Atanu Dey On India's Development

Takes Two to Tango

| 63 Comments

And now to sit down and consider the comments made on the three parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) of “A Tale of Two Countries.” I hope to consolidate all the comments into major themes to keep this as short and succinct as possible. First let’s address a basic question. Who is responsible for the state that India is in? Is it the people or is it the leaders? The short clichéd answer is “it takes two to tango.” Ok, you will say, but who started it? It is hard to determine that to everyone’s satisfaction. Did the chicken come first or was it the egg? Putting the blame on one party leaves the matter in a Zen-like quantum indeterminate state of the sound of one hand clapping. (Ponder that for a bit if you will.)

Let’s start with comments on part 3. Ashish Deodhar wrote, “I disagree with your attribution of all our failures to the Nehru-Gandhi family,. . . ” to which larrisa replied, “So who do you attribute it to? Whose ideology has been controlling India up until now?. . . ”

TiredProf chimed in with “Successful politicians do not have ideology. They tell people what people are happy to hear. There is no Nehru-Gandhi ideology controlling India. Nehru-Gandhi exploited their initial family position and people’s stupidity to line their coffers. Who, in a democracy with 90% literacy and 40% college graduates, would hire a family without any college degree for 50 years straight?”

In reply to Deodhar’s “How do we get millions and millions of people to change their attitudes so fundamentally?” larissa wrote,

“You don’t. You need a band of people ruling who are loyal to principles, and they inspire obedience on account of their integrity as they will be willing to take action (stern steps which might be necessary in the case of India) to maintain order and not let things run riot. But they need to have discipline of steel to inspire obedience in people. Discipline in lower levels follows as the top maintains it. But such people requires real men in a nation.”

Ashish Deodhar replied

All these criticisms of the Nehru-Gandhi family would’ve stood had the family been running a dictatorial regime. But that’s not the case. India has had elections every five years (even less than that at times) and the country has time and again voted the Gandhi family to power. I just don’t accept that a country of over a billion people could be bullied by one family to regularly vote for them for over half a century.

Besides, the Gandhis don’t even always have to aspire to rule the country. Sonia Gandhi avoided politics for many years before she was practically coaxed into taking the Congress leadership. . .

So it’s the people who vote them time and time again in power. So if the elected governments fail, the responsibility lies with the people who voted for that government, over and over and over again, and not with those who they elect to fail. Remember, people only get leaders that they deserve! Additionally, a fair share of responsibility lies with the opposition parties who are just poor clones of the Congress party.

Oldtimer was not going to put up with that —

This argument that the fault is with the voters, not with the Nehru clan (or rulers in general) is hogwash.

Telecom minister A Raja’s constituents did not vote him into power to help him mint money for himself, to cite one example.

The flaw in a similar argument in another context would be readily apparent to us, so for seemingly intelligent people to make excuses for the Nehrus or Congress is pathetic. All opportunists and con-artists tend to shift blame from themselves to their victims.

Loknath disagreed with Ashish —

People didn’t vote “Congress” to power, people voted their leaders who gave them carrots to power and these people are bought in an auction led by the congress themselves. UPA Govt. led by the Indian National Congress is an unholy communion of rascals led by Antonia Maino. To quote Atanu..leaders who are fed on kitchen scraps of 10 janpath. Over the decades many independent and small local parties have become integral part of congress. The disturbing fact that people have voted congress to power again and again rests on the fact that congress workers have mastered the art of buying votes for as little as a packet of Biryani, a quarter bottle of rum and few hundred rupees cash.

TiredProf was not having any of it —

And why are generations of Indians content to be bought that cheap?
. . .
And keep procreating, knowing full well that their progeny will be exploited by a similar set of scums.

The victim deserves to be blamed. Condoms cost 25 paise back in 1980s. Someone who couldn’t afford even that decided to be a parent.

And NRI bloggers in AC rooms “analyze” the situation and blame, who else, Congress.

Perhaps that bit about “NRI bloggers in AC rooms” was aimed at me. Truth be told, I am not an NRI and my room is entirely devoid of ACs. California weather is good. But whatever.

Larrisa once again addressed Ashish Deodhar —

Actually even Nehru noticed that Congress was becoming very corrupt even in his time. He made a lot of missteps, and was clueless as to the realities of the world, but actual criminilization of politics occurred after him during the daughter’s rule and thereafter when the failed policies where not changed.

Stuffing polling booths began with Indira Gandhi in places like Bihar and UP with the help of thugs. This is general knowledge. Then thugs in these places realized they could themselves win elections, as Congress would support them if it is able to win in these places. Criminilization or goonda politics began with Indira Gandhi. Why do you think there are so many in Parliament with criminal records? Can you tell me one democracy where this is allowed to happen? I am speaking of convictions, not even accusations of criminal behavior.

To round it all off, Oldtimer pointed out that “the argument that scumbags have a right to be scumbags because suckers can’t help being suckers, has no merit.” And TiredProf replied, “No one claimed that scumbags have a right to be scumbags. Because statistically India is almost entirely composed of suckers, there is no one left to make life miserable for scumbags. That’s all.”

So there you are. Lots of great points. Now here’s how I look at it. First of all, the scumbag politicians and clueless citizens are matched pairs. You cannot have one without the other. The criminality of the one is enabled by the cluelessness of the other — and the two are entwined in a dance macabre the end of which can only be the destruction of India.

The interesting question then is what gives rise to this situation? Indians are fairly unremarkable in that they are not genetically programmed to be stupid. They are as flawed as any other large segment of humanity. India is not spectacularly gifted natural resource wise but neither is it entirely devoid of them. India has not been repeatedly visited by natural catastrophes that periodically sends it back to square one. Over the centuries, India has had a fairly stable existence — barring the occasional Islamic invaders who killed a few million infidels every so often. All things considered, India had all the material and human resources to make a go of it. What went wrong?

I place great store in the cooking analogy. How good a dish you cook up depends on the ingredients and the recipe you use. In the case of an economy, the set of rules is like the recipe. A bad recipe can ruin even the best ingredients.

If the rules of the game are such that crooks don’t get to power and continue in power, the country will have good policies. Good policies will in turn help increase the stock of human capital. Human capital in turn will create physical capital.

