Politics: Productive, Unproductive, Destructive and Evasive

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By Amar Yumnam
Why is India so bad? Despite the recent growth spurt, why it now faces such a big political-economic challenge to moving further upward? Well, we need not mince words here. India is so bad because there is hardly anything which one cannot get done with money, irrespective of the nature of the work. This happens in all organisations relating to the offices of the state or offices of the people. There is now ample experience to imagine that it could be true even with quite a few of the “revolutionary” organisations.

But Why: At this point. We may justifiably ask as to why such a situation now characterises the country. The shortest answer to this would follow the Anna line. Money has now emerged as the most important weapon in this country because politics and corruption have become synonymous due to the repeated practices symbolising the merger of the two. Politics is the most important component in the conduct of human life within a structured society. This is because politics as practised by the politicians decide the character of the state. In fact, the state is to a large extent the aggregate of the functioning of the politicians in power in a democracy. To this extent politics is an inevitable part of democratic polity. Here lies the significance of politics.

The Divisions: Significant, powerful and impactful as it is, it is absolutely important that the practitioners of politics take utmost care such that the sanctity and sustenance of the state is not put at risk. In other words, they need to be very clear of the zone of operation of their politics and the limits to that. If they start assuming that there is no limit to their areas of operation and behave accordingly, chaos would sooner than later rule rather than order. This is exactly what is happening in India today.

Given this we may now borrow an analysis in Economics where the Entrepreneurs – the agents of growth in a society – are divided into productive, unproductive and destructive and evasive ones. The productive entrepreneur brings to operation a more efficient way of functioning which was otherwise lying un-adopted in the society. Further, he/she causes an innovation in the society and thereby taking the society to an altogether a new plane of well-being. Unproductive and destructive entrepreneurs, on the other hand, devote their ability to innovate in devising ways for committing higher crimes, rent-seeking and the destruction of existing resources of the society. They do innovate, but their activities do not contribute at all in taking the society to a higher level of well-being. Rather, their activities kill the spirit of competition in the society, which otherwise should serve as the basis for advancement. The best example in this genre is corruption.

The other group of entrepreneurs are what is called evasive. This group invests resources in avoiding the legal system or to escape from the ill-effects of other unproductive entrepreneurs. Tax evasion and gangs scheming to better other unfriendly gangs are all examples of this.

With this understanding of entrepreneur classes, we may now venture into classifying the political class in this country. Politics the politicians play can be productive, unproductive, destructive or plain evasive. Productive politics would be one which facilitates the existence, exchange and interactions of all individuals in the society in such a way that the scope for productive activities gets expanded. Unproductive and destructive politics would be one where the practitioners indulge in exploiting their hold on decision making in matters of the state and polity. Here the practitioners leave no holds barred in interfering in every sphere of state action and influencing the decision indirections that serve their vested interests. For them every decision is apolitical decision. The existence of this group ensures the emergence and presence of another group practicing evasive politics.

India’s Predicament:  The problem of India, history has proved repeatedly, is not with the entrepreneurial class as such. Right from the pre-Independence times till today, we have had many entrepreneurs of the productive kind. In fact, they are the ones who have made recent economic rise of India possible. Here too the role of circumstantially enforced behaviour of productive politics has served as the greatest facilitator for the manifestation of entrepreneurial talent of the country. But very unfortunately, sooner than later the unproductive and destructive politics has gained supremacy over the productive one. This recent disease seems to have taken very deep roots in a very short span of time so much so that the offices of state and the offices of people are themselves suspects now in the eyes of the people. This is a condition India, with all her heterogeneity in geography, people and issues, can ill-afford to have.

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