Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg address, talked beguilingly of "government of the people, for the people, by the people". We could describe the system that we have developed as government of the governors, for the governors, and by the governors. Exhibit 1 in support is the Cabinet's decision to issue an ordinance that will protect Lalu Prasad from losing his seat in the Lok Sabha, should a court find him guilty of corruption in the fodder scam case. A Bill that would protect everyone in Mr Prasad's shoes has already been moved in Parliament, and got pushed to committee because no one was sure it would stand being tested in court. Still, with the Bill before Parliament, there was only one reason for an ordinance - to protect someone who did not have time on his side, namely Mr Prasad. That smells very much like government for the governors.
Exhibit 2 is the decision to allow designated members of three all-India services (including the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service) to go overseas for medical treatment, accompanied by a family member, at government cost. Why the police, and not the armed forces, one could ask. After all, soldiers face enemy bullets. And why an IAS officer who may be in the department of mines, and not India's most important space or nuclear scientist? What's different about the IAS and IPS? There's only one answer: they are the guys who move the files and get them approved. Poor generals and scientists have no say in the matter. Once again, government of, for and by the governors.
What is particularly galling is that the same officers responsible for failing to provide a proper public health system have managed their own escape from the mess they have created. First they gave themselves access to private hospitals, and now it is hospitals in other countries. What about people waiting for a bed in government hospitals? Well, tough luck, you don't belong to the IAS, so you can't go at taxpayer's expense to Sloan-Kettering.
Then consider the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), allowed to members of Parliament for spending on local area development. First, this violates the principle of separation of powers - elected representatives legislate, debate and ask questions; the executive that answers to these elected representatives proposes and implements spending programmes. Second, it started as Rs 1 crore per constituency each year, then grew to Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore - for each of nearly 800 MPs every year, which means Rs 20,000 crore every five years. It is an open secret that the scheme is open to misuse, but who is to bell the cat?
Exhibit 4 is the latest announcement on a pay commission for eight million central government employees and pensioners. Everyone knows that, at the lower levels of government, pay packages are well above what the market pays. These are not people who should get another pay hike, especially when the fiscal deficit is too large. On the other hand, there is a case for paying more at senior levels, because private sector salaries are way ahead and the gap needs to be narrowed. But for that you don't need a pay commission. Remember that Rajiv Gandhi simply ordered a special allowance for officers on the top rung, because they had not got a pay hike in 30 years. But the government takes care of its own, and also wants votes; so we have a pay commission.
One could add other examples; eg, politicians already spend large sums on airports that only they use. So why not go all the way to creating Milovan Djilas' New Class, and have exclusive dachas, special lanes for their cars ... the works?