Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I couldn't think of a suitable title for this post. I thought of titles like Pathetic Politics, but realised this is in fact great politics. Next title I thought of was Modi Mistaken… but then I wasn't sure if this was a mistake or intentional. More importantly, this post isn't about Modi specifically. It is about the political scene in general.

I request the Modi supporters to READ the post before they start yelling and screaming. Hopefully you will see that I am NOT bashing Modi.


Comparing China and India, he said: “In 10 years from 2000, China, which did not have even a single university among the top 500 varsities in the world, now has 32, whereas India, which had two, now has only one. Why did this happen?

How did China do it? It spent almost 20% of its GDP on education. Our government promised to spend 7% but actually spent just 4%.”


As per 2012 figures, China spent 4% of its GDP on education and not 20%:

  • BEIJING - Premier Wen Jiabao announced on Tuesday that the country's public expenditures on education reached 4 percent of its GDP in 2012, a target set almost 20 years ago. "Government spending on education totaled 7.79 trillion yuan over the past five years, increasing* at an average annual rate of 21.58 percent to reach 4 percent of the GDP in 2012," Wen said in his annual work report delivered to deputies to the top legislature. (7.79 trillion yuan is equal to $1.25 trillion) [Link].
  • Government spending on education finally reached 4 percent of the country's GDP in 2012, 19 years after the target was first set in 1993 [Link].

Almost every speech from every politician (regardless of the party they represent) contains exaggerations, factual errors, selective data, misrepresented statistics. There is nothing unique in the case of Modi, at least in this regard.

What does make Mr. Modi unique is… he is extremely popular (don't ask me why. I don't know. I am still to figure out how SRK is so popular). Also, Mr. Modi is a great orator. THAT is a fact and there is no point in denying that.

Do I like Modi… NO. But then again, I don't like ANY politician. I might find a particular speech by one politician impressive, but another speech by the same politician to be pathetic. I like some ideas of one. I like some policies of another.

But… I don't 'like' any politician. I find them all equally opportunistic, equally corrupt and at crucial times, I find them all equally incompetent.

Irrespective of that fact, the point is – Modi is one of the most popular (if not THE most popular) politician on the Indian political scene today. He is usually very careful with his remarks. Be it the Hindu Nationalist label or the Puppy remark or even the China example.

In case of the China illustration highlighted above, perhaps he got the figures wrong… but this is politics. Nobody (except the OTHER party) cares if one has misquoted a statistic. What matters is - the immediate effect. Shock and awe, applause. When listening to Modi harping on, no one is going to pull out their smartphone and google up the figures.

The effect is almost immediate. As soon as Mr. Modi speaks the words, the damage to the other party has been done. The target audience has been reached and impressed. THIS is why I think this is great politics (Please note, there is a significant difference between the terms great and good. Great doesn't necessarily have to mean Good).

If the Congress party believes that its members always get their facts and figures right - they are wrong, yet again. We have tons of examples to pick from. Pranab Mukherjee comes to mind… but he isn't the only one.

My problem with the entire issue is:

The party members/spokespersons etc making public appearances and showing up for debates with their voice boxes replaced with loud speakers. These idiots harping on:

"No. He/She is right. This is not what he/she meant. He/She implied so and so. Media has misquoted him/her. You have misinterpreted the statement. The other party has an agenda. This is malicious propaganda"

There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying (at least in some cases)Err.. ok. He/She could have used a better analogy OR Yes, the figure was not verified. An oversight on the part of the politician and his staff for not cross checking the data.

If it makes it easier, these super defensive morons can always end the statement saying – These are of course my personal views. The party will give its official statement through the official spokesman.

This is definitely a much more civilised approach than digging up some crap on the other party and barking stuff like - In 19bla, your party member bla said bla. Why didn't you raise this point at THAT time?!

The obvious problem with the above response is – You come across as uncivilised. Further, you have not answered the question thrown at you. Instead you have responded with another question. This could go on forever.

You come across as defending a weak or wrong argument/statement with even more idiotic and weaker arguments… and then resorting to posing questions and counter questions of your own.

Again, I would like to point out that this isn't practiced JUST by the BJP. It is not just idiots like Devang Nanavati or Kiron Kher or Smriti Irani or Meenakshi Lekhi who blabber and make counter accusations without answering the questions. It is done by the CPI, Congress, Janta Dal, BSP, SP…. every one!

Please… stop. It is disgusting. Annoying. Simply scoring cheap debating points is NOT going to win you the elections. Two wrongs don't make a right. X party said so and so 12/15/20 years ago… nothing was done… so Y party can say something equally idiotic today and nothing should be done – THAT is a pathetic line to take when making an argument.

* For those who do not see the difference, a small illustration –

A hypothetical example not representative of actual expenses. The figures used have been chosen solely for ease of calculation purposes. 

  • In 2012, your total expense on a car was KWD 1,000. Your expenditure on petrol was KWD 20.

This represents 2% of Total Expense [(20/1000)*100].

  • In 2013, your total expense on a car was KWD 1,200. Your expenditure on petrol was KWD 30.

This represents 2.5% of Total Expense [(30/1200)*100].

The percentage increase is 25% {[(2.5-2)/2]*100}. This is NOT the same as spending 25% of your Total Expense on petrol. 25% of KWD 1,200 would be KWD 300

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