Saturday, 6 August 2022

Why Indian Constitutional Scholarship was a God that failed

 Just 7 years ago, many left-liberals were still pinning their hopes on the Indian Supreme Court pushing through a 'rights based' agenda of social reform. This was bizarre. The Indian Constitution allows for no such possibility. Socio-economic policy decisions must be made by the Legislature which alone has the power to raise taxes, and that policy can only be implemented by the Executive which controls the administration. 

Justice (Nyaya) must be wholly separate from Policy (Niti). Amartya Sen's 'Idea of Justice'- such that Nyaya should usurp Niti- represented the folie de grandeur of the Ivy League intellectuals who thought the Indian parliament was so stupid and corrupt and the Executive so decrepit (which, admittedly, it became under UPA 2) that only the Judiciary could actually make any decisions. Politicians of the period, however rustic, knew one Latin phrase 'sub judice' and used it to kick the can down the road into the Courts and thus escape responsibility for doing anything at all. 

It is against that historical background that we must understand the following piece of absurdist wit still to be found on the Columbia University website-

New York, October 1, 2015—Scholars from around the world

A pedant is not a scholar nor is a guy doing a PhD in worthless shite. New York has taxi drivers from around the world. It can get shitheads to show up for any type of seminar provided modest grants are provided 

gathered at Columbia Law School recently to examine the impact of India’s Supreme Court on progressive social change at a two-day conference held by the Center for Constitutional Governance with generous support from the Dr. Ambedkar Chair in Indian Constitutional Law.

This was foolish. It was already obvious that entitlement collapse occurs because of fiscal constraints. PIL activism had led to nothing. In the short run a particular Judge might set the cat amongst the pigeons and cause a flurry of bureaucratic activity but once he retired even such cosmetic changes as may have occurred were reversed. True, short term, some bunch of Leftist Academics could help the terrorists but then there would be a popular backlash and extrajudicial killing would make the strictures of the Bench irrelevant or an exercise in Dadaist wit.  

There is a widespread belief among Indian academics, political activists, and journalists that the Indian Supreme Court is not only an effective agent of politically progressive social change, but, in addition, perhaps the only governmental institution capable of furthering the interests of the relatively disadvantaged.

This is mad! Why not put your faith in the Boy Scouts or Girl Guides instead? If both the Executive and the Legislature are utterly decrepit and dysfunctional, there is simply nothing the Judiciary can do because it has no fiscal or monetary or military or other similar powers. Its one weapon is contempt of court. But Prashant Bhushan made it ineffective. If the Bench can't even discipline a surly advocate, fuck can it do to politicians or policemen? Only the Executive can give teeth to the Bench's bite. If it truly is shit, then Judges can merely bark. 

Justice is a service industry. The relatively disadvantaged can't hire lawyers to get them incentive compatible remedies- i.e. remedies which don't suddenly disappear because it is in nobody's interest to provide them. But they can vote for people who form, as Modi has done, an effective executive which does have an incentive to help the disadvantaged precisely because they themselves spring from that class. The RSS is not an elitist organization. It is one where the Harvard graduate may be junior to a guy who works in his Daddy's factory. That doesn't matter because the RSS is about volunteers getting together to serve the community.  But there is also a martial aspect to the RSS.  Prince Harry had no problems taking orders from the sons of bin-men when he was in the Army. The Left made out that the RSS was an upper caste affair which would be used mercilessly against OBCs, Dalits and S.Ts. This simply has not happened. The RSS is 'Hindutvadi' and rejects casteism and regionalism- at least, in its overt actions. It may be that a secret clique of Chitpavans is trying to restore the rule of the Peshwas but nobody gives a fuck. At this stage anything seems preferable to the death throes of a Dynasty dying nasty. 

The conference was designed to explore this belief by rigorously examining the empirical effects of decisions of the Indian Supreme Court on the everyday lives of marginalized citizens on issues such as electoral corruption, communal riots, sex-selective abortion, caste discrimination, and the right to education.

The judicial decisions had no effect whatsoever. Only executive actions did.  But those actions were only forthcoming when Parliament would have pushed for the thing were it not too busy being a bear-garden.

Gillian Lester, Columbia Law School’s Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, welcomed attendees and the opportunity to engage scholars and students in collaborations that span countries.

Gillian E. Metzger, director of the Center for Constitutional Governance and the Stanley H. Fuld Professor of Law, said the conference—the center’s first to explore comparative constitutional governance—would not have been possible without the support of University Professor Jagdish Bhagwati and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Visiting Professor of Indian Constitutional Law Sudhir Krishnaswamy.

Krishnaswamy  and Khosla, to their credit, had raised red flags about a blind belief in judicial activism. They pointed out that the Bench's ratio in AK Thakur (an affirmative action case) was narrow and based on previous rulings. Ultimately, everything came down to legislatures. Indeed, it has become obvious that the States ignore the Bench's decisions on contentious matters- e.g. reservations or water sharing. It was always obvious that the Indian Bench enjoys no great popular support. America may be a land of lawyers. India despises lawyers. Indeed, the Mahatma wanted to scrap the existing system but Indians don't want any sort of legal system unlike Sinn Fein which actually set up its own courts and then incorporated them with the British system after Ireland became independent. In India, however, nuisance cases proliferate. The Law is a tool of harassment. It is a place where everybody lies their heads off under oath. 

