Posts Tagged ‘terror’

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?

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.