Atanu Dey On India's Development

Republic Day Thoughts

| 3 Comments

I can understand that India celebrates “Republic Day” — the day on which the Indian constitution came into force in 1950. I am not a huge big fan of the Indian constitution, as you may probably know. But what really bothers me is the ridiculous parade that they put up all over the country, the main sad event being in the capital New Delhi. That grown-ups would participate in something like this puzzles me at times, and then I remind myself that this is consistent with the general stupidity that blankets this place anyway. This ultimate dog and pony show’s absurdity is matched by the hysterical jingoism of the day.

This fact I have mentioned several times: I have asked over 10,000 people and no one has admitted to having read the Indian constitution in its entirety. They have pious beliefs about its goodness but they have never bothered to read it. I am certain that none of the lawmakers — a strange word to use for those who are generally more corrupt than the average person on the street — of India have read it either. But when it comes to celebrating the adoption of the constitution, there’s enthusiastic participation.

In the bygone pre-TV age, street performers in small towns across India used to put up little circuses to entertain the crowds. These would include acts like five people on a bicycle or tight-rope walking on a rope strung five feet above the ground. I was reminded of that when I caught a glimpse of a dozen people riding one motorbike. This spectacle struggled to rise above the street performers’ level but failed. That this should go on to celebrate an important anniversary in full view of the world in a nation that wants to be taken seriously is depressing.

Anyway, even this is not why I find the whole parade thing sad and pathetic. It is the display of military hardware. As a rational human being, I am against violence in general. What really makes me see red is organized, large-scale violence which consumes trillions of dollars and millions of lives. It is called “defense” or “national defense.” What is the most remarkable about this global phenomenon of “defense” is that it is entirely one-sided: there is not a single participant in the entire world that is even remotely interested in “offense.” Everyone is persistently, absolutely, perpetually, sincerely for peace and only doing what it needs to do for “defense.”

Take India and its neighbors. Pakistan? It has to defend itself against India. Pakistan, itself, is born pure and has no evil intentions. Its leaders will attest to that under oath. India? It needs defense against Pakistan, Bangladesh, China. China, of course, is only doing what it needs to do to defend itself from India and others. The same story can be told about each of the 200+ countries, all armed to the extent that they can afford or the US needs to sell weapons to.

From my perspective as a free-market laissez faire economist, a limited government is a necessary evil and big government is pure evil. The greatest evil that government does is not that it hinders the creation of economic wealth and limits human freedom; the greatest evil is that it actively destroys economic wealth and kills by the millions directly or indirectly through organized, large-scale violence usually called wars.

Perhaps I have only met a limited sample of people across the world but I have not yet met even one person who harbors any intentions of spending their own resources to kill or even merely harm random strangers. Maybe there are psychotic people who would like to kill others for no reason but they must be a vanishingly small percentage of the global population, and the average person on the street would rather live and let live instead. Yet each nation spends unreasonable amounts on funding huge organizations whose sole purpose is to kill as many and as efficiently as possible. These are called the “defense establishments.”

The great unspeakable and unspoken evil in the world is the military establishment. These militaries would not and could not exist without the support of governments. No corporation or NGO has the power to fund what national governments routinely do for maintaining their respective war machines.

These war machines represent the end product of the worst kind of mass delusion.

There was jubilation among Indians when India became a “nuclear armed” nation. Indians were celebrating their ability to kill humans wholesale efficiently. Pakistanis did the same when it was their turn. Apparently the alternative did not occur to them. The destructive power of popular delusions is most clearly evidenced by the jingoistic celebrations of weapons of mass destruction by the masses who are its primary targets.

I feel pity for the deluded masses but I reserve my anger for the active participants in the war machinery — the arms manufacturers, the arms dealers, the generals and most of all the politicians who whip up the mass jingoistic fervor that fuels the global war of all against all.

Well, other than that, I think that there’s nothing wrong with a stupid parade with idiotic floats even if it is attended by the VVIP, the VIP and the unwashed ignorant masses.

{Related post: “Dollar Auctions and Deadly Games.”}

  • Karishma Sundaram

    I usually nod along in vehement agreement to all your posts – they are truly excellent. But this one brought me up short.

    I have two points to put forward:
    1. Defence – Our military might is pretty pathetic at this juncture. Mostly we use refurbished cast-offs from other nations. Even the new INS Vikramaditya is an old Russian ship. We are only now starting to build our own war machines.

    I too am a peace-loving soul, with no desire for war. However, I do believe that maintaining this machinery is necessary to avoid the appearance of a weak nation, unable to defend itself in the event someone decides to attack us – for whatever reason. At the moment, China has our collective balls in a vice, if you will pardon the expression. Their substandard products flood our marketplaces, and they are encroaching upon our territory. Any countermeasures have resulted in a standoff not known to the public (I say this after being in touch with a few members of our defence forces.)

    Therefore, India must indeed focus more energy on not only refining the existing forces, but also building our own machinery. Because, let’s face it, just because we are peace-loving, doesn’t mean everyone else has the same intention.

    2. The second thing is much more trivial. The ordinary Indian is NOT ‘live and let lie’. Those are the middle class members, who really don’t have the time or mindspace to spare on other people. We spend most of our times, making sure our families do not fall into some abyss or the other.

    The ordinary Indian is so frustrated and absorbed with themselves, they derive actual pleasure from harming someone else. Someone who is defenceless, and thereby establish power over such people. Thus we see rapes, murders, thefts, hate crimes, etc rampant on our streets.

    In short, the average Indian not only doesn’t care about the country, but is out to actively inflict as much as damage as possible.

    The parade is a farce, in that it ‘awakens’ nationalist fervour twice a year for a few hours. Those of us who truly love our country try in our everyday lives to do our best to look after it. Having said that, the parades make me feel good too.

    I apologise for the lengthy comment, but I do so enjoy your blog, I felt compelled to put forward my thoughts.

  • Gaurav

    Like your Boston audience was left of centre on economics, you sound left of centre on the issue of standing armies. Not because communist countries don’t have armies, but based on your statement of each of the 200 countries having armies for “national defence” to protect themselves from the “national defence” armies of their neighbours, you are indulging in wishful thinking – hoping that armies would disappear from the world forever. Similar to the leftist wishful thinking of the disappearance of private ownership.

  • gubradi Jo

    These war machines are protecting your little intelligent ass for the time being, till the world is customized to your liking