Wednesday, 20 November 2019

The other Gandhi dynasty

Rajmohan Gandhi's biography of his illustrious ancestor contains the following passage which is meant to explain why Gandhi agreed to the Cabinet Mission Plan

This is decidedly odd. Yuddhishtra led the Pandavas. He did not assist them. They served him. It was he who declared war and he who gained the crown. If he suppressed qualms of conscience while doing so, his motivation was not loyalty to another, but commitment to his own aggrandizement.

Perhaps, Rajmohan thinks of Nehru as an usurper- one who rose on Gandhi's coat-tails- I should say dhoti-tails- but who rudely pushed him aside to snatch the glittering prize. In 1989, Rajmohan Gandhi contested the Amethi elections against Rajiv Gandhi. The grandson of Nehru defeated the grandson of the Mahatma.

The odd thing is that, despite Rahul's evident imbecility, nobody would prefer him to be replaced by a member of the other Gandhi dynasty

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

S.Subramaniyan on the clash between Liberty & Equality

The subject of this post was a mentally fragile, very stupid, caricature of a man, who used to bum cigs off me when I was 17 and he 25. I don't know if he ever passed his MA from LSE. This worthless cunt, thanks to connections, is making good money off some bogus sinecure to do with 'Poverty' from the  World Bank or some other such oxymoron.

S.Subramaniyan writes in Live Mint
In A Theory Of Justice, John Rawls advances two fundamental principles as being constitutive of any reasonable interpretation of justice as fairness. Rawls’ first principle of justice demands that each person is to have an equal right to the most widespread liberty compatible with a like liberty for all.
Liberty does not require the existence of Justice. The most widespread liberty, compatible with a like liberty for all, would be one where there in no theory or practice of Justice. Other regulative concepts or norms might apply, but nothing would be justiciable.

Equally, there would be little inequality, assuming no barriers to entry or exit, in an area of unconstrained Liberty- this is considered a feature of small scale hunter gatherer societies.

Thus Rawls's first principle demands that Justice not exist or that it have a wholly evanescent existence in response to an existential threat.

If our species values Liberty, why is it most Societies claim to have a system of Justice? The answer is that the administration of Justice is a requirement to redeem a territory from the status of terra nullis. A method of distinguishing licit from illicit violence is created in situations where competing interests clash. However, such Justice is rationed. It is a scarce good because it uses up resources. Moreover, one can do justice on one one's own behalf. I may use reasonable force to defend my liberty and my property. The force I have available may be far greater than that of another person. She may be afraid to exercise her notional liberty by taking a walk by herself. I may suffer no such apprehension. Will the administration of Justice concern itself with providing her such armed protection as would equalize her status with me? No. The thing would be too costly. To have greater liberty, she may well exit this jurisdiction and enter some other jurisdiction where she is safer and thus enjoys more liberty. Equally, if I find the demands of Justice onerous, I may exit the Jurisdiction or effectually secede from it.

Since Justice uses scarce resources, it is a purely economic good. It has no 'foundational principles' save by way of 'legal fictions'. Even those fictions only come into play where a dispute between two or more parties has been brought to it. If there is no prospect of enforcement, there is no effective jurisdiction. Further, the range of justiciability fluctuates dependent on exigent circumstances. The 'doctrine of political question' gains greater salience where there is an existential threat- e.g. to National Security- or where there is a likelihood that Judicial decisions will be ignored or become the basis of counter-mobilization.

Currently in India, the Leftist Government in Kerala is not helping women to exercise their liberty, in accordance with a Supreme Court Decision, to visit a certain Temple. The thing is too costly from every point of view. It is likely that the Bench will reverse it self on this issue.

What would a reasonable 'first principle of Justice' demand? The answer is that the conduct of Judicial processes must themselves be Just in the specific sense of being utile, protocol bound, fit for purpose, and such as would meet approval by fair-minded observers.

It cannot be the case that the first principle of Justice should be to permit actions and outcomes which are arbitrary, mischievous, unfit for purpose, and such as would cause revulsion in the minds of fair-minded observers.

It is not reasonable to say that a first principle to be observed in making a judgment- as opposed to fulfilling a distributive function- involves giving everybody the same amount of whatever it is that comes under the scope of judgment.

 Thus in judging a Beauty contest, we do not say that the first principle of Aesthetics should be that all contestants may exercise the right to be as beautiful as possible subject to a like level of beauty being attained by everybody else. This may entail everybody wearing a paper bag over their head. Clearly this is foolish.

Rawls was not suggesting that everyone be a slave if even one person can never, for some organic reason, rise above such a level. His first principle only existed so that it could be immediately rendered a nullity by this second principle.
The second principle—the celebrated Difference Principle—emphasizes the primacy of maximizing the advantage (in terms of an index of primary goods) of the worst-off person: specifically, “social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity".
Social and economic inequalities can't be arranged because they arise biologically- though, no doubt, they may be ameliorated or worsened by some 'run-away' process which itself arises out of such inequality. To pretend that those concerned with Justice have supernatural powers such that they can reorder Society and Economic relationships in a frictionless manner is to show an extraordinary ignorance of the Natural and Social Sciences. Indeed, it suggests an advanced degree of mental retardation or a degenerative disease of the brain.

An existential threat to all Liberty arises from the bare existence of 'offices and positions' which, by reason of the greater powers or immunities they offer, become the subject of competition.

If Knightian Uncertainty obtains- which must be the case if humans evolved by Natural Selection rather than by the fiat of an all-powerful or omniscient God- we don't know who is truly least advantaged or how they may be best benefited.

Thus, this healthy and wealthy young man may be the least advantaged because he has just been infected with a terrible illness which it will be very costly to cure. On the other hand, those poor people who appear emaciated may have resistance to that disease and will live long and lead increasingly prosperous lives. If these facts were known, the difference principle would militate for taxing the poor to help the rich- because they would become poorer than the rest were this help not afforded to them. Furthermore, people in unproductive professions would have a claim to being supported in perpetuity by those who are productive.

In the Beauty contest case, it could be argued that each contestant should be free to display all such portions of her anatomy and all such erotic skills and titillating arts as she may possess. But this could lead to a repugnant outcome. The highly callipygous P. Chidambaram would gyrate his shapely haunches in a manner destructive of all norms of civilized behavior. The masses would be inflamed with lust. India would suffer the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Subramaniyam, perhaps because he is immune to Chidu's dimpled and roseate charms, takes a different view-
In this perspective then, equality and liberty are the cornerstones of any foundational conception of justice, or more generally, of any inclusive view of political morality.
But this is a foolish perspective. It assumes there is no Knightian Uncertainty and thus Humanity has not evolved by natural selection. But, if there is no Knightian Uncertainty, there can be no Scientific or other sort of experimentation such that previously unknown possible states of the world are discovered. Compiling Statistics would suffice to give a probabilistic expression to all Natural and Economic laws. Once this had been done- and this could happen purely by Baldwinian evolution- i.e. channelisation into 'instincts'- an evolutionary stable strategy would be 'hardwired', till the next exogenous deformation of the fitness landscape. There would be little need for language or reasoning or markets or any complex type of institution. Humans would no more have 'foundational conceptions of justice' than amoebae or elm trees.
Given this, it should be cause for concern if the principles of liberty and equality were found to be in mutual conflict.
Why? We may speak of the principles of Beauty and the principles of Virtue. They are not necessarily in conflict because a Beautiful person can be Virtuous. Moreover the path of Virtue, which involves abstinence and self-control, may over the course of the years, yield a countenance of rare distinction and noble harmony. By contrast, the spectacle must sooner or later pall of P.Chidambaram's upthrust buttocks gyrating incessantly while the fellow leers at us over his shoulders. We may say that though the principles of Aesthetics expressed by his D.N.A endowed him with a Platonic perfection of form, yet his dissolute path in life caused him to use the sublimest portion of his anatomy in so meretricious a manner that we feel him to be the embodiment of not Beauty but trash.

Under Knightian Uncertainty we don't know what our Income is or what Rights we possess. This is because Income means the recurring return on our endowments. Next period, it may be nothing. We can't be sure. Similarly, Rights only exist where they are linked to incentive compatible remedies. We don't know whether those remedies will be provided when we really need them. Thus we follow a 'regret minimizing' strategy such that we develop different sorts of hedges, including ontologically dysphoric ones, against a sudden loss of Liberty or Livelihood.

One way this can be done is through Social Insurance and Political and other incomplete Contracts. But this is only one among many different types of hedges the best endowed will invest in. Those who have the least may rely on such schemes having no other option. But, chances are, they will be the first to go to the wall when there is an 'Entitlements Collapse'. Indeed, if the people of Sodom had been rational, they would have maintained at public expense, a class of indigents purely for prudential reasons.

My point is that Liberty and Equality may appear to coincide- but diverge in reality once hedging is taken into account. Equally, they may appear to diverge whereas they are in fact converging. Consider Evelyn Waugh's well heeled characters. They though inequality was stable or rising in the Thirties. Then the War came. It turned out that 'Upper Tenth' hadn't hedged sufficiently against the catastrophic risk represented to their unearned income by Hitler & Co. So Equality increased in the Forties and, as James Buchan writes, a substantial rentier class was taxed out of existence over the subsequent decades. But this did not mean Equality went up permanently. Great fortunes found ways to avoid Taxation. By the Seventies, it was working people who had to pay for the pretense of Equality. They rebelled against 'Solidarity wages' or 'Prices and Incomes Policies' and a bien pensant class of public intellectuals was disintermediated from Governance. This was what was happening in the U.K when Subramaniyam was at the LSE. This is what happened in the India to which he returned. Perhaps, if Modi gets another term, there will be push-back on this. The majority can always be persuaded to accept Social Insurance so long as libtards don't run amok claiming that minorities will get first call on resources. A Rights based approach must give way to a Contributions based approach. Indeed, this is what Marx counsels for countries for whom advanced Socialism is a far horizon.
Indeed, it turns out that there are seemingly reasonable ways of interpreting these principles such that they end up being mutually incompatible.
There are no 'seemingly reasonable ways of interpreting' Tarskian primitive terms like Justice or Liberty. Why? By definition, they have no interpretation or intensional definition but represent pragmatics or are extensional simply.

