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Posts Tagged ‘India’

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:

An Interview with Lee Kuan Yew

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2008 at 1:18 am

This is a an interview with Lee Kuan Yew from 2005:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,druck-369128,00.html

Reasons To Abandon Capitalism

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2008 at 3:13 pm

It is not surprising to watch Sitaram Yechuri trot out the old tired strawman method of making a point.  In this method, you take something that is not representative of an idea, treat it as it it is and then proceed with a demolition job.  In the case of Mr. Yechuri, he takes Wall Street and The Economist as representatives of Capitalism and then proceeds to say that Capitalism has failed.

This is false because Wall Street and The Economist are not representatives of Capitalism.  They are the products of a mixed economy in which freedom exists side-by-side government controls and regulation.

And this is just one of the mistakes that Mr. Yechuri makes, for even granting his premise that “Capitalism” has flaws, it should be remembered that Communism, the ideology he espouses has been a complete failure.  China and India have been able to make progress only by freeing their markets to some degree.  The Soviet Union, the posterboy of Communism, is only a memory printed on old maps.

What then is better, the system that lead the Soviet Union to extinction or the system of free markets which even if it undergoes problems is capable of rising to live another day?

For more on the nature of Capitalism and the financial crisis please read the blogs of Aristotle the Geek and Applying Philosophy To Life.  You might find your time to be well spent.

Why India Should Not Become A Superpower

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2008 at 12:38 am

Many Indians foster the dream that one day soon India will become a superpower.  Here is why this dream should not become a reality.

Superpowers and even minor powers influence other countries with their actions, laws and values.  They have the ability to strengthen the followers of their values around the world.  The result of England achieving greatness was the growth of individual freedom and a reduction in the power of the state in many parts of the world.  The result of the United States achieving greatness was a continuation in widening circles of the same phonomenon.  The result of the USSR becoming powerful was a total loss of freedom for Eastern Europe and violence and mayhem everywhere else the Soviets acquired a foothold.

India so far has escaped becoming as evil as the U.S.S.R. but for all it’s liberalisation is still a country which does not believe that a society in which people are free to exchange ideas and trade is desirable.  The proof can be found in any newspaper.  Here are a few examples from this week:

  • We are all familiar with the recent happenings in Singur where the government acquired land for an industrial project only to find itself in a mire.  The obvious solution is to respect property rights and let people trade land freely.

Indian politicians, on the other hand, have decided that rather than take even a small step towards respecting the rights to property and trade they would rather increase their own powers.  Rather than treating people as intelligent, the leaders of this country think of it’s citizens as hapless fools who cannot handle their own affairs – “The committee said it did not think the rural poor would be able to transact in shares or debentures.”

The possibility that the rural poor could perhaps learn given the opportunity seems not to be thought worth the trying.

Now womens groups too are getting into the act of restricting freedom by demanding censorship ironically in the name of defending a woman.

Remember both examples are from this week.  This week, which is only half over, is only an average week – the stars are still in their courses and did not predict extraordinarily bad events in the Sunday papers.

Reading about such events every day, year after year, it should be obvious to the reasonably rational observer that India does not have good values to export.  India in it’s present form can export only moral cowardice and all it’s attendant evils such as random violence, censorship and the power of overreaching government.  That is why the India of today should not become a superpower capable of exporting these “values” to the rest of the world.

And I? I do not care if India never becomes a superpower or remains a minor power.  It would be far better for India to become a civilized, moral country with a productive populace who are able to enjoy the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Bailing Thin Air (India)

In The Bad on October 19, 2008 at 2:46 pm

The Government of India has announced that it might help Air India with Rs. 2,500 crores in “soft” loans.  The argument given by the Government is that as the owner it has the right to transfer the money.  This argument is false for a number of reasons:

Government as owner is a very different proposition than a private owner.  Private owners have three major sources of funding – borrowing from banks and other private individuals, selling equity on the market and selling assets.  The government has a fourth source – taxation.

This is where the problem arises because governments collect taxes on the basis of providing the rule of law and protection of individual rights to their citizens.  It is patently immoral for a government to use money raised on this basis to help companies that is owns.

It is also unfair to other private companies that they should have to make the money which the government then taxes and distributes to the state owned companies.

Next, the claimed ownership of Air India must itself be question.  Air India was started as a private organization which was later appropriated by the government.  As such, the government acted like a thief and any claimed ownership is only that of the de facto possession that a thief has.  It is an immoral and corrupt ownership with the aviation minister as the current receiver of stolen property.

