Readings: A Few Home Truths for Indians

Dateline: 29th Sept, 2010.
Washington DC.

The US is the world’s most powerful country. That’s clear enough to the casual observer. What should also be clear is that the US does not hesitate to use its power. Very few would disagree that the US does not always use that power responsibly, nor is it always successful in whatever it sets out to do militarily. No nation — even the most successful — is ruled by the infallible and the infinitely wise. Infallibility and infinite wisdom can only be claimed by the dynastic rulers of third world countries such as North Korea and India.

Unlike South Korea, which has rapidly developed (per capita GDP ~US$ 21K), North Korea is a hell-hole (per capita GDP ~US$ 2K.) It was not destined to be one, but it is because it is ruled by a dynasty. Kim Il-sung is the head of the nation. He is the “Eternal President” — the eternal makes sense as he is not going to die — because he is already dead.

Christopher Hitchens correctly identifies North Korea — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the official name — as a ‘necrocracy’, rule by the dead.

Kim Jong-il is the “Supreme Leader” and among the living. But not for long. His son has already started taking decisions and will take over soon. The control passes from father to children to grandchildren. The mismanaged country has the misfortune of being saddled by a family that continues to keep it desperately poor. North Korea is a nuclear power but its people starve.

Reading about North Korea is depressing because it could have been otherwise. The same people — Koreans — are capable of doing things differently. Both got liberated in 1945 but evolved differently.

Note 1945. Just a couple of years before India got “liberated.” Of the two Koreas, India took a path that parallels the northern one. Not in all respects, though. India is much poorer than North Korea. About half as rich as North Korea (and therefore about one-twentieth as rich as South Korea.) Nobody has labeled India a necrocracy but it can easily aspire to that status.

Jawaharlal Nehru appears to be the “Eternal Leader”, and whatever living descendant of the Eternal Leader is the “Dear Leader”. Currently in the pipeline is his great-grandson.

The guy is not particularly bright, nor competent, nor educated, nor accomplished. He is average for his background and upbringing. Born in the lap of luxury, he looks good and is shepherded around by intelligent lackeys whose job is to make him sound good. The guy’s main claim to fame, the sourc of his fortune, his “Dear Leader” position, is predicated entirely on the fact that he probably has inherited an eighth of the “Eternal Leader’s” genes.

I have been to South Korea. It is an impressive country. Did you know that it has the best internet infrastructure in the world? I have not been to North Korea. But I imagine it to resemble India. Crumbling infrastructure; all monuments, places and institutions named after the Eternal Leader and his descendants; an attitude among the desperately poor people that their salvation lies entirely on the Eternal Leader and his family.

India is different from N Korea in one important respect, and which is going to ultimately rescue it from the perdition (loss of soul; eternal damnation) that the Eternal Leader and his family has led it into thus far. India is not yet a police state. That’s the distinction.

Mind you, it is not as if they did not try to make it into one in the past. Indira Gandhi did. Look up “emergency indira” in google. You get 601,000 results. That’s the number of villages that India has. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, the first Mrs Gandhi failed in putting in place a police state. She imprisoned political opponents; they do that in North Korea. The present Mrs Gandhi is putting some effort into the National Unique ID system. Though not a sufficient condition for a police state in the making, it is definitely a necessary one for a modern police state. Of course they won’t call it a “police state” — they call it a “secular, socialistic, people’s republic.”

So what’s the distinction that will save India? It is the freedom of the press. It matters. Sure half of India is illiterate (thanks, Dear Eternal Leader) but a sufficiently large number is capable of reading. By sufficiently large I mean that the number is capable of bringing about change — provided they bother to read, that is.

They have to read to understand what is it that makes India so poor that even a desperately poor country like North Korea beats India in terms of per capita GDP. (Note that GDP and per capita GDP is only a proxy for overall health of a society and is not a perfect measure of well-being.)

I don’t think that Indians in general know how devastating the Eternal Leader and his descendant Dear Leaders have been. The information is out there but they have not read it. Example?

OK, here’s an article from Apr 2007. It is by A Surya Prakash and is published in the Pioneer, the only newspaper that has the cojones to do so. “Home Truths for Rahul Gandhi” is also home truths for Indians who can read. (Hat tip: Shrikant Patil.) Excerpts:

In what is clearly an indictment of PV Narasimha Rao, one of India’s greatest Prime Ministers, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi declared a couple of weeks ago that the Babri Masjid would have been saved if a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family had been in active politics at that time. Though Mr Gandhi has belatedly tried to make some amends, this incident has once again brought to the fore the feudal mindset of members of the Nehru-Gandhi family, their insecurities (which prevent them from acknowledging the contribution of leaders outside their family) and their persistent efforts to distort historical truths.

Since Mr Gandhi has sought to give us a glimpse of what would have been if a member of his family had been at the helm in December 1992, here is a summary of this family’s track record when it did hold the political reins. Let us begin at the beginning. Acting on the advice of Lord Mountbatten, the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, gave Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel the task of integrating all the 565 princely states in the Indian Union. Even as Sardar Patel set about his task, Nehru, in a display of pettiness typical of this family, moved “Kashmir Affairs” from the Department of States to the Ministry of External Affairs, which was under his charge. Patel executed his responsibility in a clinical and ruthless manner and successfully completed the gigantic task of stitching together 564 princely states into the Indian Union. Nehru took on the responsibility of integrating one princely state (Jammu & Kashmir) and we all know the consequence – this has remained India’s most problematic State for the last 60 years.

But Nehru’s Kashmir blunders did not end here. In October 1947, Pakistan sent in thousands of heavily armed tribesmen into Jammu & Kashmir in a bid to capture it by force. After Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession, the Indian Army marched in and began pushing back the intruders who had captured Baramulla and cut off power supply to Srinagar. Even as our gallant soldiers were driving out the intruders, Nehru cried halt to the Army operation and, much against the advice of Sardar Patel, took the fateful decision to lodge a complaint against Pakistan before the United Nations Security Council on January 1, 1948.

With this single act, Nehru demoralised the Army (which wanted just a few more days to throw out the intruders), allowed Pakistan to retain 30,000 square miles of illegally occupied territory in Jammu & Kashmir and internationalised the Kashmir issue. So, while Nehru made a mess of the Kashmir issue, Patel coaxed, cajoled or bamboozled recalcitrant princes like the Nizam of Hyderabad and a couple of pro-Pakistan princes on the Gujarat coast to fall in line and accede their territories to India. But for Patel’s firmness, we would have lost Hyderabad and the coastal areas of Gujarat to Pakistan in1948 itself and Hyderabad, in the words of the Sardar, would have become an “undigested lump” in India’s belly.

Let us now examine the report card of another member of this family – Mrs Indira Gandhi.

That’s over three years old, but it is still relevant — especially in light of the impending court decision on the Ayodhya Mandir/masjid issue. I urge you to print it out to hand it to those family and friends who don’t read stuff on their computers.

India is worse than North Korea in some respects. It could have been where North South Korea is today. If only, lord if only, India had had good policies. India is actually a weak nation. It gets attacked by Pakistan in officially declared wars and in the eternal jihad that its religious ideology mandates on it.

When India gets attacked, the UPA — a governing coalition of parties that is headed by the Congress party of the Eternal Leader — whines to the US. The same US which has anointed Pakistan a “non-NATO allay” of the US; the same US which has gifted some $20 billion in aid (humanitarian and “anti-humanitarian” aka military aid) since Sept 2001.

The same Pakistan which supplies the manpower for the global jihad. The US and Saudi Arabia do the funding, and Pakistan supplies the labor. (Just BTW, the US has recently sold Saudi Arabia weapons worth $60 billion.)

The US loves Pakistan — but not when the money it supplies for jihad comes back to the US. Bob Woodward in the Washington Post:

Jones and Panetta had gone to Pakistan to tell Zardari that [the US administration] wanted four things to help prevent a terrorist attack on U.S. soil: full intelligence sharing, more reliable cooperation on counterterrorism, faster approval of visas for U.S. personnel traveling to Pakistan and, despite past refusals, access to airline passenger data.

If, God forbid, the SUV had blown up in Times Square, Jones told Zardari, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Should a future attempt be successful, [the US administration] would be forced to do things that Pakistan would not like. “No one will be able to stop the response and consequences,” the security adviser said. “This is not a threat, just a statement of political fact.”

