Friday, December 19, 2008

another law, another committee

Another law, another committee. That's the upshot of the Indian government's response to the attacks on Mumbai. And it would be stupid to blame the Congress/UPA. The only thing that the opposition has asked for is a somewhat tougher law.

Folks, India is great at passing laws and forming agencies. But the agencies don't work, so the laws are not enforced. In a country where 90 percent of workers don't receive the minimum wage despite some of the world's most progressive labor laws, and where the courts cannot successfully prosecute the most simple and straightforward offenses, it is ridiculous to hope that these measures will make a difference to India's security.

Ajai Sahni makes some good points in an editorial on this subject. But I would argue that India faces far more serious obstacles than financing when it talks about creating its own version of America's FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

India has enough money for the job -- even the best and brightest here receive salaries that are far lower than first year FBI agents. But the country has yet to shed its pervasive attitude of bureaucratic indifference. It's like Chris Rock says (to paraphrase): You don't deserve any praise for doing what you're supposed to do. But in India, bureaucrats who actually do their jobs are virtually heroes. And don't make any mistakes: It will be bureaucrats that run the super new federal anti-terrorism agencies.

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