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Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

A Note On India, Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Hamas

In India on December 30, 2008 at 1:40 am

It seems more fair than ever to assert that India has no sense of history or philosophy.  Barely a month after terrorist attacks on Mumbai and after India’s making threatening noises at Pakistan, Israel is deemed unfair for doing to Hamas what India has only had the courage to hint at doing to Pakistan.  According to the Hindustan Times of December 29, 2008:

The Congress [an Indian political party that currently runs the Central government] on Sunday condemned Israeli action in  the Gaza Strip […] “The disproportionate use of brute force by Israel […] deserves strongest condemnation [sic],” a Congress spokesperson said.

This statement evades the fact that Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip is a terrorist organization and is responsible for continued rocket attacks on Israeli citizens.

The Cold War might be almost twenty years over and India might itself be suffering from Islamic terrorism but India and it’s ruling party are still fighting the old leftist war.

Israel might do well to beware of treating India as a friend.  This hypocritical land of the leftist soundbite is nobody’s friend.  India is, after all, trying to cozy up to Iran – one of the biggest (if not the biggest)  backers of Islamic terrorism in the world.  According to another story in the Hindustan Times (December 28, 2008):

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has widened the range of India’s diplomatic moves to pressure Pakistan into acting against those behind the Mumbai terror attacks of Novermber 26.

On Saturday, Singh spoke over the phone to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and asked him to impress upon Pakistan that it needed to move beyond denial to action on curbing terrorism.

[…]

In an unrelated speech in the evening, the prime minister said “[…] Those who wish to weaken our unity […] should remember that India has always endured […].  The force of history is on our side.”

So India, reeling under Islamic terrorism, asks the biggest supporter of Islamic terror in the world for help against the second biggest!  At the same time, condemning Israel for striking back and at the same time wanting to buy weapon systems from Israel.  And then the Indian Prime Minister speaks of the “force of history.”

(Stringing all these contradictions together it is also visible that in India there is no sense of philosophy.  A philosophy has to be more than a grab bag of inconsistent rhetoric.)

For another perspective on this, read what Aristotle the Geek has to say here.

As opposed to Israel, Muslim countries profess great love for the Palestinian cause.  However, this love does not extend to the Palestinians themselves.  The Daily Clarity has two reports of Palestinians being shot at (and killed) by the Egyptians.  Read about it here and here.

The Land Of the Fee

In Immigration on December 16, 2008 at 3:08 am

The Ayn Rand Institute suggests that foreigners be given Green Cards in exchange for buying houses in America.

Now I’m a foreigner and one who to boot doesn’t think America (in it’s history so far) is the root of all evil.  I, in fact, lived in America for many years and desperately wanted a Green Card till I got fed up waiting on their corrupt immigration laws and decided not to throw more of life away in the wait.  I’ve also done moderately well for myself and could afford to buy a house if I wanted.  I’m also peaceful (unless provoked by rancid things like socialism or faulty syllogisms.)  In many ways, I’m one of the people whom such a policy would try to attract.  Yet I reject this suggestion in it’s totality.

Given more rational immigration laws I might perhaps think of immigrating to America again but not on the terms suggested by the ARI because American houses are just piles of timber at present and they are going to be worth even less than they are now because of all the various “stimulus” packages.  All these packages will do is increase spending by the irrational (such as on houses) and also rob more responsible Americans of their money by loading them with inflation, higher taxes and a bigger government.  Crucially, there is still no solution to America’s production and savings problems.  Nor can any be seen on the horizon.  I am not alone in seeing this future for the ARI also says something similar.

If this money for Green Cards suggestion does come to pass (it won’t) then the Keynsians (the same ones who created this problem and control the economy) will treat the new money like cheap cologne to bid up the price of houses (or will invent some new scam like helping the auto industry) and give out money for free i.e. cheap credit  till the economy again reaches the same low point or searches for a new nadir.

I love the intention behind calls for open immigration.  I would love to see not only America but all countries open up their immigration laws and compete to attract bright people.  However, I  think this idea unattractive because it also comes with a wrong reason (at least partially) attached to it – that is, because it comes as an idea intended to solve the housing crisis –

Virtually overnight we would see money pour into the American real estate market, as millions of new businessmen and workers bought and rented homes.

