Saturday, 19 May 2018

Miniya Chatterji's incubation in Corporate Crime

Miniya Chatterji was hired by a steel tycoon and former member of parliament charged by the C.B.I with corruption, criminal misconduct, cheating and criminal conspiracy in connection with suspected irregularities in the allocation of a coal block.

 After his home was raided by investigators, shares in his company fell by 15 percent. The question arose as to whether his business was sustainable or would it collapse like a house of cards. This is when he hired Miniya Chatterjee to act as 'Chief Sustainability Officer'- i.e. be part of a P.R whitewash- for three years. However, it was soon obvious that this sort of eye-wash impressed nobody. It was a waste of money. Actually producing and marketing a competitive product is all that matters. Sustainability means nothing else.

Miniya took a different view. This was Miniya's most recent statement to 'stakeholders'-
This has been a very special year. By pivoting steadily on its intrinsic strength, JSPL was able to recalibrate itself organizationally.
Jindal's intrinsic strength was cheating the people of Jharkand out of their natural resources.  Apparently it has been pivoting on this strength. Pivoting  towards where? Odisha?
The business model was turned around to have a more solid front end.
Because, previously the front end was not solid but very loose indeed.
Our raw material procurement strategy is more robust.
i.e. involves more than just corruption, criminal misconduct, cheating and criminal conspiracy
And in this past year there was more progress made than ever before to ensure JSPL’s holistic growth through extraordinary initiatives in our social commitment, energy efficiency, compliances, risk management, and talent development of employees.
Yes, yes, corruption and cheating are very holistic activities when part of a criminal conspiracy. No doubt, what is extraordinary about Jindal's initiatives is that they are all of a piece with its  'intrinsic strength'.
But what is that strength? Judge for yourself-
In FY 2015-16 JSPL’s business sustainability department worked across all functions and businesses of the company to take care of aspects that are important for the long term and not just the urgent ones.
It was urgent to keep Jindal out of jail and get the Courts to drop charges against him and his company. There will be no long term if this isn't done.

Worthless verbiage won't cut it. Indeed, it adds negative value. This is rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic with a vengeance. Investors will flee from this sinking ship.
Remarkably, JSPL’s business sustainability department acted as an incubator to create important new departments at JSPL - such as the Compliance & Risk Management department, the Energy Efficiency department - that are crucial for the company’s business longevity.
 No Company needs to 'incubate' yet more pointless Bureaucracy and apple polishing. The Jindals aren't stupid. They cut the budget for this exercise in stupidity and eased Miniya out to go incubate elsewhere.

Oddly Miniya herself reveals this detail in an excerpt from her book she published in an online e-zine. Clearly the lady is pulling out all the stops to advertise her talent for incubation. But what does that talent consist of? The answer is it consists in being as stupid as shit.

Reading extracts from her book we can clearly see why a criminal Corporation might hire her to do a PR whitewash. She is utterly ignorant and wholly unable to reason.

Consider the following statement-
An entire book can be written on the number of reasons Indians feel constantly deprived of resources.
India is poor. Poverty means being deprived of resources. That's it. That's your whole book.

But Miniya takes a different tack-
The approach to parenting in India has been severely affected by this, with parents hoping that their children will make up for what they lack, in terms of the evolution of social and/or economic status.
Miniya may believe there is some country where parents want the kids to have less than they do. So their approach to parenting is different from that of Indians.
We ask ourselves as parents: How can I ensure that my child has what I do not have?
No, we ask ourselves 'how can I ensure that my child WILL have what I do not have.'
Can my child improve my own condition?
No. It is against the law to send your kid out to work or to prostitute it in some way.

While the first question seems altruistic, the second question is considered selfish and unspeakable.
Quite rightly so.
A parent who sacrifices many years of his life to further the career of their child, and does not work hard enough towards their own, is regarded as morally superior to the parent who works at achieving his own personal ambition.
A parent has to work hard in his or her own career to earn money to further the career of the child. Suppose I give up my job in order to pimp out my daughter in the hope that one day she is considered the doyen of her profession, I would be regarded as morally inferior, not superior, to a guy who works hard at achieving his own personal ambition to be the best heart surgeon in the world.
This is odd, because by this logic, an industrialist who toils to produce a fortune and a man who robs a bank can be regarded as equally immoral, since they both have sought wealth for their selfish benefit.
Robbing a bank is illegal. It involves theft which is immoral.  Thus a robber can't be regarded as equally moral or immoral as a law abiding industrialist.

Still, we can now understand why the Jindals hired you. You genuinely believe Crime is a good thing.

There is a demonisation of selfishness that has created double standards and contradictions in relationships, including that between a parent and a child.
Rational self-interest is not demonised at all provided it operates within the law and outside repugnancy markets- like pimping your child.

There are no 'double standards and contradictions' in any relationships- least of all that between parent and child.
Working mothers suffer from the guilt and social stigma of being too selfish to not be with their children all day.
Nonsense! If the working mother is hiring the best nannies and tutors for her children, their achievements become the object of envy not censure.

It is a different matter that a woman who hates being with her kids feels guilt. She did wrong in giving birth to them and not having them immediately adopted by someone who would love and cherish them.

There is a social stigma attaching to people who can't or won't perform their filial duty. Why? Such people may be unreliable in other contexts as well.

A man who abandons his family saying 'I want to be an artist' may well abandon art as well when he finds it tiresome or too much bother.
In India the forces that make them feel so are at work even before a child is born.
All over the world, a pregnant woman who is smoking and drinking and engaging in behaviour likely to harm the child in her womb will feel either guilt or face social stigma or both.
Around the time I began writing this essay, I discovered I was pregnant. Elated at the news, I immediately went to a gynaecologist at a well-known clinic in the posh Khan Market area of central Delhi. The doctor was a pleasant, middle-aged woman dressed in a pastel cotton salwar kameez. Swinging out of her chair behind the desk, she briskly walked over to her ultrasound machine and asked me to lie down on the bed next to it. A quick check later, it was confirmed that a child was indeed in the making. Thereafter, she was chatty, obviously accustomed to naive first-time mothers-to-be like myself, and was ready to offer ample advice.
“You must now restrict yourself to the bed. Just lie still and avoid movement,” she said.
“Lie in bed for the next seven months?!” I asked, aghast. “What about travel? I have to be in Dubai and Paris for work next month!” “No, no, avoid air travel. No exercise. No sex. Eat bland food,” she admonished. “Make these sacrifices for your baby.”
So, unless there was some complication Miniya is not telling us about, the gynaecologist was shit at her job. She was giving bad advise. Miniya has a smartphone. She could verify this for herself.
I sat there staring at her, devastated at the pronouncement and the prospect of the next few months.
Why did you do so Miniya? Did you really believe this woman was giving you sound medical advise? In which coal mine have you been hiding for the last two decades? If you are so gullible about something like pregnancy what kind of 'Chief Sustainability Officer' could you have been for the Jindals? When they said 'everything is clean and above board' did you just nod your head?
A few moments later, I felt even worse, guilty that I was thinking about lifestyle and work commitments instead of the well-being of my unborn child. But I had erroneously presumed that an experienced doctor’s advice must be based on scientific facts.
An experienced doctor's advise is based on the sort of patients of whom she has experience. It may well be that the sort of young brides she regularly treats have certain endemic conditions like anaemia, or face certain domestic pressures- e.g. reassuring the mother-in-law that the son is not getting 'addicted' to sex- and that airline travel is to be avoided because the temptation would be to return to the parental home which might mean that the child is less strongly tied to the father's family. This sort of thing could cause business disputes later on. Thus, the Doctor's advise may reflect a specific socio-economic milieu. Miniya should have explained that she'd been living abroad and had a different life style.
“Do not eat papaya and pineapple,” the doctor continued with her advice.
Well, better safe than sorry. There may be something to this particular 'old wive's tale' at least for Indian women.
A few months later, at a jazz bar in one of Delhi’s luxury boutique hotels, I was stopped by a bouncer at the door.
“Madam, no. You cannot enter,” he said.
“Why not?”
“You are pregnant.”
“Yes, so?” I asked, surprised. “I have a few months to go before I deliver!”
“Sorry, we can’t let you in – hotel policy,” he said, holding me by my elbow and taking me aside.
“Which law is this hotel policy based on?” I asked. By now, the man had been joined by his colleague, both dressed in black pant suits with walkie-talkies in hand.
“No, no policy, there is just loud music and a lot of movement inside. People are walking around, it is not safe for pregnant women,” the second man said.
“And who are you to decide what is safe for me?” I asked. “A pregnant woman is capable of using her own judgement about what is best for her.”
“I have heard pregnant women should not go to bars,” said the first man. “You cannot enter, madam.”
Once again, this is a case of better safe than sorry. There may have been some gangster type MLAs in there. The bouncers were better placed to know if this was so.
Another two months later, in the last trimester of my pregnancy, I began to wonder and plan how I could best manage all the changes that would come with the baby. I decided to work till the end of my pregnancy, until the delivery, and thereafter take about three months of maternity leave. The Government of India had recently and generously extended the duration of paid maternity leave from three months to six. I wanted to be active, productive and financially secure as well as a good mother, and give my utmost to my firstborn. In all the previous organisations I worked at – none of them in India – I came across women who were pregnant, yet living a healthy, active and efficient work and social life until the last day of their pregnancy. That was how I had always aspired to be. Moreover, since age seventeen, I had earned my living and I wanted to continue doing that to fend for myself and ensure my baby’s comfort. I had checked that I was medically healthy enough to do so.
“You must keep your priorities straight,” a top human resources executive once told me.
“And which are?”
“Your priority is your baby. In the last two months before your delivery, you should stop working. There is nothing much to do at work anyway. Budgets have been squeezed as well.”
“Of course not. I am in good health, and I will work till the end of my pregnancy.”
“No, it will not be possible for us to allow that. I have consulted all our colleagues and we think it is best for you to rest and return only after six months or so.”
“Six months! That is for me to decide, isn’t it?” I asked, rolling my eyes at this judgement passed by the company’s all-male top management. “What about maternity? Will these six months be paid?”
“No. You can avail the medical insurance provided by the company. We have a very good insurance package that will cover a lot of the medical costs,” he said.
So these guys hire her for a purely cosmetic purpose. They tell her 'there is nothing much to do at work anyway'. Why on earth does she still want to come into work? It is pure vanity. She wants to be able to say 'I came into work, though there was no work to do- actually my job was a complete sham- just a P.R whitewash, that is all- because...urm...I don't care if the 'work' I do is a sham. All I care about is appearances. I want to appear to be doing such an important job that I have to come in even when heavily pregnant.'

