To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

Once in a while I like to review stuff that I have on this blog. Here are some excerpts to fill in the gap while I get around to writing new material. Here’s a bit from Konark and Beyond (January 2007).

… I realized that India is a land which has an incredibly rich heritage. So how does one explain the paradox of poor people who have a rich heritage? Why has India been ruled for so long? The short answer is of course that here were riches waiting to be plundered. Since Indians generally don’t put up a fight, it was like snatching candy from kids.

“While we hold on to India, we are a first-rate power. If we lose India, we will decline to a third-rate power. This is the value of India.” I came across that candid evaluation by Lord Curzon in a BBC report on UK-India relations. One hundred years have passed since he said that. The British left, have exhausted their power to extract any more out of India. But what was taken was material wealth. What remains is the rich heritage that cannot be taken away. That rich heritage can only be lost through either collective amnesia or suicide.

I choose to end this with the words of an English poet—Alfred, Lord Tennyson—from his poem Ulysses:

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Lord Curzon words turned out to be prophetic: Britain has become a third-rate power, after the US and China. Talking of China, here’s a bit from November 2007, Moving Mountains.

For much of the recent past, China and India were similar in many respects. Very large populations, very deep and widespread poverty, largely agricultural, and saddled with brain-dead economic policies rammed down the throats of the powerless populations by ignorant policymakers. Then the Chinese people got lucky: they got a dictator who was smart. This dictator, Deng Xiaoping, was different from the other dictator, Mao, who had propelled China into a “Great Leap Forward” which left tens of millions dead.

India matches the first part of China’s story — it got a dictator who wanted to personally control India’s climb into “The Commanding Heights” but succeeded in digging a very deep hole for most of the 350 million living around 1950 that even 60 years later, the number of deep-hole dwellers is variously estimated to be between 500 and 800 million. Thanks awfully, Mr Jawaharlal Nehru.

The new path that the dictator of China took around 1978 propelled economic growth and lifted hundreds of millions out of the hole that had been dug for them by communism. India, by contrast, continued along the path blazed by Nehru, and the path was solidified into an 8-lane superhighway by his daughter. (She was another ignorant autocrat — and appeared to be fairly convinced that ignorance was better than knowledge since she saw no need for the education of the masses. Though she had all the opportunity in the world, she herself never got any formal education and I believe was kicked out of Shantiniketan, a school where you would have to work hard to get kicked out of. The irony that numerous educational institutions are named after her would not be tolerated but for the ignorance of the Indian population.)

India went careening down this superhighway of socialism until it was wrecked through a collision with the barrier of a balance of payment crisis. Headless chickens have been known to display more foresight than the architects of India’s economy.

China suffered the misfortune of Mao’s insanity and paid a terrible price. But they recovered from that disaster, thanks to Deng Xiaoping. But no such luck for India. India suffered Nehru’s disastrous policies and was only briefly lucky under PV Narasimha Rao’s and Atal Vajpayee’s governments but once again turned supremely unlucky under Narendra Modi’s leadership. Modi is taking India fast on the superhighway to socialist poverty that Nehru and his clan built.

It’s all karma, neh?

Header image: I took that picture on June 4th at the Ruth Lake Country Club in Hinsdale, IL (close to Chicago, IL.) Click on image to embiggen. 

Author: Atanu Dey


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