Thoughts on economics and liberty

Why Godbole’s otherwise sensible book adds no value to India: “Good Governance: Never On India’s Radar”

I'm sorry to have this title for my review of Godbole's book.

The book starts off well enough. A liberal at heart (in the classical liberal sense), Mr. Madhav Godbole (of the 1959 batch – around 23 years senior to me – he must be around 77-78 years old now) says all the right things in the beginning.

I note that Mr. Godbole is a diligent man. He knows the Constitution and the laws very well. Prim and accurate citations of names and laws pepper the book. Very useful as a reference.

I particularly like his opposition to the destruction of freedom of speech and his insistence on the right to property. He says the RIGHT THING about each of these and many other related issues. 

So what's the problem?

Well, he has no vision, no idea how to fix the many problems he has identified.

To test his solutions, I looked at the Administrative Reforms section. I was sorely disappointed. His knowledge of the principles of governance/ incentives is extremely ordinary. While talking about new public management he does not display the clarity of thought to identify the precise solutions we need in India.

His reference to the Second Administrative Reforms Commission's 15 reports (at page 250) is laudatory. I disagree! The reports are A TOTAL WASTE. I'll comment separately on these reports one day. I've never seen more garbage in my life – and so voluminous. There is absolutely no mention of the BASICS in these 15 reports. All superficial and flimsy. But as I said I'll discuss this another day.

I'm afraid I could not have the patience to read every word of his otherwise well-researched book.

The book is a litany of complaints about India and its mis-governance. I have no doubt that each of the points Mr. Godbole makes is valid – as far as the depiction of the current system is concerned.

But why take so much time to say that our system is rotten? Everyone knows it. 

We should be focusing on SOLUTIONS. And ACTING on them.

That's where Mr. Godbole and I part company. I am a solutions man. I ACT TO FIX PROBLEMS, not to describe them, repetitively, in over 250 pages.

I'd still believe the book is worth having on one's library. It is a good description of our many failings in India. A good reference document. Use it sparingly, use it to agitate your mind about the MANY failures of India.

I give this book 3 out of 10. Maybe 3.5. Not a single new value-add I could find to include in the SKC agenda. But Mr. Godbole is a liberal. He should appreciate the agenda, if he gets around to reading it.

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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