Home | Vex And The City | THE INDIAN NITWITS ACT, 2013


I am sure we all spent Independence Day in silent reflection, trying to figure out whom to blame for our deficits – of life, liberty and lolly.

Personally, I blame the idiots - those who defy the scientific premise that humankind represents intelligent life.

I read about a curious law in the UK, called the Idiots Act. It had been passed in 1886 by the Parliament of the greatest empire in the history of the universe, barring the Galactic Empire led by Mr Palpatine Sith. (Tsk tsk... you must read your Wookieepedia.)

In a cutting edge legal move, the parliamentarians forged a distinction between "idiots|, "lunatics" and "imbeciles". They did it to find a way to identify and care for them uniquely in schools and other prisons.

The Brits may have replaced the Idiots Act, 1886 with the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, but I think we may have found a way to relieve the burden on the judicial, social, educational and law enforcement agencies in our country.

Enact the Indian Nitwits Act, 2013.

This will be the most truthful law under the Indian constitution.

Basically you’re let off the hook for whatever offence you may have committed, through the simple plea of stupidity. Of course, these are offences that did not happen by wilful deceit or premeditated violence but as the result of some redonkulous shit.

The law presumes that punishment is a deterrent to the repeating of an offence. But stupid people do not learn from reprimand. So why fill our jails with malcontents who cannot understand why they are there in the first place?

The foundation of the Nitwits Act is much the same as someone claiming temporary insanity for having committed murder. Or faking temporary coronary disease, to avoid going to jail. Such excuses are not only tiresome but they put the burden of disproof on the authorities. Doctors and psychiatrists have to be called in to find if your heart is all right and that your mind is not out to lunch.

More credible is the plea of stupidity.

Have you noticed that no one will ever contradict you when you say, "That was really stupid of me"? On the other hand, if you were to immodestly preen, "I did something really brilliant today," people will look at you as if you were really stupid to have said it.

My point is that one man is ready and willing to believe in the stupidity of another. And this is something that should said immediately be translated into relief from the law. And for the law.

Let’s say you were arrested for doing something really foolish and harmful to others – like opening a chit fund company, taking money from people and investing it all with Bernie Madoff. In such an event, you will plead stupidity instead of blaming it on your parents, your imbalanced education, peculiar planetary position, the recession, or on the excess of tamarind in the ragi mudde sambar.

If it ever gets to court, your lawyer can look the judge in the eye and say: "Milord, my client cannot help it. He is stupid. He was born an idiot." The lawyer need not even refer to the Nitwits Act because the judge will already know it. He will not admit the case. The judiciary’s time and resources will be saved.

Most of what we do (whether privately, or in full view of the orthodox lady next door) we do by dint of stupidity. What is clear from our 66 years of asinine bumbling is that we are an unthinking nation, run with no appreciation of consequence. Our disparate ideas and dissipated projects are like so many seeds scattered to the winds.

Why, is unclear.

You can blame it on the corruption of parliamentary democracy, you can blame it on the breakdown of the joint family system, you might blame it on the Kali Yuga for all I care, but I submit that we should all come right out and tell the truth – that in the final analysis, we are all stupid.

Therefore, just as temporary insanity can be a justifiable defence in a murder trial, so should idiocy become a justifiable defence for everything else.

Perhaps, we should turn the Nitwits Act into a song and have it sung in the school assembly in the place of the Sanskrit shloka. We can call this the Stupidity Sutra. This way, every Bangalorean will know it by rote. With this basic education, succeeding generations will learn not to deny the existence of personal stupidity and we will all become sympathetic in our dealings with each other.

The benefits of the Nitwits Act are two-fold.

First, we don’t have to tell lies in a court of law to escape landing our asses in the slammer. The truth will set us free. Literally.

And second, egocentric persons who do not want the public shame of using the Nitwits Act to escape punishment, might think of consequences before falling to their naturally idiotic instincts.

In Act 4 of Shakespeare's Henry VI, Dick The Butcher famously says, "The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers."

No need.

While the government’s resources are less stressed from the Nitwits Act, lawyers too will get a reprieve. They will not get blamed for anything anymore and they can seek new occupation.

Many years ago, I wrote a version of this piece in an earlier avatar of this magazine. I was inspired by a number of others’ thoughts that I usurped and mixed with mine till I honestly cannot remember the origin of these thoughts.


Ramjee Chandran is Editor-in-Chief and MD of Explocity.
rc@explocity.com (E-mail)
@ramjeechandran on Twitter

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