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“METRO MAN” AS CHIEF MINISTER NOMINEE IN INDIA-EXPERIMENT WITH EXPERIENCE
By N. S. Venkataraman

Mr. Sreedharan is now 88 years old and the political detractors would tick him off negatively for being an “aged man”. But, with an alert mind and reasonably good health, Mr. Sreedharan can certainly ensure that such criticism would be rejected by the people with the contempt that it deserves.

With the rapid development In the field of science and technology practices, information technology, and management/administrative techniques all over the world, it requires a high level of updated knowledge amongst the ministers in states and central government to govern the country in an efficient and progressive way.

With the limitations of democracy in practice being what it is, knowledgeable and efficient people do not become ministers all the time. Semi literate politicians and even those with dishonest mental outlooks and backgrounds with little experience in administration are often posted as ministers.

While a number of ministers, parliamentarians, and legislators in the ruling party are often not on par with the required capability to meet the challenges ahead, those in the opposition parties do not fare any better.

With most of the ministers in the central and state governments having a little grip and knowledge about the functions in the ministries that they handle, they largely depend upon the advice and guidance of IAS officers. Unfortunately, the IAS officers are often seen to be the jack of all trades and master of none. Many people now think that the team of ministers and bureaucrats are the stumbling block for the progress of the nation due to their limited understanding of the technicalities involved in the functions and they often do make costly mistakes.

In such circumstances, many discerning people think that there is a need to improve the standards and quality of ministers and IAS officers. However, no one is really sure as to how this can be done in the present democratic style of functioning, with elections throwing all and sundry as winners by getting majority votes.

Obviously, everyone seems to recognize that in the various forms of governance like a dictatorship, communist regime, feudal system, and democracies, the best practice is the system of democratic governance, even if there are weak links in democracies. Choice of the system of governance is essentially a compromise decision.

In such conditions, the entire country has been taken by pleasant surprise when Mr. E. Sreedharan, known for efficiency in discharging functions and justifiably nicknamed as “metro man”, has volunteered to enter politics and has even said that he would be willing to take over as the Chief Minister of Kerala if the people would desire.

Of course, like Mr. E. Sreedharan, there were many efficient technocrats in the past like Mr. Visveshwarayya of Karnataka and so many others but they confined themselves to their specialist areas and never ventured into politics. Mr. E. Sreedharan is now trying to create a different situation, by trying to inject administrative efficiency and technology capability in the political leadership of the country. This can undo the limitations of democracy to some extent if allowed to happen.

In recent times, a number of retired IAS-IPS officers and former judges have ventured into politics but they have not made any difference in administration. However, in the case of Mr. E. Sreedharan has ventured into politics with enormous experience and having ensured efficient administration in a politically run governance..

Mr. E. Sreedharan is certainly a rare personality seen these days, who has exhibited a high level of efficiency in administration and in executing projects as seen in the case of Delhi metro and Kochi metro and now seeking entry into politics. During his service, he showed determination to stand up to political pressures and the demand of vested interests and ensured that the projects would move on at the desired pace and with the level of efficiency needed. He is one person who has been applauded for his valiant and successful efforts all over India and has emerged as the role model for efficiency and commitment in techno-managerial administration in the government machinery.

Mr. Sreedharan”s venture into politics has given new hope that there is a way of improving the administration in a democratic society.

However, it still remains to be seen as to whether Mr. E. Sreedharan will be allowed to succeed in electoral politics and if he would become the Chief Minister of Kerala, whether he can maintain his majority number in assembly without compromising his principles and standards that are much needed by the country.

Mr. Sreedharan is now 88 years old and the political detractors would tick him off negatively for being an “aged man”. But, with an alert mind and reasonably good health, Mr. Sreedharan can certainly ensure that such criticism would be rejected by the people with the contempt that it deserves.

The “metro man” has now posed a challenge and opportunity for the electorate in Kerala state.

The “ metro man “becoming Chief Minister of Kerala would be an experiment with experience.

In the past, the electorate in Kerala have exhibited a high level of maturity and have repeatedly shown that they cannot be swayed by emotion and motivated campaigns and can exercise their decisions with clarity and understanding of the ground realities. The entire country will now watch the decision of the electorate in Kerala with regard to the “metro man;” with high expectation and anxiety, during the forthcoming state election.

In any case, Mr. E. Sreedharan, who has now become the talk of the town, will be talked about in the future also for his initiative, whether he would succeed in electoral politics or not.

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.
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