Taking a break. Matte sigona.

Dear friends,

I would like to inform you that I have decided to take a break from blogging and online social networking in order to focus on a book that I have begun to write.

The first draft of the book, written in English, is expected to take anywhere from 9 to 12 months to complete. The book is about the need for and ways of reforming the increasingly popular Idea of India and putting India back on track in its career as an ethical nation. This, of course, is very much a Karnatique theme.

Karnatique and Hostilu are the only blogs on which I'm active right now, and I will be taking a break from both. I will also be taking a break from the Facebook accounts Kiran Batni, Karnatique Balaga, the Facebook community page Roman Lipiyalli Kannada, and the Twitter accounts @kiranbr and @karnatique.

Too many tools and objects, although they are blameless by themselves, crowd out the human mind. Even the most beautiful flowers and fragrances, however beautiful they are, hold the mind captive and deprive it of leisure and silence. I need both leisure and silence to listen to that Inner Voice of Truth which whispers the same whispers in all of us, if only we listen to it. It is these whispers that I wish to present to the world as a book.

Let's keep in touch. I will be available on kiran at banavasibalaga dot org. I will also be more than happy to meet any of you personally if you wish, and if you are in or around Maisuru (Mysore), where I now live (yes, Bengaluru is around Maisuru). We could then discuss things in more detail instead of exchanging quick and dirty messages online, and build a network of hearts instead of a network of TCP/IP.

Matte sigona (let's meet again),
Kiran Batni

PS: I've dropped the middle 'Rao' in my name, for simplicity.

SHUT UP! Leave the onions and mind your business.

Both share a flawed economic philosophy which is the root cause of the problem, and both have actually faced the problem. One had to pay for it by making itself non-existent, and another is in a similar situation today. But both fail to realize that executing a flawed philosophy flawlessly does not solve the problem created by it.

I'm referring to the BJP and the Congress, and onions. Both parties share a flawed economic philosophy that government can fix commodity prices magically and arbitrarily. In reality, government cannot do anything like that. Altering the demand/supply curve is none of the government's job, and whenever it does that, it only makes matters worse, as we're seeing today.

To anyone following the nonsense closely, every solution that is being proposed now involves asking the government to undo something it had done earlier. But nobody seems to even for a second question the flawed economic philosophy which attaches an undue importance to government, and due to which government did those things in the first place. Why create taps and give them to wrong hands to control?

One blame being placed on the central government is that it allowed export licenses even when internal prices were rising. But nobody seems to realize that the first problem is that there is even a concept of export licenses. The second problem is that if traders want to export in any case, it's none of the government's business to stop that export. If that export is unethical in some sense, the society should rise to the occasion and stop it. Not government - a set of fools at best, and a set of corrupt fools at worst.

Another blame being placed on the central government is that it is treating Congress and BJP ruled states differently in executing the flawed economic philosophy. But those who point that out forget that when executing the flawed philosophy flawlessly itself is a problem, executing it in the presence of vested interests does not lead to a smaller problem. It leads to a bigger problem.

I'm wondering if there are any economists left in this country any more, who can advise to political parties, the public, and the media alike, what Ronald Reagan once advised:
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.
The best thing any political party can do now is to show the intellectual courage to question the philosophy that government should poke its nose in the onion/tomato/garlic market, or any domestic market for that matter. It's high time voters also realize that there are things which government cannot solve, but can certainly screw up. I'd like to see at least one of the two parties grow up to adolescence and question the shared economic philosophy.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the reason why neither the BJP nor the Congress is able to get over the crucial stage of adolescence when it comes to economic philosophy is simply that both have in them a trace of the colonial mindset. After all, the very concept of a Government of India is British, and our brown Indian masters copy-pasted crucial documents from the white British masters and just changed a few names here and there anyway.

Colonial governments must control the demand/supply curve in order to loot profits from the people and ship them to Her Majesty The Queen or His Majesty the King back home. Perhaps someone should remind both parties that they're already home, and that there's no Her Majesty or His Majesty to send anything to. Perhaps someone should rise to the occasion and ask government - whether it's this party or that forming it - to just shut up and leave the market to the market.

The fate of the lingua franca

A new book titled The Last Lingua Franca by Nicholas Ostler is raising waves across the world. Here's a Penguin review of the book, a must for those who assume a larger-than-life importance for English in the world, and Hindi in India:
'A lingua franca is a language of convenience. When it ceases to be convenient – however widespread it has been – it will be dropped, without ceremony, and with little emotion.' - NICHOLAS OSTLER

The Last Lingua Franca is a fascinating and provocative examination of the rise and coming fall of English as the world's language.

English is the world's lingua franca – the most widely spoken language in human history. But its dominance has so far lasted two centuries at most – far less than the spans of other major languages such as Greek, Latin, Arabic, or Sanskrit. And now, as historian and linguist Nicholas Ostler persuasively argues in his provocative new book, English stands not only to be displaced as the world's language in the not-too distant future, but also to be the last lingua franca, not replaced by another.

The primary causes for the spread of lingua francas over time have been empire (to bind peoples together politically), commerce (to facilitate trade), and religion (reinforcing the power of faith), and Ostler explores each inspiration through the lens of civilizations spanning the globe, from China and India to Russia and Europe. Three trends emerge that suggest the ultimate decline of English, and lingua francas themselves. Throughout the world movements towards democratization in politics or equality in society will downgrade the status of elites-since elites are the prime users of non-native English, the language will gradually retreat to its native-speaking territories. Moreover, the rising wealth of states like Brazil, Russia, India and China will challenge and ultimately overtake the dominance of native-English-speaking nations-thereby shrinking the international preference for English. Simultaneously, new technologies are allowing instant translation among major languages, enhancing the status of mother tongues and lessening the necessity for any future lingua francas.

Ostler predicts a soft landing for English: it will still be widely spoken, if no longer worldwide, sustained by America's continued power on the world stage. But its decline will be symbolic and significant, evidence of grand shifts in the cultural effects of empire.

The Last Lingua Franca is both an insightful examination of the trajectory of our own mother tongue and a fascinating lens through which to view the sweep of history.
As far as the reviews I have read go, the book does not seem to focus on the inherent utility of the world's diverse languages in the education and economic growth of their speakers. That, more than anything political or historical, will be the reason for the decline of the Englishes and Hindis of the world as lingua francas.

Bharatiya Javali Paksha*

With chief minister B S Yeddyurappa leaving his chief-ministerial duties aside to campaign for the upcoming Zilla Panchayat and Taluk Panchayat elections, advertising himself (this time with numbers) behind every bus in Karnataka using public funds, the state is running into huge debts (this time with numbers). Writes the Times of India:
Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa paints a rosy picture of the state's finances. But the numbers tell a dismal story. In the past two years, the government has borrowed over Rs 13,000 crore in the open market by selling securities. And over the years, the debt from external borrowings is approximately Rs 70,000 crore. 
To such attacks, Mr. Yeddyurappa's ultimate weapon is "this is what everybody does". Admittedly, anybody who knows the workings of state politics sees the truth in that stock response.

But the question is, if Mr. Yeddyurappa's party cannot do better than the others where it matters, such as in improving education in the Kannada medium (no, that does not merely mean distributing food or bicycles), ensuring jobs for Kannadigas (no, that does not merely mean getting investment), or in stopping the butchering of unborn Kannadiga lives, what right does it have to squander people's money?

Every new state government has the opportunity to redefine state politics and make it less nauseating, and more worthy of existence. However, every state government till now has thrown that opportunity into the dustbin, and so has Mr. Yeddyurappa's. Just like every other government till now, this government has done nothing more than trying to perpetuate itself using trinklets thrown to people who don't understand that they're being treated as beggars. This time, they're getting Javali. That's the difference.

* Javali (Kannada: ಜವಳಿ): loosely translated as 'cloth'.