To interpret an intuition is to kill it. Casuistry has no alethic value. Remember Clinton interpreting the word 'is' every which way? That's what got him disbarred.

Amartya Sen did not understand either Economics or Philosophy. But he was great at pretending to be a sort of Mother Theresa figure and under his aegis a bunch of academo-bureaucratic nitwits gained an interessement mechanism for their imbecility.
Specifically, the potential for such a conflict always exists if we were to defer to the dictates of equality in terms of a version of Amartya Sen’s Weak Equity Axiom, and to the dictates of liberty in terms of his principle of Minimal Liberty (ML).
Sen's WEA says that a guy who has less utility for any given endowment should get more. Thus, if there is a 120 year old billionaire who needs medical procedures costing a trillion dollars so as to remain alive to the end of this week, then everybody else should be on a subsistence wage so that the billionaire can be kept alive.
Clearly, this is a travesty of Utilitarian philosophy.
The word axiom comes from the Greek word 'axioma' and has the meaning ''that which is thought worthy or fit' or 'that which commends itself as evident.' To whom does it commend itself to? In Jurisprudence there is either a 'reasonable person' test or else we may speak of a bonus paterfamilias exercising, on behalf of another, a diligence equal to such as he would apply in pursuing his own interests.

What Sen has offered is not an Axiom. It is something no reasonable person would accept. In any case, the thing requires 'interpersonal comparison of utility' (ICU) which can easily be controverted. How do we know Jones processes utility less efficiently? How do we prevent Smith from lodging a claim to be even more disabled by reason of some invisible psychological quirk?

Of course, it is always possible for a judicial process to make ICUs. Indeed, we all do so all the time and this drives mimetic processes. The question for Jurisprudence is whether, following Richard Hare, ICU can give rise to 'universalizable prescriptive statements' which in turn generate an algorithmic decision process which has a canonical form for Economics. The answer is sure- but it is not effectively computable and can only be known ex post. However, a protocol bound Juristic process can do ICU- indeed, our Courts make such comparisons when awarding damages- and so this is an idiographic, not nomothetic, matter. However, the risk of jurisdiction shopping or other 'Exit' means there are severe constraints on the 'macro' effects of Judicial activism. Ultimately, a vinculum juris is either incentive compatible or it is a dead letter. Thus, under all circumstances, there is a trade-off between Pareto Optimality (only achievable under perfect Liberty) and Game theoretic stability of the solution concept (which involve restrictions on Liberty to ensure contract compliance).
Sen’s Weak Equity Axiom, which was originally postulated in the context of income distributions, was subsequently advanced in more general terms by the Stanford economist Peter Hammond in terms of a principle that one might call Minimal Equity (ME).
'Hammond Equity', which uses '“independence of interpersonal comparisons involving irrelevant alternatives”- looks like a way to get back to the old Utilitarian intuition that money has diminishing marginal utility and transfers to the poor boost aggregate welfare. At the time, it was uncontroversial. The economists were assuming ceteris would be paribus.  This seemed reasonable. Young men could easily find a mate of their own class and start a family. During subsequent decades it was discovered that if the economic fitness landscape was capable of drastic deformations, then structural unemployment might arise such that some young men- those with lower transferable work skills and thus lower transfer earnings- would be rendered less desirable marriage partners. Thus “ interpersonal comparisons involving irrelevant alternatives” were not genuinely independent of Welfare.

 Sexual signalling mainly involves wholly irrelevant alternatives- which is why I didn't get laid till I was 19 and had a good job. It is not that 'Liberty' was lacking, I simply did not know what Band to pretend to like so as to send the required signal. Once I wore a three piece suit and carried a briefcase, that sort of thing ceased to matter. It was known that guys like me were doing well out of the Recession. We may have looked like weasels, but weasels do well whatever happens to the economy. Thus, our reproductive fitness suddenly increased.

Women, it seems, are 'Muth Rational'. Transfers could not render men attractive unless they were targeted at men qua men- not attached to children or other dependents. Thus, a husband whose ultimate economic viability was dependent on transfers- not adequate transfer earnings- became less desirable. Large, 'subaltern' classes of people came to see that, for males, transfers were a poisoned chalice. They developed non-economic screening and signalling devices for mate selection and to solve 'the stable marriage problem'.

Furthermore, the existence of Social Welfare safety nets- because they can only flourish in countries under the Rule of Law- attracted immigrants who would work harder or who had a better endowment set. This further contributed to localized structural unemployment.

Transfers thus became a demographic neutron bomb. They could create areas where males with few life chances were deserted by women flocking to the bright lights of the big Cities. Advanced economies developed rust-belts plagued by either 'despair deaths' or gangsterism or both. Different working class communities were impacted differently. Where chance of incarceration was higher- presumably because of historic prejudice and institutional bias- transfers were associated with one sort of social and familial collapse. In other communities, things may have gone the other way- with increased spousal and child abuse being the result of lower male life-chances. Not that independent women had it easy. They ended up paying through taxes for any benefits they received as a class. At the margin, many were net losers though, no doubt, there are also some spectacular success stories.

Peter Hammond started as a Mathematician. Had he first done Mathematical Biology before moving into Econ, he need not necessarily have wasted his life.
Sen’s axiom demanded that in an optimal distribution of income between two individuals, the person who is worse off in both distributions deserves a larger share of the total income.
In a more general setting, one can formulate the principle of ME as follows: given a pair of states of affairs which differ from each other only in terms of the personal features of two individuals—call them 1 and 2, respectively—if, say, person 1 is worse off than person 2 in both states of affairs, then the social choice between the two states should depend only on the preference of the more disadvantaged individual (that is, person 1, in this case). The general principle underlined is that equity must privilege the preference of the more disadvantaged individual in collective choices.
But ICU is being used- and used incorrectly- to identify the 'more disadvantaged'. The fact is Utility is a present value with kin selective altruism factored in. The Price Equation has salience here. Mathematical Economists didn't bother with the Biology- though Price himself slit his throat, after some sort of Damascene conversion, in some slum not far from the LSE while Hammond was there.

The failure of the Indians and their Cambridge chums to understand that human beings are biological beings, not mathematical abstractions, rendered their pseudo-mathematical work on 'Poverty' & 'Inequality' utterly mischievous. Thanks to them, the LSE, to which the Tatas had given a lot of money in its early years, was able to fuck up India long after the Brits had left.
ML defers to a very weak requirement of the recognition of what John Stuart Mill called a protected personal sphere, in which personal preferences are socially respected.
Mill was wrong to think there could be a 'Laxman Rekha' within which the individual could feel sovereign and secure.  To rely on ML, is to put all your eggs in one basket within a circle which, sooner or later, will attract a predator or parasite. Liberty depends on hedging against its loss. What is being described is not Minimal Liberty but a trap only a cretin will fall into.

Suppose I'm a witness in a court case. I am asked 'what were you doing at such and such time?'. Only if I have committed a crime can I refuse to answer. I have no 'protected personal sphere'. I am obliged to reveal that I was plying a nefarious trade as a P. Chidambaram lookalike. What is the outcome? That scoundrel himself turns up to work my corner thus leaving me bereft of clients. My children starve.
More specifically, ML demands that for each of at least two individuals in society, there should be at least one pair of social states each which differ only in a feature personal to that individual, such that the individual’s preference over the relevant pair of states is also accepted as the social preference over that pair.
If there is any sort of 'gene competition' between them, there is no a priori way of distinguishing such social states. No doubt, for a particular juristic process, a 'reasonable man' test may be applied. But that is idiographic Law, not nomothetic Social Science.
The general underlying principle is that liberty requires personal choices to be collectively respected.
Liberty requires no such thing. It is a Tarskian primitive term. It has no definition. Some cretin gassing on about 'personal choices being collectively respected' according to his schemata is an enemy of Liberty just as much as he is the enemy of Common Sense.
Now it is possible to show that there is a specific sense in which, under certain well-defined conditions, the principles of ML and ME can clash.
It is not possible for these cretins to show anything at all save their soiled diapers.
A demonstration of this is available in work I have done elsewhere (“Can we possibly subscribe to both Liberty and Equality at one and the same time?" Think, 2012). The specific technical details of demonstration are beyond the scope of this article, but the conflict between equity and liberty is a common enough theme in political and moral analysis.
There can be no demonstration of a clash between Primitive terms. They simply refer to different intuitions. Suppose those intuitions have a mathematical representation. In that case, there can be a clash iff Maths can't have univalent foundations. But if Maths can't have univalent foundations then all sorts of weird results follow like P=NP.

On the other hand, a Primitive concept, like Utility or Beauty or Justice or whatever can be associated, by the axiom of choice with a partial ordering which, by the Spilrajn extension theorem, can yield a total order and a metric. We could also associate a Tarskian Primitive with an intensional calculus or deontic logic. It is coherent if it has a concrete model- i.e. if we can stipulate 'x is complying with this calculus, and because x is compossible with our universe, therefore this deontic logic is implementable'. This would also mean there is a first order theory of that Primitive concept.

Suppose there is a first order theory of Liberty (L) and also one of Equality(E)Then, by the Robinson Joint Consistency theorem or Craig-Lyndon theorem, either the smallest signature of L ∪ E is satisfiable or it isn't. If it is, we can't speak of a clash of primitives. If it isn't, then there is an interpolating sentence ρ in the language of L ∩ E that is true in all models of L and false in all models of E. Moreover, ρ has the stronger property that every relation symbol that has a positive occurrence in ρ has a positive occurrence in some formula of L and a negative occurrence in some formula of E, and every relation symbol with a negative occurrence in ρ has a negative occurrence in some formula of L and a positive occurrence in some formula of E.

In other words there are cases where knowing something about L means knowing something about E and vice versa. This means, by the Godel completeness theorem, there must be another first order language which has superior 'soundness'. Thus whatever L or E we have, it is not the true first order language for L or E. Thus, to say, if there is a clash between L & E such that  L ∪ E is not satisfiable, then we have the wrong L and the wrong E. There is a proposition ρ in the language of L ∩ E, which is actually second order or type theoretic in some way.

