The root of all evil in post-independence India has been, quite unequivocally, its politicians - ranging from downright illiterate to openly criminal (when not octagenarian and senile). Now someone's come up with an interesting way to sift the wheat from the chaff. He's another IIT alumnus who dropped his 'lucrative' Silicon Valley career - Pallav Pandey.
While in the US, he started "an automatic web-based India lunch delivery system to the doorstep (or office step rather) of Indian software engineers working in and around Bay Area. The system was developed in such a way that it didn't require any human intervention and was making $1 profit per lunch box - which was eventually delivered to an NGO for charity."
Now he's back in India where he has started a company that "developed an indigenous Voter Relationship Management System based on the concepts of behavioral science and corporate marketing. It uses concepts similar to what corporations use all over the world to analyze customer expectations and to build customer loyalty based on customer satisfaction. For the representatives, it lets them know what people want them to do, and help them in making future plans for the constituency, accordingly. For people, it reaches them, listens to them and communicates the issues to the representatives on their behalf. In a nut shell, Viplav communications works as mouth and ears of the elected representatives for the duration of his stay in power.
The early years of the company have been tough, not only the idea was rejected at the outset by the discouragement fraternity but it was greeted with wide-spread skepticism in the political circles. After several months of hard work the lucky break through came when the new-age politician Jyotiraditya Scindia was convinced of the possibilities and gave it a try. "
Helping Pallav is B.P. Verma, retired Deputy Advisor, Planning Commission.
They have already implemented this system in Madhya Pradesh, India's sprawling central state, whose 60 million inhabitants outnumber the entire population of UK. From cabinet level ministers to grassroot politicians, the system is designed to eventually single out the politicians who respond most to people's needs.
On Scindia's behalf "the company managed to reach villages which had been declared deserted in government records, ones which are more than 20 miles away from road, without sanitation, without water or electricity. The company officials interacted personally with people in each village understood and compiled the crucial issues put forth by them. These issues are in turn being persistently pursued by the MP and his team of party workers. The company in turn tracks the progress on each of these issues and provides the feedback to the MP."
There is a common strain that effects almost all the third world countries, and that is a belief in the people that the resources are limited and hence what is available is not sufficient for all. The only way out being snatching the other guys share... this breeds corruption in all ranks, starting from POLITICS. Colossal amount of government money and International Aid is wasted because those responsible to put it to good use are convinced that the money is best utilized to serve their interests. No I am not talking about communism here, instead about Education.
Its about educating people that resources are sufficient and they just have to be patient. That their mercedes is of no use if there are no roads in the city.
Any system aiming to drive this change has to accept that we are living in a colorful world where things are not black and white. The politicians who are the primary policy makers, cannot become honest in a day or even a year. Keeping this in mind I think that these guys are working with a very practical approach (www.alchemists-india.com), they are helping the politicians improve their performance and not trying to make them "honest". Once this idea gains acceptablility there will be a lot of change happening and that too when apparently the politicians are working to consolidate their careers... development of the country will be a very useful by-product!!
We are talking about Capitalism here, that too at its best.
YES, THAT'S WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT!
In fact, Pallav wrote to me that: "Typically a problem with NGOs giving feedback and creative inputs is that of
taking the horse to water but not being able to make it drink.We have approached the
problem differently, we charge the horse money for taking him to water and
then he better drink. Its a matter of creating a model where the interests
of the elected representatives are aligned with benefitting the society."