Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Namit Arora on the Emergency

 In the Seventies, both Indira Gandhi and Ted Heath declared a State of Emergency. Heath was defeated by the Trade Unions and replaced, as Tory leader, by Mrs. Thatcher. Indira, on the other hand, showed the world how the thing should be done. This was a good thing. As with the Bangladesh War, Indira was sending the World a message- 'India is well hard. Don't fuck with us'. 

On the other hand, Indira's strategy was not without risk. Her good buddy, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, declared a State of Emergency a few months before Indira did (which is why Siddhartha Shankar Ray may have suggested this expedient- Mujib having declared for a One Party Socialist State) but was assassinated along with most of his family soon after.  In Sri Lanka, the equally Lefty, Mrs. Bandarnaike had been ruling under a State of Emergency since 1971 but had faced a Trotskyite insurgency which was only quelled with Indian and Pakistani military help.  Pakistan itself was always slipping in and out of such states but at the Army's behest. However, it must be said, India was not in the same boat as its neighbors- or indeed its former Colonial Master. There was no real internal threat- just some domestic nuisances- and Indira was more than capable of the sort of deft footwork needed to jiu-jitsu her opponents into submission or irrelevance. This was because they looked to senile shitheads like Jayprakash Narayan or Acharya Kripalani for leadership despite the fact that both of those geriatrics had been so lacking in bollocks they couldn't even fuck their own wives- let alone fuck over Indira Gandhi.

Why did India have an Emergency? The answer is that it was the fashion to have one. But it was also a reality check. People needed to see that there always was an alternative to parliamentary muddling through- but the alternative was worse coz your goolies might be chopped off. Still, there was the hope that a South Korea or Taiwan type authoritarianism could lead to quick 'export led' catch-up growth. Sadly, Indira was not the person to deliver any such thing.

The Seventies was a period of great stupidity all over the world. In India, mutters like Jayaprakash Narayan had got it into their heads that they could topple State Governments by launching Gandhian agitations. Indira needed to remind those cunts that, politically speaking, the skeletal Mahatma had been a big fat loser. India had not been liberated from the Colonialism by 'dharnas' or 'gehraos'. The Indian political class, as well as the craven Judiciary and 'Fourth Estate', soon got the message. The only cloud on Indira's horizon was her gormless son and his sociopathic sycophants. That fucker might kill Mummy if sufficiently egged on by his cabal. Indira gambled on holding free and fair elections- a gamble which paid off because the only reason she got the top job in the first place was because everybody hated Morarji, which is why the always idiotic Jayaprakash & the even more cretinous Kripalani anointed that urine drinker thinking this would increase their own influence. Morarji, predictably turned on his patron, declaring J.P dead a few months before that old fool kicked the bucket. But once J.P actually died, the Janata Morcha was bound to collapse. Indira returned within three years of her defeat- but this time her party was cravenly dynastic. 

The Seventies was exceptional because it was the fucking Seventies dude! Stupid shit was going down all over the place. India's tragedy is that Indira could have used the Emergency to take the South Korean or Taiwanese route. Instead she was content to preside over economic stagnation. 

Namit Arora, surely the stupidest hog in the 3Quarks pig pen, writes of the Emergency in the Baffler-

Often cited as a cautionary tale in Indian political discourse, it is generally seen as an “exceptional” period from which India recovered admirably well, thanks in large part to the resilience of its democratic institutions and ethos.

India could have course corrected in the Seventies. But its Gandhian legacy- which consisted of talking bollocks and doing stupid shit- was too strong.  

Two new books powerfully challenge this consensus. In India’s First Dictatorship, Christophe Jaffrelot and Pratinav Anil expose the chronic weaknesses in India’s democratic culture prior to the Emergency, revealing the role that other actors—businessmen, the middle class, even trade unionists and some communists—played in enabling Gandhi’s authoritarian rule.

If so, they also enabled Janata's chaotic rule. But it isn't so. To 'enable' something means to 'make it possible'. Businessmen had no power to make anything possible. The middle class was largely the creation of the Government. Trade Unions had no countervailing power because workers who went on strike starved to death. Mill owners did not. The Railway Strike may have looked promising. But Indira gained popularity by crushing it. As the Mensheviks discovered in 1917, peasants think the 'industrial proletariat' has it easy. They cheer when strikers get their heads kicked in. 

As for Communists- Indian Communists- they are and always have been completely shit. Like Indonesia, India could have united Hindu and Muslim by slaughtering the Reds. Seriously- nobody likes those cunts. 

In Emergency Chronicles, Gyan Prakash considers how aspects of the modern Indian state, particularly its Constitution, enabled a demagogic takeover.

The Indian Constitution didn't mean shit. On promulgation, it was immediately amended. The Supreme Court was already licking Indira's boots. The question Gyan Prakash should ask is why did Ted Heath's Emergency fail while Indira's succeeded? The other question is why Indira bothered with this particular expedient, rather than taking the office of President under a new Constitution.  The answer to both questions has to do with Sanju. That cretin was quite capable of bumping off Mummy in the belief that the Masses would obey him. For Indira, the triumphalist Gauhati session of Congress in the winter of '76 was the moment of truth. This was a naked Fascism which required no Socialist fig leaf. Mummy- who kept changing her costume each day to represent a different one of the Seven North Eastern States- suddenly realized that she was once again a 'goongi gudiya'- a dumb doll dressed up in exotic costumes while sonny boy and his sycophants ran things. The US might decide that Sanju was a guy they could do business with so Mummy would have a convenient accident and he'd consolidate power on the back of a 'sympathy' vote. 

In asking fundamental questions about the relation between state and society in India

these cretins are out of their depth. They don't know Economics.  

and exploring its many fault lines,

There are no 'fault lines' in Political Economy. Fuck are these wankers trying to do? Geology? 

these books cut through the boosterism that generally occludes the “world’s largest democracy.” Rather than viewing the Emergency as an aberration, they present it as a logical outcome of certain social and political tendencies of independent India.