Who makes the rules is a bit of a crap shoot. At the time of the American Revolution, the rules were made by a handful of extraordinarily smart people. The US lucked out.

Luck varies. As they say, some are lucky in love, some in cards. Some countries are lucky in the kind of rule-makers they get. For Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew made the rules, and it turned out extremely good for it. For the US, the so-called “Founding Fathers” made the rules, and it became the most powerful nation ever in human history. Some countries are endowed with huge natural resources — which contrary to expectations, is not all that lucky. Economists call it the “natural resource curse.” Sometimes the natural resource curse is compounded with an ideological curse. Saudi Arabia and some other Arab states have that double whammy curse.

India’s curse was that at a very critical time around India’s independence from Britian, the rule-makers were an incompetent bunch. It all starts with a supremely arrogant man, Gandhi. An able dictator but a very poor thinker, he chose as the rule maker someone who was largely incapable of figuring out his own incapacity to make sensible rules. This is the Dunning–Kruger effect, a cognitive bias in which people make unfortunate choices but they lack the metacognitive ability to realize that they cannot make good choices.

If the rules of the game are bad, then the outcome is unlikely to be good. India’s poverty — material and otherwise — is a consequence of poor rules.

So here’s my thesis. India has corrupt politicians because the rules of the game allow criminals to come to political power. Once they get political power, they can then game the system to continue to be in power. Part of the gaming of the system is to make sure that the people don’t have any way of getting criminals out of power.

Take the resent set of politician-criminals. The guy whose job should have been to make sure that criminals should be behind bars, instead makes sure that the criminals continue to be union ministers. That guy got that job for being extremely flexible — no rigid moral or ethical rules to prevent him from bending to the will of his master.

But his master did not get to be the master without the public actually allowing it. India is too big for any invader’s army to hold it against the will of the people. In the present case, a more or less “democratic” process has ensured the power that the master has. Theft on a colossal scale goes on under the protection of the master and the appointed minion, and the apathetic public goes about its business as if this was divinely ordained.

In a comment to the post, Sriram recalled an earlier post which referred to a book by Étienne de La Boétie The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (1576). In an introduction to a modern edition of the book, Murray Rothbart wrote:

This fundamental insight was that every tyranny must necessarily be grounded upon general popular acceptance. In short, the bulk of the people themselves, for whatever reason, acquiesce in their own subjection. If this were not the case, no tyranny, indeed no governmental rule, could long endure. Hence, a government does not have to be popularly elected to enjoy general public support; for general public support is in the very nature of all governments that endure, including the most oppressive of tyrannies. The tyrant is but one person, and could scarcely command the obedience of another person, much less of an entire country, if most of the subjects did not grant their obedience by their own consent.

A large country like India cannot be ruled without some degree of popular consent. That the population gives that consent despite the enormous harm the tyranny does to them would be inexplicable but for the fact that the tyrants make sure that the population does not ever become informed enough to know that they are living under a tyranny.

If I were to rule as a tyrant in India, I would do the following. First, make sure that the population is extremely poor. Starving people can be easily controlled. How to do that? Take control of all economic activity. Put things in the public sector. And then keep the private sector under control. Make sure that only a few large firms constitute the private sector. If any large private sector firm steps out of line, punish disproportionately so that it is a lesson for the others. This will keep the population poor and under control.

Next, keep control of the press. Punish and reward the press, depending on whether they toe the tyrant’s line or not. Then get the courts under control. Don’t like a particular court verdict? Overturn it.

Next, keep absolute control over the education system. Too often educated people get uppity. Not a good thing for the tyrant.

In short, have a ruthless license-control-quota-permit raj.

If I had the chance to be India’s ruling tyrant, I would do all that and more. Actually come to think of it, that’s exactly what the India’s ruling tyrants have been doing all along.

In conclusion, sure it takes two to tango. But in the end, it is not the dancers but rather the dance that determines what the dancers do.

It’s the rules. The rules rule.

  • Sumitra

    Excellent reasoning! Of course, it is well known that it pays to keep the people in ignorance and in poverty. But to present it in a cogent argument presented above made my day. Have you heard of the phrase “middle class morals”? The rich and the powerful don’t need them morals while the poor are more likely to caught by the law.

  • VSukh

    May be we should rephrase “Takes Two to Tango” to “Takes Three to Tango”.

    While we have Political Leaders whose only job is to work on consolidating their position during his tenure on one end, and voters who have to carry on with their lives on the other end…we have in between a set of people who neither vote nor take active politics benefiting immensely from the stupidity of both the sides.

    Read “Who Actually paid for my education?” in this blog. The political leaders in their attempt to secure vote bank promoted the concept of Free or Subsidized education and now we have this whole class of people (including me) immensely benefited from it. This set of people separate themselves from political class and the ordinary voters. Unfortunately, this set of people (both in public and private sector) are in the decision making or influencing situation whose main job is to intellectualize and derive joy from planning a set of actions that benefit politicians and to some extent their own cadre.

    I am particularly appalled with the people working in the Finance Industry (especially in the Private Equity/Investment Community who seemingly have set a high bar for themselves). It is a known fact that we require Capital for Growth. But whom do these Finance professionals supply that Capital to??

    In its own appetite for investment returns, this particular group has been supplying Capital to institutions that are known to perpetuate or accelerate the process of “Growth At any Cost”. While the political class is immensely profiting from this new found capital, this particular group is in fact benefiting from the money diverted from Public Funds to their investee institutions.

    As we curse political class and show little interest in the ordinary voters who are struggling to make their ends meet…can we create awareness amongst these Finance Professionals about the requirement of ethics???!!!!!!!

    I just checked Larissa’s comment…summarized well….Private Enterpreneurs and Private Capital working hand in glove with Government and influencing decisions (over a period of time get translated to policies)………Need a place to hide. Omen

  • http://AjitJadhav.wordpress.com Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav

    Dr. Atanu Dey states:

    …It all starts with a supremely arrogant man, Gandhi. An able dictator…

    Interruption: Does Dr. Atanu Dey justify Nathuram Godse?

    I know for a fact that a lot of the Hindu Brahmin variety of BJP voters’ block, e.g. the one living in the apartment blocks in Kothrud (a suburb of Pune), routinely does. (The use of the singular is meant both to convey (to those who understand it) the sarcasm and the danger.) A Marathi drama of the title “Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy” has been made into a huge cultural success, with a run of 500+ shows. (For a Marathi play, that’s an extraordinary success.)