Why did Miniya not threaten to sue her employer if they failed to provide 26 weeks of paid maternity leave as mandated by law? They may have had their own reasons for wishing for their 'Chief Sustainability Officer' to be absent. But, at least, Miniya could have forced them to pay for this privilege.
The beginning of the journey of parenthood is often scarred by stereotypes based on the personal beliefs of doctors, entertainment providers and employers, who would usually be expected to abide by science, fact and law.
But, Miniya, the only reason they are expected to abide by these things is because people complain when they don't. Why didn't you complain? Why did you not threaten your Doctor with an adverse write-up in one of the many magazines you write for? Why did you not contact the Senior Management of the Hotel with the jazz bar? Why did you not sue your employer to force them to abide by the law re. paid maternity leave?
But in India, this is not always the case. For example, I later discovered that my gynaecologist had mixed old granny tales of abstinence from papaya and pineapple into her medical beliefs.
Later? Why not immediately by consulting your smartphone?
Regular exercise and a healthy sex life, I later learnt, are beneficial during pregnancy.
But I knew that from the books we bought when our son was first conceived back in the Eighties. Why are you so retarded compared to ordinary people?
My unborn baby and I travelled to six countries and there was no problem. All this makes me wonder how many pregnant women in India are grounded by the agents of society, their health ruined by lack of activity, spirits dampened by clichés, and their careers written off by narrow-minded employers who wrongly undermine their capabilities. If they do not give in to these pressures, they are made to feel terribly guilty about being bad parents.
No Indian airline prevents a pregnant woman of 35 weeks or less to board a plane. There may be some business communities who cling to irrational practices in this connection but they are wealthy so it is doubtful that health is actually ruined.

Your employer told you your job was a sham. You had already written off your career by going in for something wholly cosmetic. Had you been doing something mission critical or even marginally useful, your employer- acting out of rational self-interest- would have tried to get as much work out of you as possible while it was safe to do so.
The demonisation of selfishness continues to be inflicted on parents even after their baby is born.
By whom? Where is this demonisation you say occurs? Either some 'agents of society' said 'you are a she-devil for doing x' or they didn't. If they didn't, no demonisation occurred. All that happened was people did their jobs as they thought fit. You alone failed to do your job as you thought fit- unless you wanted to work in a wholly bogus role for a politician/businessman accused of having swindled the exchequer.
Parents who cannot afford to provide the best material facilities for their child are made to feel that they have been egoistic and not sacrificed enough.
Made to feel by whom? Name names. Who has the time and resources to go knocking on the doors of hundreds of millions of Indians saying 'you egotistical bastard! You are not buying your kid the latest iPad Pro! Shame on you for spending your money on daal and rice! You are not sacrificing enough!'
On the other hand, young couples who are both working hard to earn a livelihood in the 24/7 corporate work culture in India are shamed for being “absent parents”.
They should be ashamed for being parents unless they can pay for as good or better a standard of care for their kids when they themselves are absent. But in that case their kids will do well and their style of parenting will become an object of envy or emulation.
Divorced parents face the social stigma of choosing their own happiness over that of their children, who are assumed to derive a benefit from the presence of quarrelling parents.
Nonsense! Kids benefit from parents who are kind and nurturing. Divorce is not a good thing. It suggests poor judgement or some other type of problem which is likely to resurface in other contexts. The stigma here is perfectly rational.
In contrast, as I pointed out earlier, parents who make great sacrifices of their own happiness, for the education or careers or well-being of their children, are considered by society to be morally superior to those who have not done so.
This is kin selective altruism and it is rational to admire it. However, Society may not be rational- it may be ontologically dysphoric. It may praise a Gandhian, who ruins his kids life-chances, because this permits virtue signalling or justifies neglect of the education and welfare of the rising generation.
Often, this is despite the tendency of the sacrificing parent to suffer a deep sense of resentment. Such a parent might hope that the child would make sacrifices for the parent’s benefit as well, making it akin to a burden.
It is normal to inculcate children into the prevailing moral economy by a process of negotiation. In the process, both sides clarify what type of onerous or uncompensated sacrifices they resent and a better equilibrium is found.  Miniya, however, feels this is very wicked and bad. Every family should have a Chief Sustainability Officer to declare that pimping your kids is part of 'holistic growth'. Only in this way can 'Indian instincts' be overcome.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

More from Miniya Chatterji



The following excerpt from Miniya Chatterji's 'Indian Instincts' was published in 'The Print'. Was it for the purpose of holding up the author to ridicule and contempt?


Surely not.

Yet what other outcome could there have been?

Judge for yourself.


Would Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the man who led the writing of the Indian Constitution, be considered anti-national today?
No. All parties are casting lots for his mantle. Everybody knows this.
Ambedkar had an antagonistic relationship with Mahatma Gandhi and many other leaders of the freedom movement in the 1930s and 1940s. He had also rejected the Hindu religion. In 1939, Ambedkar said, ‘Whenever there is any conflict of interest between the country and the untouchables, so far as I am concerned, the untouchables’ interests will take precedence over the interests of the country,’ a statement that, among several others, clarified his allegiance to his cause over his country. All of these actions would be considered anti-national today!
If so, why did Modi spend a lot of money to buy a house in London where Ambedkar stayed and turn it into a shrine to the Dalit leader? Ambedkar's words and actions are better known today- thanks to the internet than ever before. If his actions were considered 'anti-national', he would not be so universally revered.

This raises the question, what did Ambedkar want? The answer is one thing and one thing alone. Equality for Dalits. But, since Dalits are a sizable group found all over India, any improvement in their condition and life chances is an improvement for the whole of India. If their condition stagnates, the country stagnates. It becomes weaker. It can have no 'demographic dividend'. Rather it will have a mill-stone around its neck.

No doubt, many Hindus consider Untouchability to be a crime against Religion and Spirituality. That is a separate matter.
Would the same tag also be placed on Rabindranath Tagore, the brilliant poet and Nobel laureate?
No. Don't be silly. He was a patriot and wrote the national anthem. He was a very effective Ambassador for India in Asian countries like Iran, China & Japan.
After all, Tagore had rather radical views on nationalism. He believed that intense love for the nation, which manifests in the conviction of national superiority and the glorification of cultural heritage, is used to justify narrow-minded national interest. Writing in 1917, Tagore said, ‘When this organization of politics and commerce, whose other name is the Nation, becomes all powerful at the cost of the harmony of higher social life, then it is an evil day for humanity.’
If anything becomes 'all powerful' it will be an evil day for humanity. So what? Tagore, like many others, condemned the chauvinistic Nationalism typified by the Kaiser's Germany during the Great War. However, he was no lackey of Imperialism. He returned his Knighthood in protest at the Jallianwallah Bagh atrocity.
And going by the reasoning rationale, would Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, also be considered anti-national? He went against the wishes of the ruler, his father, and abandoned his responsibility to govern Shakya.
Actually, Buddha's father was not a King. The Shakya were a tribal confederacy. Ambedkar has explained the sensible manner in which Lord Buddha conciliated the Shaka Sangha and reconciled them to his Religious mission.
He must have been distinctly anti-establishment as well to have gone ahead and created a new religion!
Very true. There was an Establishment and there was a Nation back then. Lord Buddha went to Starbucks and then texted his Daddy. He published a hard hitting attack upon the Shakya elite on his blog.
But all these debates and arguments were quickly set aside.
There was never any debate or argument over anything so stupid.
The events of the last two years of right-wing political leadership in India have been such that in the name of nationalism we are now often told what we can and cannot eat, what we can and cannot watch, what we can and cannot speak about, what we must sing and how.
In some Indian States bare possession of beef is a criminal offense. But this has been true for many years and is supported by a Directive Principle in the Constitution which Dr. Ambedkar worked on. Apart from this, people can eat what they like. Similarly, there have always been censorship of films and television programs as well as certain public interest restrictions on free expression. There is not now, nor has there ever been any stipulation or restriction on 'what we may sing and how'.

Miniya may believe that 'Nationalism' is responsible for repression. However, no elected Indian leader has been anything but 'Nationalist'. Miniya may believe that Indira Gandhi or Manmohan Singh had a deep aversion to Indian Nationalism and that what delighted them most was seeing same-sex couple copulating on the public thoroughfare, but such was not actually the case.

Couples who merely hold hands are harassed and attacked, because expressing love is not ‘Indian’.
There may indeed be a public order offence which they are committing. That is a question for the municipality or other regulatory body.
Are all notions of rights to be immobilized in the face of nationalism?
No. Don't be silly. A Nation may chose, as India has done, to be a Democracy under the Rule of Law- in which case justiciable rights and entitlements exist. However, these rights are defeasible in the public interest by a due process of law.
Are we yet another nation state in the developing world that initially promised high ideals of emancipation and freedom to its citizens, and is later unable to do so?
Emancipation means freedom. The Rule of Law specifies a bundle of Hohfeldian Rights as constituting freedom. These may be extended or changed in the public interest.
Or is ‘nationalism’, and even ‘anti-nationalism’, so abstract that its meaning can be manipulated to intimidate and beat down voices of dissent and criticism?
In other words, are you talking sense or nonsense? The answer is nonsense.

India is a diverse country, and its people have different views about the idea of India and their relationship with it. Instead of silencing those who hold a different view, why can we not respect these differences? And why can the reason for that not be the Constitution or our laws, but basic respect towards humanity and human diversity?
Why can't Miniya accept that Narendra Modi has a different idea of India which he is trying to implement because the voters have asked him to do it? Why is Miniya pretending that anyone is 'silencing' her?

The reason good people who have 'basic respect towards humanity and human diversity' nevertheless may decide to have a written Constitution is because Laws serve a signalling and coordinating function. They reduce ambiguity and uncertainty and permit good faith relationships to flourish.

