Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Contradictions in India

FM Chidambaram made at least two contradictory statements as usual in a public address. On the one hand he said that government policies were hampering innovations and then on the other hand he said that the corporate had to do better in motivating innovation and have to provide more employment to disabled people. I don't get the connection, but then again I could just be dense. How can businesses correct a government failure? Sure, there is political action, but then again when the incentive for every government in power is only to fill its pockets there is very little opportunity for businesses to do much.

Everytime I am here I am assailed by more and more regulations. This time I was stopped longer at the customs point and the officer tried to make me pay for electronic items I already own and plan to take back with me, for example my two year old refurbished laptop, and my three year old battered digital camera were all recorded. I had to show him my I-20, and Thank God I knew the laws on importation. If I had not mentioned that I knew what was allowed and what wasn't he would have made me pay duty on stuff I am allowed free into the country. These laws are deliberately written to fool common people. Besides, people have been used to such oppressive laws for such a long time that they do not even know that these laws have changed. In addition the officials themselves do not know these laws for the most part. It is a contradiction of sorts that people who spend so much money going abroad to study and work do not spend five minutes to read the laws on a website that would save them atleast 30% of the money value of the products as duties.

There is only one way to improve innovations, create incentives. We are a very smart population. After all even during the most oppressive days of licenses we found ways to be entrepreneurial, why wouldn't we be willing to do so now given the changed economic climate?

No comments: