Positive Indian Politics: Discover and Engage

(Excerpts from Shanthala Damle’s blog)

Why Politics?

Posted by Shanthala Damle on July 24, 2010

Over the last 12 years, I have often thought about getting into politics. “Are you crazy? Why politics?” is a typical response by my friends, relatives and acquaintances when I mention about my interest to enter active politics in India. Most people say that “good and honest people cannot survive in politics.” Another typical response is that “there are other ways to contribute to the society. Why don’t you join a non-profit?.” While I appreciate their genuine concern for my well-being and their effort to protect me from what they see as imminent failure, I remain positive and a strong believer in the positive politics.

Yes, there are several other ways to make significant contribution to society. I believe that politics offers the most effective way among all others. It’s the politics that establish a society where the other ways of making contributions are possible!


Janardhana Swamy

Posted by Shanthala Damle on July 24, 2010

I don’t personally know Janardhana Swamy expect through a few emails, one phone call and a recent brief meeting at a dinner in Maryland, USA hosted by his friends. He has come across as a very humble, yet confident, professional politician during these occasions.

Whenever I remember Janardhana Swamy, I get positive energy. I didn’t know about him until some of my classmates from BDT recently told me about him. Yet, his story encourages and inspires me about positive politics. He had humble beginnings. He studied in the same college as mine – BDT College of Engineering, Davanagere, just a few years earlier. After BDT, he went to IISc and then worked in the United States for nearly a decade in the IT industry. Then, he returned to India during 2007 or 08, and then decided to enter politics and now an member of parliament (MP) from Chitradurga.

A few friends have said “give him some more years! I bet he will become like everyone else in politics”. I realize it is too early to tell. Nevertheless, Janardhana Swamy is a live example to feel encouraged and determined about the possibility of positive politics. His example provides a reassurance that an Indian citizen doesn’t necessarily need to belong to a rich business or political family – or have “qualifications” such as being corrupt to the core or having friendship with local goondas – to be able to enter politics.

Thank you, Janardhana Swamy.


Posted by Dipinder on August 22, 2010

Great – I hope Mr Swamy does well.

It is common knowledge that all major parties spend much more than the legal expense limit of Rs 25 lakhs per constituency for parliamentary elections (average about 20 times i.e., Rs 5 Cr). All candidates however have to declare these expenses, which they do and lie about. The expenses above Rs 25 lakhs have to be done in black; therefore, corruption begins from this step.

It will be good if Mr Swamy could comment about these two issues.

Janardhana Swamy’s Response

Posted by Shanthala Damle on September 25, 2010

Dipinder had posted a comment on my blog about Janardhana Swamy sometime ago and had included a question for him. Yesterday, I emailed Dipinder’s question to Janardhana Swamy and received an immediate response as below:


Regarding the comment posted at the blog:

The question is not if all the contested stayed within the limit of 25 lakhs rupees. I think the more worthwhile question would be, as in the case of many rules we have, whether the rule makes sense AND whether the rule is effectively enforced to serve its intended purpose.

What good it is to make the great traffic rules if they are not enforced? In cases of poor enforcements and if there is no penalty for a violation, someone capable of violating the rule can potentially get an upper hand — disadvantaging the law abiding one. Since, the law abiding one is disadvantaged in this competition, he/she will have little chances of succeeding in the race against the violators; thus effectively preventing good guys getting elected. So, if you are a law abiding one at the place where law-breaker has the advantage for not abiding by the law, you have less chances of becoming a law-maker. In other words, more often than not, one will have to be a law-breaker in the process of becoming a law-maker. Thus, it is a catch 22 problem.

So, what is the way out? There appears no magic bullet. Instead, the educated and concerned people must see their obligation to help in these types of situations and even opt for directly getting into the politics/governance (if you don’t want to, why they should expect others to do it?). Those who make an entry also need to figure out innovative and effective ways to reduce the cost of getting elected (using their support network, media, etc., effectively) to put themselves into less obligatory mode as possible than others, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for corruption to begin with. Society also need to be educated and made aware of its obligation (numerous methods available) to elect the clean people than those who provide instant incentives to get votes. It’s not a quick battle, but it is worth the fight. Rather than just being sceptic on everything, let’s each do our part. If anyone has a better method to solve the problem (than just highlighting it), I would welcome it. If they can even demonstrate their method of solving the problem, that would be even better.

Janardhana Swamy