Miniya is saying- 'Why do we need laws? If everyone were nice, there would be no need for them'? Has her very expensive education been completely wasted?
We have given enough importance to politics in regard to nationalism. Perhaps it is because we do not make enough of a distinction between ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’.
Miniya may be too stupid to understand that a nation- i.e a group of people speaking the same language and inhabiting the same territory- can exist without 'nationalism'. However, if that group wishes to improve public good provision- thus creating justiciable rights of an incentive compatible kind- it will gravitate towards a nationalistic polity.
As we know, nation states are a nineteenth-century European creation,
Nonsense! The first modern nation-state was the United States of America. The French followed the American example as did other nationalities within Europe- like the Hungarians, the Poles, the Czechs etc. However, the Nineteenth Century in Europe was characterised by Empires and Monarchies. It was not till the after the Great War that Nation States- Republics on the American model- became the rule rather than the exception.
and following in Europe’s footsteps, India became one only seventy years ago. But nationalism is an emotion,
No. Patriotism is an emotion. Nationalism is a political ideology. India was following the footsteps of non-European entities like Turkey, Iraq, etc. It's constitution was more similar to that of the Republic of Eire.
it is a sense of relationship with the community that we agree to be governed with. Nationalism predates nation states. Our ancestors could have felt nationalistic towards their tribe or kingdom, just as we do towards our country.
No. Our ancestors felt patriotism for their natal territorial unit. It was only after it became obvious that superior public good provision would arise on a broader basis that Nationalism took off.
For various reasons, we agree to be part of a common governance structure, and so an entity that has political boundaries—tribe, kingdom, country—is created.
Miniya is peddling a 'Social Contract' theory. However, the Economic theory of 'incomplete contracts' has moved on a great deal over the last three decades. Agreement is not required or expected in the type of incomplete adhesion contract most of us are confronted with in our day to day life.
Therein lies the link between politics and nationalism.
Not so. Nationalism is seldom a Contractarian theory.
But in a liberal set-up in any era, the way we feel towards a specific entity must not be defined by the political class.
In a liberal set-up nothing is defined by any class. An independent Judiciary acts as check upon the Executive branch. The Legislature is similarly circumscribed in its freedom of action.
It is how we feel towards the entity that must define the agenda of the political class that governs us.
Nonsense! How people feel should not 'define' the agenda of the political class. It is their job to make good decisions and then garner broad support for those decisions. That is what is happening in Modi's India. The people want good governance. They don't know the precise details as to how that can be achieved. The Executive must make tough decisions and run certain risks. If it gets things wrong, it has to backtrack. The Judiciary can play a helpful role in this process as can the Legislature. However, as the old saw has it 'hard cases make bad law'. Thus to tackle atrocities against Dalits or dowry deaths or other such manifest injustices, bad laws may be passed. It may be necessary to reform those laws to prevent them from being misused. People like Miniya ought to study such matters in a dispassionate manner and suggest how governance can be improved. They should not write lazy rubbish of a hysterical sort.

Consider this excerpt from her book published in the Pioneer
 Fair distribution of profits can only happen when economic development is not just driven by the whims of individuals, but instead is balanced with institutional checks and balances.
Is this true? Not according to economic theory or, indeed, common sense. What matters is market power. If a monopoly or monopsony exists it is likely that rents will be extracted and allocative inefficiency will result. The solution is to have a judicially enforceable Competition Policy. In open markets, this is not necessary. Individuals don't have 'whims', they are actuated by rational self-interest.
Institutions, by contrast, are vulnerable to 'Agency Capture'- i.e. far from acting as a 'check or balance', they become a source of rent extraction. That is what happened in India.
On one hand, India offers one of the most tiresome conditions in the world for business — if done ethically.
Why? Because high compliance costs are a barrier to entry and create rents for politically connected players.
Yet on the other hand, the loose set of ever-changing rules and massive market opportunity makes it easy to play on the loopholes and profit immensely.
Easy for whom? Those with connections.
This is the brittle structure many Indian corporates are built on today. They have looked out for loopholes in the law, at times may or may not have taken advantage of the weak regulatory oversight, and capitalised on the enormous Indian demographic dividend. It is a risky game they play, but the rules are so weak that the game becomes easy. But when crisis occurs, then the weak organisational coherence, both internally and in the external regulatory environment, does not hold up, leading to institutional accidents. As a result there is a heightened risk of the collapse of the various parts that had held the corporation together.
Miniya is telling us an old story. We all know this already. The truth is we need a massive shake-out in the Corporate sector- more particularly in those sectors where Nationalised Banks have recklessly financed expansion- so as to release resources for more productive purposes.

Rents are a way to hedge risk. Increase risk where it should be increased and rents will disappear by themselves.
It is by no means am I maligning corporations, or saying that being astute in raking in profits is a bad thing. Instead, my point is that for profits to be conducive for economic development, the manner in which profit is earned and distributed needs to be fair.
Miniya's point is stupid. Nobody can define 'fairness' because we don't know what shadow prices we should be using. Why? The future fitness landscape is unknown and characterised by Knightian uncertainty. Back in the fifties and sixties, mathematical economists spent a lot of time on 'turnpike theorems'. Morishima even came up with a 'rational distribution' theorem. But these were useless. We don't know the future so can't say what the optimal price vector for signalling should be.

Saying 'profits should be earned fairly' is worthless pi-jaw. Profit is a reward for risk. We don't know what the actual risk is. The interest rate should be the real return on a riskless asset. We don't know which assets are riskless.
Fair distribution of profits can only happen when economic development is not just driven by the whims of individuals but instead is balanced with institutional checks and balances.
Miniya is repeating herself word for word.  Her English is poor- probably because of her long residence in Paris- but it sounds very sweet to her own ears.
Why? Because without the appropriate checks and balances, first, the gains will be concentrated in few groups, while the losses will be diffused among many,
If there are no Institutional, as opposed to purely Juristic, 'checks and balances' then there will be lower barriers to entry. Thus gains will not be concentrated, they will be dissipated, because of entry of new players. Losses will not be diffused but concentrated on complacent, 'satisficing', existing behemoths. There is a saying 'the best of monopoly profits is a quiet life'. When new entrants use more up to date technology or have flatter hierarchies or otherwise eliminate 'X inefficiency', the losses are taken by the few whereas benefits are diffused to the many.
as a result of which, the number of people becoming poorer in the society will only increase;
This has never happened in any country where competition is encouraged. China and even India have seen hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty precisely because institutional barriers to entry have been relaxed or abolished.
second, it produces nouveaux riches who are often imperfectly adjusted to the existing order and who will keep wanting more power and social status commensurate with their new economic position,
That's a good thing. When 'Green Revolution' farmers started asserting themselves the country benefited. The elite may not have liked these upstarts but then the elite was failing its own children- most of whom had to emigrate.
which then widens the socio-economic gap between rich and poor;
Such gaps are a good thing. There was a time when the elite satirised the peasant by saying 'if the crop is good, the Jat starts planning his next murder- because he will have enough money for lawyer's fees.' Nowadays, we know the peasant will sell his land to get his daughter into Medical School or some other such course which will give her a good income. Why? It is because the peasant can see the 'socio-economic gap' in his own village between those who made smart investments and those who clung to the old ways.
third, eventually increased literacy, education, and exposure to mass media, will allow people to recognise the widening wealth gap, and make society frustrated and lose hope.
When Indians saw movies showing American affluence the did not become frustrated and lose hope. They begged or borrowed money and got qualifications which enabled them to get a Green Card. Later, many returned to India because they saw a way to get even richer.

People became frustrated and lost hope when the Government told them to skip a meal to solve the food crisis. The miserabilism of the elite destroyed its own foundations.
At the crux of it, just as democracy is as ineffective as a dictatorship if it does not represent consensus, legitimacy, and justice, similarly all we are left with is a disastrous form of crony capitalism, if the people — both at corporates and government — implementing the checks and balances are not ethically mindful.
Sheer nonsense. Consider the great Development Economist, Sukhamoy Chakroborty. Indira made him head of the Planning Commission. Her Minister for Industries was a Bengali Philosopher. Both men were 'ethically mindful'. They were also crawling sycophants. India suffered greatly because of their moral imbecility. Crony Capitalism abounded in Left Front Bengal. Was it because it did not have 'checks and balances'? It had too much of them. There were plenty of 'ethically mindful' people involved. Comrade Buddha was personally completely clean. Still, we all know what type of violence the regime unleashed so as to grab land for crony capitalists.

It does not matter whether you represent 'consensus, legitimacy and justice' if you create barriers to entry in their name because the outcome will be divisive politics, an illegitimate administration, and massive manifest injustice.
Indeed in corporations, just as is the case in politics, it is not just the form of governance, but the degree of governance that is important.
Nonsense. Hiring a 'sustainablity' officer or appointing an internal Moral Auditor is just eye-wash. 'Processes' don't matter. Only outcomes do. Sustainable outcomes are based on lower per unit cost and higher value added. Hiring Miniya to talk nonsense on your behalf won't fool anybody. Nor will strutting around at Davos. If Business, is your business, just get on with it. Don't talk shite.
Ultimately governments and corporations are made of people, who can neglect or pay lip service to ethics, compliances, and regulations in a mechanical way without even applying their mind.
That is why there must be a regular shake-out of not-fit-for-purpose programs and personnel. Every Agency should have a Sunset clause. India still has a Salt commission and various Bhoodan Commissions and so forth. Get rid of them. Let them go the way of the Planning Commission.
The dwindling capacity of each of us to think, evaluate, and choose, affects our values, ethics, emotions, and volition.
Miniya's capacity has certainly dwindled. She couldn't possibly have written such drivel while a post-Doc at Columbia.
If our education — at home, school, and society — forbids us to think for ourselves, then we end up being fake replicas of one another, trying to mimic but failing, as it is impossible to be entirely like another person.
If we can't think for ourselves how are we supposed to choose a target for Tardean mimesis? Cows are very badly educated. When is the last time you saw a cow trying to mimic Shah Rukh Khan?
So we become second-handers, allowing ourselves to be run by the others, in our eternal quest to be like the other.
This may be true of Bengali academics. On the surface they appear to be imitating a Western model. But, only on the surface. We soon realise they are just talking worthless Bengali crap of the laziest sort.
A Gujerati or Marwari or Sindhi who decides to imitate the most successful entrepreneur in a certain field is not a 'second hander'. He won't stop till he is the best at what he does.
Bengalis aren't different. Bose is considered to be very good at making music systems. There are many very smart Bengalis who are at the top of STEM type fields. It is only worthless self-publicists who give the region a bad name.
But we will be constantly told that we are still not good enough, making us work harder to resemble the prototype. This is the dysfunctional utopia that corporations thrive on.
She means 'dystopia'. Is Jindal really so crap? I thought it was simply clever at bribing politicians and officials. Did the Jindals stand over Miniya with a whip in their hands to force her to write this worthless book?
By the time we join as executives in an organisation, our faculty of reasoning is so rusted that we cannot assess how we truly feel about what we do.
Miniya said Indian education had completely excised the faculty of reasoning. So how could it get rusted? The answer must be that  this reasoning faculty regenerated itself while studying abroad. However, on return to India, it immediately got rusted.

