Monday, December 9, 2013

Delhi Decides- hope from the AAP Phenomena

After many years I was keen to see the Election Results and Analysis for the General Elections held in Delhi. On December 8, the day of vote counting, I got up at 3AM (Paris time), streamed NDTV on the internet. Don’t remember the last time I had that much energy for an Election result that too for a state Assembly and one in which I myself couldn’t vote.

The drabbing that the two established political parties got from the new kid on the block pleased all people who like to see an underdog prevail. But this victory meant a lot more and the joy that these results brought to millions can be explained beyond the simple human instinct of backing a proclaimed underdog. For the first time in my living memory, people participated from their hearts in an electoral process and voted for the right causes. Fortunately they had an alternative.

I can write a hundred pages on why Mr Arvind Kejriwal and his team of gutsy men and women, are extraordinary people who challenged the arrogant and high headed professional netas in Delhi. Truly, their determination, courage and efforts are mind boggling. However, I wish to write my views about what could, this result for a party of upstarts, mean for the political discourse in India.

The doom predictors call is that this one-off victory of the people is an ephemeral phenomena that would die its natural death. How can you fight and win elections at a stage larger that Delhi where caste, religion, black money, language, family lineage and goodapower matters more than just lofty ideals and sheer honesty of intent for public service?

The ultra-optimists hope that AAP can replicate the success in places other than Delhi.

Well, the party may or may not be able to challenge the established players in the Electoral games in India but that is not the biggest hope I have anyway. What the AAP has proven in its phenomenal performance is even more monumental than its victory at the ballot box. It has provided a new book from which our established political Parties can surely read to few lessons.

The victory of AAP has shown that it is possible!

It is possible to fight and win elections with white money, it is possible to field candidates who are honest, it is possible to win popular support without the clutches of caste, creed, liquor and money power, it is possible to win without goondas by your side.

The people of India are fed up of the disconnected politics that doesn’t touch their lives. They are disgruntled with the VIP netas who behave like heavenly beings, born to rule. The common man is keen to have his problems solved but even more than that wishes to have leaders who are honest in their efforts and intent. They aspire to have people who give them a “he is one of us” feeling rather than “they are leaders and we are just common people” feeling.

So what could be the biggest contribution of the AAP victory?

To me, it was a large field experiment that proved that the right politics matters more than the politics of right and left. That it is possible to win elections with an honest agenda and intent, and that people are willing to be partners in a good effort.

As an optimist I hope that the right minded leaders of the established political parties will now admit that it is time to clean up the way their parties function. They must believe now that they can fight the elections without black money, they can win with clean candidates of honest intent, they can win with right intentions and without indulging in politics of narrow sectarian games.

There is a silver lining. The established parties do not lack leaders with the right intentions and credentials but their kinds seem powerless and voiceless in these parties. This movement must give courage to the honest and right thinking persons in the big parties to set the agenda right. The silent majority of such members in these parties should now let their voices be heard so that these parties can be transformed. Why not move to clean money, clean people and clean intentions.

No citizen minds giving hefty allowances and big bunglows to their elected leaders provided they use these assets to honesty serve the public. However, if the common person still perceives the distance from the main gate of the netas bunglow to the drawing room longer than a marathon and the darshan of these leaders continues to appear taller than the Mt Everest, people will sooner or later find a way to get themselves heard by means considered right or wrong. We can avoid such an Indian spring.

I sincerely hope that the AAP victory will set a real discourse for introspection within the established political parties and this time they will act with the right changes rather that trudging along the beaten track that continues to take them away from the life and aspirations of the Aam Aadmi.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Munnabhai Effect - let the law remain blind

Munnabhai is one of the most adored actors of Bollywood. The son of Sunil Dutt and Nargis is also known for some of his mistakes and follies. Be it his reported tryst with drugs or his life changing adventure with weapons.

Just days ago, the Supreme Court of India, sentenced him to prison for 5 years thus confirming his crime of illegally possessing the AK-56 assault rifle. In the same judgment, the Court upheld the death sentence to one of the Bombay blasts mastermind (or we may call it Mumbai blasts to satisfy the proud Marathis) giving a sense of closure to the victims.

