Atanu Dey On India's Development

The Land of Retards and Hypocrites

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I find two items interesting today. One is an online petition titled “Demand for withdrawal of a flawed book on Hindu History published by PENGUIN” is making the rounds. Addressed to the presidents of the Penguin Group and Penguin India Pvt Ltd, it says, “The Hindus: An Alternative History” by Wendy Doniger “is rife with numerous errors in its historical facts and Sanskrit translations. These errors and misrepresentations are bound and perhaps intended to mislead students of Indian and Hindu history.” The other item is the story about M F Husain giving up his Indian citizenship and becoming a citizen of Qatar.

To my mind they are related. They reveal much about the mentality of Indians and their government. To the various epithets that adorn India such as “the most populous democracy” and “land of elephants and tigers” must be added “the land of the largest bunch of retards” and “home of the most hypocritical governments in the world.”

They are related thusly. The retards vote the hypocritical governments into power with sickening predictability, and in turn the governments make sure that the retards stay uninformed and retarded.

The governments routinely divide the population along religious lines with total impunity. What’s really surprising is that the government discriminates against the people of the majority religion — Hindus — and is openly biased towards the largest religious minority — Muslims. One would have thought that in a democracy where an overwhelming majority are Hindus, the governments would as least be not biased against Hindus. At the very least they would make absolutely certain that the Hindus don’t feel like second class citizens in the only country that Hindus have.

(An aside: Hinduism is hard to define. The operational definition that I use is that it is the aggregate set of beliefs and practices of the people of India who do not self-identify themselves as Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Buddhists. It is a “residual” definition. I have deliberately not excluded Jains because I consider them to be a very strict and special sub-set of Hindus, and anyway Jains form a very tiny minority, and for the purposes of this point, they don’t matter. Hinduism also differs from the other major religions. Hinduism is not a world religion, unlike say Christianity and Islam. There are scores of Muslim and Christian majority nations around the world. In contrast to that, to a first approximation, all Hindus are Indians or the descendants of Indians abroad. Hinduism as a religion is only found in India.)

I am forced to the conclusion that India is a basically a land of retards ruled by hypocrites. The most important aspect of the retarded, as I have mentioned before, is that they elect governments that do their best to keep Indians poor. India is poor because of the policies that the governments choose. India is poor by choice. All the talk and all the actions of the governments have always been almost diametrically opposite of those that would promote economic growth and consequently development. I think it was Milton Friedman who noted that for any economy to prosper, what it has to do is to implement the policies that are exactly the opposite of India’s policies.

In any case, right now I want to get to another matter that illustrates the retarded character of the Indian public. It is this: they give ammunition for others to use against them.

Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus: An Alternative History” must make fascinating reading to some. I know precious little history, including Hindu history. I know even less about psycho-sexual Freudian theories. To me they appear to be two separate domains, something like the separation between the domains of quantum mechanics and natural healing. According to some, Doniger gets off on writing about weird sexual practices and concocting fabulous theories about the sexual meaning of ordinary tales of Hindu mythological figures. Whatever floats her boat, I say. If she wants to connect the psycho-sexual and Hindu mythology, that’s her prerogative. As far as I am concerned, the book fills a much-needed gap, as Moses Hadas (1900-19660) had said about some other book. And like he said, “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.”

Some Hindus are up in arms about Wendy’s book and have petitioned the Penguin Group:

PENGUIN GROUP to:

1. WITHDRAW all the copies of this book immediately from the worldwide bookshops/markets/Universities/Libraries and refrain from printing any other edition.

2. APOLOGIZE for having published this book “The Hindus: An Alternative History”. This book seriously and grossly misrepresents the Hindu reality as known to the vast numbers of Hindus and to scholars of Hindu tradition. PENGUIN must apologize for failure to observe proper pre-publication scrutiny and scholarly review.

That’s USDA Grade AA retardedness. There are about 80 signatures to the petition at the time of this writing.

I can understand people telling Penguin to fix factual errors. I appreciate the work the petitioners have done in pointing out the errors. They should publish the errors or petition Penguin to publish the rebuttal. They can write newspaper op-eds and reviews of the book. But asking for the withdrawal of the book is not a smart thing to do. Doniger may be a deranged person with a vicious agenda against the Hindus. But she must not be silenced. If what she says is wrong, then her views need to be contradicted, not her right to publish or the publisher’s right to publish what they want. If you don’t like reading what Doniger writes, don’t read her.

We must stand for free expression. That is at the core of all human progress. Even thought that one disagrees with. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes put it succinctly, “not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought we hate.” There is a very practical and self-interested need for this. If you deny others the right to free speech for whatever reason, others will also deny you the freedom of speech when it suits them.

These people who want Doniger’s book withdrawn are handing out ammunition to their enemies. These people are behaving like retards. They are surrendering what I consider to be their most potent weapon. Allow me to repeat what I wrote earlier in “The Danger of Surrendering our Most Potent Weapon” (Jan 28, 2010):

Human societies that allow the free expression of ideas do better than those that don’t allow new ideas. The evidence is all around for us to see.

For those of us who value human civilization and human progress — or even those who are merely interested in economic growth and development — our best tools are ideas. The source of these ideas is free people who have the freedom to bring forth new ideas. We progress only by looking at things in new ways, which is what ideas allow us to do. The minimal condition necessary for ideas is the freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech and expression has value in itself but it is also instrumental in giving rise to good ideas. The ancients in India realized the power of ideas. A Rig Vedic prayer roughly translates into “Let Noble Thoughts Come to Us From All Directions.”

It’s a war out there. The war is eventually one of ideas. Those who are short of ideas, are forced to resort to weapons. Suicide bombings, terrorism, rioting in the streets — all these are done by people who have no good ideas and are so threatened by the power of ideas that they seek to destroy those who have good ideas.

Look around and see who are the terrorists and suicide bombers and rioters. They don’t have ideas, and perhaps know that they cannot compete and lash out in their fury to show that they do have some power. Terrorism is the weapon of the powerless and the idea-less.

Surrendering the freedom of speech is stupid. It is stupid to surrender the most potent source of one’s strengths.

It is a mystery to me why some apparently smart people don’t understand the need for the absolute freedom of expression. Don’t they get it that that is the source of all progress?

Now to the hypocritical governments. They talk loudly about development and then do everything that retards economic growth. It started with Nehru. The problem is that it did not end with Nehru. His progeny continue to rule and destroy India with Nehruvian socialistic policies. Even if the progeny of Nehru get good counsel and realize the folly of Nehruvian policies, they cannot change course as it would directly imply that Nehru’s policies were retarded. Repudiating Nehruvian socialism is not possible by Nehru’s descendants. Divide and rule is an idea that Nehru inherited from the British (as much of everything else). His descendants continue to do as he did.

Caste and religion divides are much beloved of the Congress governments. There are poor people in India by the hundreds of millions. The poor belong to every caste. There are Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Muslim poor. But, as the ‘care-taker’ prime minister Mr Manmohan Singh put it, only the religious minorities (read Muslims) have a right to relief and have a claim to India’s resources. Naked, shameless, unprincipled pandering doesn’t get any more sickening. The man’s dividing of the poor of India into the “deserving poor” (minority religion people) and the “undeserving poor” should have earned him universal opprobrium. Should have but it passed almost without comment.

Mr Singh is not stupid. He dares to do it because he knows that the retards will not figure it out how dangerous his policies are. Mr Singh is of course right in his assessment. No politician has ever lost an election by underestimating the intelligence and morality of the Indian voter, to paraphrase H L Mencken.

Mr Manmohan Singh knows as well as I do that the Indians are retards. He does not have to say it but his policies are consistent with his assessment. I say it but then I don’t have to be politically correct. I will be vilified by the “chatterati” for saying this but that’s not a very good reason for me not to say it like I see it.

I don’t know how one can simultaneously claim to be a secular democracy and also discriminate against people based on their religion. The examples abound. Mr Rushdie’s book was banned because it would hurt the sentiments of Muslims in India. Then artistic freedom was not trotted out as a principle worth defending. Anyone doing anything anywhere that would hurt Muslim sentiments is worth gagging, killing, imprisoning, and deporting. Ms Taslima Nasreen, for instance, was hounded out of India despite her many impassioned pleas for sanctuary in India.

Another example. The control of Hindu temples rests with the government and it appropriates the donations that Hindus make in temples. It uses the revenues of Hindu temples for its own use. The government supports Muslim pilgrimages from taxes taken forcibly from non-muslims. This is jaziya, a tax that non-muslims are forced to pay for being allowed to live under Islamic rule. As a non-muslim, I find this policy to be abhorrent, unjust, malicious and in the end, undermines the very basis of a secular society — non-discrimination based on religion.

The list of what the government does to protect the delicate sensibilities of Muslims is long and interesting. A bunch of cartoonists doing their work 10,000 miles away apparently poses a danger to India’s social harmony. But when it comes to Mr M F Husain painting nudes of Hindu icons, artistic freedom is paramount. Mr Husain is celebrated in Indian government publications. When hoodlums vandalize Mr Husain’s property, the outrage against “Hindu taliban” is deafening. But when Ms Taslima Nasrin is roughed up by hoodlums, the reaction is to hound her out of the country.

When Muslim terrorists kill people by the scores, the oh-so-secular main stream Indian press is quick to point out that Hindu fundamentalists are all over the place. This gives cover to the LeT and other Islamic organizations who have proclaimed as loudly as they can that they are sworn to destroy “Hindu” India and claim it for Islam.

I am sickened by the government hypocrisy. But bothers me more is the retarded behavior of the Indian public. If the public were not retarded, the hypocrites like Mr Manmohan Singh would have been shoveling shit in Louisiana.

Mr Husain apparently has become a citizen of Qatar. The annual per capita GDP of Qatar is US$ 86,000, the highest in the world. It’s a great choice for Mr Husain. Besides, since the government is overtly Islamic (unlike the Indian government that only covertly follows the dictates of Islam), Mr Husain will have the freedom to paint nude Hindu goddesses which the rich citizens of Qatar and the Islamic world would pay millions of dollars for. Mr Husain can do his painting without being bothered by the “Hindu taliban” (an expression much beloved of Vir Sanghvi.)

Mr Husain’s move is good for the Indian government too. It will not have to confront charges of hypocrisy that it protects Husain and persecutes people like Taslima Nasrin.

I think that Mr Husain made the right move. May his tribe increase by the millions who want the right to impose their religious dictates on others. May all those who think that their religion mandates the killing of infidels follow Mr Husain’s example and take up Qatari citizenship.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Related posts:

Abolish the Haj Subsidy. Aug 2009.

I have written a fair bit on freedom of expression. It is a non-negotiable right, in my opinion. Here are a few from that category.

Defending Free Speech. Jan 2009.

Weep for Taslima, and then for India. May 2007.

Forbidding Expression — Part 1. Nov 2007.

Forbidding Expression — Part 2.

  • Sriram

    Contemplationist : I’d like to get in touch with you, if you don’t mind. sriramb12 at gmail

  • arunava

    The way you replied to Hrishikesh Chaudury …shows that you are not a thinker at all … but just one who uses articulateness to squash his opponents instead of “reason” … You speak of freedom of speech, yet you attack this guy (and not his “reason”) and in doing so you show that you prefer might over “reason”.

  • Riz

    Dear Atanu I am a first timer here. You have expressed the facts beautifully in the article. I agree to your views. Would love to read the solutions for the present challenges. I am optimistic with our new government at center however I feel we must keep patience and give proper time for new government to carry repair so that people get some relief. At the moment we are facing challenges like corruption, poverty, inflation, law & order in some regions, lack of education, health care facilities, increasing population etc. Being an Indian and a Muslim I feel there is so much to do for my country betterment. Despite of the fact that I didn’t have many Muslim friends during my studies at school or university, I feel we need to introspect our self and try our best to improve at individual level. Corruption can be controlled at individual level to an extent however we need some active mechanism to keep proper check on it. My best wishes to you and to all my Indian friends on this forum. Warm regards R

    • Atanu_Dey

      Hi Riz:

      A comment to a 5-year old article is a surprise. Thanks for commenting.

      The challenges India faces are all due to bad policies and therefore all problems can be traced to lousy leadership.

      Corruption arises primarily because of the government control of the economy. I have argued that case on this blog elsewhere. The constitution of India mandates the government’s involvement in the economy. That leads to the politicization of the economy. That further leads to the corruption of politics. That leads to lousy policies. Which means that the economy does not perform. That leads to poverty. That leads to ignorance and fighting for scraps.

      It is what I called a “perpetually planned poverty.” Poverty is good for the politicians because they can then claim themselves to be the saviors of the poor.

      Nehru and his cronies started it. We are still paying the price for it.

      Too bad that a land which could have been a beacon to the world is instead a case study of how an economy can be impoverished by ignorant people.

      Regards,
      Atanu