So if you want to be able to reason, you should leave India and never, ever, return. The place is a shit-hole. Look at how badly Miniya is now writing English! It must be the case that working in India has rusted her reasoning power. Otherwise how can some one who has been a Post Doc scholar in the US write such terrible English.
That, which was supposed to be a rather basic activity of earning a currency to barter for the goods we ourselves cannot produce, now governs our life.
There is a Bengali expression 'We don't want work. We want employment.' Miniya may think that employers should just pay your salary while leaving you free to think beautiful thoughts. However, the truth is, your thoughts will be foolish. By contrast, if you start thinking about how to do your job better and how to have a better life, then your reasoning skills start to improve. You stop talking and writing shite and may amount to something in the world.
We ferociously chase career choices that the majority around us desire, each one in the crowd quite not knowing why they want it so bad.
Perhaps in adolescence we have this sort of crowd mentality. But most people find work rewarding in itself and exert themselves to be the best they can be at what they do. This has spin off benefits in other areas of their lives.
We are ready to make great sacrifices — choosing where to live, what to do with the major chunk of each day of our lives — according to the dictate of corporations.
Boo hoo! Poor Miniya! Did those evil Jindals make you do some work in return for a fat salary? How beastly of them!
Similar to religion, a corporate ‘job’ has usurped the highest moral concepts of our language — placing them outside this earth and thus out of our reach.
I know plenty of people in Corporate jobs. The best amongst them would happily quit to found their own business if circumstances were propitious. Miniya is describing the 'box wallah' mindset of a vanished Bengal.
Because it is supposedly our moral duty to offer our obeisance to God and the boss, with a heightened reverence that can be attributed only to the divine and the employer. We blindly follow what the others do, and cannot apply our minds to appreciate gender, cultural, and other diversity around us. We are unable to decipher the direction of our moral compass inside of us, when confronted with matters of ethical dilemma. We simply reproduce the mannerisms of others around us, or merely and thoughtlessly do what gets us quicker to our goal, so that we can all fit in to becoming one homogenous blotch of nothingness. It is this highest level of our emotions that has to be redeemed from the murk of corporations.

Hysterical rubbish. The Jindals may have hired Miniya for a purely cosmetic purpose. However, any executive in a mission critical field who spends his time paying obeisance to his boss rather than figuring out how to lower costs or boost value will be shunted out, provided entry into the relevant industry is unrestricted.

In general, there is no commercial field where genuine action-guiding dilemma's exist. If in doubt, consult a lawyer. Otherwise quit.

Why does Miniya think we should 'apply our minds to appreciate gender, cultural and other diversity'? Either that diversity represents a separating equilibrium- in which case an arbitrage opportunity exists which it is our fiduciary duty to identify and act upon- or it is immaterial. Appreciating it is pointless.

Miniya's book is a good example of a big Corporation marketing worthless shite based upon the author's credentials. It displays 'emotions' and advances 'arguments' so as to 'fit into one homogeneous blotch of nothingness.' Either that or it is a subtle work of satire based on our preconceptions regarding the unfathomable stupidity of hysterical Bengali buddhijivis.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Hanson & Cowen on rational disagreement


Robert Aumann's startling 'Agreeing to disagree' paper started thus- 


As a student, hearing of Aumann's result a couple of years after this paper was published, I was greatly intrigued by the questions it raised. Would it mean two people with the same priors- relating to arson and perjury- would end up with equally roasted posteriors because their pants were on fire?

Strangely, the answer our Professor gave us was- no, Aumann agreement has no such implication.But, since you brought up the subject- certain students might wish to invest in a pair of trousers rather than display their hairy legs in fishnet stockings. You are not a Law student. Kindly take off that horse hair wig. Nobody finds it amusing. Rag Week ended long ago.

So what does sharing Bayesian priors actually involve?
The answer is that both parties have exactly the same attitude regarding what they regard as being informative about a specific event which is assumed to be random. This may happen by magic or by the intervention of the God of Occassionalism. It can't happen for any species which evolved by natural selection.

If dogs are cats then fish are bicycles is a true statement not because fish are bicycles but because dogs are not cats. Ex falso quodlibet. If something false is true then anything at all is equally true.

Posteriors are common knowledge if two people trust each other completely and feel that they think in exactly the same way. But this is not knowledge, it is a Belief. It has no link to Public Justification. If I believe cats are dogs and you believe cats are dogs and we see a cat and we both say simultaneously- what a cute little doggie! then our posteriors are equal but we are still both wrong. If one of our Mums intervenes and says- 'that is not a doggie. It is a cat. It says miaow. Dogs say woof woof!'- then our posteriors change. Our attitude to what we consider informative changes. My reaction may be 'Mummy is a liar. I will never trust her again. Oooh there's a big red doggie coming towards me. It wants to play. I will run out to meet it'- after which I get run over by the big red bus.

Your reaction may be quite different. You may say 'This Mummy is not a liar. Not everything is a doggie. It may be a cat. It may be a big red bus which will run me over and kill me. Fuck having Bayesian priors. I'll just outsource information acquisition to smart people. Maybe I'll even go to school and learn stuff. That way I won't get run over by big red doggies which are actually buses.'

Hanson & Cowen take a different view-
 A robust result is that honest truth-seeking agents with common priors should not knowingly disagree. Typical disagreement seems explainable by a combination of random belief influences and by priors that tell each person that he reasons better than others. When criticizing others, however, people seem to uphold rationality standards that disapprove of such selffavoring priors. This suggests that typical disagreements are dishonest. We conclude by briefly considering how one might try to become more honest when disagreeing.
A very robust result is that cats are dogs and big red doggies won't run you over if you run towards them because they are actually buses. Unfortunately, human beings aren't particularly robust after they have been run over. They tend to leave large chunks of their viscera sticking to the road.

Honest truth-seeking agents, if the product of evolution, should never believe they have the same priors. A married couple, on honeymoon may think they share common priors with respect to a particular type of event and lo! their expectations create reality. After a few years go by, however, they will soon be disabused that their agreement to get married was based on common priors with respect to a certain type of event. Their 'common knowledge' regarding it will soon turn out to be a case of mutual fraud. 'I thought you liked that thing I do?!' 'I only put up with it so as to get the thing over with!' Such is the unravelling of 'common knowledge'. Indeed, evolution has a good reason for ensuring this outcome.

What is true of marriage is true of any sort of partnership or joint enterprise. 'Common Knowledge' or uttermost good faith and trust are a useful delusion. Long-run they are bound to unravel. There is a hadith to the effect that 'If there is Perfect Agreement amongst you regarding His Vision, you will see His Visage as you see the full moon in the sky.' Precisely for this reason a permanent Veil between us and the Creator must exist. Agreement can't be, oughtn't to be, perfect. Else were Apocalypse.

Hanson and Tyler are aware that assuming common priors is problematic. Yet they write-

                                               One of Aumann’s assumptions, however, does make a big difference. This is the assumption of common priors, i.e., that agents with the same information must have the same beliefs. While some people do take the extreme position that that priors must be common to be rational, others take the opposite extreme position, that any possible prior is rational. In between these extremes are positions that say that while some kinds of priors and prior differences are rational, other kinds are not. Are typical human disagreements rational? Unfortunately, to answer this question we would have to settle this controversial question of which prior differences are rational. So in this paper, we consider an easier question: are typical human disagreements honest? To consider this question, we do not need to know what sorts of differing priors are actually rational, but only what sorts of differences people seem to think are rational

So the Aumann agreement theorem is silly. It is like Arrow's theorem. It says 'if dogs are cats then this a really cool theorem'.

Is there a way of demarcating beliefs from information? Of course there is! provided dogs are cats.

Suppose you see two people quarreling. If their dispute is connected to their economic interest or psychological well being, you are likely to consider the dispute to have some rational basis. Furthermore, there may be a mutually beneficial cooperative solution.

However if they are arguing over something which doesn't matter in the slightest to them personally, your best bet would be to try to change the conversation. Get them talking about a mutual enemy.
It would be utterly pointless to try to get two people, who are in violent disagreement about something which doesn't matter a jot to either, to agree to some protocol bound type of rational argument. What would be the point? You have increased the dimensionality of the decision space. Agenda control gains salience. Instead of just arguing about something pointless the two are now arguing about how arguments should proceed. This will soon cause them to doubt each others good faith.

Consider the following- I agree to sell my comic book collection to you for a certain price. While conducting this transaction we get into an argument about who would win in a fight between Dracula and Spiderman.  You say Dracula will hypnotise Spiderman and sodomise him. I point out that Renfield likes eating spiders and so his gnawing at our hero will cause Spidey to be distracted from Dracula's hypnotic gaze. Anyway, Spiderman does not get sodomised in Marvel comics. D.C maybe coz Batman & Robin were totally AC/DC, but not on Stan Lee's watch. No way. No how.

This silly argument should be terminated by any rational observer. He should mention the Green Lantern movie and we can agree it sucked ass big time. What would be wholly irrational would be to start arguing about a proper rational basis to decide the underlying issue. Why? I will soon enough accuse you of making a bad faith argument. This will cause me to cast aspersions on your character. You will call me a wanker and withdraw from the sale we had previously agreed to on the grounds that I'd probably jizzed over half of the panels in my comic book collection. Instead of a mutually beneficial deal going through, we now shun each other and decline to transact business. At the margin, Social Welfare decline. A Pareto gain has been lost and this may have deleterious dynamic effects.

Rationality isn't about arguing about how rational discussion should proceed. Even less is it about junk social science regarding what people think is or isn't rational. Rationality is about doing sensible things. It isn't about saying 'if dogs are cats then my cool new theorem must be true.'

Hanson & Tyler offer this simple parable. Will it reveal Aumann's theorem to be meaningful or will it show that Academics got shite for brains?

