Sunday, March 11, 2012

The economic turnaround of UP is round the corner

Some time back I talked about political padyatras going out of fashion, as a result of which we find today's politicians unfit & unhealthy. This was after watching the stage crash under one of these overweight leaders. Now as another overweight leader finds herself thrown off her throne, the thorn to prick her vain bubble is a politician who refrained from the automobile for his yatra.

Cycling over the roads of UP, Akhilesh realised what wold click with the voters. I am sure, the year-long cycling expedition would have made him fit enough to accomplish the task on hand within the next 5 years. That BSP, symbolised by the elephant (pls don't look for any puns today), did not succeed is evidence enough of the task being indeed mammoth.

Playing catch up with the rest of the country riding a bicycle on what are called roads in UP would only result in UP lagging further behind. This is why I like the realism & the brilliant thinking of Akhilesh. Giving every kid a tablet & his elder sibling a laptop is a game changer the likes of which we rarely see in Indian politics. Of course, Naidu strove to turn Hyderabad into a Cyberabad but found himself cooling his heels  on the opposition benches. Can this happen to Akhilesh too?

I doubt. This is not about handing e-toys to the kids in UP. The tablets & laptops would be the nucleus around which the economy of UP would grow. Many new businesses are bound to emerge from this single initiative. We shall see the dawn of bhaiya entrepreneurship. How?

The government would be distributing around 2500000 tablets & laptops, each every year. This would also result in not only increased sales for the hardware industry but also generation of additional jobs  & mushrooming of new businesses. 

The ancillary service providers in any thriving commercial zone would now be seen in UP too. The chief among these are the Kitlis or the Tapris, that are so common in the economically developed regions. Along the Mehsana-Vapi golden corridor, you will find a tea stall every 500-m in a town & every 5-km on the highway. Try doing so in UP & you will be able to quit tea easily. So why do I want the Kitlis to be a thriving business in UP, or everywhere? 

Once these watering holes are easily accessible, the other varieties (called theka's) shall lose business & close down. It is common knowledge that the revenues from these theka's are redeployed for electoral gains. If Akhilesh is serious about refraining from gundagardi, the theka owners should be more worried about lost political patronage than lost business. This would clean up the politics too. (The ethanol that provides the kick in country liquor can be blended with petrol for a cleaner & cheaper fuel, but this is irrelevant to this piece)

Why would people spend time at a tapri than do some productive work? This starts as a compulsion & soon turns into a habit. All these people who would now be gainfully employed in permanent jobs would need to go to the office every day as well as on job-related errands during the day. We can now look forward to more 2-wheeler showrooms coming up all over UP. However, riding these 2-wheelers on the roads of UP would take a heavy toll of the vehicles. 

The next industry that is bound to expand is the roadside garage. To attend to small problems of vehicles that require urgent attention, the mechanics presently at the service stations & assistants to mechanics at the garages shall start their own small shops to handle roadside emergencies. While the vehicles are in capable hands, the owners would go to the nearby tapri & drown a tea or two. 

When the business is slack, both the garagewala as well as the tapriwala would gather at Banarsi's to exchange notes & discuss the weighty issues being faced by the state & nation. Arre, Banarsi is the panwala who set up his shop soon after the garage flourished!!

The other job opportunities & businesses that would come up are:

  • Teachers in schools to teach students the basics of handling tablets & laptops
  • Training centres to teach students and other family members the basics of handling tablets & laptops
  • Service centres for tablets & laptops (after the end of the warranty period)
  • Training centres to train technicians for servicing tablets & laptops
  • DG set vendors as people would need electricity to power/charge their tablets & laptops
  • Diesel suppliers to deliver the fuel for DG sets
  • Technicians to tweak the DG sets to run on kerosene
  • Kerosene suppliers to deliver the fuel
  • Intermediaries to divert kerosene under PDS
  • State vigilance teams to ensure that kerosene under PDS is not being diverted 
  • Private scouts to monitor the movement of state vigilance teams & ensure that kerosene under PDS is diverted

Its not just the economy that would benefit from Akhilesh's brainchild. The social spin offs are even greater. Once every third home has a tablet or a laptop, the roadside goons would no longer roam the streets of UP. Rather they would be active on the social media. The FB wall would be the new battle ground, where you will receive your threats. The one with the largest followers would be crowned the biggest goon & no blood would be shed. 

The clinics & the hospitals would then attend medical cases, while the police would be able to sleep peacefully in their thana's. The doctors would happily treat people suffering from backaches due to riding 2-wheelers on the roads of UP, rather than those beaten up by the friendly neghbourhood goon. The police would be able to chat with their chums across the table rather than across the lockup bars.

People would increasingly resort to the social media to stay connected. Thus, they would go out of their homes less often. The government can then focus its attention to improving only the major roads & people would no longer complain about the other roads.

Thus, while the private enterprise would have filled in the Bijli gap, the Government would have provided the Sadak. UP has never had any problem of the Pani. With Bipasa all over UP, Akhilesh need not worry about the Maya's, Priyanka's & Uma's!

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