Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Government - Is it relevant?

When I was a kid, the Government had factories, sold milk, bread and other essentials, in addition to the basic responsibilities of policing, transportation, sanitation, healthcare and education. Some cities had private transportation, private medical practitioners etc. There weren't private policing or sanitation. There were very few private schools - most schools were Government aided. Private engineering colleges started when I entered college. It looked reasonable as the government couldn't handle the demand for professional education. This was in late 1980s.

As time progressed, the government began slowly withdrawing from its basic responsibilities. More private engineering and medical colleges came up in the 90s and 2000s. Still fine as the demand for professional education continuing to raise.

In healthcare, Apollo and other chain hospitals established themselves all over the state. The quality of service in government hospitals steadily deteriorated to a level that anyone who can afford to spend for quality healthcare wouldn't visit government hospital.

Transportation got privatized like crazy. In healthcare and education private institutions took over the service from the government. In transportation, individuals took it upon themselves. Two and four wheeler are all over the place. As with other services, government provided services deteriorated.

When it comes to sanitation, Tamil Nadu government started to offload the responsibility to NGO like Exnora and then to private operators like Onyx and Neel Metal Fanalca. The government washed off its responsibility without establishing checks and balances for the basic services.

The sorry state of government shying away from responsibility showed up in policing. Unable to provide basic order, it let the people take care of themselves. There were private security agencies for low level policing. More influential people took to the mafia to resolve conflicts. Now, the difference between police and mafia has disappeared.

Around 2002-2003, there were instances where people funded drainage systems, arranged for their own water supply etc. I believed that it is natural that people have to take care of themselves. How wrong I was?

As people get richer, they would pay for these services. What about those who can't? What about conflicts that private service providers can't resolve? What about the impact on environment when business interests take precedence over service? The government continues to accept taxes in many forms, those in power accept bribes to hand over the tax payer's money to businesses and businesses focus on their margins.

We are at a stage, where we can't question on why the garbage isn't cleared, why the doctor doesn't show up at Government hospitals, traffic goes uncontrolled or schools not providing quality education. We elect a government that would accept taxes to siphon it to business. Sickening... isn't it?