Let us see-

Imagine that John hears a noise, looks out his window and sees a car speeding away. Mary also hears the same noise, looks out a nearby window, and sees the same car. If there was a shooting, or a hit-and-run accident, it might be important to identify the car as accurately as possible. John and Mary’s immediate impressions about the car will differ, due both to differences in what they saw and how they interpreted their sense impressions. John’s first impression is that the car was an old tan Ford, and he tells Mary this.
Why would John taint the testimony of a fellow witness in this way? If he suspects a crime he reports the matter to the police. He may mention that Mary was a possible witness but that he has not spoken to her so as not to taint her testimony. The Police are happy. John and Mary- even if they differ- will make credible witnesses on the stand.
Mary’s first impression is that the car was a newer brown Chevy, but she updates her beliefs upon hearing from John.
John should say 'I thought it was an old tan Ford'. Mary should say 'it looked like a newish brown Chevy'. The prosecutor can then show a picture of a car which is neither a Chevy nor a Ford and which appears tan to John and brown to Mary. Both can confirm that this car they saw. The Defence will try to challenge their testimony to create 'reasonable doubt'- but they may also pressure their client, if guilty, to cop a plea.

That's how the Justice system works. John and Mary comparing notes till they both decide they saw a large black man driving a BMW helps nobody at all.

Hanson and Tyler, however, have got the bit between their teeth and are galloping off into never-never land.
Upon hearing Mary’s opinion, John also updates his beliefs. They then continue back and forth, trading their opinions about the likelihood of various possible car features. (Note that they may also, but need not, trade evidence in support of those opinions.) If Mary sees John as an honest truth-seeker who would believe the same things as Mary given the same information then Mary should treat John’s differing opinion as indicating things that he knows but she does not. Mary should realize that they are both capable of mistaken first impressions. If her goal is to predict the truth, she has no good reason to give her own observation greater weight, simply because it was hers. Of course, if Mary has 20/20 eyesight, while John is nearsighted, then Mary might reasonably give more weight to her own observation. But then John should give her observation greater weight as well. If they can agree on the relative weight to give their two observations, they can agree on their estimates regarding the car. Of course John and Mary might be unsure who has the better eyesight. But this is just another topic where they should want to combine their information, such as knowing who wears glasses, to form a common judgment. If John and Mary repeatedly exchange their opinions with each other, their opinions should eventually stop changing, at which point they should become mutually aware (i.e., have “common knowledge”) of their opinions (Geanakoplos and Polemarchakis 1982). They will each know their opinions, know that they know those opinions, and so on. We can now see how agreeing to disagree is problematic, given such mutual awareness.
Would John and Mary really be so callous and irresponsible as to stand up in Court to affirm they saw something they didn't see at all? If the Defence attorney is any good, he will tear into them until they breakdown and admit they saw Donald Trump's upper body protuding from the sunroof of his limo and Stormy Daniels had her twat firmly wedged around his head and she was giving him a golden shower and then Dracula swooped down and sodomised Spiderman.

People capable of agreeing they saw something they didn't see will also agree that they saw anything else you care to stipulate provided you badger them enough and discover contradictions and inconsistencies in their testimony.
Consider the “common” set of all possible states of the world where John and Mary are mutually aware that John estimates the car age to be (i.e., has an “expected value” of) X, while Mary estimates it to be Y. John and Mary will typically each know many things, and so will know much more than just the fact that the real world is somewhere in this common set.
So John and Mary think they saw two different cars in two different possible worlds. They can agree that there is a real world where some wholly different car drove past their respective windows. For some unknown reason, this car in this 'Real world' they have just invented must correspond to whatever they agree.

Wonderful! Stuff like that goes down all the time. I walk into your office and start urinating. You protest vigorously. I say- 'sorry, in my universe, this is where the Men's room is.' You reply, 'in my Universe your cock is a lot bigger.' I say 'fuck! Where I come from, 5.5 inches is considered ginormous. I'd better get back to my Universe pronto.'
But they do each know this fact, and so they can each consider, counterfactually, what their estimate would be if their information were reduced to just knowing this one fact. (Given the usual conception of information as sets of possible worlds, they would then each know only that they were somewhere in this common set of states.) 5 For more on common knowledge, see Geanakoplos (1994), Bonnanno and Nehring (1999) and Feinberg (2000). For a critical view, see Koppl and Rosser (2002). For the related literature on "no-trade" theorems, see Milgrom and Stokey (1982). 8
Okay, you and me can now consider, counterfactually, what our estimate of this shite would be if our information were reduced to knowing just one fact- viz. 5.5 inches is Porn Star dimensions.

Among the various possible states contained within the common set, the actual John may have very different reasons for his estimate of X. In some states he may believe that he had an especially clear view, while in others he may be especially confident in his knowledge of cars. But whatever the reason, everywhere in the common set John’s estimate has the same value X. Thus if a counterfactual John knew only that he was somewhere in this common set, this John would know that he has some good reason to estimate X, even if he does not know exactly what that reason is. Thus counterfactual John’s estimate should be X. Similarly, if a counterfactual Mary knew only that she was somewhere in the common set, her estimate should be Y. But if counterfactual John and Mary each knew only that the real world is somewhere in this common set of possible worlds, they would each have exactly the same information, and thus should each have the same estimate of the age of the car. If John estimates the car to be five years old, then so should Mary. This is Aumann's (1976) original result, that mutual awareness of opinions requires identical opinions.
Only if priors are common. Thus John and Mary had exactly the same brain and upbringing and education and neural chemistry and physical location and so on. Then the only possible counterfactual is that they are not one and the same person.
The same argument applies to any dispute about a claim, such as whether the car is a Ford, which is true in some possible worlds and false in others. As long as disputants can imagine self-consistent possible worlds in which each side is right or wrong, and agree on what would be true in each world, then it should not matter whether the disputed claim is specific or general, hard or easy to verify, or about physical objects, politics, or morality.
Nobody can imagine self-consistent possible worlds where 5.5 inches is ginormous because they would soon have wanked themselves to death or gotten run over by a bus.

Why are Hanson & Tyler saying a human can imagine a self-consistent possible world? If the thing can be imagined it can be made. If it can't be made it isn't possible. But, if it is possible, then if we imagine the right thing hard enough, it can make a path to our world and take us somewhere 5.5 inches will excite universal awe and delight. Why the fuck should we bother with Aumann agreement? A better world awaits us.

 Differing priors can clearly explain some kinds of disagreements. But how different can rational priors be? One extreme position is that no differences are rational (Harsanyi 1983, Aumann 1998). The most common argument given for this common prior position is that differences in beliefs should depend only on differences in information.
Can the information set change undetectably and endogenously? If not, why not? How do we rule it out? If we can't rule out this possibility then we may disagree with ourselves instantaneously and ceteris paribus. This means 'Common Knowledge' would have no principle of induction. We could never say that 'what you know I know you know I know' is the same as the next term in the sequence.
If John and Mary were witnesses to a crime, or jurors deciding guilt or innocence, it would be disturbing if their honest rational beliefs -- the best we might hope to obtain from them -- were influenced by personal characteristics unrelated to their information about the crime.
This would not be disturbing at all. We can compensate for bias. I may be biased against big black men and a psychologist may discover that I view small white men differently if I become fearful. My testimony is not wholly useless because some fact can be established- viz. I saw a man not a beautiful and enticing woman.

What would be highly disturbing and constitute grounds for a motion for mistrial is if it were discovered that John and Mary had tainted each others testimony and, in effect, concocted a story between them.
They should usually have no good reason to believe that the non-informational inputs into their beliefs have superior predictive value over the non-informational inputs into the beliefs of others.
They should however believe that they can better serve their own interests and thus should mind their own business till required by a competent authority to do otherwise.
Another extreme position is that a prior is much like a utility function: an ex post reconstruction of what happens, rather than a real entity subject to independent scrutiny. According to this view, one prior is no more rational than another than one utility function is more rational than another.10 If we think we are questioning a prior, we are confused; what we are questioning is not a prior, but some sort of evidence. In this view priors, and the disagreements they produce, are by definition unquestionable.
In so far as a prior arises out of haecceity, this is the only reasonable view. One can't dissolve existence by talking about it. If we could, I wouldn't live in a world where 5.5 inches is the new definition of needle-dickdom.

What finally is Tyler & Hanson's conclusion? Is it stupider than anything in Aumann? Let us see-

We can, however, use the rationality standards that people seem to uphold to find out whether typical disagreements are honest, i.e., are in accord with the rationality standards people uphold. We have suggested that when criticizing the opinions of others, people seem to consistently disapprove of self-favoring priors, such as priors that violate indexical independence. Yet people also seem to consistently use such priors, though they are not inclined to admit this to themselves or others. We have therefore hypothesized that most disagreement is due to most people not being meta-rational, i.e., honest truth-seekers who understand disagreement theory and abide by the rationality standards that most people uphold. We have suggested that this is at root due to people fundamentally not being truth-seeking. This in turn suggests that most disagreement is dishonest. 

Why is this nonsense? The answer is that it is silly to uphold a rationality standard because it leaves you more vulnerable to a predator or parasite. Insufficient Reason is the way to go.

 To appear to uphold such a standard in the discharge of a particular office may however protect you from personal liability. But, in this case there is already a protocol bound, 'buck stopped' decision procedure which may not be rational at all. Rather, it may represent a system of 'artificial reason' wholly unconnected with the 'natural' one. Sir Edward Coke pointed out to 'the wisest fool in Christendom' that the Common Law was such a creature. Coke's institutes are the foundation of American democracy. Tyler & Cowan can merely micturate upon, not sap or otherwise undermine, those foundations no matter what misology they absurdly indulge in.

Miniya Chatterji on Sex- Indian style

Miniya Chatterji, despite being young and smart, is trying to challenge our literary genotocracy by writing more stupidly than they have managed so far.
Has she pulled it off? Let us see. This is her chapter on Sex published by an online Magazine.

Sex is a dirty word in India, but our population numbers are still booming. 
Is Chatterji correct? The short answer is 'no'. Some states- notably in the South- have experienced demographic transition. In some milieus, sex is no more a dirty word than it is in America or Europe.
In the land of the Kamasutra, most Indians deem it inappropriate to teach children about sex at home or at school.

Most Indians in States which have not experienced demographic transition don't have access to schools where any subject is well taught.


Why bring up the Kamasutra? Does Chatterji believe most Indians read Sanskrit? How is it relevant?
In a country where family, the government and various institutions have stifled the subject, we continue to make babies and are all set to overtake China by 2030 to become the most populous country in the world.
China 'stifled the subject' much more than India. That is why they could implement a 'one child' policy. However, they could have gone the other way and opted for pro-natalist policies.

