Atanu Dey On India's Development

Chidambaram Speaks the Truth

The Finance Minister of India, Mr Chidambaram speaks the truth, or at least that is what a certain communal newspaper reports. He was speaking at a TiE event in New Delhi. He said, “This country will hold together only if we give everyone in India a stake in the future of India … We cannot build an inclusive society, unless every institution of governance consciously sheds its biases and prejudices that work for every section of the people.”

Wonders will never cease. A great first step: recognizing that institutionalized discrimination by the government is a bad thing. The next step would be to undo the evil and make governance neutral towards all groups, and neutral towards all individuals irrespective of which group he or she belongs to. And while Mr C is about it, could he tell Dr Manmohan Singh that discrimination is bad and institutionalized discrimination is extremely bad? Dr Singh appears to believe that some groups of people deserve special status merely because of what they believe in.

I suspect that Mr C may have stopped by a sodium pentothal clinic for a shot of the truth drug. Because he goes on. “We can build a giant economy, but that will be divided and strife-torn if vast sections feel alienated or discriminated or neglected or exploited.” True once again. First the government divides people into groups: there is the majority group, there are the minority groups. Then it hands out goodies based on which group it wishes to woo for their votes. And pits the groups against each other. Divide and rule.

“In this regard, even the Supreme Court, the Parliament, Ministers, government departments, independent institutions as also non-governmental organisations must shed biases and prejudices and work for all Indians,” Mr C said.

All over the world for millennia Jews have been persecuted — except in India. Indians never did. But the government has finally identified the analog of the Jew in India: the successful private sector. Everything that is wrong with India — socially, economically — is remarkably laid at the feet of the private sector. They are responsible and they better shape up or dire consequences will follow. Dr Singh delights in pointing fingers at the private sector.

I think Mr C speaks the truth when he goes on to say that the quality of human resources is dismal and calls the education system “appalling.” But he wants to raise the the spending on education “to 19 per cent of the Plan outlay during the Eleventh Plan”. Wait a second. Haven’t we spent enough and seen that it does not work? Isn’t it one of the definitions of insanity that one continues to do the same thing and expects different results? Isn’t it time that one recognizes that persisting in the folly of increasing spending without changing the overall structure of the system is abysmally stupid?

He touches on infrastructure. I quote the paper:

The state of infrastructure was no better as the country was required to connect six lakh villages with roads, electricity, telephones and other civic amenities. He said it was a misnomer that urban areas were any better. “Urban India is divided into those who have access to infrastructure and those who do not … Parts of urban India are, of course, affluent — South Delhi, but certainly not outer Delhi; Nariman Point, but certainly not the slums of Mumbai; South Madras, but not North Madras,” he said.

Mr. Chidambaram noted that he would prefer to set up at least 100-200 small towns from scratch with a population of 10-20 lakh each so as to achieve equitable growth at a much lower cost.

Makes sense, doesn’t it, to build cities from scratch for providing more people access to a decent life instead of trying to do “village development”?

Mr C, do take the entire cabinet with you to the sodium pentothal clinic the next time, would you?

[Hat tip: Anup Nair for pointing out that news item. Thanks to a friend for pointing out the new Jews.]

  • http://www.rationalfool.com The Rational Fool

    Atanu,
    Either,
    you are being sarcastic,
    or,
    you are Mr. Chidambaram’s son-in-law :)

    Richard Feynman once said, “Don’t listen to what I say. Listen to what I mean!”. Mr. C doesn’t mean anything that’s different from what his boss does.

    If only politicians could be made to speak the truth with a dose of Sodium Pentothol, I’d campaign for a constitutional amendment to substitute it for the oath of office in every democracy around the world!

  • PJ

    Well. In truth we do need to spend more money on education and the like.

    The issue, of course, is that the money that is allocated to be spent on education. . . doesn’t.

    I believe the average percentage of money out of the education budget that actually gets spent on rural schools is something like 6% in India. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa it’s more like 1%.

    Of course, the people who are supposed to be getting this money don’t know that they’re supposed to be getting this money, so they don’t notice when a headmaster absconds with it or when a teacher is derelict in his duties and fails to show up for class.

    Inform the people where the money that is supposed to be going to them is actually going and the problem will solve itself. They’ll turn their energies to getting the more of the money the ought to be getting instead of lobbying to increase budget of which they only receive a fraction.

    It’s simple math. For every Ruppee that goes into the education budget, the citizen only sees 6 Paise. For every time they organize and tar-and-feather the bastards robbing them blind, they get a full ruppee!