Pragmatic | Food Security Bill and the Bhagwad Gita

There is a connection between the two

The debate over the Food Security Bill is of little consequence now. The Bill has already been placed in the parliament and will soon become a law. The sole winning argument in its favour is ‘good intentions’. How can any proposal that intends to help the hungry and the undernourished be opposed by anyone? This trait was identified by Pratap Bhanu Mehta in his 2003 book, The Burden of Democracy.

The Indian state almost never evaluated policy by consequences, almost always by its own intent; if the tribunal of its own intentions had been satisfied, nothing else mattered. If it thought rent control helped the poor get housing, or curbs on investment were producing more prosperity, this was so regardless of whether it, in fact, did; particular projects were a success simply because the state had made an allocation for them, not because they reached their intended targets and beneficiaries. The habit of state officials to respond to every query — say why child labour exists — is simply to say that a law exists to deal with the problem. This is not just a last-ditch defensive gesture, it is symptomatic of the way in which the state can become oblivious to the concrete efforts of its own action or inaction. The state has internalized the message of the Bhagwad Gita: only intentions and not consequences matter.[Pages 125-126]

The NAC’s Food Security Bill is in total consonance with the message of the Bhagwad Gita: only intentions and not consequences matter. How can anyone ever argue with that? The NAC wins. India loses.

DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.