Performance and perception

Seasoned analysts of the just-announced outcome of the election to the 15th Legislative Assembly of Karnataka and also the Spokespersons of major political parties taking part in debates telecast by different Kannada channels of the television network dwelt on many issues mirroring the mindset of the State’s electorate of the near-about 70 per cent out of more than five crore eligible voters. The upshot of the views expressed by the participants in the debates centred around the performance of governments in Karnataka during the years in the recent past. One cannot be faulted to infer from all that was expressed during prolonged debates that the overwhelming verdict of the people of the State at large was none-too-flattering. What also emerged in the interactions on the small screen pointed to claims of pro-people acts on a scale that far exceeded the actual performance as judged by the outcomes. While some credit can be deservedly accorded to the governments of the day for whatever benefits accrued to well-marked sections of society, if not every section, the question “At what cost?” looms large in one’s mind.

Monumental structures such as Amba Vilas (more popularly known as Mysore Palace), Vidhana Soudha in the State’s capital, Krishnaraja Sagar Dam in Mandya District which have endured for many decades are known to have been constructed at costs hard to believe when compared to the humongous amounts guzzled by the administrations of our times for even sundry projects of straightening the curve of a few kilometres of a road. Functionaries in the government and elected representatives of people holding top posts siphoning off public funds to their pockets is common knowledge.

While the governments not only appoint experts to offer advice on matters of governing the country but also disclose the nature of advisory from the knowledgeable fraternity, to what extent the successive governments stuck to the prescription in letter and spirit is a matter of conjecture. The nation and its citizens are beholden to the governments vested with the onerous task of ensuring people’s all-round welfare as well as the country’s economic progress year on year to whatever extent the nation is holding fort as the world is watching. Even as some sectors of the economy are keeping their neck above the water mark of performing, the benefits are known to have been grabbed by sections other than the more needy in the population.

While criticism of the frailties of political parties at the helm is an integral part of conducting government business in a democratic set up, doing it by resorting to loose tongue is unfair. According to a seasoned economist keeping a close tab on the performance of administrations at different periods, real performing India is not on the radar of industry bodies. His point is well-taken, remembering that the wheels of progress have to be kept turning without reducing the pace, irrespective of people’s perception of government’s performance.

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