Atanu Dey On India's Development

Question the Assumptions

| 13 Comments

When you find that there’s a disconnect between expectations and reality, it is no use denying the reality. It may be time to question the assumptions that underlie the expectations.

We are all, unfortunately, familiar with criminals contesting elections. That there are criminals in society is not surprising. It isn’t even surprising that they contest elections. But some people find it surprising that criminals win elections. That is where we need to examine our assumptions. We assume that voters care about not electing criminals to political office. That’s the assumption but it is contradicted by the reality, which is that the voters don’t really care about electing criminals.

A friend sent me an email today which listed a few candidates for the Mumbai municipal elections. Here are some details about them.

Mr Harishchandra. 1 charges related to Habitual dealing in slave (IPC Section-371) – standing for election from Deonar – Mankhurd Childrens Home

Mr Darvi – 2 charges related to Buying minor for purposes of prostitution, etc. (IPC Section-373) – standing for election from Topiwala College – Mhada Colony

Mr Shetye – 2 charges related to Buying minor for purposes of prostitution, etc. (IPC Section-373) – constituency – Sarvodaya Nagar – Nahur Village

Mr Sridhar – 3 charges related to Habitual dealing in slave (IPC Section-371) – Constituency – Ravindra Natya Mandir – Shivaji Park

Mr Kadam – 1 charges related to Buying minor for purposes of prostitution, etc. (IPC Section-373) – Constituency Malad Hill Reservoir

Mr Sitaram – 1 charges related to Theft in dwelling house, etc. (IPC Section-380) 1 charges related to Buying minor for purposes of prostitution, etc. (IPC Section-373) – Constituency Bandrekar Wadi – Ismail College – Natwar Nagar

Mr Gaikwad – 1 charges related to Causing miscarriage without woman’s consent (IPC Section-313) – Constituency Makrani Pada

These people may be criminals as charged but they are certainly not insane. They know that there is a good chance that they will win the elections. Otherwise why would they waste time and effort contesting elections that they cannot win?

Why?

Because they know that some people will vote for them regardless of whether they are criminals or not. That fact is irrefutable. Many — perhaps a majority — of Indian politicians are criminals and that fact must say something about Indians. I will not abuse your intelligence by spelling that out.

Sanjeev Sabhlok, indefatigable warrior for liberty, has an interesting post on his blog titled, “You have to WREST liberty from the Indian government, not beg for it“.

He writes,

The task to remove the British from India was HUGE. Yet it was achieved.
. . .
Today India is oppressed by Indians on a scale last seen only during British rule. In many ways worse. More Indians are killed in India by the Indian government EACH YEAR than the British killed perhaps in a decade. Indians are surviving from moment to moment, unsure of what could happen to them next. One of the speakers rightly put it: Nothing is safe any more.
. . .
If we could boot out the British, surely we can boot out Congress and BJP, and wrest the freedom that is our birthright.

Let’s examine that. The British did leave India. I think it is an assumption that they left because the Indians wanted freedom. Hogwash. Indians don’t care about freedom. If they did, they would not tolerate the criminals that rule them.

Yes, there are people who care about liberty in India. But they are few and far between. Sanjeev Sabhlok is a voice in the wilderness. The voting majority could vote for good people but they don’t. If they did, there would be good people contesting elections.

Fact is that people are rational — even if they are myopic. Candidates know whether it makes sense to contest elections. Good candidates rationally stay out knowing that they will lose. The minority of voters who would vote for good candidates rationally don’t bother voting knowing that their preferences will be worthless when weighed against the larger group who would vote for corrupt criminals.

I think Sabhlok is right when he says that “liberty was not given to anyone on a platter.” Liberty was not given to Indians either. There was a transfer of power in 1947 for sure but that is not synonymous with independence. It was just a transfer of power from one bunch of looters to another bunch. Indians transferred their voluntary servitude from one group to another.

I, for one, don’t really care about skin color. It does not really matter to me what the color of the skin of the guy who robs me. Perhaps he is white-skinned or perhaps he is black. But it appears that to too many Indians who celebrate Indian “independence” from the British but are quite content with being ruled by brown sahibs, skin color matters.

Sabhlok writes, “if we could boot out the British, surely we can boot our Congress and BJP . . .” There’s an assumption in there: that Indians booted out the British. I think that is an unwarranted assumption. The British left. Indians as a collective have never really valued freedom. Evidence? See for yourself. The British left because it was not worth raping India any more.

It is time for us to seriously examine our assumptions. I have come to the conclusion that the slave mentality, the mentality that makes voluntary servitude a reality, is the reality. Only a change in the collective consciousness of the people, a change which makes them value freedom, would bring about a change in India’s destiny.

Until then, the minority of people like Sabhlok will have to suffer the fate imposed by the majority. India, don’t you know, is a democracy, and in a democracy the majority decides what the rest have to endure.

Here endth the rant.

PS: Dear Sanjeev, may I suggest that you examine your assumption that India achieved independence. Just because a new flag was hoisted and a new bunch of rulers took over, it does not make a people independent. Thank you.