All that Sen, Subramaniam and so on can show is that nonsensical notions clash because nonsensical notions can do anything.  This is a case of ex falso quodlibet- from nonsense any and all nonsense follows. If we can show Liberty and Equality clash, we can also show they had hot make-up sex in the toilet of a Burger King on the North End Road. Equality got preggers. So did Liberty coz did I mention one of them was a hooker whom Randy Andy had just nutted in? Anyway, once all the other members of the Royal Family fled Corbyn's UK, one of the two brats conceived on that night must become the new Monarch. But which one? Arguably, only the hooker Andy nutted in could be considered his common law wife and thus her child has a superior right regardless of birth order. On the other hand, it was by her own lustful actions that the Royal sperm was conveyed to the other womb and thus it is a surrogate with a superior right if it represents primogeniture.

 Is there a nomothetic manner in which this clash between Liberty and Equality can be resolved? Or do we need to watch the security-cam footage? I believe, this is an idiographic matter and am currently on Kickstarter raising money to produce a film employing industry professionals so as to give a detailed reconstruction of the sequence of events. I believe watching my movie is the only utile manner in which we can contemplate the clash between Liberty and Equality. I may mention the final scene where some Frat boys barge in. Thus Fraternity too is depicted.

I know what you are going to say. All this is old hat. If only I had attended the Algebraic Topology classes at the LSE, I would have understood that everything in Social Choice theory is nothing but outlines for Porn films of the above description. Had I been smart enough to recognize this when I was 18, I might have developed into a respected academic like Subramaniam Saar. Instead, I thought the thing a wank pure and simple. It was to Accountancy that I turned- lured by lubricious talk of 'double entry'. But that was also the reason I was quickly sacked.
How should we view this alleged conflict between equality and liberty? A particularly appealing interpretation is available in the important book Taking Rights Seriously, written by the late Harvard philosopher and jurist Ronald Dworkin.
Dworkin was a cretin but not an ignoramus. He understood Hohfeldian analysis. He clerked for Justice Learned Hand. He knew Rights are linked to Remedies. These are subject to scarcity, incentive compatibility and, by reason of the existence of other Rights, highly defeasible. Of course one could always say that the generalized right to liberty is one such that the right's holder himself supplies the remedy. But this is mere rhetoric or else a mischievous manner of eliciting the most absurd, Kafkaesque, judicial consequences.
For Dworkin, the notion of a conflict could be a misplaced one if one allows for a conception of liberty and equality in which the one value is both constrained by, and subsumed under, the other.
This is the problem with treating a Tarskian primitive as a 'conception' and then linking such primitives in an intensional manner. The result is bound to be worthless, absurd shite. It is just a case of ex falso quodlibet.

The moment you say there is an 'essential' or 'necessary' link between two intuitions, there is no way to prevent those two intuitions having sex in the toilet.
Indeed, for Dworkin, it is a moot point whether people have any “generalized right to liberty", as such.
What is a 'generalized right'? Presumably, it is something of which we would say, in general, it would be advisable to have a remedy under a vinculum juris corresponding to this right. Thus, we could speak of culpa levis in abstracto , in the case of a tort, or else broaden the remit of justiciability or Executive privilege so as to deal with the matter. So far, so good. Though we are speaking 'generally', there is an idiographic context. Lawyers and administrators and politicians can tackle the underlying problem BUT ONLY SO LONG AS LIBERTY REMAINS A PRIMITIVE TERM. The moment it is given an intentional definition and linked to other intuitions you get either

1) Djikstra type concurrency deadlock
2) McKelvey Chaos & rent-seeking Agenda Control
3) Sen-tentious shite splattering everyone in the vicinity
4) Liberty and Equality banging each other in the toilet.
5) All of these outcomes with a UN rapporteur overseeing each aspect of the shambles. Also some brown fuckwits getting Nobels or Magsaysay Awards or  other such trinkets.

What can Economics legitimately say about Liberty or Equality? Quite a lot which is useful- or rather which is obvious, and common knowledge- provided both Liberty and Equality- like Utility- are treated as primitives notions. In every idiographic context, we can distinguish types of joint enterprise and 'factorize' the mechanisms which govern them along two different axes- one of which corresponds to a 'regret minimizing' limitation of commitment, while the other represents an incomplete contract with a 'fair division' problem re. appropriable and residuary control rights. Just as mathematical methods can be useful in analyzing incomplete contracts with positive pay-off, so too can Hanan consistency and related concepts illuminate implicit apportioning of catastrophic risk.

What isn't useful at all is what we have had for the last thirty years- viz. the pretense that there is a trade-off between Liberty and Equality. The truth is that both are determined by the same thing- elasticity of demand and supply. Those with elastic response enjoy more Liberty and exit to Tiebout models which, though they may have higher Equality internally, militate for increasingly unequal outcomes with the original population. Moreover, transfers in the name of Equality reduce Liberty and trap people into absolutely worse trajectories.

No doubt, people like S.Subramaniyam- whom I had the pleasure of meeting many years ago- have done a lot of good over the course of their careers. This is because domain expertise of an idiographic type can make Society a much better place. Even having high ideals and interacting with others can have a sort of 'Field theoretic' effect. Compassionate people imagine everybody else is compassionate. However, they made a mistake in thinking that Sen-tentious shite was ever anything but a careerist availability cascade of a brazen and mischievous kind.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Amartya Sen's distinctions without a difference

In normal parlance a 'distinction without a difference' is a logical fallacy. In philosophy, as R.G. Collingwood showed, it can have utility because empirical research may not have foreclosed the question.

However, speaking generally, the thing is wholly mischievous.
Consider this speed, given twelve years ago, by Amartya Sen- 
I see that our rajyapal, my friend Gopal Gandhi, told the graduating students of Jadavpur University, at its 52nd convocation on December 24, “Students who pass from this university should have a clarity of mind so that they speak lucidly and logically.” I have never been a student at Jadavpur University, but I have taught there, and I decided that Gopal Gandhi’s firm instruction must apply to me as well: we cannot ask the students to do something that their teachers cannot do.
Why speak 'lucidly and logically' if you have false beliefs? It would be better to speak haltingly and in an emotional manner as you look around you and observe that your false beliefs about the world have led to your fucking up big time.  By contrast, a paranoid nutjob who doesn't understand that he is smelly and emaciated may continue to very lucidly and logically expatiate on his superior felicity. People who wash regularly and eat proper food are all fools. They don't understand that smelling like shit is what gets you laid.

West Bengal needs to industrialize by getting young women out of agriculture and into factory dormitories. Export led growth is the only way forward. This is the reality. Any belief to the contrary, not matter how 'logically and lucidly' expressed will only be counter-productive.
Certainly, there is need for seeking some clarity and reach in speaking about events and developments in West Bengal right now.
The first thing to note is that there are some very important distinctions to be made between the different issues involved in the current debates — distinctions that are sometimes missed.
In philosophy, distinctions without a difference have utility. Not so, in any sensible type of discourse. Sen always introduces the most mischievous and stupid distinctions at the outset of his worthless perorations.
The first, and perhaps the most immediate, distinction is that between a general economic strategy and the general politics of governance (including matters of law and order) associated with that economic strategy.
Rubbish! The 'general economic strategy' is a proper subset of 'the general politics of governance'. It must never be something autonomous- carried out by some Olympian Planning Commission or committee of international cretins. Otherwise it won't be implementable.
A second distinction relates not to the economics-politics division but arises within the political domain: that between the politics of administration (including maintaining law and order with justice) and the general importance of some political values, particularly that of democracy.
Why stop there? Why not make a distinction between political economy and positive economics as well as a distinction between the politics of administration and the sociology of administration? How about the distinction between the general importance and the particular importance of some political value? What about the distinction between democracy in the abstract and the concrete?

What do we gain by making Sen's distinction? Nothing at all. Improving governance has nothing to do with stupid pedants gassing on about how Democracy is very nice and Dictatorship is very evil and we must always remain vigilant against Fascism and Nazism but not the Spanish Inquisition.
The third distinction arises within the economic domain, in particular the difference between the nature of a general economic strategy, on the one hand, and the specific economic proposals, on the other, that are devised to carry out that strategy.
Who is not aware that there is a difference between general and particular statements? In general, British people speak English. A particular British person, however, may not speak English.
I begin, then, with the policy strategy of rapidly industrializing West Bengal, involving various means but firmly including the use of private investment in industries and in modern services in this state. I would argue that this general strategy is basically correct. What is so good about rapid industrial development? The basic point is simple enough. In removing poverty, incomes would have to be raised (though there are a variety of other things also to be considered, since we do not live by income alone), and it is hard to do effective and secure income-raising without substantial industrial expansion. This works not just through direct income generation but also through its indirect consequences in energizing an economy and generating new skills (critics of industrial expansion often overlook the extent to which different parts of a working economy are interdependent). It is not surprising that no substantial country ever has crossed the barrier of poverty without very substantial industrialization. If the need for an industrial base and the corresponding skills applies to all countries in the world (as I believe it does), it has a particularly strong relevance to Bengal which was one of the more prosperous parts of the world based on strong industries in pre-colonial days, and was especially advanced in textile production. That industrial advantage was lost during colonial rule when the pre-mechanized industries went downhill without new and modern industries coming up, and to this has to be added the reputation that Calcutta developed in the second half of the 20th century as a hotbed of industrial action, scaring industrial investors away.
Bengal's hand-loom sector boomed thanks to the British and the Dutch. Like its British counterpart it started to lose market share to cheaper mill based production.
When did 'mechanized' industry appear in Bengal? In 1820 with the large steam powered Bowreah Cotton Mill. It concentrated on yarn, though it had power looms, because yarn was more profitable. Incidentally, Dwarkanath Tagore became a major shareholder in it in the 1840's. The Jute Mills date from a later period. Bengal had a comparative as well as absolute advantage being located close to the raw materials, having cheap labor, and with easy access to large coal deposits- more particularly after the opening of a rail link. It also had a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial class and from 1857, a University on the Western model. However, India fell behind in shipping ( British Navigation Acts had protected Indian shipping, permitting Indian entrepreneurs to retain more of the profit from exports to South East Asia and China). Bengal failed to produce a technocratic managerial class, though there were successful individual industrialists. Consider the Chemist Sir Prafulla Chandra Ray. He set up the Bengal Chemicals and Pharma Company in 1892. It thrived and had 3 branches outside Bengal. But after Ray's death, it began to struggle. It was loss making and finally nationalized in the Seventies. Predictably, the losses grew.