All available empirical evidence shows that countries with the highest population growth rates have weaker, not stronger, governments and institutions.
There is no arrow of causality between 'stifling the subject' and demographic growth. Weak family ties- in particular, the absence of a father or other male in the household- is correlated with higher, not lower, fertility.
The list of ironies around our attitude to sex is long and extremely baffling.
Chatterji is mistaking stupidity for irony. What she has listed is instances of stupidity- e.g thinking illiterate people read the Kamasutra and then make babies- and the only irony here is that she has had a very prolonged and expensive education. Yet she is incapable of writing a single sensible sentence.
Here are some more. We are shy about discussing sex with our spouses, but we worship with gusto the lingam, which is God’s phallus.
No we don't. Lots of us are Vaishnavs or Muslims etc. Nobody is 'worshipping the lingam (which means sign, not phallus) with gusto'. What one earth did Chatterji's mom get up to that her daughter has such absurd ideas?

Either Miniya herself believes, or knows someone else who believes, that God has a phallus which 'can be worshipped with gusto' or she is lying. If some actual person has such a belief why on earth would they worship it? If I want to ingratiate myself with someone I don't immediately kneel down and start worshiping his dick with gusto. He would think I was mad and have me arrested.

Nobody would keep a Shiva Lingam in their Puja Room. What if it fell down and broke? God would be really pissed off if his dick were damaged. The safer course would be to avoid having any contact with the thing.
We expect our women to produce babies but often do not offer them pleasurable sex — only 32 per cent of Indian women achieve orgasm, which is half as many as the men who said they do.
Chatterji may expect her women to produce babies. She may not offer them pleasurable sex. But, it is unlikely that her women would be able to produce babies even if she was willing and able to make them climax.

The figures quoted for Indian women reaching orgasm are not out of line with what is found elsewhere. Even masturbation is unreliable for women as a means of attaining orgasm. Men all over the world are deceived in this matter with hilarious results.
In fact, we have been hypocrites on this topic for a while, because a part of India’s sexual history is not very different from the present.
Biology has not changed. It is the same the world over. Chatterji is pretending that India is peculiar in this respect. There is no evidence for this view at all.
The Rig Veda says that the vaginal blood from the bride’s deflowering is highly dangerous. If clothes are stained with this blood, they must be given away to a priest, or anybody who touches them will be destroyed.
The Rg Veda says no such thing. What it does say is that during the honey-moon night, the bride and groom, become so indissolubly linked that they forget their own gender. Thus if the wedding guests decide to play a prank on the new couple and raise up a hue and cry, what will happen is that the bride may accidentally put on the groom's clothes and, thinking herself a man, will run out of the house with a spear in one hand while her other hand gives a flourish to her non-existent moustachioes. Meanwhile the groom, having put on the bride's clothes, will be crying out piteously and fainting away.

This is an excellent joke and shows the sense of humour of our rustic ancestors. Anyone who has listened to the bawdy wedding night songs customary to our lineage or ancestral place will soon be disabused of any notion that we are a puritanical people. But this is true of all traditional agricultural societies.

Menstrual and other blood can carry infection. Every society has hygienic rules which, however, the progress of Science has enabled us to relax.

The Arthashastra provides guidelines on what must be done if a girl loses her virginity, and it also declares that a marriage is invalid if the girl is not a virgin.
So what? Virginity is important in establishing 'oikos'- true descent within a household- where contested inheritance could be socially costly.
Buckingham Palace insisted that the Prince of Wales marry a virgin because this was important in legitimising the order of succession. It is actually against the law for a man to have sex with the Princess of Wales.
The girl is not a virgin, according to the Arthashastra, if blood is not seen on the sheets after the wedding night.
India is scarcely unique in this respect. Anyway, the workaround is quite obvious and we have all seen umpteen films where  it occurs.
The Manusmriti, an ancient legal text, imposes large fines on men who destroy the virginity of a girl outside marriage.
Which Scripture or other Religious law book approves of adultery or taking advantage of a maiden's innocence?
Chatterji said she would be showing India's hypocrisy in matters relating to sex. Where is the hypocrisy here? Little girls who sleep around with all and sundry get preggers. This ruins their life chances. No hypocrisy is involved in requiring them to set themselves a higher standard.
An entire book written in India around 2000 years ago, as part of the seven-volume Kamasutra — otherwise a fascinating source of progressive erotic commentary — is devoted to the kanya or the virgin.
So what? Does Chatterji think a book about the amorous arts should not deal with maidens? Why not?
This book also mentions, or rather assumes, that a girl is a virgin on her wedding night and so the man must make her content, or he will ensure the girl’s marital life is unhappy.
Girls can get pregnant. Boys can't. Pregnancy in humans is costly more particularly because of neoteny. Thus, girls will be less promiscuous and have an incentive 'to save themselves' for marriage. Boys may also do so because STDs can impose a cost in terms of health and fertility. Moreover, there are reputational advantages in remaining continent- more particularly if one is a student or otherwise in a dependent position.

No religion forbids sexual pleasure within marriage. Some explicitly require the husband to perform his conjugal duty a minimum number of times every month, while having regard to his profession and state of health.
Due to this age-old emphasis on chastity, a woman is not allowed to experience sexual pleasure until she marries, and when she does, she is only allowed to have sex with one man and bear his children.
Nonsense! Girls masturbate as do boys. There is no way to prevent people from 'experiencing sexual pleasure'. It is foolish to think otherwise.

A woman may become the mistress of a powerful man. She may move elsewhere and gain economic independence- in which case she may also enjoy sexual freedom. There is considerable variation within India, in these matters. But India is like other countries in this respect.
Unfortunately, these extreme views on sex in Indian history are the only ones that have survived, and the more liberal ones — which I will elaborate upon in this essay — have been erased.
This is wholly untrue. No 'extreme views' survived nor did any 'liberal ones' get erased. Sanskrit has preserved all sorts of texts- including ones which celebrate various transgressive types of 'Maithuna'. There has always been an active 'Tantric' tradition in every part of India. Chatterji is talking nonsense.
This has led to lies and deceit in millions of relationships and marriages in India, which could otherwise have been healthy and transparent.
Lies and deceit occur all over the world. Of course they damage relationships. But there is nothing unique to India in this respect.
Young girls, unable to seek guidance from their parents, get abortions done under dangerous conditions on the sly, even though abortions before twelve weeks of pregnancy have been legal in India since 1972.
Where does this not happen? The answer is that it does not happen in countries with a fully funded National Health Service where Doctors are not legally obliged to inform parents about under-age sex and where abortion is legal and and 'on-demand'.
A poor country like India will naturally lag behind in this respect. But, it is poverty, not some legacy of 'extreme views' which is responsible.
And devastatingly, we implant guilt, contradictions, timidity, and shame in the minds of millions of our women for their sexuality.
Chatterji may be doing so. I'm not. Why is she being so horrible? Is it because she has 'extreme views'? I suppose so. Otherwise, what is her motivation?
The earliest lesson at my home was when I turned thirteen and was told that being in a temple while menstruating was sacrilegious.
Earliest lesson? Surely, Chatterji was taught something other than-' don't go bleed all over the Temple, dear?'

The fact is no religion permits a person to enter a sacred place while bleeding or urinating or defecating.

It was an invasion of my newly acquired sense of sexual privacy to have it whispered within the family that I was menstruating and therefore prohibited to enter the temple we had at home — not that I wished to enter it anyway.
Wow! These guys had a Temple in their home! How did they manage it on an Air Force salary? Even wealthy Seths have to make do with just a Puja room.
As I grappled with irregular menstrual cycles and discomfort every month, I would also feel I was doing something wrong.
Naturally! This poor girl was never taught anything at all till she was 13. Even then, her 'earliest lesson' was stay out of the Temple when you are on the rag. It will upset the Elephants we have there.'
It sowed the seeds of the notion that my sexuality was unholy and “bad”.
Quite true. I recall a girl in my primary school- we used to call her Alice the Goon- who sat in the back of the class loudly masturbating. We did think her sexuality was 'unholy and bad'. Chatterji, no doubt, would disagree. We must encourage our young girls to put things into their vaginas during Chemistry class. If we fail to do this, we are hypocrites promoting an 'extreme view' of sexuality.
I had understood correctly, just as every little girl does in India, that everything related to sex is profane.
That's probably because the elephants in the Temple in your home did not like the smell of menstrual blood. Furthermore, if you started 'worshipping the lingam with gusto,' your uncouth cries would disturb the Temple priests and other attendants. Poor dear! How you have suffered!

Marriage, in Hinduism, is a sacrament. Marital sex is not profane at all.
I later discovered that millions of those who mistrust anything sexual worship the Goddess’s vagina at the temple of Kamakhya in Guwahati, Assam, which is considered one of the most sacred sites in India.
Really? How did you make this discovery? Were you rummaging in the cupboard one day when Granny said 'what are you looking for, darling?' and you replied, tersely, 'Goddess's vagina. It is for my homework project'.  Granny then said 'sweetie, you have to go to Guwahati. Vagina is kept there only. Come, have a cookie.'
I found it even more incongruous that the holiest time at the Kamakhya temple is the four-day annual festival when Kamakhya Devi, the Goddess, is believed to be menstruating.
I'm sure you found it very incongruous indeed. Poor you! having to grow up in such a beastly country where Goddess's Vagina's are menstruating annually whereas the Temple elephants in your own home take umbrage if you want to bleed all over the various idols while 'worshipping the lingam with gusto'.
Manusmriti, the discourse of Svayambhuva, the spiritual son of Brahma, was written around the third century AD, and it is merely one among the many Hindu dharmashastras.
Svayambhuva means self-generated. Manusmriti is not 'merely one among many' but rather is primus inter pares. If it was written in the third century A.D, it can't be responsible for the caste system or the inferior position of women or taboos concerning menstruation and the proper expression of female sexuality which involves the pursuit of sexual pleasure outside the bounds of matrimony and in defiance of risks associated with pregnancy and sexual transmitted diseases.
Today, however, it is considered an important text governing Hindu culture, including marriage, relationships and sex.
Nonsense! The Hindu Code Bills completely superseded it long before you were born.
This text receives as much reverence as criticism.
It is wholly irrelevant. Hindu Acharyas say its only importance lies in its lexical preferencing of spirituality over economic considerations.
Many consider it to have sounded the death knell for the liberal world of the Vedic age, while others respect it as the ultimate guide to one’s rights and duties.
Nobody thinks this. It is itself an apad dharma- i.e. concerns itself with conduct under adverse circumstances in a fallen age.
Dr BR Ambedkar held the Manusmriti responsible for the caste system in India.
No. Ambedkar said it was part of a Brahminical counter-coup against Buddhism. But he was writing polemically. Clearly, caste pre-existed Buddhism.
Mahatma Gandhi, however, opposed Ambedkar’s view. Gandhi recommended that one must read the entire text of the Manusmriti, accept those parts that are consistent with truth and non-violence, and reject the other parts.
Gandhi changed his position in this respect. By the end of his life he was willing to throw in his hand even with Atheists provided they could help him with his foolish khadi obsession.