    The question is: What do you think? Do you think Dr. Atanu Dey justifies Nathuram Godse? I mean it is well known that he calls Narendra Modi, “Narendrabhai.” The question is, whether he also justifies Nathuram Godse.

    I realize that Dr. Atanu Dey himself may speak his mind too, e.g. if he is unsatisfied by the answer(s) provided on his behalf by one of his moronic selfless associates.

    …Actually come to think of it, that’s exactly what the India’s ruling tyrants have been doing all along. …

    Notice, the statement of course includes also A.B. Vajpayee and his minions (and his Gurus) as one of ruling tyrants too.

    Now, more comprehensively sample (or go through the entirety) of all the entries at this blog (of Dr. Dey’s), and see if you can find a single statement against Vajpayee’s version of the tyranny. If you do, please alert me by email.

    –Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav
    PS: BTW, it’s never a bother for me to write my comments, or a waste of time to separately write corrections.
    PPS: I will be away from this blog for a while—it offers very little of substance to me. But no, my absence, after writing above comment, does not mean it is going to be a hit-and-run. That’s simply not me. That is the specialty of most from the “intellectual community” of the BJP, the Sangh Wallahs, and their “cultural” sympathizers and financial backers, including those in the USA, including those in, say, California. (For the time being, Dr. Atanu Dey is excluded. But then, you can never tell… See the questions I raised above.)
    [E&OE]

  • http://www.indianliberals.org Ashish Deodhar

    Dr. Ajit Jadhav

    I have seen many “sanghwalas” and although I don’t know Atanu that well, I have a feeling that he’s not a “sanghwala”. You have to be a proper nutcase to “sanghwala” and from Atanu’s writings, he doesn’t come across as one. Supporting Narendra Modi doesn’t necessarily make one a “sanghwala”.

    Atanu

    Thanks for the considered response to all the comments including mine. It’s not as much a chicken-and-egg situation for me because I do believe that our problems started with the rule-makers but my argument has always been that over the last 60 years, we had plenty of chances to change not only the rules but also the game itself. And we squandered those chances by electing the likes of VP Singh, Gujral and Vajpeyee who were just the other side of the same coin.

    But blame game aside, the real question is what next? I want to get rid of the current establishment, I want to change the status-quo but what are my options? Replacing the existing players with new players who play by the old rules isn’t going to do me any good. But do we have the game-changers?

  • http://prashantb1984.wordpress.com Prashant Bh

    For people who pass snide comments about those who rant about the tyrannical hold of the Govt on India ; you might want to take into account the problems of those who own/run property/businesses . Take look at this very specific case of laws created in 1836 getting into the way of people living in the 21st Century .

    So while reading this document be aware that this is CURRENTLY ( notice received by a Bungalow owner in May 2001) effective

    If this doesn’t certify the dumbness of our “founding-fathers” , I’m not sure what does . If this isn’t this dumbness which stifled the economy well after we got our so-called independence and continued (actually , continues ) this vicious and unfortunate cycle of poverty and illiteracy which we are stuck in please let me know what it was .

    I feel that some other party needs to be in place , not because it will be any better , but because it will break the current family monopoly . At least the hands which hold the power should keep changing if not anything else . The hitch in this is the fact that the BJP is directly or indirectly linked to (or backed by ) some nasty fringe groups like the Shiv Sena . And people who had the capacity to be think tanks (Shourie) etc aren’t given much of a say. And at the end of it , as far as economic policies are concerned , they go around making pretty much the same populist agenda ; condemn globalization and liberalization while in opposition ; and confuse people . So , to a major extent you can forgive the Indian voter for his confusion . The current problem is no longer one of Nehru-Gandhi , but the fact that most aspiring politicians try to be a Nehru-Gandhi-x-2 .

    Look at Mayawati’s expression of her concern for the poor .

  • TiredProf

    @Deodhar: Yes, that is the crux: where to break the infinite deadly embrace between the chicken and the egg. One thing is clear: if we brought to seat a set of perfect politicians and administrators today, but the Indian people’s mentality wasn’t changed, all the goodwill of the former cannot fix the plight of the latter. Whereas, if you left the politicians alone and over 30 years transformed Indian society into 90% literate and 40% college graduates, they will most likely stop accepting the bilge they are served up and skirmish the rulers at some point, like in the French revolution. So there is a substantial asymmetry here, perhaps starting with the basic fact that the number of politicians is still rather small compared to the population.

  • http://simplyani.wordpress.com Aniket

    Dear Dr. Jadhav,

    You could have been unaware of the topic of conversation. That doesn’t seem to be the case, as you have taken part in a discussion on a previous thread with some involvement. You could have been plain dumb and unable to follow somebody’s line of reasoning. You CV testifies to the opposite.

    To my mind, that only leaves two possibilities. One, that you are willingly not paying enough attention to what you are reading and posting comments. Or, that some emotion takes over you and clogs your thinking as soon as you approach this blog and you consequently write what can only be described as utter rubbish. As far as we the readers of this blog know, that emotion could most likely be arising out of the ass-whipping you received from all and sundry because of your self-obsessed, baseless comments on the previous blog. Like some small kid, who has been whipped by his playmates, you had run away from that thread. (“I won’t play with you, you are bad boys, sob sob whine whine.”) What’s even hilarious is that just like the kid nevertheless returns to the playground the next day, you too have returned to Atanu’s blog with your out-of-context comments based on a non-existent reasoning.

    Just for the sake of answering your points, it is impossible to say 100% whether Atanu justifies murder or not. One will have to know him personally for that. But from what we know about him, from his blog posts and otherwise, in all likelihood he won’t. He could, but then, so could your grandmother.

    Perhaps it doesn’t strike you (emotions can be dangerous at times, I know), but the answer to that question is irrelevant to the topic of our present discussion in the first place.

    Speaking of Vajpayee, he ruled for around six years. Insignificant, if you see that India has had 63 years of independence. That too, Vajpayee had to play the game as per the rules set previously. Good or bad, his contribution to the state of affairs as it stands now can be neglected.