So, how come Heath had an Emergency just before Indira did? Where 'social and political tendencies' in the UK the same as those in India? The fact is 'Socialist' Prime Ministers- like Bandarnaike and Mujib- had declared Emergency. Why not Indira too? It was quite the fad. But, only where you had a charismatic leader (or relict of the same) presiding over an economic shambles while at the helm of a 'party' composed of opportunists and gobshites. Naturally, such a leader wants to cling on to power and, hopefully, transmit it to his or her kiddies (though in Sri Lanka, Mummy and daughter fell out). This is because the 'leader' has no loyalty to his or her party colleagues and vice versa.

It is foolish to compare Modi with Indira. Modi is loyal to the RSS and, to that extent, loyal to the BJP. He rose by merit, promotes on merit and is not afraid that people in his Cabinet are scheming against him. Moreover, Modi and the BJP benefit from the nuisances created by Libtards and Muslims and, now, the rich farmers who have hoist Captain Amarinder by his own petard. 

Both books are written with an eye to the present. Since coming to power in 2014, Prime Minster Narendra Modi has presided over a kind of undeclared emergency: rejecting constitutional norms;

not in the opinion of the Supreme Court which, according to the Constitution, has the sole right to decide what those norms are 

jailing thousands of peaceful dissidents,

no 'peaceful dissident' has been jailed. On the other hand, by a law passed by Sheikh Abdullah, his son and grandson were under detention of some type. But that's Kashmir for you.  

journalists, and activists;

Sadly, this is not the case. The fact is these 'journalists and activists' have done a good job only in turning Hindus against the dynastic, casteist, parties. Modi would be a fool if he curbed a nuisance from which he and his party have profited so much. 

undermining the press;

which was are remains a prostitute of an ignorant type whose public displays of affection all respectable folk shun 

retracting the last shards of Kashmir’s autonomy.

It was the Bench which declared in 2016 that Kashmir had never had 'a shred' of autonomy. 

While preserving their democratic veneer, he has weaponized civic institutions including the intelligence agency and police force;

The States politicize their own police forces- in Maharashtra and Bengal it is pro-Modi journalists who are prosecuted- and the CBI has always been partisan. However, nobody says that 'Intelligence Agencies' have been 'weaponized'. Namit does not know the country he is writing about.  

the central bank, judiciary, and election commission; and even public universities and the Indian Council of Historical Research.

The Central Bank has never been independent. The Election Commission remains independent. Universities are shit as is the ICHR.  

Most strikingly, like Gandhi, Modi has embarked on a series of misguided and needlessly punitive policies—from banning certain currency notes with almost no prior notice

this paid electoral dividends. Why did Congress not try it? Because it was known to be corrupt. The BJP still is not perceived as corrupt.  

to overseeing a militarized Covid-19 lockdown

like France and England and America- but not like Pakistan. 

that, lacking planning or preparation, prompted a mass migration on foot.

Because States have been dragging their feet on 'one nation, one ration card'. 

The ease with which he has done this has once again raised questions about what Prakash describes as Indian society’s “troubled relationship with democratic values.”

Prakash is a Marxist. He has a troubled relationship with non-crazy values of any type. Namit is simply a virtue signalling cretin. Perhaps he hopes to become the next Pankaj Mishra. But Mishra is actually quite well read. 

These books allow us to evaluate how today’s gathering liberal-democratic deficits stack up against the mid-1970s. Is India today less, or more, vulnerable to tyranny than it was back then?

This is a foolish question. Few in the Seventies would have been able to foresee how badly the law and order situation would deteriorate in not just Punjab and Kashmir, but also Bihar and large parts of U.P. What Bengal went through during the Naxal troubles looked tame in comparison. Tyranny would have been welcomed by millions whose lives were wrecked by 'jungle Raj' anarchy. Sadly, assassination is a great solvent of autocracy. Tyrants are in short supply when suicide bombers are dime a dozen. 

The state of independent India was forged in a crucible of violence.

Nonsense! The handover of power was entirely cordial. True, Muslims killed a lot of non-Muslims, some of whom retaliated with vim and vigor, but we are now quite used to such things.

Between 1947 and 1950, the years during which the constitution was drafted, the subcontinent faced the ordeal of Partition,

which only affected a small minority of Hindus-  

a war over Kashmir,

which had no effect whatsoever on almost all Hindus 

feuds with princely states,

which were quickly settled to the advantage of the Hindus 

and various regional conflicts and discords.

which were resolved without any bloodshed whatsoever 

These experiences only strengthened the desire that various Indian leaders—Jawaharlal Nehru, other senior Congressmen, and also B.R. Ambedkar—had long harbored for a strong, centralized state that could maintain order and stability and (more nebulously) forge national unity.

There was no alternative because no Province had stable boundaries. There had to be linguistic reorganization and then further division of States for economic and other reasons.  

Luckily for them, the departing imperial government had just such an edifice with vast executive powers, which the nationalist elites took over with few changes.

Luck had nothing to do with it. The Brits had tried to create a Federal machinery but they had failed because its components had highly contested borders. Hindu India had no choice but to pool sovereignty at the Center. Muslims might rise up to the call of Jihad, but Hindus needed a professional Army.  

As Prakash points out, “there was no revolutionary overthrow of the old social order, economy, law, police, and bureaucracy.”

Revolutions are shit. India did not have one because Indians didn't want their lives to become even shittier.  

The new state preserved much of the spirit and the basic structure of the colonial era judiciary and civil administration.

Which is why it still exists. 

A major difference was that fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech and expression, were added to the constitution.

And then immediately rescinded by the first Amendment.  

But the state retained the right to make any law to “impose reasonable restrictions” on such rights on vague grounds, including “in the interests of” preserving “public order, decency or morality” and more. An emergency could be imposed merely because of a threat of war or “internal disturbance.”

Just like in the jolly old U.K. Sadly Heath's Emergency ended in a shambles. The head of his Civil Service took off all his clothes and started rolling around the floor of Number 10 screaming hysterically about a Communist plot.  

