Cultivating authority, evading responsibility

“Those who are politically strong are constantly running away from political responsibility,” writes Pratap Bhanu Mehta

You should read his piece in the Indian Express in full. Excerpts:

The prime minister will take you only up to a point. The Centre does not carry any credibility, because there it has no genuine interlocutors. There is no other leader who can carry the imprimatur that they are acting on behalf of the nation, who can provide a healing touch when needed. More and more of our conflicts will require this kind of constant political engagement. Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, in political terms, carry that mantle as much as anyone does; but they steadfastly refuse to risk it on anything other than politically easy welfare schemes. The scandal of Indian politics is not simply that the prime minister is politically weak; it is that those who are politically strong are constantly running away from political responsibility.

And it has sent a message: the purpose of politics is not solving problems; it is the evasion of responsibility. [IE]

Weekday Squib: Move over Tom Friedman

…and make way for a new theory of conflict prevention

Via Manoranjitam
Picture: Manoranjitam

Anand Ramachandran’s Evil Twin doesn’t say so explicitly (via Desipundit), but he’s onto something: countries that have Gopal Palpodi don’t go to war with each other.

[It is possible that there is also an Ayurvedic Soap Theory of Conflict Prevention, based on countries that have Medimix and Chandrika Soap. Proof of this hypothesis is left as an exercise for Keralite graduate students]

Towards a quantum theory of international relations

A metaphor and beyond

Nikolas Gvosdev is struck by a comment by Commodore C Uday Bhaskar on new ways of thinking about international relations.

He suggested that policymakers take a page from the sciences, specifically quantum computing. Unlike in traditional computing, based on a binary system—something is either a one or a zero, quantum computing works from the model that you can have a one, a zero, or a quantum superposition of the one and zero simultaneously.

Bhaskar argues that in foreign policy governments and analysts have to become more comfortable with balancing competitive and cooperative approaches simultaneously with the same country in terms of the bilateral relationship. It is a further reminder that we are moving away from a system where the assumption that if states cooperate on one set of issues, they will cooperate on everything else is no longer operative. And the fact that a country may have very serious competitive issues with another will not remove the obligation and the need to cooperate on other issues which are of vital interest to both. [The Washington Realist]

Now it is quite likely that the good commodore was talking metaphorically. But one commenter on Dr Gvosdev’s blog points a paper by Alexander Wendt, titled “Social Theory as Cartesian Science: An auto-critique from a quantum perspective“. That surely is some academic mixing of drinks.

Good governance needs trained people

Addressing the dearth of public policy professionals inside and outside government

“More than a quarter of India’s $1,200 billion gross domestic product,” Mukul Asher writes in his DNA column, “is intermediated through the public sector. Increasing size and complexity of the economy, and economic, social and political challenges facing the country require an urgent shift towards better public policies and management.”

And the way to go about that, he argues, is to transform the public policy education in India: India needs good public policy schools, certainly. But what is interesting is that he argues that “it is essential that professional public policy education be made accessible to those who have not yet joined public service, or do not intend to join but work in related areas such as media, non-profit sector and business firms requiring understanding of public policy processes.”

Think of ‘government relations’ or ‘regulatory affairs’ people in those Indian corporations that have such people these days. It is quite likely that these would either be fixers skilled in the art of moving files through the bureaucracy, lawyers, or, very occasionally, a management graduate. As much as India needs well-trained people in government, it needs well-trained public policy professionals in the private sector. [Related Post: Dear Mr Nilekani]