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[liberationtech] Jantar Mantar Vs Tahrir Square

Rohan Dixit rohandixit86 at gmail.com
Thu Apr 14 05:53:35 PDT 2011


I agree with Amit that in a democracy, change comes through the ballot box.
The parallel with Egypt is not the best one, in my opinion.

His point about "who are we fighting against" is also a good one. In a
complex, multi-party democratic system like in India, corruption is not the
problem of a single ruling party, but rather endemic to the system. The
culture of "bhaksheesh" or bribes is pretty widespread. Most of these bribes
are inconsequential, but the sum total is more or less "death by a thousand
paper cuts" in the world's largest democracy of more than a billion people.

I think the best model is to make structural changes that force openness at
all levels of government. Providing electronic, web interfaces for applying
for permits, licenses and so on can allow anonymized information to be
published in real-time on the web. For example, when was a given application
submitted and when was it approved? Who did the approval, and what is their
usual time for approving an application? Publishing this data can allow
citizens to inspect for themselves if there are outliers in the government
data.

As a general rule, simply do not allow in-person meetings with bureaucrats
to the greatest extent possible- it sets things up for a bribe. Instead (and
obviously there must be better ideas than this) turn government offices for,
say, applying for a building permit into "help desks" for using the
government web software interface to apply for the license. Physically
separate the people at these offices cum help desks from the actual decision
makers.

Regards,
Rohan Dixit

On Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 8:23 AM, Pranesh Prakash <pranesh at cis-india.org>wrote:

> On Tuesday 12 April 2011 03:20 PM, prashant singh wrote:
> > but in spite of all
> > that i must say that we didn't really managed to have our "Tahrir Square"
> > moment. whole thing eventually fizzled out and many amongst us believe
> that
> > this won't bring any substantial change in the way things are done
>
> What is a 'Tahrir Square' moment?  A moment that doesn't fizzle out?  A
> moment that brings substantial change?  How, and importantly *when*, do
> you judge the (non-)fizzling out of the Tahrir Square moment, or its
> bringing about of substantial change?  A month after the moment?  Ten
> months after the moment?  Sixty-four years after the moment?  When will
> we find out whether Egypt has had its Tahrir Square moment?  Who will
> have the authority to tell us?
>
> Perhaps we should think of creating a Tahrir Square index of
> revolutionary moments?
>
> Cheers,
> Pranesh
>
> --
> Pranesh Prakash
> Programme Manager
> Centre for Internet and Society
> W: http://cis-india.org | T: +91 80 40926283
>
>
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