– and a good idea for the wrong reasons is still wrong.  A good idea based partially on the wrong reasons is still wrong.  There is no such thing as doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

Come to think of it, isn’t this suggestion what has happened already?  A lot of money poured into the real estate market as businessmen and workers bought and rented homes.  What new can be expected to happen if a few million businessmen and workers are added when people already think irrationally? Where principles are corrupted and thinking irrational a few million more people can do nothing more than magnify existing follies.

And would this idea also apply to unsold cars made by American manufacturers? What if toothpick manufacturers need cash? Can I buy an All American land yacht or “personalised” toothpick holder and get a Green Card? Surely these guys are a long way from the boom too.

Open immigration must be supported for one reason and one reason only – man is a rational animal and a rational animal needs freedom to think, work, thrive and prosper.   The political expression of this idea (i.e. Capitalism) implies that immigration must be open on principle.  That by itself is sufficient and necessary.  No other reasons are required.

Nor as a potential immigrant do I want well meaning people like those at the ARI to “help me” on any other terms.

I will consider immigration only to a country where people see me and others like myself only as free, productive individuals.  I reject the notion of going to a country where I will be considered, even partially, a “quick fix”, or a “necessary evil (let them come and spent to solve our problem)” as pragmatically oriented xenophobes will think of it. For such a quick fix or necessary evil can and surely will be discarded in the fullness of time.  (By the same token, I do not think that there is any reason for Americans to run around the world saving people from themselves.  I would consider them moral if they would stop doing this.)

Around five or six years ago Americans were asserting that theirs was a moral country.  Assuming that America is a moral country, open immigration cannot be long now in coming, can it? Surely soon Americans will realise that new immigrants are good for them even if they do not buy houses (that are still overvalued.)

I will assert the opposite that most Americans do not possess reason sufficient even to accept the modest proposal of the ARI.

Postscript: America was once The Land Of the Free – “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” went the famous poem.  Now with such suggestions, where immigration will be given not to those seeking freedom but on condition of an immigrant being able to act as a tiny bailout package, it is perhaps time to rename America and realise that it is on it’s way to becoming The Land Of the Fee.

In memory of a better time:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

A Study In Contrasts

In India, Uncategorized on December 15, 2008 at 12:09 am

Nandan Nilekani makes the case that city government in India needs to be made effective.

Well, if we build a hierarchy of the different levels of government then city government would be placed somewhere at the bottom in terms of it’s powers and area of governance. 

What about the top level – The President Of India? After the Mumbai terror attacks The President Of India issued a brief statement from Camp Hanoi in Vietnam.  Nothing much after that at least in the newspapers (I never watch the stupidity on TV.)

Compare that to this press release from Buckhimgam Palace after the London train bombings.

There doesn’t seem to be much at the top either.  That post is mostly ceremonial but at least it should be visible, shouldn’t it?

Read On the Web

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2008 at 3:53 am

[XYZ] posits a model of counselling and communicative action as an instrument in order to stimulate the public sphere. The model aims at supplementing the individual’s struggle for a successful social adjustment with more aspirational inputs so as to help one take an informed and balanced attitude towards life as well as society.

Dude!

He Who Makes Money Must Be Punished

In India on December 12, 2008 at 2:07 am

India is a poor country where decades of socialism and centuries of bad philosophy have conspired to keep people poor.  A large percentage of the population has no work and millions more have only seasonal or partial employment.  Millions live without housing, sanitation, health care or even enough food.

Against such a backdrop, some show a self-driven initiative and become street vendors. Every town in India is full of them.  They sell all varieties of things from fruits and vegetables to cheap clothes, plastic goods and food.  In a country where supermarkets are only starting to come up these vendors provide invaluable services to people in residential areas who are able to get much of the stuff of daily life outside their doorsteps.