Passing off collective selfishness as moral duty

With so much talk of booking people for sedition and curtailing their freedom of speech, here's a passage from an essay of Rabindranath Tagore, titled The Nation:
In former ages, when some particular people became turbulent and tried to rob others of their human rights, they sometimes achieved success and sometimes failed. And it amounted to nothing more than that. But when this idea of the Nation, which has met with universal acceptance in the present day, tries to pass off the cult of collective selfishness as a moral duty, simply because that selfishness is gigantic in stature, it not only commits depredation, but attacks the very vitals of humanity. It unconsciously generates in people's minds an attitude of defiance against moral law. For men are taught by repeated devices the lesson that the Nation is greater than the people, while yet it scatters to the winds the moral law that the people have held sacred.
For the full essay, click here.

Reference to 'the States' in Sec. 124-A IPC

Being used to good documentation, I'm realizing that it's a herculean task to browse through law. Many different versions of each document exist, and it's difficult to date them. The only consolation I have is that I won't catch a dust allergy by browsing these books on the internet!

I tried to find at least one version of Section 124-A somewhere which refers to "Government established by law in the States". It turns out that such a thing exists, and thereby lends support to my analysis in the previous post that the original sedition law was perhaps more decentralized than it is now.

Find below a snapshot of the section from Chapter VI of the IPC from the Bombay High Court's website (for the full document, click here). Going by the foot notes, the text seems to date back to 1950.

As shown in the previous post, "Government established by law in the States" was changed to "Government established by law in India" in 1951, in line with the idea of a strong central polity.

Why is this information interesting? Because it can help trace the slow centralization of the Indian polity from its federal roots under the British. I'm realizing that the sedition law is as faithful a fossil record of that process as any. I'm not trying to argue that sedition laws must be enacted in each state. The very concept is against free speech, and deserves to be eliminated from democracies at all levels of government.

More Majesty than Her Majesty

A few days ago, I had argued that India's sedition law is "clearly a colonial hangover, designed to force public submission to an absolute and 'mathematically supreme' monarch". It turns out that the British themselves probably considered Her Majesty the Queen of England as less 'mathematically supreme' than what the Government of India considers itself.

Section 124-A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code has a long history which is partially documented in the change log of the IPC document (download here). Below, I've tried to use the change log to reconstruct the text of the section at different points in history. Note that I haven't found these texts as they appear below anywhere.

Look carefully, since the changes are not very easily visible. In a way, that's part of the problem.

1870: Section 124-A first inserted into IPC.
[Text unknown]
1898: "Her Majesty or the Government established by law in the States"
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards Her Majesty or the Government established by law in the States, shall be punished with transportation for life or any shorter term, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
1937: "Her Majesty or the Crown Representative or the Government established by law in the States or British Burma"
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards Her Majesty or the Crown Representative or the Government established by law in the States or British Burma, shall be punished with transportation for life or any shorter term, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
1948: "Her Majesty or the Government established by law in the States"
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards Her Majesty or the Government established by law in the States, shall be punished with transportation for life or any shorter term, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
1950: "the Government established by law in the States"
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in the States, shall be punished with transportation for life or any shorter term, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
1951: "the Government established by law in India"
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with transportation for life or any shorter term, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
1955: "imprisonment for life"
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

Readers will note that disaffection against "the Government established by law in the States" was likely a culpable offence under the colonial British rule (during which we think the British could have bulldozed the very idea out), was retained in 1950, but dropped in 1951. Therefore, this could be evidence that British India, run by a colonial power which looted this part of the world, was more decentralized (from as early as 1898) than the Government of India is today.

The dropping of the line in 1951 was probably after, but certainly in line with, the adoption of the Constitution of India which turned the hitherto Federation of States under Her Majesty into a strong central polity under the sovereign Government of India.

Now, I'm not trying to justify the curtailment of free speech by asking for a sedition law at the state level. Everywhere in the world, and at every level of government, free speech is a fundamental human right, and must be respected as such.

I'm only trying to show that the idea of federalism which really existed under the British, was wiped out by independent India, thereby making it more 'mathematically supreme' than Her Majesty the Queen of England was when she ruled over this part of the world. And that seems to show in the career of the sedition law.

Yet another argument for federalism in India.

Oh! She's very, very wrong

Okay, then. Having already argued that it is her right to say what she wants, and that the sedition law should be removed from the IPC since it violates the fundamental human right to free speech, and that any violence should be covered under other applicable laws, I now get to analyzing what Arundhati Roy said in her so-called seditious speech.

Actually, I don't have a long essay to write here, since a little bit of googling showed that she was very, very wrong when she claimed that Kashmir has never been an integral part of India.

What did I hit upon? The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (yes, there is one, and it was adopted on 17/11/1956), which clearly states:
3. Relationship of the State with the Union of India:-The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.
Quod erat demonstrandumArundhati Roy, may I ask you to please get your facts right?

Book all Telangana supporters under 124-A

Can someone tell me why Mr. K. Chandrashekhar Rao and his friends, who are trying everything possible to break up Andhra Pradesh and form a new Telangana state, are not booked for sedition against the Andhra Pradesh state? Aren't they showing disaffection towards the state?

Shouldn't the entire BJP, then headed by Mr. L.K. Advani, and the Congress under Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, all be put behind bars for the same crime, since all of them have openly supported the breaking up of Andhra Pradesh?

Sure, section 124-A applies only to 'offences against' the Government of India, not state governments, so that's not the question. The question is, why?

If 'exciting disaffection' against the state is a crime punishable with life-imprisonment, why don't the same standards apply at the State level? On what basis has the central government legally assumed the power to alter state boundaries at will, and legally commit sedition, as it were?

Is it simply because the Government of India is a military power whereas the states are not? Or is it because state governments are simply hanging around with no real purpose?

Or, all of a sudden, are we talking about the right to not just free speech, but also free action of politicians, irrespective of whether it means 'disaffection towards' or 'war against' the people of the state?

Of course, this line of questioning opens up a pandora box full of people in the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti trying to annex parts of Karnataka to Maharashtra, supporters of the Kodava state, those asking for a separate North Karnataka state, those who helped form the new states of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, etc.

In reality, all of them have shown 'disaffection to the state'. If the sedition law is retained in the IPC, it must be expanded in scope to cover all the above, in order for the law to remain consistent. But yes, it would continue to be against free speech, and that's a different story.

'Merely because we find it disagreeable'

Defending free speech, an Oct 26 editorial in the Hindu calls IPC Section 124-A (sedition) an 'archaic section' of law, and urges the Government of India to explicitly deny that it is considering pressing sedition charges against Arundhati Roy and others:
Do we lock up or threaten to silence our writers and thinkers with an archaic section of the law that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, merely because they speak their minds?
Also, here's some learning material from the same editorial, especially for those who are not prepared to apply their minds in these matters:
In his classic defence of free speech, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill laid down what is known as the ‘harm principle.' It postulates that the only justification for silencing a person against his will is to prevent him from causing harm to others. It is to this powerful libertarian mid-19th century principle that we owe the idea that free speech cannot be proscribed merely because we find it disagreeable, and that curbs may be imposed only if such expression constitutes a direct, explicit, and unequivocal incitement to violence.
One half of my heart despairs that there are so many in India who don't understand the basics of democracy, but the other jumps with joy that India is not devoid of those who do.

Show affection to me, or else.

Whether Arundhati Roy is right or wrong on the issue of Kashmir, it is a mockery of democracy that her freedom of speech is not being respected. Many are baying for her blood, and many want her behind bars for sedition. But how right is it to punish someone, just because you don't agree with him or her?

When matters can't be settled using the laws of mathematics, it is natural for people to have different viewpoints. It is their fundamental human right to say what they think, under no compulsion or fear. The beauty of democracy is that it allows things to be settled by dialogue. Anything which prevents dialogue is undemocratic.

As a corollary, if it can be proved that Roy intended to cause violence, or that she uses violence herself, there is no doubt that she should be tried for the crime of inciting violence and disrupting the democratic process (which is, as stated above, one of dialogue). But that is is something completely different, and that is not what she is being accused of.

