October 4, 2010

the LTP deficit

The Commonwealth Games have started and will end in about two weeks. Do you know what will happen to all the facilities created for games, all the equipment purchased, all the refurbishing of the venues? I know for sure. Nobody will bother about them. Other than Asiad and Afro-Asian Games, no major sporting event is likely to be given to India in near future. So there is further lack of an incentive to keep things in good shape. The veneer of freshness and sophistication will wear off very soon.

Come to the widespread infection of dengue-chickengunya-malaria this year. Will we be doing something about them so that these diseases are better checked next year? No. Soon, winters will come and then summers – the two seasons free from such diseases. No planning for the next year. Even city drains will not have been cleaned when it starts raining. People will suffer, many even die, and the cycle would go on and on.

Heavy rains and floods this year. Will the agriculture ministries of the union and state governments and the disaster prevention agencies do some robust pre-planning and start taking action right now? No. There will be some planning in agriculture side just before summers, probably after the first monsoon predictions by the IMD, not before that. Disaster agencies will respond with full page advertisements on do’s and don’ts that nobody reads.

The next Ayodhya verdict will come someday, since at least one of the parties concerned will move the Supreme Court. The government will respond to the situation, well or badly, only when the date of announcement draws near. Some talk about reconciliation, etc is going on right now [and with no apparent sincerity and urgency] and it will die down soon. In the likely long period leading to SC verdict, there will be no action. Part of the responsibility will be shed on the plea that ‘the matter is sub-judice’.

There are numerous examples of the harm our ad-hoc and reactive approach to things and procrastination have done to our systems. There is no long-term planning and system-building in many crucial areas. If there are economic and social ills in these sectors, it is mostly our short-term vision that is responsible for that: stagnant agriculture with confusing policy, poor water management, stalled land reforms, policy confusion and poor regulation of mining, faulty educational system, continuing reservations and yet no emancipation of the scheduled castes and tribes, hardly any excellence in scientific research and sports, high level of unemployment, haphazardly growing cities with poor civic amenities, no police and civil service reforms, poor condition of schools and huge shortage of teachers…

The two annual exercises come to my mind. Events for which there is meticulous advance planning and preparation, and I don’t remember having seen a goof up in these: the presentation of annual budget and the republic day parade. It is learnt that actions for the next year’s republic day start even while this year’s parade is not yet over. We need this type of long-term approach for solving our problems and attaining economic and developmental goals.

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