Monday, October 29, 2012

General rant on the phenomenon of Government giving itself arbitrary powers

I'm not much of a lad for political statement. I usually shuffle on to the next TV channel when I see someone hyperventilating about someone else having embezzled gazillions and what's worse, not having passed on any of the gazillions embezzled to the chap hyperventilating. As people have started observing, this is mostly trial by media, much in the nature of the lynch mobs in western novels, or witch hunts and as such, completely unfair and undesirable. It has to stop. But, as others have pointed out, it won't stop till there is a marked decline in corruption and abuse of power. And so it goes on.

"Why, then", you ask, shrewdly, in my opinion, "are you writing about it?"

Well, I have a pet theory of corruption, which I wanted to sound you out on, which goes "Remove the powers of your government to regulate things that do not concern it and most corruption will simply vanish"

"Very nice, of course, Naren" you will say, just to humor me, "but how is government to govern if it does not have any powers? Tell me that. Or perhaps it might have escaped your attention. It's a state of existence called anarchy"

Perhaps you are right. We can't just yank out all the government's powers just like that. We need law and order. We need justice. And the defense of the realm can't be left to the goodnaturedness of the folk living in the border areas

But the police deciding what time night clubs should go on till?

"We have decided" the police chief will say in a pompous voice "that anyone who revels until 59 seconds past twenty nine minutes after one a.m. is a law abiding citizen but only until then. After that moment, he is civilizations worst offender, as far as we are concerned, and fit to be thrown in with others in for minor misdemeanors such as rape and murder"

WE gave the police that power. Why, I can't imagine, but we DID. And unless we take it away, they're going to keep abusing it. What's in it for them? Some good, clean, wholesome fun and of course, the possibility that the night club owners will get together and slip them a little something every once in a while to look the other way because it hurts their business and customers, being what they are, don't always like to end their revelry at legally specified moments.

I propose that we take away this little item from under the jurisdiction of the police.

"But..but..", you sputter indignantly " what about law and order? What about rapes and murders being committed by those partying in these dens of vice after 1:29:59?"

Well, that is still against the law and the police still have the right to haul the chap doing so under diverse provisions of the penal code. All I'm asking for is to completely remove this little power, the power of arbitrarily deciding till what time revelers can revel, from the police. You will find a lot of nightclubs springing up, revelers reveling, and money generally moving with increasing velocity in the economy, which surely must be good. Worth a try anyway, what do you think?

Because, even if it doesn't, it will at least remove ONE source of corruption

I can think of dozens of such powers. The Sub Registrar of Assurances, for instance. This practitioner of what is evidently a dark art, judging from the number of touts and go-betweens that infest his offices, registers your legal document. That is all. Just jots it down in a little diary (I would imagine), takes your photograph, and stores a copy in his archives so that it remains safe from fires and tempests.

What powers this gentleman has that permit him to demand usurious bribes I have no clue but he does. A simple, specific power of attorney from my father to me to enable me to sign some shares related papers because he was unwell cost me Rs. 5000/- in bribes. The chap didn't even read it, as far as I could tell. Just pocketed the money, scowled at me for staring at him, and soundlessly motioned at me to get moving. I paid because, well, if I hadn't, my father who was quite unwell at the time, would have had to come again to that office, which might or might not have been possible.

I propose we take away this guy's power. I'm betting we will not be risking social revolt or popular uprising by revoking this dude's powers. Just make him the official little-diary-keeper without the option of saying no-I-will-not-write-your-name-down-because-I'm-not-in-the-mood.

Other suggestions:

Removal of police and indeed all government jurisdiction over gambling. These people are wagering their own money, what goes of whose father's if they lose it and come to destitution?

Removal of prohibition, at least in the state of Maharashtra. Any one who is not completely blind can verify, with a cursory tour of his neighbourhood, how ridiculously easy it is to obtain alcohol. Why, then, should random government johnnies have the power to decide whatever it is that they decide? (I confess I don't have a clue. And neither, as far as I could tell, did anyone else I happened to ask. But the department of prohibition exists in all glory and harvests large amounts of cash from the wines and spirits trade at regular interval, if sources are to be believed)

Ah well, such is life. People going on and on about how Nitin Gadkari stashed away crores and how Ajit Pawar squirreled away billions. They did it because WE gave them the power. Not them, specifically of course, we gave powers to that office.

And it is time we took them away. Or at least started demanding at least SOME of those powers be taken away.

What do you think?