Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
As promised earlier I implore you folks to gather and mock this post. Now as awful posts go this one deserves a special place of its own, for its fuddling mix of intellectual shoddiness coupled with hubris. To briefly give you the background the post was supposed to be a reflection on the panel discussion by persons of the superior intellect meant to offer guidance and issue diktats to humble Internet Hindus. As it turn out it is anything but reflection, with its peremptory attitude and flimsy premises as is evident from the start of the post with the “takeaways”. What are these takeaways? Well.
#1 There is a significant gulf within the broad political space opposed to Left Liberalism
Just so we are clear, as long as we are talking about politics as it exists in real world, and not fantasy politics league, there is hardly any opposition to left liberalism.
Here allow me to launch into a bitter digression, one of the most annoying aspect among Internet crowd of all political persuasion but more pronounced among center right folks is the borrowing of political lexicon from American politics and subsequent indiscriminate application to Indian context.
Now broadly speaking in American context (but not necessarily in European context), mainstream left politics is characterized by cradle to grave welfare policies, wealth redistribution and increased government intervention. In contrast right generally favors, economic freedom, federalism and minimal state intervention. Now this doesn’t correspond with how Indian politics is configured. Since the establishment of republic, the only abiding debate in Indian politics is about how much more can be spent on the vote gathering schemes. Everyone from communists, to socialists, to Congress, to BJP participates in this dance.
Any practical schism that exists between left and right in
#2 Untamed Internet Activism remains a sore point
#3 There is no clear intellectual leadership visible on the horizon for taming this Activism and for taking it beyond the Internet
Excuse me for not taking this seriously. Let’s get a perspective here; Internet is all sound and fury signifying (mostly) nothing. Not to disappoint but for foreseeable future internet activism is the last thing to impact Indian politics. If it were otherwise cartel would be in power and Ravikiran would be Il Duce. Really, it is just some guys venting on the net; let’s not kill all the fun by taking this too seriously. Internet debating societies have this luxury, of talking in abstract terms with no compulsion for any connection with reality. It is once these wonderful theories cooked in ethereal cyberspace collide with the compulsions of the real life, the disappointment comes.
Lastly, the idea of intellectual leadership to tame Internet Activist is fundamentally antithetical to how Internet works. Internet is an open and democratic medium in the sense anyone can publish his/her opinion with little cost and almost perfect anonymity. It is up to the reader to decide which opinions to follow. Accordingly anyone whose opinions find resonance with the general readership gain more prominence on Internet. Which is why Offstumped has readership in hundreds (or thousands?) and mine in single digits. To sum up, the present way of democratic conversation is just fine thank you and there is no to shepherd the unenlightened or issue edicts to the congregation.
#4 Deep confusion over the Identity versus Ideology debate continues to persist
Here is the problem with these kinds of simplistic formulations, idea of nation-state is predicated on identity, unless we decide what underpins idea of
#5 Unclear at this time if this “structured engagement” can be sustained. We may well see some unintended consequences of this raw and untamed activism manifest themselves in the days to come, if we dont draw a line sooner than later.
Whoa, just ease off the hyperbole peddle dude. Seriously the case for center right will be bolstered if exaggerations like this can be eschewed. I will say it again; guys on Internets are just that. They are not the threat. I will like to say something about line later.
Anyway we proceed from “the takeaways”, unfortunately the scenery remains bleak on this fisking trip.
Here is an unsolicited advice to all present and future bloggers. “It’s about the X stupid” is great if you are trying to win elections, if you are trying to engage your opponent in serious discussion, it is boorish, to say the least.
The past maybe an inspiration and a guide, the West maybe a case study, but end of the day this exercise has to be about the future.
Standing where we are today, if we are not thinking ahead on the challenges, opportunities and the sense of history with which todays 4th grader and the many who probably are not even in school will be making political choices 9 years from now, then we will be irrelevant even before 2002 makes it to History text books
This is something one can come to an agreement, past is the key to present and future. And yet as we see later that instead of attempting to define some broad limits to the extent past should be allowed to impact it is pushed away with assertion based on perfunctory understanding.