    Supporting Modi doesn’t necessarily make one a Sanghwala. And being a Sanghwala doesn’t mean that one cannot talk sense. Of course, passing nonsensical, self-obsessed comments on others’ blogs does show something about the commenter.

    Anyhow, I don’t flatter myself that these points are going to make any sense to you. If all your years of PhD and education could do to you was this, I have little chance. I’ve been surrounded by some pretty big-shot PhDs at one point of time. And it never ceased to amaze me how twisted and totally devoid of reasoning the thinking of some of them was. Thanks for reminding me of those good ol’ college days of mine!

  • larissa

    @DR.AJIT JADHAV

    If one does not like Gandhi that does not mean one is a supporter of Godse. I think this is the kind of reasoning your “communist and socialist” mentors who you mentioned on another comment taught you, that not liking some of Gandhi’s ideals means supporting Godse.

    Please read Gandhi’s autobiography. It was upon reading that I felt I could never follow such a leader. V.S. Naipaul also seems to have been affected in a similar way. I respect Gandhi for fomenting Indian nationalism, and he had courage unlike most Indians to go back and DO something. After all, he could have settled elsewhere and worked as a lawyer and run away after seeing what a terrifying thing it is to try to bring some change in India. Certainly, he was an extremely determined man. One has to respect him for the fact that his movement against the British was successful and was successfully imitated by others such as by the Civil Rights movement. As for most of his philosophical ideas, a great deal of the irrational part, it seems to me, stems from his readings of the Christian teachings. Many of his dietary habits were formed in a South African prison, and the sources of his ideas are varied, and do not stem from our native religions as people think. He had a limited understanding which he wanted to impose on others. After all, he himself says he never liked reading in his youth other than read what was required for school.
    So if one does not like his ideas or does not think he necessarily represents our cultural ideals, I do not quite see how that is supporting Godse. One is allowed to be critical of someone while giving credit to the good points.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    I acknowledge Ashish Deodhar’s and Aniket’s comments in response to Ajit Jadhav’s in this thread.

    He does write rather lengthy comments on this blog and I have tried to understand the best I can what his point is. I confess that I don’t quite get what he means. Since he claims that he is extremely academically accomplished — and I am not competent enough in that field to know if that is true or not — I suppose he is observing reality from a vantage point that is not accessible to me.

    Be that as it may, I will not let his insinuations against my character go unchallenged. He inserts a non sequitur — “Does Dr. Atanu Dey justify Nathuram Godse?” He follows this up with questions to other readers

    What do you think? Do you think Dr. Atanu Dey justifies Nathuram Godse? I mean it is well known that he calls Narendra Modi, “Narendrabhai.” The question is, whether he also justifies Nathuram Godse.

    This is rather puzzling. I have not mentioned Gandhi’s assassination in these pages ever and never expressed an opinion on Godse. Like I said, I just don’t get Jadhav’s point in general but this indirect attack on my character is quite pathetic.

    For the record, here’s my position. I am not a fan of Gandhi. In fact, I am a severe critic of Gandhi, and I believe that he not only set back India’s independence several decades, he also set the country in a direction post independence that has led to our current pathetic state. In my opinion, I think he was arrogant, dictatorial, narrow-minded, bigoted and what is worse, neither wise nor intelligent.

    I know that the general consensus about Gandhi is pretty much opposite of mine. But I have rarely found myself in the majority in most matters dealing with politics.

    Do I approve of Godse’s take on Gandhi? Absolutely. I think Godse came to understood Gandhi more accurately than the people who worshiped Gandhi. I believe at one time, even Godse counted himself among Gandhi’s worshipers. (The word ‘worshipers’ is more accurate than ‘followers’ in this case.)

    Do I approve of Godse’s assassination of Gandhi? Absolutely not. I would wish that Gandhi had dropped dead of natural causes sometime before he could inflict near-mortal damage to India. I wish he would have been run over by an out of control motor vehicle, or gored by a mad bull. But not his assassination. I would have approved of him being hauled into court and charged with treason and then hanged.

    The louder people talk about how Gandhi was an “apostle of peace”, the more I am reminded how intrinsically violent the man was. There are echoes of that phenomenon in the present: the more violent the acts that Islam provokes, the louder is the insistence that “Islam is a religion of peace.”

    Gandhi was an apostle of peace, and Islam is a religion of peace.

    Those go together. In fact, I do believe Gandhi made this statement —

    “I would tell the Hindus to face death cheerfully if the Muslims are out to kill them. . . You may turn round and ask whether all Hindus and all Sikhs should die. Yes, I would say. Such martyrdom will not be in vain.”

    His statement is exactly consonant with Islam’s sentiment — kill all Hindus and Sikhs.

    Anyhow, back to Jadhav. I don’t understand his position but I certainly sense a deep antipathy towards me. That is puzzling. Why does he feel threatened by my writing?

    Do you think that he suffers from an inferiority complex? Do you think that Jadhav eats babies? Do you know if Jadhav has stopped beating his wife?

    (That is said tongue in cheek to illustrate to Jadhav that sort of attempt at discrediting someone is not very effective.)

    Later.

  • MJ

    The license permit raj is old now. As per Raghuram Rajan, the new deal these days is the land mafia raj.

  • larissa

    Over the centuries, India has had a fairly stable existence

    A few million people killed? This is an understatement. India was a subcontinent, not a nation, and within the subcontinent, ruthless wars of extermination, extortion were waged for five centuries from the 10th to the 16th centuries, with relative stability only during the Mogul rule (and these can hardly be called enlightened rulers but far less destructive compared to what had gone before). In fact, anyone who reads the Muslim historians of the period like Ziauddin Barani and Feristha can only recoil in horror at the carnage and destruction.

    Most of Northern India was almost entirely denuded of higher types (representing the flower of the native culture and way of life) after the invasions, as they were converted or slaughtered. The slaughters were in the tens of millions and included the flower of the country meaning the intelligent cultivated peoples. The destruction is so vast and massive over the centuries that it is a wonder anything substantial survives in India, and that Hindus, Buddhists Sikhs and Jains are not like Central Asians for whom, their old civilizations wiped out, history begins with Islam. Most civilizations do not survive such destructions. Witness the denuding of the Indian countryside with excessive taxes on peasants such that it is not profitable for them to even work (noticed by Francois Bernier in Travels in the Mogul Empire). Read Bernier’s Travels in the Mogul Empire to get an idea of why the astute Frenchman thought India was backward compared to Europe of the time. The main answer is tyranny and over taxation and this can be much worse than wars and natural disasters.

