Economics and prediction
The catchy introduction to a recent Bare Talk column (“The costs of West’s mistakes”, Mint 16 August) is “Adi Sankara did not believe in the rational expectations model and hence he should have been awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for anticipating the credit booms and busts, monetary policy errors, Keynesian prescriptions that defy time and context.” Another way of looking at this is to say that economics pretends to be a science that has forecasting abilities and has precise solutions like physics that enables a rocket to be launched into outer space. Leading off from this, we should stop looking at economics for answers, instead treat it like astrology. The results are unpredictable, but we still visit them since it soothes and comforts the mind.
There are some elements that can work wonders to tackle terror attacks. For one, social media needs to be used creatively and users need to understand what government agencies are doing. Outrage after terrorist attacks is natural, but that’s not what is needed to manage the situation immediately after such attacks. Facebook and Twitter can be used more effectively to help authorities instead of igniting further panic by blaming them. If anyone can do anything it is them, unless there is someone else to do their duties.
One can borrow a leaf from what countries such as the US have done in this respect. Their use of these tools is quite imaginative.
It is important to understand the psychology of terrorism, too. The 2010 report of the US National Counterterrorism Center reported that terror attacks led to 13,200 deaths last year across the world. The report mentioned that 9,960 persons died due to such attacks in the West and South Asia. In contrast, the number of road fatalities in India is much larger than this figure. Yet, terror attacks grab attention to a greater degree. It is important to understand the psychological effect that such attacks have and equally important to educate citizens that they need not panic or blow up the situation out of proportion.
The Rajya Sabha created history by voting in favour of Calcutta high court judge Soumitra Sen’s impeachment. What is noteworthy is the transparent proceedings of impeachment by means of live telecast—and unfortunately in India, court proceedings are not telecast live. None of our courts—the Supreme Court, high courts, or various lower courts such as the sessions courts, labour courts, cooperative courts, and family courts, among others—carry out live telecasts of their proceedings.
Now, compare the Indian situation with that of a country such as Canada, where courtroom proceedings are webcast live, and are later televised by the Canadian Parliamentary Affairs Channel. Not only this, a Canadian citizen can also apply for a copy (court proceedings) on DVD for personal, commercial and educational purposes.
Live telecast of court proceedings will serve two purposes—it will help greatly in curbing judicial corruption, and infuse the concept of quality into judgements. At present, judges are not accountable for the judgements they deliver, and the proposed Judicial Standards and Accountibility Bill should have provisions for improving quality in judgements. The process of removing judges is cumbersome; it has to be simplified and quick.
One should remember that litigants are consumers of justice, but unfortunately in our country, litigants have no place in the legal system—there is no separate law for protecting litigants from excesses. We need a separate Act for the protection of litigants. Litigants should be able to voice their opinion on judgements freely without any fear of the Contempt of Courts Act. They should judge the performance of judges and their comments should be uploaded on the courts’ websites.
-Deendayal M. Lulla
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