We must draw a line to
#1 end this Identity versus Ideology confusion once and for all
#2 make this about the challenges and opportunities of the future and not about righting history’s wrongs
#3 make this about capturing the mindshare and the imagination of a generation exemplified who will be making political choices 9 years from now and who’s memory on the most significant political events of his or her life at the age of 18 is right now a clean slate
I think I have replied to these points earlier, so let me just put it in few words. Identity guides politics. Past informs future. It is the danger of these throwaway lines. They distract us from investigating the phenomenon more thoroughly. It is certainly true in this case. Why assume that a generation is a monolith in its politics. Will an eighteen year old in 2018 have different perspective from eighteen year old now? Quite possibly. But there are other factors location, social class, caste, faith. To assume that age can override all this is at best a leap of faith. This is why it is necessary not to base politics merely on public whims.
However the most erroneous part is the following
Where must we draw the line
It is time for us to recognize that the political construct (psuedo-secularism versus Hindutva) of the 1990s is not just an anachronism but also a painful reminder of the baggage of the past.
We must also recognize that Political Hindutva of the 1990s
#1 at its core was the product of deep insecurity and victimhood
#2 has been tainted by Adharma committed in its name.
#3 was spineless in its failure to stand up to violence committed in its name
#4 was morally ambiguous in taking a clear stance on the primacy of Rule of Law and Justice in response to violence committed in its name
#4 was intellectually hollow in its failure to evolve an Intellectual Political Tradition geared for the challenges of this Century drawing on the rich tradition of Kautilya’s Arthashastra and others who followed him
This is, not to put too fine of a point, weapons grade nonsense. First, a distinction has to be made Hindutva* as political theory, and Hindutva as a movement. Now it is true that the movement as witnessed in 90’s could be characterized as a reaction to perceived onslaught at and marginalization of the Indic tradition and culture, but this no more invalidates Hindutva then any popular movement from Indian struggle for freedom to conservative movement in America. This kind of Freudian analysis is tempting because well it is less work, but on the whole it will be misleading of the phenomenon of popular movements. Here it is necessary to have an important caveat Hindutva in
Other points are equally without merit. If violence is the sufficient reason to discredit Hindutva, then shouldn’t the police and army atrocities be the sufficient reason to discredit Indian state. If Hindutva is to be discarded for not standing up to violence or being morally ambiguous, then fine, but first let’s discard Indian democracy for failing to prosecute the perpetrators of violence.
The last point deserves a separate critique. Let’s take the charge of not being able to evolve the intellectual political tradition which is true for Hindutva but also for Indian politics in general, why then Hindutva alone must be prosecuted for it is something that I can’t figure part. The second part is to say the least bizarre as we will see shortly.
Some have to tried to rationalize Hindutva as the Warrior Spirit needed to protect Dharma, while others have fantasised about Hindu thought in an Islamic body. This line of thought has been critiqued extensively by this blogger before. It suffices to say that
Just as Rajadharma as articulated over the Centuries was the Constitution for the State, the Indian Constitution is the Rajadharma in this day and age.
The only “Warrior Spirit” to protect Dharma is that which the has Constitutional sanction. The only Right to bear Arms is that which is sanctioned by the Constitution. Even the Kshatriya of yesteryears had no blanket immunity to use their arms but for the protection of Dharma which in today’s context is the Indian Constitution.
First “warrior spirit” is not something “fantasized”, or “rationalized” by Internet Hindus, rather great Hindu revivalist like Swami Vivekananda and Guru Aurobindo have emphasized that Hindus must shun their fatalism and meekness, and instead embrace an attitude of confidence and confrontation both spiritually and socially. All this Rajdharma and Constitutional sanction dropping is just so much chaff intended to obscure and not to enlighten. Author, ofcourse is free to mock Swami Vivekananda and Guru Aurobindo, but then should be ready to get mocked himself
Anyway for all the protestation, this is what is bizarre; by arguing that Hindutva in terms of scripture, author himself is trying to “Islamize” Hinduism. This is problematic.