The Telegraph, from Calcutta, writes the following on this basic problem ailing India:
The right to dissent is one of the prized rights of a democracy. But India has for a time been sliding ludicrously from its chosen path, that of a democratic republic, and confusing dissent with incitement to violence and divisiveness.
Yes, it is very important to distinguish between dissent and violence. The paper goes on to argue that people have the right to have their own interpretation of the word 'patriotism'. Very true, at least here in India if not in China or Burma today.

This whole incident is reminiscent of Mahatma Gandhi's 1922 trial in Ahmedabad, where he was charged with sedition, under section 124-A IPC, by the British Government. Readers will note that this is eerily the same section number even today. Another evidence to show that not much changed in 1947, save the skin-colour of those sitting in New Delhi.

Gandhi pleaded guilty in 1922, in line with his concept of non-violent non-cooperation with evil, and made the entire British Empire look small in front of his strong ethical stance:
Section 124-A under which I am happily charged is perhaps the prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen. Affection connot be manufactured or regulated by law. If one has no affection for a person or thing, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection so long as he does not contemplate, promote or incite to violence.
Gandhi mocked at the sedition law which required him to show affection to the government, irrespective of what his heart feels about it.

The law, as found in Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code today, states:
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

Explanation 1.- The expression" disaffection" includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.

Explanation 2.- Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.

Explanation 3.- Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.
It is a pity that the above law hasn't been updated in spirit after Gandhi's critique, and that the concept of coercing people to unconditionally shower affection on the Government continues.

If it is a crime to "excite disaffection" towards the Government, aren't all opposition parties in a democracy guilty of sedition? Isn't H.D. Kumaraswamy guilty of trying to "excite disaffection" towards B.S. Yeddyurappa's government? Isn't everyone in the media establishment guilty of sedition whenever they point out the wrongdoings of the government and "excite disaffection"?

The sedition law is clearly a colonial hangover, designed to force public submission to an absolute and 'mathematically supreme' monarch. It simply doesn't apply to a democracy in which the people are supposed to be the real rulers. It is the fundamental right of man to speak his mind, even if it "excites disaffection" towards the Government, as long as it is done in a non-violent way.

It is only man who can rectify mistakes which creep into insentient machines such as governments. Man is above machine. It's time India scraps the sedition law and covers any violence under other applicable laws.

Ethical Compromises in India’s Burma Policy

The release of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s non-violent supporter of democracy and human rights and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has brought India’s policy on Burma under the scanner once again. India, which was once a vocal supporter of The Lady, did a volte-face in pledging support for Gen. Than Shwe, Burma’s military leader. This policy greatly diminishes our image as an ethical nation. We must immediately reform the policy and the unethical mindset which drives it, since it has not just external but internal implications as well.

With the whole world waiting for India’s reaction, external affairs minister S.M. Krishna sent out a message which necessarily implied that it’s a non-event for India. Former ambassador to Burma, G. Parthasarathy, argued that it is in India’s national interest to maintain trade relations with Burma irrespective of the type of government there.

The basic claim to sanctity of a free-market transaction is the supposed absence of coercion; that is, the claim that that the two parties exchange their wares voluntarily, leading to a win-win result. Since the military government of Burma does not truly represent the Burmese people, the people of Burma cannot be said to be voluntarily engaging in business with the Indian nation. Therefore, the acclaimed sanctity of the voluntary free-market transaction simply doesn’t apply here.

As a matter of fact, the degree of voluntariness with which Indian people take part in such a transaction is itself limited to the degree to which the government of India truly represents them. However, it's at least theoretically better than the case of the Burmese people, because India is a democracy at least theoretically.

In doing business with totalitarian Burma, India is necessarily taking undue advantage of the lack of freedom of the Burmese people. We are basically using the sorry condition of the Burmese people to unfairly relieve them of their natural resources without their explicit and voluntary consent. What India gives in the market exchange is guaranteed to be not what the Burmese people would voluntarily settle for.

Would anybody voluntarily settle for weapons that kill them? India has actually sold weapons to the Burmese military Junta, knowing fully well that they are intended for use on native Burmese people. India has transferred BN-2 defender islander maritime surveillance aircraft, 105-mm light artillery guns and T-55 tanks to Burma, as part of the sacraments of business with that country. It should be amply clear to even the most casual observer that India is party to the murder of innocent Burmese people. The more Burmese get killed, the less the demand for Burma’s natural resources inside Burma, and the more we can get of it per rupee.

Those who quote India's 'national interest' as a two-word justification for India’s Burma policy, believe that simply taking the name of that abstract entity—the nation—can compensate for all the sins its citizens, and more so its governments, commit. Some believe we’re doing the right thing because India needs to achieve "double-digit growth". Some think it is a sacred duty of the Indian government to relieve Burma of its natural resources (basically oil and gas) irrespective of the ethical footprint on the people of Burma, especially since China is also in the resource-race.

Unfortunately, all the above arguments are ethically hollow, and unnecessary for India’s progress. What is stated as 'national interest' is basically glorified greed and lack of respect for others’ life and liberty. This is exactly what Albert Einstein called as an “infantile disease”, a “measles of mankind”. This is exactly what Rabindranath Tagore described as the “organized greed of material wealth of a whole people”.

India's target of economic growth cannot, must not, and need not be met by way of exploiting the life, liberty and happiness of the Burmese people. To maintain that we will do business with the Burmese government irrespective of whether it's democratic or totalitarian, is to simply say that we don’t care whether the Burmese go to hell as long as we can reap material benefits from them. Is this the creed of India? Is this the example that India, that great beacon of spiritual knowledge for the world, ought to set for other nations?

There is another grave and internal danger of encouraging the Indian State to engage in such unethical behaviour. It is, in short, that once it becomes intoxicated with the material gains from such behaviour, the Indian State will find it absolutely justified to prey on its own people. It will continue to justify compromising the life and liberty of those Indians who are in similar sorry states as the Burmese people today. This, of course, is a basic problem ailing India already, whether it’s the case of disadvantaged indigenous tribes or of subordinated linguistic peoples, where the presence of a so-called democracy makes it all the more difficult to recognize the State’s ethical compromises.

Why pretend to serve those you cannot relate to?

M. K. Gandhi writes in the Hind Swaraj:
"I am so constructed that I can only serve my immediate neighbours, but in my conceit I pretend to have discovered that I must with my body serve every individual in the Universe. In thus attempting the impossible, man comes in contact with different natures, different religions, and is utterly confounded."
Keeping the spirit of Gandhi's discourse, the same is true of different languages (which are probably covered under "different natures"). The upwardly mobile Indian today comes in contact with Indians of different languages, and is utterly confounded. Yet, having left his own homeland, he seems not to drop his pretension that he must serve with his body Indians whose tongue he knows not.

I pity the plight of those who run the many charities in Bengaluru's corporate houses, so full of well-meaning people who wish to serve that abstract entity called India, but have no way of truly connecting with flesh-and-blood embodiments of India around them -- Kanandigas -- simply because they cannot speak Kannada or connect with their hearts.

In reality, those non-Kannadigas who throng these charity houses have come too far, too far for it to be any more practical for them to serve anybody other than their own selves. But they realize it not. Some argue that the tax they pay, or other NGOs they work with, do the job. But can all these constructs do the job ever better than a priest who is asked to pray in proxy?

'The value systems of those with access to power...'

Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: telegraph.co.uk

Let these words of freed Burmese leader and upholder of democracy and human rights, Aung San Suu Kyi, ring in our minds, the minds of Kannadigas privileged with English education and English employment in a sea of underprivileged people with Kannada as the only tool for upliftment, and in the minds of Hindi speaking Indians who are constitutionally privileged over most of India:
The value systems of those with access to power and of those far removed from such access cannot be the same. The viewpoint of the privileged is unlike that of the underprivileged.
And let these words of The Lady ring in our minds, the minds of those who consider politics as an unnecessary evil:
You can never separate the political system of a country from the way you conduct your daily life.
And let these words ring in our minds, as well as the minds of Karnataka's politicians doing nothing more than handing out gifts to the underprivileged:
The provision of basic material needs is not sufficient to make minority groups and indigenous peoples feel they are truly part of the greater national entity. For that they have to be confident that they too have an active role to play in shaping the destiny of the state that demands their allegiance.
And let these words of the leader ring in the minds of those who wish to bring about a change here in Karnataka:
The democracy process provides for political and social change without violence.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been freed, apparently unconditionally, within a week of Barack Obama speaking about the situation in Burma standing in the Indian parliament, and softly accusing India of doing nothing about it.

