Yesterday Offstumped took a serious view of the parochial water war that has errupted in Karnataka over the Hogenakkal project.  Offstumped’s criticism of the Karnataka BJP fanning the fires has not been receieved with equal enthusiasm with some of Offstumped’s regular readers.

The Hogenakkal issue may have a history here that needs to be factored. The TN Government’s position notwithstanding even if Karnataka has legitimate issues this is not a topic for street politics. It is a subject to be resolved behind closed doors between the respective Governments and relevant tribunals.

Street politics will neither resolve the issue nor solve the underlying water problems. All it does instead is to give legitimacy to mischief mongers masquerading as so called “Kannada activists”. If anyone has done more damage to the Kannada cause it is these self professed “Kannada activists” who have projected a distorted picture of the Kannadiga as parochial narrow minded when in fact Karnataka has been the most open in welcoming migrants from other states and has been extremely successful in harnessing their innovative and entrepreneurial energies to its benefit.

Every fire parochial fire stoked by the BJP in one state will only come back to hurt and haunt it in the neighboring. That in itself should be reason enough for the Karnataka state unit to tone the rhetoric and denounce the anti-tamil fires being stoked by a few mischief mongers. It is nobody’s business to either announce a ban or enforce a ban on Tamil channels or movies.

By not denouncing the anti-tamil hue to the Hogenakkal protests openly and unequivocally the BJP in Karnataka does grave disservice to itself while undermining its nationalist credentials.

Yesterday’s post also raised some questions on the need for populism. Here is a great story from Karnataka which should open eyes and give some perspective to those regular Offstumped readers who have attempted to rationalize populism as a necessary evil.

The scheme, titled Bhagyada Bandi-Yatthu Yojane, envisaged a 50% subsidy to small and marginal farmers, which was limited to Rs 10,000 for a pair of bullocks or a bullock cart. An allocation of Rs 20 crore was made to benefit 20,000 farmers.

 ‘In the open market, a quality wooden-wheel cart is priced between Rs 16,000 and 18,000 and a rubber-tyres fitted cart Rs 25,000-28,000. Farmers at several places obtained the subsidy by showing bullocks they already owned. In some regions, carts that were rolled out developed cracks due to poor quality,”

Taking note of the shortcomings, the government altered the scheme by stopping cart-distribution in mid-2007, but decided to go ahead with the distribution of bullocks. It planned to distribute 50,000 bullocks per year to farmers and earmarked Rs 50 crore for the scheme.

Now, funds earmarked for the scheme have been diverted towards mechanisation of agriculture 

Offstumped Bottomline: From pumpsets to loan waivers, experience tells us that populism almost always fails to deliver. It encourages corruption and nepotism while incentivising the undeserving at the expense of the State. For a State that has come to symbolize the new India in the Knowledge Era, Bullock Cart populism is a disgrace and ought to be a lesson for the BJP to chart a new course.


Offstumped is written by Yossarin from the Indian National Interest


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