The constitution essentially allowed a crooked leader to legally wreck the democracy it was designed to safeguard.

Just like the American Constitution which, as Godel- and plenty of Republicans of the period- pointed out could be turned into a Fascist Dictatorship. That's why the Twenty Second Amendment was passed.  

To be fair, the American Constitution did mean something to Americans. The Indian Constitution had no meaning whatsoever. It was anything goes. 

B.R. Ambedkar—India’s foremost Dalit leader and the chief architect of the constitution—supported some of these provisions.

He dismissed his contribution as 'hack work'. The man was nobody's fool.  

But he did not share the other nationalists’ obsession with a strong motherland, which pushed them to criminalize seditious speech and curtail privacy rights.

A 'strong motherland' is one which can enforce its laws and safeguard its borders. Ambekar was for it. The question was whether criticism of an official could constitute an offence. The answer the Indians came to was in keeping with the English, not the American, tradition. 

Growing up in a community deemed “untouchable,” he understood better than any other national leader just how deeply hierarchical and divided “Indian society” was.

This is also the reason he had no influence whatsoever in Independent India once the first General Election was called. Why? He couldn't get elected or get others elected. The poor fellow had to turn into a 'Boddhisattva'.  

Democracy in India, he famously said in 1948, was mostly “a top-dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.”

Which is why he did well under the Brits but did badly after universal suffrage was introduced.  

The state had to fertilize this soil

by shitting copiously on it 

to make democracy bloom, through vigorous social and economic intervention. “Convinced that Indian society lacked democratic values,” Prakash writes:
Ambedkar placed his faith in the political sphere. There was something Tocquevillian in this belief in the reconstitution of society by politics.

Nonsense! Ambedkar was an economist. He had observed genuine democracy- that of America- and knew that it meant that 'low castes' would be fucked over by Woodrow Wilson type pi-jaw merchants. That's why he worked with the Brits so as to increase the bargaining power of his period. Also, Gandhi was a fucking nutjob. Better the British lion than the Bania python. 

Accordingly, he wrote a constitution that equipped the state with extraordinary powers.

But those powers existed in every other Westminster style polity. But Constitutions don't matter at all in such places. Britain never bothered with a written one and didn't get a Supreme Court till a dozen years ago on the insistence of Brussels. 

He and his fellow lawmakers expected that the state would accomplish from above what the society could not from below.

Nonsense! They may have been worthless blathershites but they weren't that stupid. What the Constitution was about was telling the Muslims they were fucked. They weren't going to get a share in power. Hindi would completely replace Urdu. Only Hindu Dalits would get reservations. 

To that end, Ambedkar’s constitution emphasized “equality and fraternity in all spheres of life” and included provisions to safeguard marginalized groups. Over the decades, he has deservingly received much credit for his role in crafting the document. But in the early fifties, he expressed his disappointment with the final product. His vision of a pedagogic state promoting “constitutional morality” required “the leaders’ moral commitment to democratic procedures”, writes Prakash. “It envisioned that the elite would somehow overcome class and caste pressures from society. Here, the record is an abject failure.”

Gyan Prakash is an abject failure. Subaltern Studies turned out to be a cheap way to get a Green Card. It didn't help the Reds any.

Ambedkar wasn't a failure. Why? He played his hand well- when he had a hand to play. Then Universal Suffrage came and power passed to those Dalits who had worked within Congress and whose ability led to their getting important Ministries.  

After the departure of the white sahibs, upper-caste elites, like so many post-colonial elites elsewhere, took over as brown sahibs, as Ambedkar feared they would.

J.N Mandal made the mistake of throwing in his lot with the Muslim League. Appointed Law Minister of Pakistan, he had to flee along with millions of his fellow Namasudras to India. Ambedkar knew that white sahibs could do nothing for his people. Nor could brown sahibs. The fate of the Dalit was determined by backward castes in the boondocks. His brand of politics was useless. Thus the Dalits need to give up meat and alcohol and convert to Buddhism, a prestigious Aryan religion which had spread untouchability as far as Japan, and learn English and wear suits and make a lot of money like the Jatav millionaires of Kanpur. 

Was there one single Indian lawyer or politician who believed that Constitution's have magic powers? No. Otherwise it would have clauses on everybody being nice and real smart and having lots of money and being capable of giving and receiving multiple orgasms to their significant other. 

The halo of the freedom struggle led by Congress nationalists helped Nehru and his party during the fifties.

No. The Congress grass-roots organisation, built up over decades, helped Nehru & Co. more particularly because it had embedded itself within the Administration at every level.

The two pillars of Congress support at the time were rich landlords and big businesses.

Rich landlords supported Zamindar parties which, however, melted away with the advent of Universal Suffrage. Big Muslim Businesses backed the Muslim League. Some Parsi and almost all Gujerati Hindus and Jains, along with Marwaris, backed Gandhi.

This oligarchy

did not exist. That's why the Indian Liberal Party ended up clutching Gandhi's dhoti tails. However, after Independence, Nehru coopted Right wing industrialists because he knew his own people were useless. But it was people like Deshmukh and TTK who were gung ho for the Planning Commission. Nationalisation was considered a good thing. Japan had first set up public sector enterprises and then privatized them thus creating the zaibatsu. Nehru himself hoped to create an all India cadre of technocrats. Sadly, the IAS 'generalists' strangled this scheme at birth. Still, Nehru's planners made three mistakes

1) they didn't back a 'Green Revolution' based on hybrid seeds. 

2) they strangled the textile and wage good sectors

3) they got hooked on American 'free money' which turned out to be inflationary. 

Still, Nehru's economic performance was way better than Indira's. 

not only scuttled Nehru’s plans for land reform and nationalization,

there was land reform, a State subject, where the thing was feasible, while at the Center there was nationalization in plenty 

it easily got away with being corrupt and nepotistic; even Nehru allowed his daughter to become Congress president in 1959.

That isn't nepotism. A political party is not an organ of Government. 