The court's judgment came two decades after the blasts ripped India's financial capital and claimed over 200 innocent lives. Yet the Court's delayed but welcome pronouncement has been discussed in the main stream media only for its impact on one man, Sanjay Dutt, our Munnabhai.

There is an outpouring of support for the veteran film star, with the news media choosing to present only his side of the story. His emotional statements about being a good human being, a lover of the country and his suffering over last two decades is being played out in a manner that virtually shows the judiciary like an insensitive monster. Fellow actors, politicians and former judges too seem to reflect upon the Court's judgment as a grave assault on the fine man called Sanjay Dutt.

What is happening on the 24X7 TV screens is however a far cry from the complete truth.

I do not doubt one bit that Mr Dutt is a brilliant actor and perhaps a fine human being. Even I would have been happier had the courts found him not guilty. I suspect even the judges who delivered the judgment would love to see Mr Dutt as a free man but they had a duty to perform and could not let boisterous and ill-couth TV anchors interpret the law.

The Courts don't work to please me or the personal preferences of even the judges. They have a larger purpose to defend. Fortunately, they are also deaf to the ill-informed cacophony on India's well marketed News Channels.

The discourse in the News Channels wants us all to believe that Mr Dutt did not in fact possess dangerous weapons illegally? They wish to sideline the simple fact that it is a crime to possess an AK 56 from an underworld don and that there is a law that defines the punishment for it.

It will indeed be dangerous if laws are interpreted by courts taking into account the perceived humane-ness of the culprit in their general life demeanour. The goodness in any domain does not give a license to violate the law of the land.

There may be hundreds of persons in jail today, rightly so, for similar or even less heinous crime. Have be bothered to look into their pedigree and their humane-ness before sentencing them? No. A crime does not become any less if the person committing it happens to have a million followers shedding tears or is known for a million good things. If court judgments infer guilt based on the popular perception of the guilty then anyone can claim immunity from punishment for misdeeds.

I heard one film personality on a news Channel yesterday saying that Mr Dutt's should not have been given such a punishment as he is not a terrorist and that the court too had not declared him as one. Very true indeed. The gentleman did not realize that had Mr Dutt been found to be a terrorist he would have got a much harsher punishment and not what he got. The court sentenced him for the misdeed he did and not for more or for less. Another film industry friend of Mr Dutt's friend seemed to indicate as if securing an AK56 from an underworld don is just like stealing a candy from a friend and Mr Dutt was punished too harshly for that. It is amazing to see how their proximity to Mr Dutt and their knowledge about his everyday fine demeanour seem to have blinded them to the act Mr Dutt indulged in. Being a Bollywood star doesn't entitle a man to possess dangerous weapons without the threat of possible punishment on getting caught.

I am relieved that the courts rejected the marketed perception and upheld the rule of law. A democracy doesn't give the News Channels a right to air only the sentimental and sensational viewpoints but indeed to also present the bare truth. The facts are much simpler than the histrionics on the TV channels. Mr Dutt has been found guilty for a crime he did.

On a personal note though, I am an admirer of Mr Dutt's acting and hold his family in high regard. Yet, I can't see why that should be the basis for judging all his acts in life. I too wish the court had found him worthy of lesser punishment but it didn't and that for me is the end of the story. I am least competent to be a super judge discussing the merits of the case. Let each institution do its own job. It is time that the TRP crazy news channels learn something from the courts and do their job impartially rather than act as the pseudo conscience keepers of the society.

At the same time, if Mr Dutt is granted pardon by the Governor, I shall be a happy man. Again, he should be pardoned if the Governor finds it a fit case for his mercy. The pardon would not make the court judgment wrong- as I fear many high headed journalists will conclude. It will only be an outcome of the considered view of the Government in this specific case and shall be an outcome of a legally exercised authority. Again, the institutions have to do their job.

