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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

The Take It Too Easy Polity

With prices of utilities climbing apace and delivery short and inefficient, the great Indian hoodwink continues

The Take It Too Easy Polity
AFP (From Outlook 04 March 2013)
The Take It Too Easy Polity
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

In his first address to the nation after being selected to lead the UPA-I government in May 2004, PM Manmohan Singh had famously stated, “Reforms are needed, I have always said that, but economic reforms with a human face will give India’s common man real hope.” He had gone on to reassure the over one billion listening that econo­mic and social dev­el­opm­ent would be “for all, not just for a few”.

Nine years on, alas, it is not just the poor and forgotten millions in rural India who are waiting for long-pro­m­ised basic amenities like clean potable water, electricity, public tra­n­sport­at­ion, working sewerage systems, good roads, neighbourhood sch­ools, gas connections and suppl­ies. No, all this sounds like a fantastic dream for most people outside privileged gated communities. Life in the teeming cities, especially in urban slums, poor and middle-class localities, is getting tou­gher—bordering on the unbearable.

Sure, everyone and their grandmot­her complains about the rising cost of living. And there arises a palpable anger and frustration when there’s no guarantee of quality service despite escalating charges on utilities, be it electricity, water, sanitation, transp­ort and so on. There have been several protests across urban India­. People feel let down by the very reforms that were supposed to improve essential services, eliminate wastage, serve up increased competition and the­r­eby lower costs. Instead, people are upset at the higher user charges, the indifferent service, and the realisat­ion that the state, in retreating in favour of private players, isn’t taking precautions to protect consumer interest.

And this is not a Delhi or Mumbai phenomenon alone—the state of affa­irs...

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