Sunday, September 22, 2013

Depressing stuff

One of the things that saddens me is how little our political leaders feel for the country. We all know they are power hungry megalomaniacs but sometimes, the pointlessness of the damage they do is quite amazing. I think it comes from complete insensitivity to other people's problems.

There is an old joke about a British explorer who wishing to cross the Sahara on a camel, gets a Bedouin to put him through the paces.

"We must make the camel drink enough water for the journey, effendi" says the Bedouin and proceeds to make the camel drink at the trough.

"This water will stay inside the camel for a whole fortnight, effendi" says the Bedouin, as they wait at the trough, "But" the Bedouin adds,  "if you want to wander longer than that, I can make the camel drink more. Would you like me to do so?"

"Of course" says the explorer "one can never be too careful" whereupon the Bedouin picks up two bricks and holding one in each hand, slaps them hard on the camel's testicles.

"WHOOOOSSSSHHHH" goes the camel and drinks an extra five gallons of water

"By Jove!" exclaims the shocked explorer "isn't that awfully painful?"

"Only if your thumb gets caught between the bricks, effendi" says the Bedouin

That, in a nutshell, is the Indian politcian's attitude toward his country.

Why this rant, do you ask? Well. I just read the other day that the Union Minister for Labor and Employment, Sis Ram Ola, raised the ceiling for employees to be covered in the ESIS act from Rs. 15,000 per month to Rs. 25,000 per month. The move will "directly benefit an additional 4.5 million industrial workers" it seems. What a crock. But first, a little outline of this ESI business

The ESI act makes employees and employers contribute to State run insurance hospitals, the idea being that lowly paid workers would have access to medical facilities at these wonderful state run hospitals. In practice, they don't. The whole scheme stinks. The hospitals are hell-holes and even the lowliest worker prefers to spend through his nose to go see a private doctor than to avail of the free medical facilities of the state. And the hon minister, instead of taking steps to wind down the rotten mess is actually increasing its coverage. No one in their right mind would go to the state hospitals, least of all the higher paid workers. All that the minister has ensured by his decision is to increase the amount of money that this rotten institution gets. And does the minister himself benefit? Not at all. There are no votes to be gained, other than the thousand or five employees of the ESIS and they're almost certainly going to vote, like the rest of their brethren, along caste lines regardless of what the government does. And does it harm the nation? Sadly, it does. It simply increases the cost of doing business for companies that honestly pay their dues and generally dissuade them from increasing their work force.

Why did Sis Ram do this? Because as long as his thumb don't get caught between the bricks, he don't care.


Anonymous said...

My experience is different though. I'm based in Bangalore have a small/medium sized industry. The ESI hospital here is pretty good and pretty well managed. My employees have no hesitation going there. I have been there quite a few times myself, the level of care, cleanliness seem to be pretty good.

So, I am pretty happy that more people come under the ESI now.

sathya said...

I wonder if you had followed the old "Yes Prime Minister series". In one of the episodes Humphrey says that the treasury only wants to garner as much money as they can and then they will think about how to spend it!! In this instance the Government knows how to spend the money, thickening the existing linings in the bulging pockets of our Hon'ble elected representatives!!

rkramadh said...

Brilliant analogy! Gotta remember the camel story for an appropriate moment :)