The Kumaraswamy Effect

What is the Kumaraswamy Effect?

It is not a scientific phenomenon about to win a Nobel prize for its discoverer, though there is a Kumaraswamy distribution in statistics. It is a just a minor political development, but which has the potential to trigger a revolution in the way humans govern themselves for aeons to come.

On January 18, 2006, H.D. Kumaraswamy, a junior leader in the Janata Dal (S) party, staged a coup by allying with former enemy Bharatiya Janata Party to oust the incumbent Karnataka chief minister Dharam Singh of the Congress Party. The coup surprised everyone, including apparently JDS chief Deve Gowda, since Kumaraswamy had no earlier claim to fame other than being the son of the former. After much political wrangling and a split in the JDS, Kumaraswamy was sworn-in Chief Minister on February 3rd.

Kumaraswamy is the strange fact that he has exactly twenty months to reign; then he must give up his seat to his coalition partner the BJP in accordance with the overnight deal that overthrew Dharam Singh. Interestingly, he considers twenty months sufficient time to achieve whatever he wishes. Even more curiously, he has adopted President Kalam's PURA vision for the state as his agenda as chief minister.

The Kumaraswamy effect can be described by the sudden appearance of governance where there was none. In more visible ways - the sudden appearance of road-building machinery on Bangalore's roads, which have been 'under construction' for the last several years. Bellary road, which I have seen being widened on and off for the past three years, is suddenly nearing completion. A CEO for the Bangalore's new airport has been appointed, and the city's metro has been quickly approved.

I don't know if this is a political gimmick. Perhaps it is. But I have never ever heard or read of a politician who is not under the delusion that he will warm his chair forever; who actually thinks that twenty months are enough and who adopts the published vision of a much respected citizen as his agenda. Add to that Kumaraswamy is young and has no past baggage (voting records do not count in the politics of India's barely literate rural heartland), so the people are not quite cynical about him.

There is nothing novel in this per se. Such political coups have happened before, with Chandrababu Naidu's infamous coup more than a decade ago. Here too a relative unknown eclipsed a heavyweight, this time his own father-in-law. Perhaps it should be called the Chandrababu effect. He also provided widely-acclaimed governance, but then he lasted two terms, and his reign has been seen in hindsight as very Hyderabad-oriented.

There is Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. An international unknown, he was elevated to his position as a surprise. Widely credited with bringing stability to Afghanistan, he has little else to show. Iraq has been struggling to get such a leader.

The Kumaraswamy effect - a relative unknown coming to surprise power democratically, and trying to transform his country within a predecided deadline - could promise to clean up many political quagmires. Uttar Pradesh could do with a Kumaraswamy, Bihar is trying with Nitish Kumar (though he has a long taintable history). Orissa has not been quite lucky with Naveen Patnaik, but one would call it dynastic succession.

Internationally one sees Hugo Chavez, Olusegun Obasanjo (both vying for a third term with a lot dubious to show for their current terms) and more recently Evo Morales. The latter deserves his own 'Morales' effect (and quite a bit of a pun to it, what with Aymara-Quechua morale at a half-millennium high!). But none compare with Kumaraswamy.

I am hoping a Kumaraswamy Effect will sweep India and other countries - Coups by young politicians, with the interests of the country/state foremost, and who know, believe in and abide by deadlines within which to complete agendas. To come from the unknown, and perhaps willing to go back there, leaving sunshine as their legacy.

Will time nurture this hope of mine?


Pradeep said…
Just chanced upon your blog. Interesting. Hopefully Kumaraswamy will have a good Effect on the city, state and country. He seems to be a go-getter. Just keep your fingers crossed.

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