Atanu Dey On India's Development

The Ideas of the Peoples

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The power of ideas has been a constant underlying theme of this blog. All transformations, good and bad alike, are fueled by adoption of ideas by people. Allow me to quote from a book that I am currently reading.

THE great upheavals which precede changes of civilisations such as the fall of the Roman Empire and the foundation of the Arabian Empire, seem at first sight determined more especially by political transformations, foreign invasion, or the overthrow of dynasties. But a more attentive study of these events shows that behind their apparent causes the real cause is generally seen to be a profound modification in the ideas of the peoples. The true historical upheavals are not those which astonish us by their grandeur and violence. The only important changes whence the renewal of civilisations results, affect ideas, conceptions, and beliefs. The memorable events of history are the visible effects of the invisible changes of human thought. The reason these great events are so rare is that there is nothing so stable in a race as the inherited groundwork of its thoughts.

The present epoch is one of these critical moments in which the thought of mankind is undergoing a process of transformation.

That quote is relevant to our present circumstances but it was written well over a hundred years ago. “THE CROWD: A STUDY OF THE POPULAR MIND” by Gustave Le Bon was published in 1896 by Macmillan Company, New York.

(Put that book on your reading list. Brought to you free by the power of the internets courtesy Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.)

For India to change for the better, a better set of ideas have to be adopted by Indians. The tools exist for that transformation. But all transformations threaten the status quo. The people in the government would not allow this change because it threatens to break the stranglehold they have on the population. The most insidious component of the “licence permit quota control raj” that the Gandhi-Nehru-Dynasty-Hierarchy (GANDH) instituted in India is “control”. Inherited from the British, the raj controls everything economic of course but their control of ideas is what insulates them from suffering the effects of their baleful control of economy.

That is changing, albeit slowly right now. The revolution in information and communications technology will usher in the revolution in how people think and that will be the end of the licence quota permit raj. They will certainly not give in without a fight. They will ban this book, or send the goons to kill those who dare to protest. But in the end, they will exit stage left like all the other despots before them.

The internet is already eroding the government control of radio and TV. Notice how the government allows a free press. That’s because half of India is illiterate, and that too the half that votes. Comprehending the spoken word does not require one to be literate. So the government does not allow free radio. The private radio stations are forced to just air commercial puff and nothing that will educate and inform the public. It is all empty-headed DJs talking inane bullshit. Private corporations that run the TV channels are all beholden to the government and have to toe the party line. This control of the flow of information is inherited from the USSR and its socialist idiocy.

But times are changing. They can ban all they want but those bans will be ineffective. The internet is too powerful. But mind you, they are trying the best to retard the growth of the internet. Broadband services cost an arm and a leg. Very few — around 3 percent of Indians — can afford a connection. This need not be so. The cost of broad band is really really low, but they artificially keep the price up.

I think with smart phone becoming cheaper, the government will have a problem on its hands. What it will do to throttle good ideas from reaching the public will be interesting to observe.

Let’s do our best to bury this anti-nations, pro-poverty, anti-development, pro-regression, anti-democratic, pro-dynastic government.

  • http://rexzilla.livejournal.com Rex

    Gotta love your acronym! I never quite thought about the TV/radio being suppressed because of their power to reach the illiterate. Come to think of it, one used to require a license to own either of them once- I remember coming across a radio license document among some old papers at home. My father told me it was required during the 70s.

    One can only hope to see the present system overthrown in one’s own lifetime.

  • larissa

    Gustave le bon understood how the herd mentality works and how demagogues stay in power. Interesting book! Demagogues like Mussolini and others used his understanding to further their own ends. But this does not make the man less smart! Great reading for modern times when democracy resembles a mobocracy, especially in India!