Reply: A letter to Arvind Kejriwal by Preet Bedi

Dear Preet.

Thank you for your Letter dated 22 Jan, 2014. Your whole letter is based on the premise that we are looking at a long/mid term policies to actually bring about a change. But unfortunately, if I don’t give this anxious over expecting overwhelmed janta some quick free sops, I would lose LS 2014 very badly. I need 40+ seats to have my PM candidate.

Once I become the PM or my candidate becomes the PM, I don’t care about the treasury of Delhi. Why should I? My eye would be on Indian Treasury. Isn’t printing money a way out? After all everything is a banana republic. Wouldn’t depreciating currency give more exports. I hope so.

Regarding oil which is our primary import, I will fund a research wing headed by Ramar Pillai (of course by printing money) to convert plant energy into oil energy (combustive). (http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-09-23/chennai/28247001_1_claim-gm-herbal-fuel) I think my colleagues in NDA during their rule tried, we shall do the same. And as always we will declare victory.

And regarding gold, aam aadmi doesn’t need gold. We shall make gold nationalized commodity if that is possible so my govt shall have all the gold to print more money and more money. After all, its a banana republic. We will have wonderful ties with China and Russia. Who needs capitalist investors. They are not aam aadmi. They are sharks.

Preet, I would also like to point out that we need to appease our loyal vote bank. If we lose out on our Auto rickshaw drivers, it would be a disaster for us. Who will carry our political hoardings for free? I would like to draw an analogy with Salman Khan, my aam aadmi hero. If he loses out on his autorickshaw driver fans, how would that come about?What would happen to his movies?

Okay, regarding the electricity meters, I accept that what we spoke during campaigning is not so factually correct. I confused it with my electricity meter in Ghaziabad. I thought and still think its in Delhi. I went and checked at Shazia’s house it was working correctly. But Benny had forced me to speak that during the campaign and he just doesn’t listen to me now when i asked him to show me where the meters were faulty. I think it was an opposition plant to malign me. I am planning to sit on a dharna against Benny so that i can pin all my false claims on his shoulder. (Accountability is a primary mantra)

Preet, regarding corruption. I have understood that if we start any real process to curb it, our main election agenda point shall be curbed too. Hence, let us wait for sometime regarding the same.

My idea of Swaraj is people taking unauthorized videos of people and make it look creepy. During my visit to LA, I was astonished to see how the Paparazzi worked. They could even get to your bedroom. I would like the same here. You should agree with me on this point that we need to develop our paparazzi and use it for our advantage. Do you know how much revenue we can gather from YouTube videos? You know how much that Japanese punk made na? This will go to our treasury.

Since, I am in the hospital and the head nurse is a stern malayali with a syringe in one hand repeatedly asking me if I knew Kumar Vishawas, I wouldn’t be able to discuss my plans with you for now. I would however request you to write me a letter if you can think of any short term gains and that would give me maximum media mileage and my brothers and sisters would side with me on that, i would highly appreciate that. Mr. Modi is aiming at 272+, let me please have 40+, a request from AAM AADMI to an AAM AADMI. Katrina Kaif shall always remain the AAM AURATH.

With best regards,

Arvind Kejriwal

CM, Non-Government Organization- Delhi

(PS: This is a satire and should be taken as one)

 

The Original Letter by Preet K S Bedi

Dear Arvind Kejriwal

You have a somewhat self-serving understanding of the term achievement.

Removal of beacons, no matter how welcome is not any more an achievement than me giving up my car in favor of the metro. Subsidizing water and electricity are simple actions of distributing tax-payer money to your vote-bank. They will become achievements only if you can manage to grow the economy of the state and raise additional revenues that make such hand-outs affordable.

Which leaves you with three ‘achievements’. Setting up an anti-corruption helpline to trap bribe-takers, converting 6 buses into night shelters and ordering a CAG audit into the discoms. I leave it to you to assess for yourself whether these are adequate for a government promising paradise.

On the negative side, you have excluded auto rickshaws from the purview of the Delhi Police and decided to waive off penalties for your supporters who had stopped paying their electricity bills. This is unacceptable but citizens of Delhi have no option but to grin and bear it.

Disappointingly, for all your talk of ‘fixed’ electricity meters before the elections, you have still not ordered a simple audit of meters for which no CAG approval is necessary. You obviously fear that results of such an audit may embarrass you. Not fair.

Coming to the main point.

Arvind Kejriwal, is eradicating corruption still your priority #1? Or have you decided it is more convenient to keep the pot boiling? Just as godmen need discontent to sell nirvana, does AAP need corruption to stay in business?