Now I haven’t completely read Arthashastra, but for most part it deals with monarchy, which is not applicable in case of republic. This is not to suggest that there is nothing to be learned from it, on the contrary many of the concepts and analysis in Arthashastra especially those dealing with ethics and politics, relate to the fundamental nature of any state and its interaction with people. Even conceding the genius and insight of Arthashastra the dynamics of republic are fundamentally different from that of monarchy. This is not to say that Arthashastra has no relevance only that any theory dealing with republic, as Hindutva must, can not be based and it certainly can not solely rely upon Arthashastra.
Further at risk of repeating myself Hindutva is more of a matter of identity and history, and less about adherence to scriptures.
It is ironic that those who claim to protect Hindu interests have done little to nothing in freeing Hindu Institutions from State Control.
Instead they have cynically accorded legitimacy to State Interference in Religion by advancing an overtly religious political agenda.
While it is indeed lamentable that Sangh Parivar didn’t do much beyond symbolism, it is disingenuous to say the least that it was they who accorded legitimacy. Control of Hindu institutions was already a well established fact before BJP even gained prominence, with acquiescence of sec-lib establishment.
Yes there is a legitimate competition to Centuries of Hindu Thought in the modern marketplace of Ideas.
To compete in that marketplace
Hindu Institutions must be free of State Control
the Hindu Community must put its money where its mouth is
invest in bringing Modern Technology, Modern Governance and Management Practices to those Institutions
focus on creating Intellectual Assets, Social Programs for the future
- for that 4th Grader who will grow up in the world of Twitter, Facebook, iPhone and iPAD and
for that 4th Grader peers who will probably never see the face of a school and will likely suffer from deep Information Asymmetry
Let the 40,000 crores of TTD work on creating those Intellectual Assets and Social programs. Let us free TTD from Government and Political control.
Again there is not much to disagree except to reiterate Hindutva is more than Hinduism, specifically it relates to identity and politics. Hindutva is necessary because contrary to secularists a republic can never be divorced from society. So to assume that state exists in isolation and is not influenced by the culture is to commit a fundamental error.
Time to Say No
But that can only happen when we draw the line and say no to Political Hindutva.
Political Hindutva’s biggest contribution has been to legitimize a role for Political Parties and hence by extension a role for the State in within Hindu Institutions.
This has only ensured a stake for politicians in maintaining status quo within Hindu Institutions thus making them uncompetitive in the 21st Century’s marketplace of ideas.
It is time to draw a clear line by saying NO to the Political Hindutva of the 1990s.
Not to beat a dead horse, but this is again disingenuous, not to say churlish, for state interference and its legitimacy precede rise of Hindutva.
In conclusion while there are legitimate grounds for criticizing Hindutva, this post is little more than dissimulation and rhetorical trick, all with an eye towards bien-pensant.
* Originally defined by Veer Savarkar, it has assumed much broader meaning of cultural nationalist politics, in that respect Hindutva is more of a placeholder now
Thus spake doubtinggaurav at 5:01 pm
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Here is my confession I have not followed the adventures of David Headley with any degree of interest. Truth be told, it has been long time since I took any interest in news pertaining to terrorism. It is not because I don't care about terrorism, it's just that these Headleys, Ranas, 313 brigades are just the foot soldiers, no matter how many times we get rid of them as long as the source remains, we will have a new brigade at our hand.
If it reminds you of something, it should.
This means if we want terrorism to stop we should attack the source, in this case Islamic Republic Of Pakistan. Now this is not a solution without its share of problem, foremost being nuclear proliferation, however this is better than other solutions in the sense that this is only solution which actually exists. However it is remember to remember few things.
One, though it may seem that it is Pakistani militarist state which controls the terrorism as an instrument, I have come to believe it is itself controlled by the pathology of Islamic supremacism. In that, terrorism is a jihad against kaffir India. It is a clash of civilization.
Second, yes it is true there is a chasm between American rhetoric against terrorism ("global war on terrorism") and American action. It is also true that America doesn't seem concerned about plight of Indians. Here is a news for those who moan over this, American government, unlike Indian government*, works for American interests. It is, and it should, only be concerned with securing American interests. What tragic fate India suffers is frankly none of its damn business.
