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Is Narendra Modi too good for Indian system?

Prime Minister's intent may be good but solutions are not, and particularly in the system that cannot emerge out of its old traditional beliefs

Author Vijay Sanghavi
Prime Minister is often seeking non conventional solutions to conventional issues and problems but unfortunately for the country, he is presiding over the structure that refuses to grow out of the conservative solutions. The subordinates manning the structure are unable to read what he intends. For nearly 4 decades, India has been spending half of its total import bill on imports of hydrocarbon fuels to meet its energy needs. Not only fuels consume considerable foreign exchange but they also entail huge costs involved in preservation of environmental purity. 
 
Prime Minister suggested need for through limited use and thus help prevent problems entailing with high pollution. His unconventional message was for fuel conservation and eight states responded by imposing ban of dispensing of fuels on Sunday. They preferred the conventional solution of restricting sale of fuel one day a week. They overlooked that it could lead to illegal sale of fuel to those in dire need to meet their emergencies. Not only administrative structure is incapable of ensuring stricter implementation but also corrupt elements within would exploit the artificial scarcity to demand their pound of flesh. 

Without a change in the attitude and habit in consumers, it is impossible to achieve the objective solution that the Prime Minister has in mind in suggesting conservation of fuel. People have to cultivate habit of avoiding usage of vehicles. It can come through education and not through imposing restrictions. But system is so used to bans and barricades that it could not devise a different method to induce people to adhere to needs of fuel conservation. 
 
Until 1974, the government had deliberately kept production of personal passenger vehicles restricted leading to black marketing in passenger vehicles. After small car project of Sanjay Gandhi was approved that market turned into buyers market with no restriction on number of vehicles produced. Passenger vehicle was never an acquisition for personal convenience or merely a work facility. It was then and now is also demonstrative symbol for declaration of upward social movement of the family. Hence use of vehicles for pleasure is integral part of social life. Restrictions by law or through new procedures on usage would and can lead only to increase misuse. 
 
Prime Minister’s musings on need for conservation of hydrocarbons cannot be accepted seriously since he allowed use of eleven thousand motorcycles to form the escort squad for his grand road show at Surat. If his desire for conservation was genuine, he would not have allowed use of a single more vehicle than the bare need. Road show was followed by decision of eight states to restrict dispensation of fuels one day as week. 
 
Prime Minister never misses an opportunity to give vent to his determination to end corruption from political and administrative structure. Yet methods he has opted for will merely lead to increase and also enhancing prices of favours. Most politicians and social activists like Ana Hazare prescribed the punitive measures under the belief that fear of severe punishment can eliminate corruption. In their belief, they ignore the basic human trait, the selfishness. Every religion prescribed severe punishment, not only in this birth but also in future birth for deliberate misdeeds. The Karma theory dominates every Indian religion and yet misdeeds have continued unabated for centuries. If god made laws did not deter humans from their avarice how far effective the human laws can be? 
 
A large section of upper castes indulges in corruption for seekers of favours undue and those who take bribes for granting undue favours both are safely ensconced in power structures. Officials by virtue of holding office are empowered by law to interpret law to derive personal benefits from their power. Restrictive nature of legal frame work causing man induced scarcities facilitates them to interpret law in a way they can derive personal benefits. Power holders are mostly upper middle class and so are seekers of undue favours. 
 
Without aspirations no humans can scale higher rungs but Indian had a habit of competing with one who visibly has more than the self. They strive through all means, fair or foul to climb to next rung of social ladder. Honesty is generally a strategic quality and not instinctive trait in most to lead to more corruption. It is a hall mark of societies that have suffered scarcities for ages.
 
There is a huge number from deprived class that also had to give bribes, not for undue benefits but for due rights. Beneficiaries of their bribes are mostly upper castes. This is a different genre of corruption but again it emanates from legal structures adopted by civic authorities to deny right to deprived class to earn their living through legitimate means and hard labour but through use of sites prohibited for such usages. According to government statistics 40 million such trades are carried out from unauthorized sites in civic areas all over. Without changes in civic laws, they cannot legitimately earn their living without bribing. Middle class in civic areas would not tolerate changes. Vicious circle continues. 
 
Prime Minister resorted to extreme step of demonetisation for bringing out tax evaded wealth generally known as black wealth. He would not have been unaware that black wealth is generally locked up in investments to earn better returns. Black wealth is rarely hoarded in cash. As his measure failed to realize the pronounced intention, his finance minister expanded powers of Income Tax Officials well as their area of operation without providing a safety net against misuse and abuse of power. Tax enforcement agencies have earned defame as the most corrupt agencies. They can draw any individual merely on basis of their suspicions. They are not accountable nor are their interpretations subjected to appeal to higher levels. 
 
Anna Hazare had agitated with fast unto death for eradication of corruption. Parliament and the government had virtually accepted dictates of a man who refuses to be accountable by entering into political system even though his demand was a way short of solution. He merely demanded a punitive mechanism without reaching the sources of corruption. The restrictive nature of several laws is mainly responsible as they are founded on belief that every human being is dishonest and would exploit the system for the personal benefit. And yet it gives powers to human beings in power seats to interpret them. Obviously everyone overlooks the old adage that power corrupts. If other Indians are corrupt and dishonest how only those manning the power structure are to be treated above suspicions and so they are empowered? This is the basic fallacy in the approach of the Prime Minister. His intent may be good but solutions are not, and particularly in the system that cannot emerge out of its old traditional beliefs.
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