Vantage point

Friday, January 27, 2006


I read Curious Gawker's blog pretty regularly because it is one of the wittiest ones around. I have also recently started following the blog of Spaceman Spiff, named after one of my favourite characters of all time.

Both of them raised questions about my Raj Bhavan post saying it comes across as confusing. Introspecting, I realised that the post could indeed have been more lucid. So let me clarify what I was trying to say.

The post probably confused some people because, I will admit, it tried to say too many things at the same time. But you know how one can get while ranting. So let me list down what I was trying to say one by one -

a) I have a beef with the post of the Governor, and indeed the President. Though prima-facie they may appear as checks-and-balances-type arrangements, they mostly end up being rubber stamps if the cabinet is hell-bent upon getting a decision passed.
b) Even if I were to make my peace with the existence of a governor, why should so much money be spent on him? Why does he need to occupy fifty acres of prime real estate in South Mumbai? What does he do there which can not be done from a place like Jalna, Parbhani, Ichalkaranji, etc. My point is not, as Gawker thinks, that security concerns should be disregarded and everyone should be allowed to rub shoulders with the governor. My point is, what is there in the job description of the Governor that requires 50 acres of prime land?
c) I also have a beef with the Maharashtra government parking itself in South Mumbai, when whatever it does can easily be done from a place like Nanded, Solapur, Amravati etc.
d) The Maharashtra government is under a debt burden of over 1 lakh crore. A "cost-cutting" measure of selling off their offices in South Mumbai will be very useful in this scenario. What cost would be cut? The opportunity cost of not selling off prime real estate.
e) The Raj Bhavan land itself can be thrown open to the public, once the Governor is moved to a small office in some other place. Why can't it be a mini-Cetral-Park, or even a mini-Aarey-Colony but in South Mumbai?
f) Why isn't there activism for point b) and e)? There should be. I expressed surprise that no activists have taken up the cause. The government stealing land from the victims of Sardar Sarovar is theft. But the government unnecessarily monopolising so much land without any real need is also theft. Sardar Sarovar is of course a lot more heinous because it was personal property being stolen. But this theft/hoarding of land by the Government is also wrong, in my opinion.

so you see, my post was my little contribution towards raising points a) to e) and just expressing point f).

Unfortunately, point f) came across as environmentalist-bashing. Mea culpa. Though I disagree with some environmentalists on some issue, this is not one where they can be blamed, and seriously, it was not my intention to blame them. Their purpose, of having more greenery is served even if Raj Bhavan is inaccessible to us. So "liberating" Raj Bhavan is not really their responsibility.

It is the responsibility of people who feel strongly about it. Like me.