For those Indians who were expecting America to secure Indian interests, well, tough luck, but this is India's war and America is not going to fight it. India alone has to fight it. Unfortunately for us Indians, Indian state doesn't seem to have any interest in doing this. This may be because, we seem to have lost the will to live, as a nation.
* Meaning that Indian government doesn't work for Indian interests. By all appearances Manmohan Singh seems anxious to please his American masters.
Friday, March 19, 2010
All right this is a very brief one, but the basic idea is that unintentionally this bill may be (a very tentative may be) the antidote to the caste politics. The reason this might happen is that a significant number of female political activists are from urban, middle class, which is antagonistic to backward politics. In contrast backward leadership doesn’t have significant number of women. Now, it is understood that backward leadership will try to rule through proxy but even that will undermine their hold on power. All in all, I think reservation in the present will adversely impact caste politics. Which is why expect pressure for quota within quota sooner than later.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
PBM’s (Pratap Bhanu Mehta, not Paneer Butter Masala) latest column befuddles me. Not because I begrudge his right to coin neologisms, nor do I have any major objection to the one coined in article, all in all, Quotacracy is a clever one. What confuses me is that somehow he finds all these virtues and attributes them to democracy. Problem is, these virtues are not integral to definition of democracy which is in fact very simple viz. majority rules. The virtues that he attributes to democracy are simply his wish list, virtues that he will appreciate in the governing principle. Unfortunately world is not here to please PBM, and he can not just redefine terms. Now the simple principle of majority rule is not flexible enough to handle the complexities of real world politics. Which is why, we have all kinds of innovations and modifications to this rule, the general purpose being the same, to mitigate its disadvantages, there is representative democracy, subsidiarity, separation of branches, bicameral legislature etc. More important than trying to redefine democracy, it is better to understand its limitations and investigate the ways to work around it.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Remember when we were talking about how can we rescue India from the clutches of patronage system. At that time I said I don't know what will work. I do know however, what will not work, that is the way of data, also known as DataNazi's path. Now RC is a smart man, and my appreciation for his smartness is next to no one, how ever it is time now for an intervention.
To understand why, consider Indian politics as a game of chess, now as per RC this game follows the usual rules for chess, only thing that matters is what is the position of chess pieces at the time. Position decide the future moves and which piece can take out which one. This means that even though theoretically queen is more powerful than pawn, depending on their positions a pawn can take out a queen. Now as much intelligent as he is, RC is making a fundamental mistake. The usual rules are just the pretense, the real rule of Indian politics is, to paraphrase fight club, there are no rules.
Or to be more precise there is one rule, it is the beefier player, if he is losing, proceeds to knock down his opponent, and then feeds him chess pieces one by one until he concedes the match. Now one may question the need for pretense. Well it is not a perfect analogy, so give me a break , will you?
So my advice for anyone wishing to win this game is 1. Eat Protein 2. Lift weights.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Alternatively Titled The Mechanics Of Political Transformations
This is sort of sequel to "paradigm shift" post.
1. What is ownership? Ownership in this case is not like a teenager owning his room, we know how it goes, but is used in a very restricted sense, that is the idea the people take care of what own to maximize their utility.
2. What ownership means for democracy? The reason, Patron-Client model of democracy is so prevalent in the contemporary polities is this model works great for the interest group which are clients, which is why
a. there is competition between groups for place as a client and b. competition within the grip for slicing the pie favorably. Problem with this is while this is good for specific groups, as a whole it is detrimental to society.
Wherever politics follows this model it can either result in a. tyranny or b. anarchy and disintegration.
On the other hand Ownership model implies that democracy is not as a means to just distribute goodies but to address common issues.
3. How is the ownership model in action ?
In economic there is a concept called tragedy of commons. This is just economicspeak for, "if it belongs to everyone it belongs to no one". In economics most accepted way out of this tragedy is government. In real life however a democratic government itself is a tragedy of commons (because well it belongs to everyone, and no one). Strictly speaking unless there is graft involved governing is not just what it is made out to be. Which is why homo economicus (i.e.rational man) has no way to resolve this dilemma.
