Monday, 19 July 2010
Saw a picture in the newspaper of Srinagar, Kashmir, returning to "normalcy." It was a picture of a busy shopping street, crowded with shoppers and their cars. That is, The Market is the source of "natural order."
I live in such a natural order catallaxy myself on BM Road, Hassan, peacefully and gainfully interacting with complete strangers. These strangers are invariably businessmen who own Property along the two sides of the road. These are all shopkeepers. England was once called "a nation of shopkeepers."
Indeed, as I look out every day from my window in the lodge on to the street below, I see that on this stretch of BM Road, there is nothing positive that our The State has contributed. The footpaths are broken and unsafe, the traffic is terrible and noisy, there is litter, cows wander on the fast lane - and the lone traffic constable walks around lazily in his cowboy hat carrying a walkie-talkie.
Today, I saw the owner of the general store opposite wash the entire stretch of footpath outside his shop. He seems a bright fellow. His behaviour illustrates the fact that, for the individual shop-owners, the condition of the "common property" of roads and footpaths matters greatly. Indeed, the footpaths and the road are their most important capital asset. If these don't work, customers don't come, and the property values of their shops decline. The city declines.
This basic realization seems to have escaped the local "civilian" administration. Last evening I engaged an auto-rickshaw on a ganja hunt. We drove towards the city centre. We had barely travelled half-a-kilometre when the road widened and I saw that we were in a "government square." On one side was the colonial bungalow of the District Magistrate - the IAS man. You cannot see the bungalow from the road. It is tucked away in the back, behind lots of trees. He has abundant land.
Opposite is the office of the District Superintendent of Police, the IPS man, boss of the lazy traffic cop.
Adjacent is the office of the Zila Parishad, a panchayati raj institution comprising the village heads from the surrounds.
Soon after passing the government square, BM Road takes a sharp left turn - and disintegrates altogether. Now, not only is there no footpath; there is no road either. A swanky hotel has been newly built there. There is a smart building with many shops. Private businessmen are investing in real estate in Hasan. The "civilian" administration has its head stuck in some village - "rural development."
BM Road is "Bangalore-Mangalore Road." It is NH-48. Here in Hasan it is an urban thoroughfare. There is a by-pass but it is not used much. Thus, the road is over-burdened with heavy vehicles travelling through. What seems clear is that the "civilian" administration is not looking after cities, their markets, and their roads. Not only that, these vital interests are not "represented" in local politics - which is all about village panchayats.
These administrators are therefore totally ignorant of the principles on which the market economy works - and the importance of cities and roads to the scheme of things. Their professional training is at fault. This training is based on "socialist" principles. Yet, there can never be any "civilian" without a market society. Our administrators are not civilians any more; they are cogs in the wheel of "party government," the central high command of the socialist party exercising "dual subordination" over both party as well as administration.
Today, I am off to Halebid and Belur, two nearby places that feature high on the government tourist brochures. Will report on the trip tomorrow. Stay tuned.