Far from driving a program of socioeconomic justice (as in many East Asian countries)—say, land reform, universal education, fighting caste discrimination—elites consolidated their hegemony over politics, the economy, education, cultural institutions, and the media. India was effectively a democracy of the few, by the few, for the few.

In other words, India remained India. Some parts of it did land reform and universal education and so forth. Some did not. This has nothing to do with 'hegemony'. It has everything to do with what people wanted. The fact is, rich people get richer if the population is well educated and not divided up into castes. Land reform is great if peasants get land which they can sell so as to get the fuck out of involuted agriculture. 

This was the kind of country that Indira Gandhi inherited from her father in 1966.

Nehru died in 1964. Indira became P.M after Lal Bahadur Shastri died. Why? Everybody hated Morarji. This was also the reason the Janata coalition collapsed. 

In this period of social ferment, popular movements of various ideological orientations broke out across the country: Maoism erupted in the Bengal countryside,

Jyoti Basu called in the police to kill them. This was a further split within the Communist fold.  

nativists railed against South Indian migrants in Maharashtra,

those guys are now in bed with Congress  

middle-class youth protested assaults on academic freedom and rising prices in Gujarat,

rising prices, yes. Academic freedom? Don't make me laugh. 

and a broad coalition of interests opposed corruption in Bihar.

because Biharis prefer crime- especially kidnapping- to corruption coz u got to be edumicated to do corruption. Thankfully- this was the Lalu compromise- kidnapping of corrupt officials became Bihar's leading industry so everybody was happy. 

These uprisings are perhaps best seen as

stupid shit 

the outcome of rising aspiration and political awareness among subaltern and semi-franchised demographics.

Nope. Stupid shit is all it is. Rising aspirations translate into people working harder and saving money and setting up businesses and taking control over the local government so it makes it easier for them to rise up. This is the story of the rise of the 'dominant' backward castes who make sure their kids get STEM subject education though, no doubt, one or two hopeless cretins have to go in for Subaltern shite. 

More and more, Indians now saw themselves as citizens of the state, not its subjects.

While they were seeing themselves as such, Neo-Liberalism sneaked up behind them, took down their trousers and sodomized them with vim and vigor. That's how this story ends- right?

But the elites that ruled them remained largely callous and apathetic.

Very true! Masses are constantly saying 'ow! It hurts when Neo-Liberalism buggers us to buggery. Please, please, Mr & Mrs Elite, help our sore assholes by telling Neo-Liberalism to fuck off.' 

Does the Elite listen to this piteous plea? No. It is largely callous and apathetic.

“Able to mobilize the population against British rule

though the British continued to rule till Uncle Sam pulled the plug

but incapable of accommodating popular demands and aspirations,”

like the demand to be able to levitate and the aspiration to be a porn star 

reflects Prakash, “the elite was compelled to rule with a heavy dose of coercion.”

Coz that's how rulers roll, yo. 

Already in 1958, the Nehruvian state had enacted the Armed Force Special Powers Act (AFSPA), modeled after a British era ordinance, which gave legal immunity to security forces for atrocities like rape, murder, and torture. Such crimes would later be perpetrated in the north-east, Kashmir, Punjab, and the indigenous belt of central India: all regions, crucially, with Hindu minorities. “The hand of AFSPA has fallen where the reach of Hinduism has stopped,” Perry Anderson notes in his book The Indian Ideology.

Since India is largely Hindu, the Act didn't matter one jot to the great mass of the population. To suggest otherwise is as foolish as to suggest that what happened in Northern Ireland during the Troubles affected the freedom of people in England. 

During her early years in power, Gandhi cleverly swept away the party’s old guard

because they were crap. Also a lot of those old fuckers simply keeled over and died.

and centralized control in herself. Touting a version of “democratic socialism,” she nationalized fourteen commercial banks that held 85 percent of all deposits and abolished the “privy purses” of the heirs of former rulers of princely states—they had previously been entitled to receive up to eight percent of all revenues in perpetuity from their territories—both actions the Supreme Court resisted.

Not for long. She soon packed the Bench. 

The Court also thwarted her ambitions of land reform,

Indira chopped its goolies off- not that it ever had much in that department. They couldn't thwart shit.  

arguing that property ownership was a fundamental right and that parliament couldn’t seize anyone’s land for redistribution (so much for “Nehruvian socialism”).

The Judiciary only exists so as to provide an excuse for executive inaction. It could always be ignored. 

Angered by this, write Jaffrelot and Anil, Gandhi resolved “to liberate parliament from the vice-like grip of conservative justices,” setting in motion a long battle of wills. She toughened existing regulations and bureaucratized controls over businesses, later called the “license raj,” which further deepened India’s economic stagnation and worsened public corruption.

The main reason Indira's Economic policies were shit was because the Left had a stranglehold on Academia. Anyone who did not toe the party line was either chased into exile or else, like Subramaniam Swamy, found his own way to imbecility.  

In 1971, billing herself a messiah of the poor, Gandhi won by a landslide on the populist slogan garibi hatao (“remove poverty”). She was still riding high that December after beating Pakistan in war and securing the liberation of Bangladesh. Her cause was righteous, and she thumbed her nose at the American bullies who, rather than doing the right thing, had supported their Cold War ally Pakistan. In India After Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha reports that “even opposition politicians were now speaking of her as ‘Durga,’ the all-conquering goddess of Hindu mythology.”

This is because fucking over the Pakistani Army is a good thing. 

But things soon got worse. Two underwhelming monsoons and the 1973 global oil crisis led to droughts, price inflation, recession, high urban unemployment, and rampant corruption—troubles that often formed the backdrop of the arthouse cinema of the day, such as in films by Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, and even an occasional Bollywood film, like Manoj Kumar’s Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (“Food, Clothing and Shelter”).

History reached a turning point in 1968 but failed to turn Left. Why? The Left was shite. The Seventies was a stupid time to be alive because the utter shittiness of the Left was not obvious to all.

Industrial growth, land redistribution, and poverty reduction stalled, falling even below their previous anemic levels.

Because the Left was in the driving seat. 

