If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Break It: The PDPP Act could have unexpected consequences for the sarkar


October 29, 2016, 2:00 am IST TOI Edit in TOI Editorials | Edit Page, Humour, India | TOI

As befits the world’s most populous and ebullient democracy, India has long given full rein to citizens’ right to freedom of what might be called vexpression – when folks get vexed about something, be it lack of job reservations or anything else, they can and do show their displeasure by letting their actions speak louder than words

In what was then called Calcutta, every time the price of hilsa fish went up or the local football favourites lost a soccer match, the good bhadralok of the city would evince their righteous ire at this unconscionable state of things by setting ablaze trams and buses in a bonfire of the varieties set to the spirited chant of ‘cholbe na!’ (It won’t do).

Carrying forward this time-honoured tradition of propaganda by deed, agitators of all hue and stripe have learnt to vent their political and ideological spleen by going on a spree of riotous vandalisation of all manner of property, both public and private.

In order to deter such shenanigans, the government has sought suggestions as to how best to amend the Prevention of Destruction of Public Property Act (PDPP), by imposing stiffer penalties.

Most if not all would agree that it’s high time we as a polity took a break from breaking up things as and when we feel moved to do so. However, as salutary as its intentions are the government’s outreach to people to recommend ways and means to add more teeth to the PDPP laws could rebound on itself with unforeseen consequences.

For the sarkar, in its many manifestations, could itself be charged with having caused, wilfully or otherwise, no little damage to public property as defined in a broader sense.

Before any given election, contesting political factions routinely deface the walls of buildings with vote seeking posters and slogans, which then have to be removed at public or private expense.

Once a government assumes office, at the central or state level, it more often than not inflicts further damage to a public property called the economy by playing ducks and drakes with whatever funds it can raise from an already overtaxed populace, which perforce is made to contribute more and more to an ever-diminishing exchequer.

Then there is the public property called the Constitution, on which all rights, including that of property, public and private, are founded. By various sins of omission and commission successive sarkars have given it a thorough battering, so much so that its founding fathers would have some difficulty in recognising it as their creation.

Indeed the document in question has been amended so often that a cartoon showed a news agent selling the latest edition of it as a popular periodical.

Let’s by all means penalise the destruction of public property. But for the sarkar such a measure might prove to be literally a smash hit in a way it hadn’t bargained for.

My comment on this editorial: Any property Public or private is constructed with lots of money and  heavy expenditure goes into constructing it. Politicians also send some anti social elements to mingle with ordinary people or commoners and  set fire to trams and buses and also private  property. Once such public property is getting destroyed our Netas impose new taxes or make up  for the loss of public property which again is  a loss to the tax payer. I mean to the honest tax payer. IN this context amendment of PPDP is laudable which is going to make stiffer penalties including jail term for perpetrators of violence who destroyed public properties. Whenever these vandalisers are not getting jobs or some other genuine cause not included in a backwards caste etc they resort t o violence and indulge in vandalism and destroy public property worth  crores of  rupees which is a huge loss to exchequer. Instead of this the amount of this loss by spending  of which we reconstruct or buy new buses and  Trams and other property destruction could have been saved to  provide  food security to one and all. Or some other welfare activity since India is a is a mixed economy and  a welfare state. With the saved money due to loss caused due to  public exchequer we can make  an education of girl child up to graduation  free in quality colleges. But let us improve the quality  and educational standards of our colleges on par with US.

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