Fortunately for humans they are homo sapiens, and due to pressure of nature selection humans have evolved to have means to address this exactly.That means is community. Community at its various level of granularities (from family, to society, to nation, which is an extended community) is responsible for common ownership.
Prevailing social customs are the rules and the protocols which both reinforce the cohesion of community and the means whereby community ensures common ownership. These customs are transferred from generation to generation via tradition and as such are primary component of what we understand by culture.
Which means that in order to promote ownership model, unit of both political authority as well as political mobilization should ideally be community. This could be housing societies or muhallah. Hypothetically it may even be caste, but I am not really fond of it, due to its huge negatives.
Friday, March 12, 2010
In short, I don’t particularly care for it. A more detailed explanation is sure I do believe that the amendment is wrong but that ship sailed long long ago, and right now rests in a galaxy far far away. The other reason for not caring is it doesn’t hurt me personally the way reservations in private sector does, for example. Now it might have hurt me two years ago when I harbored delusion of entering politics despite my numerous personal inadequacies, now that I have reconciled myself to a life of paying my EMI.
Personal opinions aside, I don’t think, that this amendment will be inimical to Indian politics to the extent that Data Nazi does. I should clarify this remark. I do believe that there will be some adverse impact as it will result in election of women which are proxies than election of genuine political activist. Indeed it is difficult to see how the proxies can be worse than the real sponsors (i.e. their father or husbands). In my opinion, the bigger danger to any democratic system and not just Indian is entrenchment of interest groups. A more important point is the due to rotation of seats the incentive of representative to work for constituency will decrease.
This subsequent doesn’t happen in this case. The reason for this is it doesn’t have much of support base. This may come as a surprise because as of this is most prominent issue but this is because it is supported by the right thinking people. I find it difficult to believe that a common woman voter when going to vote will be swayed by this bill, more or less same for a man voter (in all probability the bill have a negative, if slight, effect). Where this bill has huge negative is its impact on political machinery. First it will prevent incumbent male representatives from contesting which will no doubt cause resentment; this can be worked around to some extent with proxies. However most impacted will be activist rising through rank, males will be disappointed with the bar that the amendment places, as it counter intuitive as it may seem most disappointed will be the female activist, because it is they who expect most from the bill, which is when the tickets inevitable go to proxies, it will be their expectation which will be dashed.
All of this could have left our lady of 10 Janpath vulnerable. Could have, because BJP by supporting the bill has squandered the opportunity to exploit what could have been chink in Congress’s armor. It is possible though that regional player can sabotage Congress’s political machinery.
I think it will be useful to clarify previous post. One can take two approaches as far as center right politics is concerned, one purely philosophical and other purely political. Philosophically, center right is libertarianism at its core, now I can argue libertarianism on philosophical grounds, essentially basing my arguments on utilitarianism, even though I am not still clear on the philosophical alternative. As it turns out, thought, I don't need in engage in philosophical arguments, because as far as I am aware, no one in favor of center right has forwarded such arguments in the present context. That leaves us with political argument. What I want is the political argument for this belief (by people who believe centre right politics make for better strategy)
Note: I will update the post in case some one does come with the argument limited to politics. I guess I should mention I have a good idea what the argument will be.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
I don’t want to name names but I confess it is kind of amusing to observe the clamor for being centre-right. So far I have refrained from commenting because well even though it is superficial, I am not someone who antagonizes someone who is on my side (even marginally).
However as insignificant as I am in the blogosphere allow me to intervene. People who are advocating a demarcation between “Global Hindu Activism” and “Centre Right Activism” are engaging and wasting their time in a fool’s errand. Any political ideology which intends to preserve and improve
Hence count me out of centre right bandwagon. I remain, an aspiring political Hindu.