Nor had the Congress done much to alter the upper-caste domination of power and resources.

Because the upper-caste was Leftist and leftists be shite. 

Strikes, rallies, and protests teemed with sloganeering youth and students, including future regional leaders like Laloo Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar.

Which is why Bihar is still a shit-show.  

Along with peasants and workers, they hitched a host of frustrations to the rousing call of Sampoorna Kranti (“Total Revolution”) issued by the freedom fighter and Gandhian socialist Jayaprakash Narayan, or JP. They railed against public corruption, official apathy, and state repression.

Then the State repressed the fuck out of them. Sadly, they were soon let loose to corner the market in corruption, apathy and being utterly shite.  

Though national elections were just months away,

 months? Elections were two years away- Namit can't count

they demanded Mrs. Gandhi’s resignation. Not since the freedom movement had such large protests been organized. Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Waves of Revolution (1974) offers a moving glimpse of this uprising as it played out in Bihar.

Sadly, the 'Revolution' these fools were clamoring for further impoverished Bihar.  

For her part, Gandhi vehemently denounced these agitations.

Which was a big surprise because normally politicians lavish praise on their competitors. 

This exposed her “unease with electoral competition, the plurality of interests, and representative politics—the very stuff of democracy,” write Jaffrelot and Anil.

How stupid are those two cunts? Do they not get that Indira was a big 'vote catcher'? She loved electoral competition because her strength came from her capacity to precipitate nation-wide 'Indira waves'. What she, like her son Rajiv, wasn't good at was stamping out intrigue within her own Cabinet or Party machinery. 

It didn’t help that JP himself disliked secularism and collaborated with the Hindu right wing, including the paramilitary Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), rehabilitating these fascists after years of stigma from their association with Mahatma Gandhi’s killer.

This stupid prejudice against the RSS was the excuse on which the Janta Government fell apart so Indira could return to power.  

The feebleness of Mrs. Gandhi’s democratic instincts had met its match in the incoherence of JP’s social vision.

Indira owed her power to her 'democratic instincts'. JP's 'social vision' may have been incoherent but so was that of every other party. The BJP believed in 'Gandhian Socialism' while the CPI believed Indira Gandhi was delivering Socialism. 

The trigger for the Emergency is widely seen as a judgment made by the Allahabad High Court in 1975. Finding Gandhi guilty of relatively minor electoral misdeeds in 1971, the Court had voided her election to the parliament and barred her from contesting elections for six years. The case went to the Supreme Court, and Gandhi considered resigning until her appeal was resolved.

Krishna Iyer, a Lefty, let Indira continue as P.M. Since the pro-Indira demonstration in Delhi was bigger than that of J.P, Indira got the plaint President to declare Emergency the very next night.  What took journalists by surprise was how popular Indira's harsh tactics proved to be. I suppose one reason officialdom rallied to Indira was the Sanjay factor. The feeling was, he would protect his own. 

In the end, she decided against taking chances. Instead, she gathered her lackeys in the police and foreign intelligence to plan a covert war on democracy.

This is nonsense. There was nothing 'covert' about what she did. Krishna Iyer had given her the constitutional power to do anything she liked. What was strange was the enthusiasm this evoked in Delhiites. Senior Journalists were flabbergasted that the very people who had financed J.P's rally were expressing satisfaction that Indira had restored public confidence in the 'smack of firm government'. Actually, the thing was easy to understand. Delhi's people have always known that if rustic retards start marching down the streets, sooner or later the dacoits will show up and rob them and rape their daughters.

The State can make life better for those who pay taxes and in Indira's India, where there were only one lakh 'dissidents' and about seven lakh policemen and paramilitary personnel, it is good economics to curb the nuisance they pose. But not curbing that nuisance too has electoral dividends. In Indira's case, Janata's getting a turn in power was a blessing in disguise. Her big mistake was to think that Sikh grievances were similar to the grievances of stupid shitheads like JP or Kripalani. Religion is something genuine. Indira's advisers thought Sikhism was about caste- Jat 'kulaks' lording it over 'proletarian' Ramgarhias and Mazhabis. This was nonsense. There is no caste or Marxian class struggle in any Religion. 

It was by no means inevitable that the BJP would become the defacto National Party. It was only when Hinduism was denounced by darbari intellectuals that Hindus Hindus suddenly realised that there was only one party which would defend their Religion. Since Hindus represent some 80 percent of the population, the BJP- as the Hindu party par excellence- has become the default Governing Party. It has no need for extra-Constitutional shenanigans. But, precisely for that reason, it is under no great pressure to deliver the sort of fundamental reform the Nation needs. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Signora Martha Mone R.I.P (1998)

Signora Martha Mone- elderly neighbor with whom I loved to fight-
Coz South Italy is sooo Bleck & my South India too White
Till thou both unite by a tectonic upheaval of the sort
That, as tears in wine, drown all thought.

In Creation there is Property, in what is Uncreated- none
The Douai Bible, Mone, & thy mine are One.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Socrates' Methexis & Shantideva's Antidosis

Death cures the Knowledge of its Patients
Of Sophia's Love, Methexis' Agents
Know naught till unthought Oikeiosis
Saves by but Shantideva's Antidosis. 

Yoneda's lemma as Patripassian dilemma

That this Madman's tears never wet the cheek of his son
 My Cheapside & Chandogya yet are one.
Lunatic! Thy Aperion proud were a Polis of Pain
Lacks he umbrella against cloudless rain.

Prince! Rendering us our own Erl King appeased by reverse meta-metaphoricity
 Perverse is Yoneda's Pity on Christ's forests in Chrematistics' diseased City


Ind's Soteriology offered two sovereign remedies against Sadness
For what triumphs over Death is but Slavery- or Madness
Till, uniting both
Iqbal's Sufi oath.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Khilnani's crap idea of India

 It is more than 20 years since Sunil Khilnani's 'The Idea of India' came out. It contains no ideas- as opposed to ignorant and absurd assumptions about the unique and magical nature of India- or, indeed, coherent thoughts, whatsoever. It is wholly vacuous. Consider the following- 

In the first instance, the history of independent India can be seen, most narrowly but also most sharply, as the history of a state:

This could be said of any country at any time. But it isn't true. The history of independent India must be seen, most narrowly and most sharply, as the history of  Indian people. The history of the Indian State is merely a minor part of a much bigger story. No doubt, for some specific purpose- e.g. to write a shite book- one may have a more narrow focus. But that focus is misleading and myopic.

one of the first, largest and poorest of the many created by the ebb of European empire after the end of the Second World War.

