Sunday, January 4, 2015
The crash and burn of Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal: Let us revel in the decline of "aadarshvadis"
As Kejriwal and Hazare are on their way to becoming foot notes in India's political history, let us examine the nature of their idealism and why despite its noble intentions is ultimately toxic.
The younger readers may not be aware how it was to grow up in the later stages of the Indira Gandhi era. You are talking about dictatorship, involuntary sterilization, nationalization of vital industries and ,despite the green and white revolution, India asking for food aid from the likes of Nixon (who along with his virtual second in command Kissinger referred to Indira as a witch and Indians as bastards during the 1971 liberation of Bangladesh)
I was in primary school during the late stages of that era(Rajiv Gandhi) ,even so I couldnt help notice how pathetic the situation was. We had to wait nearly two years to get a landline phone (and we considered ourselves lucky for not waiting three) . Paying our utilities was a torture as well pretty going to the bank ,post office or any government run enterprise.
Of course we had relatives who did well abroad and wondered why they couldnt replicate the success back in the mother land.
At this juncture our media, movie industry and academia stepped in- It is because Indians in India are lazy and would rather slave for the "white man" or "white Christian man" (for the followers of the paranoid captain) than improve the lot of fellow Indians.
We were instructed to be aadarshvaadis or idealist unflinching in our ethics, pure in our morals and hard working like a mule. It later occured to me that only a person with the IQ of a mule could swallow this codswallop
We were shown the examples of Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore( the countries of the "white man" werent proper examples as you see they earned their riches via colonialism!) and how despite having any resources ,they have managed to achieve first wold status by providing quality goods and services to the world economy. Their secret we were told was-you guessed it- "hard work"!
Less mentioned were countries like Nigeria who despite having a great of oil wealth at their disposal were still poor. If you ever mentioned and a few did , those arguments were dismissed as "Africans being lazy"
Need we say that pretty much everyone in academia, media or the ultra preachy film industry were either products of or thoroughly saturated with Jawaharlal Nehru University and its associated subsidiary.
Few people realize that when it came to politics and social policy, JNU was the cultural lode star that other institutions followed .
As is expected of socialist institutions, there was zero understanding of incentives and an utter intolerance of notions as profit "Its a dirty word" said Nehru to an industrialist.
There was absolutely no reason for Indian firms to be hard working like the Japanese where there was no guarantee that the Indian government wouldnt squash their quest for expansion and arbitrarily sieze their profits in the form of punitive taxation in the name of "fairness"
Brands like the Ambassador car thrived on a complete lack of competition and North Korean style government propaganda which proclaimed it the best car in the world. I suppose Ferrari, Benz, BMW, Lamborghini etal just had better marketing! But even they rarely had the audacity to claim their product was the best in the world!
The situation didnt improve till the 1990s when due to the collapsing of the import restrictions, Ambassador was forced to compete with foreign cars and acquired in the words of a British publication "almost perceptible acceleration"
What the economic reforms of the 1990s did was sound a death knell to the mindless slogan spouting socialists whose intellectually bankrupt view of economics was exposed for all to see.
But where they are still influential is due to corruption in public life. Now let us be honest. Do we really imagine most politicians and administrators go into public service in order to thrive from corruption? Are we so arrogant as to think that our generation is the first to recognize that bribery, extortion and inefficiency should be rooted out.
Add to this popular films such as Indian(1996) where former INA veteran Senapathy(aptly played by Kamalahassan) goes off on a crusade against not so much the system of corruption but individual perpetrators by simply killing them and using the media as his unwitting accomplices to the cheers and approval of the common public.
Also by the same director was Mudhalvan(2000) or its Hindi version Nayak(2001) where the protaganist is appointed Cheif Minister for a day and promptly goes around fixing what ails the state achieving in 1 day what the corrupt casteist former CM couldnt(or wouldnt) achieve in 10 years.
Apparently Kejriwal wished to model himself on this character from Nayak.
What is wrong with this idea? Firstly I am pretty sure that while the CM has considerable executive powers at his disposal,using or mis(using) them on such a rash basis would quickly cost him his cabinet as well as his constituency. The reality of corrupt officials is that they did not land here from other planets but are quite representative of those who elect them.
A wise man once said a people get the leaders they deserve. I dont see why this is any less true of morally corrupt people like Indians than say a violent and brutal society like Iraq who in turn produced monsters like Saddam to keep them in check. And the removal of said leader by well meaning though dim witted Americans only produced even more chaos, cruelty ,poverty and destabilization.
Our corrupt ,cruel and thieving politicians did not land here neither from outer space nor due to Rothschild brainwashing as some mentally unbalanced bloggers insist.