    Now we come to British rule. Please read Will Durant’s “The case for India” which was written in the thirties, which was banned by by British for a reason. This book has recently been reprinted but is still hard to obtain. The Bengal Famine alone wiped out more than six million people.
    Durant gives and account of what he thought of British rule. Will Durant was the author of the series “A story of civilization”.

    While I believe that Indians have been responsible for their lot since independence and have no one but themselves to blame, a good reading of history shows what Indians are up against. A proper reading of Indian history shows it is nothing short of a miracle that Hinduism and the native religions (Budddhism, Sikhism, Jainism) survive in India, especially in the North. An enlightened citizenry understands its history. In short, India has had for 800 years forms of governments hostile to the native religions and way of life, and this extends to Congress today (built upon imported artificial ideals artificially imposed, without a thought as to what the native needs are), a party which always looks to the West to get a clue as to how India should order its affairs(since it does have a clue as to how Indians might themselves order their affairs for the benefit of Indians according to their REAL needs and not that of liberal Western democracies), not understanding that those very institutions on which it seeks to model itself are increasingly called into question by intelligent people in the Western world.
    And what is the result: the culture of NDTV’s, Bollywood, and a deracinated press ( Francois Gautier when he worked as a Journalist in Paris noted that the Western press mostly copies or mirrors what the Indian press says, which I thought was an interesting observation, showing that Indians share in the responsibility for the falsehoods also in the Western media about India).
    I for one would like to see people who are not deracinated and who undersand India’s civilizational ethos and history properly in positions of authority. When a population is deracinated, it is incapable of loyalty, fellow feeling and suffering with their countrymen and becomes a race of eunuchs. A leadership that is not deracicnated is the only one to provide leadership and can be leaders of free peoples not slaves.

  • Oldtimer

    In the context of blogs, A nutcase is a person who leaves comments totally unrelated to the subject being discussed.

    He does so because he is a congenital idiot.

    Or maybe he does so because he is clever-by-half: he hopes to derail the discussion and steer it into a direction he is comfortable with. This is generally the trick of the trade of commie nutjobs. You know, the kind who justify Nandigram massacre, blame it all on Stalin but not the murderous ideology itself, and have shudh Brahmins for spouses.

    A person who responds to a nutcase is nutcase-ier.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    I think Gandhi wet his pants dhoti dreaming of an ethnically-cleansed India.

    Hindus should not harbour anger in their hearts against Muslims even if the latter wanted to destroy them. Even if the Muslims want to kill us all we should face death bravely. If they established their rule after killing Hindus we would be ushering in a new world by sacrificing our lives. None should fear death. Birth and death are inevitable for every human being. Why should we then rejoice or grieve? If we die with a smile we shall enter into a new life, we shall be ushering in a new India.

  • Kalpesh

    Atanu,

    I enjoy most of your blog posts including this one.

    If you are referring to MK Gandhi, he didn’t rule at all.
    The last name “Gandhi” is used by the congress party to cash in.

    By making comments (I think Gandhi wet his..), I don’t understand what you want to create? I will go ahead to say, he did something other than blogging his belief, however arrogant he was.

    I am not a blind fan of anyone & don’t subscribe to people’s views without understanding it. Pardon me, I have very less understanding of politics. But, badmouthing a person won’t make the other person good.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    Kalpesh,

    Glad to know that you read my blog posts.

    If quoting a person amounts to badmouthing the person, our standards need examining more than anything else. Perhaps you would be so kind as to interpret what Gandhi meant so that I can fully comprehend what he said. Because the way I read him, he is simply calling for non-Muslims to acquiesce to their own ethnic cleansing.

    Just to be sure of that term, here’s what the wiki says about ethnic cleansing

    Ethnic cleansing “is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.”

  • Amit S

    Yes, it takes two to tango- tyrants and the clueless. Let us say we arrive at that understanding. The next question is, what is our moral responsibility or dharma? Do we let it be or do we try to do something about it?

    We can take the tyrants out or we can educate the clueless. Either of these two actions will suffice, provided they are effective.

  • Amit S

    Atanu wrote about Ajit Jadhav:

    he claims that he is extremely academically accomplished — and I am not competent enough in that field to know if that is true or not

    Yeah, neither am I knowledgeable about Ajit’s field. But going by the way he jumps to conclusions about your stand without evidence (he assumed you were pro-Gandhi assassination, and pro-SEZs), I do hope that he holds his research work to a higher standard of scientific scrutiny. Otherwise, one day he could be guiding post-graduate research as a faculty in an institute of “higher” learning… Scary, no?

  • larissa

    I think the big issue is that of national deracination. Naipaul is the only writer to have written about it and is perceptive about it.

    His book (2006) A Writer’s People has some good chapters on Gandhi, Nehru and Chaudhuri which are interesting to read, and give an amazing glimpse into the Indian mindset. Reading Naipaul, for example, you can see how Indians see in Gandhi what they want to see, and are not interested to know where he got his ideas medley of ideas from. What was the result of the Bengali renaissance, Naipaul asks? Communism in Bengal! Perhaps this what education results in when the education deracinates educated!

    The last two pages are Naipaul’s assessment of the literature coming out of India is worth reading: he is quite perceptive. The last paragraph sums it well:

    “India has no means of judging. India is hard and materialist. What it knows best about Indian writers and books are their advances and prizes. There is little discussion about the substance of a book or its literary quality or the point of view of the writer. Much keeps on being said in the Indian press about Indian writing as an aspect of the larger modern Indian success, but literary criticism is hardly known as an art. The most important judgments of an Indian book continue to be imported.”

    Interesting assessment of India’s current literature. Can it not be said of India’s political life as well? One can change the sentence to “the important judgments of Indian political life continue to be imported”.

    This is what deracination does and this is why a lady from Italy who never obtained a college degree or held a professional job nor has much knowledge of India is the leader of India’s major political party. One cannot blame such a one at all. It is Indians.

