27 Apr 2008

The validity of a point

Peter Quentrall-Thomas writes about Vision 2020 and what it will take to get there. Sometimes he makes sense, but then he deliberately misrepresents stories to make his point. Kills the validity of the argument right there.

Sense of proportion

I sometimes think our political leaders should attend a class in "basic reality." They act like gods, but in reality they are in charge of a tiny island.

I have just finished reading an article in the same Economist (mandatory reading) reviewing India's Civil Service. Imagine in Jalaun in Utter Pradesh province, one man, aged 33, is in total charge of 1.4 m people and 564 villages and towns.

And get this…He drives a replica of a 1948 Morris Oxford. No jet planes, no fancy palaces.

No mention here that the article is really about the inefficiencies of the public service in India and that the civil servant in question is a magistrate who works 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Indeed, all India's administration is inefficient. According to the Congress-led government's own estimate, most development spending fails to reach its intended recipients. Instead it is sponged up, or siphoned off, by a vast, tumourous bureaucracy. That is why, despite India's commitment to universal health care, water and education, only five countries have a lower portion of health spending in the public sector; over half of urban children are educated privately; and nearly all investment in irrigation is private. Under stress of tube-wells and a four-year drought, the water table in Jalaun has fallen by up to 15 metres. Despite the proximity of two great rivers, only 40% of the district is irrigated; no canal has been dug since colonial times.

Damn, much closer to Trinidad than you thought, isn't it?