A confession

I have a confession to make today--a confession about the manner in which I have conducted myself in my writings till now, here on Karnatique, as well as elsewhere in Kannada as well as English.

Unknowingly, I have been harsh to people with opposing viewpoints, whether they're living or dead. In my writings till now, I have not even come close to what I've learnt is the ideal way of contradicting opposing viewpoints. You will notice an improvement moving from my earlier articles to newer ones, but that does not remove the necessity for this confession.

Fact is, I have learnt some of the greatest lessons in my life from the people whom I have opposed philosophically (over one subject or another). In my mind, I have always held them in high esteem for what they've taught me through their lives and works. But what pains me today, as I review my own writings, is that my language has not necessarily shown that gratitude, except, perhaps, in the recent case of Rabindranath Tagore.

I've tired to find the origin of this harshness in me, but I don't completely understand it yet. It could be my childhood, it could be my surroundings. It could be that my busy life makes me so impatient that I don't see any option but to make the most fierceful statements against philosophical opponents in the shortest period of time. That could have easily drifted to harsh language. Behaviors of peer bloggers and colleagues could have catalyzed my fall. It could also be that plain ignorance speaks in such language. My mind could have settled on harsh language as a means of support for my arguments! Whatever the reason, the fact remains that I have erred.

But this is where the role of the teacher comes in. Over the years, I have learnt extensively from great people, living and dead, and from all over the world. And this list includes each and every person I've had to oppose in my writings. I have been humbled by the unmistakable grace with which all of them have opposed contradicting viewpoints in their writings and speeches. Honest people about to be hanged by colonial governments have displayed better grace than I have. They have all collectively taught me how to reform myself. It is a difficult transformation that I'm going through, but I will not rest until that transformation happens.

If you happen to read my earlier writings where I'm opposed to someone's views on a particular topic, please keep in mind that I might have been unknowingly too harsh to that person, and also that I'm not 100% opposed to everything they have ever said. Let not that harshness influence your judgment about the topic at hand, or enter you.

And yes, none of this means that I am withdrawing any of my philosophical positions about topics where I have opposed one or the other person. Nor do I mean to say that I will not withdraw them if need be.

Let's put technology where it belongs

Photo courtesy: hindu.com
If you watched Barack Obama's so-called e-date with villagers in Ajmer on TV, you probably have the feeling that it was a lacklustre event, and a rather funnily mismanaged one at that. But if you dig a bit, it becomes clear that the show exposes how little India understands democracy and how to implement it. Also, the messages given out by the show have the danger of further retarding the process of true democratization of India.

Why help the unhealthy bulge further bulge?

Barack Obama talking to students in Mumbai. Photo: outlookindia.com
Barack Obama in reply to a question in the townhall meeting at St. Xavier's college, Mumbai, on 7th November (italics mine):
"...I don't want any person here to be dismissive of a healthy materialism because in a country like India, there's still a lot of people trapped in poverty. And you should be working to try to lift folks out of poverty, and companies and businesses have a huge role in making that happen."
Absolutely correct. There couldn't have been a more correct message about how India should view materialism. But let's examine American materialism for a change: is it healthy? Is America setting the right example for the world to follow?

Yes, there is!

US president Barack Obama. Photo courtesy: telegraph.co.uk.
Speaking to top Indian businessmen in Mumbai yesterday, visiting US president Barack Obama commented on the potential for increased trade with India, using these words:
"Our trade with India is still less than our trade with the Netherlands. I have no doubt we can do much better -- there is no reason why this nation can't be one of our top trading partners."
It all looks sufficiently motivating in a boardroom, but fact is, there is a reason why this nation can't be one of the top trading partners of the US. Read on to know what that reason is.

First of all, over and above a comparison of numbers, there is a qualitative difference between US trade with the Netherlands, and US trade with India: the Netherlands sells mind and India sells matter. And that is so, because the Netherlands has no matter to sell and India has no mind to sell.

Just to clarify, by mind I mean knowledge, and by matter I mean natural resources. By knowledge, I don't mean the knowledge of the Infinite Being, which is what India has indulged itself in from time immemorial. I simply mean that knowledge which helps one lead a better material life, a hedonistic life, if you will.

So, when Barack Obama gives a call for increasing trade with India, that can only be fulfilled today by selling more and more of our natural resources to the US. Why? Simply because India is shamefully short of any knowledge capital. We don't have a working education system, simply because we ignore the languages which Indians speak. There is not a single university in India today, which offers any materially significant university education in any Indian language.

Whenever a relatively knowledgeable nation trades with a relatively ignorant nation, the latter ends up buying trinkets which amuse the senses for a relatively short period of time, and pays the former with precious natural resources. Thus, it is inevitable in such a trade for hard material - such as minerals, metals, oil, etc to be moved away from the ignorant nation to the knowledgeable nation.

When such trade progresses, the ignorant nation increasingly depletes itself of precious natural resources, and those ignorant people who depend solely on such resources are choked to death. Some are displaced by dams, some sell their lands to malls, some sell their lands to airports, and some take to guns and get beautiful and charismatic women to advocate their cause in front of absent juries.

There is one argument against all this, which never stops boring me. And that is, that I'm ignoring the great tide of the Rising and Shining India with its burgeoning cash-rich English-educated middle-class. I don't deny that such a class exists, or that that class can actually trade enough mind to surpass the Netherlands in its exports to the US.

But, is that class all of India? What about the other billion Indians who don't speak English? Should India increase its trade with the US when the only thing those Indians can sell is natural resources, which can be equated to their lives themselves? The answer is clearly a no. No, we must wait until those other billion Indians also obtain some knowledge which they can sell.

And that can never happen as long as we neglect the languages of India in our education system. It is high time we take our languages seriously and reform the education system of each linguistic State.

Thus, there is most certainly a reason why India cannot be one of the top trading nations for the US right away: the reason that we need to uphold ethics. The reason that we need to safeguard the lives of a billion people and not sell their sole means of life - i.e., natural resources. It makes no difference that it can be made to seem as if those billion people are ready to sell their lives voluntarily. Voluntariness in a market transaction, after all, does not guarantee that ethics is upheld.

And, as far as I know, I think we should uphold ethics.

Using today's 'science' to justify yesterday's racism and greed

Some people, especially those who don't know about the history of population control, quote the recent Energy and Environment concerns to justify population control measures which have been undertaken worldwide, and of course, here in Karnataka and India at large.

They forget that the pioneers of birth control could simply not have used Energy and Environment concerns in their discourse. The concerns did not exist then. What they did use was the food-shortage and racist arguments. The first one is disqualified by statistics, and the second one can never be qualified by ethics.

Therefore, using Energy and Environment concerns to justify the population control program which has been put in place already is a logical fallacy.

It's like killing someone today and justifying it next year with the claim that the dead person would have died because of tuberculosis anyway.

Nothing above should give the reader the impression that I'm accepting the Energy and Environment reasons as justification for population control now. I'll get to it in a separate post. It's a different topic.

New Kannada Blog - 'Hostilu'

I'm starting a new Kannada blog called HOSTILU (ಹೊಸ್ತಿಲು, 'the threshold').

It's a blog which is going to experment with writing Kannada using a slightly modified Roman script, which I'm simply calling as "Hosa lipi". I've been experimenting with the script from a few months, but have shied away from fanning out to a wider audience until now. But now, I can't contain it any longer.

I don't recall who said 'Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come', but it couldn't be truer.

No, I don't mean to pretend that the 'time' of the idea of writing Kannada using the Roman script has 'come', as in 'coming to the larger world'. I only mean, in all humility, that I, personally, have been unable to stop that idea from taking me over. I have many reasons for doing this experiment, but I've decided to keep my calm about them, at least until there's a significant amount of content in that script.