Jones did not give specifics about what he meant. The [US]administration had a “retribution” plan, one of the most sensitive and secretive of all military contingencies. The plan called for bombing about 150 identified terrorist camps in a brutal, punishing attack inside Pakistan.

The US does not pussy-foot around when it comes to terror attacks on its soil. Note that Jones and Panetta “wanted four things to help prevent terrorist attack on US soil.” Terror attacks on Indian soil is not a big deal. Then the US asks India to show restraint. I don’t fault the US for this. The US does what is in its own interest. The party at fault is India.

Actually it is more accurately the fault of Indian leaders. They couldn’t care less about Indians being the victim of Islamic terrorism. First of all, they don’t suffer, only the “mango man” does. The leaders go about with their xyz level security.

Second, they don’t suffer at the voting booth. Indians appear to be supremely indifferent to the sufferings of others. As long as they are not directly affected, they go about their routine business. They don’t take to the streets demanding that the government take out the terrorist cells in the country. They don’t even bother to vote the callous incompetent politicians out. They just go about their business, watching NDTV, Bollywood and crap like that.

Finally, the government does not want to alienate its most precious vote bank. Manmohan Singh cannot even bring himself to hang Islamic terrorists like Kasab. The appointed prime minister Manmohan Singh is so weak and spineless that a convicted terrorists gets to live comfortably instead of hanging. The UPA feels that if they hang Islamic terrorists, the Muslims of India will be unhappy. This is probably the most insulting charge that can be made against innocent Muslims in India: that they identify with Islamic terrorists and against India’s national interest. Why the innocent Muslims in India continue to vote for the Congress after this sort of gratuitous insults at them is an interesting topic that is not explored enough.

The home truth for Indians is that India gets attacked by the terrorists because India does not respond to terrorism. The reason it does not respond to terrorism is, I think, due to someone who is even greater than Eternal Leader. He is “Great Leader with the Great Soul”.

The GLGS appears to have made it mandatory and compulsory for Indians to “turn the other cheek” and convinced them “that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.” Astounding mind-numbing stupidity and pious nonsense doesn’t come in more compact packages.

The Indian masses go about as placidly as cows (a large number of whom actually worship cows) being led to the slaughter house. And that’s as important a home truth as any that Indians need to learn.

Correction: In the above, I made the mistake of comparing North Korea’s per capita GDP (PPP) with India’s per capita GDP (Nominal). I stand corrected. See my comment in response to Mohit’s comment.

Author: Atanu Dey


32 thoughts on “Readings: A Few Home Truths for Indians”

  1. Sad but true.

    I think we all know the answer:

    1. Vote wisely (perhaps as a block).

    2. Spread good ideas.

    3. Provide leadership.

    I think the third one is the biggest gap, which actually catalyzes the first two as well. Because, even among the visible leaders of national stature, there aren’t very many who are a good replacement for the reigning scoundrels. This is where well meaning Indians (like you and me) need to take some risks and provide the leadership needed. Hoping that our combined voices will act as “natural selection” of good leaders is only part of the solution.


  2. Well, GLGS did not want thousands of people dead in independence struggle. His only mistake made was leaving the formation of government to the incompetent. At least that is what I think
    Even with a strong middle class population, most of them with some education, if we cannot change our leaders and thereby our fate, then nobody can help us


  3. Extremely well put, even by your usually high standards of writing. The comparison with North Korea and the Dear Eternal Leader is most fitting.

    A person many of us have admired, Sam Harris, in “The End of Faith” made the substantive point that religious moderates are the “bearers of a terrible dogma – they imagine that the path to peace will be paved once each of us has learned to respect the unjustified beliefs of others.” He squarely blames these moderates for stupidly perpetuating “man’s inhumanity to man”.

    The Harris viewpoint – treating those who tolerate the status-quo of a bad situation as a guilty party – is completely applicable to the Indian ‘intelligentsia’, barring a paltry few we can count on the withered fingers of one brown hand.

    Last weekend, I learnt about an incident in 2007 involving an anonymous IAS officer from the Karnataka cadre, prime minister Manmohan SIngh, home minister Chidambaram and The Dear Eternal Neta ™ Jawaharlal Nehru. I don’t remember it being covered on your blog, but here is what happened.

    This anonymous IAS officer wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister that got published in The Mint. It was a succinct and accurate charge sheet of Manmohan’s utter ineffectiveness betraying a lack of both spine and leadership. (A link to the letter in its entirety is available here.) The BJP raked up the issue and ultimately Chidambaram exhorted in parliament: “… I have read the article. I do not know whether the name of that author given in that article is a true name or a pseudo name. I do not know whether he is an IAS officer. All I know is either he is a disloyal officer or a coward or both. If he had the courage, he should write the letter, sign in his own name and send it to the Prime Minister….”

    The editor of The Mint did not let Chidambaram get away with it. He had a brilliant response, which included a reminder to the Home Minister: “In November 1937, the Modern Review, then India’s most well-regarded journal of opinion, published an article on Jawaharlal Nehru written by Chanakya, an obvious pseudonym. The author hit out at Nehru’s latent dictatorial tendencies and his “intolerance for others and a certain contempt for the weak and inefficient”. Its author warned: “Jawaharlal might fancy himself as a Caesar.” There were howls of protest from loyalists until it was revealed much later that Nehru himself was the author of this piece.” That caused Chidambaram and his cronies to shut-up on the matter.

    You have just this blog, but keep hammering away and I wish you become the Indian Émile Zola with your J’Accuse.


  4. Atanu, you come across as an gnarled, grouchy, cranky professor. As long as you talk of your core competence, economics,in your posts such as how the two Koreas diverged post-1945 or the spherical cow,you make a lot of sense and I admire your clarity of writing.

    But when you start going after the Gandhi family, you resemble a fulminating old man with spittle dripping at the corners.It takes away all your scholarship and eloquence and blinds you to reason.I am the first to agree that we are no superpower (not even in the making) but a billion plus Indians are not and are unlikely to be as docile as the long suffering North Koreans. Witness the various struggles in parts of India (Maoists vs big projects,Jats for reservations,people vs SEZs etc.).Whether these movements are justified are not is debatable. But implying that all Indians are slaves of the Gandhi dynasty is, well, a typical Hitchensian view. Like saying all Indians defecate only in the street and nowhere else. But then Hitchens doesn’t have a good word to say about anything or anyone. Almost like you.


  5. @SV

    Looks like you have same problem that Atanu is trying to explain about GLGS. We just do not want to think that he was wrong in many ways. Of course we would never forgive someone who sleeps naked with girls these days but somehow we manage to forgive GLGS for such things.. And most of these is because of the books which Congress complained.

    @ Sudhir

    If you are regular reader of this blog , you would know that Atanu loves this topic 🙂 ..and for sure he exaggerates the problem but how convenient you were to NOT mention a single concrete thing which will throw away these assessment of Gandhi family..

    oh sorry my bad we read same book and listened to same crap about how Neharu and Gandhi gave us the freedom


    This blog is more about complaints and less about solutions though. Wouldn’t identifying our problem be just first step and there is long way to go after that .. you kind of seem stuck on first step only ..just like those 120 crores fellows. And this to me is bigger problem .. We all know the problems , no one seems to dare to be on street to start working on the solution.


  6. @Sudhir

    “Indians are not and are unlikely to be as docile as the long suffering North Koreans.”

    I think having seen the remotest and backwards parts of India, they are in a worse shape than North Korea.

    I think Atanu says the truth. It is interesting, the headlines about North Korea recently in the international papers were to the effect that the current leader cares more about his family than country by appointing the son as successor? Is this not true of the Gandhi dynasty as well?

    As for being pessimistic about India, it is hard not to be utterly pessimistic living there if one has seen the rest of the developed world to compare and is not a frog living in a well. Truth is hard for placid Indians to swallow, and these are the same kind who accuse people of being pessimistic when they speak the truth. How can one not be extremely pessimistic about a country that has made no progress in the sixty years of independence and is a major embarrassment to the world, housing the largest numbers of hungry and illiterate, four times it had at independence? It is not pessimistic to say India has headed the wrong way since independence which is almost irreversible and has made no progress since independence if one is to go by numbers.


  7. People should read Gandhi’s autobiography. The man speaks for himself. One really does not need to read anything other than his own words. I was utterly repelled by it. The self-consciousness and complexes, the obsession with diet and sex ( in the sense of obsession with trying to be pure, which struck me as quite perverse) I found repellent. Certainly not a leader I would ever want to follow. This is not to debase his achievements and his determination. He seems to have been a determined man, thats all.


  8. @Rohit
    I am neither a card carrying saffron sadhu nor a Congress wala with a Gandhi topi.I just find it astounding that all problems in post-1947 India are blamed on one family. The other 300-400 million people had nothing to say, is it?

    If Nehru foisted Fabian socialism and the heights of the command-control economy on India, what were the rest -his opponents in the Congress,the SP Mukherjees and others- doing? Wasn’t there a Bombay club of industrialists inlcuding JRD Tata who supported the mixed economy model- primarily to safeguard their turf and keep out competition? When Indira Gandhi nationalized banks and dissolved privy purses in 1969, weren’t the erstwhile princes and nawabs planning an electoral campaign to win and turn the clock back to the cushy pre-1947 situation of princely states?

    Post-1991, the situation on the ground (as pointed by @Larissa) has changed little. The licence raj was dismantled to increase the country’s competetiveness. It has, to a limited extent, but now you have crony capitalism where again the Bombay Club’s equivalent keeps out new entrants or imposes barriers to new entrants in the market place. If the shabby, shit-laced CWG is the epitome of the public sector’s (read Nehru-Gandhi dynasty) ineptitude and corruption, the glittering and sleazy IPL symbolises the new licence raj. Can you compete for a franchise even if you had 3000 crores? No,not unless Modi (suspended!) or his synonym has told you the exact price to bid and whom to co-opt in your team. That in a nutshell, is the non-Gandhi, non-Nehru, non-socialist economy we now have.

    There is only one reason why the Gandhis came back to power in 2004 and won again in 2009. They are seen to be secular as opposed to communal like the BJP.Indians (all religions) are willing to tolerate corupption (as in chalta hai CWG) but hate it when there are riots and constant needling of the minorities as happened in the Vajpayee years. Plus the Gandhis, as you can see,are wooing the rural population with Rajiv Gandhi schemes, because those are the people that vote. Ever thought why they never turn up on NDTV, IBN etc? Because the people who watch those channels don’t vote.


  9. Atanu is obsessed with Gandhi family. Thats true.

    But then, when I am unable to ride freely because of congested traffic, unable to find myself a home because of cheating builders, unable to get good education because there aren’t good institutions, pay bribes to get any small thing done even if I am abiding all laws, cant get a good reliable internet connection; I can only trace the roots of this problem to Congress party and their Holy Family.

    I always feel surprised why everyone doesn’t feel the same. Why everyone is not upset with things that are going wrong all around us. I guess thats because we are docile and submissive.


  10. @Atanu

    I understand your frustrations but disagree with most of what you said in this post.

    1) The difference between the Gandhi family (not a big fan myself) and the Kim dynasty of North Korea is that the Gandhi family is always voted in by the people. The only thing they could do to not remain in power is not stand for elections! It’s a little unfair on your part to take the Gandhis to task for mistakes of the common man.

    2) India is not the USA. We don’t have the kind of military power that US has. We can’t afford to go bombarding countries and get away with it. And even if we can, do you really think that’s a great option? The US has more enemies than friends in this world. And even after practically destroying two countries, there are more people in this world wanting to attack the US than there are wanting to attack India.

    True, we should not rely on the Americans to solve our problems with Pakistan and true we need to take a stronger stance on this issue but I have no doubt whatsoever that diplomacy is the only solution for our problems. I especially liked Krishna’s reply to Qureshi in the UN yesterday. That’s the way to go about it, I think!


  11. @Rohit
    I am neither a card carrying leftist,saffron sadhu nor a Congress wala with a Gandhi topi. I am simply astounded by Atanu’s premise that all of India’s troubles can be laid at at the Gandhi dynasty’s door. Sure, he is entitled to his hobby horse but that does not mean it makes any sense.

    When Nehru decided to foist Fabian socialism and the heights of a command-control economy on India post-1947, why were his ideological opponents sleeping? Didn’t the Bombay Club of industrialists
    including JRD Tata endorse the mixed economy to protect their turf and keep our competition? In other words, other parties had no ideas to offer, Nehru faced little opposition and even his harshest critic cannot say that Nehru was intolerant of criticism. The outcome- India did industrialise – steel plants,HMT/HAL,BHEL,ONGC etc- and that eventually formed the basis of India’s current growth rate(the Hindu rate of GDP growth would never have scaled up to the 8-9% today without those public sector behemoths providing the industrial base).

    I can’t agree with you more when you say “We all know the problems , no one seems be working on the solution.” Because the solution lies in entrepeneurship and risk taking and new ideas.Blaming dynasties doesn’t help. Might as well blame the Mughals for creating the Ayodhya problem and the Windsors-Tudors for their colonial exploitation, that is why we are like this only.

    You don’t like paying bribes. Then don’t. Get upset,rave, rant, draw atention to the atyachaar around you. Use every social media tool available. Take a picture or a video of the bribe taker and make an MMS.Don’t take the easy way out and blame it only on the Gandhi dynasty. Do blame the generation before yours whose legacy is the chalta hai atitude.


  12. lastly dont forget atanu , that people get the government they deserve, usa is powerful but a declining one and bombing pakistan is just a hype,they know the terrible consequences of bombing pakistan,it would be to the americans from frying pan into the is pakistan not afghanistan that gives usa sleepless nights.pakistan has got america by its balls,and both know that sense pakistan is quite clever,it get all kinds of grants from usa without asking.
    if usa was so powerful it should have got bin laden, resolved north korea,iran etc.yemen is another area of big concern to usa.
    even a country like burma snubs usa.usa has gots its plate full.


  13. someone asked :” give us the solution atanu; dont talk about problems.”

    well. there is solution. throw out kaangress. make NaMo the leader of india for 20 yrs ( yes, thats how long it will take to clean gandhi mess) and we’ll be on our way..



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  15. Allright? What you have to say about this -> India is among the top 3 powerful nations in the world in spite of such difficulties..?
    Its very easy to point out mistakes by collecting some facts from all over, by visiting some countries because you want to see the bads rather than goods and by reading some meaningless PHD’s thesis..but it actually takes a life to realize what it takes to eradicate even the simplest problems people face, especially in an enormous country like ours (India).. US is powerful but also the most unethical country who can do anything to win..India is powerful, but it is always ethical and still wins.. every country cant be like US and YES, US can never be like India…


  16. India is powerful, but it is always ethical and still wins..

    This has got to be the biggest joke ever! India is ethical? You know my Persian friend was saying that some Afghans he knew who had lived in India were shocked by the poverty. And we all know Afghanistan is a hell hole, but even they were not used to seeing such levels of poverty. Poverty in India is unlike anything you see elsewhere except perhaps in Africa. Most civilized countries have eradicated things like begging which is a ninteenth century phenomenon now for advanced countries: most of the homeless you see in developed countries are mental cases. In India you have people born on the streets and dying on the streets. If India were an ethical country it would not have the largest numbers of poor and illiterate in terms of numbers anywehre in the world. I think you ought to rid yourself of illusions. It is culture also, not just politics which determines a success of a society. If anything, India is a sick society. And most Indians are unable to even acknowledge the sickness. Politics is just the manifestation of the culture of a peoples.


  17. India is among the top 3 powerful nations in the world in spite of such difficulties..?

    Where did you get such statistics? The fact that a nation has a few more billionaires and 80% of people living on less than 2 dollars a day does not make it a powerful nation in any way. India is still an international embarrassment with little children with distended bellies walking around like in Africa. If India were to go to war with China, it would be quashed in a humiliating way, most placid Indians with illusions of grandeur do not seem to realize this: about thirty years ago the two nations had about the same GDP. I think you better read more newspapers than the Times or India or whichever papers it is you get your info from and the absurd statistics from. India is a whimpy nation that cannot deal with much anything, cannot even organize a simple sporting event without being ridiculed in all the major international newspapers: the sooner Indians realize this, then they might be able to do something and end their cow like attitude and acceptance of the statue quo.


  18. fuck off dude….are u even in india? people who dont participate and shed their share of sweat should not point fingers…wat the fuck do u know abt anindia ur not in…depressing ass holes…comparing india to north korea …. just becos all indians do not fit ur conception does not mean we are doomed to eternal hell…

    leave it… just dont comment abt wat u dont know…and if u care..come and stay here and contribute to here… for democracy is not made by leaders…but by citizens


  19. Atanu,
    Although I have no love lost for the “phemili”, I do think you used good amount of reductionism in equating India with North Korea. There is a difference: the veneer of democracy and it is an important one.

    Every ruling system creates a layer of elites. Given the way modern society is most responsible tasks in administration (like finance, defense, foreign policies etc.) require skill set that an individual has to spend considerable portion of his life to acquire it. However, individual ruling systems (like democracy, aristocracy, theocracy, military Junta) differ in how it would select it’s elites.

    Democracy promises that any commoner if elected, should be able to walk into the office and would be able acquire these skills so fast that they can serve their people and make a difference within few years. All of us know how well that works. Under the elected leaders there exist another group who spend their lives in acquiring the skills that the elected group may find useful. Obviously, the weaker or stupider is the elected politician, the more powerful and less accountable is these elites who get actual work done (like the IAS officers in our case). Successful democracies (mostly in the west) succeeds in creating a system where the elites who get the job done can have a steady supply of able men and come from various backgrounds (not just a few family). Examples are various think tanks in USA and how they impact various policy directions such as foreign policy.

    Our democracy succeeded in replacing all layers of governance with family legacy. Do not believe me? Look at how many top bureaucrat in Delhi has family relations with various politicians; Or investigate how many Indian Army officers actually come from families where none was in the army before; or how many IAS officers who do not know a IAS officer get placed in “good” embassies. It is these combined family legacies that give legitimacy to the one “phemili” headed by the daughter of a former fascist.

    In case of North Korea, it is actually better. The first family is not legitimized by layers of families of the elites. It stands on the basis of army power, the day army finds a way out, the family would be taken down. In our case, taking the family down means unwinding the family legacy in every other departments. A really tough job. We need to invest more effort to remove this family than North Koreans would ever need to eliminate Kim’s son.


  20. Atanu, the problem isn’t just difficult to solve, there appears to be no short- to mid-term solution at all. This business of voting out the useless corrupt leaders and voting in the good guys has been going on since independence. Problem is that today, there are no good guys.

    Ok, vote congress out, who comes in? Some ‘umble farmer like Deve Gowda (god forbid) as PM? The CPI? Someone like the gangster Babloo Srivastava? One of the Shiv-Sena style parties?

    Forget the PM level, find me one person at a state or town level who is clean and honest, and is allowed to do his job by the bloodsuckers around him. I can bet this Mr. Clean will be sidelined at every stage and finally will land up in a position that commands absolutely no power. Now tell me about how this will work at the national level.

    The second problem I see is the lack of education. The majority of the vote banks are easily brainwashed or persuaded by petty promises and bribes. There is no concept of thinking beyond selfish needs such as “my caste, my community, my language, my religion and my state”. This divisive mindset is actively cultivated by the political parties to squeeze the vote banks. Any effort to broaden peoples’ vision and outlook and to think about the nation as a whole would most likely result in problems for the parties themselves.

    What they need is dumb, subservient idiots whose votes can easily be bought.

    I am not saying it is excusable, but decades of dirty corrupt politics have alienated educated middle class people to such an extent that a large number don’t even bother to vote, the apathy has set in, and we are in a deep morass.

    I disagree with you on one point. Indians are not “supremely indifferent” to sufferings. The corruption, nepotism and the rot has gone so deep into the system, every aspect of the country is caught in its tentacles, no amount of protests on the streets will change anything. The only thing that may help is 20 years of rule by a far-sighted party with visionary leaders who have the country’s best interests at heart, none of which can be found in this country.


  21. Just a thought : this blog is (recently) NOT about constructive ideas which lead to *Development* but to point what is wrong. Can the blog title be more pertinent?


    1. Sriram,

      The better one understands the problem, the solution becomes that much better. There’s a trade off — more time understanding the problem means less required for totally fixing it. I believe that the analysis of the situation requires a frank admission that the situation exists at all. Also that if one fully understands the problem, then the solution becomes trivially obvious.

      Development is a process the beginning of which is the realization that things are not as good as they can be. In the next step we ask why, then what should be done, and finally how. Our intervention has to be based on understanding as much as on the desire to improving the situation.

      There are too many monkeys working too hard saving fish from drowning by putting them up on trees.

      This blog is about solutions. The problems come in all shapes and sizes. But their genesis can be traced to a small set of interrelated causes. That I have explored on this blog and then proceeded to propose solutions. For reference, please check our a March 2010 entry “Ideas for India.

      I don’t always categorize my blog posts, but some of posts which deal with solutions I put them in the “Solutions” category.


  22. “The only thing that may help is 20 years of rule by a far-sighted party with visionary leaders who have the country’s best interests at heart, none of which can be found in this country.”

    The system also seems to crush honest people who have integrity.

    Its not just the politicians but the people as well. I remember there was an upright BJP guy in Himanchal who wanted to institute the rule that bureaucrats will get paid if they really show up to work? What happened? He was voted out, before he could implement such a rule. The people are as bad as the politicians.
    Demorcacy in India has simply unleashed the rule by the nastiest types of human beings: the whole system is rotten from top bottom. I think only a man with iron discipline who commands authority as a result of integrity has to literally “whip” the nation into discipline. This is not going to happen in India. No one wants to follow: everyone wants to lead: this is what happens in a corrupt democracy: the sense of command and discipline is destroyed, and when the top is corrupt, obedience has no meaning. The only solution I see is a strong leader, who will make “stern” choices to completely overhaul the status quo: this is not going to happen.
    So you have the intelligent, educated middle class completely alienated from what democracy in India represents, and indeed what modern day India represents. They feel powerless because they do not control the direction of the country. There can be no sense of command and obedience when the state does not represent anything worth being loyal to: it is loyalty to the the culture at large on the part of private citizens which is what makes anything good happen in India so far, and which makes Indians want to give anything to the country,


  23. China is to be the second richest nation according to Financial Times today.
    And India? The population is forecasted to reach 2 billion in a few decades! Then I guess it will be way too crowded to live there as it already is in the urban areas. Not kidding! So it will increase its misery (i.e. poverty and illiteracy) since indepencence by eightfold with the population increase, judging by what India has accomplished in the last sixy years! How sad it all is, and the Indian media is mum on such dangers! Someone has to do a seriousl study on how much India has achieved since independence, judging from population numbers, the progress is null, as population growth nullifies all progress at least in terms of numbers.
    Did anyone see the new cover of the Economist in which it says India will outdo China? What is the economist smoking? It might not like China, as China does not care what anyone thinks about it and is concerned to reach its full potential, that does not mean economist has to keep rehashing the same stories it has been publishing since 2007!
    Its sad China is launching forward to reach full potential, while India is heading backwards in every sector it seems.


  24. nice article but india being half as rich as north korea is false. India’s Per Capita GDP is USD 1080 in 2009 as compared to North Korea’s Per Capita GDP in 2008. Considering North Korea’s PC GDP dint shoot up to double in just a year India clearly is way ahead north korea (and way behind south korea!) MAYBE YOU JUST UNDERESTIMATED INDIA WAY TOO MUCH!


    1. Mohit,

      Thanks for the comment. I made the mistake of comparing the per capita GDP in PPP for North Korea with India’s per capita GDP (not PPP) terms. What I should have done is to compare the nominal per capita GDP for the two countries. According to the Wikipedia, the numbers are $1,031 for India and $1,244 for North Korea. I regret the error but my essential point remains that India is at least on one count worse off than North Korea.

      Just by the way, I find the whole notion of PPP very suspect. It does not make sense to me at all. Therefore I avoid using it for comparisons between countries.


  25. @Mohit
    I have a contention: North Korea, being a communist (at least for an outsider), it may not have HUGE income disparity which we have. So, if one takes statistical *mode* (as opposed to *mean*) of indian household incomes, the Per capita could be way lower for a large segment? Just a thought



  26. @Sriram

    I would rather attribute the divide to Population and various other factors. We can see such a huge difference amongst our population because of a very huge population. Compare us to China and we will be less divided. If you compare Shanghai with some small Chinese village you’ll get the point. And above all i would like to have at least few riches instead of no riches!(INDIVIDUAL OPINION)



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