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Re:incentives to join politics



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Dear Sanjeev,

You have asked very interesting questions that I would have liked someone in
position of power to ask me all my life. "....package of reforms whichwill
ensure that (a) you can enter politics,..."
I in fact wrote to the Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and Opposition
Leader in Parliament Atal Bihari Bajpai about five years ago, spoke to
Bajpai over phone and pleaded him to at least promise to work towards
getting my rights back and I will give up my job in the USA, my career at
peak, and throw myself into doing what I wanted to do all my life. No I was
not crazy, and did realize that with little money for my own survival and
strong belief in the principles I would base my crusade on, there was every
chance that I would lose elections not just once but several times for
several years. However, I would still fight and keep fighting on just one
condition:
   I would be allowed to fight for public office from my hometown, the place
where I have my heart, the place which can identify with me and where I
would not have to buy every vote through money or favor.

So, don't ask me as to what will ensure that I enter politics. I believe in
action, and would like to be change, or the agent of the change that I want
to see in our system. I would already be in politics if I were allowed to
participate in it and run for public office from the nation I know from my
childhood, my hometown, my village, where I don't have complete freedom. Ask
any private citizen, especially if he happens to be self made educated and
successful individual, thinking about entering the world of politics is
virtually an impossibility. Especially the families of such people would be
strongly against any such thought for the reasons clearly listed in IPI
pages, and yet my wife has come around to support this adventure should I
decide to get into it, knowing how badly I would like to do it. So,
personally, I need nothing other then my birth right that was denied to me
by the nation by making my home constituency reserved for SC/STs.

I know you ask as to what kind of situation (package) should be there
thatwill encourage honest citizens to enter politics.

I have very different ideas sir. I don't believe in fixing this whole thing
by a big salary package. No, I do not think an elected public office can be
treated just like any other salaried job. In order for someone to run for an
elected public office, he/she has to be driven by the strong desire to do
public service. He/she has to win an election on issues that affect citizens
of a constituency. Even though an election, and election campaign is only an
exercise that lasts just a few weeks, a real campaign of an individual has
to practically last his/her life time. In my opinion, an individual fights
an election always from his/her hometown where people know him/her not just
by name but by everything else that makes this individual a person. His
integrity, his values, his contributions to the society etc.

What would I do if I were to go and run for an election?
I would form a supposedly legal entity called Umesh Tiwari election campaign
fund. I would visit virtually every home in my hometown well before an
official election process starts. Sit with individual families, talk to them
in simple words as to why is it important to participate in this democratic
exercise and ask them as to what they think an elected representative ought
to be doing. After clearly briefing them as to what a clean election fund is
meant for, and none of that ever goes to my personal expenses, I would ask
them to contribute generously to the fund and would record what each one of
them have contributed.

Come election campaign season, I would use this small fund to buy whatever
amount of publicity I could buy, and use my network of supporters, who would
simply be driven by what I stand for, and not for seeking any favor out of
me, to reach out to masses in my constituency.

Assuming that after trying my luck several times, if I am elected (if I
don't get elected after several trials, it is possible that people in my
constituency don't think I am qualified for the job, and I should get the
message and get out), I would be making a local fully functional office at
the constituency which elected me to any state or parliamentary seat. I
would put out my position on every individual issue that is debated at any
point of time in the parliament, and ask people of my constituency to write
to me what way they want me voting. I would use my own judgement as ultimate
guide for my legislative decisions, yet I would certainly take into account
as to what my constituents think on individual issues. I would make it
participatory democracy in the sense that there would be constant
interaction between the elected official and the electorate, not through TV
or media but by being among them as much time as possible.

Moreover, I would work towards educating people the basic concept of
democracy where it is quite different from old days of Kings are the givers
and providers, and make them realize that a government is there to work and
spend their own money however way they wanted spent, and so, thinking of
asking for free favors from the government is short sighted to say the
least.

No, this path won't be a bed of roses, but then, if it were so, one wouldn't
have to talk about challenging people to walk this thorny road.

I know this does not answer your "package" question, neither does it say as
to how you can kick me out should I turn out to be corrupt. I will work on
that and we can discuss further after I come up with something specific.
Since you ask how I would do it, so I wrote.

Thank You.

Umesh Tiwari

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This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/
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