I want the experiment to succeed, in the same spirit as that of any scientist who does any experiment, and I'm willing to accept any judgment from that Great Dispenser of Truth.

The theme of articles on HOSTILU is going to be exactly the same as Karnatique's (how could it be different?). Expect the frequency of articles here on Karnatique to go down a bit during the experiment. Of course, if someone can help me with translating HOSTILU posts to English, that will maintain the frequency at whatever it is today. Let me know if you're interested.

So check it out. It's online now: http://hostilu.blogspot.com.

Inefficiency, corruption and coercion are offshoots of being non-federal

Two excerpts from an editorial in the DNA today:
i.
There is a basic flaw in the Centre-state relationship in India’s ostensibly federal system — constitutional experts choose to describe it as quasi-federal — which leans towards the Centre rather than the states.

ii.
There are two other points of contention. One is when states seek Central assistance to deal with natural calamities like drought and flood, it gives the Central government and the party in power the option of playing benefactor when, in reality, it is little more than a constitutional mechanism. The other point has to do with foodgrain procurement and storage. The state governments are supposed to draw whatever is due to them from the centrally-managed storage system. Again, it is made to appear that the Central government is doling it out to supplicant states. This distorts the federal balance. A dispassionate debate on the functioning federalism is much needed now.
It is heartening to see mainstream media talk about federalism, something which is inevitable in a linguistically diverse country such as India.

Excerpt (i) is something we've discussed repeatedly on this blog. Excerpt (ii) is largely accurate, but there is one subtle point which I don't completely agree with, and I'd like to discuss it here. The point I'm going to point out further enhances the message of the DNA editorial that federalism is the right way ahead; it does not diminish the message.

To get to it, then, it is true that the Central government is not really a benefactor to states which contribute heavily to Central revenue (such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra). In fact, there is sufficient evidence that the Centre is actually a malefactor (for want of a better word) which depletes the earnings of affluent states, returning only a trivial fraction of their actual earnings.

But can we make the same statement in the case of economically backward states (such as the classical BIMARU ones)? No. In the case of these states, the Centre is indeed in a position to be a true "benefactor of supplicants", and that is how it indeed behaves. And that, my friends, is a big problem.

Why is it a big problem, you ask? Because, even if it be granted that the affluent states must "dole out" the backward states, the anti-federal nature of our constitution makes it very difficult for that doling out to be done with any chances of success.

Why? Simple: Where do all those Central funds come from? The economically developed states, where else? The Centre is basically spending someone else's (X's, say Karnataka's) money on someone else (Y, say Bihar). As explained beautifully by Nobel economist Milton Friedman, this is the worst possible and most wasteful way of spending money. Here's why, in his own words:
There are four ways in which you can spend money.

You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money.

Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost.

Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!

Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get.
Clearly, the Constitution of India, by virtue of its quasi-federal nature, encourages the Centre to spend money in the fourth way; and the bigger the Central government is, the more money it spends in the third way. By design, the Central government cannot be concerned about how much money it draws from the affluent states, nor be concerned about maximizing the returns from that spending; at the same time, it uses a lot of the People's money to pay for its own operating costs.

Hence, if (and only if) the people of Karnataka decide to dole out financial grants to Bihar, they must dole it out directly. Having to pass through the Central government triggers inefficiency in the doling out, and encourages corruption by elevating a nobody to the status of benefactor (then, the Centre is deep in the third way).

Besides, coercing Karnataka to dole out financial grants to Bihar is out of question and clearly undemocratic. This coercion is what happens when the Centre spends money in the fourth way, which is what it is designed to be in.

Behead chicken, head government

We were talking about our politicians having arbitrary convictions, but this arbitrary? Check this out:
Witchcraft and Vaastu are said to be the key reasons for closing the different gates of Vidhana Soudha and even the doors of the Assembly Hall, except the Kengal Hanumanthaiah gate and the west door in the Assembly Hall, during Monday's trust vote.
Perhaps we're wrong in thinking those convictions are arbitrary. Maybe they're really not arbitrary convictions, because our political strategists were goddamn serious, and their strategy seems to have worked:
A beheaded chicken, blood, a lemon pierced with nails, turmeric, vermilion and other things topped with an egg were found near the east main gate in front of the High Court. The east main gate too was closed on the day of the 'tainted' confidence motion in the Assembly.
For the full story, check out the Indian Express: Vaastu behind closing all Soudha gates but one?

I'd say it takes an enormous amount of political will to behead a chicken, etc., and place it all near the east main gate of the Vidhana Soudha. Bah! What valour! What political strategists we have around!

Any ideas what saved B. S. Yeddyurappa's government on the day of the second trust vote, when all doors were apparently opened up? Did the beheaded chicken hold its conviction to save the government for three full days?

'History of sorts'?

After winning the trust-vote in a house filled with MLAs who acted more like human beings and less like street-dogs yesterday (14 Oct 2010), chief minister B. S. Yeddyurappa exclaimed:
I have created history of sorts by winning the trust vote, the second in three days...
One wonders why it is a history of sorts. Is it because the governor asked him to prove majority twice in three days, like a schoolmaster asking a student to re-write his homework? Or is it because it is a himalayan task to get the MLAs to maintain their conviction in anything for more than three days?

It's likely the latter reason, and that is a matter of concern. If our politicians were driven by principles, it wouldn't be so easy to dislodge them from their positions. Unfortunately, our politicians are driven by a corrupt society divided on caste lines which are at best only arbitrary, and are therefore arbitrary in their convictions.

On a related note, TV anchor Deepak Thimaya, worried that open ridicule of politicians may make make children stop appreciating the importance of democracy, on Tuesday, triggered a good discussion on his facebook page by asking:
Most people who ridicule our politicians do not know what it is to live in a totalitarian or dictatorial regime. I suppose, there is limit to lampooning our elected representatives. They too have their reasons like we have ours. What job security does a politician have and what options do we give a politician to lead an honest life?
Deepak's concern is, of course, very valid. My reply was:
There is no doubt that a corrupt society is the root cause for corrupt politicians. If we reform society, politicians will automatically be reformed.

However, there are many reasons why politicians who misbehave (please note: not all politicians) rightly attract more ridicule than society. Some are:

Firstly, once they reach their high offices, they become entities which independently discourage (if not stop) social reform.

Secondly, they institutionalize, formalize, organize, and strengthen the corruption in the society, because their careers thrive on it.

Thirdly, they symbolize the worst that can happen to people if they capitalize on corruption. Therefore they easily attract ridicule.

Fourthly, their corruption is more visible in the society, and it is natural for people to ridicule visible corruption more than invisible corruption.

Fifthly, not ridiculing the 'sweetest fruit of corruption' can be interpreted as condoning it.

Sixthly, ridiculing them is a way of making people move away from using politics as the sole source of economic gratification, when better alternatives exist.
In short, it's true that social reform is what it takes to reform our politics, but it's right to ridicule the ridicule-worthy.

In any case, is it true that our children will simply start loving the idea of democracy if we all keep mum when our politicians defile the high offices of politics in a democracy?

I believe it is better for us to point out the mistakes made by our politicians, and thereby ask children to be active participants in democracy. Ridiculing those who undermine democracy is an active way of participating in democracy. Children must learn to do it. And they learn it from adults. If adults keep mum about the wrongs of politicians, children will learn exactly that: to keep mum.

What do they know of India who only Hindi know?*

At a Hindi Day function on Tuesday, 14 September 2010, Union home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram apparently gave the following as the reason why (central) government departments must increase use of Hindi in their day-to-day work:
“For effective implementation of developmental schemes, it is necessary to reach out to people in their own language.”
I’m dying to ask Mr Chidambaram one very simple question: Who are the “people” you’re referring to, and what is their language? Are you referring to the people of the Hindi-speaking States only? Is your definition of India limited to those States? Have you grown blind to the rest of India which speaks ever so many tongues?

Have you forgotten that your own tongue speaks Tamil at home? How can anybody sane use the singular noun “language” when refering to the different tongues that Indians speak, the different tongues in which they need to be “reached out” to?

