Monday, December 01, 2008

Mumbai Blame game

The political and bureaucratic drama has started even before the dust has settled in Mumbai. Politicians will now make a big show of resignations. As if they really care. It is part of the image they want to create, similar to hollywood actresses who get pregnant when their image takes a beating because of their stupid antics. Before long, people start talking about their kid and what not and the arrest record is history. Likewise with Indian politicians, make a big resignation drama and everything else takes a back seat. Especially now, since elections are coming up, its going to be fun watching them play it out. Hey! People respond to incentives right!!
The other drama is the bureaucratic one between the different agencies (intelligence, law and order blah blah). They will each start pointing fingers at each other about how the other paid no heed to warnings. The ultimate blame will be on Pakistan, cause Pakistan based militants are an easy scape goat for anything that happens in India. After all the Indian officials do not have to provide any hard evidence. Just point a finger, condemn the attacks, and the militants start shaking in their boots right!! Politicians, and bureaucrats know (and rightly so) that once the Pakistan angle is splattered in the media, people will forget the incompetence of their own government agencies. It is easy to stir emotions at a time like this. People are angry, get them angry at the other guy who is our enemy, and voila just like that attention is shifted away from the fact that such a massive incident occurred due to sheer negligence.  Its easy to do that than to have the people angry at the government and its incompetence. The deep seated hatred that some fundamentalist groups have in both countries will be sufficient to destabilize both nations for a long time to come. 
I do not care if it was the LeT or RSS that carried out these attacks. I know from what my teachers taught me that ultimately it is a problem of bureaucratic inefficiency. Indian bureaucrats do not have any incentives to do their jobs. They do not get fired because of something as simple as Intelligence failure. They do not get charged for criminal negligence leading to the loss of 200 lives. Their tenure is secure. They maybe highly intelligent men and women, but there is nothing in the rules governing bureaucracy that holds them accountable. They can and are getting away with murder. 
Its easy to say that the Indian police were not willing to engage, but the root cause of the problem is that they are do not have the incentives to engage. Lets say they did engage and at the first hint of terrorist shooting, the Indian police started shooting back. I am sure the media would have condemned them then for it saying they should have assessed the situation before they started firing back. Even now Israeli officials are blaming the Indian operation at Nariman House. Damned if you do and damned if you do not. Its no wonder then that no one wants to take responsibility. They are all afraid of the reaction. After all, the beat cop , the guy lowest on the totem pole is the one that has the most to lose. When push comes to shove, the blame game will finally end with the beat cop, cause he is not high profile. Politicians have nothing to lose, bureaucrats have nothing to lose either. The final blame will be on the poor constable who decided to shoot back. He is the one who will lose his job and his pension. The media is not interested in him, so with no media attention the matter will be put to rest. Just like in this case
No I am not outraged. I just have no expectations. May be it is my fatalist attitude or just the fact that I trust economics more than Indian politicians and bureaucrats. This is a never ending cycle. As long as people put their faith in the benevolence of the politician and bureaucrat such incidents will keep happening. Indian citizens are not going to ask for less bureaucracy. In fact, they are already demanding more bureaucracy and the government is only very happy to open up a new agency and appoint officials with fancy titles who will vacation abroad on tax payers money and allow more such security lapses. Western nations are taking a keen interest in this when about 20 of their citizens have been killed. We have scores of people being killed (both in India and Pakistan) every day and our own governments care more about the foreigners than about our citizens. Shame on us for putting up with such imbeciles!! 

1 comment:

Vikas said...

I am sorry but you are too cynical...

Talking about libertarian economics (and as a fellow libertarian at that), one also needs to go into another behavioural bias that we talk about in libertarian economics- Informational bias. Intelligence failure is an information that is in public domain, which can be measured by number of attacks. But can you measure the number of times attacks have been averted?
So we conclude if there are, say 5 attacks, that there is intelligence failure.But 5 attacks out of how many attempts. Is it out of 10, 100, 1000 or 100000000?

On a lighter note, talking about incentives, your incentive lies in non conformance. Write with shock value and people will read. After all, no one will come all the way to a blog and read the same stuff... No offence ...