While the fear of the holy News Channels and erudite Editors likely description of the pardon as “Government’s favour to the rich and famous”, should not work against Mr Dutt, the Governor’s rejection of the mercy plea too, should be seen as an outcome of a due process of law. Let anyone's stardom or the lack of it become an irrelevant factor in matters of law.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Dhanaulti Sojourn – An expressway in slow motion!

A long weekend is what I was longing, for a long time, and it finally arrived this last weekend. Thanks to the secular credentials of our land, we got the Thursday off for celebrating the birth of Lord Mahavira and thanks Jesus for the Good Friday the following day. Four straight days off from work…..what an opportunity it was to do something other than being at home!

Like always, I had no idea of the long weekend till the very last moment. On Wednesday after an exhaustive internet search, quick conversations with family, friends and acquaintances, we settled down for a less popular hill destination – Dhanaulti or Dhanolti- a small town just an hours’ drive from Mussoorie.

I was excited that we could drive to Dhanaulti, just about 350 Kms from Delhi in a few hours (even at 50 kms per hour we needed only 7 hours to get away from Delhi’s madness) and enjoy a good vacation. Equally important was the fact that we were going together- me, my parents, my wife Anubhuti and my son Neer- in a nice big vehicle courtesy my father-in-law (borrowed his Toyota Innova for the trip).

We started from Delhi a bit late and left the Delhi borders only by afternoon. The 350 km journey was slow…very slow...but we had a good time together. After all enjoying the journey is as important as the destination itself. We stopped intermittently as Neer, who is now grown up 28 month big boy, wanted to stop at the nicely maintained Petrol Pumps for their ultra clean Toilets. (Ha ha ha…but seriously..at least these chaps provided the toilets where none exist all along….this supply side constraint of toilets is tougher for ladies… gender justice for women is a far cry in this nation).

On the brighter side, we zipped past a lot of small towns and saw with our own eyes the lifestyles of the Aam Aadmi…I for once shed my political apathy (neutrality is a more acceptable word) and felt like a Congressman. Going past Dehradun, it was already dark and we somehow managed the hill roads for next few hours to reach Dhanaulti at mid-night. Exactly 12 hours to cover 348 kms…that’s really cool. Thanks to our National Highway Projects which have put our lives on the fast track. Luckily, we also got our rooms and slept well in anticipation for a new dawn among the hills.

The morning was truly amazing….we saw Dhanaulti for the first time in daylight and were mesmerized by its beauty and we were thrilled at our decision to opt for Dhanaulti over Mussoorie. The town is small, extremely quiet, with few tourists and meant for those who like to get away from the crowds. The tall “Devdar” trees envelope the entire space around and views of the valley too are breathtaking. We had a sumptuous breakfast in an open space under the sun and loved the experience. This was Day 1 and we decided to head for Chamba and New Tehri, the towns that are within 2 hours of Dhanaulti. New Tehri is a town that developed after the original Tehri town was submerged under the massive Tehri Dam reservoir. (Tehri Lake). We also visited the Tehri Lake and it is a breathtaking mass of water amongst the hills.

On Day 2, we started again with the Breakfast under the Sun and decided to spend the day in Dhanaulti. We visited the Eco Park maintained by the forest Department and Neer really enjoyed the park and the rides for the kids. Me, Papa and Anubhuti too dared to do a rope slide and that was fun too. At the spur of the moment we decided that the day was long and we could do a quick trip to Mussoorie.

So we reached the doorsteps of the famous Hill Station in an hour but could not enter the town due to a massive rush of cars that had blocked entry. We returned without landing our feet in the city where both me and my father have memories attached as we did our Civil Services Training at the National Academy of Administration situated in the town. Our wish to touch base with the Academy lost out to the traffic jam at the town’s entrance. On our way back to Dhanaulti, we had some really nice Maggi noodles at the small Rana’s Maggi palace. The rain further added to the taste of the hot noodles.

