Saturday, October 23, 2010

Short sighted Visionaries

Every political government that comes to rule the hapless Pakistanis plays the Nero’s flute to mesmerize their already intoxicated and closed eyes subjects for as long as they stay in power. They rule the country as they wish, and when their time is over, and made to over, they leave, only to come back again to start afresh. No government has so far given a vision of their own as to how they see Pakistan at least 25 years from hence. That is even a mid range strategic view, but at least some distant thinking to start with.

But this is very unfortunate that our politicians look up to the next elections and draw up plans and methodologies as to how to befool the people of their vote bank and win them over till they cast their next vote for them. Most of the office bearers appear in front of the public for mere photo sessions and to impress the “illiterate literates” with their hollow, yet apparently promising speeches and actions. The riding on motorcycle during the floods was just one of the many gimmicks our leaders play to show to the poor their “concern” for them. But back in the capital, they ride in an armada of bullet proof cars and dozens of escort vehicles, for which the traffic is blocked for hours together, much to the discomfort and agony of the common man.

Their short sighted vision, as I said before, is only to win the next election. A few days back, I read news about the “Sasti Roti” project. The news read that the government of Punjab spent an amount of Rs. 4.66 million per day over the last 20 months. This means that a total of Rs. 2,796 million (or Rs. 2.796 billion) has been spent on a project with very limited and short sighted objectives in view. Although, it may have made the CM popular in the eyes of those people who got cheaper bread, but did it make any sense at all?

If there was a man with a vision was in his place, instead of spending such a colossal amount for limited gains, and that too in big cities only, there were many other wise and prudent options available for poverty alleviation on mid to long term basis. For example, Rs. 4.66 million could provide some 23 motorcycle-rickshaws (@ Rs. 200,000) per day, provide innumerous sewing machines, or even milk giving buffalos to countless number of widows and the poor to start their own business and even repay the amount. But like visiting the flood hit areas on a motorcycle, the sasti roti was also to earn him cheap popularity and nothing else.

The same goes for the Benazir Income Support Programme as well - providing money to many, which would cease when the present government goes. Instead a far sighted PM could announce soft loans, if not to many, but to a sizeable people who could start their own small scale business and earn their livelihood on a long term basis.

But there are still wise men left in the country, one of whom for instance giving interest free loans (Akhuwat NGO to name one) to poor women to earn their own livelihood honourably rather than seeking a sasti roti, a project that died it own death recently. Even the Rescue 1122 and Four Stroke CNG rickshaws to get rid of the pollution creating two stroke rickshaws by a previous government is a commendable step and futuristic in approach. Although I have no political affiliations with any party, the good deeds must be commended rather than clapping hands out of sheer adulation.

For how long we will remain enslaved to the short sighted leaders and their equally short lived policies at the cost of hard earned money from the tax payers? The tax payers have no clue as to where their tax money goes – to the development of the country or for promotion of the cheap popularity of the political parties in the heartland of their vote bank.

The concept of micro financing and Grameen Bank of Bangladesh earned its founder a Nobel Prize, while our short sighted politicians settle for gains related to their person or their parties at the cost of the tax payers’ money. I found them raising slogans of changing the lives of the poor in their speeches. But has anyone ever visited the plight of the poor in far flung areas of Pakistan, where poor live the same miserable life since ages? For them, party A or B or C doesn’t matter even if they had voted for any. For them life remains as miserable as it was yesterday or as it would be tomorrow. But everything isn’t bad either. While people generally suffer, the good news are that the assets of the politicians have swelled manifold, as has been reported after filing of the asset declaration by some out of the many politicians. Jolly good. Is'nt it?



//Rs. 2,796 million (or Rs. 2.796 billion) //



Anyhow... I like your take, especially on sasti roti. Indeed, our policy makers regardless of their party affiliation, have no peanuts' brains on how to draft policies and how to set about it.

However, I would slightly differ on Income Support Program. Though I think that it's rather a voters buying program. In the past, govts have given out soft loans, but it hasn't done any good. It is easier to trick on soft loans for the staff. Plus, chances are fat that loans wouldn't be returned, especially when a new govt takes up a charge. So I am quite skeptical about any other alternative for ISP.


Similar sentiments with solutions and recommendations on who can do this. If something like this article becomes a part of widespread discussions, this may force powers to be in Pakistan to listen

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