What do you know about that India which you call home, minister?

* This article was originally posted on Churumuri on 15 Sep 2010. See the post on Churumuri for a pretty long discussion. I owe the catchy title to Mr. Krishna Prasad of Churumuri.

Vest them with powers apt for men, not street-dogs

Karnataka's legislative assembly with empty seats (file photo). Source: http://kla.kar.nic.in/vds.htm
As if we didn't already know this, our politicians (on both sides of the cesspool) have shown it again: that they're a bunch of worthless, ignorant, corrupt, in-fighting, inefficient and mindless stone-throwing street-urchins. But I have wailed enough about it this week, so I won't do it any more.

To cut a long story short, the Central Government will now decide whether or not to invoke Article 356 and ask the President of India to rule Karnataka. That is, a set of worthless, ignorant, corrupt, in-fighting, inefficient and mindless stone-throwing street-urchins, mostly from states other than Karnataka, who sit in New Delhi, are going to take a decision on the politics of Karnataka.

Everybody almost implicitly assumes that justice will be done if only the affair is escalated to the Centre. It appears, that all a set of people have to do to settle their disputes is to go to a third party. But is justice guaranteed if the authority administering the justice is simply someone from outside?

If it's true, what about injustice (as claimed by one of the affected parties) meted out by the Centre itself, which is the sovereign power in India which by definition cannot allow any external intervention? If the Centre were to abide by this logic, it would need to bring up the issue at the United Nations, and the United Nations would probably need to wait for life to be discovered on another planet before escalating it.

Note that the same question could be raised about the Ram Janmabhumi - Babri Masjid issue. Notice how the Sunni Wakf Board has agreed to abide by the verdict of the Supreme Court, even if that verdict is against them, simply because it is the "highest court of the land", and not because it's justice! Is injustice okay if it's meted out by the highest authority? Obviously, not!

Thus, it is clear that the very concept of escalating issues to assumed higher and higher authorities has the logical bottleneck that the highest authority itself does not abide by the logic, and therefore has arbitrary powers. Escalation does not guarantee justice.

Returning to the issue of Karnataka's politics, then, what is right and what is wrong in Karnataka cannot be decided by any external authority. Of course, the fact that our politicians act like street-dogs makes it easy for people to prefer reverting to an external authority, but such reverting does not guarantee justice.

On the other hand, because we've built up a flawed political system where the Centre is really the sovereign power in the States, our politicians are really never vested with any true power or responsibility. Responsibility is not even expected out of them. It appears that they're expected to be street-dogs so that the Centre can remain the sovereign power in the States. The Centre and media will always have the opportunity to point out how irresponsible State administrations are, and put up shows such as "India First", while all it really amounts to is the admission of the logical fallacy that escalation guarantees justice.

All this means that there shall never be true justice in State politics, until India becomes a true federation of states and state-politics is vested with true powers and responsibilities which are apt for men and women, not street-dogs.

Changes to Karnatique

With immediate effect, the following changes have been made to Karnatique:
  1. Commenting on the blog is back. Please help have good discussions by commenting responsibly. One intended consequence of the 'no-commenting-on-the-blog phase' which the blog went through, was that irresponsible comments simply stopped, while responsible comments (whether they agree or disagree with the post) continued to flow in over email. I'm hoping that won't change with re-enabled commenting on the blog.
  2. Views are not necessarily those of Banavasi Balaga. It was decided in last Saturday's Banavasi Balaga meeting that it is better to clarify that the views expressed by me on Karnatique are my own, and not necessarily those of the Balaga. It is important for us at the Balaga to take this step, since (a) individuals such as me make mistakes which should not get falsely attributed to the Balaga even temporarily, (b) the members of the Balaga need to think and express their views freely, since such freedom is essential for intellectual growth, and (c) it is becoming increasingly difficult for every post to be reviewed by my colleagues at the Balaga, mainly because of time constraints.
You're still welcome to write for Karnatique by sending me your article(s) over email.

Let's get back to work, then. Have a great day!

The Dark Designs Behind Population Control - Conclusion

In summary, the problem starts when the government enters the bedroom

There is much left to be unearthed, and much left to be understood about what in man makes him come up with such ideas as population control (by artificial means), but we have come to a point where I'd like to conclude this 'uninterrupted' series of articles.

The story of birth control or population control in India, after the adoption of the same by the National Planning Committee of the Indian National Congress, is actually fairly straightforward implementation of the flawed concept.

There are details such as the Maharaja of Mysuru setting up the first birth control clinic started by any government anywhere in the world (in Bengaluru), the Madras Neo Malthusian League's functioning, etc., but those are simply the workings of a machine which was set running by the thought process which I've tried to outline in this series of articles.

I would like to bring your attention to a note which I had placed in the first article itself, one which already stated what I believe is the right way, in politics, to approach the whole issue:
I believe that it is the right of couples to decide the number of children they wish to have, and adopt whatever methods of contraception they deem fit (although I do have a preference: the time-tested method of abstinence). When I say "Population Control is not necessary", what I mean is that the government has no justifiable reason to poke its nose inside bedrooms and human reproductive organs. Governments worldwide must stop creating a mass hysteria about a ticking "population bomb", stop spreading the nonsense that a high population is the cause for poverty and disease, decline foreign aid aimed at population control, and withdraw all their population control or family planning programmes. It's all total nonsense, and creates huge social problems which could have been avoided (such as the North-South fertility skew in India which will end up increasing internal tensions). Governments should do real work instead: improve education, provide real healthcare, etc.
The problem, in short, starts when the government enters the scene. It should simply stay out of bedrooms and human reproductive organs. It's none of the government's business.

Political parties would do good to take up the cause of abolishing all population control measures being undertaken all over India.

And what about all the thinking on chastity and abstinence and Gandhi's ideals? That's a separate discussion, something which the government should have nothing to do about. That's an issue which must be decided by the society outside of the government. Just like the government has no right to decide who your spouse should be, it can have no right to decide how many children you produce together.

Some argue, rightly so, that the population control programme in India is one of "incentive" and "education", not "coercion". But, as I have argued earlier, making someone voluntarily submit to sin is not ethical behavior. So, the method used by the government does not matter. In any method, there's lots of money involved, and there's an encouragement of sin involved.

Remember that it is "incentive" and "education" which wiped out the native red Indians of America.

India has made a mistake here, and those who include population control in the Idea of India continue to make that mistake, too. In these articles, I have tried to show the magnitude of that mistake, hoping that it can help us steer India away from a sin which is being committed even as we speak.

End of series.

The Dark Designs Behind Population Control - Part 8

Nationalism and birth control, acting together, are inhuman

Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker
Two warnings from two of the greatest leaders of India got buried in the dust of the march to India's independence, and the cacophony of Indian politics after independence. One was Mahatma Gandhi's warning about the evils of artificial birth-control. The other was Rabindranath Tagore's warning about the evils of nationalism.

As independent India moved towards an uncertain future, it threw both warnings into the dustbin of time, and adopted an overly centralist and non-federal national polity, and artificial birth-control as an assumed enabler of economic uplift.

Both concepts negate the basic principles of democracy, human liberty, and the idea of unity in diversity. When they combine, the two concepts work like the two halves of a machine designed to exterminate those whom the State considers as 'less-preferred', 'weak', or 'unfit' -- a consideration which is really none the State's business. Whether they're considered 'fit' or 'unfit', people have been indoctrinated to think it's their 'duty to the nation' to cut down on their fertility. In reality, they do irrepairable harm to humanity itself.

It is very likely that both Gandhi and Tagore, subconsciously, appreciated the fact that nationalism and birth control, when they coexist, are inhuman. That could have been the reason why one (Gandhi) steered away from birth control, and the other (Tagore) steered away from nationalism.

But independent India adopted both concepts simultaneously.

