This post is about the importance of having clear objectives for political action in India.
I have no doubt that doing small things is interesting. It also keeps people busy. Better to do a small thing than nothing at all. Till recently Arvind Kejriwal was engaged in a small thing: a Jan Lokpal Bill. What was the value of this action? Not clear, since it was entirely unrelated to the causes of corruption.
Arvind has since moved into larger action – which is good – but has apparently narrowed his goals to the “state” of Delhi. Back to doing small things.
Similarly, JP of LokSatta took the plunge into politics on 2 October 2006 – which is good, as well – but focused very narrowly, on Andhra Pradesh, losing all seats contested except his own. Now LS is expanding, but again the focus is very small – on the number of seats contested. Not on India's freedom.
I don’t want Arvind to suffer a similar fate in Delhi as JP suffered in AP. But even assuming Arvind forms government in Delhi, he will still be doing what I call small things. Even a Chief Minister of Delhi doesn't really count in the big scheme of things.
The real issue is that though both Arvind and JP have found a way to keep themselves busy, they are not clear about what they are doing, and why.
What is their goal? Why are they in politics?
The average Indian politician has no such confusion. He wants to make money. Piles of money. And he wants power. Heaps of power. His KPIs are clear: money, power: both are easily measurable. Either he is succeeding or he is not. He neither cares for ideas nor for any goals for India. All about himself.
But Arvind and JP are not average Indian politicians. So these are not their goals.
But what IS their goal?
Is their goal simply to offer themselves as “good” people who will run India’s existing system a little bit better? Or do they have a different India in mind?
I think both have a different India in mind. Which is good. It is important that we get a different India. But the question is what kind of India.
On this, they both seem to be incapable of clarity of goals or of setting clear KPIs.
Let me illustrate my point.
In my case, I’ve got ONE – AND VERY CLEAR – GOAL: a free India.
I’m therefore not looking at just a 300+ seat majority in Parliament (and similar majorities in the states) – which is clearly a first step – but at what happens next. How will this group of MPs be able to fight vested interests, how will this group of MPs persuade Indians that policies of freedom are good for them?
But even that's not enough. I'm therefore looking well BEYOND that stage: to the question of how new policies will be sustained, how we can ensure that the country doesn't go back to square one after five years.
I’m particularly conscious of the depressing experiences of Janata Party and AGP. Changing leaders is pointless. We need to change the SYSTEM. And that's a totally different ballgame.
In any event as you will note, my KPI is PURELY outcome focused. It is not input focused. I’m not counting the number of FTI members, the number of seats contested by them, etc.
I’m asking: has India become more free? Is there a process to ensure it will become even more free in the future?
We must learn to focus on outcomes and then work backwards. Never bother about inputs till you are clear how these are related to the outcomes you seek.
To me the winning of 300 seats is a MINOR step in this reform story. Therefore 300 seats is not my KPI. I won’t care even when someone finally gets 300 seats in Parliament. I will want to know how such a group will change policies, and most importantly, how these policies will be sustained. Not much point if we get 300 seats but strikes break out in the streets. (That's why FTI's policy framework is so future looking, and anticipates the need for transitional strategies.)
I'm looking only for REAL RESULTS, not for a seat count. A seat count is NOT my measure of success. My KPI is the number and quality of policies changed.
But KPIs of Lok Satta and IAC seem to be extremely input-driven: e.g. How many seats are being contested? Each time one or other LS/IAC member contests (or thinks of contesting), individual emails are sent out to the whole world, looking for support.
Why? What's the point of such support?
Such KPIs – e.g. contesting a seat here or there – have NOTHING to do with outcomes. To me such data (inputs) are not even worth discussing. These are not KPIs. These are not goals. At best these are tools to a goal. But it is not clear whether this tool is going to work. Just contesting a seat – how does it change India?
See the point I'm making?
The key question for me today is this – DO WE HAVE A TEAM OF LEADERS WHO WILL DELIVER FREEDOM TO INDIA, AND WILL ENSURE THAT FREEDOM INCREASES IN THE FUTURE?
I am dead against contesting elections without having first ensured that you will win – and that you will form part of a national government that has a clear mandate to CHANGE policies.
I don’t agree with the idea of wasting MONEY (elections are not costless) by IAC/LokSatta when there is zero chance of getting elected. That money can be used far more fruitfully in doing other critical preparation.
When the people are not yet DEMANDING you as their MP and are not desperate to have you implement a series of agreed reforms, why waste your time (and their time) in contesting elections? Such EXTREMELY premature political action will be rejected soundly by the voter. And so it should – for the voter has seen the Janata experiment and AGP which came to no avail.
I only wish (and keep wishing) … that good people like Arvind/ JP etc. would have the sense to first assemble (without any political umbrella), then discuss and agree policy, then prepare the voter and THEN form a political party to contest.
But good sense is very hard to come by in India! Hence it suffers, and continues to suffer.
If only the money and effort THROWN (wasted!) into electoral politics over the past five years had been spent in assembling leaders, gaining agreement (etc.) how much brighter would India's future have looked by now!
I do hope that Arvind/JP, etc. will stop their dash to nowhere, and focus on assembling a high quality leadership team that wants LIBERTY.
Then ensure policy agreements.
Then start persuading the people of India.
Then, finally, when India is ready and is DEMANDING change, contest elections.
But all this is hard work, and very (very!) strategic. 90 per cent of the work has to be in the MIND. Only 10 per cent on the ground. Today the ratio is turned upside down. That won't work.
Why do good guys like (the orignal) Jayaprakash Narayan and Janata and AGP and others fail? Because they don't have strategic thinking capacity.
First develop that capacity. Then "rush" (slowly) to the ground.
Remember, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread".
Please remember – you are not Messiahs. We need to build systems and processes to EMPOWER and LIBERATE India. So don't rush in. Think. Then act.
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