Periodic table of elementsPeople all across the world are just the same. Granted there are cultural, geographical, climatic, water and mineral endowment differences among various nations but those differences are not as stark as the differences in economic performance and the level of prosperity. A Somali (2021 annual per capita income of $130) is not by mere nature and nurture alone 645 times less capable of producing wealth compared to a Swiss (2021 annual per capita income of $83,832). 

What factor determines the relative differences in the wealth of nations? Much of it is explained by the quality of the institutions that nations have. The most critical institution is the government. If the government is incompetent, meaning if the quality of the people in government is poor, then it is unlikely that the people would flourish. There’s no escaping that dismal conclusion. Incompetence in government is fatal for a nation.

Of course that raises the question about the causal link between government competency and the general competency of the people. I believe the causation is bi-directional: incompetent people cause government incompetence, and incompetent government leads to incompetent people. It’s hard to escape this vicious circle. Sometimes external shocks can break the link but they are rare events. Be that it may, you can be absolutely certain that incompetent people in government does not bode well for the nation.

Watch this astounding level of incompetency and marvel at it. The man exemplifies ignorance and incompetence.

Prakash Javdekar is the “Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change.” The man’s demonstrated that he’s an ignorant moron. It would be a miracle if he knew anything more about those domains than the average illiterate 10-year old. Yet, he is in charge of making decisions in those areas. Every idiotic mistake he makes in policy formulation would cost India hundreds of billions of dollars. With his all-encompassing ignorance, it is impossible for him to not make terrible mistakes. But he gets to make those decisions because the people who appointed him as the minister are themselves not competent. Class A people appoint competent people as their subordinates; class B people appoint class C people, and so on. The rot begins at the top.

Unfortunately, Javdekar’s idiocy is not a trivial matter. He and people of his caliber are responsible for the poverty of hundreds of millions of people. His lineage started with “Pandit” Nehru — arguably the architect of India’s poverty post 1947. Most of the people in charge of the hundreds of Indian ministries (most of them are totally unnecessary and, what’s worse, they waste public assets) are uninformed, ignorant and stupid. They make policies and even run public sector enterprises. Is it any wonder that the public sector bleeds India?

In passing we have to note the difference between the public and private sectors. In the private sector, a firm has to have competent management. If the board of directors are a bunch of retards, then the company goes out of business, and the investors and shareholders lose their money. Therefore, the board has to be competent enough to select the most competent CXOs, or they are toast.

Not so in the public sector. When (note I write when and not if) a public sector firm loses money, the public pays and the managers get to keep their jobs. They don’t pay for their incompetency. Javdekar will have his fancy big house in Lutyens’ Delhi and live lavishly with hundreds of servants and guards, and travel around in first class — all paid for by the Indian citizens most of whom are poor — even though he is an incompetent idiot. You can quote me on that.

I should note that stupidity and ignorance are quite universal. At the head of this post is an example from the US. But the Discovery Institute is a private organization and has nothing to do with the government of the United States. The DI can be as idiotic as it wishes. No one really cares. It gets the ridicule that it deserves. But not so in India. Indians tolerate the most atrocious idiocy and the most blatant corruption in their politicians. Javdekar would have been run out of town on a rail in the US.

I am not a fan of the US federal government (to be frank, I dislike all governments) but at least they don’t put total asses in charge of governmental agencies. For instance, to be appointed the Secretary of Defense, the appointee has to have domain knowledge of defense matters. Here’s the current US Sec of Defense:

Lloyd J. Austin III is the 28th secretary of defense, sworn in on Jan. 22, 2021. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., Austin served 41 years in uniform, retiring as a four-star Army general after three years as commander of U.S. Central Command.

A 4-star Army general who served 41 years in uniform. He earned his position.

chinese caligraphyCompare that to the various “Minister of Defense, India.” Not one of them ever served in the armed forces for even one day. It would be astonishing if any of them ever held a rifle in their hands. The current minister of defense is Rajnath Singh, a career politician. I guess he knows as much about India’s national defense as you or I know about Chinese calligraphy.

Test your knowledge of Chinese calligraphy here. Which one of the two images is right side up? I cannot tell. Chinese upside down

Competency, expertise and domain knowledge matter enormously in general. It becomes a matter of life and death when it comes to governance. Sadly, in the case of India, incompetency rules the roost. 

It’s all karma, neh? 


Author: Atanu Dey


12 thoughts on “Incompetency”

  1. Sir, do you think any political party is capable of pulling India out of this mess or are we condemned to live in poverty,tyranny and misery forever? I see my country going downhill by every day. What can we do as ordinary citizens when all the political parties seem incompetent and incapable of governing. And finally sir, do you regret your support for Modi? A lot of people do. Nehru said “India has a tryst with destiny” but it has been anything but that.The dream is dying.


    1. Mayank Singh:

      I don’t think any political party can do any good to India. But is India condemned live in poverty forever? No. India’s poverty will be over in about 15 years or so. Will the choke-hold of the government be over? I don’t think so. Indians will continue to be under the heels of the politicians and bureaucrats.


      1. Atanu said “India’s poverty will be over in about 15 years or so.” Brrr! That sounds ominous. Because there’s only one way this current state of misery can end, and poverty’s magical disappearance is not on that program.