It was Sunday the next day and we had our last Breakfast in Dhanaulti. We started our journey back to Delhi and hoped to do better than the 12 hours earlier. We decided to take a different route back via Haridwar. The journey was long and we had to stop at Haridwar after 5 hours of drive for almost 2 hours due to a massive traffic jam. We thus got the opportunity to walk up to the nearest bank of the Ganges and Neer was thrilled to get playful in the cold water of the river. Also my mother got a chance to grab some holy water in a bottle.

We started again and finally reached Delhi at midnight again. We took 13 hours this time to cover the 350 kms journey. Even better I thought than the 12 hours earlier.

Despite the toil on the expressways ( super expressways) that zipped us from Delhi to Dhanaulti and back, the city of Dhanaulti and the journey together was really memorable for all the right reasons. A chance to be in a beautiful setting, a chance to spend time together as a family and a chance to see a part of the nation called India!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eureka- Unraveling the Bureaucratic Maze!

“Eureka”…I screamed within my mind.

Wow…i thought...may be I can get a Nobel Prize for theorising the Decision-Making patterns within a public bureaucracy and for unraveling the mind of the Civil Servants that take some key decisions especially in developing countries.

My construct is a framework explaining “Decision Making by a Bureaucracy” based on my own vague and fictional understanding of civil servants some of whom live with the dictums ‘I am Supreme’- IAS for short and ‘No One Else Can Know Better’. This confidence is rooted in the sound common sense that Civil Servants apply while taking big decisions. Their common sense is often based on their memories of what had worked for them decades ago when they joined as a young Civil Servant and when they created wonders in their field. (Doesn’t matter if the times, technology and public expectations have changed…also I have not figured out yet why with such great achievements of these civil servants years ago… we don’t see much of the fruits of their actions in our world!!)

I just got carried away. So here I return to my model of Decision making in the Civil Services. The classical model of decision making that Herbert Simon propounded claimed that Rational Decision Making was not possible as there were limits to rationality in real like situations. He believed that decision making however can be based on best available knowledge of the subject matter and the surrounding context.

Most civil servants would have studied the Simon’s Model in their training academies (they are anyway so well read that they ought to know) and indeed they have taken the model very seriously. Even when objective facts, data and information is available and a decision based on logic and clear impact assessment is possible, the civil servants do not wish to demean the words of Simon.

Thus the perfect Civil Servant overlooks objective facts, ignores reasoning, dismisses arguments (especially if the non-sense rational argument comes from a “Junior Officer”) and is guided inherently by his or her divine Common Sense. Apart from their past experiences, this “Common Sense” is, in turn, based on a common understanding of what is good for the Civil Servants.

Thus at times, the Civil Servants’ good lies in toeing the line of pressure groups, political masters, their own families, their own desires to continue in their positions or to get better placements (to serve the public better), their vast circle of friends (who are obviously attached to the civil servant out of love and affection and not attached to the position that the civil servant holds) and other such noble influences.

Another great feature of the bureaucratic decision-making is the absolute reliance on the gut based approach to decision-making and a zero tolerance for any specialist knowledge of the subject matter. A specialist with his subject knowledge, logic, objectivity and reason does not stand a chance in the Civil Service that loves to operate like a king who applies his wisdom based purely on gut feeling. After all governance is an Art and one is born as a leader to lead.

Decision-making by civil servants follows what I call a “Reverse Flow”. First, a decision is made as to what we really want as a decision (based on unstated goals). Thereafter, a process is designed and followed to lead to that decision which is justified on basis of the stated goals. Even the problem at hand, is defined in a manner that helps reach the pre-ordained decision. Wow its simple …no complexity at all!!

In such a straight forward and simple decision-making paradigm, no chance is given to reason, knowledge and sound advice to raise its head. After all, even a democracy doesn’t imply a free for all situation and indiscipline. In the end, the pursuit of such a Decision-Making paradigm is to achieve Public Welfare and Public Good. Some people with tainted vision may see elements of Private Good in such a transparent system of decision-making. I believe that such traitors should be strongly dealt with the iron hand of law. (We can try : Suspension, Transfers, Vigilance Cases, Posting to a Training Academy etc)

Needless to say, my views above, are not based on my experience in the Indian Civil Service structure. They are the general notes based on my understanding of bureaucracies operating in the lesser nations in our world. After all in India, we are the best of the lot that make it to the civil service. We, ofcourse, can’t do anything wrong. We are Supreme!!

