Govts should never be criticised

Updated: Jun 27, 2020, 04:16 IST | Lindsay Pereira | Mumbai

Asking questions disturbs ministers tirelessly working for India and can damage democracy, which is why it should never be encouraged

Why have smooth roads like every developed country on Earth when we can add a bit of the texture and nuance of India to them?. FILE PIC
Why have smooth roads like every developed country on Earth when we can add a bit of the texture and nuance of India to them?. FILE PIC

PicNot too long ago, one of our state governments issued an order calling for a complete gag on anyone speaking against its functioning. Two days later, it clarified that the order was aimed at curbing fake news, not criticism. The clarification must have been forced by annoying journalists who, like vultures, have an annoying habit of asking questions. One of them must have confronted a minister, or a high-ranking police officer must have stumbled upon a meme on WhatsApp poking fun at the order, thereby forcing an explanation.

I have always believed that governments should never be questioned because this damages democracy. I would never dream of asking any minister questions, because I have yet to find one who doesn't work tirelessly, day and night, in the pursuit of turning India into Shanghai.

A gag order would be wasted on me, given that I have never had any reason to criticise the government of my state. I understand that, without this government, and the 18-odd governments before it, I wouldn't have running water for two hours every day. My building has underground tanks that store this water, offering it to me at all hours, but the largesse of those first magical hours come from the government, for which I have always been grateful. If people do not have running water through the day, the blame lies on a lack of underground tanks rather than the government. Everyone knows tanks are the problem.

I have also been full of praise for the infrastructure of my fair city. The roads function beautifully during lockdowns, and I can never fathom why drivers complain of potholes when I recognise them as part of an exercise in aesthetics. Why have smooth roads like every developed country on Earth when we can add a bit of the texture and nuance of India to them? Why accept smooth when, like our beautiful saris, we can have roads that twist and turn in unnatural ways, with ridges and plateaus to surprise us?

Look at the innumerable monuments put up to please our tired eyes. There is a large butterfly in Andheri, for instance, that forces locals to stop and contemplate the mysteries of life whenever they walk past it. It makes them glad that their taxes are used to remind them that butterflies exist and should be celebrated. Another public hospital would be nice, obviously, but butterflies made of grass have the potential to attract tourists in much the same way that China's Great Wall always has.

We also have Good Governance Day for a reason. Some cynics are annoyed that it occurs on the same day as the less well-known festival of Christmas, but I have always believed that worshipping former Prime Ministers is a lot better than worshipping gods or goddesses. We are blessed to be in a country where it is often hard to tell ministers apart from demigods, so I look forward to dressing up on that day and wishing family and friends. Most of them don't know of the existence of Good Governance Day, but I hope a significant amount of our taxes will be used over the coming years to rectify that issue.

Criticism of governments damages democracy in all kinds of ways because I believe it introduces dangerous ideas to the public. Take freedom of speech, for instance. How would our country prosper if we were allowed to say what we felt like, and ask elected representatives to work for us instead of themselves? Everyone knows that representatives who work for themselves are happier and more productive, enabling them to eventually work for us after their third or fourth terms. To criticise a government is easy because we are not in positions of power and have no idea how difficult it is to focus on things like healthcare, infrastructure and basic amenities while struggling to play politics. We have no idea how difficult it is to make ends meet as ministers of Parliament, struggling to survive on subsidised meals.

I think students should be taught to praise the government at an early age, to help them become adults who applaud rather than complain. It is only by constantly praising our ministers and allowing them to function without accountability that we can be a strong country. We may not have good roads, great public healthcare, or high standards of hygiene, but we have a city that managed to rename itself and, if that is not a sign of great governance, what is?

When he isn't ranting about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can be almost sweet. He tweets @lindsaypereira
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