European empires ebbed at the end of the First World War. India, like Ireland, Egypt and Afghanistan, could have secured independence by 1924. It didn't because of Gandhi- who unilaterally surrendered and thus broke the Congress/Khilafat combine. This meant that Independence would come at the price of partition and it would be Britain which would decide when and how power would be transferred. 

The 'idea of India' started of as the idea of British Raj being turned into an Indian run operation- with at least some of the Indians involved being directly elected by the masses. But first Buddhist Burma, then the Muslim majority areas went their own way. What was left was simply the idea of the Hindu majority areas, with some contested margins, taking over from the Raj, while the 'idea of Pakistan' was the idea of the Muslim majority areas which had been formerly Hindu setting up their own State. 

Thus the only real story here is how Hinduism came to have a National horizon. To cut this long story short, it is sufficient to concentrate on status competition between endogamous sub-castes which could either express itself as superior adherence to highly restrictive rules or else advertise its purity by readiness to make sacrifices in the struggle against foreign, mleccha, hegemony and paramountcy. Everything else which needs to be mentioned applies equally to other countries. It is history, but not specifically Indian history. 

Thus, the reason India abandoned the Monarchical model was because everybody else did. During the First World War, it became obvious that War was no longer the sport of Kings. Thus Nationalism would triumph under either a military junta or, if the Army played no role in the transition, then, it would be under the rubric of democracy. In India, the pay off for the latter was high and had to do so with curbing wasteful inter and intra-caste status competition with respect to holier than thou ritual purity and restrictive rules on women, permissible occupations, overseas travel etc. 

Khilnani, because he teaches a shite subject, is forced to tell a different story- a fairy tale. Apparently, India is unique. It is magical. It isn't like any other country. He belongs to Yakov Smirnoff school of Indian political thought. In other countries, the Social landscape features a State- which can only be as modern as the Society is modern. In India, Society is so hide-bound that any sort of State might make landfall upon its shores without anybody objecting, or taking much notice. 

The arrival of the modern state on the Indian landscape over the past century and a half, and its growth and consolidation as a stable entity after 1947, are decisive historical facts.

No they aren't. Nobody can agree what a 'modern state' is or when it arrives or whether or not it is a 'stable entity'. 

They mark a shift from a society where authority was secured by diverse local methods to one where it is located in a single, sovereign agency. 

Authority is always secured by 'diverse local methods' even if some stupid pedagogue locates it in a 'single, sovereign agency'. 

Seen in this perspective, the performance of the Indian state invites evaluation

by its outcomes for its citizens. That's all that matters. 

by external and comparative standards: for example, its ability to maintain the territorial boundaries it inherited from the British Raj,

this is irrelevant. Maintaining or extending territorial boundaries matters to Empires. It doesn't matter to modern nation states. We don't think less of the Czechs because they parted company with the Slovaks.  

to preserve its domestic authority and the physical security of its citizens,

by itself, this too is irrelevant. A modern state need not be obsessed with maintaining 'domestic authority'. Getting 'mechanism design' right means spontaneous order and the rule of law.  

to act as an agent of economic development,

If the State acts as an agent then agent-principal hazard arises. It is better if it simply sticks to incentive compatible mechanism design.  

and to provide its citizens with social opportunities.

Social opportunities? Like what?- speed dating? What's wrong with just organizing a Collective insurance scheme to maintain a 'social minimum' safety-net? 

Unlike the states of modern Europe, which acquired these responsibilities in gradual sequence, new states like India have had to adopt them, and be seen to pursue them, rapidly and simultaneously.

This is a fantasy. States don't work that way. It takes time and money to build State capacity. True, after the War, State Capacity in industrialised countries could be repurposed because, by 'Wagner's Law, the State was getting a much larger slice of  GDP. 

India, like other similar countries, did not 'adopt' the sort of responsibilities that Atlee's Britain did. It couldn't. It was too poor. It is by telling such bien pensant responsibilities to go fuck themselves that poor countries become less poor.  

The ability of a modern state to meet these heavily instrumental criteria is undoubtedly crucial to the life chances of its citizens.

This is meaningless gibberish. Getting the fuck out of shitholes is crucial to life- chances. In the case of modern India, emigrating to the highly traditional state of Saudi Arabia was a pretty effective way of improving life-chances.  

But these responsibilities have raised expectations often very distant from the state’s practical capacities.

These weren't 'expectations'. They were fantasies. Indeed, it is a fantasy of shite pedants of worthless subjects that State's have magical properties. 

Why is India a democracy? The answer is simple. Princes took one look at modern warfare and realized they couldn't do that shit. The First World War showed the Emperors sucked ass big time. India couldn't go the way of the Soviet Union or Fascist Italy because Indians were so stupid they thought the sun shone out of Mahatma Gandhi's back side. But the man was an utter cretin. In February 1922, just when Britain was at weakest militarily and had to concede defeat in Turkey and on the anti-Bolshevik front and was forced to recognize the Independence of Ireland and Egypt and Afghanistan, Gandhi, gibbering with fear and shitting himself incessantly, unilaterally surrendered saying India was not ready, might never be ready, for Independence but, since he himself was as stupid as fuck, could the Govt. just kindly lock him up tell he became slightly less stupid or lost his capacity to work mischief? The Brits were happy to oblige. Congress, under Gandhi, muffed its next two opportunities- the first was when Britain was financially weak due to the Wall Street Crash. This time, Gandhi's great achievement was to unite all the Minorities, not just the Muslims, against the Hindu dominated INC. The Brits stopped talking to Gandhi and just jailed Congress if it didn't play nice while imposing a solution which maximized their 'residuary control rights'. Even with the Japs knocking at the door, Gandhi and Congress managed to fuck up with their last big push. The new question was whether those nutters would stay in jail while power passed to Princes and Sectarian leaders with Commies lurking in the underbrush biding their time.