  • http://www.livehospital.net/ Vishal Kumar Singh

    I have come to a conclusion that in India, majority of liberals only complain. They keep finding several pretext for not participating in political action- some true, but majority has nothing to do with reality

    I would put another theory, majority of the liberals spend more time with books and are used to giving lectures, writing books, theorizing. They are quite away from the real world. It is like bulk of the economist writing about trade, without themselves ever selling a single paisa of good. Politics is different. It is dirty, full of contradictions. It requires to work in a team. This is altogether different skill, which surely cannot be gained by day dreaming and spending time with books only.

    I would be extremely surprised , if any of these liberals really participate in real political action ever.

    Vishal

  • http://akshar.co.in/ Akshar

    Atanu,

    You say “But some people find it surprising that criminals win elections. ” Who exactly are these people ? Whoever they are they are completely unaware of the reality.

    I happen to come from a family which depends on agriculture for our bread and butter. Now we use to pay Rs 150 per man per day to those who worked in our fields. Suddenly the laborers increased their rate to Rs. 300 per man per day. That is completely unaffordable to us and hence we have given up farming. Soon, I will be earning and I will close my family’s agriculture business for good.

    Why did they increase their price? One word answer in MNREGS. As per the laborer, he has to go to panchayat sign attendance of 5 days, take salary of two days (Rs 300)and work for one day only. The three days salary is distributed among higher ups.

    So his logic is I work for one day and I get Rs 300. Which means the government rate is Rs 300.

    I tried to argue that he is being cheated. He should get Rs 750 and not Rs 300. He laughed. Despite all your education you have learned nothing he said. If we get all Rs 750 what will the higher ups have? And if they dont get anything why will they come up with such a scheme in first place? We vote them in so that they can come such schemes where we and they distribute “rich people’s” money.

    My family thought that some day or other these laborers will feel the need of money and eventually come back to work for Rs 150. That never happened. Because government has come up with so many schemes. Under one scheme they got Rs 25000/- for repairing the house where they got Rs 12500 and remaining money was kept by the babu logs. They get 100KG rice for approx. Rs 300 out of which half he will sell in open market to make some quick money.

    Things have come to such a pass that people think it is their right to live off tax payer’s money.

    • Harsha Matadhikari

      Very vivid explanation. Hats Off. Bureaucrat’s and These Lazy People who want things for free conspire together to rob tax payer’s money. Majority wins, is it not democracy?

  • Vinod Sankar

    @Vishal Kumar Singh: If you are insinuating that Atanu Dey only lectures/ complains, and that he does not participate in political action, you may not be right. Please see: http://unitedvotersofindia.com/

  • Vikram

    “Dear Sanjeev, may I suggest that you examine your assumption that India achieved independence. Just because a new flag was hoisted and a new bunch of rulers took over, it does not make a people independent.”

    Comrade Kobad would readily agree!

    http://naxalrevolution.blogspot.in/2007/08/fake-independence-and-mercurial-stance.html

    When your stance is equally detested by the ultra right (Atanu) and the ultra left (Kobad), then may be you are doing something right.

  • allwyn

    I also read somewhere how many candidates in the UP elections are also crooks..tht will never change..here’s something else

    Hey Atanu, I read sanjeev’s blog too and I think he’s FTI is a good deal and a real chance for India. And you should be on that team. Think about it sir, the educated class in India does not want to vote, I say this out of experience from my friends at my engineering college in Mumbai. They just don’t care to vote in the current situation, its d normal stuff “all r corrupt” ..”all are chutyas/unpads/ghatis/etc”..but then once I was reading this blog from a frnd’s blackberry and he asked “whts d use of reading this..whose this guy” and I started by telling him ur qualifications cs, phd in economics from US and all etc. And I saw a real glow on his face and he also took a look around this blog.

    point here is Educated ppl want to vote smart ppl and FTI will be such a party. And trust me no one in my colg gives a fuck about voting right now but if a party like FTI becomes real and some smart, charming (it matters to ppl here) men like say obama r contesting elections or even a btr a entire party like them..maybe this MTV generation make sure they come to power!

  • http://wp.pronagpur.com/ kautilya

    i think india is a case of catch-22. as long as criminals win, voters will remain uneducated and poor. and as long as voters are poor and uneducated, criminals will win.

    note : i am calling uneducated as people who do not look at the big picture. so even if you have an MBA diploma, and yet you vote for the congress party, which i think is a criminal organization, you are “uneducated” in my mind.

    winning and losing elections is a function of many factors, including demography and election system it self.

    take demography first – the kind of demography we have in india, it leads to lot of different group dynamics, where one solid group can throw it’s weight and make or break a candidate. the aggregate sum of this group dynamics makes some party win or lose an election. for example a guy called madani, even if there are serious charges against him related to anti-indian terrorism, can easily win elections in kerela. the group dynamic of kerela is favorable for madani. same with raj thakrey. he may be a moron, but there are some constituencies in maharashtra where he just cannot lose.

