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Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Pit Stop – The Truckers Strike

In India on January 11, 2009 at 1:54 am

As a general rule, frequent and long running strikes are a symptom of an irrationality in society that cannot be resolved through the moral and legal framework.  The only useful, long term benefit of a strike is if it manages to bring problems to the surface and leads in some way to a permanent solution.

Other than this, a strike does not serve long term interests, even of the strikers.  Gains today have to be paid for tomorrow.  Heavy handed action to prevent or resolve strikes will only serve to make the problem worse.

The heavily unionized American car industry might have learnt this lesson had it not been reconsigned to ignorance by the recent bailout.  In India, a valuable lesson will not be learnt because the National Security Act and the Essential Services Act have been used to end the trucking strike.

The lesson that could have been learnt is that the only way pricing of products can be fair if it is determined by market supply and demand and not by government officials or politicians.  The present system of subsidies only robs Peter to pay Paul and is fair to neither.  Peter is deprived of the enjoyment his money can bring and Paul becomes a parasite.

But now this lesson will not be learnt and such strikes and civil unrest will continue to plague India for times to come.

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.

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?

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.

Wither Goest Thou, Indian Woman?

In India on November 17, 2008 at 2:35 am

Given the opinion of Mr. Vyalar Ravi, Minister in the Government Of India, whereever a lone Indian woman goes she should not go to the (Persian) Gulf.  In fact, such visits should be banned.

At a public function organised by the Indian Association of Sharjah, Mr. Ravi stated that Indian women would not be allowed to visit the Gulf alone.  When asked the reason, Mr. Ravi retorted with a brilliant question of his own – why would an Indian woman want to visit the Gulf by herself?

The impetus for this blog entry comes from First Principles.  The original news story can be read here.  The relevant bits are reproduced below:

“Vayalar Ravi stated that women won’t be allowed to come to Gulf alone using visiting visa.

[…]

Mr.Vahab pointed out that women are coming for job are presently coming using the visiting visa. But the minister stood firm on his stand. He (Vyalar Ravi) clarified that government is not against married men bringing their spouse to the Gulf countries, but won’t allow women coming alone in visiting visa. For what are they coming alone? – Mr Ravi asked.

Meaning that an act for which Mr. Ravi cannot see the reason must be irrational and causeless.  This is quite typical of the Indian government establishment which sees itself as a paternal ruler and not as a guardian of individual rights within the borders of the country.

According to his own website, Mr. Ravi is a “a bachelor of law” and “an outstanding parliamentarian.”  According to a rational code, a man who voices the opinion that Mr. Ravi has has no understanding of the morality of individual freedom that lies behind objective law.  He is not an outstanding parlimentarian and should not be a parlimentarian at all.

A word of thanks is warranted for Mr. Vahab for challenging Mr. Ravi.

More stories on Indian politicians here: