Tuesday, October 17, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Cutting governance cost, Delhi style

THIS is with reference to “Paying too much for too little” (September 19) by Mr J.L. Gupta. The author was talked about cutting the costs of governance by reducing the size of the bureaucracy. No doubt, it will help. But what about the unnecessary burden which the ministers themselves put on the state exchequer? Recently, the ministers of the Delhi Government decided to provide themselves the Baleno cars. Indeed, the Delhi’s ministers deserve a pat on their backs. We wish them luxurious and joyful ride in their sleek Balenos.

What if the common man in Delhi does not have proper transport facilities? What if he has to change at least two buses to reach his place of work? What if he has to wage of a battle of life and death to catch a bus? What if an ordinary citizen in Delhi has to spend minimum two hours from reaching one end of the city to the other? What if he not only does not find a seat, but also does not have room to stand comfortably while travelling by a jampacked DTC or the monster called Blueline bus?

At least our ministers shall have a smooth ride, the speedy drive down the streets of the NCT of Delhi without any man-made or machine-made hindrance on the way. Let them enjoy all the pleasures and comforts of travelling. To hell with the common man and his problems, isn’t it? After all, for his sake, why should our ministers suffer and travel by ordinary vehicles, oh sorry, cars? While for providing the necessary public transport system in far off areas like Sectors 18 and 19 of Rohini, Delhi, there are reasons like the unavailability of buses, shortage of funds, etc, but there is no dearth of funds or delay of any kind when it comes to providing the ministers a luxury transport system. The situation remains the same whether we talk of Delhi or any other state of India.


It will be naive to expect that travelling by luxury cars will add new speed to the wheels of governance. If at all they will serve any purpose, that will be raising the level self — importance and social prestige of the lucky riders — the hon’ble ministers of the Delhi Government and members of their families and friends. Sorry, my dear common man! You pay for the joy-rides of your masters and get the kicks when it comes to the redress of your grievances. So much for reducing the cost of governance.


THE MISSING WILL TO DO: Paying too much for too little” was timely but too good to be implemented. It is the question of who will bell the cat, not the bureaucracy, of course. The political will be suicidal, and so again the question does not arise.

There is a corrollary to this — that if by this reform we wish to curtail the expenditure for the sake of economy, there is a much bigger scope of economic reforms at the level of politicians. What use are the big white elephants, in the form of Parliament and state Assemblies, where the expenditure runs into billions of crores?

If we do away even with this system, which serves no purpose or the opposite purpose by wasting time and money of honest tax-payers of one and all, by useless, purposeless debate and scandals and source of biggest corruption, why cannot we do away with this system as was done by abolishing the Legislative Councils in some states? But again the question is: who will do it? Of course, not the politician, for whose purpose it is serving the present system.

The whole economy would be on the rails if the system envisages the election of one man only, say the President or the Prime Minister of known integrity and ability. He/she in turn can nominate a team as the Advisory Committee of National-Level Experts in various fields like engineering, education and medical care. These men, again will have to be of known integrity and ability.




Mending monsoon damage

This year’s monsoons have done considerable damage to Himachal’s communications systems, including roads. The roads in Shimla town, too, had to bear the brunt. The civil engineer and his men are accordingly busy plugging the pot-holes of the roads in the town, especially Cart Road. They are laying a new carpet of bitumen over certain patches where the damage is too heavy. The much-needed repairs will give the motorists the much-needed smoothness in the ride.

But this repair work is being executed on the usual 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. That is the time when Cart Road has maximum vehicles running up and down. The width of the road, despite a lot of widening done during recent years, is hardly adequate for the large number of vehicles traversing it. The road can barely take two vehicles at a time.

Thus, when the civil engineer introduces his tippers carrying the bituminous metal for the repair work and the road-rollers for compacting it at any point of the road, traffic gets restricted. It cannot run even one way while the repairing machines are on. The road jams thus occur frequently, putting the users to a lot of inconvenience.

The elders of the town, therefore, suggest that the civil engineers responsible for repair work should do this during night hours only.



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