My last 3 posts were related to the sad state of Tamil politics. Hoping to not turn this blog into an anti-TNA rant (which is never my intent), wanted to rationalize my last post in a comparative sense.
Politics is business as usual. But businesses can’t afford politics.
Why do voters tolerate mediocrity in politics but not shareholders in the private sector?
No one sees politics as a hotbed of innovation. Politics is often seen as the preserve of old men clinging to power. Popular culture is full of unflattering terminology for politicians. And constituents are conditioned to expect the least from the people they elect. Accountability means little in politics.
Unfortunately, TNA is no exception to this maxim.
When I said the above, it is more true in contrast to private sector. Except for the part of old men clinging to power, private industries don’t tolerate stagnation.
Businesses exist to increase shareholder values. And the fastest growing consumer companies create value by capitalizing on Social Relevancy. This is best illustrated by yesterday’s departure of Microsoft CEO Ballmer.
Granted the phase of change is not the same in politics. When there is social change, the politicians are expected to be aware of it so they can stay relevant. And they can represent the people better. Something the current president of the US diagnosed well and capitalized on when he first ran for the office. He ran an inspiring and motivating campaign that mobilized the voters.
Just as Microsoft was unable to correct course in time to tap into the technology preferences of new consumers, TNA is set on a tried, tested and failed political course. Microsoft is now fighting to stay relevant in “the post PC” era and seen as an old dinosaur by the facebook and the google generation. TNA leadership is mis diagnosing the Tamil attitude as defeated and cowered. Their diagnosis to the diaspora is framed as trying to pull Tamils out of this political hole first. And the prognosis is once people land on their feet, they can then fight for their rights.
Microsoft has realized, by rejecting their long time leader, that they will not win by sticking with the same roadmap or by hoping consumers will come back to the PC’s. You don’t see microsoft leadership going around trying to market the virtues and values of PC’s anymore as they have accepted that the future is mobile devices.
But that is in essence what we hear from TNA. We hear the old ideas repeated to the voters without explanation of why it will be different this time. We see hesitance in releasing an inspiring and motivating manifesto. Microsoft will not be going out of business anytime soon. But their value is judged by their ability to increase market share profitability. TNA’s value should also be judged by their ability to grow and mobilize new demography.
New ideas are only coming out of a newer generation of people who have seen the struggles from a different vantage point. People like Guruparan and Gajendrakumar are able to diagnose the tamil attitude differently and correctly. The emphasis is on a longer term mass mobilization relying on a solid ground game. TNA shows neither the vision nor the capability.
This brings us back to another American comparison. Today is the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march and the famous Martin Luther King’s dreams speech. The true inspiration and stepping stone to President Obama.
Feet on the Ground: Colombo is not the ground
A good read on why feet on the ground matters and benefits of organizing is here. President Obama set an inspiring vision of change and then coupled that with a power of technical analytics and the hard work of ground organizing. He learnt from the Civil Rights movement and took that to another level.
“And it was based on organizing (a tradition that ties Barack Obama to the generations before him), of working door to door and street to street, and neighborhood to neighborhood to bind and empower the cause of equality – often in the face on real violence.
Today TNA announced they will be meeting Navi Pillai in colombo. Not in Eelam when she is visiting the Tamil people. This is a behaviour of losing social relevancy. TNA has failed to create a vision. They don’t seem to be setting up a ground game for success or relevancy.
“Consider the words of John Lewis, still strong after five decades and still committed to the same cause despite the beatings and intimidation of lifetime .”
“I got arrested 40 times during the ’60s, beaten, bloodied and unconscious, I’m not tired, I’m not weary. I’m not prepared to sit down and give up. I am ready to fight and continue to fight, and you must fight.”
“You cannot stand by. You cannot sit down. You have to stand up, speak up, speak out and get in the way. Make some noise. The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It’s the most powerful non-violent tool…”
Why are the leaders of TNA who can rightfully say the same but are standing by, sitting down?
How did ,we, Tamils. ended up with Green day’s Broken dreams Instead of Martin Luther King’s dream.