Democracy’s Missing Business Case

There are overall proponents and opponents to any system of social representation in national governance. I am not getting into that.

Over many years I have come across many arguments, all good ones, in support of voting. I also agree, if you are in a democratic environment, then you should vote to select a candidate for an office.

Here’s my drill-down on the problem as I see it.

  1. There are candidates for an office.
  2. The candidates have an agenda, a manifesto.
  3. They reach out and try to convince the people on why they are the right choice.
  4. On voting day, the people go out to their designated centers and submit a secret ballot. (Yes for their favorite Candidate)
  5. The ballot is counted and the winner declared.

We all know how this works. It’s wonderfully simple, but a nightmare to organize and maintain a high quality of vote.

Generally the voting is structured to allow for selecting one of the given candidates. I strongly believe that there should also be an abstain option (non-of-the-above). This option is a direct reflection on the confidence in the candidates.

Sometime ago in Pakistan, we had our Prime Minister walking into office with a 2/3 majority win. That’s like wow! Never heard of such land-slide wins. What no body bothered to mention that the voter turn out was the lowest ever. The opposition supporters had lost faith in their candidate, though strongly believed in their agenda, so did not show up on voting day.

Putting this in business perspective:

I am a stakeholder in a large organization which has interests across the industrial verticals. It is a huge organization. I am interested in hiring a president and vice president for this company. What I will do is:

  1. Set job description
  2. Set qualifications and pre-requisite experience
  3. Post the job opening on the job sites and set a apply before date
  4. Wait for resumes and filter them, short list them, send out invitations for interviews
  5. Maybe have multiple rounds of interviews and a test or two
  6. Finally, award the job to the “BEST” candidate

In case through this process, I do not feel that I’ve found an appropriate resource, I’ll put out a second round of ad(s) and go through the process till I find someone who is the absolute “BEST” resource for the position.

Now, if this was a daily run-o-the-mill organization, it’s totally understandable, we as stakeholders need to keep an eye on the ROI, profitability, growth of the organization, we’ll go through the due dilligence and detailed analysis of every person, verify the education, past employers, recommendations, achievments and skills.

This brings me to the missing use case in democracy.

Standard Business Case: Select only one of the candidates listed.

This assumes that I have some level of confidence in the capabilities and potential of all the candidates. What happens when I actually do not have that confidence. I feel that all the candidates put forward are actually not up to my expectations and the job’s expectations. What do I do then? Do I check all of them, which I’m not allowed to? Do I leave it blank, this is equivalent to me not showing up? Or do I tell the electorial board that, I came and deliberately am saying that all these candidates are not up to the mark?

So, the candidates will get disqualified for this round of “employment” if no-show-voters + abstain-count > 50% (just pulling a number).

In a situation when 40% of the voting population shows  up, and then the winner claims 2/3 majority, land-slide win. It is incorrect and improper implementation of equal representation.

We are a Bad People

A few days ago I was talking to a gentleman about the local situation in Pakistan. With all the different factions/parties/independents trying to leverage any event to their own advantage. 

We talked about the economic situation, the political situation, the Talibans and Mullahs (please not I am not using the term Aalim), the under-the-table feudalism, the corruption. We ended up covering almost everything. It was depressing and entertaining, it almost feels like a Shakespearean tragedy/comedy.

We both agree that there is major truth to the phrase “you are judged by the company you keep”. As an individual that is true to a great extent, however, at times there are circumstances when this may not be true. I thought of another phrase at that time.

A people are judged by their rulers.

This is true, to a certain extent, as the rulers become the ambassadors of the nation, and represent the culture, thoughts, ideology of the people of that nation. Therefore, this being a self proclaimed democratic nation, implies that our rulers have been picked by the people. Therefore, the people have the same self defeatist attitude, mentality, and emotional instability that these leaders posses.

Hey, I’m not naming names here, but, let the guilty defend themselves. 😉

Coming back to my conversation with the gentleman, he recalled and quoted what another associate of his had commented on the state of the nation that is Pakistan.

… I was having a conversation with Mr. Smith, and he said shaking his head, “We are a bad people”…

Having said that, I do not think that we, Pakistanis are a bad lot at all. There is a large proportion of the nation who are actually good people in the real sense of the word. However, the political, social, economic, educational and other cultural forces in play have marginalized these people below the poverty line, where they are stuck in a situation from which they can’t seem to get out of. 

All you Pakistani people out there. We are not thieves, liars, drug and gun trafficers, nor are terrorists, extremists, or any other form of nut cases. We are sane people, we think rationally, we are aware of our surroundings, economy, politics. Even the illiterate amongst us is educated enough to understand the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, progress and self destruction. We can make the difference. We, the small minority, can make a difference.

There is one condition though. Sacrifices will need to be made. We will have to put the nation before our families and our families before us. We have to understand that we all are here to serve the nation for which train-loads of people lost their lives.