  2. True Mr. Dey you are absolutely correct. The democratic set up that we have currently doesn’t allow voters to decide the cabinet ministers and also in some case Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers. What’s the way forward?


    1. Saurav Sarkar:

      The voters do get to decide indirectly the cabinet ministers since they choose the individual members of the Lok Sabha (from among the candidates that parties choose to give “tickets” to) and these MPs choose the prime minister, and the PM then chooses the ministers. It’s indirect but I doubt that the situation would improve even if the voters were to directly choose the ministers. The whole system is rotten to the core and no amount of futzing around in the margins would change the outcome.

      The only way to get out of this is to replace the constitution so that it bars the government from interfering in the economy.


  3. When former chief of army staff General V K Singh won MP seat from our constituency, Ghaziabad, we thought he will be made defense minister of our country.

    However, he was not inducted in the cabinet. He was appointed as Minister of State for External Affairs and is now serving as a Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways.


  4. Javadekar is one of the most worthless politician I have ever seen in Indian politics and that is saying something given that we have/had likes of Rahul Gandhi, Arjun Singh, ND Tiwari and so on. Note the word worthless that I am using. I am not using it as a slang as in “worthless piece of sh**” but I am using it literally as in how one might describe a Rs 1000 note in India.

    Javadekar does not have academic smarts or credentials of Manmohan Singh, he is not a hustler like Sharad Pawar or Kapil Sibbal, he is not a go getter like Arun Shourie, he does not have oratory of Sushma Swaraj, he has not made lot of money like Vadras or Scindias, he has no family like Gandhis.

    In computer science we have a concept of “no-op” something that exists but does not do anything. This guy is a very living embodiment of no-op. He was MHRD for few fateful years and he proudly boasted that he has not made any changes to the system, has not fired any congress appointee and claimed his biggest achievement was that he ensured status quo. It was like saying I guarded the sand of Sahara dessert.

    His master uses this pawn really well. If you want to know what project or what issue the servant in chief does not give sh*t about, please check where he has posted this no-op lieutenant. I think it is very refreshing that he has been given charge of Ministry for Climate change (whatever it means). It tells us that Indian government does not give two **** about climate change, something that I fully endorse.

    While this gentleman has spent years and years in politics, it is not clear what he has achieved. Non-Achievement is his achievement. He has not amassed any significant wealth. In Pune where he is from, he is a political dwarf. In a state like Maharashtra to which he belongs, he is not a significant player. There are no “Javadekar supporters” to be seen anywhere. There are no secret “Javadekar factions” unlike say Gadkari factions. Except some bottom feeders, dependent on MHRD money no one has bothered to write any article praising him in newspapers or media. One MHRD parasite did do a piece on him calling him India’s Humboldt, I feel that sort of flattery could have convinced Salama Hayek to sleep with the author some day but was completely wasted on Javadekar as I do not think Javadekar will have a remoted idea of Humboldt. (Humboldt wrote The Limits of State action which influence John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty. Some of those ideas are core part of modern western civilization as we know it. Nithyananda is more likely to be right on anything that Javadekar even reading Humboldt let alone be like him).

    Javadekar spends his day thanking “able guidance”, “compassionate decision making” of his boss every day and night on twitter. Even on minor issues that involve his own ministry he thanks the boss for making the decisions. For issues which could have been handled by a clerk somewhere he thanks his master.

    It is totally beyond me how a no-op individual can rise to this level while being so no-op.

    There is only one reasonable explanation as to why he is in the position he is in. In usa we would say he probably meets his boss behind the store room.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Prakash Javdekar botched it up badly, but the ancient 5 “elements” are actually a good way to organize thinking about environmental protection.

    Earth: Protection/preservation of top soil from erosion is an ongoing primary concern, since it is the basis for all agriculture.

    Air: Protection from particulate and chemical pollution. Limiting or mitigating CO2 greenhouse effects.

    Water: Protection of rivers, ground water aquifers from pollution.

    Aether: Protection of the ozone layer which provides UV protection is a continuing concern.

    Fire/Energy: Almost ALL of the pollution of the previous 4 “elements” comes from energy production and use. So, moving to cleaner sources of energy is an urgent concern.

    BTW, Energy is the only real limit to population carrying capacity. As engineers say: ANY PROBLEM can be SOLVED given SUFFICIENT ENERGY. Our problem is that most of the readily available energy is dirty coal. It is frustrating that the Sun simply throws away stupendous amounts of the cleanest possible energy, and all we can currently do is helplessly watch it do so. Engineers, when are we going to start building that Dyson-Shell?

    As controversial economist Julian Simon said, the Ultimate Resource is the engineer. What the world and India urgently need is a whole lot of first rate engineers.


    1. Julian Simon did not write that engineers are the “ultimate resource.” You probably imagined that bit for self-serving reasons. Simon said that humans are the ultimate resource — not engineers, not economists, not scientists. The ultimate resource are people.


        1. Certainly, engineers do deal with energy but that’s not the point. The point was whether Julian Simon said that “engineers are the ultimate resource.” He did not. He wrote, “people are the ultimate resource” and the category “people” includes more than just engineers. Scientists and economists and wood workers are also people.


  6. Someone commented (and I am paraphrasing a bit) that Javdekar is so useless that he did not make money like Vadras and Scindias! … Wow…

    And i thought coming to these forums will enlighten me. This is now turning into Rediff comments.

    Dhanya hai!


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