That’s the question that my friend CJ asked me. I don’t know, I replied. I am not a Gandhian. We were discussing yesterday’s bomb blast in the reception area of the Delhi High Court which left as of last count 11 dead and scores injured.
“I don’t know. I am not a Gandhian. And anyway, why does it matter?” I said.
“That’s the problem. You don’t understand that Gandhi matters. It matters so hugely that merely belonging to the Gandhi family is the surest road to power and riches in India,” said CJ.
“I don’t get the connection between terrorist attacks and what would Gandhi do. CJ,” I said, “it’s just not relevant. Gandhi just doesn’t enter into the picture here.”
“That’s where you are mistaken. Gandhi and being a Gandhian is central to what India is, it is central to what happens in India, it is important to what people do. Understand Gandhi and you will understand what is, what will be, and what to do.”
“CJ, you get full marks for hyperbole and exaggeration. Now can we move on? I think that the government of India is incompetent and someone must be made to pay for the terrorists attack. There are people in charge of security and for making policies for public safety, and for addressing terrorism. I think the best way would be this. After any terrorist attack, make those at the highest level responsible for policy and security feel the pain.
“My recommendation is public flogging. I wrote a blog post about it some years ago. Here let me show you. See this post from March 2006, “Terrorism, the way out.”
The people whose business it is to do their utmost to ensure security fail to do their job and the people suffer as a consequence of that ineptitude. All they do after a terrorist attack is to make a bunch of ineffectual and inane statements, and don’t feel motivated to prevent future attacks with any vigor nor make the terrorist pay. Why? Because they don’t feel the pain.
Pain matters. If due to some neurological injury, you were to stop feeling pain, you could be in dire danger. Pain signals that the body is injured and that steps need to be taken to mitigate the threat and to take appropriate action to heal the already damaged part.
Terrorism threatens the body of the society and damages it. It is when the pain of the terrorism inflicted wound does not reach what constitutes the “brain” of the society – the policy makers who control the mechanisms that can prevent terrorist acts and can respond appropriately when they do happen – that society is in danger. The solution is therefore simple: the brain has to know that it will feel the pain if and when injury occurs to the body. Only then will the brain be motivated to seek appropriate mechanisms for stopping terrorists, and be prepared to deal forcefully with terrorists if it does occur.
Dr Manmohan Singh and the leader of the Government of India, Ms Sonia Gandhi, would never feel the pain of terrorism. A thousand – or even a million – Indians could perish at the hands of terrorists without having the least effect on those leaders. At most their security will be strengthened a bit more, more public funds will be spent on getting them more black commandoes as bodyguards, more road and air traffic disrupted when they travel, more citizens will be inconvenienced to protect the leaders from terrorists. The leaders will never be inconvenienced to protect the people, however.
Is there a way out? An economist would respond, “Yes, get the incentives right.” My proposal is to create the mechanism which would transmit the pain of terrorism to the leaders. In a sense, I advance the creation of a nervous system that carries the pain signals to the brain. The incentive mechanism I propose involves public flogging but is not limited to that.
After every terrorist attack, the Prime Minister, the head of the government (if not the same as the PM), the Home Minister (who is in charge of security), the police chief in whose jurisdiction the incident occurs, and the Defense Minister should be publicly flogged, with the number of lashes equal to the number of deaths, within two weeks of the incident. So for the Varanasi terrorist attack, Dr Singh, Ms Sonia Gandhi and the others listed above (I don’t know their identities) should be flogged by 21st of March in the courtyard of the Rastrapati Bhavan.
Aside from the public flogging, the other measure would be to fine them 1 percent of their wealth for every 100 deaths. This means, after 10,000 deaths under their watch, they will have all their wealth confiscated.
What would this accomplish? Firstly, it would put the fear of the lash into them. They would have the incentive to actually reduce the chances of terrorists succeeding. For instance, right now they would for political reasons molly-coddle Islamic preachers sermonizing the slaughter of infidels. Or they may be considering increasing the number of buses and trains between India and Pakistan. Or they may be advocating more porous borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. When they know that these measures will increase the incidence of fatal terrorists attacks, they will not be so careless with the lives the citizens.
