Android app on Google Play iPhone app Download from Windows Store

 

The Great Indian Bamboozle has to Stop

[Edit note: This piece was written & published elsewhere in Oct 2013. The Indian political scene has changed somewhat since then, thankfully under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi but evidently not enough. True that Rahul Gandhi is no longer relevant but clearly sleazy politicians like Kejriwal and his minions are successful in bamboozling the public in Delhi. This piece is, unfortunately, still relevant.]

If the people of the village, in the best traditions of their hallowed democratic processes, elect the village idiot as the King and Supreme Ruler of the village, it is hard for me to bring myself to find fault with the village idiot. It’s not the idiot’s fault that nature dealt him a lousy hand in the random genetic draw of life. He’s a congenital idiot and made no demands on being recognized as a paragon of wisdom and virtue. Based on that principle, I indicted American voters for electing some of their recent presidents, a few more than once. I can see no reason for not applying that principle to India.

Rahul Gandhi, also widely known as Pappu, is for all appearances a decent enough chap. He didn’t choose to be born to the Gandhi family any more than he sat around selecting his genes from the human gene pool. It was a random draw. He cannot be held responsible for the actions of a fairly large segment of the Indian population who wish to have him as the ruler of India’s destiny. India is a democracy, don’t you know, and the will of the people (admittedly a minority in all known cases) prevails.

India is a country of over 1.2 billion people, about 800 million of whom are desperately poor. None of us can even comprehend how those desperately poor live their lives on less than US$ 2 equivalent a day – an estimated 400 million children malnourished and with no prospects of their ever realizing their human potential; no access to clean drinking water or sanitation for hundreds of million; no chance of getting a decent education; never eating good, nourishing food or enjoying any of the marvellous goodies that modern life has to offer. Nearly 700 million are not reasonably educated and around 500 million of them are actually illiterate even in the 21st century of the Common Era.

For nearly all of its existence as an independent political entity, India has been ruled by the Congress party. That political party inherited from the British all the rules (and added a few of their own) that govern the economy. Ultimately rules are what matter and dictate the destiny of states. Economic policies, a subset of this set of rules, determine whether the country is desperately poor (such as India) or reasonably rich (such as Taiwan.) Social policies determine whether there is social peace (such as in many advanced industrialized countries) or there is internal discord (as seen in third rate countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and most tragically India.)

It seems hard for me to avoid the conclusion that India’s present dire straits must be to a large extent the doing of the Congress party. But then another thought arises. It was not some heavenly diktat or supernatural force that made the Congress to have such destructive power in India. In India they take democracy seriously, as we are constantly reminded to the point of tedium. The Congress party ruled and rules because the people of India – or at least a significant proportion of them – find them worthy.

The Americans have a saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” The people could be forgiven for putting Nehru on a pedestal and worshiping him for a few years following the political independence of India. But to keep electing his entire brood of incompetent descendants whose policies have deepened poverty, divided the country on caste and religious lines, and generally made life hell for nearly all Indians, is the height of folly. Being fooled repeatedly by the same party should be a matter of extreme shame. No one needs to be so persistently stupid and gullible. Indians should collectively do what the Hindi saying advices — chullu bhar pani mein doob maro.

I have spoken to people who have had the opportunity to observe Rahul Gandhi at close quarters. A journalist friend of mine spent three days with him during the last general elections. She confided in me saying, “He’s an OK guy. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He’s definitely slow on the uptake, to be honest. Despite being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he has little to show for himself. He does not have the intellectual horsepower to manage a road-side restaurant. He’d fail at that. Yet he may get to follow the footsteps of his father, his grandmother, and his great grandfather and lead India further into poverty. It’s a crying shame that he’s even in the running for the PM’s job in a country with 1.2 billion people.”

For years I have been saying that the quality of Indian leadership should make us weep and keep us awake at night not so much because the leaders are generally incompetent, lying, myopic, immoral and unethical — which evidently they are — but because the character of the Indian leaders is a sure indication of the character of Indian voters. Our choices, big and small, reveal our character powerfully and unequivocally. We show who we are by choosing who are leaders are to be.

If one believes in the theory that one’s past lives’ karma dictate one’s fortune in the current life, one would have to conclude that in their past lives Indians must have accumulated pretty horrendous bad karma. I don’t believe in the past life thing but I do believe in the theory that we produce our own karma in this very life — and then we and our children pay for our misdeeds.

It is time Indians did a bit of honest soul-searching and for once decide not to vote for morally and ethically challenged politicians. But I am not sanguine about that prospect. Carl Sagan in his important book The Demon-Haunted World pointed out that—

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

We have been bamboozled for too long. But it is time to stop being so self-destructive. Most of all, I wish we would not vote for village idiots, regardless of how shiny their pedigree. We must get our power back.

Atanu Dey on India's Development

Atanu Dey
Chapters
PJ O’Rourke: Every government is a parliament of whores
The Amazing Power of Technology
Swami Vivekanand: To the 4th of July
No True Islamic State
Herbert Simon — Information consumes attention
Yoga has no Religion
Hayek on “The Mirage of Social Justice”
An Open Letter to PM Shri Modi
Prefer a Functioning Economy
Political Discrimination is Socially Harmful
Markets & Competition
Ministry of Power, Coal, and New and Renewable Energy
John Stuart Mill on the Liberty of Thought and Discussion
Reading Ronald Coase
Universal Literacy
Man versus the State
What Comes Before
An ad from 1947: “The Uphill Task Ahead”
Pohela Boishakh, Vishu, and Puthandu Greetings
Rich People Spend More
Goodbye, Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Friday the 13th, Pi Day the 14th & Beware the Ides of March
Money is the root of all Evil
Warren Buffet’s Letter to the Shareholders
The Man Lee Kuan Yew Admires the Most
An Informed Citizenry is the Bulwark of a Democracy
Problems and Solutions
People I Admire – Part Doh
Nelson Mandela on Education
Criticizing Modern Indian Holy Cows Considered Dangerous
Richard Dawkins on the Monotheistic God
List of Pages on Teresa the Merciless
People I Admire
Lee Kuan Yew is under Intensive Care
On Monkeys, Cats & the Generality Principle
The Great Indian Bamboozle has to Stop
2400 hours of electricity for Delhi — every year?
Make India first to “Make in India”
Republic Day Thoughts on Reading the Constitution
A Day of Shame and National Mourning for India
The most dangerous man to any government
Socialism, Competition and Politicians
Open Thread: Ask me anything
Aakash, the “iPad Killer”, Vaporware has Evaporated
The Dreamer and the Dream
Circular Firing Squad of Flying Attack Monkeys Target Rajiv Malhotra
We need more Anandamide, not Jihadamide
Constitutions Matter in our Daily Lives
The Only Home We’ve Ever Known
Adam Smith on the Division of Labor
The Passing of Former President Mr APJ Abdul Kalam
Socialism Works its Wonders in Venezuela - also in West Bengal
Why the terrorists killed the satirists of Charlie Hebdo
Islam Poses an Existential Threat
The Wisdom of the Crowd
On Knowing Enough to Know that You Don’t Know
NITI — New Initiatives for Transforming India
Will India Recover?
The Unbearable Stupidity of Controlling Prices
Nov 14th as the “Day of Shame and Lamentations for India.”
The Indian Constitution — Part 2
Hayek on Valuing Individuals
Mr Modi goes to Washington