Our politicians are a magnification of our own shortcomings and virtues. Since it the nature of power to highlight warts rather glories and seeing how we are on the red on the virtues balance sheet, it is but inevitable that we get the most rotten of representation. And he in turn compels the leader to be even more tyrannical, capricious and oppressive thereby further corrupting his constituents. A sad aspect of humanity is that whenever a person is a victim of evil, that individual is more likely to become immoral himself. Therefore we see rape victims become promiscuous and male victims of child abuse become rapists.
This occurs on a macro scale. As Theodore Dalrymple had noted in his observation between modern speech codes and Soviet society
"Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. The purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.If you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to."-Theodore Dalrymple
These socialist ideals keep crowing about honesty, integrity and simplicity when it is obvious for anyone to see that such values in a corrupt system do nothing more than emasculate and demoralize the practitioner and end up colluding with the corrupt establishment.
One example is my state Andhra Pradesh.As you may notice, one of the main qualification of a politician is a propensity for violence. Indeed even the mild mannered Chandrababu Naidu was quite handy with a broken bottle and hockey stick in his college days. It was during that time he gained an interest in politics. Not really a coincidence. AP residents still joke that Shiva and Rakta Charitra were more documentaries about the current state of AP politics than commercial entertainers!
How exactly are we supposed to fight a hockey stick rushing at you with full force by a hot headed Kamma/Reddy youth? With narrating a treatise on the Indian constitution?
Violence will be a part of politics in a nascent democracy. It will be foolish to deny that. American senators and Presidents were rather violent themselves. President Jackson killed a man in a duel while a senator would often beat another with riding crops that would Korean parliament seem like a Gandhi ashram by comparision.
So I do not possess a princess and the pea sensitivity to violence in politics. Indeed a person who utilizes violence for the proper ends and effects good governance is what we need. Such an individual who breaks the cycle of corruption and lawlessness is termed a messiah or an avatar of Vishnu as he helped restore the balance.
Though I personally feel what we need is avatar of Shiva who should destroy and create a new order from oceans of bloods but I realize that is a minority view.
How many times will these do gooders ask us to embrace our poverty and lack of physical comforts as its "Gandhian" and at the same time chide us for our lack of progress compared to Asiatic tigers such as Japan , Singapore and Korea?
A cognitive dissonance if ever there was one. When I pointed out the contradiction to my teacher, this hyper patriot publicly shamed in class as a troublemaker and that I would be better off in the West for daring to question her wisdom and authority. For once the teacher and I were in agreement.
When I think of her and her totalitarian nature, I am reminded of this mediocrity Anna Hazare who would beat up people in his neighborhood for eating meat and drinking alcohol. Are we really so hard up for anti corruption crusaders that we should recruit such tyrants?
And what is this talk of eliminating corruption as if you could wave a magic wand by means of fasting and shaming officials. (If they had any shame, they wouldn't be government beureaucrats)
The best way to eliminate corruption is eliminate all the incentives that enable it. Simply reduce all luxury taxes and duties and streamline government beureacracy and increase the pay of the officials that remain. Privatize what you can and should and corruption become that much more manageable.
This is turn will have a ripple effect on the courts and police system making them more accountable and efficient.
However this requires the Indian economy to be truly free and neither Modi nor Kejriwal were ever interested in it
Modi is not a free marketer but a mercantilist as his Gujarati mindset who will protect and support indigenous enterprises from those pernicious foreigners. So much for his plans for creating another Singapore!
Kejriwal suffers from delusions of grandeur that every IITian does on account of the prestige that insitutions bestows on its alumni. I actually knew individuals who were shocked when I dared challenged their assumptions on some topic or another. One went as far as to say"I went to IIT, who the fuck are you, you illiterate" , to which I eloquently responded by grabbing his collar and slamming him repeatedly against a wall. He never brought up his qualifications again.
That I would submit is the proper response to such coarse elitism. Granted most were never that arrogant and elitist but you can tell that they are not accustomed to having their opinions contradicted. This is not so much their fault as Indian society which coddles them at every turn and assumes whatever they utter is the new Bhagvad Gita
As Mr Sabhlok has shown not only are IITs highly overrated but they tend to know absolutely nothing about economics and governance. And this doesn't really distinguish them from other politicians.
In the end it is not education and high faluting ideals but common sense, resolve ,character and a pessimistic view of human nature and knowing the extant of government involvement in personal life that would lift the bane of our existence.
As of now we have no such leader but atleast let us rejoice that our self proclaimed messiahs have been discredited atleast in the short term.