Second, the fines will help with the compensation to the families of the victims of terror attacks. Indian leaders have enormous wealth – from foreign gun deals, from cattle feed, from handing out licenses and permits, and from dipping extremely sticky fingers into the public till. Some of that wealth could be given back to the people.
Insult to their dignity and their behinds combined with injury to their pockets will work wonders.
CJ smiled. “That sort of policy of transmitting pain to the politicians will be implemented the day Indians realize that Manmohan Singh is a despicably dishonest man, which of course will be the day after hell freezes over. Let’s get back to reality. What would Gandhi do? Answer me that.”
“I don’t know, I told you before. It’s idiotic to insist on what would Gandhi do. To the best of my knowledge and understanding, Gandhi’s methods didn’t work and so it makes no sense to ask what he would do in such as case,” I said.
“What do you mean ‘Gandhi’s method did not work’?”
“The cruelest of all the delusions that Indians collectively suffer has to be the one that Gandhi’s ‘non-violence’ movement was responsible for India’s ‘independence’ from foreign rule. It is the cruelest because that delusion more than anything else keeps Indians from even attempting to seek comprehensive freedom and escape from the tyranny of kakistocratic governments,” I said.
“Yes but you got one thing wrong. Your definition of freedom is not the same as the majority of Indians. For them, what Gandhi did was responsible for what they got. And indeed they are right because Gandhi was indeed responsible for what India ended up becoming — a country of people who are ruled by a government of the most corrupt people you will ever find on earth.
“Gandhi was India’s most powerful political figure and he shaped India’s destiny by dictating India’s character and by forcing upon the country as his successor a man who completely buried India’s potential under a mountain of Marxist bullshit.
“Gandhi was without doubt responsible for India’s independence. The problem with you is that your definition of independence is different from Gandhi’s. You believe that comprehensive freedom is important. You want economic freedom, personal freedom, real political freedom. Well, my dear friend, you are the one who is deluded. Indians don’t want that. They want the Gandhi brand of freedom. And he gave it to them. He gave it to them and they got it good and hard.
“Indians want a kakistocratic government. Why else do you think that they routinely elect the most corrupt and the least principled as political leaders? Do you think that evil forces from abroad force Indians at gun point to elect the dishonest and the incompetent? Do you realize that Indians vote in regular elections?” CJ said.
“I think you are leaning too much on the past, CJ. We are talking of present day reality and you are dragging in Gandhi. Is he still relevant?” I asked.
“Surely you cannot be so dense. I know you are not a news junkie but you must have realized that Gandhi is still relevant because his tactics work — even today. Anna Hazare, one of the star performers in the three-ring circus as you put it in a blog post, is widely recognized as a Gandhian. Like Gandhi, Hazare’s argument was simple: Do as I insist or else I am going to starve myself to death.
“You can see it for what it is, can’t you? It is the exercise of private power over public discussion. That private power arises from a cult of personality. Indian democracy — indeed Indian public discourse — is about personalities. The most powerful personality was Gandhi, and continues to be. Even if you share the last name of some powerful person, you get to step up and be worshiped by the faithful. All you have to do to push your agenda is to don the cloak of Gandhian righteousness. It is hardly if ever a contest of ideas. When push comes to shove, it is about who can be more Gandhian than the other.
“When was the last time that you saw a debate on radio or TV where they discussed ideas. Prince Pappu, the prime-minister-in-waiting, has probably never had a reasonable idea in his head. All evidence points squarely to the fact that he is incompetent to even manage a corner grocery store but if the Congress or the UPA were to get back to power, in all likelihood he will become the prime minister. What does that tell you about the mentality of the average voter?
“Gandhi matters hugely in India. If he didn’t, a retard like Raul Vinci aka Rahul Gandhi would be irrelevant and you would ask ‘Rahul who?’ If Gandhi didn’t matter, you would not have had the spectacle of Anna Hazare and his bunch of busy bodies threaten violence to push their agenda,” CJ said.
