By Somali K Chakrabarti
On rare occasions, it happens that a person can dig into a complex topic with remarkable ease and make perfect sense to a diverse group of listeners, while capturing their attention all along and making the subject exceptionally interesting. Dr Bibek Debroy is certainly one of those people blessed with such rare ability. Fascinated by his knowledge on the vast array of subjects he tweets about, I had registered for the seminar arranged by MoneyLife Foundation, to hear Dr Debroy speak on the Flaws in Indian Laws.
I reached the Royal Bombay Yacht Club just 5 min before the start of the event. The building is just at a stone’s throw from the Gateway Of India and has an old world charm about it. With hardly any time in hand to appreciate the architecture, I rushed into the hall and yet found myself seated on a single vacant seat on the 2nd row. And there I was, all set to listen to one of the most interesting sessions by the noted economist, columnist and author.
So the session began. Right from the word ‘go’, it was replete with anecdotes that held the audience in rapturous attention and we found ourselves intermittently bursting into peals of laughter at the absurdities existing in the Indian laws. I am recollecting here some of the numerous anecdotes shared, which I had managed to scribble down.
The Trigger For Initiating A Research Project For Legal Reforms.
The 1st anecdote was about an unexpected and a seemingly innocuous event that had provided the trigger for initiating a research project by the Government Of India for Legal Reforms.
The story goes back to the year 1993.
One day Dr Ashok Desai, then the Chief Economic Consultant to the Govt. of India, invited Bibek Debroy for lunch to ask about his interest in heading the research project. He gave him the time between the start of lunch & dessert to make up his mind. The project was approved by none other than our ex PM Dr Manmohan Singh, who was then, the Finance Minister Of India.
Quite in line with the thesis of a book called ‘Accidental India’, written by Shankar Aiyar, much of what happens in India, happens purely by accident rather than by design, the prompt for the project inadvertently came from Dr Ashok Rudra, a scholar, economist and professor at the University of Vishva Bharti. Read more