And here I find all options as not satisfactory enough because they are not even trying to share a positive way forward.

The UPA has screwed up the institutions that were running well, and has built none in the last few years. It has destroyed decision-making within the bureaucracy, and regulatory institutions have been taken over by the bureaucracy, and crony capitalists do rule India. A decisive leader is not the need of the hour, but having a leadership that will rebuild our decaying and defunct institutions is. And all three have not yet given a coherent argument on how they are going to be doing this.

So whichever party you want to vote for, force it to commit on what their leader or leadership is going to do, why so, and how. Either that, or just vote for the best candidate in your constituency!

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