Far more dangerous than the coronavirus is a virus that infects our India’s statecraft—statism. It pervades the entire system all the time—even when the country is fighting the deadly Covid-19. Its recent manifestation is in the form of government attempt to take over the Delhi Gymkhana Club.
The Centre has moved a petition in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) seeking a change of management of the Delhi Gymkhana Club by immediate appointment of 15 government nominees in its general committee and transfer of absolute power to run the affairs of the posh club located adjacent to the Prime Minister’s residence, reported IANS.
In its petition, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) said, “Fraudulent and rampant mismanagement of affairs of the Respondent 1 (Delhi Gymkhana Club) company (a Section 8 company under the Companies Act 2013) by the general committee of the company, to a great detriment of significant public interest.”
If there is fraudulence in a club—or in a company, an organization, etc.—the guilty should be brought to book. The law will take its own course. At best, the government can facilitate and expedite the process. But does it acquire every company, club, association, etc., where complaints of malfeasance surface? And should it do so? For instance, different groups of journalists have accused each other of malpractices in the past in the Press Club of India. Should the government take it over?
About one and a half years ago, I wrote an article for The Times Of India (<a href="https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/the-deep-pink-state-governments-may-come-and-go-but-statist-mindset-remains-the-same/">https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/the-deep-pink-state-governments-may-come-and-go-but-statist-mindset-remains-the-same/</a>, November 16, 2018) in which I coined a term—pink deep state. “It steadily, indeed steadfastly, keeps creating statist abominations.”
Actions like the attempted takeover of Delhi premiere club are some of the abominations that get highlighted because of the high-profile nature of the case, but pink deep state’s depredations are continuous and relentless. “Decades of socialism seem to have endowed Leviathan with some kind of artificial intelligence, gradually transforming it into a deep state. Unlike in a conventional sense, however, India’s deep state is impersonal; it is not about a set of entrenched people but an institutionalized mindset which is innately anti-business,” I wrote.
At this time of unprecedented crisis, one would have expected the MCA, as an economic ministry, to be concentrating on the ways and means of helping the corporate sector which, even before the outbreak of Covid-19, was not in the pink. The pandemic, and the resultant lockdown, has been bleeding big and small corporations. Instead, the MCA is focusing on the functioning of a club which has no bearing on the economy or even the national capital.
The MCA said in the petition that Delhi Gymkhana was registered under sections 25 and 26 of Companies Act in 1913 as a “limited company.” The objectives were to promote art, commerce, science, religion, charity or any other useful theme. The charge against the club is that just 2 per cent of its expenditure is on sporting activities. An official told a newspaper, “This is misuse of land for purposes other than what it was allocated for.”
The government solution: takeover. Typical of the pink deep state: steady, steadfast control of everything, be it economy and social and cultural institutions..