Prom­ises with­out date­lines, yet con­sumers keep the hope

Consumer Voice - - Editor's Voice - Padma Joint edi­tor

Cer­tainly, ev­ery in­di­vid­ual in the coun­try is hop­ing for and talk­ing about some change. What that change is, is not yet clear though. When­ever a po­lit­i­cal leader or a man­i­festo of some party is pre­sented to the com­mon man, he knows that more than half of those prom­ises will not be kept. And he goes out to vote for the one he be­lieves will keep at least a few of them. And if the face of the party seems fresh, the prom­ises are new and largely connect with the com­mon man’s fun­da­men­tal needs, they sweep away the largest bank of votes.

We all wit­nessed the phe­nom­e­non just about a cou­ple of weeks ago. While cheap power and sub­si­dized cooking gas at­tracted the home­mak­ers, the smart­phone gen­er­a­tion went af­ter the free Wi-Fi, prom­ise of more schools and col­leges pulled in stressed mid­dle­class par­ents; slum dwellers were roped in with the prom­ise of houses; for women, ‘safety’ through CCTV re­mained the buzz­word. Above all, the as­sur­ance of bust­ing cor­rup­tion, trans­parency in pol­i­cy­mak­ing and a ‘we will re­main grounded’ ap­proach brought the com­mon man to power in Delhi.

It all seemed so good. Un­til I read some dozens of ar­ti­cles by sup­posed ex­perts shar­ing opin­ions through var­i­ous medi­ums. One even had th­ese strange statis­tics: 500 schools; 20 col­leges; 1,500,000 cam­eras; 200,000 toi­lets. So, at an av­er­age, a school in ev­ery 3.65 days, a col­lege in ev­ery 91.25 days, toi­let ev­ery 13 min­utes and a cam­era ev­ery two min­utes will make it all hap­pen. The doubt crept in. I ques­tioned my­self if I was in a state of de­nial or I was re­fus­ing to see the re­al­ity, or was it re­ally the be­gin­ning of a phase and that change was wait­ing to hap­pen.

For a com­mon man to gather un­com­mon num­bers of votes from the com­mon peo­ple, some un­com­mon prom­ises had to be made. Will they all be kept is a ques­tion that con­sumers in this democ­racy are ask­ing and are keenly watch­ing. Within a month, power sub­sidy for min­i­mal con­sump­tion is back on the bills and talks with Face­book kind of gi­ants are al­ready on for free WiFi, but the list is quite long, days are too less and pa­tience does not come easy. And we are al­ready see­ing that the man­i­festo had missed out on the ‘*con­di­tions ap­ply’ line at the bot­tom.

So, what am I try­ing to say? No, I am not high­light­ing the ‘prom­ises ver­sus ca­pa­bil­i­ties’ ar­gu­ment. I am only try­ing to present a bird’s eye view of a sit­u­a­tion from a con­sumer’s per­spec­tive. When one votes, he ex­pects to ease out the stress from his life. And the pri­mary cause of stress, es­pe­cially among the poor, is fi­nan­cial stress – the stress to be able to af­ford ba­sic ameni­ties. The gov­ern­ment in Delhi has shaped the con­fi­dence that such a stress-free en­vi­ron­ment is achiev­able, and to main­tain that con­fi­dence we must con­tinue to ask ques­tions, keep a close watch on de­vel­op­ments, and make our cho­sen lead­ers accountabl­e for our ev­ery vote.

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