“CJ, the demonstrations were peaceful. No violence attended Anna Hazare’s campaign. Surely you are kidding about violence,” I said.
“Am I? The threat of violence is implicit and deep. You can starve yourself to death and it would not make the slightest difference to the powers that be. Indeed, a few million do slowly starve to death every year in India. Does that move the politicians? Not in the least. They could not care less. But if someone like Anna Hazare were to starve to death, there will be violence. There will be violence of the kind that does not happen in the routine starvation of the innocent millions. You see, it is the voluntary starvation of a personality that moves the Indian masses, but they are entirely inured to the pathetic condition of the starving millions.
“Gandhi epitomized that warped sense of morality. It is immoral to use the threat of violence. If I were starve myself to make my case, no rampaging mobs will set the cities on fire. But precisely because of the violence that will ensue if Anna Haraze were to starve to death that it is immoral for him to even attempt to kill himself. Like Gandhi, Hazare was using the weapon of violence to make his case. And ultimately, that speaks to the immaturity of the Indians. If there is one thing that shows up how morally bankrupt Indians are — or at least the immorality of the ones who cheerfully jumped on Hazare’s bandwagon — it’s this: they are moved not by arguments made in the public sphere but by the opportunity to participate in a violent way of settling a dispute.
“I am sorry but Indians are — how shall I put it delicately — morally challenged. Confusion runs deep in their minds. They associate pain with virtue, they confuse self-righteousness with what’s right. If someone is willing to inflict pain on themselves or on others, then he or she must be right. The voluntary self-imposed suffering somehow gives a person to dictate terms.
“Small children with insufficiently developed notions of right and wrong sometimes use that strategy but soon enough learn that it is better to deserve what they want and to argue their case without blackmail. There’s a gap between wanting and getting. Mature people bridge that gap through deserving, which usually involves some hard work. Immature, or retarded people attempt to bridge that gap not by deserving but through whining and moaning. The violently inclined use violence, sometime self-inflicted violence to get what they want. The Indian masses appear to be in a state of arrested development. Too weak to do it personally, they use a proxy — they support the personality who threatens self-inflicted pain.
“Gandhi imposed a cult of pain on India, and how! It appears that pain was central to his worldview. The more pain one suffers, the nobler one becomes. The noblest of noble deeds is of course to be put to so much pain that it extinguishes life itself. The logical conclusion of this cult of pain is of course self-annihilation. Don’t believe me? Read this:
Hindus should not harbour anger in their hearts against Muslims even if the latter wanted to destroy them. Even if the Muslims want to kill us all we should face death bravely. If they established their rule after killing Hindus we would be ushering in a new world by sacrificing our lives. None should fear death. Birth and death are inevitable for every human being. Why should we then rejoice or grieve? If we die with a smile we shall enter into a new life, we shall be ushering in a new India.
“Now you tell me. Tell me that he didn’t raise a cult of pain and death. Read that carefully. If I were a Muslim, I would be offended by the implicit accusation that all Muslims are murderers by nature. But that’s a different matter for a different time. I come back to my basic point. What would Gandhi do?”
“Why does it matter what would Gandhi do? What matters is what we should do,” I said.
“Actually that’s why I ask what would Gandhi do,” CJ said. “I want to figure out what Gandhi would do and do exactly the opposite. It’s like this. Remember in some crime stories the detective asks himself what he would do if he were the criminal? Something like that.
“Sometimes I ask myself what would Manmohan Singh do and just flip the answer to know what is the right thing to do. For instance, Manmohan Singh would want to increase dialogue with Pakistan and Bangladesh in response to the terrorist attack. So the right policy would be to inflict pain on Pakistan by disengaging from them. Manmohan Singh would want to increase trade with Bangladesh and Pakistan. So the right thing to do would be to impose economic sanctions on them. Manmohan Singh would want to keep Islamic terrorists like Afzal Guru and Kasab alive and well-fed. The right thing to do would be to starve them for a couple of weeks and then hang them.
“So ask yourself what would Gandhi do and flip the answer to know what India should do.”
Categories: Conversations with CJ