A THOUGHT TO MENTION

Well the blog post is over but there is something I would like to mention as a Positive End to the story. Civil Service is among the great careers available where many stupid people do exist and they do not follow the above paradigm. Their actions are indeed marked by dare, fairness and objectivity. How else can one explain the fact the system still delivers under lots of pressures. Given a chance, the youngsters in the developing countries should try to get into the civil services and lend it a professional and mean touch of efficiency, probity and public mindedness. It is a powerful tool for governance that needs more and more adept hands to hold it.

(I am a Civil Servant in the Indian Government and views expressed are my own)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Sand-witch Weekend to Jaipur

Sometimes I listen to my instincts like most normal human beings and the last weekend was a time space meant for some spontaneous experimentation. Life has to be interesting, after all. Working non stop in office and attempting to achieve excellence in an otherwise mediocre environment takes its toll on the psyche. (As usual, I can resist an opportunity to self-praise). So I decided to agree with Anubhuti's plea of heading to Jaipur for the "Jaipur Literature Festival" for a day. To make things further exciting we chose to travel by the iconic Indian Railways and we managed to secure tickets, somehow!

I call the last weekend, a sand-witch experience. Why? This too, shall be evident as you read through this piece.

We reached the Train Station and found that the parking had been closed for repairs. Our plan of parking for the night at the station thus was defeated by the overzealous Indian bureaucracy that is always busy repairing the infrastructure be it train stations, roads, electricity lines etc. The station being a stone's throw from my place, I had reached only minutes before train departure..so I took a cavalier decision to leave my car parked on the main road.

Still pondering about the safety of my only car (which my son Neer adores), I entered the air-conditioned wagon of my train interestingly named "Garib Rath" (The chariot of the poor). I wondered who are these "Garibs" who can afford to travel in a train with all round air-conditioning and was smiling at the politicisation of naming even our trains.

But soon I realised that it is rightly named "Garib Rath". The seats, the coaches and the train overall was shabby, littered with waste and leftover food of earlier passengers. Of course, it was the "Garib Rath" so it deserved least attention of India's biggest bureaucracy i.e. the Indian Railways. We somehow cleaned the seats to an acceptable level and ensured that our son does not catch a disease borne out of filth. Commendable though was the train matching its stated arrival time in Jaipur.

Once in Jaipur, we reached our Hotel and soon headed for the Jaipur Literature Festival. Frankly, I had my doubts about such festivals which are adored by pseudo intellectuals, but I truly found the enthusiasm and the quality of participants of remarkable quality. The atmosphere was literary, the discussions were deep and the experience was worth the effort. I am not a great book lover so I focused more on the latest fashion trends, the quality food stalls and the other displays. My wife focused (sadly for her) on the writers and their literary discourses. To summarize though, the festival was cheesy and delightful in its taste.

Next day, we readied ourselves for our backward journey by another Indian Railway train. This time our choice (which is mostly the one that is forced upon travelers by Indian Railways) was not the "Garib Rath" so I was expecting a healthier experience and a decent value for the money spent on my ticket. The coaches were cleaner (it was a higher class this time) and that was immediate relief for all of us. Our son could at least roam about the coach (the reason we thought he would enjoy the train ride).

Soon however, we experienced the anticipated quality deficit in some other aspects. There was a regular stream of railway personnel who kept coming with a range of inedible quality foodstuff from the train pantry. We bought the soup which was horrid, tried the tea which seemed like a newly discovered beverage and dared to try some snacks which were too salty as well as stale. While we were reluctant to order the dinner, our co-passengers ordered a meal and we too followed his footsteps. We were not surprised, even the dinner was a disaster.

