Back to IIT Kanpur

So I am off today to one of my alma maters. IIT Kanpur where I studied computer science a life-time ago.

I am contributing to a volume called “India Infrastructure Report” which will be published later this year by Oxford Univ Press. This year the focus is on rural infrastructure. I am going to IIT Kanpur to be at the writers’ workshop where we will sit and review the first draft of all the contributors.

My contribution is simple. RISC. More about it later.

PS: Getting to IIT Kanpur is hard. Flights from Mumbai to Delhi, then Delhi to Lucknow, and then a car ride from Lucknow to Kalyanpur where IIT Kanpur is located. Wish me luck since the security will no doubt put me on edge.

Profiting from Terrorism

Public Radio International (PRI) program “Open Source with Christopher Lydon” of July 19th is called “A Class Profile of India“. The guests on the show were Pankaj Mishra, Suketu Mehta, and yours truly.

India, according to Messers M&M, is a mess.

And it appears that the mess can be traced to the problem that there is a segment of the population which is doing absolutely fabulously and there is a huge segment of the population which is absolutely miserable. And the outcome of this disparity between the standards of living of these two classes: It is terrorism.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, economic disparity in India is to blame for the bombs that killed 207 commuters and maimed over a thousand.

Not just that, according to Mr Mishra, Hindus are to blame for the 1993 terrorism in India and indeed all terrorism. Hindus systematically kill Muslims and then there is a reaction in which “militants” bomb innocent people. The words “pogrom” is used often. Worse, it appears only the number of Muslims killed matter and just to drive home the point, the numbers are tripled.

Mr Mishra has a sturdy disdain for numbers and data, when it does not suit his thesis. So he is very happy to use numbers such as “400 million live on less than 1 dollar a day” but he dismisses data on the real growth in per capita income across the board (though the upper income deciles have gained more than the gain to the lower deciles) as just a lot of “fiddling with numbers.”

The show was slanted to tar India with a very wide brush. Mishra had his line pat. He deliberately mis-characterized Islamic terrorism acts as those arising from economic injustice. What his thesis essentially boils down to is that the poor are rebelling against the rich and that is what explains the terrorism of 11th July.

If I were a poor person in India, I would be insulted and offended by his thesis. The poor do have a right to rebel against injustice but Mishra is not doing them a favor by accusing them of using terrorism and wholesale murder to make their case.

I have more to say but for now I am too incensed to write coherently.

Yes, one does profit from terrorism. If you can spin terrorists bombs as acts of justice against an oppressive Hindu majority, you get invited to write op-eds and appear on talk shows in the US and other rich countries.