It was in this context that the Nehruvian 'idea of India' triumphed. What did it involve? The answer is that power should pass to 'the last Englishman in India'- as Nehru described himself in the Fifties. Gandhism was transformed into Macaulayism- instead of barristers pretending they were ignorant peasants, ignorant peasants would pretend they understood whatever high falutin' bureaucratic shite they were obliged to read out, in halting tones, during Ministerial question time. Begging bowl diplomacy permitted the burgeoning of this type of bureaucracy that Kipling had satirized while, in the boondocks, Vinobha Bhave and Jayprakash Narayan and other such nutters pursued Gandhian programs of Social Reconstruction which were purely farcical. 'Bhoodan', it will be remembered, was so successful that the entire state of Bihar was gifted away! J.P's 'sampoorna kranti' involved the replacement of Indira Gandhi by Morarji Desai! This would be like the American Revolution replacing George III with Henry VIII!

 By the time of Independence, it was clear that India could neither be an Empire nor a Dictatorship (because Bose's INA was a miserable failure).  What could it be? Because of the 'Martial Race' theory, it couldn't be run by the Army because recruitment was heavily biased geographically. Thus, the answer was, India had to continue to be whatever it needed to be so as to raise enough in taxes to pay salaries and pensions with a little left over for shite Professorships in shite subjects. This turned out to be the same guys as the Brits transferred power to. So, Independent India's story is the story of the success of a British blueprint. But that blueprint was drawn up by people who had turned the sub-continent into a cohesive enough power to project force as far as Europe and Japan. This had never happened before and will never happen again. The simple truth is that 'the idea' of a country does not matter. What matters is what worked there before because, chances are, that's what's making it work now. Khilnani, a cretin by profession, pretends otherwise with absurd results-

For all its magnificent antiquity and historical depth, contemporary India is unequivocally a creation of the modern world.

No it isn't. The 'modern world' didn't create language or ethnicity or religion or any other type of oikeiosis. Contemporary India is only modern in the sense that modernity is contemporary. But this could be said of anything at all.

The fundamental agencies and ideas of modernity – European colonial expansion,

which pre-dates the modern age 

the state,

which existed in India before recorded History 


which was old in the time of Amos 


a word which pre-dates Christ 

economic development

which occurred in the Indus Valley five thousand years ago 

– all have shaped it. The possibility that India could be unitedinto a single political community was

fully realized under the Brits. Then the Burmese went their own way as did the Muslim majority Provinces.  

the wager of India’s modern, educated, urban √©lite,

was lost in 1922 because they had chosen to follow a shithead.  India could not go down the road of Ireland or Egypt. Instead, the Brits decided the pace and scope of the transfer of power while ensuring their geopolitical interests and historic investments were protected.

The Brits needed willing partners for the deal to go through. In the case of Congress, failed mass agitations and long spells of porridge were a necessary precondition. Exhausted volcanoes, like Nehru would keep Britain solvent out of sheer stupidity or laziness. There is nothing like sharing a jail cell with a bunch of old farts to get you to narrow your intellectual horizons and compromise with reality.

whose intellectual horizons were extended by these modern ideas and whose sphere of action was expanded by these modern agencies.

India was as poor as shit. Its 'modern agencies' were inefficient because of politicized management and (in common with the private sector) low productivity and lack of innovation. Fiscal 'headroom' tended to decrease decade after decade. Begging bowl diplomacy turned out to be counterproductive. 

It was a wager on an idea: the idea of India.

No. There was an idea of what had been British India being run by Indians without regard to ancient sectarian divisions. That idea turned out to be shit. There was another idea about a Socialist India which also turned out to be shit. Then there was the notion of a Tiger Economy presided over by technocrats appointed by the Dynasty. That too turned out to be shit. What remains? The reality. There is a Hindu Nation which needs to use Religion and Patriotism to dissolve casteism and do smart things. That's it. That's the whole story. 

This nationalist elite

failed. It wagered on a mass boycott of British institutions and lost in 1922 itself. In the end, there was a much larger 'loyalist' elite which took over the top jobs in the Army and the Bureaucracy and the Academy. Interestingly, these guys would often have one or two 'freedom fighters' in the family. But they had no 'ideas' whatsoever. One or two of their more cretinous progeny, who couldn't get into Med School or IIT, ended up as Khilnani type pedagogues.  

itself had no single, clear definition of this idea,

Nonsense! Congress thought it could take over the Raj as a going concern. What they'd do with it did not concern them greatly. After all, what had the Brits done with it? Something indescribably boring. At least, the Brits got to go back to blighty once they hit retirement age. Having been a Viceroy or a Governor General could get you a tasty gig as Lord High Commissioner to the Church of Scotland or something similarly rad.  

and one of the remarkable facts about the nationalist movement

was that it convinced nationalists, like Jinnah, that Hindus are fucking awful. Muslims need a separate country to get away from those cretins. 

that brought India to independence was its capacity to entertain diverse, often contending visions of India.

which were as boring and stupid as they were absurd. India would be run pretty much the way it had been run though the color of the bureaucrats at the top may have changed.  

‘One way of defining diversity for India,’

is by turning to some wittier nation and ripping off their definition 

the poet and critic A. K. Ramanujan once wrote, ‘is to say what the Irishman is said to have said about trousers. When asked whether trousers were singular or plural, he said, “Singular at the top and plural at the bottom”.’ But Indian nationalism before Independence was plural even at the top, a dhoti with endless folds.

Many Muslims don't wear dhotis. Nor do women. Apparently, Indian Nationalism was based on dehati Hindu misogyny.  