  • http://prashantb1984.wordpress.com Prashant Bh

    He does write rather lengthy comments

    OMG , you think his comments are long ; click on the link to his blog/website in his comment and check out his posts . And the frequency with which he complains about the arrogance of others in his profession and how they don’t give him his due – profs from COEP/IIIT/IIT/IISC etc. And his repeated expression of frustration at others for his problems.

    ….(the same city where today Americans pay Rs. 1 Crore per annum as salary whereas I go jobless)

    A post of his which might be relevant to his reaction on this blog is :
    http://ajitjadhav.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/someone-is-ready-to-call-me-a-genius-plus-something-almost-random-on-sleep-plus-my-joblessness/
    ( his awesome comprehension ability and GRE Performance)

  • Oldtimer

    I am surprised by Comrade Doctor Jhadhav’s silence after his desperate bid to urgently discuss Gandhi and Godse.

    Atanu quotes Gandhi to the effect that he wanted Hindus and Sikhs to allow themselves to be killed by Muslims. This statement is not flattering to Muslims at all. It seems that Gandhi viewed Muslims as genocidal maniacs. Does Doctor Jhadhav agree with this Gandhian view that Muslims are a violent people?

    Also, does Doctor Jhadhav encourage Kashmiri Pandits to follow this Gandhian advice, and arrange for themselves to be murdered, which may happen if they should return to the valley without security?

  • veer

    my friends. if we must follow some GUJARATHI it must be MODIJI, not gandhi. he will lead us to salvation and unbridled economic FREEDOM. he will bring PEACE and PROSPERITY by EXTERMINATING all the NONSENCE

    we must not fight now, but pave the WAY for his ascent

    jai hind

  • larissa

    I am always amazed how a second rate thinker such as Ayn Rand is immensely popular in India. Could it be that there is not much exposure to the great thinkers and philosphers from the West in India? Many people will know of her but will have never read Plato or Aristotle. I guess it’s like PG Wodehouse and Agatha Christie (superficial novelists) being popular. Most Indians will have heard of PG Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Forster, Kipling but will never have read Dostoevsky or Turgenev or Flaubert or Stendhal or Tolstoy or Balzac or Goethe and the other greats.

    I found this statement by Ayn Rand on Wiki Pedia : She remarked that in the history of philosophy she could only recommend “three A’s”—Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand.”

    Given her sense of self-importance which is quite out of proportion to her actual readership and impact (people still read Aristotle and Aquinas (those who want to study about the Philosophy in the Middle Ages) but most intelligent people dismiss her), I guess that her followers would have the same kind of self-importance that she does.

  • larissa

    As an aside, in his autobiography, Alain Danielou(eyewitness account) also has some keeen observations about how Gandhi and Nehru were touted as the voice of the Indian masses by the Indian press for those who might like to read more….http://www.alaindanielou.org/News.html

  • larissa
  • Kaffir

    larissa wrote:
    “I found this statement by Ayn Rand on Wiki Pedia : She remarked that in the history of philosophy she could only recommend “three A’s”—Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand.”

    Given her sense of self-importance which is quite out of proportion to her actual readership and impact (people still read Aristotle and Aquinas (those who want to study about the Philosophy in the Middle Ages) but most intelligent people dismiss her), I guess that her followers would have the same kind of self-importance that she does.”

    Psst, larissa, you shouldn’t insult the blog host who is a big fan of, and has been influenced by Ms. Rand’s writings. ;)

    • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

      Kaffir,

      You write, “larissa, you shouldn’t insult the blog host who is a big fan of, and has been influenced by Ms. Rand’s writings.”

      What makes you think that I am a fan of Ayn Rand? I have not even read her.

  • larissa

    @Kaffir

    That’s OK. Nothing wrong in reading her, her philosophy is just a product of her times, and as with the works of novelists which do not transcend their time period to acquire stature as “literature” valid for all times, the same with her works. People generally get over her eventually when they acquire more philosophical depth…

  • larissa

    @Kaffir

    Well Atanu reads some interesting stuff as well such as: Gustave le Bon: The crowd, a study of the popular mind, which he mentined in one of his posts.

    If you can see beyond Le Bon’s ideas on racial supremacism and what not (everyone has their faults), this is an amazing insight into herd psychology and the manipuation of the mind by the media and advertising.

    If some dicators used Le Bon’s ideas to manipulate, one cannot blame Le Bon. His insights into herd mentality is still amazing.

  • Kaffir

    Atanu,

    I remember reading it on your blog – likely one of your comments – which showed your appreciation of Ayn Rand. Too lazy to look it up. Though if you say that you haven’t read any of her books/are unfamiliar with her views/don’t think highly of her, then I take my comment back.

    • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

      Kaffir,

      There is a mention of Ayn Rand on my blog — made in a comment by Ketan to a post “Why Socialism Fails – A Parable.” In a followup post I said that I agreed with him. I have not read Ayn Rand. That is not surprising as I have probably read a total of half a dozen books in my life.

  • larissa

    Also my degression on history was to show that the condition of the Indian peasant has not changed one wee bit. His destitution begins with Islamic overtaxation and tyranny which destroyed the Indian country side. Now if before the arrival of the British, if as Niall Ferguson claimed, India generated roughly 20-25% of world trade, it was concentrated mostly in the hands of the Moguls (8000 of them who formed the court), the peasant was destitute. Bernier in Travels in the Mogul Empire points out the destitution of the Indian peasant, burnened with overtaxation to an extent that it was futile for him to even work. He contrasts their condition with those in Europe whose condition is not as wretched. Now the condition of the Indian peasant became worse under the British with the destruction of domestic crafts and other small scale industries. Democracy with the Congress has actually quadrupled the # of poor althogether. In short, the common Indian has been living in misery for a long time and as completely invisible. This is something interesting from an economic point of view. Most middle class Indians are callous to this large portion India, and are quite oblivious of its existence. And most middle class Indians can be the most annoying people one comes across when it comes to treatment of their fellows…

  • TiredProf

    AmitS: “We can take the tyrants out or we can educate the clueless. Either of these two actions will suffice, provided they are effective.”

    First, these are not mutually exclusive. Second, if you only take out the tyrants, the elected among the clueless will quickly become tyrants. Checks and balances do not work if 80+ percent are functionally uneducated.

