Will we accomplish the MDGs by 2015?

No, Not at the rate we are going says Salil Shetty, director of the UN Millenium Development Goals in an interview out here. Why? Because “the incentivisation of development delivery is very low.” 

As part of the campaign, you interact with a lot of politicians and bureaucrats. Do you think there is absolute apathy among the ruling classes?

It depends. You can’t generalise because there are also some very sincere politicians and bureaucrats. I am a student of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), and most of my batchmates are in the private sector. They are all in their mid-40s, have made piles of money and find now a good time to start feeling guilty. They are starting to think about these issues, but what’s striking is how low their expectations of the government have sunk. Historically, poor people never expected much because they didn’t get much. But the better-off sections have given up on the government so much that everything is privatised. The elite in this country or any other country don’t send their children to government schools. We don’t even go to a government health centre because we won’t risk that. So education and health was privatised for the elite a long time ago. Now it’s even worse. Security is privatised because people don’t trust the government security systems. It’s the case even with electricity. People now have generators and inverters. Now people are starting to make their own roads because you can’t rely on the government to deliver a decent road. Politics for most is dirty stuff. They want to manage their companies but not the country. So when you say apathy, its just years of lowering expectations. Now they say government is hopeless and we have to look for our own solution. So you look for charity, NGOs, private sector. But we are supposed to be a democracy, a welfare state, and if you don’t get the government to deliver, what is the sustainable way you are going to address these problems? You can’t keep expecting NGOs to do it. The elite need to realise that if they do not address these problems, they cannot sustain their peace, prosperity, stability and security.

Go, read the interview and think what we can do and let us take some action, however small it is, it all adds up.


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