* I simplify, but you get the picture or so I hope.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Despite knowing better, I still get surprised when I happen to encounter blatant media bias such as this
Dismissing India's tradition of religious and cultural pluralism, Rashtriya Swayam- sevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday said, "He who is an Indian is Hindu and he who is not a Indian." [Emphasis Mine]Now while RSS may or may not be subverting "India's tradition of religious and cultural pluralism" elsewhere, it is not doing in this instance. Mohan Bhagwat was trying to make a case for national integration on the bases of shared heritage. Except in the typical muddleheaded manner of RSS apparatchik argue such issues he appealed to etymology. This is what it means, Hindu is a loan word from Persian meaning people living near river Sindhu, similarly India is a loan word from Greece meaning land of river Sindhu, this means Hindu is same as Indian.
Now I don't care much for this argument, (as the argument Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life, which is predictably forwarded by Mohan Bhagwat), but as the saying goes never attribute to malice what you can attribute to stupidity.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
In news that you can’t use M. F Hussain is pained that no one spoke for him when he found himself in unpleasant situation. Yes, you read it right. Apparently the media blitzkrieg launched by self righteous secular liberal establishment was not enough for him. Now far be from me to condone threat of violence against the fossilized artist but that’s not why he left the country. If he was concerned for his safety, a perfectly understandable concern, he could have asked for security and it could have been easily provided to him. All in all I don’t really believe that there was any serious threat to his safety, again this doesn’t not justify threat of violence against him. What happened was both individuals and organizations filed cases against him for disrespect of religion, again one can argue that there shouldn’t be any law restricting freedom of speech on ground of offense to religion, and that is a legitimate argument (though I am of two minds about this), but that doesn’t apply here, as there was no conviction in this case. Now even if people find those filing cases disagreeable, approaching court for grievances is a fundamental legal right, and can not be curtailed. Further while it could have been construed as a case of legal intimidation if he were some aam admi, however he is not one, and he could have easily defended himself in the court. The only reason he didn’t choose to do so is because well, "laws are for little people".
Thus spake doubtinggaurav at 6:44 pm
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
It is a pity that Bhajan became extinct in 80's. I am sorry, what I meant was it is a pity Bhajans didn't die in 80's. Instead they assumed undead existence as paradies of Bollywood music (the main culprit, to no one's surprise, T-Series), but fortunately some Bhajans still managed to be written which could move you.
In the long run we are all Maya.
That’s what the first servant of 10 Janpath really means when he says he is ready to discuss anything, yes anything, even Kashmir with Pakistan. Now if this were glories days of ancient times when the political leadership cared about spine or when the media was not such a word-which-rhymes-with-glitch of the GANDH dynasty (for ref see here), we could have rested peacefully known that these talks were nothing more than handshakes and smiles signifying nothing. This time however, there are reasons to be afraid that the circus that is UPA-II is up to no good, and will end up making up concessions that
Now as unpalatable concessions may be to Hindu Fascist like me, one can grudgingly accept them if there is a return. However this is not going to be the case.
But what should give nightmares to my fellow HF’s is more than throwing away of one or two games to
All the moves that Indian establishment has taken, from policy decision, to statements of intent, are with one objective in sight, to propitiate US. Now there are people who argue this is a legitimate strategy (of course they never call it propitiation) to further Indian interests, a sort of reach around, back scratching, help them us you get the picture, Problem with this is Obama administration has no taste for a protracted involvement in Af-Pak theatre. Indeed the only reason Obama has not already withdrawn is American public doesn’t like losing and doesn’t like the presidents who lose. This only means that
However at this point, I am not sure that MMS even expects any quid pro quo from US. The question then arises why he will do this; well the answer to this is same as answer to the previous quandary. Two factors are at play here, one UPA-|| and that includes MMS, is spineless, and as such, is averse to having to make hard choices. Talking, even though inconsequential, is the safest choice, and they have taken it. Second, for MMS sycophancy is intrinsic part of his political DNA. He has succeeded in his carrier by unceasing sucking up to higher ups, and hence assumes what worked for him personally will also work for
Unfortunately for us, in diplomacy, as in dating, it is important to know when to say stop.
Thus spake doubtinggaurav at 4:56 pm
Monday, March 01, 2010
... but one of the reasons to like Gmail is its awesome interface. How awesome is it, well it's so awesome that I make do without hot keys. Frankly I have no idea, why one will find multiple buttons so objectionable, they are just there to make life easy, man.