Vietnam’s Sensible Communism Vs India’s Dysfunctional Democracy

Vietnam’s Sensible Communism Vs India’s Dysfunctional Democracy

I started following Vietnam with my 1st visit to that country. Brief comparison of Per capita income (current $) with India between then and now is below:

  2007 2016 % growth
India 1081 1850 71%
Vietnam 920 2306 151%

I would attribute Vietnam’s faster progress to the following:

Respect for the government,

Fear/respect for law,

Better road discipline and public order,

Its sensible and sensitive communism,

Pragmatic Economic planning and policies – no dogmas and every regulator is sub-ordinate to the government, and

Focus on a select few industries.

I am not sure if our Democratic rights is worth this kind of price (if indeed the difference is due to this factor). I would largely prefer getting rid of our poverty first before aspects of freedom we are supposed to be enjoying.  As a nation we spend so much to elect our representatives but tether them in every which way and make them as constrained, dysfunctional and impotent as possible. The judiciary, NGT, Johnny-come-lately Regulators, Independent Monetary agencies, NGOs, PILs, and of course the Opposition and the media which is answerable to none all play their part to this collective coma and inertia.

And of course ‘We the People’. We are perhaps the most argumentative and critical people on planet Earth. We mistakenly celebrate a right to abuse as right to criticise. I would think criticism to be constructive should exhibit the following characters:

  • The person being criticized should feel like listening to the point being made, whosoever makes them.
  • Having done so, he should feel like entering it into his consideration set.
  • And if he does accept, he should feel like acknowledging it publically.

You may say I am a dreamer… but so be it.

Vietnam has not lost its energies in vague policies and utopian and unpragmatic copycat controls like tight monetary and fiscal policies, demo, or swatch bharat, digitisation, corruption eradication, ease of doing business, etc. It just focussed on 4-5 industries where it had /developed cost competitiveness.

Like Textiles, Electronics, Tourism, Wood plantation, select spices. It reversed the conventional approach of economists and started at the delivery end. Wood plantation created 2 million jobs in remote rural areas, in textiles it zoomed past India in just 7 years (its current output of textiles is capable of generating 2.2 cr jobs by India’s standards of mechanisation) much of which has come at the expense of India’s unpragmatic approach in textiles…nose to the ground politicians engaged in job creating in select few industries.

I personally feel that we have more to learn from Vietnam (or South Korea, China, or Taiwan) than the stupid West (I mean West is not stupid, we are… in aping them) as far as it concerns Economics of development and salvation from Poverty.

I would think that PILs should be asked to prove their Public interest character. They should be made to submit signatures of at least 1000 people or 1% (some such thing), who shall be made to deposit a bond of Rs 1000 each. Select few should be called to testify in the Court. The lead sponsor should be made to deposit 10% of the likely damage being suffered by the Society (or some lumpsum amount which can be a % of what the Government alleges is the cost of delaying). This should be forfeited if the case is not admitted or dismissed.

I would also think an independent body should verify the proofs of news and broadcasts by Media and if found insufficient, the concerned channel should be made to show blackout of related programmes for 3 days. Unbridled criticism in our society has only been an invitation to chaos.

(the picture shows the Visiting Dy PM – HE Pham Binh Minh).

Arun Shourie and the back door democrats

I was there in a conference in Prague last winter immediately after Diwali where Mr Arun Shourie was the lead speaker. Luckily he stayed on for  duration of the conference (2-3 days) after his keynote address of 2 hours. There were some signs of sour grape frustration coming forth even then. A much milder edition of Jaswant Singh’s when he felt sidelined at the time of campaign. However, it was not indiscriminate intemperate cacophony that you witness on TV screens these days. He is well read and was very articulate as he only can be. He garnished his lectures with a sense of humour, wit, a lot of couplets and lots of anecdotes from his stint with the wily Vajpayee (yes wily – not his words though).

HIs recent comments during an interview on Narendra Modi and his one year of Governance is spot on. BJP loyalists may not have liked it but he is spot on. I agree with him almost entirely. He has done what a true friend should Continue reading

Democracy – Lessons from Myanmar

Lessons for Myanmar

I have read things like ‘the least likely place where you would be robbed in South East Asia is Myanmar’ and ‘considering all the bad news that trickles out of Myanmar it may sound like a rather unsafe country to visit. For vast majority of visitors, the reality is quite the opposite’ (lonely Planet).  After 16 trips to the country I can vouch for these without any reservations.

Myanmar may not follow the trail blazing path of its eastern or northern neighbours in terms of economic growth. It is still finding its balance in forms of administration, legal matters and investment laws which still need a lot of updation to be contemporary, and still seem inward looking in many matters. But it has great people, discipline, plenty of water and rainfall, and plenty of natural resources. With lots of beautiful places all over, a long coastline and plenty of beach spaces, country side resorts, contemporary hotels in all major cities and towns, monuments which are very well maintained and people who are people (foreigner or locals) friendly,  it has all it requires to become Asia’s leading tourist hub.

If Istanbul and Muscat provided the first bombardment on my assumptions about the World, Vietnam taught me first lessons on how experience, impartial inquiry aided perhaps by a visit to the site being essential to come to a reliable judgement,  Myanmar set me thinking on the relative merits of democracy, the relation between happiness and income, poverty and hunger, etc.

With its per capita income of $ 550 it seems to have solved problems of hunger. There is no begging I saw anywhere.  I am yet to see any instance of open defecation, verbal filth or fisticuff.  People wear good cloths neat and clean (even in interior the shirts and cloths that girls and ladies wear seem as white as we see in our business centres and banks). Most places are kept clean and neat, some decorated and inviting.

Democracy or not there is public order and there is very little friction between people in day-to-day dealings. There may be no rules on these but people make up with lots of understanding of each other’s comfort, sensitivities and conveniences.  They do not wear their politics on their shirt sleeves. If anyone thought that political suppression would generate passionate arguments, they will be surprised. It does not seem to matter to them much.

In conclusion, all of them seem to be too busy with the business of being happy; no one has the time to make money.

Continue reading

Democracies of Different Kinds

May 11, 2012

The Hindu BusinessLine

Representative democracy, unlike the Greek direct version from which it has evolved, has drifted far from its essential moorings. It is now largely a power of attorney for unknown actions.

Read More…