What are the parameters to judge a government (I am referring to state governments in India) - the various numbers in terms of GDPs, investment figures, the per capita income or others? But these numbers either may not tell the real story or may be misleading sometimes. Or may be it is the infrastructural growth or the ability of the government to provide better standards of living to its citizens. But this is highly subjective in nature. Being analytically challenged I am not equipped to do this analysis. Although one of the measures I always find interesting is to interact with people from different strata of society and ask them about the government which I have been doing in the recent past given the nature of my job which provides me chances to visits various states.
To give you the standard disclaimer – my sample set has been very limited and urban. But I believe if a government is able to reach the common man even in urban area of its jurisdiction and win his trust, its doing a commendable job. At least the government should be able to win some trust without the age old weapons of appeasements. The replies below are based on my memory which is highly unreliable and laziness to remember and write the exact coversation which is highly overtaking. Hence I am giving the gist.
During my recent visit for the credit rating purpose, I had been to Bhuvneshwar and did my little survey. Here are some replies to my questions –
With the Cabbie
Me – Roads are good in your city, isn’t it?
The Cab Driver – Haan Sir. This all has been done after this new CM has come in power.
Me – Is he good?
The Cab Driver – Yes Sir. He is doing some good work. Situation has improved a lot in recent past.
With the hotel guy
Me – It must be off season for you guys, no?
The receptionist of the hotel – Yeah but with lots of companies coming in, we get a lot of business crowed also.
Me – So your CM is getting some work done for you guys?
The receptionist of the hotel – Yeah it’s been a so far so good story. Let’s see how it goes.
With the MD
Me – How has the government been?
MD (of the company I was visiting) – It has been good. They have not extended the license for the mines unless you do some value addition. Hence companies looking for the raw material are also setting up the up gradations facilities.
Me – So lots of new steel companies are coming in? Good. You will get buyers for your pellets.
MD – Yeah. Lots of new facilities are coming in. Plan is to develop the state as steel capital of Asia.
With the Engineer
Me – How is the government, is it as bad as the other BIMARU states?
Engineer (At the upcoming plant) – Well, no one is honest. Everyone is corrupt.
Me – But I heard a lot of good things about your CM.
Engineer – Yeah that is true. There is pressure at the top level to work and some amount of honesty too. They want the work to get done. But the standards deteriorate as you move from top to middle to bottom. But the trickle down effect works.
Me – So at least government is doing some good work.
Engineer – They have to. With pressure from top level, everyone has to work. These days you do see people working in government offices.
There were some other positives and not so negative responses as well about the government. Well, if the common man can shell out some praise for a government, which is not based on caste-based or religion-based or region-based or some other appeasement politics, it must be doing some good work. I have had such experiences only in Gujarat or AP.
For rest of the states like in Maharashtra (Read Mumbai and Pune) or Karnataka (Read Bangalore), there was very little or virtually nothing people had to say in Government’s favor. For UP, people hardly know who their CM is because such has been the political history of the states that by the time you speak out a CM’s name, governments have changed.
For statistics - In 2007, Orissa stood second in the list of states when we see per capita investments data .