In a rational society people such as these vendors would deserve to be considered valuable members of society both for the goods they provide and for having the courage to challenge poverty.  In India, alas, they have no such luck.  For in India lurks the Municipal Corporation…

A Municipal Corporation is composed of small time tyrants who love the exercise of power and display it by from time to time swooping down and confiscating the goods of these street vendors.

I have been familiar with this story from the time I was as small child of three or four.  We used to burn energy by madly running around shouting “The Committee is coming, the Committee is coming.”  As an adult it doesn’t seem funny, especially not when it happens in my part of town – as it did today.  Despair and worry on the faces of honest people I deal with everyday is not easy to see.  It is even more difficult and a little surreal to think that in the same town there are men who will sleep well tonight in the smug assuredness of their power.

My questions are these:-

  • Can a country hope to progress if it acts to destroy enterpreneurs rather than leaving them alone to prosper?
  • Can a country hope to win against violence and terrorism when the people of that country are willing to arbitrarily initiate the use of force against their fellows by confiscating their goods?
  • What is the relevance of concepts such as social justice when  justice for the individual does not exist?
  • Can the government of a country which prevents it’s own people from rising above poverty be considered moral and legitimate?

Bakunin In Bombay – Part 2

In India on December 8, 2008 at 3:35 am

Since the time I started writing the first part of this post a number of comments have been published in the press and the direction of the discussion has gone back to the same old.

Newspapers are carrying page after page of emotional reactions from the “common man” that range from making war on Pakistan to making peace with everyone.  But one thing that has become clear is that the acceptance of leaders responsible for India’s internal violence is unchanged.

The op-eds are worse because they are full of words that sound good but do not reflect the truth.  This is what the Indian Express has to say:

India is finding workable, affordable and replicable solutions which will help it overcome the same problems [of poverty, illiteracy etc.]

Now India is known as a country whose brain power has ‘ingenuity’ and the unique capability of ‘frugal engineering.’

What workable solutions might India be finding when the same newspaper in a less nationalistic time a few months ago reported:

Model city in shambles: crumbling infrastructure holds up Gurgaon growth

Gurgaon, September 22: Gurgaon seems to be caving under its own growth. Indiscriminate real estate development, non-existent infrastructure and official apathy — the list is endless. Pitched as the “model city” in the beginning, one that “all other cities in India would aspire to emulate”, the state Government had worked overtime to market the city as the perfect investment destination. The lack of civic infrastructure, however, began creeping in soon after.

Almost non-existent storm-water drains and sewage system, frequent power breakdowns, traffic congestion, dismal public transport system — in a city that generates almost 40 per cent of Haryana’s earnings.

What is more, many upscale residential complexes in the township are yet to get regular power connections years after full occupancy and the city is yet to get a designated spot to dump the 375 tons of solid waste it generates everyday.

“Residents are facing many health problems and several cases of dengue have been reported in the area. All this is happening because of the negligent and callous attitude of municipal authorities,” Rajat Dogra, a resident of DLF city, said.

Can a country be the “crucible of the world” if it’s own “modern city” is cumbling?  Evidently yes, if one forgets what was said just two months earlier.

In the first part of this post I asserted that in India there is no sense of history or philosophy.  That is shown again by the contrast between these two articles.  History of a few months ago is forgotten in the absence of a philosophy that could tie these two articles together and put both in context.

 The real truth is that after centuries of decadence India is only starting to see change. Solutions to the problems of growth combined with paternalistic government are yet to be understood and solved.

The “ingenuity” and “frugal engineering” referred to are also a myth.  What software or engineering product has originated from India?  Indian software companies are either work-for-hire shops which develop code for ideas that come from other parts of the world or capitive development centers for Western companies.  The only example of “frugal engineering” that was unique and in some ways innovative has been the Tata Nano and that project too has been a hostage to socialist era laws.

Indians are good at reusing and repairing things beyond their normal lives but that stems only from poverty.  It is not always good to make a virtue of necessity.  To progress India needs to become a society where things are rapidly made obsolete and replaced with better things that increase productivity.

Nor are we told in what way exactly Africa, South and Central America and Central and South-East Asia come under “the umbrella of India.”  The countries in these regions largely plot their own paths and the Express is just indulging in feel good poppycock for the benefit of it’s Indian readership.

