Move over babus, the real administrators of India, our netas, are likely to take over two State-run institutions: the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and the Central Cottage Industries Emporium (CCIE). While this bloodless coup will definitely not go down well with our turf-conscious bureaucrats, we wonder what lies in store for us, the customers. Will our netas live up to the challenge of turning around such wobbly institutions?
The challenges are enormous and varied. Along with funding issues, the politicians would have to look into the HR problems. Go to any CCIE or for that matter any State-run hotel, and you will see what we are talking about. The employees in government shops and hotels are a breed apart. Their levels of detachment to worldly responsibilities are of a piece with that of maybe Naga sadhus. Even if you are to be enterprising enough to tempt them out of their holes, there is no guarantee that you will get what you want. First, they will deny the availability of the goods or items you may want. If you manage to convince them to look around, there will be a sighing session about how this cruel world is making them work like donkeys. In State-run restaurants, you have to carefully listen to the intensity of such under-the-breath talk to decode whether it is a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. That done, try changing the order. You are certain to face, what they call in cricketing parlance, a hostile spell. And, oh talking about cricket, don’t even bother going to State-run institutions if there is an India match in progress. Not only will no one even look at you, you may also be accused of being unpatriotic and downright silly.
So that brings us to the vital question: why does the State have to poke its nose in such activities as running a hotel or an emporium? Can’t it just lay down the rules for private enterprises and ensure that they follow them? Ah, there we go again, with all that silly talk about governance.