Thursday, August 30, 2007

Serial stupidity -- a la the politician

Two articles from today's newspapers demonstrate that stupidity does not respect party lines.

Exhibit one: The ever entertaining "Dr. Ramadoss"
In his ongoing battle to suborn the AIIMS (into, what else, his personal fief?), his latest salvo.
"...saying that the premier institute was slowly becoming a "doctors' factory" for foreign countries and not for the needy Indians.

"Over 60 per cent of the AIIMS passouts are going outside India. It's becoming a doctors' factory that is producing talent for foreign countries and not for the poor Indians," Ramadoss said.

This is a tried and tested strategy to choke anything and everything: first call something anti poor, then, under the guise of "saving the poor" make it a government fief and reduce to a semi-coma and finally kill it altogether.
Just like Medical Education in Maharashtra.

If the government is so worried about doctors decamping with its money, it should stop spending on them!

My mind screams "Regime change" when confronted with such idiocy.

But, alas, the main opposition -- the BJP -- is also not immune to this phenomenon -- as exhibit 2 shows.
So here is the story: Mumbai Municipality plans to introduce 'telescopic' tariff rates for water consumers by which people who consume more pay more per unit of water they consume.

This will make water charges progressive -- just like income tax (earn more, pay higher %).
When done judiciously, this is fair and desirable -- it shifts the burden of payment to luxury users (guys with pools, jacuzzis, washing machines, 600 litre fridges).
This is highly desirable: it will allow BMC to generate surplus to re-invest in maintenance and capacity expansion. Further, this surplus will be generated by charging those who can afford to pay.
It also creates strong incentives to reduce wastage -- and this is no secret -- the biggest consumers are also the biggest wasters.

However, some BJP-wallahs think this is "anti poor".
Look at this fellow's line of reasoning:
However, committee members said that citizens do not get adequate water and therefore no reforms should be made. “The BMC provides only 90 litres per capita per day. The civic body should first follow the national norms and then introduce telescopic rates,’’ said BJP member Yogesh Sagar.
[emphasis mine]
This is like saying no reforms are necessary in telecom because there are insufficient phones in India!. The reason Mumbai's pipes leak, Sir, is because there is'nt enough money to fix the leaks. The only way you're going to get that money is by making people pay, or by handing over BMC's water to a private agency (that could raise productivity by firing non-performers etc.).
Given the second option is out -- can the existing chaps at least get some money to repair our pipes -- even if it is at slightly higher prices?

That's not gets better
BJP leader Bhalchandra Shirsat said that BMC had shown dreams of 24X7 water supply to the people but citizens were not even getting enough water for daily use. “There is no reverse accountability from the civic administration,’’ he said.
Fully agree that BMC must be accountable, but have these fellows heard the term "you get what you pay for?"
Water in Mumbai is charged at Rs 2 per one thousand litres when it costs six times that to catch, store, purify and deliver. Bisleri costs Rs 10,000 per thousand litres!!!
What exactly is the BMC accountable for? Providing water for free? Into perpetuity?
How can BMC provide water even at current volumes if it loses money on every drop it provides?
You, Sir, are accountable to the city for ensuring that water remains available 20 years from now -- not for subsidising jacuzzi owners!

And even better:
The committee members suggested that instead of increasing the price for those consuming more water, the civic body should undertake a campaign for educating people to use less water.
This would have been funny if it were not so tragic.

The icing on the cake: The BJP is not playing a sour-grapes opposition role here -- they are the party in power!

What are these guys thinking? Are they even thinking? Can they think?
I despair.

No comments: