The why not game

A medley of out-of-box ideas. Let us debate them to better understand our democracy

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Ashish Mehta | January 2, 2019 | Delhi


#artificial intelligence   #public health   #universal basic income   #law commission   #democracy   #out of box idea   #why not  
Illustration: Ashish Asthana
Illustration: Ashish Asthana

A few years ago, we could have suggested, why not do away with '1,000 notes. We could have also suggested that the planning commission is anyway founded on an executive fiat and can be done away with another since it does not serve any logical purpose. Or, that a separate railway budget is merely a tradition without a concrete justification. We would have been considered too imaginative. That was before the boldness of imagination became the norm.

Now, one can wonder if the government can do away with personal income tax, and others won’t be able to laugh it away.

Some ideas are so out-of-the-box that they seem like nice one-liners and nothing more. 
 
Then somebody comes around and puts them into practice. Big mandates probably give them the nerve. Rajiv Gandhi too pushed many ideas that do not seem so radical today: from a five-day work week in government to establishing the environment ministry and bringing in a law to end the Aayaram-Gayaram business. 
 
However, one trouble with out-of-box ideas, as Arun Shourie once pointed out, is that there are enough ideas within the box that are yet to be tried out. In electoral and political reforms, for example, every idea pushed by civil society and think-tanks is bound to have figured in one or the other of the hundreds of law commission reports. The only one left is: why not take law panel reports seriously? An idea, finally, can be only as good as it gets on the ground through proper implementation.
 
In the holiday season overlapping the exit of one year and the arrival of the next, we indulge in a bit of speculative journalism in this edition. As a disclaimer, we would add that the 11 why-nots in the following pages are ideas to be debated and not suggestions for implementation. There’s always the danger of seeming airy, but then we thought: Why not?
 
Here are 11 out-of-box ideas:
 

 

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