I mention this to make a simple point. Bengal's relative industrial decline began after Colonialism ended. Ultimately, this was because of the preferences, not the constraints, of Bengali people.
Strong rejection of this general approach comes from at least two distinct groups. There are, first of all, those who simply do not want capitalists in West Bengal, and do not, in particular, want to invite private capital to help industrialize the state. What is the point, the politically determined typically ask, of having a communist government if it is going to turn all soft on capitalism?
By the time Sen was writing this, these 'politically determined' people had lost any vestige of salience. They were senile simply.
The second group of opponents are on a very different track, even though in denouncing the government they can be strong allies. This group of critics would not want to take land away from agricultural use. There are some genuine “physiocrats” among this group, with agriculture-fetishism and a strong belief in the unparalleled — almost mystical — merits of agriculture. Their arguments were adequately rebutted about 200 years ago, and if life has ceased to be quite as “nasty, brutish and short” as Thomas Hobbes found it, the contribution of industrial development to that change would be hard to overlook.
The second group were on the right track. You can't have industrialization on the basis of land grabbing. The people will unite to chuck out the administration. The life of many Communists in West Bengal has become 'nasty, brutish and short' because they keep getting their heads kicked in by Mamta's goons. What goes around, comes around.
However, the agriculture-favouring opponents have presented some other arguments that are indeed very weighty. Two in particular deserve very serious consideration. Some oppose the diversion of fertile and productive land into industrial use, which applies to some extent to Singur as well, since such land is clearly very useful for agriculture. Another important argument points to the possibility that taking land from agriculture would impoverish the agriculturalists who live on that land, no matter how large an income the new enterprises may actually produce for other people. I have seen various arguments making this point forcefully, including in one case invoking — I believe appropriately — my own concerns about entitlement failures of specific occupation groups and the effects that this might have on starvation of those groups (no matter what happens to the totality of incomes).
This shows why Sen's approach was rubbish. If a share-cropper loses land they develop some other capability. What that capability is, Sen and his ilk don't know coz they are as stupid as shit.

How strong is the anti-capitalist high theory against private investment, with an implicit vision of a hugely prosperous State ownership economy? In particular, should not communists shun private investment? It is sad for high theory, but in most cases that would be a mistake, if the communists want rapid economic development for the removal of poverty (as they clearly do). It is not an accident that every communist country reliant on pervasive state ownership in the world has either moved to welcoming private investment quite substantially (as China has done), or has declined and been replaced by straightforward capitalist systems (as has happened in Russia and other countries in the former Soviet Union). The exception is Cuba, but its economic success is extremely limited. It remains a poor economy.
But is there, then, nothing to learn from Cuba? There is, in fact, a hugely positive lesson in the Cuban experience about how much can be achieved, despite economic poverty, through excellent public healthcare and school education. Despite its low income, Cuba has nearly the same life expectancy as the much richer population of the United States of America, primarily because of its medical system which is good and which does not leave a huge proportion of the population uninsured, as the US one does.
Why is Cuban healthcare good? It is because exporting Doctors and Pharma is one of the few ways it can get hard currency. Life expectancy is good because people are too poor to afford to eat junk food. During the Cuban Famine, health outcomes improved.

Sen is wrong about Communism. It could have succeeded if its manufacturing industry was competitive internationally. Some portions of the Soviet military industry are still thriving because they have secured export markets.

What matters is that growth is 'export led' because Export markets tend to be open. Thus stupid shitheads can be quickly disintermediated because they lose money for the enterprise.
There is, however, also a precise lesson here about how one need not become a capitalist camp follower simply because of accepting the pragmatic case for using private investment in industries. The role of the State in many fields, including in universal medical care and in universal schooling, remains extremely strong, and it is a lesson that has often been missed, even by countries that are formally communist.
This is sheer nonsense. The role of the State depends on the administrative capacity of the State. In India, it can't get teachers to teach or Doctors to work in rural shitholes. Even in China, 'barefoot doctors' bought shoes and ran away once some alternative means of livelihood was available to them.

There is no lesson here. Everyone in India knew why most of India's public education and health care system was shit.
Take China. Pre-reform China, before the privatization that began in 1979, had already achieved a high life expectancy (68 years at birth) and very high literacy rates through universal public healthcare and public education.
Those figures were meaningless. They claimed that life expectancy rose during the Great Famine! Literacy did rise. However, most 'literate' people knew only a few dozen characters. Official literacy is now defined as knowing about 900 characters. But this is not enough for functional literacy.

India is completely different from China. It is pointless to compare them. The fact is India tried to introduce universal education and health care and provision for housing and 'food for work' and so on and so forth. But it lacked the administrative capacity to complete any such project over large sections of the country. One may as well compare Norway and Nigeria and say 'Nigeria must put more oil revenue into a sovereign wealth fund. Also, Nigerians must use sun-block because they get a lot of sunshine.'
To be sure, China also had a terribly inefficient communal agriculture, and this, combined with a general lack of democracy and a free media, was mainly responsible for the famines of 1958-61 which killed between 23 and 30 million people (the existence of this catastrophe is now denied only in the Indian subcontinent, not in China or anywhere else, and then again only by some whom I would call hard-core theorists — it is hard to call them Marxists since Marx had such strong respect for empirical information). But the general system of public healthcare with universal coverage and universal schooling had dramatic achievements in pre-reform China, and in 1979, China was 14 years ahead of India in life expectancy at birth.
This was because the stresses and strains of the Famine and the Cultural Revolution had caused births per woman to fall from 6 to 3. In the Seventies, there was a two child policy. By itself, this would raise life expectancy for a purely mathematical reason.

Also, it must be said, the Chinese are a sensible people when it comes to food. India will always have malnutrition even among its wealthiest class because of religious taboos.
The Chinese economy was, however, in a mess, and the reforms of 1979 put agriculture on a much surer footing through private farming under the new “responsibility system”. In industries too, the reforms achieved a great deal, when China went on to use private investment drawn from all over the world. But the reforms did not stop there. Such was the new belief in the magic of the market (China leaped from a comprehensive anti-market position to a comprehensive pro-market philosophy) that the Chinese also abolished overnight the entitlement to free healthcare for all.
There was never any such entitlement. What obtained was 'barefoot doctors'- similar to Registered Rural Practitioners in India. Under the houkou system, the sick could not go to cities to get treatment whereas in India that remained an option.
Everyone now had to rely on private purchase of health insurance, except in the relatively few cases where the employing organization did that for the employee. The bulk of the population got suddenly excluded from entitlement to public health service, and it is now thought that no more than 20 per cent of the population has assured healthcare. Since then, China’s progress in health and longevity has slowed down dramatically.
Because they used to smoke like chimneys. It must be said that China's strategy was to let the weak go to the wall in the short run, so that once Incomes had risen a comprehensive health care system would be implemented. This appears to be what is happening.
Even India has been catching up with China, despite the messy state of India’s own healthcare: India’s shortfall from China in life expectancy at birth has been halved since 1979, from 14 years to 7 years. And a state like Kerala with universal medical coverage by the State (even though private medicine also thrives in Kerala on the secure foundation of public medical entitlement for all) is very substantially ahead of China in life expectancy. To take another measure, in 1979, China and Kerala both had an infant mortality rate of 37 per thousand, and this has now fallen only to 28 in China, whereas the rate is less than half that in Kerala (around 10 to 14, depending on which survey you use).
There is, thus, a lesson from Cuba that China missed (about the merits of universal public healthcare) and a lesson from China that Cuba missed (about the positive role of private investment in industries).
There are no lessons from comparing apples with oranges. Kerala, like Cuba, earns hard currency from Medical remittances. Doctors are happy to do their training in rural areas in Kerala because they won't be beaten or raped. Then they go to the Gulf to make some money and return to open a Clinic. One other point, Kerala embraced Family Planning for purely economic reasons just as it had embraced primary education for economic reasons.
And there are huge lessons from the experiences of the rest of the world. India in general, and West Bengal in particular, can learn from all.
Nonsense! Simply do the smart things other smart people are doing. If they send their kids to school- maybe school is a good idea. If they have just one or two well fed kids coz they use contraception, then do likewise rather than raise a brood of half starved ragamuffins.
Neither a comprehensive anti-privatization philosophy, nor a comprehensive pro-privatization position, would offer what is needed.
No philosophy offers anything but shite. Avoid the thing like a plague.

Ashutosh Varshney producing Muslim helplessness

Ashutosh Varshney is a Professor at Brown. Can he say something more stupid than other expatriate Professors about the Supreme Court's Ram Mandir decision?

He wrote the following in the Indian Express. Is there even a single sentence in it which is not utterly foolish?
If Hindu consolidation goes further, Muslims will become electorally even more irrelevant.
In 1946, the Muslim League won 90% of Muslim votes. This directly led to the creation of Pakistan. Massive ethnic cleansing occurred on both sides of the border. Except in Kerala, Muslim political parties disappeared from India. Furthermore the three main demands of the Muslims- to do with quotas in the Administration and Legislature, equal treatment for Urdu and the protection of Aligarh Muslim University's minority status- were given short shrift.

Under Indira Gandhi, the police- not Hindus- were in the vanguard of violence against Muslims protesting the change in Aligarh University's status which, of course, was sanctioned by the Supreme Court (Azeez Basha vs UoI, 1968). Later, as part of her right-ward shift, she restored minority status in 1981 but the rising generation saw no great benefit flow from this. It was foolish for ordinary Muslims- like bangle-makers and other such artisans- to sacrifice their lives in a cause which their own progeny could gain no advantage from.

The plain fact is, the vast mass of Muslims were not able to gain anything of benefit to themselves through electoral politics (save in the South, where the Pakistan movement had never taken hold). They were simply a vote bank who could be manipulated by venal Mullahs or vicious Mobsters in the service of dynastic politicians of a Casteist type.