A person who through inaction allows bad things to happen, is worse than the person who does bad things.

Another interesting thing I learnt through conversations with someone who had met Qaid’e’Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was shocking to say the least. Related to our motto, the original motto is:

Unity, Discipline, Faith

It was changed to what it is now to satisfy the “Mullah” people’s argument that this is an Islamic nation, and faith have to come before discipline. I have one thing to say to these people. Take a break, relax. This is too small a thing to argue over. The thing we should focus on is that all three aspects are equally important.

  1. Cannot Unite a people who are undiciplined.
  2. Cannot Discipline a people who do not have some form of faith.
  3. Cannot have Faith without being diciplined and united.

Well that’s my rant for today, hope it was entertaining, and if I happened to offend someone, then I have proved my point.

Democracy — What?

What is this thing called Democracy?

The Wikipedia page on Democracy starts off by saying “Democracy is a form of government in which power is held by people under a free electoral system.”

According to the one of the definition (meaning) of Democracy on the Merrium-Webster web site:

Democracy is a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

This definition identifies a form of power that is supreme, also identifies that this power is vested in the people. My first question is what kind of power is this? And, if this has been vested in the people then what does it allow the said people to do? Following the identification of power and where it is vested, there is an indication of the ability to “directly or indirectly” exercising it. Equally important is the reference to a “system of representation” and “periodically held free elections”.

All these fancy words are all pretty and all. but, does this not imply that these so called people should have some form of vision.

In my opinion, the ability to first of all have a vision, above and beyond the self, and on top of that, realizing their own capability of making their vision a reality. I think there are two things here that are directly relevant, 1) literacy, and 2) education. These two may at times are considered as the same thing, however, I have come to realize that these two, however related, have slightly different meaning, it may be just a matter of a shade of difference, but the difference is definitely there.

In short I think an illiterate person may be educated however, and a literate person may be uneducated.

If a person is educated, then they have the ability to effectively take part in this thing called — drum roll — Democracy.

In Pakistan, we all speak of literacy rates, and how they are improving. However, I know as a fact that these rates are cooked up. It defines a person to be literate if he or she can read or write their own name. That’s about all that is actually needed to sign legal document, or identify themselves. What more is needed in life? Really?

I hope the sarcasam was not too thick to read through.

Please someone explain something to me. I am totally up to here (slashing sign with my hand near my neck) with trying to figure this one out.

How does this so called brilliant thing called Democracy work in a culture where:

  1. A strong unspoken feudal system is still prevalent.
  2. The executive arm of the law are on the beck and call of their feudal masters.
  3. The law makers and definers are exceptional at protecting their feudal masters.
  4. The majority of the population is indebted to their feudal masters for “favors done onto their ancestors”.

Please explain, why in this democratic country, no one has actually worked towards education of the nation? The simple answer is that, education, leads to awareness, awareness leads to, well, the ability to be more than mere slaves. Education empowers the people to be aware of their rights, which is counter productive to the machinery that is the feudal system.

How to Run a Country

There are a number of ways people can run their country. There is Democracy, Aristrocracy, Dictatorships, and Communism, just to name a few.

What is the best way to run “a” country. How does one decide on which option one should pick? Do we just go with the flow and pick the most common way of running a country? Do we look at our culture and society and economics and natural resources and decide what is the best way to run our country? Do we let other countries – successful countries – decide what method we should follow?

Basically, I think it would be worth investigating a system where everyone in the country is responsible and accountable for the stability, well-being, success and failures of the country.

On paper, I guess it sounds too good to be true? and is definitely easier said than actually done?

In Pakistan, how does one hold every single individual responsible and accountable for the nation. Responsibility requires awareness of the person’s role in the nation as a whole. That awareness comes from the person being educated in some manner or the other in the matter at hand.

There are other aspects included in this also. A Great many aspects. Everyone has their own perspective on this subject.

I guess when we talk about Pakistan and the Government of Pakistan and any other civil office of Pakistan, we automatically assume that the situation is impossible and nothing can be done here. Best to leave it alone.

Pakistan seems to have developed a habit of swinging between bouts of democracy and dictatorships.

It is sad to see the current state of affairs!

State of the State

In this day and age of lightening fast communication, thanks to the internet, one would imagine that anything is possible and people use the internet to their advantage. Evaporating time and distance barriers. Doing business at the speed-of-light sort of thing.

But… Nooo!! We don’t believe in progress. Progress is the other name of the devil. If you use the internet you will go to hell mentality. If you use your dang’d mind and think beyond your tiny inconsequential self and be someone, is a mortal sin, punnishable with a lifetime of praise and prosperity. Nooo… we can’t have progress, it’s a tool of Satan’s minions, the white man who speaks with a forked tongue.

I hope no one noticed the sarcasam there.

