Saturday, March 17, 2007

From the indiatimesblogs:

the below found here

SCARED OF GOVT?

Have you noticed the ritual of post-budget gushing reactions from the captains of the industry?

Have you ever seen them saying that ‘this budget really sucks!!’

And, it makes sense, too.

After all, any govt in India is the real maai-baap and they enjoy massive powers and clout to do unbelievable favors to you, if they so wish. Conversely, the govt can make your life miserable and difficult, very difficult, if they get nasty. So, why take panga with them and why not to be on the right side of the government?

And, if that means saying kee:

tum din ko agar raat kaho, raat kahenge,

Jo tumko ho pasand wohee baat karenge

After enjoying the umbrella of protection that a job provides from govt dadagiri, I started my business career as a small entrepreneur. I can tell you that it pays to keep the govt – and by that I mean their agents – in good humour, for they have immense ‘nuisance value’. So, be it the electricity meter reader, the water board, the municipal corporation guy, the Police, the Excise and Sales department people, the postman, et al – you name it and they have the powers, the will and the inclination -- equipped with some of the most antiquated law on their side -- and the ever-ready state machinery -- to make life hell for you. They can stop your electricity and water supply, send notice for millions of rupees for unpaid bills, and disconnect your total life till you say: ‘Sorry, Maai-baap. I’ll now do what you say’. Even if you waste your time and efforts in proving that you’ve already paid your bills, not a word of ‘sorry’ and they’ve still a vast range of other sadistic ways to harass you. With a private eterpreneur, you can reason; with govt official, it is his fragile ego -- and his long pocket -- that needs to be looked after.

As you grow and start earning money by your enterprise, hard work and talent, more govt ‘giddh (vultures)’ descend to partake their share of meat, without having done anything for you. The regulation requiring all those licenses and permits, land-use, power, water, environment and labour permissions are especially created to make official the numerous ways to exploit you. The local corporator, the various ministries involved, the various promotion councils, the Income Tax department and so on are just waiting there to unleash their whims and fancies on you with vangeance.

As they say, despite being 21st Century, nothing has changed. Because, the more things change, the more they remain same. The govt control over the jugular of your business enterprise remains same. Maybe more.

I always say that ‘if the country has progressed, especially in IT sector, it is not because of the govt but in spite of it.’ Most importantly, since policy-making is still in the hands of the govt and it is very discretionary, the govt enjoys the monopoly on doling out goodies to their favorites and punishing those they dislike. No, the govt is not answerable to anyone, be it the details about how ‘Lalu has earned Rs. 20,000 Crores for the railways without commensurate increase in rail and freight traffics’ or why we have to pay 3% Education cess to finance higher education, which is the primary job of govt? And, any nosey Parker in the media can be silenced by these hounds of Baskervilles by summoning the owner of the newspaper or TV channel and threatening him with dire consequences if he doesn’t tow govt line aka AXN TV. No wonder, our media is so subservient to the govt maai-baap.

Obviously, with the untold discretionary powers enjoyed by the govt, corruption naturally follows because power corrupts. Businesspeople employ influence, lobbies and use money to make the govt policies favorable and to create favorable conditions to do business. For, it is impossible to do business in India without violating laws and bribing these agents of the govt. Many MNCs have a separate department under some fancy name to take care of these agents and they build this up in their costing of their products and services, so that they may continue to do business with some peace of mind.

Under such conditions, it pays to be scared of govt.

Very scared.

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