On being constantly egged by Facebook "What is on your mind?” sometime back I made a capital suggestion - Beheading the Heads - about improving the quality of our political leaders.
Upfront I must admit, I am deeply moved by such solicitations, especially if it comes from owners of capital like Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, who make their pile out of our collective mind dumps, but I do not remember having ever paid the traffic signal beggar a single rupee. Curse me, if you will, but I am not going to explain to you today why I do what I do because there are more urgent things on my mind. National interest!!!!
There was a time when I regularly wrote Proposals in a newspaper – they are available on my blog - to help the nation chart a path to prosperity etc.
Modest as I am, I could not but call them Modest Proposals. I never knew my unmindful act, or sloth or laziness in ceasing to write this column would lead nation to the precipice of disaster. I woke up to this fact, thanks to the blog of a friend who has diligently quoted data signaling economic distress.
Facebook is for me what his bathtub was for Archimedes, so I sit fully clothed. Ideas in their breathtaking originality and atrociousness present themselves to me, all that I must do is catch them as they float past my mind. And once I am in the throes of this kind of thinking in national interest, I have dreams, hallucinations, reveries.
In my Edward Kekule moment – Edward Kekule discovered the ring shape of the benzene molecule after having a reverie or day-dream of a snake swallowing its own tail - I found the solution to boost the sagging economy. Before you question my locus standi, let me tell you straight away, there are only two other economists in this country who share my unimpeachable credentials. Their talents have been recognised: one of them has become the finance minister of the country, the other one is now the governor of Reserve Bank of India.
The performance of the economy has established it as an undeniable fact that those who have never studied economics are best suited to handle finance. I know my time will come to help pull the economy by its bootstraps because I know no economics. But in the meanwhile, as a patriot, I offer my proposal without expectation of rewards.
My heart leaps up to behold everything, just about everything available for a price in accordance with the dharmic rule of supply and demand. From mercenaries to fight your wars to media men to sing your praise, from spies to siphon off enemy secrets to saints to offer you regular benediction, influencers, idiots, intellectuals, imbecile politicians, pimps are sold and bought on a daily basis. The utopia of the globalised market has arrived! If a poor man buys bread for subsistence he is taxed, if someone travels for pleasure or in pain to get better medical treatment he is taxed, if he buys something as essential as a house, he is taxed but when a politician is bought or sold - it is called horse trading – when a media man goes under the hammer, even idiots, imbeciles, and other bird-brained creatures are paid to tweet why are these transactions kept outside the tax net.
When politicians are sold like goods, traded in like commodities; if mergers and acquisitions of political parties – a whole party was recently acquired - take place to maximise electoral advantage, why should this transaction take place outside the net of GST? Soldiering thought Balzac is chiefly a financial undertaking. You need gold to do battle, and you need to do battle to get gold. For coming to power instead of soldiering now you do politics: you need gold to do politics and you need to do politics to get gold. What could be a more convincing definition of politics as a commercial activity?
The government is ever ready to augment its revenue but has not even looked at this huge opportunity. So here is my proposal: politicians (I am restricting myself to politics as pilot project) who want to change their allegiance must register their intention with the Election Commission. The lack of secrecy around his intent give the owner the chance to arrive at a deal with those who intend to sell themselves. He can put himself under the hammer and the highest auctioneer will claim him. The buyer, the seller, and the party which acquires shall be liable to pay a standard tax of 33.33 percent. Thus, the government will get a tax equal to the actual sale / purchase price. There should be a time limit – say, if the thing sold wants to be sold again within a stipulated period, say the very next day, a week or a fortnight – I would favour fortnight in the interest of political stability - the parties to the transaction will have to pay double the amount of tax. Thus, those who want to cause political instability by too frequent transfers will have to indemnify the people by means of the punitive tax.
My radical proposal to allow capitalists to bid for governments wholesale instead of the cumbersome business of their cronies and proxies being hammered, er going down under the hammer so frequently. But I think Indians prefer gradualism rather than revolutionary solutions, so I will watch with interest the outcome of this bit of reform.
India Today magazine once referred to Manoje Nath, a 1973-batch IPS officer, as being fiercely independent, honest, and upright. Besides his numerous official reports on various issues exposing corruption in the bureaucracy in Bihar, Nath is also a writer extraordinaire expressing his thoughts on subjects ranging from science fiction to the effects of globalization. His sense of humor was evident through his extremely popular series named "Gulliver in Pataliputra" and "Modest Proposals" that were published in the local newspapers.