The Indian government established the Ambedkar chair in 2010. The title of the chair honors Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, who graduated from Columbia University in 1915 and later earned his doctoral degree there.

Everybody pretends to worship Ambedkar who, sadly, was a perfectly sensible- if irascible- man. The proper way to show him reverence is to develop a Utilitarian, Coase/Posner type 'Law and Econ' tradition. Instead, we have a Sen-tentious 'capabilities' approach or 'rights based approach to development' which runs out of money almost immediately and thus merely contributes to bureaucratic clutter.  

Since the chair was created, the Law School has expanded its engagement with Indian constitutional law, including hosting three lectures by acclaimed Indian historian and writer Ramachandra Guha

But Guha is an utter cretin!  

and a conference celebrating the 100 years since Ambedkar first came to Columbia University.

Krishnaswamy said empirical analysis of the Indian Supreme Court is a relatively new field with little scholarship.

It is a highly dispiriting field. The fact is, India is a very very poor country which faces massive fiscal constraints. It can pass all manners of laws but they merely become a tool of harassment or an excuse for bureaucratic delay and a cause of economic paralysis. The same thing could be said of an empirical analysis of the working of the Indian Planning Commission. However, whereas that last has been transformed into a relatively harmless Policy Advise Bureau, the administration of the Courts has not been reformed. The Supreme Court has tried to get judicial vacancies filled once or twice but recruitment is about 20 percent less than it should be in the lower courts. The entire system needs to be streamlined and standardized. The problem is that the Courts exist merely to help criminals. Otherwise they are useless. Nobody wants to pay for them. Who cares if there is a pendency of 50 million cases? Most of them would be nuisance cases or otherwise mischievous in some way. Justice is a service industry. If it is shit, it will be disintermediated or left to wither on the vine. It is hilarious that the 'intellectuals' and 'activists' put their faith in the rottenest limb of the Indian state. It shows how cut off from reality the Academy has become. It has given up on politics at precisely the time when Kejriwal showed that ordinary people could form an anti-corruption party and take power. During this last decade, we have also had Prashant Kishore, the king-maker of Indian politics, who has got politicians to focus on 'deliverables' and thus improved democratic functioning. Meanwhile, the Ivy League trained intellectual and activist has been becoming more and more paranoid. They have retreated to a fantasy world featuring Nazis and Fascists. Rahul, the best educated member of his dynasty, mouths the beliefs of this coterie. He says India is not a Nation. Its democracy is dead. His party must be anti-national just as it is anti-democratic. But this is exactly the position of the intellectuals and the activists. India, they feel, has turned its back on them, and so India is evil. It should be broken up. That means Hinduism has to go. Rahul has now converted to the Lingayat sect which his party is trying to have declared non-Hindu. There is a certain logic to this. But that logic is anti-Indian and anti-democratic. 

He emphasized that the conference was the start of a new focus on this area: one that is “terribly important” especially as the “Indian court is a progressive beacon of hope—a pioneer in the developing world.”

Seven years later, these same people consider the Indian court- which is now slightly less shite- a horrible tool of Fascism. But then they see nothing but Fascism anywhere they look. Their own SCOTUS has shown that 'due process' activism is a double edged sword. What SCOTUS gives SCOTUS can take away. Today it is Roe v Wade. Tomorrow it will be Lawrence v Texas. Then it will be the turn of Sullivan v NYT. 

Constitutional scholarship of a useful sort did exist. But it was Federalist. Now, at last, Clarence Thomas- who was taught by Sowell- has found his voice. What he has to say is perfectly sensible. Substantive due process can lead to a hypertrophy of rights. But their remedies are incentive incompatible. They will disappear. Only Parliament can provide the funds for remedies by raising taxes. But even Parliament will have to prune back such provision if tax revenue is insufficient. This is a fiscal question. The alternative- viz. shifting the obligation to the employer or the consumer- faces the same problem. There is exit from the market as the cost of compliance rises. More and more transactions are 'off-shored'. The thing collapses by itself.  

The Center for Constitutional Governance at Columbia Law School is a non-partisan legal and policy organization devoted to

talking nonsense and living in a fool's paradise. Just think about it for a second. Everybody knows the US is very rich. India is very poor. How the fuck can cunts sitting in Columbia prescribe for India? Why not demand that every Indian should be provided with a pick-up truck and given a baseball scholarship?  

the study of constitutional structure and authority. The center provides a forum for the discussion of constitutional issues and governance challenges across all sectors—academia, government, nonprofit, and private practice.

Seven years later, can anybody say that the 'discussion' at this Seminar engaged with any genuine 'issues' or 'challenges'? No. It was useless. The Indian Bench realizes that it has to reform itself and concentrate on Nyaya, not Niti, otherwise it will be increasingly defunded or just ignored. Contempt for the Court has reached an acme. Prashant Bhushan was fined just one Rupee for saying Judges were all corrupt, incompetent, and tools of the ruling party. There is no point appeasing the PIL nutters. Increasingly, the Bench will fine or refuse to hear the 'activists'. 