There is no obligation on Hindus to read anything- let alone Manusmriti. It has no legal or other normative force. It never has. Hindu Law has always given priority to customary law. There is some hand-waving about 'following the best practice among the best people' but this has always been supererogatory.
Manu wanted girls to given the sacred thread- albeit at a lower tariff of scholarly attainment. Few bothered with any such thing then or now.
However, before the primacy of the Manusmriti, it was the Kamasutra, written by Vatsyayana in Sanskrit, which dictated human sexual behaviour in India.
Ridiculous! The Smriti literature greatly predates Vatsyayana who, in any case, confined himself to describing the life of urbane connoisseurs who had already accumulated wealth in one of the emporia cities of the Gangetic belt.
Kama, meaning desire, is one of the four goals of Hindu life, the other three being dharma (duty), artha (purpose) and moksha (freedom). Sutra means a thread that holds things together. The Kamasutra presents itself as a guide to living gracefully, and discusses the nature of love, family life and other aspects pertaining to the faculty of pleasure.
Rubbish! It was aimed only at men from a wealthy urban class and the courtesans and ladies of easy virtue who took them as clients.
It discusses the philosophy and theory of love, what triggers desire and what to do to sustain it. The Kamasutra was passed on in the oral tradition for over 2,000 years, subject to many interpretations, until around the second century ad when Vatsyayana, a lesser-known philosopher of the Vedic tradition, wrote it out, largely in prose, with a few verses of poetry inserted.
Sheer nonsense! Three thousand years ago there was no wealthy urbane class in the Gangetic belt. Human beings have no need, any more than animals have any need, for sex manuals. No doubt there was an oral tradition as well as an anal tradition but it required no philosopher, lesser-known or otherwise- to write it out in prose or verse or his own semen.
Vatsyayana’s and Manu’s attitudes to sex were in some ways polar opposites.
And the Pope and a pimp's attitude to sex are polar opposites. What does Chatterji expect? Religious authorities want people to spend more money on Religion. Pimps want them to spend more money on getting laid.
Manu saw sex as a strictly procreative, monogamous activity, as opposed to the pleasure-giving experience Vatsyayana wrote about.
Manu does not forbid polygny. Indeed, it was normative for kings. Manu was concerned with eusebia (piety). Vatsyayana was concerned with pleasure.
The Kamasutra emphasises that a woman who is not pleasured might hate her man and leave him for another, while Manu’s laws say that “a virtuous wife should constantly serve her husband like a god, even if he behaves badly, freely indulges his lust, and is devoid of any good qualities”.
A wealthy playboy spending his days dallying with expert courtesans may also follow Manu when it comes to fulfilling spiritual and religious obligations.

The position of a wife is different from a courtesan. The former may have good reason to stick with a bad husband whereas the latter is better off transferring her attentions to a wealthier patron.
The Kamasutra has an entire chapter on “Other Men’s Wives”, whereas the Manusmriti warns that “if men persist in seeking intimate contact with other men’s wives, the king should brand them with punishments that inspire terror, and banish them”.
What point is Chatterji making here? Does she not understand that a wealthy guy can buy the favours of a married woman but that he may be prosecuted for adultery and suffer ostracism or exile- if not a simple knife in the gut?
Vatsyayana saw adultery as a means of providing pleasure, while Manu worried about the violation of the caste system should a woman bear a child with an unknown man of the wrong caste.
So one guy was writing for rich playboys and the other was describing the sort of society most ordinary people inhabit. A rich guy can get away with a lot. Still, he may come a cropper if he goes too far. For the rest of us, it is better to play it straight.

In which Society is a girl congratulated for bearing a child to some homeless dude she fancied or some ex-con with gang tats?
There were also other texts that opposed the erotic perspective of the Kamasutra. The Bhagavad Gita, which is believed to have been composed before the Kamasutra, also denounced our indulgence in the senses. It admonished that doing so is evil.
How terrible! Are you saying the Gita denounces getting drunk of your head and copulating in the streets? This is truly unacceptable! What beasts those Hindus are!
Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita was a discourse given by the grown-up Krishna, who once romanced the cowgirls of Vrindavan for pleasure.
Really? Is that what Hinduism says? I thought the gopis were reincarnated Rishis. Silly me. Obviously, the real point about Vaishnavism is that it teaches you to have simultaneous sex with thousands of cow-girls by using supernatural powers to create thousands of replicas of yourself.
Even though Islam has had its ups and downs as far as its attitude towards sex and sexuality is concerned, during most periods of the Mughal rule from 1526 to 1857 in India, sex was not frowned upon.
Sex has never been frowned upon.
The Mughal period showed a playful sensuality in its explicit art and a more balanced view on sex and sexuality than the era that had preceded it.
There is no evidence for this statement whatsoever. Courtly cultures had a literary culture with an erotic component. Sanskrit literature, often composed by monks who would have run away screaming if confronted with a vagina, wrote wholly artificial poems featuring women with ginormous tits and asses but tiny waists. They also had, by a literary convention, a strip of hair (romavali) stretching up to their navels. I  don't know why anybody would find this attractive.
India’s rich sexual history has, therefore, been chequered.
Nope. Sex does not have a history. Economics does.
From the time of the Rig Veda to the age of the Kamasutra, and then at the courts of the Mughal emperors much later, sex — most of the time — was not a bad thing.
So Khajuraho was built during the period when sex was a bad thing. What sort of logic is this? Chatterji is wholly ignorant and can't make a reasoned argument to save her life.
It was discussed openly in literature, conversation and art. Many Hindu gods and goddesses, as well as apsaras or heavenly nymphs, were depicted romantically in ancient Indian temples such as in Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, and in the cave drawings of Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra.
Khajuraho was built between 950 and 1050. So it comes several centuries after the Kamasutra and before the Mughals. According to Chatterji this was when 'sex was a bad thing'. Why is she contradicting herself so blatantly? How stupid is she?
However, of all the diverse phases and texts in India’s sexual history, it was the Manusmriti that stuck with the British.
Nonsense! Nothing stuck with the British, except profits which they quickly repatriated. Emerson, for some reason, raved about Manu and Nietzche liked Manu's strictures against Chandalas but nobody in India or elsewhere greatly cared about this text.
One reason was perhaps that Manu’s prudish values resonated with the Victorian culture of that time.
Very true. The Victorians wouldn't have got any work done if they had spent all their time copulating in the streets while off their heads on drink.
Secondly, the Manusmriti was one of the first Sanskrit texts studied and translated into English by the British, and so they hastily borrowed from it to create the legal and administrative systems for India.
Sheer nonsense. The British administered customary law as they found it. Codification enabled the displacement of Court Pundits from the second half of the nineteenth century. Barristers would still sometimes quote Manu or Yajnavalkya or other such texts, but the growing body of case law provided the ratio in the case.
The rest of the texts — the more liberal parts of the Rig Veda and the Kamasutra — were largely ignored.
Very true! The British did not pass a law making cunnilingus a compulsory subject for the Civil Service exams. That was very naughty of them.
Manu, for the British, became the ultimate authority on India’s societal structure.
Nonsense! Profit was their motive and so a highly pragmatic Economic rationality was the 'ultimate authority' on societal structure. But this has always been the case.
Manu’s laws, however, have several confusing contradictions related to women’s rights.
Women had no rights unless they did in which case Manu could go hang.
Verses 9.72–9.81 allow the man as well as the woman to get out of a fraudulent or abusive marriage and remarry.
So what? This is descriptive. Men and women do get out of abusive relationships or ones they don't like. Who can stop them? Who would want to?
They even provide legal sanction for a woman to remarry when her husband has been missing or has abandoned her.
The thing will happen anyway. Custom makes everything legal. Mores come before the Law.
But it is also restrictive for women in verses 3.13–3.14, opposing her marriage to someone outside her own social class.
Unless the guy is rich or powerful or there is some other motive. As a matter of fact, Chatterji's native Bengal saw a lot of poorer families giving brides to richer families of lower caste. Thus has it always been.
It preaches chastity to widows, such as in verses 5.158–5.160.
But widows lacking other support might end up as prostitutes nevertheless.
In verses 5.147–5.148, the Manusmriti declares that “a woman must never seek to live independently”.
Unless she is able to do so without being molested in which case is already living independently- not seeking to do so.
In other verses, such as 2.67–2.69 and 5.148–5.155, the Manusmriti preaches that a girl should obey and seek the protection of her father, a young woman must do the same of her husband, and a widow must do so of her son.
Unless she does not need to.
While it states that a woman should always worship her husband as a god, in verses 3.55–3.56, the Manusmriti also insists that “women must be honoured and adorned”, and that “where women are revered, there the gods rejoice, but where they are not, no sacred rite bears fruit”.
The context of these various verses permitted a harmonious construction for Pundits. But this was always wholly defeasible. That's why the only thing that matters about Manu is the lexical preferencing of spirituality.
No doubt, lawyers could spin out a case by talking various stripes of shite so as to mulct their clients but a good ruler or administrator could always chase such scoundrels away.
The Manusmriti is a complex commentary from a women’s rights perspective, but the British merely picked and emphasised certain aspects that seemed appropriate to them for codifying women’s rights for Hindus in India, while ignoring the other sections.
Manusmriti was not concerned with 'Women's rights'. Nor were the British. Customary law and such Rights and Entitlements as were incentive compatible and self supporting determined actual outcomes. The Law was an expensive trinket only fools bothered with.

The British were not in the business of promoting Indian culture of Religion. It is ridiculous to suggest that they were influenced by Manu.  They claimed to dispense Justice on the basis of codification or case law arising out or immemorial custom. If they overplayed their hand, there would be forum shopping or hostility and rebellion. Justice had to take a pragmatic course.

