Capacity of Governing

 Luis Rubio

There is no more pressing problem in Mexico than the stalemate between the capacities of the government (federal, state and municipal) and the requirements imposed upon on it by the government itself than the urgency of procuring development. Thanks to the differences between the government’s real capacities (increasingly fewer) and the demand for security, services and answers, the country has been incapable of advancing at a perceivably greater rhythm. Mexicans have a government –in reality, a system of government- that is very incompetent and that does not serve for making the growth of the economy possible, that does not attract investment, and that does not solve the problems affecting the population and that discourages development in general.

The problem in not exclusively Mexican, despite the former having acquired exceptional dimensions. Technological change, the forces unleashed by economic liberalization, the brutal pressures and the power accompanying the narco and, in general, organized crime, are all factors that have contributed to deteriorating the governing capacity in innumerable nations. In Mexico, the problem become worse due to the way that the system of government was constituted from the end of the Revolution, that is, as an entity less devoted to attending to the needs of development than to preserving the peace and responding to the demands of the beneficiaries of the status quo arising from the latter. The collapse of the PRIist governments in 2000 did not coincide with the forging of a new governing structure for a country that had been transforming itself, albeit only partially. Authoritarianism took its leave but a better government did not make an appearance.

Many countries have gone through a complex process of transformation but few have ended up transformed, to a certain extent rendering those which have achieved the engendering of a profound change in their social, economic and governmental framework more remarkable. In our hemisphere, many countries have undergone a traumatic process of change,  but only Chile can say that it has transformed itself, although Colombia is catching up to it little by little.

On studying India, the extent to which it has advanced is noteworthy, as is the enormity of what remains for it to do. More than an elevated growth rate or the dozens of millions of Indian citizens emerging from poverty to integrate themselves into the modern world, the extraordinary thing about India is the (gradual) transformation of its capacities to govern, thanks in good measure to the use of technology. Instead of attempting to copy the way other nations have been able to accelerate their rate of economic growth, India has opted for a very distinct process, whose future has yet to be decided.

The use of technology has been an especially interesting element. Some years ago a biometric registry of the entire population was conducted, a process not at all simple in such a large nation, with a majority rural population and more than thirteen hundred million citizens in all. Once the census was formulated, the country was suddenly able to count on a mechanism that allowed for the identification of the totality of the population and localizing it geographically. From that there was the creation of the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) that entertained the virtue of permitting a person to pay another or a company with the use of a number emanating from the biometric base and its respective password. This apparently small detail has permitted the elimination of red tape and intermediaries (with their commissions), for facilitating a sole domestic market, something that seemed impossible only a decade ago.

This payment system has permitted the inclusion of the totality of the population in the financial system nearly with solely a punch of a button. In the same manner, it has made possible the provision of health and educational services (a process that has only just begun) in the most remote places. The wireless communications network (with more than one billion mobile phones registered) contributes to the modernization of the exchanges of goods and the introduction of a program dedicated to the improvement of all of the abilities of the adult population,  favoring the growth of productivity. The government has been improving to a great degree because the government has stopped simply sitting around in order to engage in creating conditions for economic growth.

Whoever has visited India knows well that it is an extremely poverty-ridden nation, with a per-capita income only a fraction of the Mexican one and enormous privations, in addition to the huge problems deriving from its own exceptional ethnic, religious, political and linguistic complexity. However, what is striking is the enthusiasm of the population in advancing, improving and entering into a new stage of development: the Indian population has imagined a successful future and has decided to erect it.  All of this has been possible in good measure due to the clarity of purpose of their recent governments, which have focused the existing resources on creating conditions for growth. Mere common sense.

India’s current problems are those that have produced a highly disruptive process of institutional and economic change, much the product of the accelerated growth throughout several decades. It’s the kind of problem Mexico should wish for.