April 15, 2009

How the politicians find out what people want

Political parties in a democracy are answerable to the electorate goes the cliche, but do our parties undertake any scientific research to enumerate the priorities of the masses? Well in Indian democracy leaders assume that majority of the people do not vote on a rational basis. Those leaders are right as the results of elections indicate.

Majority still vote for caste, religion, regional and ideological orientations. Economic issues do not seem to motivate the masses to vote in large numbers. But how do the parties find out what the people are thinking in their constituency? Politician in India seems to go by judgement approach and expert panel opinion taken from experts from within the party.

I have undertaken a focus group exercise in the youth segment to unravel their mind and the issues that they think are extremely important for the nation. The list in the order of priority is given under;

1. Population: Surprisingly no political party has talked about it in 2009 elections. What can the electorate do? Population growth remains the most critical issue that is slowing down the growth of India.

2. Respect for talent: Most participants feel that there is no room for talent & talented individuals in India. Youth is perturbed that the talented individuals do not stand a fair chance of achievement in our society. People still give too much importance to other factors over the talent of an individual. Students believe that it stifles the growth of talent, consequently growth of country.

3. Corruption: Why we have accepted bribery and corruption as part of life in India? Corruption weakens the country but no party seem to make it as an election issue and has offered no solutions to curb corruption in public life.

4. Economic policy: Major political parties do not present a clear cut industrialisation plan that could create jobs for the educated. All parties make similar noise about their economic policy.

5. Removal of poverty: Youth do not find mention of how much growth in per capita income would the political party would like to achieve in their tenure of five years.

April 11, 2009

Role of media in election spin !

Just the other day i have been asked to comment on the role of media in elections. Well media like anyother other industry has had commercial plans, though it has to abide by ethics as its influence on the lives is more prominent than fmcg or durable firms. Media do influence the public opinions. Thats why during elections they become target of election managers seeking to spin doctor the public opinion in thier own way.

Media organisations world over take sides in political process depending on various factors including commercial considerations. We too are no different. Moreover the elections are being held in recessions times when the leading media companies have already suspended thier standard tariffs to encourage the advertisers to bring in advertising revenue. It is not unusual for media in such trying times to make commercial compromise.

Ethically media are obliged to ward off spin doctors and never allow the political players to use news and views coloumns for promoting thier agenda. But reality is much different. Media organisations willingly peddle political info for revenue. Electronic media in particular seem to be jostling with each other to garner maximum revenue for carrying blatantantly biased political info for one party or other.

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