What is it with us as a nation. We are such small minded people. We have a problem with the word “we”. My people don’t belive in the word in it’s full sense. For my people, we is me, my wife, my kids, and perhaps if other relatives if they treat me as a superior human being, they would have the privlidge to deserve inclusion in the we.

I can’t small minded people, people who can’t make a 1 year plan with the ever ready excuse, it can’t be done, or who’s going to do it, or do you know how difficult that it, or some other self-limiting reasoning.

Sometimes I feel that “we” as a nation is afraid of achieving greatness, we actually enjoy the slave role, we thrive in it, in self pity, in the delusion that “our hands are tied”, blaming someone else for not getting up and doing something about it.

For the smallest problem, we look outwards to other nations for help. We don’t sit down, make a plan, tighten our belts and sacrifice for a greater tomorrow.

This is insane. I’d probably get a whole lotta hate filled comments, but look around you. Take a good look, when you’re walking down the street, when you’re looking out the window, when you’re in the market. When you’re reading this, YOU are a small minority or a small percentage of this nation which we claim to love so much.

I don’t care who you are, we are all responsible for the future of our nation. We are responsible for a better tomorrow. If there is an idiot elected or assigned to any public office, it is our collective fault. And we have no right to complain about the situation of the nation and it’s economy because it happened on your watch. So please. spare me the the rightiousness and examples of all the good that someone else is doing. I’m not interested in the achievements of some one person.

The Internet – A Paradox! – Anarchy?

Earlier this month I came across a question on Linkedin. It had made me think at that time what I feel all of us might have thought of at some time or the other. “What is up with all this trash on the internet? Wouldn’t it (internet) be a much better place to visit without this trash?”

I am using the word trash to encompass all forms of ethically questionable content available online.

Now that opens another box of problems, basically following the adage, “one man’s trash is another’s treasure”.

What to do?

The question was regarding Illegal Downloads from the Internet.

http://www.linkedin.com/answers/career-education/ethics/CAR_PET/171596-5124762

My question still is? Who is actually responsible? Am I as a user of a service held responsible for using a service that has been provided by someone out there (on the internet)? or, Is the provider responsible for providing questionable content on the internet? or, Are the Hosting Service providers responsible? or, Are the infrastructure providers to be held responsible? or, Will we take governing bodies to task?

Take the “Adult Entertainment” industry for example. Although it is looked down upon by the majority, it is a booming business on the internet. Even in that industry apparently at times a form of morality is seen when certain aspects of the industry are brought to light.

The other major financial loss that corporations of all sizes suffer is at the hands of software pirates. The people who provide product activation keys, product serial codes, hacks and cracks for valuable software.

Who should I hold responsible if I find content on the internet that is objectionable for me on any level? Is the internet a free-for-all Anarchy?

If I decide to say something on this blog, that is offensive to someone out there? Do they have the right to deface, destroy or disable my blog? If someone puts something out there that is offensive to me, do I have a right to do the same to him (or her)?

Does the internet reflect the overall state of mind of humanity? Perhaps that’s another topic for another post?

The actual reason I am writing this is because today, my father sent me a link to an article through email, the subject was simply “Interesting”.

Here’s the link:

http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9878655-7.html

This article is titled “How Pakistan knocked YouTube offline (and how to make sure it never happens again”.

Firstly, I was saddened when I read the title, but curiosity led me to read on. By the end of it I didn’t know what to do or how to feel? I had so many questions? Leading all these questions was a deep disappointment with the status quo. Some of my questions were…

  1. Was Pakistan right to act this way against YouTube?
  2. Is it actually that easy to execute a Denial of Service Attach on a global enterprise?
  3. What protection is there for my online assets?
  4. Why didn’t YouTube take those videos off? (assuming Pakistani authorities communicated through proper channels)
  5. Why do these things keep happening globally?

When I go online, I browse the internet, I talk to my friends, collegues, and family through instant messengers, I send and receive emails from a host of people, I access by business related information online. I leave a footprint everywhere. I believe that I don’t have anything to hide, however, it’s not hiding that’s a problem, it’s the criminal activities that’s a problem, identity theft, phishing emails, worms, trojans and the lot.

There seems to be more and more trash out there than useful information. How do I sift through all of the junk without being affected by it. It is expensive for me to be online to browse and surf and email and chat, why should people out there be allowed to waste my time like this.

I have so many protection programs running on my machine, that I don’t get performance, and I’m still not protected.

Who do I point my finger at? Who do I hold responsible?

If it’s anarchy? Then I am free to do what I want on the Internet (as long as it does not ruffle any big corporation’s feathers Intheworld) and no body should stop me, however, Anarchy is a two-edged blade, It gives me freedom to do as I please, on the other hand, it also leaves me vulnerable when I’m online.

How can something (Internet) with a huge potential of doing good for humanity turn so bad?

If I had it my way, I’d make everyone responsible and hold them to their responsibilities strictly. But, wouldn’t that be big-brother-is-watching?