By 'Hindu consolidation', Varshney means Hindus voting regardless of caste for the BJP. However, in the last election, Congress reinvented itself as Hindutva lite. This ploy failed because Rahul Baba is a cretin. The Muslim vote was even more irrelevant than it had been in 2014 when its splintering was blamed on lack of Opposition unity.

In what way could the Muslim vote become more irrelevant than it already is? None. By what method can it become more relevant? The answer is the Muslims must do what the OBCs and Dalits did- viz. have their own Party. That has worked in Kerala- why not in the rest of India where there are several constituencies with a Muslim plurality? Why should the Muslim play second fiddle to a Dalit or OBC dynast? Look at Owaisi. He is a dynast and has burnished his reputation while Prakash Ambedkar has been left looking foolish. Why should there not be regional Muslim dynastic parties which come together to form a caucus in the States and at the Center? There were periods when something like this obtained. Why not now when Social Media and greater Mobility has empowered Youth?

Varshney won't tell us.
We can’t still be sure this would happen. But even if Hindu electoral consolidation remains at the current level, India’s Muslims would need the judiciary’s counter-majoritarianism to safeguard their interests.
This is nonsense. Minorities are constitutionally protected and therefore neglected because gerontocratic rent-seekers get to fuck up the life-chances of the Young.

When has there ever been any judicial 'counter-majoritarianism'? In America, the phrase is associated with unelected judges preventing the majority from passing laws favorable to Labor and to the disadvantage of the plutocrats.

 Varshney comes from India same as me. He too is a Hindu and, to be frank, more dehati and a bit older.  He knows very well that the Muslim was reduced to second class status by the Hindu 'intermediate' class' to which Varshney's people belong.

I suppose I should explain what has caused Varshney to write such nonsense. The answer is that he is teaching in Amrika. In US political theory there is a notion of 'counter-majoritarianism'. Wikipedia states- ' Alexander Bickel, a law professor at Yale Law School, coined the term counter-majoritarian difficulty in his 1962 book, The Least Dangerous Branch. He used the term to describe the argument that judicial review is illegitimate because it allows unelected judges to overrule the lawmaking of elected representatives, thus undermining the will of the majority. The problem stems from the understanding that a democracy's legitimacy arises from the fact that it implements the will of the majority (majoritarianism).'

The US is a rich country with more than a million lawyers. It is completely different from India. In the US, if you get a court order you can evict your tenant. In India, even a High Court Judge had to use a local 'Don' to reclaim his property. In America a Supreme Court decision is likely to be implemented. In India, it is likely to be completely ignored. That is one reason the Bench often feels it can say what it likes. Nothing material will be affected. The fact is everybody understands that the Politicians want ambiguity on the issue. They have kicked the can down the road to the Judiciary which can make any decision it likes, secure in the knowledge that the thing won't be implemented unless the ruling politicians want it to be implemented. Anyway, the Judges will soon retire and need to ensure they get a sinecure from the powers that be. By contrast, in America, tenure is for life. This means that 'counter-majoritarian difficulty' is a real thing.

In any case, Judicial over-reach is only a problem if judgments are enforced. This is a non-problem in India. Both the State Govt. & the Bench may say 'x is mandatory'. But try doing x and you get your head kicked in while the police stand idly by. So you understand 'x is mandatory' means 'pretend to do x, but don't unless you are tired of life'.
The Court has held Hindu mobs responsible for an egregious violation of the law on December 6, 1992.
In America, to say the Court held x responsible for a serious crime is also to say 'x is a villain'. In India, in a political context, it is to say 'x is like Mahatma Gandhi or Pandit Nehru or Veer Savarkar'. X did the right thing which is why X is currently occupying the Mansion built for some British politician or high official. '
For the first time since Independence, an entirely new electoral prospect has been consolidating itself. This phenomenon can be conceptualised as the political irrelevance of Muslims.
The great mass of ethnic cleansing occurred after Independence. Muslim Leaguers didn't become irrelevant- they became refugees. Congress Muslims- even a Kidwai or Azad- could do nothing to arrest the swift and utter eclipse of Muslims as a political force. To me, this is a heartbreaking story. We are speaking of a marvelous concentration of Human Capital which we, very foolishly, either destroyed or handed over gratis to Pakistan or the ex-Colonial power. Every single 'mujahir' we lost enriched our enemies while harming the good, mainly Hindu, people of their own ancestral home. Imagine a Bollywood which was purged of all but utterly emasculated Muslims. Is there even one good movie it could have produced? Now look at those parts of India where a previously highly educated and cultured community was emasculated and pushed down to second class status. What do you see?  'BIMARU'.  By contrast, look at Kerala or T.N. To be a Muslim is an advantage not a disability. Why? Muslims do smart things, find new opportunities, and thus open doors for the rest of us. What's wrong with that? Economics is a positive sum game- more especially in a Developing Economy where mimetic effects alone drive dynamics.
It came to life with the 2014 general elections, though some might drag it back further. Its implications, serious in any case, have become even more so after the Ayodhya judgment of the Supreme Court.
Muslims became electorally irrelevant in Upper India in 1946- because the Muslim League got 90 % of Muslim votes and was able to create Pakistan.  Granted Varshney managed to emigrate on the basis of some bogus type of credential, but is he really as ignorant of Indian reality as the dog in 'Family Guy' who attended a semester at Brown?

Everybody knows that Advani's monopolizing the issue- which would not have happened had Rajiv not been killed- was what turned the BJP into the Hindu, and therefore, National, Party by default. Of course, they first had to get their act together and show they could implement better governance.
The Court has held Hindu mobs responsible for an egregious violation of the law on December 6, 1992 — when they destroyed the Babri mosque — but deploying the kind of legal reasoning that frustrates non-specialists of law, it has handed over the site, where the erstwhile mosque stood, to the Hindu community for the building of a Ram temple.
Courts either recognize their limitations or lose salience. Varshney may think it a great scandal that Nehru and Patel and so on- all of whom had been jailed for sedition- took over the country.
In a display of religious equidistance that marks Indian secularism, the Court has also allowed a mosque to be built on a plot twice as large as the original site.
The Court has asked the Government to provide a plot of land of this description. It is not known if the Muslims will accept it.
But those who destroyed the mosque, according to India’s highest court, now have the right to construct a temple in its place.
Nonsense! The guys who destroyed the structure (which, contra Varshney, was not a mosque according to Islamic Law because no Islamic worship, as opposed to Hindu, had been offered there since 1949) have not been granted any such right by the Court.
On the other hand, there is a proposal that the Government award them a pension or some similar mark of esteem to the karsevaks. To my knowledge, it is not being seriously entertained.  The plain fact is, the right to construct the temple will be vested in a Trust created the Central Government. It is likely to consist of eminent people some of whom may have a profound knowledge of Hindu canon law and thus are qualified to approve the plans for the Temple.
If the Court intends to draw a distinction between the law-breakers, who ought to be punished, and the larger Hindu community, whose wishes should not be denied, it can still argue it has not abandoned the idea of justice.
The Court drew a distinction between those who illegally razed the structure and those who did not. No Court is going to argue it has or hasn't 'abandoned the idea of justice'. Similarly, Varshney is not going to argue that he hasn't really abandoned the idea of Truth.
But given its lack of resolve to confront electorally enabled power, one cannot be too sanguine about whether it would punish those who violated the law but are currently in power.
Over the last 27 years, no one has been convicted no matter who was in power. The case has been with the Supreme Court for 7 years with proceedings picking up pace since 2017. However, many of the accused are dead and others are very elderly.
How the Court actually pronounces on the culprits of December 6, 1992, will, therefore, be carefully watched.
Nonsense! Nobody cares. Nobody is going to do any jail time whatever the outcome. In any case, the President can pardon all concerned.
Admittedly, some Muslims will not mind the judgment, thinking it ends a seemingly interminable period of painful contention and provides an opportunity to move on.
Most Muslims don't care about this issue at all.
But many are likely to feel doubly marginalised.
So what? Some Muslims in America- even recent converts- feel so marginalized that they run amok killing people. With or without a grievance, people may feel marginalized simply because Society isn't doing the sorts of things they approve of.
They are being made electorally irrelevant, and even the judiciary has not sufficiently protected them.
The Judiciary never protected Muslims in India or Hindus in Pakistan. That is why ethnic cleansing was not reversed. Indeed, the Judiciary has little power to enforce its judgments. The Executive, too, finds that there are many constraints on its freedom of action. Why pretend otherwise?
Two points should immediately be noted.
No points raised by cretins should be noted save by way of convicting them of imbecility.
First, in the 1940s, Jinnah’s argument for partition was precisely that democracy in a Hindu-majority India would serve the interests of Hindus, not of the Muslim minority.
This is silly. The local majority determines outcome in a locality. The Center can do little to check this. The Kashmiri Muslims ethnically cleansed the Hindu Pundits from the Valley. The Center was powerless to reverse this outcome.
The argument was wrong, as both Nehru and Ambedkar painstakingly demonstrated.
The argument was wrong for Muslims in Hindu majority areas because the creation of Pakistan brought them no benefit whatsoever. Rather, it rendered them second class citizens. Jinnah's actual argument was 'the hostage theory'- i.e. Indian Muslims would be protected by the Government for fear of what might happen to Hindus in Pakistan. But they were killed or ethnically cleansed. Ambedkar's pal J.N Mandal, who had taken a Cabinet Portfolio in Pakistan, had to flee to India. His Namasudra caste-fellows too were ethnically cleansed.