    That is the only point I have been trying to make, unsuccessfully, on this blog: while Nehru-Gandhi and politicians of most ilk are undeniably scums, taking them out will achieve very little and only temporarily, unless the clueless are fixed.

    Think of cancer and metastases. We can argue ad nauseum, and even agree, if it matters, that the cancer originated in the Nehru-Gandhi family. But it has now metastasized. No surgical cure is possible. We either write off the patient, or we initiate chemotherapy immediately.

    Neither education nor chemotherapy is pleasant, so democracy will not work. Ever seen a family use democracy to decide if the kid should go to school?

  • Sriram

    i second tiredprof, Sir, for long i wanted to talk to you in one-one
    would you mind emailing me sriramb12atgmaildotcom

    @ataun’s 2 to tango:
    the two are: 1. public 2. leader/politician/ruler

    Since i am a minimalist, it distills down to 1. Public.

    imho, Public created the other. So it takes just 1 to choose its destiny.

    Sriram

  • Kalpesh

    Atanu,

    I am sure you have your quoting Gandhi right & I didn’t mean to say that you were badmouthing him by quoting him. I am sure I am not insane yet :)

    This is the kind of sentence, I don’t expect from a prominent blogger like yours. “I think Gandhi wet his….”

    For Ethnic cleansing, its not a policy Gandhi is advocating.
    If I go by his idea of non-violence, I can say that he is repeating it.

    A policy (of ethnic cleansing) is laid down by a group to enforce it on others.
    In the above example, he is not asking Ms to kill Hs, its the other way.

    What do you expect from a person (One that is willing to die but not ready to kill/hurt) who is extreme on the other side?

    I hope I make sense.

  • Dhairya

    Nathuram Godse’s statement before Court…

    It certainly seems to offer a better understanding of MK Gandhi. Even more accurate then some of his followers.

  • MJ

    just half a dozen books all your life? That can’t be true?!

  • larissa

    As an aside, Moscow Times says Russia was on the way to development without the Russain Revolution (coup d’etat really which it was).
    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/russia-could-have-been-china/422955.html

    Interesting that Russians realize that the Revolution left them with their aristocracy and religion destroyed, two things connecting Russia to higher ideals. Now with the oligarchs running things and corruption so rampant as to rank Russia with Kenya on the transparency index, Russia is realizing this even more, that Russia had already begun to initiate reforms which was leading it towards modernization without the revolution.

    Similarly, is is not time that India question what the Congress rule and control of the country has resulted in? It is time for a proper assessment not based on ideology but on facts and clear results. Considering national deracination, I think it is time for Indians to ask similar questions.

  • larissa

    Gandhi has been a recurrent topic.

    The Men who Killed Gandhi by Manohar Malgonkar is worth reading for those who are interested in such matter. This writer is the author of several other good books.

  • RC

    Kalpesh,
    When it comes to Gandhi and Gandhi’s philosophy, Atanu’s views, to me at least, appear mostly irrational.
    Atanu claims that Gandhi was dictatorial, yet he shunned office in independent India. Host of this blog is also completely dismissive of the social revolution that made India at least a half way fair society. Yet Atanu dismisses it.
    In pure economic terms, the caste system and the effective exclusion of many people from certain sectors based on caste(birth) was extremely in-efficient. It was a license-raj based on birth. Gandhi tried to remove this license raj or at least reduce it yet no love from Atanu for it.
    Looks like ideology trumping reason. Well, to each their own !!!

    • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

      RC wrote:

      When it comes to Gandhi and Gandhi’s philosophy, Atanu’s views, to me at least, appear mostly irrational.

      I think you did well to qualify your assessment of my views on Gandhi — you wrote “to me at least, appear mostly irrational.” The qualifiers are important. My views may appear (but in reality may not be) irrational (to you, and not in some absolute sense.)

      Our views are “mutually irrational” because we have different points of view. Our view point depends on what we know. There are some people that are popularly hailed as saints. These people evoke the most cynical and skeptical doubts in my mind. I am suspicious of such people because I have a conviction that the majority are not very informed or sensible, and popular acclaim indicates that the thing is seriously flawed. A best-seller book, a huge success on the big screen, music that is just hugely popular — I try and find them bland and silly if not positively offensive.

      Whether it is Mrs Gandhi (all of them), or Mr Nehru, or Mr MK Gandhi, or the “Mother” Teresa, or Sri Sri Ravi Shanker, or Satya Sai Baba, or the modern day American presidents — to me, they all stink.

      RC, read a bit more about Gandhi than that which is printed in the government approved school text books, and what is parroted the lazy and uninformed. Who appointed Nehru as the PM? If Gandhi was an uber-dictator — he dictated who should be India’s dictator.

      Gandhi was against caste? Yeah, that is why he labeled them. If you are against caste, the first thing you do is to abolish caste, not set it down in stone with a new shiny name for the oppressed people.

      The shiny idol of Gandhi today is like the image of Mao the Chinese used to have. Satyam eva jayate.

  • Raghuveer

    In history, the most effective leaders are pragmatists and that is what Gandhi was not (contrast with Lee Kwan Yew or Deng Xiaoping). Pragmatists understand and see the world as it is and device policies and goals accordingly. I’d love to be peaceful too but when someone is attacking me with a sword, saying ‘peace’ is delusional at an individual level and dangerous and irresponsible if people depend on you. Surprising that no one even mentioned his ‘celibacy’ experiments.

    I remember reading an essay in ‘Metamagical Themas’ by Hofstadter where he prescribes that the best principle while dealing with others is ‘be nice and afterwards be whatever the other guy is’.

    • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

      Raghuveer wrote:

      I remember reading an essay in ‘Metamagical Themas’ by Hofstadter where he prescribes that the best principle while dealing with others is ‘be nice and afterwards be whatever the other guy is’.

      Raghuveer, you are referring to “tit for tat” strategy. Rober Alexrod, among others, is credited with great work in this area. It works very well in iterated prisoner’s dilemma games — which is the type commonly encountered in the world at large.

      Thanks for pointing out the distinction between Gandhi and someone like Lee Kuan Yew.

  • larissa

    In history, the most effective leaders are pragmatists and that is what Gandhi was not (contrast with Lee Kwan Yew or Deng Xiaoping).

