2006-03-23

Laws and loopholes

Let me tell you a story. Long time back in India, there was a king who was a devout follower of Brahma (one of the original Gods in Hinduism, along with Vishnu and Shiva; rest are avatars of these three). The king once prayed to Brahma for such a long time that Brahma appeared in front of him and asked him what he wanted. The king said "I want to be immortal". Brahma said "Sorry, but that is not possible. Only Gods can be immortal. You are a human being. I can grant you long life but not immortality". Hearing this, the king though long and hard and said "Okay. I would like that neither man nor beast can kill me". Brahma said "Ok".
"I cannot be killed during the day or night."
"Ok."
"I cannot be killed indoors or outdoors."
"Ok."
"Neither on ground nor in the air." (As you can see, he was anticipating air travel)
"Ok."
"Neither by missile nor by melee weapon." (In Sanskrit, there are two words for weapons - astra and shastra - differentiated by whether they are held while in use, such as a dagger, or thrown to use, such as darts)
"Ok."

The king was happy. But soon, he became cruel and started abusing his populace. And given the boon of near-immortality, he was simply unbeatable. When things came to a boil, Vishnu decided that he had to do something (Vishnu's role in Hindu mythology is quite central. His job is to keep the world in order by periodically restoring the balance between good and evil).

So, Vishnu came on earth in the avatar of Narasimha, a man-lion hybrid (Nara = man + Simha/Singha = lion). He grabbed the king and went and sat in the courtyard and lay the king on his lap such that no part of the king was touching the ground and at dusk, ripped the king apart with his long fingernails. Thus the king was killed by neither man nor beast, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither on ground nor in the air, neither during the day nor during the night and finally neither by held nor thrown weapon.

So, as you can see, the king might have figured out a loophole to become immortal, but Vishnu figured out a loophole within that.

The take-home lesson that I see in this story is that the more complicated the law, the easier it is to find loopholes. Therefore, I would like to see laws written in simple language. Our tax laws are as clear as mud and often we see people take advantage of loopholes. Then there are other laws that are so complicated that people don't even know when they are violating them. We should make laws simple to read and understand.

Something to ponder...

3 comments:

carreen said...

What you say makes a lot of sense.

carreen said...

What you say makes a lot of sense, but..

Manoj Arora said...

Well, as an Indian, knowing what goes on here, I feel the same way. The frigging government should simplify the laws for the laymen, or else, the rich will become richer and the poor poorer.

India rocks, Indians suck!!!