For the sake of arguing from more than one example and for the sake of reading something a little more intellectual than the emotional blathering of the Express let us turn to mint.   Here is a sample of what to expect from here:

The protesters are largely from the middle and upper classes. Having stayed away from the political process for so long, some of them are now voicing dangerous opinions: People should stop paying taxes till their security is guaranteed, the country should not be ruled by politicians, the army or the president should rule Mumbai.

Note the package deal – the ease with which a refusal to pay taxes is equated with asking for army rule.

Taxes are coerced from citizens under the threat of going to jail.  The ostensive reason for the extortion of these taxes are to provide services to citizens in return.  The taxes are of course collected but the services (of which security is a primary one) is clearly not being delivered.  Citizens would be well within their rights to question why they pay taxes.  This point was made over two hundred years ago and was one of the causes of the American Revolution.  But India is not America and here it is not verboten to question the right of the state to tax.

The writer continues:

 The idea of independent India and the Constitution that is based on it are democratic and based on the rule of the law. There is nothing wrong with the framework. The problem lies with the people who have been entrusted to operate it—by us.

Yes, India is a democratic country in that society is segmented into pressure groups that are divided by religion, caste, region, state, language, profession, economic status and every other division possible.  The rule of law is a joke in a country where politicians are tried and jailed for murder, several states are under the control of anarchist groups such as the Maoists, policemen rape baby girls and people see nothing wrong with honour killings.

But India was never meant to be a democracy.  It was meant to be a Republic and the two are not the same.  And, in fact, democracy is just the thing that a republic is designed to protect against.

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.

Thomas Jefferson

By now Indians have even forgotten that India has a Republic Day.  Maybe it should be renamed to Democracy day.

If Shakespeare in England could smell something rotten in the state of Denmark then surely we cannot miss the smell of India’s current state   The problem originates with India’s constitution that promises all sorts of rights to it’s citizens and then negates them all.

Bakunin In Bombay – Part I

In India on December 3, 2008 at 3:42 am

We have just come to the end of a long and bloody siege in which the city of Bombay was held by a small group of terrorists for several days.  These attacks have shown us how vulnerable India is despite having suffered terrorism for over three decades.  None of the “counter-measures” have worked.

Despite having a history that stretches back nearly to the beginning of recorded time, Indians are not a people with a sense of history.  And because Indians are not a people with a sense of history, all of this horror will be forgotten in a few weeks or months.  Headlines will proclaim that Indians are among the most optimistic in the world and people will wonder when India will become a “superpower.”  The task of self-congratulatory forgetting has already started.  What is forgotten is that India had senseless violence even before reforms allowed a limited progress.  That the terror is also homegrown and joins the richest states such as Gujarat, Punjab and Maharastra to the poorest such as Orissa.

There will be more violence and people will repeat cliches – sometimes asking for resilience, sometimes for anger, without fully knowing the reason for either.  Individual rights, already so rare, will continue to leak away.  Laws that violate every right which should be inalienable will be passed by politicians of every stripe.  Whichever majority (or minority) elected them will respond that government knows best.

This is scarcely a projection of the future because it is only a recounting of the past – a past which like the teachings of Indian philosophy repeats itself in endless circles.

Not that Indians are a people with a sense of philosophy.  India does have an ancient philosophical tradition but the dominant part renders critical thinking and reasoning useless because it teaches that events are predetermined and written somewhere other than the world we live in.  That man’s life is bound by destiny.  That whatever happens was meant to happen according to some plan.  There is in India no existing philosophical tradition that shows people how to live in reality without turning to the supernatural or giving up and turning inward to avoid desperation.

Given the lack of historical and philosophical sense it is not surprising that India, reeling under terrorist attacks today, has actually supported terrorists for most of it’s history as a political entity.  This is what was done when India supported the U.S.S.R. even as that country created terror inside and outside it’s borders.  India was the first non Arab country to support the P.L.O.  Now the birds India helped set free have come home to roost.

That is the existential problem.