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Octocracy, anyone?

We often fail to understand just how complex are the decisions that our leaders have to take, writes Manas Chakravarty.

india Updated: Jul 11, 2010 01:37 IST

We often fail to understand just how complex are the decisions that our leaders have to take. Not that they don’t try — these days ‘What is the right decision to make?’ is right there on the list of the top three questions most often asked by politicians, immediately below ‘What’s in it for me?’ and ‘Do you know who I am?’ They spend angst-ridden nights trying to make up their minds. No wonder Sharad Pawar is wilting under the strain.

Take the khap panchayats. On the one hand, young people have been killed. On the other, you can’t deny they married within their gotra. You have all kinds of permutations and combinations — same gotra same caste, which is bad; different gotra different caste, bad again; same gotra different caste, which is horrific; and different gotra, same caste, ok provided you don’t elope. Then there are khap panchayat members baying for the blood of young couples and it turns out there’s no law against baying for blood. And of course khaps and castes have votes. It’s enough to make your head spin.

Take another tricky question. Should we fix our roads so that they don’t become craters every monsoon? The facile answer would be yes, but how do you think contractors will make a living? The latest management wisdom suggests that built-in obsolescence is the foundation for economic growth, increasing demand and gross domestic product. Just think, every time those roads are repaired, the GDP goes up.

Or take rising prices. It’s not as simple as it looks. If prices rise by 50 per cent and then go down by 5 per cent, it means inflation is coming down. Also, even if prices continue to rise but at a slower pace, then too inflation would be lower. Again, should you use those grains rotting in godowns to feed the hungry masses? What happens if prices crash as a result? And what will the rats do if the grain goes out of the godown?

Other knotty issues they’ve been trying to decide for years include the Delhi riots, the Bhopal gas tragedy, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Afzal Guru, illegal mining and displacement of tribals.

Thankfully, we now have a solution. Everybody has heard of Paul the Octopus and his psychic powers that enabled him to make the right decisions during the Fifa World Cup. But after correctly predicting Germany’s loss to Spain, his life is in danger in Germany. Why don’t we grasp this opportunity with eight tentacles and invite Paul to our shores? Of course, we’ll have to pay a high price, considering that brokers, bookmakers and investors can’t wait to get their hands on him. But it will be worth it, because Paul could improve our governance immensely.

He has shown that he can calmly consider the odds, weigh the pros and cons and swiftly arrive at the right decision. We need this masterful marine maestro. All we have to do is ask him to take the decisions. Instead of referring and deferring all tough choices to an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) we will merely refer them to the octopus. We could also get Pauline the Dutch octopus and call the clairvoyant couple the Empowered Group of Octopi (EGoO). That way, not only will our leaders be able to avoid the decisions, they can blame Paul in the unlikely event of anything going wrong. Since democracy hasn’t done much for us, let’s have octocracy for a change. The odds are he’ll do a much better job of governing than the current lot.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint The views expressed by the author are personal