Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Right to Intelligence

In a remarkably productive session of the parliament, the legislature has introduced a new bill which can revolutionize the country. The new bill, called the Right to Intelligence Act has been tabled close to the introduction of another bill, called the Right to Food Act. Just as the Right to Food Act is expected to end hunger in India by providing subsidized, and if required, free food to people, the Right to Intelligence Act will ensure that no man, woman or child will be left behind in the intelligence stakes.

The bill was jointly tabled at the working session of the Lok Sabha yesterday by Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the Finance Minister, and Mr. P. Chidambaram, the Home Minister. Mr. Mukherjee hailed the bill as path-breaking and said that it will ensure that no one will ever have to face stupidity again. Mr. Chidambaram echoed the sentiments of his colleague, and further added that the constitution will be amended to make this a fundamental right of people.

According to the bill, a new Ministry of Intelligence (not to be confused with the Defence Intelligence Agency) will be set up to oversee the program. Mr. Shivraj Patil, the former Home Minister, is being widely tipped to head the new ministry. With the new act, intelligence will be made compulsary in schools and colleges.

"What we have today is that a large number of people do not possess sufficient intelligence to survive, and as a country aspiring to be among the leading nations of the world, that is just unacceptable." said Mr. Mukherjee. "Just like poverty, lack of intelligence is also a vicious circle. People who are not intelligent will always be taken advantage of by the intelligent ones, and this will further perpetuate their lack of intelligence. We will break this cycle by making intelligence easily accessible by creating an efficient distribution mechanism, especially in rural areas."

On being asked as to how exactly people will be made more intelligent, Mr. Chidambaram said, "We are suffering a crisis today. Many intelligent and not-so-intelligent people have been leaving the country for opportunities abroad. When they do that, not only are they being selfish, but they are also carrying much needed intelligence away from India. We intend to restrict the flow of intelligence outside the country, and any intelligence that is repatriated back to India will be taxed at the rate of 10%. We will also levy a modest surcharge of 2% on all intelligence that has been acquired within India to fund this program."

When asked whether the implementation of this act will be done in parallel with the implementation of the right to free and compulsory education, Chidambaram said that this will not be the case. The government is looking into setting up intelligence kiosks across the country where the needy can go and gain intelligence.

However, not everyone is happy with this scheme. Mr. Prakash Karat, the general secretary of CPI (M) opposes what he believes is a fundamentalist policy. "There is a very good chance that the minorities will get discriminated against. There is currently no restriction on who intelligence will be distributed to. Essentially, the urban elite, with their advantage of superior intellect, will be able to usurp a disproportionate amount of intelligence for themselves. I have nothing against the right to intelligence act, however minorities should have the first option on intelligence, and it should be provided free to them. I am going to raise a protest against this discriminatory act, and till my these concerns are addressed, the CPI (M) will go on an intelligence strike!"

Predictably, the issue has raised the hackles of several local parties. Raj Thackerey, the leader of MNS, feels that this is a blatant attempt to subvert and destroy Marathi culture. "People of Bihar and UP are already coming in large droves and taking away jobs from local Maharashtrians here. Imagine what will happen when they come armed will intelligence!" he fumed. There were reports of violence in Borivli, a suburb of Mumbai, where a mob from MNS set fire to shops and BEST buses.

The law is revolutionary in the sense that this is the first time such an act has been tabled in any country. However, if not implemented correctly, it has the potential for misuse. While we wait and see if this act becomes a success, one thing is for sure. Even if only a section of the population benefits from this act, the average intelligence of the country will go up and India will take her rightful place amongst the leading nations of the world.