The Cobra Effect

Updated: Jan 26


Have you ever heard of the term called "The Cobra Effect". Its a famous anecdote in the state of Delhi, during the British Colonial Government. This scheme was introduced in an attempt to control the population of venomous cobras that were plaguing the citizens of Delhi. The government offered a bounty to be paid for every dead cobra brought to the administration officials. The policy became a hit, gutsy snake catchers started claiming their bounties and fewer cobras being seen in the city. Yet, instead of tapering off over time, there was a continuous rise in the number of dead cobras brought to the officials demanding bounty payment every day. Nobody knew why!


The Cobra bounty scheme converted the snakes info valuable commodities, the entrepreneurial citizens started to breed them actively. This became a profitable and stable source of income. In addition, it was much easier to kill captive cobras rather than hunting them in the city. So the snake catchers concentrated on breeding the snakes for their own profit. Soon the government found the clandestine breeding areas and abandoned the bounty policy. As an act the breeders were now stuck with nests of worthless cobras and they simply released them into the city, making the problem even worse than before!


The lesson is that - there is no simple fix for complex problem. If you think a piece of tape can hold the tank from leaking around, you better check it out now.


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