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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

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.

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: