Vantage point

Monday, July 10, 2006

Whom Will They Donate Fish To Then?

The underlying point to the plight of the victims in the Narmada Valley, or even in the Posco deal is very simple. Eminent domain sucks. If I own something, then I should have the final say on whether I want to sell it or not. And at what price I will sell it. Whether it is a tv, car, books, shoes, or my land. When you make it constitutionally possible for anyone else but the owner to decide about the sale of the land, you are just setting the stage for such "injustice".

So why don't the protestors and social workers ever ask for addressing the root cause of the problem itself? Why, instead of spending years and years bargaining over just compensations, extracting promises, and brainstorming for "creative" ideas to compensate the victims, don't these activists and caretakers of conscience just demand scrapping of eminent domain?

Maybe the answer lies in the old fishing adage. Give a man fish you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for life. Right? Now how would a philanthropist who massages his conscience by giving men fish, like it if everyone learns to fish? What will he do then to feel important and guilt-free?

Update: Karthik makes a great post making a similar point.