Independent India fell prey to both concepts

The merging of the two concepts is perhaps best illustrated in a seminal document of the Indian National Congress, the Report of the National Planning Committee's Sub-Committee on Woman’s Role in Planned Economy. This document, which continues to inform India's policy on health and reproduction even to this date, says the following about the need to implement a programme of eugenics in India (NPC, 1948):
The health programme of the state shall aim at the eradication of serious diseases, more especially such as are communicable or transmissible by marriage. The state should follow a eugenic programme to make the race physically and mentally healthy. This would discourage marriages of unfit persons and provide for the sterilization of persons suffering from transmissible diseases of a serious nature, such as insanity or epilepsy.
Readers will recall what eugenics is, and what its dark history is. Either knowingly or unknowingly, India adopted that very programme in an attempt to 'improve the race of Indians', simply echoing the racial nonsense pouring in from people like Margaret Sanger, under the belief that they were being 'rational' and 'scientific'.

Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker fell prey to both concepts

The father of the Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu, that great proponent of rationalism and self-respect, Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker (see photo), fell prey to both the concepts: he was an active proponent of both nationalism (Tamil nationalism, not Indian nationalism), and artificial birth-control.

Surprisingly for a man who is almost worshiped in Tamil Nadu, Periyar did not seem to foresee the effect of artificial birth control on the demographics of Tamil Nadu. One questions whether Periyar really wanted Tamils to be around on this planet, or even whether he wanted the world to be populated with anybody at all (Periyar, 1928):
Some preach that if women stop begetting children, the world and humanity will cease to reproduce...What would be women's loss if the world does not reproduce? What danger would women face if humanity does not reproduce? Or what would be the loss even for those who moralise? [None]...
The problem with the above position, of course, is that when Tamil women stop begetting children, there will be no Tamils any more. Or, to take the concern which Periyar had when he wrote the above, the danger which women face if humanity does not reproduce, the loss to women, is that there will be no women any more (or men, but that wasn't Periyar's concern)!

And that is the situation to which the Tamils and other South Indians are slowly moving today, because of their below-replacement fertility and ageing population and, if may I say so, foolishness.

References

Periyar, 1928: Kudi Arasu, 12 Aug 1928 in Ve. Aanaimuthu, Periyar Chindanaigal, Vol. I, p. 107.

NPC, 1948: National Planning Committee, Report of the Sub-Committee on Woman’s Role in Planned Economy (Bombay: Vora & Co, 1948), p. 115. See also, NPC, Population, p. 6.

To be continued.

The Dark Designs Behind Population Control - Part 7

Mahatma Gandhi vehemently opposed artificial birth control

Yesterday was Gandhi Jayanti, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. While one may not agree with everything the man stood for and believed, his views on the subject of over-population and birth control are worth remembering.

Gandhi never fell for the nonsense of Malthusian population arithmetic which is the basis of all the fear of over-population. In a most scientific argument, he wrote the following in 1925 (around the same time Rabindranath Tagore wrote a letter of approval to Margaret Sanger):
If it is contended that birth–control is necessary for the nation because of over-population, I dispute the proposition. It has never been proved. In my opinion, by a proper land system, better agriculture and a supplementary industry, this country is capable of supporting twice as many people as there are in it today. (YI, 2-4-1925, p. 118)
Since it was the contention of birth-controllers that "surplus children" are given birth to because couples fear that some may be lost due to the "three-fold curse" of pestilence, wars and famines, Gandhi's proposal was to stop those three in order to stop surplus children. He argued that self-control (i.e., abstinence) is the  "sovereign remedy" which does not bring greater evils in its train (the evil of South India's falling fertility is just one of them), but rather further ennobles people:
The bogey of increasing birth-rate is not a new thing. It has been often trotted out. Increase in population is not and ought not to be regarded as a calamity to be avoided. Its regulation or restriction by artificial methods is a calamity of the first grade, whether we know it or not. It is bound to degrade the race if it becomes universal, which, thank God, it is never likely to be. Pestilence, wars and famines are cursed antidotes against cursed just which is responsible for unwanted children. If we would avoid this three-fold curse, we would avoid too the curse of unwanted children by the sovereign remedy of self–control. The evil consequences of artificial methods are being seen by discerning men even now. Without, however, encroaching upon the moral domain, let me say that propagation of the race rabbit-wise must undoubtedly be stopped; but not so as to bring greater evils in its train. It should be stopped by methods which in themselves ennoble the race. In other words, it is all a matter of proper education which would embrace every department of life; and dealing with one curse will take in its orbit all the others. A way is not to be avoided because it is upward and therefore uphill. Man’s upward progress means ever-increasing difficulty, which is to be welcomed. (H, 31-3-1946, p. 66)
Gandhi called artificial methods of birth control as "sin presented in the garb of virtue". Note that Marie Stopes, someone I haven't paid much attention to in this series, was the UK-version of Margaret Sanger. Wrote Gandhi in 1935:
Man must choose either of the two courses, the upward or the downward; but as he has the brute in him he will more easily choose the down ward course than the upward , especially when the down ward course is presented to him in a beautiful garb. Man easily capitulates when sin is presented in the garb of virtue, and that is what Marie Stopes and others are doing. (H, 1-2-1935, p. 410)
Gandhi very correctly foretold the effects of contraception and other artificial methods of birth control on society, pointing out that they insulted womanhood, dissolved the bond of marriage, and enable free love (that is, extramarital sex):
I am afraid that advocates of birth-control take it for granted that indulgence in animal passion is a necessity of life and in itself a desirable thing. the solicitude shown for the fair sex is most pathetic. In my opinion, it is an insult to the fair sex to put up her case in support of birth–control by artificial methods. As it is, man has sufficiently degraded her for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well-meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her.

I urge the advocates of artificial methods to consider the consequences. Any large use of the methods is likely to result in the dissolution of the marriage bond and in free love. If man may indulge in animal passion for the sake of it, what is he to do whilst he is, say, away from his home for any length of time, or when he is engaged as a soldier in a protracted war, or when he is widowed, or when his wife is too ill to permit him the indulgence without injury to her health, notwithstanding the use of artificial methods. (YI, 2-4-1925, p. 118)
And by the way, Sanger met Gandhi in 1936, before meeting Tagore. Needless to say, she didn't get any support from him.

More quotes from Gandhi on this subject on mkgandhi.org.

To be continued.

The Dark Designs Behind Population Control - Part 6

The power of propaganda gets unlikely recruits in India

In the previous post, I showed how Margaret Sanger, the American birth control pioneer and worldwide propagandist, was driven by the principles of the racist pseudo-science called eugenics. I have also shown how Malthus's flawed science was at the root of all the concern about human population.

However, strange are the ways in which un-science spreads, especially when its spread is driven and funded by racist people and institutions! So strange, that perhaps one of the most level headed leaders of India in recent times, a person from whom I draw great inspiration, that great bard of Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore, got convinced that Sanger was doing something good for humanity.

In 1923, when Tagore wrote the following (Tagore 1923), I am certain that he had no clue about Sanger's close involvement with the eugenicists (which involvement Sanger disclosed only in 1921):
[M]en in the West are apt to borrow the sanction of science under false pretenses to give expression to their passions and prejudices. To many thinkers there has appeared a clear connection between Darwin's theories and the 'imperialism', Teutonic and other, which was so marked a feature during the 'sixties. We have also read western authors who, admirably mimicking scientific mannerism, assert that only the so-called Nordic race has the proper quality and therefore the right to rule the world, extolling its characteristic ruthlessness as giving it the claim to universal dominance.
Had Tagore known about the true force behind Sanger's birth control agenda, which was nothing but the racist force professing Nordic superiority and vying for Nordic world dominance, I am sure he would have despised her entire programme, just like he started hating the very idea of a Nation after Japan's bid to invade China (he was a votary of Nationalism before that).

But yes, Tagore did not know of the dark designs behind Sanger's birth control propaganda, and got recruited by her. And yes, Tagore was also uninformed about the nonsense of Malthusian population arithmetic. The above two reasons, plus the effect of the zeitgeist of the times seem to have made Tagore write the following to Sanger in 1926 (Tagore, 1926):
I am of opinion that the birth control movement is a great movement not only because it will save women from enforced and undesirable maternity, but because it will help the cause of peace by lessening the number of surplus population of a country, scrambling for food and space outside its own rightful limits.
Note that Tagore's approval of population control stemmed more from flawed Malthusian concerns, than women's health.