Its diversity was

non-existent. All those fuckers looked and dressed like rustic retards.  

emblematically incarnated in the gallery of characters who constituted the nationalist pantheon, a pantheon whose unageing, cherub-like faces are still on display, painted with garish affection on calendars and posters or moulded into just recognizable statues and figures, in tea-shops and at crossroads across the country.

Very true. Visiting Indologists often mistook representations of Hanuman for some stalwart of the freedom struggle or vice versa. On the other hand, it isn't racist when I do it- coz I iz bleck.  

Khilnani's ignorance of history is stunning. 

In pre-colonial India, power was not embodied in the concept of a state, whether republican or absolutist.

The fact is India had Kingdoms of a more or less absolutist type. So did most other countries- though, I suppose, you could argue that Religion and Mercantile communities had some countervailing power and thus, in practice, 'limited Monarchies' prevailed.

Khilnani, cretin that he is, says 'Politics was thus consigned to the realm of spectacle and ceremony. 

Only by the Brits, and only in peacetime. 'Ornamentalism', however, was merely cosmetic.

No concept of a state, 

Then what the fuck does 'Rashtra' mean? Foreigners found powerful, cohesive, States in India from before the time of Christ.

an impersonal public authority with a continuous identity,

Such as those with gave land grants or created Temple and other Trusts which exist to this very day. If Indian Law recognises that 'impersonal public authority with continuous identity' existed long before Colonialism, why can't Khilnani do so? 

 emerged: kings represented only themselves,never enduring states.  The truth is that kings represented dynasties and those dynasties represented specific territories. Indeed, much to everybody's surprise, democratic politics in South Asia has a significant dynastic component. Some ex-Princes have re-established themselves through the ballot box. The CM of Punjab is the heir to the throne of Patiala. Sooner or later some scion of Scindias will reoccupy the CM's office in Rajasthan. Even the Gandhi dynasty may be revived. 

This is not to say that every part of India was monarchical. There were also some tribal areas with 'republican' features. The magic of the ballot box is that Paretian 'residues and derivations' get conserved. Still, sometimes bullets fly.

 The Brits introduced elections on a restricted franchise and that practice took root. Ceylon got universal suffrage at the beginning of the Thirties. India could have done so at the same time, had the minorities not objected. Interestingly, Indian women got the vote before French women. 

Khilnani thinks India had greater political instability than Europe. The reverse was the case precisely because of economic 'fixity' and 'cultural consistency'.

It was this arrangement of power that explains the most peculiar characteristic of India’s pre-colonial history: the perpetual instability of political rule, the constant rise and fall of dynasties and empires, combined with the society’s unusual fixity and cultural consistency.'

Across the subcontinent, varied economies and cultures were matched by an assortment of political arrangements.

Like Germany or Italy at the same period. 

They were nothing like the static ‘oriental despotism’ conjured up by colonial and Marxist historians:

Yes there was. Eastern Rulers were shit. That's how come the Orient got conquered.  

deliberative and consultative forms of politics did exist, but there was no protracted historical struggle to install institutions of representative government, nor (despite a hardly passive rural or urban poor) did large-scale popular movements act to curb the powers of rulers.

But 'large scale popular movements' did not 'curb the powers of' British rulers or Indian rulers or Pakistani rulers or any other type of ruler. Losing a war or getting killed or running out of money is what curbs a ruler's power. Khilnani should know this. He is old enough to remember the Seventies- a time when 'popular movements' caused rulers to fuck over the populace so thoroughly that it shat its pants. 

Most importantly, before the gradual British acquisition of most of India’s territory no single imperium had ever ruled the whole, immense subcontinental triangle.

But three or four had come pretty darn close. The Brits took over the existing Revenue administration and exercised authority and enforced laws pretty much on the same basis as had obtained before.

India’s social order successfully curbed and blunted the ambitions of political power,

No it didn't. Guys with spears and guns did so but only by securing the reality of political power at every level of society. 

and made it extraordinarily resistant to political moulding.

Fuck off! Every time a Turkish Prince got chased out of his Princedom, he'd head for India hoping to set up an Empire there. This is because Indians didn't give a shit about 'political moulding'. In the end, its rulers got the message and sank into lethargy.  

The basis of this resistance lay in the village, and its distinct form of community: the jati.

OMG! Khilnani doesn't get that a village has to have people of different jatis, to provide different services, though one may predominate. But villages did no fucking resistance whatsoever. Unlike China or Europe, no great conscript armies were levied on most of Indian soil. Lack of military training meant 'resistance' was shit.

These groups, numbering in the thousands, were governed by strict rules of endogamy and by taboos about purity, and arranged a social hierarchy: varna.

So what? There had been plenty of absolutist Monarchies over large portions of Indian territory. Jatis had little countervailing power. At best, they could emigrate. By contrast, 'social brigandage' cut across Jati and Varna lines. But such 'rebellions' could themselves create new Dynastic 'Stationary Bandits'. 

Why is Khilnani pretending that Indians had some magical power to resist Turkish or British or other Imperiums? The plain fact is that it did not. True, Hindu majority areas wanted to be ruled by Hindus speaking a Sanskritized language. But they also wanted rulers who were not utterly shit. This is why they preferred smart Turkish or British rulers to shite Indian rulers. The question was, could Hindu India produce less shite leaders? The answer was, Hindus, who have spent a lot of time in jail smelling each other's farts, could, in old age, indeed be persuaded to sign off on Ministerial files without talking too much bollocks. But, it turned out, penniless RSS pravachaks could do an even better job because their brains had not been buggered to buggery by exposure to Khilnani & Co's crap pedagogy.  Rahul baba, on the other hand, may actually have read Khilnani's crap. That's how come the cretin has a 'vichardhara'. 

Saturday, 21 November 2020

The Aeolian processes of the heart

To the blazing hearth of where her cheek yet blushes
Dismayed of a sudden, the Winter Wind rushes
Which, a moment before, tears to tease
Frolicked with me as Vernal breeze

Limning the unliving in but Lenten ashes, Art 
Mirrors the Aeolian processes of the heart.