Nehru never 'painstakingly demonstrated' anything. He believed that with the advent of Socialism, Religion would disappear from Politics. He was wrong.
It is ironical that the argument, false then and for decades later, is starting to acquire credibility now, for the system after seven decades is threatening to generate Muslim helplessness.
'Threatening to generate'? Muslims have been helpless since 1946, if not earlier. After 1935, they were only able to offer namaz at the Babri Masjid on Friday under police protection. After Independence, even that became impossible. A Hindu priest offered puja there once a year and, under Rajiv Gandhi, it was opened to Hindu worshipers. A foundation stone laying ceremony was conducted. Had Rajiv lived, he would have built the temple. But he was assassinated.
The trend is still not irreversible, but it is dire.
Nonsense! Things have been getting better for Muslims because of improved Governance, 'last mile delivery', and expanded Economic opportunities. The younger generation is not interested in the status of Urdu- now an official second language in U.P- because they prefer English for professional purposes and Arabic for sacred ones. Urdu purists claim to feel great distress that the Arabic pronunciation is displacing the native one. Similarly, Muslims don't care about Aligarh Muslim University. Cow slaughter is off the table because nobody wants to do the ritual slaughter and thus put a target on their own back. Thus beef consumption is equated with 'unclean' people.
Second, a lot of democratic theory, and much of modern democratic practice, envisions the judiciary as a counter-majoritarian institution.
All democratic theory is worthless. No 'modern democratic practice' envisions the judiciary as other than protocol bound. But those protocols can be changed by a sufficiently large majority in the legislature. The very phrase 'counter-majoritarian difficulty' challenges the notion of judicial review by unelected judges of what is desired by the majority. Varshney is pretending the reverse. The fact is that Judges in the Common Law tradition have established conventions- e.g. the 'doctrine of political question' to avoid 'counter-majoritarian difficulties' by restricting the scope of justiciablity. India was an outlier in terms of judicial activism because lazy Legislatures preferred to kick the can down the road. Everything requiring a decision became 'sub judice'- the only Latin phrase known to all Netas. Pakistan, in recent years, has been even worse. But there is now a backlash. In future, the Bench will be more circumspect.
In a multi-ethnic, multi-religious democratic polity, the electoral process can easily begin to reflect the wishes of the ethnic or religious majority.
Which is the only reason they might want Democracy as opposed to Autocracy.
But the judiciary’s functioning is fundamentally based on constitutional principles, not the wishes of the majority.
Constitutions can and have been amended by the Legislature which bows to the wishes of the majority.
If the judiciary only replicated what governments, legislatures or political parties based on electoral victories did, we would not really need it as a separate and autonomous institution.
The judiciary interprets the laws enacted by the legislature in the context of specific cases brought to it. In India, a lot of the cases which come up before the Judiciary involve disputes between different organs of Government. Every decision is appealed till it finds its way to the Supreme Court which then orders an inquiry so the fun can start all over again.

The reason we need a separate and autonomous institution to adjudicate disputes is because it spares the Executive from having to apply its mind to vexed questions such that they are 'damned if they do, and damned if they don't'.
That is also why minorities in a democracy have often looked up to the courts for protection, when popular electoral currents go against them.
Not in India. Why? Everybody knows that Court judgments won't be enforced. In any case, the legal system affords many opportunities to delay matters till witnesses turn hostile or the matter becomes infructuous.

Minorities have been protected by Autocrats. They have not been protected by Judges. In America, 'substantive due process' was credited with a possible counter-majoritarian role. However the devil was in the detail of enforcement. The testimony of African American economists is that discrimination did not cease, it increased, because this was a double edged sword. Those with more resources could use Laws, and Court decisions, in a manner the reverse of what was intended.

In America, the appointment by Roosevelt of Hugo Black to the Supreme Court, was explicitly 'majoritarian'. The victories of the Civil Rights movement reflected the fact that African Americans belonged to the majority class- i.e. the working class- as did Women and so forth. The very rich belong to a small minority. It was they who loved the 'counter-majoritarian' view. They pretended that unjust practices which enriched them must be maintained or else 'mob rule' would prevail.

On the other hand, the rich pickings to be had from 'class action suits' could, in the short run, provide relief for poor people. But Corporate lawyers and lobbyists soon found a way round that. Thus Economists tend to be skeptical about judicially enabled 'countervailing power'. There is no substitute to properly coordinated mass political action. If this were not the case, Trade Unions should not have an exemption under the Restrictive Trade Practices Legislation.
A small fraction of political/legal theory does say that courts could endorse majoritarianism, if it was legislatively approved, and some courts have historically done that.
Political/Legal theory is shit and any fraction of it is equally shit. 'Counter-majoritarian difficulty' means unelected Judges can use their arbitrary power to serve a tiny number of plutocrats while the vast mass of the population goes to the wall. They can't protect minorities from being lynched or ethnically cleansed. They can protect very rich people who can hire private security guards ready to kill anyone who makes trouble. These guys will have expensive lawyers to prove 'self defense.'
Legally, Blacks suffered a lot — and for decades — in America’s South.
But life wasn't a bed of roses in the North either.
But most theorists would prescribe to the judiciary a majority-constraining role, should the majority or its representatives cross legal lines.
Theorists don't matter. Ordinary people, however, know that only a small number of any community runs amok breaking the law. It is in their own interests that those nutters or sociopaths are punished regardless of their ethnic or other affiliation.
A Hindu temple on the contested site after a mosque’s destruction departs from the principle of judicial counter-majoritarianism.
Nonsense! There was no mosque. Islam says a building is not a mosque unless it is used as a mosque. There is no 'principle of judicial counter-majoritarianism'. There is only an objection to unelected judges adversely reviewing majoritarian decisions of the Legislature or Executive.

This case was decided on the basis that a Deity with legal personality- in other words a member of a very small minority- should get back His property in accordance with Indian law.
The distinction between the electoral and the judicial, towards which the SC judgment is pushing us, requires further elaboration.
There is no such distinction. Electoral events can cause the Law, or even the Constitution, to change. Justiciability is narrowly defined unless Politicians themselves prefer to kick the can down the road into the Courts. However the Bench has grown wary of 'activism'. So have the Left-Liberals. The thing is a double edged sword.
Let us begin historically.
Should India treat its Muslims the same way as Pakistan was dealing with its Hindus?
No- because Pakistan is going down the toilet. Bangladesh has overtaken it economically.
India should treat its Muslims the way successful Democracies- like America- treats its Muslims.
This question repeatedly arose in the early years of freedom when India’s Constitution was debated. Supported by Ambedkar, Nehru argued: “Whatever the provocation from Pakistan and whatever the indignities and horrors inflicted on non-Muslims there, we have to deal with (our) minority in a civilised manner. We must give them security and the rights of citizens in a democratic state. If we fail to do so, we shall have a festering sore which will eventually poison the whole body politic.”
Jinnah similarly said that non-Muslims would be accorded equal treatment in Pakistan'. Nehru was not able to prevent massive ethnic cleansing of Indian Muslims.
Earlier, critiquing Jinnah, Ambedkar argued that constitutional and institutional safeguards could easily be devised to check majoritarianism and protect minority rights. That Hindus are a majority, said Ambedkar, does not automatically lead to Hindu rule.
Ambedkar also proposed that Caste Hindus receive less representation so that Dalits and Muslims would have a majority. So what? He may have failed as a politician but he became a Boddhisattva.
India’s Constitution thus developed a charter of minority rights — educational, cultural, religious — and gave no special privileges to the Hindu majority.
Why is there a Directive Principle in the Constitution regarding cow protection? Was it because Muslims and Christians have a rooted objection to beef?

On paper, various Pakistani Constitutions have afforded non-Muslims and linguistic and other minorities the same rights as Muslims. This did not prevent massive ethnic cleansing and the genocide in the East Wing.
Secularism came to be defined not only as equal rights for all, regardless of religious affiliation, but also as comprising special minority rights on the assumption that minority numbers alone would not allow them to protect their interests in a democracy.
By whom was it defined in this way? Indira Gandhi? The Sikhs may beg to differ.
This constitutional settlement was further bolstered by the electoral realities of India. Until 2008, 81 parliamentary constituencies of India were more than 20 per cent Muslim (including 10 that were Muslim-majority) and 126 seats were 10-20 per cent Muslim. Thus, in 38 per cent of parliamentary seats, Muslim voters could play an important role.
Only if they had a Muslim party- like the Kerala Muslim League. Otherwise, they were simply a vote bank.
Even if mainstream politicians had anti-Muslim feelings, these electoral realities would partly check them.
After 9/11, people all over the world saw Muslims in a different light. 'Electoral realities' could not prevent a change in the attitude of Governments towards Muslims. At first, the majority was placated by the spectacle of far away countries being bombed to smithereens. But that strategy backfired. Democracies began taking action against their own Muslim populations- things like banning the hijab and so forth.
The 2008 redrawing of constituencies has most probably not significantly changed Muslim proportions.
This long-lasting electoral logic was fundamentally altered in 2014 and 2019. The BJP came to power with only 8 per cent of the Muslim vote each time, an outcome inconceivable under the earlier electoral calculus.
The BJP first came to power in 1998. It fell because of the economy- not because of the post-Godhra riots. Modi did well in Gujerat without any Muslim votes though they are ten percent of the population. U.P has elected Yogi Adityanath though its Muslims percentage is double that of Gujerat.

Why? The answer is that the BJP is perceived as clean, non-casteist, meritocratic as opposed to dynastic, and better at 'last mile delivery'.
The key to this transformation was the consolidation of the Hindu vote.
But it was consolidated on the basis of better Governance.
The BJP received 37.4 per cent vote in 2019; roughly 35 per cent was Hindu. Compared to 2014, BJP’s vote went up in all caste categories, including Dalits.
This is because the BJP alone is truly anti-casteist.
Muslims can play an important electoral role only if the Hindu vote is sufficiently caste-cleaved.
Nonsense! Indian Muslims are highly patriotic and religious. They want the scourge of caste-discrimination to disappear from the face of the earth. No Muslim wants any community anywhere to maintain this Satanic institution. The way forward for Muslims is to form their own parties and put forward excellent candidates. We want to hear a promising young Muslim make the sort of speech Modi makes- full of common sense and patriotic sentiment. He must say 'I want to be your MLA because I will do a better job for you than my rivals. Then I want to be your CM because I will make this State the most prosperous in India. Then I want to be PM because I want to raise India up to the level of China.' This is what Hindus want to hear. The PM is the team captain. We don't care about his religion. We just want him to win the test match. Politics should be like Cricket of Bollywood. If a Khan does a better job than a Kapoor, we queue up for his movie. In the old days, Khans would keep Hindu names like 'Dilip Kumar'. Then they saw there was no such need. The same must happen in politics. If a Muslim party is better at governance, then it can attract caste-based vote banks. Over time, its support base will dispense with caste based labels and emphasize purely economic issues. Consider the support attracted by the Christian Democrats in Germany from people who have never been to Church. If the C.Ds do a better job than the S.Ds, they get elected.
Analytically, Hindu consolidation and Muslim irrelevance are two sides of the same electoral coin.
Rubbish! Muslim irrelevance arises from the fact that even the most able Muslim leader is just a client of some corrupt or cretinous dynast. They are essentially saying 'vote for me because I am the chamcha of this family'. Suppose a cricket player says 'select me for the team because I am the sycophant of the Captain'. Our opinion of him would fall. He is not the man who can lead us to victory.
If Hindu consolidation goes further, Muslims will become electorally even more irrelevant.
Islam rejects this view. A people's fate rests in its own hands. The Holy Quran declares-  Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. 

