Showing posts with label Indian Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian Politics. Show all posts

Monday, January 13, 2014

Aam Aadmi Party: Branding, Communication & Inconsistency

AAP. There is no denying that the word itself gets people interested. There is so much content being produced and consumed about the Kejriwal team, that no blogger craving for a larger audience can afford to not write something about AAP. Having given a hint about the purpose of this blog, I would like to go ahead and make it clear that I am not anti AAP or anti Kejriwal. The promise of a transparent and corruption free government is bound to make every Indian excited, and I am no different. In fact, for the first time since I started taking interest in politics, I am finding myself with the luxury of choosing between two leaders who deserve to lead the country. This is exciting news. Because so far, India has always seen the problem of lack of choices rather than the problem of making a difficult choice.  





Equally satisfying is the fact that for the first time, my generation has started taking active interest in politics. We are no longer indifferent. We are debating on key issues. Issues like malnourishment in a state and the economic growth under a chief minister. We are talking about the transparency in a party and the merit of candidates. We want to hear the opinion of PM nominees on key issues before we cast our vote. For the first time we are monitoring the steps taken by a CM during the first two weeks at office. This I think is the biggest success of both NaMo and Kejriwal. These are the signs of a healthy democracy. 

Now let me mention a few areas which I find concerning. I will exclude all the issues which are already being discussed in the mainstream media. I will also avoid commenting on the policies which were announced post the results of Delhi assembly elections. 


1) Target Audience: Who is Aam Aadmi? 


The AAP team has repeatedly focussed on the fact that unlike other parties, they are here to serve the common man, the aam aadmi. But who is a aam aadmi? From the public statements of party leaders, it seems almost everyone is an aam aadmi. From riksha waala to doctor. From an IT engineer in Bangalore to a professor in Jaipur. AAP's definition of aam aadmi includes everyone whether BPL person or someone earning 2 lacs per month. 

This surely does not look like a niche to me. From my experience of talking to VCs and entrepreneurs, I can say one thing for sure: If you say that you will cater to a segment which is unserved to by your competitors and in the same breath you say that your target audience is 95% of all users, you will be kicked out of the meeting room within five minutes. 

Why does not the party simply say that it aims to serve all Indians equally instead of focussing on the word 'Aam Aadmi'. Isn't this misleading. 

Though I can understand Kejriwal's point that other parties are corrupt and criminals, I know for sure that they can go to any extend to get votes. I fail to understand Kejriwal's claim that these vote thirsty parties are intentionally ignoring 95% of the voters. Does not make sense. 

(On a lighter note, I find it strange that the Shobha Des and Mayawatis of the world have not called Kejriwal sexist yet. What about the Aam Aurat? Why is she excluded from the party name) 


2) Merit: What Are The Metrics?



As a transparent and democratic party, shouldn't there be more details regarding the metric for selecting its candidates? Unlike AAP, other parties have been in existence for years. There is supposedly a system in other parties where either family members of prominent leaders or businessmen with spare money to put into campaigning or party workers who over the years show there mettle in politics are given the ticket from specific constituencies.


Tata Tea - Neta ke job ka qualification


The metric made public has been that we will give ticket to honest people who want to serve the country. Both these parameters are not only subjective, but also have a ceiling. One can only be 100% honest, not more than that. I am sure that the party would claim that all its members are 100% honest. So how do you choose from so many honest people? 

Though you can personally talk to some shortlisted people and understand their past work, But with the loksabha nomination form available online, there are bound to be many applicants. How would AAP do the first screening? CGPA cutoff? GMAT score? Aptitude test? 

Aptitude test would be good start considering we would never want to have an honest yet foolish person leading our constituency or state or nation. 


3) Inclusion vs Autocracy


I love the AAP agenda of inclusion in politics. It sounds good that everyone will get a chance to represent his/her people. It also sounds good that all party decisions will be taken in a democratic way keeping the opinions of key people in mind. But somehow this promise contradicts what I see on the AAP membership form and on the loksabha nomination form.

Take this for example: 


Screen shot of clauses in the AAP membership form
Screen shot of clauses in the AAP membership form


What if I am an honest and patriotic citizen of India who wants to see his country grow, but I believe in some cause which conflicts with the Party objectives and want to continue working towards that cause? Am I not allowed to join AAP? 


Or take this for example:


Screen shot of clauses in the AAP Loksabha nomination form


What if I sincerely believe that acquiring land for the greater good of the society is a necessary evil and do not not want to bring laws which can impact this process? Should I forget about joining AAP and instead join the corrupt parties? 

How is this democratic in any way. A bunch of you guys have defined the party ideology and now new people will be added to that bunch only if they agree to your ideology. How will the party have any meaningful internal debate in future if everyone in the party has exactly the same ideology. Are you not creating too much selection bias? Stuff your party with people who have all left of centre views? 