The bottonline is that India is run by mendacious thieves who steal the money the people of India work hard to create and spend it on incompetent, loss making companies owned by the government.

The Only Way Out Of Singur Is To Restore the Right To Property

In Uncategorized on October 4, 2008 at 9:37 am

Today’s newspaper headlines proclaim that the Tata’s have finally pulled the Nano factory out of West Bengal ending several months of conflict pitting the state government (which acquired land for the factory under eminent domain) against a populist politician who lead an agitation on behalf of  farmers deprived of their land.

Much has been written in the popular media and blow-by-blow events are too well known to need recounting.  It needs “unpopular”, scarcely read media such as this blog to write about the reason behind this situation in which either outcome could only represent a loss for India.

Eminent domain is a doctrine that allows governments to appropriate private property on the claim that they can better decide the purpose to which the property can be put.  The nominal reason given has always been that the property is acquired for the public good.  However, in practice, the reason has often been to hand the land over to some private party on whom the State wishes to bestow a favour – of course, for the common good.  In reality, the State (or it’s current rulers) hope to gain in the form of increased taxes being generated from the new uses of the property or direct monetary gains by the rulersin the form of bribes.  Add to this the absence of constitutionally guaranteed property rights and you have the India of the 21st century.

The original Constitution of India recognized property rights under Article 19 (subclause f) which guaranteed to all citizens the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property.  The evil twin of Article 19 was Article 31.  Article 31 abrogated to the state the right to deprive citizens of their property by authority of the law.  Meaning the government could take over your land and that was your private tragedy.

Like always in a socialist system, Article 31, won and the right to property ceased to be a fundamental right in 1978 opening the way to eminent domain in some cases without citizens having recourse to the courts (Article 300-A which replaced Article 31.)

Add to this situation, more socialism in the form of land use acts and land reform acts and zoning and it becomes nearly impossible for a private party to acquire enough land to create a large industrial complex.  Leading to further land appropriations and deadlocks such as Singur.

The only way out of this imbrolio is to drop entirely the doctrine of Eminent Domain and reinstate the Right to Property as a Fundamental Right which cannot be violated even by the State.  The Right to Property needs to be realized as an absolute right leading to the removal of all laws pertaining to land use or zoning.  This time around, Article 19 must be restored without it’s evil twins, Article 31 and 300-A.

This is the only basis on which conflicts such as those which have embroiled Singur can be avoided in the future.

In the meantime, India will continue to burn in the conflict between agriculture and industry.

The Man From S.A.F.E.

In The Bad on September 4, 2008 at 10:07 pm

The Head of the All India Tennis Association says that India is safe:

“This is absolutely not on, it is ridiculous,” Khanna told Reuters on Tuesday. “I don’t think any sensible Indian would say the country was not safe.”

This is an incomplete record for less than the two years past but it makes clear that India is a violent and terribly unsafe country.

The deeper question is what degree of mental evasion lets people shut their eyes to the truth?

Murder By Majority

In The Ugly on May 13, 2008 at 2:05 am

I have previously written than the wishes and perception of a majority of people does not mean that they should prevail.

Confirmation of this came only a few days later in the form of a gruesome “honour” killing.

Sunita’s uncle declares:

”Police and the government is with the society. The whole village is with (the killers).”

The will of the majority is clear so should the killers go free? What if the entire country, the entire world agreed with Sunita’s uncle? Should the killers still be punished?

It is not difficult to imagine that people who are not driven by clannish loyalties would answer that the killers should be punished.  They would be correct.  The responsibility for an act lies with the actors.  The worth of an idea however, is more difficult to judge until it’s consequences are seen.

The idea behind this murder is that the majority can dispose of people as they see fit and the consequences are now visible.  Sunita was killed in effect, by everyone who holds the idea that the majority is always right.

Women Are People Too

In The Bad on May 13, 2008 at 12:57 am

The Womens Reservation Bill may be in the news again but Indian lawmakers and the society they represent still don’t understand that women are people too.  Consider the following taken from the Indian Penal Code:

Section 497:
Adultery.—Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.”

The wife is thus viewed as:

  • the property of the husband
  • incapable of taking a decision by herself.

Women need to be viewed as individual people and as equal before the law as men, not as the property of men.  The Womens Reservation Bill will surely do well for a handful of women but removing such archaic laws and treating women as equals will do well for all of them.

There is however, no hope of the Indian State viewing it’s citizens as responsible adults so long as this story represents the thinking of Indian society.