Hindus can help promising young Muslims by telling them frankly- 'aim for the highest office. Then people will trust you. Each job you get, you will ensure it is done perfectly so that you can get promoted. If you have it in your head that you can never be CM or PM then sooner of later you will become lazy or corrupt or endorse the laziness or corruption of others.'

A PM is not a god. He is not a King. He is just a public servant. Is there any defect in Islam such that only Indian Muslims are unable to discharge the duties of any public office? Don't be silly. Who thought a Black man- called 'Barak Hussein Obama'- would be US president? Look at Ireland. Their P.M has the very Maharashtrian name of Varadkar. Also he is Gay! 

In Kerala, many Hindus and Christians have been regularly voting for Kerala Muslim League. Why? It has built up a good reputation re. Governance.
We can’t still be sure this would happen.
I can be very sure that Indian Muslims won't become irrelevant because they have good character and much to contribute. If they listen to idiots like Varshney they will become fatalistic. If, instead, they read the Holy Quran, they will get energy and inspiration to improve the lot of the people of their area. This will get them elected. Look at the way that Muslims organized to improve education for UPSC candidates. The aim was to raise Muslim representation. This was good for India because we want good, 'non-dynastic', officers who are more in touch with the problems of ordinary people. Something similar is required in politics. Don't rely on quotas from dynastic parties because they will soon be brought down by their own corruption and incompetence.
But even if Hindu electoral consolidation remains at the current level, India’s Muslims would need the judiciary’s counter-majoritarianism to safeguard their interests.
This is the problem with the 'libtards'. They think Women and Muslims and Dalits and so forth are little better than cattle. They have to be protected by a paternalistic Sarkar- or in this case a paternalistic Judiciary.

Thankfully, Muslims can easily reject this narrative by looking at Holy Scripture. By their own efforts, they can rise to any height and, in doing so, they can raise up the condition of their country and the world.
If the judiciary bows to the executive and legislature, supporting majoritarian logic, Jinnah’s fears will be affirmed, Ambedkar’s constitutional optimism nullified, and Nehru’s prediction about a “festering sore” might also come true. Production of Muslim helplessness is most unlikely to strengthen India, or its polity.

Who is 'producing Muslim helplessness' here? Only Varshney. He and he alone thinks that Muslims have survived in India, not because they are a very productive, cultured, and decent element in Society, but because of the kindness of Nehru and his dynasty. This sort of Casteist arrogance is the most despicable aspect of the Indian Ivy League intellectual.

I recall my violent reaction, on first getting employed by a big firm, to being accosted by some people who were concerned that I may have been experiencing racist discrimination. I told them to fuck off, because if I'd ever came across the thing I'd have kicked the fucker's head in there and then. The story got around and made me popular. The fact is, nobody wants to associate with a coward or a weakling. By depicting Muslims as weak and unable to protect themselves, Varshney is hurting Indian Muslims. The truth is, they have fought their corner with courage and ingenuity. We like that because it makes them more trustworthy partners in Development. Now, young Muslims must take the next step which is to organize socially and politically to address 'last mile' problems. Let them aspire to lead governing coalitions rather than just be a vote-bank or spineless client or sycophant.

By contrast, all Iyers must immediately rend their garments and rush weeping into the streets complaining of being anally raped by Iyengars. The Law must protect Iyers because they are completely stupid. They should immediately receive not just 'Educationally Backward Status' but be classed as hopelessly mentally retarded. Thus, we should gain quotas. Also, Congress Party should select me as its leader coz I am demonstrably stupider than even Rahul Baba.

Jai Hind! Jai Bhim! Jai me!

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Rushdie & Atwood on Aatish Taseer

Why do writers think they are above the law? How is it that they feel that any mistake of their own which leads to a legal penalty is not their fault but that of some malign tyrant angered by their writing? Is it because they can't distinguish fiction from reality? Or are they relentless self-publicists simply?

Consider this letter signed by people like Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood.
Taseer, a U.K. citizen with a U.S. Green Card, has had documentation registering his overseas Indian status since 2000, which allows foreign citizens of Indian heritage to live and work in India indefinitely.
He had them fraudulently, thus escaping Visa fees. He writes in TIME magazine 'I was born in Britain and have British citizenship, but since the age of two I had lived and grown up in India, with my Indian mother, who is a well-known journalist. She had raised me on her own in Delhi and was always my sole legal guardian, and the only parent I knew for most of my life. It was why I had always been viewed as Indian in India and why I had been granted an OCI.'
Taseer had the choice, when he turned 18, to take Indian nationality. But this would have meant relinquishing the British citizenship he acquired by birth. He chose to be British, not Indian. How he was viewed was irrelevant. I am viewed as Indian in India. But I have to pay for a Visa to visit the country just the same as Joe Bloggs whose complexion is very different from mine.

The reason Taseer was granted an OCI card was because he lied on the form. He said his father's nationality was British. Actually it was British and Pakistani. Those with a Pakistani father or grandfather are specifically barred from eligibility. However the Govt. can, at its discretion, waive this restriction. What Aatish should have done was write a letter explaining why, though one parent was Pakistani, he should be treated as wholly Indian. Had he done so, his request may have been granted. If it wasn't, he'd have had to pay for a Visa to visit India same as thousands of other people who have a Pakistani grandfather or grandmother.

Taseer evinces no shame at his defrauding the Government and misrepresenting his status. Instead, he seeks to milk our sympathy by claiming to be a persecuted writer.

#I had expected a reprisal, but not a severing. While the government did not initially reveal their motivations behind this action, they have now stated their reasons for removing my OCI: “concealed the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin.” But it is hard not to feel, given the timing, that I was being punished for what I had written.'

It is perfectly possible that the storm of indignation kicked up by a foolish article of his caused someone to say 'who granted this fellow a journalist's visa'? When it turned out he had fraudulently obtained an OCI card, it was immediately cancelled. But Aatish felt no shame for being caught out as a liar. He seeks to burnish his reputation as a persecuted journalist.

I read the letter, which in bland bureaucratic language informed me that the country I was raised in and lived in for most of my adult life was no longer mine:
Aatish chose at 18 not to take Indian citizenship. He says he lived in India for 'most of his adult life'- i.e. more than 10 years- but did not pay Visa fees as he was obliged to do. Thus he appropriated something which was not his by indulging in a cheap type of fraud. The fellow was not indigent or uneducated. He just preferred to get something for nothing. I suppose it could be argued that the little boy was just doing what his Mummy told him to do. It wasn't really his fault. But that is not he defense he is offering here. What he says is 'I don't have to pay Visa fees because India belongs to me though, by my own choice, I don't belong to India. I'm British.'

 “after consideration of facts and circumstances in the matter, “ it read, “the Central government is of the provisional opinion that the registration as an OCI cardholder granted to Aatish Ali Taseer, may be cancelled under Section 7D(a) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, for obtaining OCI card by means of false representation and the concealment of material facts.

This is perfectly proper. Aatish Ali did not say his dad was Pakistani. He should have done so. This was 'false representation and the concealment of material facts.'

The government had limited means by which they could legally take away my overseas citizenship. Yet they have now acted on those means.
The Government had adequate means which it has used properly.
 For 39 years, I had not so much as needed a visa for India 
This is false. Ever since he turned 18, he needed a visa for India. He didn't get visas to India because he chose to save money and perpetrate a fraud by pretending his Dad wasn't Pakistani.

and now the government was accusing me of misrepresenting myself, accusing me of defrauding them. 
But this is exactly what happened. Aatish Ali saved money by lying about his Dad's nationality. The money he saved was lost to the Exchequer.
Suppose I tamper with my electricity meter and thus enjoy 'free electricity' for twenty years. I then write about it in a newspaper. The electricity company cuts off my supply after reading my article. Am I entitled to say that I am being persecuted because as a journalist I published a newsworthy article? Should I be entitled to free electricity for life simply because my fraud went undetected for twenty years?
Now, I may not even be able to obtain a standard tourist visa for India, the Consul General in New York informed me by telephone in September, as I have been accused of defrauding the government. “…[T]he registration of such a person,” reads the Home Ministry’s website, “will not only be cancelled forthwith but he/she will also be blacklisted preventing his/her future entry into India.” With my grandmother turning ninety next year – and my mother seventy — the government has cut me off from my country and family.
That is a premature claim. In general, one can arrange an expedited visa on compassionate grounds.

India is my country. The relationship is so instinctive that, like an unwritten constitution, I had never before felt it necessary to articulate it. 
Then why not take Indian citizenship?
I could say I was Indian because I had grown up there, because I knew its festivals and languages, and because all five of my books were steeped in its concerns and anxieties. 
English is one of India's languages. Why could Aatish Ali not understand that he was not eligible for OCI or POI when the form clearly says so?
Though I am a British citizen by birth,
and didn't want to stop being one after I turned 18
 the OCI, as a substitute for dual citizenship, had made this bond even more real, as it had for so many people of Indian origin worldwide. Even though marriage had taken me to the US, I have returned to India frequently to write about it and to visit with the only family I have ever known. But to say as much was already to express a degree of removal that felt false. It was like making a case for why one’s name was one’s name. I was Indian because I just was. It was fundamental and a priori. It came before one’s reasons for why it was so. Now that it has been questioned in this letter from the Home Ministry, I felt an odd sense of pity—not for myself, but for my family in India. I thought of my grandmother who had raised me. I thought of how she had met the unconventionality of my mother’s situation—an unmarried woman with a love child—with unquestioned love. That love had given me my sense of belonging. I thought of how outraged she would be to learn that those bonds of affection by which she had bound me to my place were being questioned.
Why did Aatish not spare her any such pain by taking Indian citizenship? Would granny have stopped loving him if he was not a British national?

