Is it time to think of a new kind of government?

Ashok V. Desai in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“The British invented, and gave to India, a bureaucracy that was selected on merit, paid well enough not to have to be corrupt, and financially secure for the entire lifetime so that it did not have to worry about old age. That did not suit her nefarious designs, so Indira Gandhi subverted the Indian civil service.

“The Americans invented a confrontational, powerful and intrusive parliament; but from time to time they run into corruption amongst members of their two Houses, and their procedures for keeping it in check are laborious. The French, after the revolution, created a powerful central government with a rigorously selected and trained bureaucracy, and severely limited the domain of the legislature.

“The Chinese execute anyone found corrupt, define the tasks of their bureaucrats, and reward performance. They have thereby created an efficient government and driven corruption underground, but the concept of government as a service to citizens is quite foreign to them. The European Union recognizes and registers lobbyists, and has drafted a handbook of rules for them.

Paul Romer has suggested that countries should create provinces consisting of major cities and their hinterland, and ask the world’s best governments to come and administer each province. We could experiment with these models, or we could adapt them and work out our own variant. It is not an entirely foreign thought. The Bharatiya Janata Party wanted to review and revise the Constitution; but because it came from the Hindutwits, the idea never had a chance. But the idea of junking our government and starting anew is an idea whose time has come.”

Read the full story: Business sans ethics

Also read: Scams, scams, scams. Has liberalisation worked?

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13 Responses to “Is it time to think of a new kind of government?”

  1. div Says:

    hmmm, Indian government is another name for status-quo. Until such time comes when parliamentarians feel that their existence and hold on power and money is under threat, they will do nothing. Economic liberalization is the best example; hadn’t India gone to the extent of becoming bankrupt, they wouldn’t have opened up the economy.

  2. Vinay Says:

    What we really need is a small government, less government. First and foremost, the government must take its meddling hands out of 90% of the things they currently are involved in. We don’t need no fuckin’ Air India, ITI, and a hundred other things. And over the years, bloodsucking agencies like the DRDO must shrink in size and become lean and mean, performing only regulatory tasks. Something like the current role of TRAI.

    Do this, and things will perceptibly improve. As far as bureaucracy is concerned in particular, make it lean and mean, massive IT and computerization of all kinds of records , come down with a heavy stick on unions and other sundry assholes who protest. Keep the salaries reasonable and sane, paying bureaucrats in the sub-registrar office sub-8K salaries in Bangalore is a recipe for crap. With a few strong willed changes of this kind, things can change rapidly.

  3. mounaprasad Says:

    >>has suggested that countries should create provinces consisting of major cities and their hinterland, and ask the world’s best governments to come and administer each province>>

    Who defines what is worlds best governments…? Is Saudi Arabia not the worlds best government in some ways…no crime,no corruption etc. Can we ask the House of Saud to administer a small province in India..Oh wait they are already doing that in Kerala by proxy ;) let us wait and watch for the outcome of this

  4. Narayana Says:

    I see following problems. Ask Paul Romer to address them.

    1) We have already tried that route. It was called “colonization”. India was carved into 17 provinces and 560 odd principalities. Colonization was hailed as a great economic boon for the colonies. Result of this expeiment was reduction of second largest economy in the world to a slave state which lost more people to world war II than France,England, Italy, Austria and Belgium put together!!! So every Charter state need not become a Hong Kong. Historical evidence is overwhelmingly against colonization or Charter states as Paul would like to call them.
    2) As Mounaprasad has pointed out.How do you define best states? Is it Saudi Arabia since Sultan is one of the richest individuals and surecly an economic success. Can we exclude lost states in Europe called PIGS because they are all on the brink of collapse!! Wait wasn’t Portugal the one who started colonization?
    3) Will there be repatriation of profits from Charter state to Charter holder? Will there be a CEO who will get fat salary based on how much he can squeeze out of Charter state?

  5. karihaida Says:

    The only gov’t that can work anywhere is a minimum gov’t.. or for that matter a mercenary gov’t, who citizens pay to ensure the minimum agreed rules are enforced. Anything more and it is bound to fail eventually.

  6. One in the crowd Says:

    Whatever be the form of government – unless we have ‘good’ governors’, what is the point? What we need is new kind of governors rather than new kind of government. Until T.N.Seshan became CEC, hardly anybody knew whether such a body existed and if so by whom it was headed and what was its role. One man Seshan changed the entire system. No extra powers were given to him, nor was there any change in the set up. Gandhiji is one best example. Could anyone imagine that a country like ours can really be united ever for a common purpose! But Gandhiji did do it. Again it was one man. One man Sardar Patel gave a shape to the country against odds and opposition. In 1985, probably there were only few hundreds in our country, who had actually seen a computer. One man Rajiv Gandhi brought a revolution (again against opposition, cynicism, fear, disbelief etc.) to such an extent that in a very short time, everyone wanted a computer and as the saying goes, the rest is history. If we analyze the history, we might find that it has always been one man who has brought the ‘change’. What we desperately need is 4-5 visionaries and statesmen aided by about 25-30 Sridharans, Sir M.V.s, Pitrodas, Kurians etc. and of course a strong whip – not to lash, but to crack! But then perhaps it is an utopian theory.

  7. Abhi Says:

    Sorry, does not help. System is only as good as people in it. Garbage inside, garbage outside.

  8. ghataprabha Says:

    unfortunately, “engineering” government structures is unlikely to lead anywhere good. in fact the machine as metaphor for the state is a poor one. makes things look too easy. if we just keep optimizing processes, eliminate waste, “incentivize” properly, we’ll create the right system to fix our problems. the organism has always been a better metaphor for the nation. in addition to a rational temperment, itll take both heart and mind to overcome these problems.

  9. babuds Says:

    The elite and ruling classes have shed their fig leaves of decency emboldened by the ineptitude and inertness of the people they rule. Rich are blatantly indulging in corruption and wheeling-dealing to get super rich and to fill their phoren bank accounts to the brim. The middle class is too self-centered to do any thing for the country – including voting. The poor are made to struggle to keep themselves alive, so that they are forever on the lookout for the next meal and vote whoever is able to feed them on election day. Ours is a failed democracy and we will be soon on the path to a failed state where our brother has already reached.

  10. One in the crowd Says:

    babuds, your views are correct. However, the middle class are self-centered not by option but under compulsion and force. Yet, it is the middle class who have brought many political and social reforms and changes for the betterment.

  11. twistleton Says:


    you’ve hit the nails on their shameless heads! although i sincerely hope we don’t fail as magnificently as our brother state.

    Anyway if it at all consoles, from chaos comes order.

    hey incidentally! what does “midil class” have to say about your opinion?

  12. midil class Says:

    Ah twistleton! Thanks for noticing a middle class. Middle class is like R.K.Laxman’s Common Man. They have eyes and ears but no voice. At least they don’t meddle like the elited class, they don’t muddle like deprived class. Our country, I believe, has majority of middle class people and in our society they are the least bothersome. Still, I wonder why there is an aversion about this particular class! They are looked down by everybody (including the co-middle class) something like unwanted creature on the earth! Worth taking it up as a sociological study subject. Funny thing is we have different classes within this Middle class – Lower middle, middle, upper middle, higher middle…….

  13. twistleton Says:

    hey MC

    fair point, but nobody is going to come and gift the middle class a voice. It has to be taken by force.

    If as you say they form the majority, then why shouldn’t change be within their grasp?

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