 Certain communities claimed to be bound by Manu or Dayabhaga or whatever. It was only in that context that any Smriti text gained salience. The British themselves knew that Sir Edward Coke's claim that English Common Law had been handed down from Greek speaking Druids was wholly mythical. They did not believe that Manu had some higher or Divine authority.
And so the parts of the Manusmriti that sharply restricted women’s freedom, regulated their behaviour, and reduced their access to social and political power, besides establishing a highly conservative stand on sex in a society that was once fairly liberal, became the values that the British propagated in the subcontinent during their rule.
Utter nonsense. There was no purdah in Manu or any Hindu lawbook. Yet Hindu kayasthas and some comprador Brahmins in Bengal adopted the Muslim version of this practice. Rajendra Prasad has written about this. The British did not encourage or initiate this type of 'Tardean mimetics'. But they did not abolish it either. Their job was to make money, not trouble.

Chatterj thinks if a guy writes a book which is illiberal then Society becomes illiberal. What transmission mechanism does she have in mind?
Actually, it was not the British alone. They were joined by the enthusiastic anglicised Indian elite, who were somewhere between the British and the Indians in their ways, and at times preached the same prudish values to the middle class in the subcontinent.
'Enthusiastic anglicised Indians' were not an elite. They were money grubbing lawyers or compradors and such like small fry. Ceylon had an anglicised elite. India did not. It had Maharajas and Nawabs and Purohits and so forth. 'Big gun' royal families considered English declasse. Some 'small gun' - or no gun- States did send their sons to British public schools. Cricketing heroes, like Ranji & Pataudi were from small states. But they certainly weren't 'enthusiastic' about preaching prudish values to any class in India. They would have looked entirely ridiculous had they done so. Perhaps Chatterji's family- which had a Temple inside their own house- had a different experience. In the morning the Maharaja of Cooch Behar would come round to preach to them about the necessity of restraining their daughter from masturbating in the street. Come afternoon, the Nizam of Hyderabad would start tapping on the windowpane, saying in a Peter Seller's accents, 'Madam, for please, not to be pleasuring yourself so loudly while buying brinjals. Chee, chee- it is not a nice habit.'

Prudish values are prudent values. Promiscuity involves risks. If your daughter is a terrible slut, your sleep will be disturbed by the loud banging on the door of horny men and hairy lesbians in the middle of the night. In between sating themselves upon your daughter's body, they may well steal items of sentimental value from your home. They may also defecate or vomit upon your premises. This poses a Health & Safety risk. It is in your own interest to preach prudish values to your slut of a daughter or catamite of a son.
Here is an example. The Brahmo Samaj was an institution that propagated a new kind of Hinduism, inspired by the Hindu Vedanta, Islamic Sufism and Christian Unitarianism.
Indeed. It sought to lift up Society by proclaiming the doctrine of Unitittyarianism- nipples are many, breast is one. Bengal was so proud.
Its founder, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, had two houses in Kolkata — one was his “Bengali house” and the other his “European house”. In the Bengali house, he lived with his wife and children in the traditional Indian way. The European house, on the other hand, was tastefully done up, with English furniture, and was used to entertain his European friends. Someone teased him by saying that everything in the Bengali house was Bengali except for Ram Mohan Roy, and everything in the European house was European except for Ram Mohan Roy! While celebrated for being an eminent reformer and uplifting women with his anti-sati and anti-child marriage movements, Roy also had a puritan, British-influenced condemnation of non-Brahminical sexual and gender relations.
What point is Chatterji making here? Is she saying that the first generation compradors made their money by partying with Europeans and providing them liquor and loose women? I can point to business families right here in London which got their initial break by procuring women for influential officials in corrupt countries. However, once they had got their start, they adopted a strict moral code and lived with their families. From time to time, if it is necessary to 'entertain' some degenerate from a corrupt country, they will find some arms length manner of doing so.

Roy, like the Pirali Brahmin, Tagores, was concerned with protecting the reputation and prestige of his own descendants. No doubt, he frowned upon any daughter of his masturbating publicly. But he would also have disapproved of a son anally pleasuring himself on every traffic bollard on the high street.

Mahatma Gandhi also had a conflicted attitude to sex, which is apparent in his memoirs. On the one hand, he declares that he was tormented by sexual passions, which he described as uncontrollable, while on the other hand, he took a vow of chastity at the age of thirty-six and passionately preached chastity to everyone. He said women were the embodiment of sacrifice and non-violence, as also the keepers of purity. During his time in South Africa, when Mahatma Gandhi saw a young man harassing his female followers, instead of confronting the man, he personally cut off the girl’s hair.
Okay. Gandhi was a freak. Fair point. However look at the facts. His biggest supporter had sent his daughter to him while her husband was off in Fiji. Gandhi thought the girl was ill and told his son to look after her. The girl wasn't ill at all. Nature took its own course. Gandhi was afraid that people would think his Ashram was- as many Ashrams are- a place for happy hook-ups and wife swapping. He tried to show this was not the case. So what? All Ashrams seek to do the same- unless they don't, like Rajneesh's set-up- in which case the come a cropper.
The great saint, Swami Vivekananda, had a paradoxical view of sex as well. He revered their maternal instinct, but disliked the erotic.
Yes. A guy who dresses up as a monk has to keep up appearances. Anyway, the fellow was Bengali so talking shite came naturally to him.
He preached that the highest love is the love that is sexless — that is perfect unity, while sex differentiates bodies. He confided to his disciple Sarat Chandra Chakravarty that “the American sluts and buggers used to be sexually aroused” after hearing his lectures.
Okay, he was a shitty little man. So what? He was Bengali. What's more he was not a Brahman, like Chatterji, but rather a dusht kula Kayastha gibbering on about 'sluts' and 'buggers' getting horny for his sweet Bengali bod.
At a lecture in Chennai in 1897, he asserted, “The women of India must grow and develop in the footprints of Sita, and that is the only way.” In the Indian epic Ramayana, Sita, the wife of Ram, is chastity incarnate.
As opposed to a vigorously masturbating slut drunk off her head lying in the gutter. How come epics have virtuous and hygienic heroines? It's soooo unfair that they don't feature hairy harridans grunting vigorously as they fist themselves.
Adding to the confusion created by the hypocritical attitude to sex in India is the matter of role models.
Why is it that men who compete to bed a slut in the pub don't want their sisters or daughters behaving in the same way? One answer is that they don't want to be woken up in the middle of the night by long lines of horny men coming and going through their own residence. No doubt, while waiting their turn, these men will vomit from having drunk too much, or get into fights, or steal everything not nailed down.
Radha is Krishna’s love, Sita is Ram’s wife. Radha and Sita, both mythological figures, are worshipped in India. Radha is sensual, older than Krishna by many years, and some texts say she is married to another man while romancing Krishna. In almost all interpretations of the Radha–Krishna story, their relationship is clandestine. While Sita is an example of a woman in a monogamous, legitimate relationship, Radha is remembered and revered for loving Krishna despite his other flirtations. Sita is a queen, Radha an ordinary village girl focused on her relationship with her lover.
You just said Radha was a lot older than Krishna. So she wasn't a girl at all. Moreover she had the good sense to keep her affair secret and to confine her attentions to one lad. Her husband was not discommoded by a long line of schoolboys snaking its way to her bedroom.

Chatterji does not seem to understand that Radha can't be a role model because the local Primary School does not harbour a Krishna willing and able to form a relationship of the sort she describes. Even if it is not against the law to sexually assault a child you fancy, still, the fellow may demand that you do his Chemistry homework for him. The game really isn't worth the candle.
In line with Swami Vivekananda’s counsel, Indians have indeed accepted Sita as the role model for a woman.
Very true. Indian women are constantly entering the fire or being swallowed up by the earth. Perhaps, Chatterji means Indian women prefer to get married rather than stand outside the Primary School trying to have sex with little boys. But there is a good reason for this. Little boys have Mums who will slap you silly if you go all reverse cow-girl on their little darling thus interfering with his proper performance of his Chemistry homework which will affect his grades and prevent him from getting into Medical School.
Sita sets the standard high: A woman must be chaste and monogamous,
Is that really so very high a standard? Chatterji may be under the impression that most women want to go to the playground and fuck every little boy they see. However, such is not the case. There are very good biological reasons why the evolutionary stable strategy for our species features a high rate of fidelity and monogamy.
a romantic relationship must be validated by marriage, husbands must be expected to fight and overcome challenges to be worthy, and the couple must make sacrifices for the sake of society, even if that means forsaking a personal relationship.
Very true! Brave men and virtuous women are considered better role models than cowards and erotomaniacs. Why? Courage is valuable to society. So is virtue. Fisting yourself constantly, however, is not Socially beneficial.
But Radha is a role model too-at the opposite end of the moral spectrum from Sita.
Radha is a role model for devotees of the Lord with respect to pure spirituality- not anything to do with physical sex.
There is no 'moral spectrum' here at all. It is not the case that God has incarnated himself in our village nor that we were Rishis in our previous lives who were granted the boon of physical union with the Godhead.
While Sita is the loyal and chaste wife, Radha is the passionate and adulterous lover.
So what? Vaishnavs aren't saying you can have sex with Krishna if you cheat on your spouse. They are saying that the individual soul longs for union with the Divine in a manner that surpasses and transcends all human or material contingency.
Sita is a public figure due to her political stature as queen, while Radha is the subject of thousands of paintings and statues, and has been established as a goddess in many temples across India.
So both are 'public figures'. But, is Chatterji right in saying Sita is one only because of her 'political stature as queen?' Surely, this is the least important thing about her.
She has also influenced movements in poetry, art and literature, many of which are well known. Who can ignore the fervour of the Bhakti movement and the devotional poems and songs, inspired by Radha and Krishna, written by Mirabai, the legendary princess from Rajasthan?

Everybody can ignore the fervour of the Bhakti movement. Indeed, we all do. I am not running around the streets singing of my love for Krishna. Nobody is- unless they are trying to raise money for some cult. Why? Because the thing is a public nuisance and, like, sooo Seventies retro.

Chatterji thinks Radha was a historical personage who 'influenced movements in poetry etc'. There is no evidence at all for this view. No doubt, Chatterji believes Radha ran a salon and published a journal featuring her thoughts on 'Indian instincts'. She attended Seminars and Symposiums in which she read out papers denigrating Sita as having a false view of Butlerian perfomativity and Spivakian strategic essentialism and effective sabotage. The Jindals hired her to pretend they were a socially responsible bunch of robber barons. Later she started an incubator in Paris focusing on fulfilling the vision of Davos man so as to establish a truly meritocratic platform which emphasises social inclusivity, environmental awareness and U.N mandated Milliennium goals.

She also masturbated vigorously on various public fora when not going reverse cow-girl on little boys. Thus she helped empower Women and catalysed a Marcusian model of Gender and Development free of 'repressive desublimation'.