I was wondering, why am I being forced to pay for such food and such service? The answer quickly dawned on me...How else Mr Nimish, the railway would continue to be a monopoly and support a workforce of a million plus. Further, the Railway epitomized in a nutshell the experience we citizens have with our bureaucracies, with the customer care of our telecom providers, with our banks etc. Thankfully, sectors which have greater competition have managed to provide some quality and choice but others like Railways had no reason to improve. And of course, the Railways is known for taking great care of its own Officers (many of them are my friends for the Civil Services) so the experience of a choice-less traveler really doesn't count.

Creditably though the train arrived in Delhi on time and there was further cheer as our car was safe. We reached home after a great Sand-witch weekend, in which the cheesy festival was placed in between the bread-full (sounds like dreadful) experience on the two trains.

Monday, August 29, 2011

India's fight against Corruption

Three Cheers for Anna Hazare!! This is the slogan that would find favour among a large number of Indians today that participated in the novel public movement against corruption that the 74 year young guy from Maharashtra led. The movement for a strong Anti-Corruption Body (LOK PAL) found an immediate connect with citizens at large and they came forward in forcing the Parliament of India to pass a resolution that accepted the major demands of Mr Anna Hazare.

"Unconstitutional and undemocratic", "Dangerous", "exercise of power without responsibility" etc is how the critics defined the movement in which people on the street motivated by a man on hunger strike forced the parliament to speak in favour of a strong legislation to deal with rampant corruption in India. The logic in their criticism was rooted in the worship of the parliament as the supreme decision making body that reflects the will of the people. After all, a democracy ensures that Parliament does the job that the people of this country want.

A leader of Mr Rahul Gandhi's standing (heir to the Nehru legacy) declared on the floor of the Parliament that such movements set a dangerous trend since these mob methods and frenzy could be employed for less noble causes that may in fact attack the building blocks of this nation such as its plural character. Seems Mr Gandhi had spent too much time in writing a speech woven with good English but couldn't find time to reflect upon what he said.It is naive to believe that any movement that has a nefarious motive such as to attack the plurality of India would have such a widespread support amongst the people of this country. Does he think that think that people of India would support a leader who calls for hunger strikes to promote such causes? I have no doubt that people of this country are secular and wont support a sectarian cause that is against the spirit of Indian-ness.

Also, lets be clear about one aspect. The parliament and the Government did not defer to the will of the thousands and lakhs who came on the streets, it showed deference instead to almost the entire citizenry of this country who kept watching and debating the issue of corruption in their drawing rooms, offices and in the bazaars. It was this silent majority, which wasn't on the streets, which could throw out our all MPs, MLAs and Governments in the forthcoming elections that caused over Parliamentarians and the Government to listen and take notice. Any number of mobs on the street shouting for a not-so-noble cause and no support from silent majority, would ever earn the respect of a lawfully elected democratic government and parliamentarians.

Thus, let us accept that Mr Anna Hazare's movement galvanized the nation. It is not new for the Government to have been forced to take some corrective measures. The judiciary, of late, has been actively forcing the government to take action and legislating through its judgments. One could argue that the means employed by Mr Anna Hazare amounted to holding the gun on a legally elected Government but the argument loses steam because the people that elected the very government want change that he advocated.

Simply, the people of this country are fed up with the daily corruption they witness, face and deal with and they want some credible action. It seems regular elections after every 5 years haven't got them a deserved respite from omnipresent corruption. When water is already at a temperature of 98 degree centigrade it just needs a bit more fire for it to boil. Mr Anna Hazare provided the spark that finally led to the outpouring of this water on to the streets. To his credit, he led a movement that was dignified with its non-violent methods, which ensured that an average timid middle class indian too joined the movement and gave an expression to his anger and frustration.

Whats the future? Hopefully, the parliamentarians and more importantly the political parties would take note of the rising frustrations among the masses with a system that is dysfunctional for the common people. Hopefully they would dare to bring about strong laws and policies, select honest candidates for elections, change electoral practices and give our democracy a new flavour- one that is palatable to the poorest of poor and the weakest of the weak. Hopefully- the 74 year old Anna Hazares' of India wont have go without food for days together..JAI HIND.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How the State (Mis-)Manages its Publicity!!

