Atanu Dey On India's Development

On Being Ruled by Toads

When I was growing up in Nagpur, I had a friend who used to proclaim “India is ruled by toads” whenever we discussed India’s politicians. Being called a toad was the worst insult we could come up with. He later joined the Indian Police Service, worked in Mumbai as a Deputy Commissioner of Police, and was killed in the line of duty. He was one of the most decent human beings I have ever had the good fortune to know.

What brought all this to mind was an item about misbehaving politicians that reader “Ad” pointed out.

About a dozen Maharashtra ministers, 30 legislators and many top bureaucrats prevented a Nagpur-bound Jet Airways flight from taking off from Mumbai airport on Monday. Reason: the aircraft’s air-conditioner was not working.

Only one of the two airconditioning systems was functioning, it appears. It is a temporary inconvenience definitely not life-threatening. The crew is allowed to operate the flight because it meets the “Minimum Equipment List”. In any event, once the aircraft is in flight, one airconditioner is sufficient. This was explained to them but they “trooped into the cockpit” and one even tried to open an exit while the plane was in taxiing.

An aircraft delayed by a couple of hours and about a hundred passengers inconvenienced is not a really big deal. Or is it? Think about the fact that aircrafts are used throughout the day. The delay of the flight ripples through the system and all subsequent flights involving that aircraft are delayed. Thousands of people are directly affected. Many more multiples are indirectly affected. When a passenger arrives about 2 hours late, perhaps a meeting is missed, or a connection to another flight is missed. The initial disturbance has second and third order effects.

The politicians of India see themselves as the kings and they regard the citizens as their subjects and the country as their fiefdom. These people place themselves above the law. They are a law unto themselves. They are not answerable to anyone, except to their overlords who are the party chiefs. They go around in cars with red flashing lights on the top. When they travel on roads, seeing the red lights, police clear the streets. The citizens wait for these red-light-on-top cars to pass by. “The toads rush by”, as my friend would have said.

India is as I have maintained before a cargo-cult democracy. Centuries of being ruled by foreigners creates a culture of servility and powerlessness that is hard to overcome. In a strict sense, Indians deserve to be ruled by toads because they “elect” to be ruled by toads. Being ruled by toads has the ripple effect that finally culminates in an abjectly poor country that is euphemistically referred to as a “developing economy.”

Comment: Sonal Vaidya writes:

Reading your post “On Being Ruled by Toads” I wonder what do you think should happen to change the situation? Will India be always exploited by the corrupt power mongers? May be a revolution is a solution.

Raj Waghray writes:

What is worse is that these old senile toads(?) are now talking out of turn outside India and that too on issues as critical as our security.

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