September 15, 2013 Off By Fried Guest

Debraj Sharma


 The best Indian government for me would be the one that does not exist! Instead of throwing governments out every five years (which is what we do given that anti-incumbency is so hyped an issue), we should think of throwing them out for good! However, that is a utopian view. The government is a necessary evil. We are not here to discuss fiction but reality. The best that we can hope for in the real world is a government that governs the least. “That government is best which governs least” –is an aphorism found in Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.

A government which governs the least? That must be an idle government! Yes, my ideal Indian government is an idle government. The aphorism refers to governments in general, but I am convinced, it is ideal for India where idolatry is not just an idea but also a reality. Here work is not worship-the reverse is! Governments are formed on the plank of building places of worship.

Procrastination is integral to our government. You could pen a ‘penathon’ on the pending bills, litigations and projects in all the pillars of governance-Legislature, Judiciary, and Executive. Decision-making is not our government’s forte. The ‘slow gun’ of the Indian government could well be, “To B or not to B?” Being A is out of question as not just something but a whole lot of things is rotten in the state of Denmark India! Of course, the government does take decisions, and, nine out of ten times the decision is not to take a decision!

We are already staring at the perfect idle government! It stays idle even as our neighbours transgress our borders. After all, you can change friends, but not your neighbours! We have set our Lakshman Rekhas deep inside the L.O.C! The government remains paralysed even when corruption is eating into our vitals. In a free-market economy, you cannot expect the government to intervene, after all! Bribe here is ‘speed money’ at best, and pigovian tax at worst! Though idle, the government religiously holds on to the Indian family values by endorsing nepotism! It has nationalized the most important bank-the vote bank. The government lets everyone make hay while the party in power waits for the scion to rise, and the principal opposition party goes on chanting “NaMo NaMo” ad infinitum.

An idle government serves us all. It gives us the opportunity to ‘bend it like Beckham’-not on the football field, though. We like to bend the rules 24/7 without big brother watching. It seems what we want is an equitable distribution of the booty! Shylocks we are: craving for the pound of flesh. Less shy, though, than the Jew. Without a piece of the cake baked in corruption, we target the politicians with artillery supplied no longer by Bofors (Quattrocchi being no more) but by 2G, CWG, Coalgate and the like. With a piece of the cake, we bask in the glory of the idle government. ‘Democracy’, for us is equal opportunity-not necessarily, good governance.

An idle government revels in tokenism and symbolism. The rupee might be plummeting but we can sit on the laurel of finally having a symbol for the rupee! So, cheers –the full quota of three-to the Indian government, which is well on its way- with a little help from us, the arm-chair critics who shaking our sage heads at the inaction- to becoming a government of the lotos eaters, for the lotos eaters and by the lotos eaters ( or, should we say, ‘loot’os eaters?)!

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