I do not watch much TV but whenever I do, I can't miss the advertisements played by Governments to project the good work that has been carried out and some spectacular programs that have worked wonders for the people of the country. Thus it seems that the Government messages are reaching even the most irregular of TV viewers. So it calls for a great big pat on the back of the Media Managers who manage Government Publicity. No it can't be that simple and utopian, why else would I consider writing this Blog!

The simplest principle of Communication is that delivery of message is not the measure of communication's effectiveness, it is the reception of message by the recipient that is the key barometer to judge communication's success. Does it seem that I doubt if this barometer is kept in mind while framing the multi-million dollar worth of campaigns by Governments (Central as well as State Governments)? Yes I doubt and here are some factors that buttress my suspicion.

1) Lack of Coordination: Its common to see Government Ads on the same topic (usually on a former national leader etc) occupying most pages of newspapers(big ones and small as well)on the D-Day. This happens as different Ministries, Departments, Autonomous Bodies in the government enter in the race to publish their own ad on the topic (normally some former leader). The outcome is rather disastrous with the impact lost on the newspaper reader. Clearly such an ambush marketing (a jargon that means "too much money is available to spend on senseless marketing") on so many pages by different sponsors creates an impact sorely different from the intended one. The reader loses the message and instead of remembering the Ad (or the high contributions of a former leader) interprets such extravagance as typical sarkari chamchagiri, fiscal profligacy. Thus, the communication with all its noble intention is lost.

A single advertisement with effective creatives and right placement could have served the purpose more effectively. The reason for such a naivety is the total lack of coordination among the different institutions in the government. It seems that they do not wish to understand the simple principles of unified and focused communication and are driven by the urge to be counted amongst those who cared to advertise (clearly the intended viewer or reader is not the common man..but some uncommon men & women).

Clearly, it would be more effective to pool in the financial resources of different ministries and do a single campaign that highlighted output of the government with real life and close to reality examples.

2) Flawed sense of timing and content: it is hilarious to see government claims of great successes in its programmes running continuously on News Channels ( most important vehicles for any government for their nuisance value) amidst story after story on the news channel that showcase Governmental corruption, political scandals etc.

Thus viewer is simply thought of as a willing idiot who will pick up the paid communication's message over and above the non-paid (hopefully it is non-paid) news content. It is easy to imagine that the average citizen is bound to trash the message (ads) of great governmental feats in favor of the masala full of government condemnation that the News channels love to air..with utter lack of responsibility..just because the cynical citizen has a great appetite for such trash.

To drive home the point just imagine TV News Channels airing interviews of civil society members ridiculing the government of the day for some action it took and the Break Time (I wonder..what does it Break?) is filled by Government campaigns praising its own achievements.

Does it really make sense to pump in money to occupy prime space in medias to educate about great governmental feats?

Yes perhaps it does as long as the communications are specific to programmes of the government and give information to citizens that helps them to get delivery of promised government services with greater ease. If the citizen feels the communication helps them to get access to government schemes and talks about real action close to their lives, the communication would attract due attention and respect. A generic campaign focused on creating a legend about Government's great achievement simply fails when action in real life seems blurred.

3) Socialism kills communication: the media choice in many a public campaigns displays the kind of accommodation that democratic governments in a pluralistic society have to incorporate. So a public campaign has to be doled out to the non-performing TV channels & Radio Stations and printed out in Newspapers and magazines that never leave the printing press (if at all they are printed). Such a socialistic approach only makes the Campaigns more costly. Does it have a impact on Communication? Perhaps it does not since the really functional Medias too get to run the campaign..but a communication that depends on a hundred channels may be less effective and more costly than one which uses a carefully chosen select channels that bring out the intended impact.

Well before the Government impeaches me for my free writing it is important to give a Disclaimer here.

Disclaimer: The views are my personal ones and in no way I have commented on the Media and Communications management of any Government functional in India at present or in the past. It is simply a theoretical account of how Government's across the world because of their bureaucratic compulsions and democratic souls may go wrong in their most pious efforts to inform the common citizens in order to make a meaningful difference to the lives.