    now if you look the overall picture, congress has a better chance of winning at all india level, purely because it can easily manipulate muslim vote by keeping it polarized from rest of the electorate. muslim votes carry a lot of weight in about 1/3rd of constituencies. criminality of a candidate is irrelevant if the polarization is so complete.
    gujarat on the other hand was polarized in a different way where the majority hindus for the first time in “independent” india got polarized in one block. unlike other states in india, the hindu groups of gujarat are more united and add a different group dynamic to elections. not sure how long it will last though.

    election system – india follows a ‘first past the post’ system. so you don’t really need a majority to win elections. all you need is one vote more than the candidate who came in second. meaning, even if you get 10% of total electorate vote, as long as the count is greater than the losing candidate who got 9.999% you are good. the remaining 80% of votes may have got distributed amongst the rest of the field; some of whom might have been planted by the winning candidates themselves.

    so a combination of our demography and our system is what makes candidates criminality irrelevant. criminality is a symptom.

  • allwyn

    @kautilya
    on MBA voting congress or bjp – i am sure most of them don’t want to vote either con or bjp. And I notice you only call cong a criminal org and not the bjp which means you are some what a supporter. I think even if the MBA fellow votes BJP it wont make a big difference, yes right now congress is more corrupt but it’ll be only a matter of time bjp catches up and the POLICIES-both are socialist as sanjeev sabhlok has always pointed out. Take the RETAIL FDI issue the BJP supported it in 2004 but opposed it now. We can go on about how fucked up the current parties are or actually get a good one to power like freedom team india (http://freedomteam.in). Sanjeev has convinced me this is the only way left now.

    And they can create a support base by conducting seminars in colleges, the young supported IAC they’ll be open to FTI also the united voters of India and from anna’s IAC. I’m very sure illiterate voters won’t vote for FTI – they won’t understand it in the 1st place. FTI will have to woo the educated and elite.

  • Dipanjan

    A quick look at when colonies in Asia and Africa became independent should dispel any notions of Indians suddenly caring about and earning freedom in 1940s. Greater forces were at play. World war 2 devastated European colonial powers, winners and losers alike. Economic reality and political will no longer supported direct rule. Transfer of power and indirect influence became the default modus operandi. The gave up colonies in a batch process, first scheduled to run in Asia and about a decade later, in Africa. What the former colonies did with this “independence” is more indicative of how much as a group of people they care abut freedom.

    Indonesia – 1945, Israel – 1948, Jordan – 1946, Lebanon – 1943, Burma – 1948,North Korea – 1948, Philippines – 1946

    Libya – 1951,Mali – 1958,Morocco – 1956,Niger – 1960,Senegal – 1960, Rwanda – 1962,Sierra Leone – 1961,Somalia – 1960,Sudan – 1956,Tunisia – 1956, Uganda – 1962

  • Sougata Sarkar

    “When your stance is equally detested by the ultra right (Atanu) and the ultra left (Kobad), then may be you are doing something right.”

    Vikram,

    This is a nice sound bite. Color me impressed. But out of intellectual curiosity, riddle me this. What is your definition of “ultra right” and why do you think Atanu fits this definition?

  • saurabh

    Dear Atanu,

    How do you know if the charges related to these particular people are true or not? Last time I checked, everyone is innocent until proven guilty! Do you know how easy it is for rival political parties to file FIRs against their opponents? Most of these are smear campaigns with no basis in fact.

    Being horribly pessimistic and naiive you are not helping anyone. In fact you are typical of the ‘chalta hai’ crowd that does not vote.

    In the film ‘Nayak’ there is a beautiful clip saying that if you want to clean the gutter of politics then you have to go into the gutter and get dirty first. Ofcourse by sitting in your ac room and making snide comments on the internet you think you are helping? lol.

    People like you are the whole reason we have dynasty. Blaming ‘Indian people’ is a nice convenience to get away from their guilt.

  • Anonymous

    @Saurabh

    >Ofcourse by sitting in your ac room and making snide comments on the >internet you think you are helping? lol.People like you are the whole >reason we have dynasty. Blaming ‘Indian people’ is a nice convenience to >get away from their guilt.

    I don’t see how better u are in that case and how you stand out from the ‘chalta hai’ crowd.
    Anyway, the only place where I believe he went wrong was not being “politically” correct. Your perspective is also valid. But the fact that he pointed out that most of the contestants have FIRs filed against them surely shows that there are some rotten eggs. The probability of these FIRs being smear campaigns doesn’t make our political ecosystem any cleaner.

    The efforts of people like Atanu, ranting out on Internet may seem worthless to some narrow visioned. But it does make some people question the prevailing system, inform them about it or the very least make them think about it..

  • Ashish

    @Anonymous

    ‘words without action is meaningless’ isin’t it? You said the least would be that he will trigger the thought, but if you just sit with that thought without doing anything about it how is it relevant?

    just imagine if every body just sit and post few brilliant articles on net and do nothing about it? who will do the job then?