Tagore also believed, unlike Mahatma Gandhi, that India must not wait for "the moral sense of man to become a great deal powerful than it is now" to achieve population control. Gandhi, on the other hand, was completely against Sanger's proposal for birth control by any means other than abstention (about which more later).

In this article, I have taken the risk to point out that Tagore, a source of great inspiration for me personally, was for population control in a series of articles against the very concept, assuming that the reader is mature enough to not believe in this or that because it was said by a well-known personality. Such a blind belief in the words of individuals is dangerous but widespread.

In short, Tagore probably exemplifies some of the greatest and well-meaning thinkers of India who were recruited by the birth control propagandists, and thereby set in motion that decimating machine which hurts Indians, especially South Indians, today.

The greatest of minds can be swayed by unreason towards actions and words which actually contradict their deepest feelings. It happened to Tagore. And it is perhaps for this very reason that the Taittiriyopanishad places the following disclaimer on what in a Guru is not worth following:


That is, "Take from us only those works which are beyond blemish. Follow our actions only as long as they are good deeds". I have every reason to believe that the very concept of population control, whoever professed it, however close he or she might be to my heart, is neither beyond blemish nor a good deed.

It is with this conviction that I dare to oppose your view here, O Poet of poets, for, again, as you wrote, one must not let one's "clear stream of reason" lose its way into the "dreary desert sand of dead habit" (Tagore, 1912).

And yes, so also is not beyond blemish that fatal feeling in Kannadigas that Kannada is derived from Sanskrit, and that Kannada by itself is incapable of anything without help from Sanskrit. But I digress.

References

Tagore, 1912: Gitanjali, p. 22, in The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Vol 1., p. 618., Atlantic Publishers, New Delhi.


Tagore, 1923: "The way to unity", in The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Vol 6., p. 618., Atlantic Publishers, New Delhi.


Tagore, 1926: Letter to Margaret Sanger, in The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Vol 8., p. 1044., Atlantic Publishers, New Delhi.

To be continued.

The Dark Designs Behind Population Control - Part 5

Birth control as the most efficient implementation of the eugenics agenda

Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) started out as a proponent of freedom from excessive childbearing for women, from the concern that too many childbirths affect the physical and mental health of women. Under this agenda, she became a hyperactive propagandist of birth control by all possible means: abortion, contraception, segregation, sterilization, etc.

Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921 which decided, for reasons to become obvious, to change its name in 1949 to the more moderate Planned Parenthood, and further established the International Planned Parenthood Foundation with tentacles all over the globe, including India.

While Sanger did not express her eugenicist feelings openly in her early birth control career, she started doing so as time progressed. As eugenics gained popularity in America and Europe and became something okay to discuss in public, she herself argued (Sanger, 1921) that there is no essential difference in the final aims of eugenics and birth control:
In the limited space of the present paper, I have time only to touch upon some of the fundamental convictions that form the basis of our Birth Control propaganda, and which, as I think you must agree, indicate that the campaign for Birth Control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical in ideal, with the final aims of Eugenics.
Eugenicists hooked on to Margaret Sanger's birth control programme as the easiest way to implement their agenda, and poured in tons of money. This enabled Sanger to establish the Planned Parenthood birth control clinics all over America, and basically garner financial support for implementing the eugenics agenda. The Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation pledged their support for Planned Parenthood both within the US and worldwide. Recently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has taken up this cause.

To get back to my philosophical argument, I urge readers to note that there is most certainly a crucial difference between a concern for women's health, and the eugenic concern for racial purity.

From purely a standpoint of women's health, one cannot make the assumption that races, communities and classes in which women bear more children are necessarily those which are "unfit" to exist and must therefore be wiped out. Which people are fit to exist, and which are unfit to exist cannot be the call of any truly ethical form of government. A government concerned only with women's health cannot seek to reduce or destroy the fertility of one particular race or community or class, for e.g., the jews in Germany, or the blacks in America. Nor can it invent ways of proving that the target people are inferior in one or the other way.

However, starting from the standpoint of racism, one can easily feign concern for the health of women in that race or community or class which a eugenicist wants to exterminate for reasons such as colour of skin and length of nose. By feigning such concern, and sugarcoating it sufficiently well, governments can translate them into a program of birth control, and help achieve the eugenic objective of "racial purity".

Birth controllers can claim that their single-minded concern for women's health actually drives them to find the most unhealthy women, wherever they are, and cut down their fertility in order to improve health. They can claim that there is nothing racist about that. However, as in most cases, it's not the intent which matters but the consequence. In many cases, birth controllers are committing a crime against humanity, albeit unknowingly. But a crime, whether committed knowingly or unknowingly, is a crime and must be stopped.

Birth control enthusiasts must answer some very difficult questions, which can arise only when love for all humanity awakens one's empathy for the oppressed:
  • Who gave birth controllers the right to decide what is health and what is not health for women from all races, communities, and classes?
  • What if the most "unhealthy women" happen to be in one particular race or community or class, and wielding the weapon of birth control on them actually leaves them with an irrepairable demographic loss?
  • How ethical is it for birth control enthusiasts to wipe out entire races, communities or classes using contraceptives and abortion clinics?
  • Who authorized birth controllers to use women's health as a criterion to determine whether a people may exist or perish?
  • Who authorized birth controllers to increase women's health and thereby wipe away the race, community or class to which those women belong?
  • In the ultimate analysis, who can affirm that an exterminated race, community or class is better than "unhealthy" women, even if the claim of unhealthiness were taken to be true?
History abounds with the use of seemingly innocent tools for eugenic purposes. One more example, similar to birth control, is the use of IQ tests to achieve eugenic goals. Writes Ajitha Reddy, Deputy Executive Director, International Human Rights Law Institute, DePaul University College of Law (Reddy, 2008):
Throughout the early 1900s, eugenicists labored to devise objective methods of measuring and quantifying valued traits, including intelligence, in order to substantiate their hypothesis of Nordic genetic advantage. Some of their more preposterous experiments involved measuring the crania of school children, analyzing the facial asymmetry of criminals, and sketching the toes of prostitutes.

Eugenicists struggled for years to produce compelling results, until the advent of Alfred Binet’s intelligence scale in 1909 gave rise to standardized intelligence testing, colloquially known as IQ testing.

Armed with this so-called objective methodology, American eugenicists advanced a straw-man rationale for large-scale testing. They reasoned that society needed to identify, segregate, and sterilize the “feeble-minded,” initially defined as those with mental disabilities but later extended to include any “unfit” person of low intelligence, character, or ethnicity. In both Germany and the United States, persecution of the “feebleminded” hastened a broader eugenic campaign against immigration, miscegenation, and other professed threats to Nordic ascendancy.
In America, therefore, the determination of "health" came to include having to pass an IQ test. This enabled US governments to declare the uneducated as "unfit" and therefore targets of birth control. If governments, instead of investing in the education of the uneducated, become butchers of the uneducated, are they really good governments?

In summary, racism is such that it can find very subtle ways of expressing itself without making its voice too loud. And Margaret Sanger's birth control program provided the most subtle, and the most efficient way for eugenicists to implement their racist agenda, especially after eugenics became a bad word in America due to Hitler's use of the "science" to exterminate jews.

Why did birth control become the most efficient implementation of the eugenic agenda? Simple: it was easy to get people hooked on to (Sanger, 1922)
unlimited sexual gratification without the burden of unwanted children.
Just like it became easy to make native Red Indians "fall to their women" and thereby relieve them of their land by way of pleasure, not pain.

References

Reddy, 2008: "The eugenic origins of IQ testing: Implications for post-Atkins litigation", Ajitha Reddy, DePaul Law Review, 13 May 2008, URL.

Sanger, 1921: "The eugenic value of birth control", Margaret Sanger, Birth Control Review, Oct 1921, URL.

Sanger, 1922: The Woman Rebel, Margaret Sanger, reprinted in Woman and the New Race (1922).

To be continued.