Thursday, February 13, 2020

Dubai - Lessons for Modi ji and the Indian Government






We were in Dubai on a short 5-night beach holiday. Yes, beach holiday. Dubai does have a lot of sand; it is in the Dessert after all. Dubai, located in the Persian Gulf, also has beautiful sandy beaches. The beachfront hotels are a-plenty at all price points. The weather in the winter months is truly delightful. The sun doesn’t seem as hot, , the sea is a refreshing 21C and the ambient temperature is a pleasant 22C during the day with a cool sea breeze. The evenings get cooler and you will need a light jumper or sleeve. The air is pollution free and the sea clear. What more can you want? A cold beer in the afternoon while you lie on the recliner? A Daiquiri? No problem. On a private beach, the hotel will happily serve you intoxicants. Many hotels do have private beaches, that is beaches open only to hotel guests. We had a delightful relaxing time.

Do you remember when you were in school, your class teacher invariably asked you to write an essay on what you did or how did you spend your vacation? Well, in that vein, I thought why not write about what I learned, and what I realised during my vacation.

The first thing I realised is how absolutely correct our Great Leader Modi Ji was. In 2014 when he used the phrase “Maximum Governance Minimum Government.” Remember that? Well, let me tell you that Dubai is a shining example of “Maximum Governance Minimum Government.” You do not see law enforcers around. Yes, many private security guards but they are at best, information kiosks, sheep dogs to keep the pack of tourists together, or simply there to point you in the right direction. You see no Police. Despite this, crime is virtually non-existent, and, the levels of cleanliness are startling. No one, absolutely no one, litters. If you are caught committing a crime, Sharia Law applies so you could be fined, jailed, flogged, have your hands cut off or beheaded. If you are lucky you will be fined, flogged, jailed and then deported. I presume lawyers practicing criminal law are non-existent in Dubai.

People simply obey the law. They obey inanimate objects like signs! Let me give you an example. “No Parking” or “One Way”. An inanimate sign. Who observes this in our great country? Drugs and booze are against Islam i.e. their religion. Even God will not be able to help you if you are caught with drugs or misbehaving while intoxicated. I must explain, in every country you have laws prohibiting driving under the influence as well as laws against misbehaving when drunk. It is not that Dubai is any different on this score. But where it is different is if you are caught. You will be punished, swiftly and without mercy. Forget about bribery.

I am no behavioural scientist; however, I am sure that there are fewer crimes in Dubai as compared to India or Western Europe and USA. If my assumption is correct, and I believe it would be, several questions are raised. If Sharia Law does result in safer societies should one have this in place? The Deterrence Theory in relation to criminal offending is the idea that the threat of punishment will deter people from committing crime and reduce the probability and/or level of offending in society. It is one of five objectives that punishment is thought to achieve; the other four objectives are denunciation, incapacitation, retribution and rehabilitation. Sharia Law certainly has four of the five objectives with, rehabilitation being the missing part. Let us admit it that we all want safer societies. So, should we switch to the Sharia in India?

I do know that our Great Leader Modi ji’s slogan “Maximum Governance Minimum Government” does not only mean Criminal law. However, what I did glean is that Dubai is a shining example of the slogan. Of course, it is indeed tragic that our Great Leader Modi ji has not been able to meaningfully implement the slogan, but, on the contrary, Government is increasing every day.

Modi Ji, please go to Dubai and send all our bureaucrats there. One hopes that the process of osmosis results in reducing the Government. Wishful thinking.

My second learning is how loosely and irresponsibly we speak. A rather large accusation you will agree. You will always hear, in Dubai the Emir or the Sheiks control everything. They make their money in myriad ways of control. Dubai, as you may well know, has no oil. So that income stream simply does not exist. What does exist is several other income streams, all developed, nurtured, cared for and maintained by the Government.

You know of course, that Dubai relies heavily on expatriates. The visa fees and residency fees, though small, all add up to a lot. Emirates the airline is Government owned. The land is generally government owned. Telecom companies, utilities like electricity and water are Government owned. My research revealed that Le Clos the very upmarket Liquor Shop located outside every Emirates Business/First Class Lounge is ultimately Government owned. Yup, booze shops are Government owned. The Jumeirah Hotel Group is government owned. All this is true, the Government owns everything that is hugely revenue generating, preferably guaranteed revenue.

Now is my question. Where else, my dear readers, does the Government have ownership of exactly what I have described in the preceding paragraph? Our dear Bharat, India. Yes, folks our Government from the time of independence has been in business. Why do we not whisper in exactly the same way about India as we do about Dubai ‘The Government own everything”?

Have a look at this table I have made for you

Activity
Company
Banks
All PSU Banks
Insurance
LIC GIC etc
Airline
Air India
Telecom
MTNL BSNL
Hotels
The Hotel Corporation of India – now disinvested
Booze
All the State-owned liquor licencing companies like the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Limited TASMAC
Power
All the state Power generating and distribution companies

Our Government also own our trains, our mines and minerals and our ports. All huge revenue generators, ordinarily. Of course, I could go on and on with what our Government owns. You all know what an absolute mess the Government has made of these. Each and every one of us is literally poorer, paying more taxes simply because of these inefficient basket cases.

Yet, as I have written, we speak with a mixture of scorn, fear and belief that because the Government owns everything, they have it easy. In fact, all these government owned companies in Dubai are profitable and a delight to interact with besides being world standard. When we have been ripped by our own Indian Government from 1947 with the Government running these generally third-class companies, we say nothing. This is why I said we are loose lipped and irresponsible.

A factor that boggles the mind is the paradigm change in the huge Sub-Continental population i.e. people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh. It is these same people who back home would spit on streets, be taxi drivers from hell, disobey and break every law large or trivial, are disorderly, rape without a thought in the world, molest women constantly, are transformed into angels in Dubai. By and large our Sub-Continental brothers become law abiding, smile at you, are helpful, polite, courteous and generally nice guys. The same Sub-Continental brothers who make shitty roads, shoddy buildings, cut corners and are [I hate the word and the concept] Jugaad masters, completely change when there. This is an absolutely startling reality that you encounter in Dubai.

Coming back to India I grew despondent. I have never in the past been as depressed as I was returning from Dubai. I know that Western Europe and USA are so far advanced that we in India have no hope in hell of catching up. But Dubai, just a trading outpost in the 1970 has been transformed. The transformation which I believe can be explained with the two phrases - “Maximum Governance Minimum Government” and “the Government owns everything”. It is just that, the Sheiks and the Sharia with their principles that have so changed Dubai. And, this has been done on the backs of the same venal, lazy, short cut taking Sub-Continental individual.

Do we have hope in India? Of course, we do. But it is such a mountain to climb. I often despair.





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