Screen shot of clauses in the AAP membership form


The one above too is debatable. What if someone who has been convicted of a crime, served his sentence and is now a changed man. Is he not allowed to participate in your 'Aam' movement. Even after serving his sentence, he has lost his democratic rights? 


4) AAP Supporters: What Is Your Stance? 


I wrote a blog post long back where I tried to give my analysis of NaMo as prime ministerial candidate. Soon the NaMo and Congress fan brigade started abusing it though I was being as neutral as possible. This is exactly what pisses the neutral people off who are trying to have a healthy debate. Are AAP fans doing the exact same thing now? 

Whenever anyone criticizes AAP, the fans would start giving example of other parties and how they are worse. That is meaningless. We have already agreed that there are problems with the existing political system and AAP gives us hope that they will be different from the existing players. So when someone says that AAP is doing politics of appeasement, I do not expect a counter argument that even others are doing it. 

Also, if AAP stands for aam aadmi and making them our representative, why are we rejoicing when CEOs of investment banks, editors from paid media, owners of companies are joining AAP? How are these people different? Every party has industrialists and journalists as its members. Does it mean anything? 


5) Means vs Ends


Kejriwal wanted to get the Lokpal bill passed. He also wanted to implement some other policies which he believed in. I will not start a debate about those policies, but I find it commendable that he seeks power to introduce his policies. It is a good stance. 

But the AAP team must understand that we support them because they seek power only to implement their policies. If it starts looking as if AAP is implementing certain policies, just to get in power, then the cycle is reversed. 

The clarity of means vs ends needs to remain intact. AAP is here to serve the nation, not to win elections.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why I Want Narendra Modi To Win and Why It Has Nothing To Do With The Man Himself

There are thousands of articles floating in the media about the Gujurat CM and about his PMO ambitions. Such atmosphere of debate about our PM candidate itself is an achievement for India and promises of a much more informed voting population than ever before.


In this article I am not going to act like a NaMo fan boy nor am I going to be super secular and talk about him being a mass murderer. I will try to explain why the 2014 election is not just about Modi or Rahuls of the world, why the results will have a long lasting impact with much more at stake than party politics. 



There is more to it than just UPA vs NDA



Lets concentrate for a second on the things stressed upon by the NaMo campaigns. He has turned no stone unturned to inform us about the improvements he has done in Gujurat. There are efficient Public relations companies monitoring each and every post on social media. Millions is spent on managing FB pages and generating content for all forms of media. Gujurati societies around the world are lobbying hard to get him some international acceptance to flaunt back home. Consulting firms are sweating day and night to create a perfect manifesto and great video presentations for him. To back all this up he has the fact and figures supporting him. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the development in Gujarat  has been nothing short of exemplary. 



In such a scenario, if NaMo becomes the PM and rules for a long time, his strategy will start to become considered as a success mantra. Politicians around the country will try to replicate his strategy. Chief Ministers in all states will drive growths in their states to help their cause of becoming national leaders. MPs an MLAs will try to make their constituencies excel in order to gain attention of party leaders and media. The Kejriwals of the country will get encouragement and a hope that growth coupled with publicity in the most lethal combination in Indian politics. We will move towards a country where elections are fought based on development agenda and not false promises of upliftment of Dalits. And with this change in the mindset we will see, maybe, the next election fought between Modi and another leader who is as pro-development as he is secular. We will get a PM candidate who has the track record and the vision to lead a country and still is acceptable to the minorities as well. 



And in a scenario where NaMo loses, try imagining what will go into the minds of his fellow politicians. To them it won't be the defeat of a mass murderer, to them it will be a defeat of an ideology of growth. They will think of a man who did not give free electricity to the farmers and instead tried to give them an economic environment where they will be able to afford electricity. They will think of a man who instead of giving reservations for females, gave them the schools and safety where they would themselves excel and get into the work force. They would think about a man who tried giving more cotton mills and dairies for employment instead of starting NREGA. They would think of man who was more concerned about his image in the public than his image in the party. And they will think of a man who lost the elections badly. They will get reassured that Raja Bhaiya can get them election victories not Ex Mckinsey employees. They will be reassured that distributing liquor gets votes not some fancy presentation by an international ad agency. They will get reassurance that development does not sell in India. 



For the next 15 years we will never again see elections fought on development agenda. No politician would dare to touch it again. We will again have the same manifestos, same reservations, same state of mismanagement which we have started to loathe. You me or the country can not afford that to happen. Inspite of all the shortcomings that he has, Inspite of him not being the perfect man to be in PMO, India can not afford to let Modi loose. 



Related post: http://www.buffet4thought.com/2012/02/business-of-politics-capitalist-view.html