Guiding hand of the market would be best at "educating",
"health-caring", "policing", "informing", "parenting", and in general
at attending to welfare of society like it is in its usual business of
allocating resources efficiently for maximizing profits. Markets put
"choice" firmly in the hands of consumers, even of "consumers of
India's rulers are eager to embrace this wisdom. A new experiment is in
the making to test the waters. Modi's Gujarat & Sharad-Sonia's
Maharashtra are leading the country. Soon Indian citizen would have a
choice. He could "choose" to be governed by the elected representatives
and languish in our broken urban infrastructure or godforsaken
countryside; or he could "elect" to be governed by the market savvy
corporations by moving into "World Class", "State of the Art" townships
that are coming up in Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The good tidings
won't stop here. He would also have the comfort of being governed by
swanky new laws & rules made by these very same corporations. The
promoters of the SEZs would not only run their business enterprises, but
would also make laws that would decide how they run their businesses.
Neat arrangement!, isn't it? It is a clean break from the constitutional
irritant of separation powers.
It would become a reality once the "Maharashtra
Special Economic Zones & Designated Areas Act - 2010" is
approved by the assembly in the monsoon session. Central government has
already winked it's approval. As the title suggests, State government
would be able to designate any area in Maharashtra for this "dream
treatment". But this "freedom to choose" comes with a responsibility -
The responsibility to "afford" it.
What all is possible in this "Cinderella's charmed world"?
1] Freedom from many (unfortunately not all) laws : 'Bombay Industrial
Relations Act', 'Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act',
'Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act', 'Mathadi, Hamal and Other
Manual Workers’ Act', 'Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and
Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act', 'Workmen’s Minimum House
Rent Allowances Act', 'Rent Control Act', 'Private Security Guards Act',
2] Freedom from taxes (unluckily not all) : 'sales tax or purchases
tax under the Maharashtra VAT', 'stamp duty under the Bombay Stamp Act',
'registration fee under the Registration Act,', 'land assessment tax
under the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code', 'electricity duty and tax
under the Bombay Electricity Duty Act', 'Maharashtra tax on Sale of
Electricity Act', etc.
3] Powers to act like elected bodies (hold on, not yet like Assembly or
Parliament) : all the powers exercised by local bodies like Municipal
Corporations/ councils, Zilla Parishads (District Councils), Taluka
Panchayats (Tehsil level councils), and Gram Panchayats will stand
transferred to promoter/ developer of the SEZs and they will have no
jurisdiction or say in SEZs administration. Bye, bye Panchayat Raj too.
4] Immunity from conflicting provisions : State government is empowered
to override any other laws that have conflicting provisions with this
piece of legislation.
A "beautiful" precursor to the vision of India in 21st Century? A Trojan
to test our response and alertness? A pilot project to vindicate model
for future "governance"? Most probably it is all of this and more. There
would be these "islands of prosperity & tranquility" amidst the squalor,
grime, and tumult of the badlands outside. A utopia tailored by
"lawlessness" residing within a dystopia governed by web of laws. An
idea is in the making that will await its crisis to take center stage.
a concerned citizen based in Pune)