I say that because in the last 25-odd days you have not taken a single step that would suggest a serious attempt to tackle this menace.

Corruption is neither new nor specific only to India. At some stage all countries have felt its scourge. But no country ever managed to control it only by additional policing as you are attempting to do. Just like traffic management requires not just policemen but also an understanding of traffic flows, traffic signals, flyovers and so on, eradicating corruption requires determination to strike at its roots.

But to do that you and your ministers will have to return to your office and put in real hard and boring work. Are you prepared to do that? If so, please read on.

Here are my suggestions to eradicate corruption. To make it simpler for you after each narration, I have highlighted your action points. You could call them the Sexy Six.

A. Eliminate discretion.

Whether it is Adarsh, 2G, CWG, Coalgate, the root cause of most corruption is the discretionary power vesting with politicians and bureaucracy in our system. If you could eliminate discretion, you could eradicate corruption.

Singapore is a good country to learn from. There is virtually no discretion except at senior levels. Government officials understand their job is to execute. Exceptions are not accepted; as a result, even America has to beg for its citizens to be treated with compassion.

In India, as a city state, Delhi is best placed to implement this. Do this and you would have created history.

Action point:

Task your ministers to list ‘discretionary powers’ enjoyed in decision-making by various levels in the government all the way down to the last mile. This will not be easy as bureaucrats would hate to give up their power. Not all politicians can do it but if anyone can, you can. Show the resolve you show in street and then, step by step, dismantle the current superstructure.

B. Separate decision making from oversight responsibilities

Nothing creates more opacity than a system in which a file goes through several levels, all of which have the power to block and not approve. As a result, each level not only delays but also leverages power to seek speed-money.

Action Point:

Collapse consideration and implementation to not more than three levels. Push decision-making down to senior bureaucrats and enable ministers to perform the role of keeping an oversight rather than be compromised by being decision makers. Once they are decision makers they develop a vested interest in opacity.

I would hesitate suggesting this to all states but would be happy to see it implemented in Delhi where at least for the moment we can assume ministers are honest.

C. Destroy monopoly

If instead of destroying discoms as you are currently engaged in doing, you were to work towards providing last-mile competition to the end customer, many of the issues would naturally get taken care of.

Build last-mile competition in every service including water and power supply and even in public services like schools and hospitals. Dove-tail this with your idea of Swaraj and you may have a winner. Every mohalla committee must have options of service providers to them.

Action Point:

Task your ministers to do an ABCD analysis of all services provided by your government beginning with A where there already is last-mile competition like telecom, B being partial monopolies like Electricity where despite competition the customer does not have a choice and C being others.

Set a target of 2 years to dismantle all monopolies and bring in competition at the customer-end.

D. Reduce government

Government is temperamentally not wired to provide service. By taking on more service the government adds to cost and sows seeds of eventual dissatisfaction among citizens.

If issuance of passports can be outsourced, why not registration of vehicles, grant of driving licenses, property registration courts etc. These are currently major pain points for the aam aadmi. A visit to the RPO at Saket and property registration office at INA may help. You do not need to go at night.

Action Points:

Task your ministers to come to you with a list of public pain points pertaining to their departments. If necessary, hire consultants to suggest outsourcing strategies. Attempt to put at least one department under each minster into a pilot within 12 months.

E. Mandate use of e-governance in all dealings with the public

Nothing eradicates corruption as comprehensively as e-governance. And possibilities are endless.

Let’s take the example of electricity bills. Mandate that in a year, each consumer will get his daily electricity and water consumption on his mobile. Through this data he can check and analyze his usage and even get a good idea if his meters are ‘fixed’. Simple. Effective.

Action Point

Hire a Nilekani-type as an e-governance evangelist and force all departments to be fully e-governed for public dealings within 2 years. That is the kind of challenge we expect a new young government to accept and deliver.

F. Change your working style

Nothing is more important than implementation.

Implementation is typically an area of weakness for us in India. To make all these things happen you will of course need extraordinary passion but also a very tight control over implementation.

Action Point

Earmark one day a week for implementation review. This is the day you do not meet people or the press and do not have meetings other than for implementation review.

Initially your ministers and their bureaucrats may find it oppressive but over a few weeks when they see that through these meetings they can actually cut through the red tape, they will start enjoying it.

Most of these are medium to long-term strategies. I would suggest that you announce them along with the rough time-frames so that citizens at large understand the journey they are involved in. This will also help buy you time so that critics like me do not pounce on you for results every week, week after week.

Wishing you the best.

Preet K S Bedi

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