    In the case of Gandhi, perhaps it can be said it is not enough to have good intentions. The intelligent man understands the unintended consequences when they are explained to him, even if he does not see it himself.

    It is glorious to be rich said Mao, this is how the Chinese see it. The Chinese do not talk too much and are always guided by pragmatism. Witness how suddenly China, which was being compared to India before the financial crisis just emerged beyond expectations, in the last year. India, on the contrary did not fulfill the hype about it in the media. Their quiet way of advancing to the goal without much talk says a lot about the Chinese.

    Now City States like Singapore show that one does not really even need high culture or civilizational ideals to be financially successful.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    MJ, yes indeed it is true that I have read about half a dozen books in total. I am not of course including the PG Wodehouses, the Alistair Mcleans, the Perry Masons, and assorted novels that I have read when I was growing up. Or the books that I have had to read for learning engineering, computer science, economics.

    For the last dozen years or so, I am reading two books. John Rawls “A Theory of Justice,” is one. Another is “Thinking about Development” by Paul Streeten. I am adding “Mahabharata” to the list of books I am reading. A friend has recommended Kamala Subramaniam’s translation.

    On my reading list for the future, I have a couple of nonfiction books by Naipaul.

  • Kaffir

    “In pure economic terms, the caste system and the effective exclusion of many people from certain sectors based on caste(birth) was extremely in-efficient. It was a license-raj based on birth. Gandhi tried to remove this license raj or at least reduce it yet no love from Atanu for it.”
    _______

    Do you have any proof of Gandhi trying to remove caste? Perhaps a quote from one of his works?

    There’s a famous scene in the movie ‘Savarkar’ where the two giants (Gandhi and Savarkar) interact and share their views of the caste system. Guess who was willing to abolish – that is, do away with the caste system as having run its course and now being mostly misused and useless, whereas the other was adamant and took the opposite view?

  • RC

    Next you might ask me to show proof about (or read about) existence of caste problem in India.

  • Kaffir

    “Next you might ask me to show proof about (or read about) existence of caste problem in India.”
    __

    That just demonstrates your ignorance of Gandhi’s views. Which is actually not surprising, as reading his views would shock many, who venerate him without knowing a bit about his views. For example, Gandhi thought highly of Ram Rajya, was in favor of a ban on cow slaughter, and was against conversion activity by the two monotheistic religions.

    Also, don’t jump ahead and assume what I might or might not ask you. A simple quote from Gandhi’s works showing that he wanted to get rid of the caste system would suffice.

  • larissa

    Gandhi was interested in abolishing untouchability, not the caste system. When his own son married outside his caste, this upset him.

    Kaffir is right. It was Savarkar who tried to do away with caste, and he was active in attempting to remove untouchability as well. His reputation was soiled by the propaganda Congress party. Recently the French wanted to erect a statue for his bravery, but it was the Indian government that delayed its erection withholding permission! I do not know what has become of this project.

  • larissa

    Correction! Reading my comment, I can’t believe I wrote “It is glorious to be rich-Mao” in a rush, I meant to say it was Deng Xiaoping who said this in the context of his reforms, sorry about that! This comment was meant to show Chinese pragmatism….

  • RC

    It stupid to stay that someone can “abolish the caste system” as if it were some sort of royal decree that can be overturned by another decree. The point is not to “get rid of caste system”, another silly phrase, but to start undoing the horrific injustices perpetrated using the excuse of the system. It is a social structure, you cant just abolish it. It has to be reformed from within, until the society over several generations come up with a different social structure (if the society so chooses).

  • He Played Doctor at 50

    Gandhi’s view on human sexuality, his sexual behavior, and his track record and ‘experiments’ have to be studied to fully understand the imbalance of this man. For those who still respect Gandhi as a moral individual, please, pretty please, make some time and read this book, search the ‘internets’ for ‘refudiations’ and make up your own mind:

    http://www.amazon.com/Gandhi-Jad-Adams/dp/18491621071.html

    The P.M. of Travencore called him, aptly, “a most dangerous, semi-repressed sex maniac”. He claims to have “shut his eyes tightly” as he bathed with his secretary’s sister, Sushila Nayar.

    Gandhi and Mother Teresa had a lot in common, in fact. Both were idolized and canonized by the West, both were never excoriated for their sizable delusions, and both got away with stuff that would lead a normal person to be convicted — Gandhi for allowing naked minors around him [Ref. Manu Gandhi, his grand niece] and Teresa for murder [Ref: Dr. Robin Fox, Chief Editor, Lancet].

    Even Nehru distanced himself from Gandhi’s nonsense and, privately, called his conduct ‘abnormal’. That coming from Nehru, would be like Jeffrey Dahmer calling someone dangerous.

  • Amit S

    @He Played Doctor at 50

    Gandhi and Mother Teresa had a lot in common, in fact. Both were idolized and canonized by the West, both were never excoriated for their sizable delusions

    Bingo! A test of whether an Indian is bad for India is how much he/she is praised by the West. Why would the West praise someone who is good for India?

    PS: I have no problems considering “Mother” Teresa or Sonia Gandhi to be Indians, regardless of their place of birth, no matter how harmful each has been for India.

  • He Played Doctor at 50

    Amit S. you asked, rhetorically

    Why would the West praise someone who is good for India?

    I don’t blame the West. Not one bit. Hanlon’s Razor – Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

  • larissa

    RC
    “The point is not to “get rid of caste system”, another silly phrase, but to start undoing the horrific injustices perpetrated using the excuse of the system. It is a social structure, you cant just abolish it. It has to be reformed from within, until the society over several generations come up with a different social structure (if the society so chooses).”
    .
    There were several great reformers in this respect such as Savarkar, people who had real courage and actually did what they preached. Unlike Nehru who just strikes one as posing, Naipaul writes how superficial his understanding of India was. I think he woke up when the Chinese attacked. The real reformers like Savarkar are largely unknown to the masses due to Congress propaganda. It is sad that the French have to try to build a statue in honor of this brave man, whereas in India most roads and bridges are named after Nehru’s descendants, who have no real accomplishments. Indians do not even bother to read and find out for themselves the amount of brainwashing they undergo in the educational institutions regarding their history and as far as politics is concerned. A brainwashed population depending on Congress for handouts, which is what most of India is today.