Shankkar Aiyar, Visiting Senior Fellow at IDFC Institute, weighs in on the Karnataka elections and why democracy needs more than competitive sloganeering, in this New Indian Express article. Excerpts:
"The American composer and author, Oscar Levant, better known for his caustic comments, once said of a politician, “He’ll double-cross that bridge when he comes to it.”It’s the season of promises in Karnataka and the Congress and the BJP have both unveiled their manifestos, titled ‘Progress with Congress’ and ‘Namma Karnatakakke Namma Vachana’, respectively. If gross verbiage of grand political promises made in the manifestos of political parties were to be factors, the gross state domestic product of Karnataka is headed for exponential growth.
There is consensus on the need to create jobs—Congress promises one crore jobs and the BJP promises to skill and employ an equal number. As of now there is the intent. The how part is the bridge left to be crossed when elected. One of the essential conditions of politics is the ability to make promises and the ability to “double-cross that bridge” is a necessary qualification for politicians.
The good news is that both parties have made a strenuous effort to reach their audiences—the Congress has released manifestos for 30 districts, four regions and one 52-page document, while the BJP has produced a 64-page charter of promises. What is worrying is the trajectory of the promises being made—the loan waivers, pilgrimage subsidies, zero to one per cent loans, grants, gold, phones and more. The underlying theme promotes the expansion of the nanny state and enlargement of the entitlement economy—the scent of sop politics, of profligacy and populism is unmistakable."
Read the full article here.