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A note on bottom-up/top-down approach

On Tue, 25 Aug 1998, Sameer Bandhu wrote:
> But Sanjeev, who makes the system.... the people. Isn't it! I guess
> this is more of an approach question, bottom-up/top-down issue. What
> do you think about this....

Historically, top-down is the only approach that actually works. The ideas
come from a few (very few) thinkers; these are then assimilated/ analyzed
by a huge intermediate bunch (people like us) who then disseminate these
things to the 'bottom' - or as far as these ideas can go, given the
constraints of illiteracy, etc., you've already mentioned. 

No illiterate, poor, person per-se has ever devised any new idea. I mean,
if you are well educated and poor, you might come up with a good idea and
be able to propagate it a bit; but if you are both uneducated and poor,
things get very difficult.

So, clearly your (well-argued) view that we are helpless spectators until
the entire electorate gets well-educated, need reconsideration. 

> 2) The ones who elect are the citizens of India, who are poor,
> uneducated and uninformed - over 500 Milion electorate!
> 3) The poor and uneducated can't make out right from wrong. Whoever
> gives them a bottle of "desi daaru" and some bread to eat, is their
> leader.
> 4) The politicians are happy because its a good "give and take"
> relationship they have established. Throw some money, or rig the poll,
> get elected and then not only recover the money spent but even more.
> 5) Untill you make the electorate think rationally, until you educate
> them about what is right and what is wrong, how are we going to
> achieve our motive? 

On IP we have this thing called an ideal manifesto; we are collecting good
ideas; once these ideas are in place, these can be discussed/debated. 
Without such a 'source' of good ideas, the common man cannot even begin to
see the link between one thing and another. To educate a citizen, you need
to have something to educate: a kind of 'course material.' That is what we
are building. It might or might not have any effect. That is immaterial. 
What is important is to have this in place. Without it there is NO hope. 
Take a look at the 'competing' manifestos of various existing political
parties and you will see how bad things are today in terms of the ideas
being used to run India. With IP this there is at least a small positive
probability that something might happen. 

> Well... My answer to this would be, because they see their
> sorroundings. 

Precisely: let us discover the key ingredients of these 'surroundings' and
write them down very precisely. In Singapore, a heavy economic penalty was
used to make people stop throwing things on the roads. We might think of
such things. 

> I don't mean to discourage you, 

I am sure there can be nothing more discouraging to a human being than to
be born an Indian and to see the kind of India he/she lives in. We cannot
go lower than that. Only higher.

> I am sure you don't have the time to go and
> explain what policies you have come up with, to the 900+ Million
> people of India, those who will not even be concerned about your
> policies because they are more willing to hear from people who will
> give them "free" bread to eat.

Action Plan: check it out. Second, this is not 'my bunch of policies.' It
is yours and everybody else's. If you differ, point out a better
alternative and we will debate till the best point emerges. 

> Don't you think we should make efforts to do something at the
> grass-routes level rather than build castles in the air. 

This is not a castle in the air. It is the summarization of billions of
dollars (actually close to a trillion dollars) worth of research, debate,
and argument. Check out the millions of books on democracy, economic
development, etc. This is the summarization of all this knowledge: the
'best practices' manifesto for a developing country like India. Knowledge
is power. This compilation of knowledge is supreme power: the 'big bills'
on India's sidewalk, which it can pick up if it likes. Since we are not
writing more than 10-15 pages in all (hopefully), this will be read by a
lot of people. That is why it will be successful and the billions of
dollars of research which is scattered all over the footpath in the form
of huge fat books, and journals, has largely failed. A few simple flyers
arising from IP will help change things more than tons of fat books
because today the problem is not of lack of knowledge; but of lack of
acceptance of this knowledge. 

> Please take no offence to what I have written. I am just
> trying to express my opinion here!

Sameer, no offence can ever be taken since no offence is greater than
having to suffer the act of being a member of a poor and corrupt India. If
your points help to change that reality, I and everyone else can only be
beholden to you!  So, go for it, and let us have your views on urban

I notice that you have studied Amritsar and Kalka, in particular. What
would you like to bring into these cities?


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