I was due to fly to India from Greece a few days later to finish filming a documentary, but a lawyer advised me that I could be exposing myself to detention if I were to do so.
Why? The documentary must already have been authorized otherwise it could not be half complete. Aatish would need a Journalist Visa to enter India and finish it. All Journalists need such a visa even if they are entering India just to visit family. This is not covered by the E-Visa.
 As a journalist I have been in many fearful places in my life – from interrogations in Iran to questioning by the mukhabarat in Assad’s Syria – but this was the first time I had thought of India in that way. Instead, I left Greece and headed back to the U.S.
Aatish is afraid of being detained in India. Why? Because he committed a fraud and was found out. Previously he was not afraid of India. Now he is because he thinks the law of the land will be upheld.

It is easy to see my situation as individual or unique.
That is how Aatish sees it. He does not understand that there are thousands of people with a Pakistani grandparent who can't get an OCI card or even a 5 year Visa. They have to get an E-Visa each time just like me.
 But it is symptomatic of a much larger movement. The government that stripped me of my overseas citizenship had just stripped the state of Jammu and Kashmir of statehood, autonomy and basic human freedoms. 
When did J&K have 'autonomy'? Never. The people of Jammu and Ladakh are rejoicing. The freedom of many terrorists has been greatly reduced. Only the Union of India can say what is or is not a State. In the past, many new States and Union Territories were created. This is in accordance with Indian law. Taseer did not comply with Indian law and now fears returning to that country. Perhaps he and his husband should go to Pakistan. They are sure to get a warm welcome.

In the northeastern state of Assam, it was acting to strip 1.9 million people – the great majority Muslim, – of citizenship, rendering them stateless. 
As was promised by previous Governments going back to around the time Aatish was born.
Earlier this month, some of the country’s most esteemed intellectuals—such as the historian Ram Guha and filmmakers Adoor Gopalkrishnan and Mani Ratnam—were charged with sedition for writing an open letter to Modi imploring him to do more to combat the public spectacle of mob lynchings that have become a frequent occurrence under his premiership (the charges were subsequently dropped).
They were charged with sedition by a publicity hungry advocate who has brought hundreds of cases of a frivolous sort against celebrities. The Court dismissed the charges.

Out of a habit of mind, I clung to the idea of India as a liberal democracy, the world’s largest. But entering the United States in September, I was aware for the first time that I was no longer merely an immigrant, no longer someone moving between his home country and an adoptive one. I was an exile.
So, this British citizen feels an exile in America because a third country he defrauded of Visa revenue may 'detain' him if he shows his face there.

Furthermore, he thinks what is happening to him is as undeserved and monstrous as the suffering of a Kashmir Valley plagued by terrorism or an Assam where ethnic cleansing might once again break out.

Is the man play-acting or is his narcissism really out of control?

To answer this, let us look at the letter written by prominent writers which springs to his defense.

His case is unusual; he grew up in India with his single mother, the prominent Indian journalist Tavleen Singh, as his sole guardian, and has spent the majority of his life there, both as a child and adult.
His case was not unusual at all. There is plenty of cross-border marriage. This isn't a problem for Indian citizenship but becomes so for Overseas Citizensip.  Consider the plight of families with one Pakistani grandfather. While they remained in India, they were Indian citizens. Their first passport was Indian. Then, after migration to Europe or America, they acquired the nationality of their new country and relinquished their Indian passport. Many sought to avail themselves of the OCI scheme, more particularly so as to retire to India, but found they were ineligible. However, no very great hardship was created. The important thing is to be honest with the authorities and seek for an exemption on compassionate grounds.

He was estranged from his father Salman Taseer—who is of mixed British and Pakistani heritage and who lived in the U.K. at the time of his brief relationship with Taseer’s mother, whom he never married. They did not meet until he was an adult. Although the OCI regulations stipulate that the status is not granted to an individual whose parent or grandparent is of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin, Taseer grew up in India with his Indian mother and Indian grandparents, and his parents were estranged when Taseer moved as a child to India with his mother.
Taseer could have taken Indian nationality but chose not to. He can get a visa to India like any other British passport holder. He can't have an OCI card because he has a Pakistani father and grandfather. That is what the law says. On the other hand, he can always renounce British citizenship and take Indian citizenship on the basis of his maternal tie.
In his application for the OCI status, Taseer listed his father’s name and never tried to hide his identity; in fact, a number of his books and articles have extensively covered his heritage and past.
The application form states that the son or grandson of a Pakistani citizen is not eligible. It is up to the applicant to check eligibility. Taseer must have filled out 'British' as his father's nationality. This was disingenuous. He should have written British and Pakistani. But this would have automatically disqualified his application.

The fact that he subsequently wrote books or articles disclosing the fact is not relevant. At the time of application, he failed to disclose that he was ineligible. How is some clerk supposed to know the biography of a writer few Indians have ever heard of?

Did Taseer hide his identity as the son and grandson of a Pakistani or not? It may be that he wrote 'British and Pakistani' as his father's nationality on the form as he was required to do. But then his application would have been rejected. Even if it was accepted by reason of clerical oversight, it would now have to be cancelled. It is not the case that any great material harm would be done thereby. He is living happily in America with his husband. If he doesn't like it there he can go to England. If England too is not to his taste, he can get a Visa to India or apply for Indian nationality.

In May 2019, amid a contentious Indian election season, Taseer wrote a cover story for TIME magazine headlined “India’s Divider in Chief,” which drew an official complaint from the Indian government and sustained online harassment.
It seems TIME agreed with the Indian Government. A few days later they ran an article titled 'Uniter in Chief'.

Did Taseer's article harm Modi? No. It helped him among wealthy NRIs. However it enraged many Indians. Perhaps one such outraged Indian came to know that Taseer has an OCI card and demanded that it be withdrawn. The law must be upheld even if it makes the Government look bad. However, in this case, no one in India cares about Taseer. On the other hand, Indians in the UK and US are increasingly influential. The British Labor Party has been compelled to change its policy on Kashmir because of the money and voting power of British Hindus. In the US, Indians are pushing for Indian origin candidates for public office. They use their check books to influence policy.
On September 3, 2019, Taseer received a letter from the Indian Home Ministry (dated August 13, 2019) notifying him of the government’s intention to revoke his OCI card and giving him three weeks to respond. He responded the following day, and this reply was acknowledged by the Consulate General of India in New York, but he received no further word until November 7, when the Home Ministry announced in a series of tweets that Taseer had hidden information about his late father’s nationality and had failed to challenge their notice; Taseer disputes both claims.
Unfortunately, a legal challenge is likely to fail. Previous cases- e.g  Satish Nambiar vs UoI 2007- indicate that the Government has wide latitude in these matters. Justiciability is on a very narrow basis. In this case, the OCI card had been improperly granted. In a different case, a Doctor accused of being a Missionary but who was no such thing did have his plea entertained. However, like Nambiar, the man was an ex-citizen whose grandparents were all Indians. Nambiar failed because there was a Security angle. Taseer can't win because the fundamental problem is that he was never a citizen of India and obtained OCI fraudulently. It is impossible to believe that he and his Mum were unaware of the nature of the problem. Why did they not approach a sympathetic politician to get the thing done when he was still young and hadn't yet shat the bed? The Home Minister can use his discretion to grant OCI cards- e.g. to Salma Agha.
A few hours after the home ministry’s tweets, Taseer received an email from the consulate informing him that the Government of India had cancelled his OCI status, effective immediately. If an individual’s OCI status is revoked, they may be placed on a blacklist preventing their future entry into India.
This is quite true. It is likely that he can get an expedited Tourist visa on compassionate grounds to visit a sick relative. However, he may be asked to apply for a Journalist's visa.
We are extremely concerned that Taseer appears to have been targeted for an extremely personal form of retaliation due to his writing and reporting that has been critical of the Indian government.
Taseer broke the law. He knew he was ineligible for OCI status but went ahead and lied on the form. Nobody seems to have noticed or greatly cared till he spoke of India's very popular C.M as a 'divider'. Many people retaliated against Taseer by tweeting their hatred and contempt for him. Depriving him of his OCI card is a popular move. This letter, signed by the infamous Salman Rushdie, has the added bonus of exciting the ire of the Muslims. Thus, quite inadvertently, Taseer has united Hindus and Muslims.
We urge that the spirit of the OCI regulations, which are designed to provide status and connection to their roots and family to citizens of other countries with Indian heritage, are upheld, and do not discriminate against single mothers.
They don't discriminate against single mothers. They discriminate against people with Pakistani parents or grandparents who, for whatever reason, did not want to take Indian nationality.

Salman Rushdie's dad, very cleverly, migrated to Pakistan via the UK so that his son could claim his Indian property from the Custodian of Evacuee property. The 'spirit of the OCI regulations' was not to permit the elite to get away with bending the rules.
Denying access to the country to writers of both foreign and Indian origin
is not happening. What is stopping Taseer from applying for a Journalist's Visa like anyone else? Why tell such obvious lies? Does it have something to do with 'magical realism'?
casts a chill on public discourse;
Where? Indians don't give a toss for stupid foreigners when it comes to their own public discourse.
it flies in the face of India’s traditions of free and open debate and respect for a diversity of views, and weakens its credentials as a strong and thriving democracy.
Only credentialized cretins care about credentials.
We write to respectfully request that the Indian government review this decision, to ensure that Aatish Taseer has access to his childhood home and family, and that other writers are not similarly targeted.
Aatish baba is being denied access to his childhood cot and teddy bear. Modi must take action. Otherwise PEN will use its own arsehole as an inkpot- as it has always done.