There may still be some Indian 'Constitutional Scholars'. But they will be teaching basic courses to cretins at provincial Universities. At one time there was a fad for 'Subaltern Studies'. The same oblivion will, or has already, overtaken these fools. 

Friday, 5 August 2022

Gautam Bhatia & Constitutional paranoia

Gautam Bhatia explains why his 'constitutional scholarship' is wholly worthless in a recent post on his blog.  

Recently, I was presenting some of my current research work in a seminar. That research deals with the Indian Constitution as a terrain of contestation between different visions of power.

So, this is not scholarship, it is paranoid fantasy. The Indian Constitution specifies that it is the Legislature, not the Bench, which must be the battlefield between different visions of power and the different policy alternatives those visions involve. Political Scientists study Legislative decisions and processes so as to chronicle and analyze how different visions of power and different policy proposals fare in this contest. In particular, they look at how and why the Constitution is amended and also what effect treaty law has upon the harmonious construction of Constitutional Law.

Constitutional Scholars who restrict themselves to Judicial, not Legislative, decisions may have greater scope for research in countries, like the US, where there is 'dual sovereignty' (i.e. States' Rights) and where there is life-time tenure as well as Executive and Legislative voice in the selection of Judges.

 However, in India, as in the UK (at least prior to the creation of the Supreme Court), constitutional scholarship must have a much narrower scope save when the Executive is feeble and Parliament is lethargic. Only at such times, might 'Judicial activism' fill a power vacuum. Under such circumstances, one may speak of this ideological clique of Judges combating the Master of the Rolls and his clique. Under those circumstances, what we have is political failure on the part of the Executive and the Legislature. This is not 'contestation' of a type envisaged or encouraged by the Constitution. It represents a political pathology- one which India under Modi is wholly free from. This does mean that raving lunatics like Bhatia are now a laughing stock. 

 This is not to say that there can be no worthwhile Constitutional Scholarship in India. But, to be useful, it must predict likely results not find them deeply shocking. Gautam, who reacts hysterically any time the Bench does anything sensible, is not a constitutional scholar. He is a paranoid fantasist who imagines he is fighting Fascism by clutching his pearls and penning ignorant shite about how Judges can be sued for defamation.  

This Walter Mitty character now mentions a 'Russian political theorist' who has come humbly to Bhagwan Bhatia to seek wisdom. 

During the Q&A, a Russian political theorist in the audience raised his hand. He said that for him, the very idea of a Constitution as a terrain of contestation was a novel one.

This is strange. Russia had a big Constitutional crisis in 1993. Hundreds were killed or badly wounded. Surely this 'political theorist' must have studied it.  The big question was whether the President had the constitutional authority to dissolve Parliament. Bhatia's readers must be very ignorant or very young not to know that a Russian political theorist would know more about 'contestation'- very violent contestation- of Constitutional terrain. Has Bhatia invented the Russian? Or was the Russian not really a political theorist at all? Perhaps he was a nutcase like Bhatia- who thinks Judges can be sued for defamation. 

The thought that a Constitution could shape and constrain political power, rather than simply becoming whatever the dominant political power desired it to be at any given time, was something inconceivable.

This is foolish. The Constitution may not, as in the Russian case, specify who the 'dominant political power' really is. In 1993, the Army sided with Yeltsin. That's what decided the issue. I suppose a silly Russian political theorist might come to the conclusion that Constitutions don't matter. Only the army does. Yet, if Constitutions don't matter, there would never have been a 1993 crisis in the first place. A smart Russian political theorist would know this.  

The comment has stayed with me.

Because Bhatia is as stupid as shit.  

I was thinking about it last month, for example, when a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court suspended the Xth Schedule of the Constitution through an interim order,

A vacation bench granting interim relief is not suspending any particle of the Constitution. The fact is, under Article 145 (3) a minimum 5 member 'constitutional bench' is required to resolve any substantive matter- which is what will happen in this case. Bhatia may think otherwise. But then he also thinks a Judge can be sued for defamation for remarks he made from the Bench! 

and ordered a floor test through another interim order –

they refused to stay a floor test that the Governor had called for. But this is subject to review by a bigger bench. 

while the Xth Schedule stood suspended,

Nope. Interim relief was granted. The Bench has no power to suspend a Schedule though it can suspend taking any further cases under a particular law.  

thus changing the composition of the House –

how? There was a split in a political party. A bigger Bench will decide if the majority clique gets the party symbol. For the moment, the composition of the House has not changed. It is just that legislators from a particular party have had a falling out. 

all within the space of two days; soon after, the government fell. Now, you can try and somehow analyse that under existing doctrines of constitutional law.

This is easily done. There was a split in a particular party. The Governor wanted a floor test. A Vacation Bench permitted this but the matter will be finally decided by a larger Bench. The relevant doctrines of constitutional law have to do with the Governor's responsibility to ensure that the CM enjoys the confidence of the house in the wake of a split in his party in which the majority are against him. Bhatia may clutch his pearls and scream blue murder but there is no argument in constitutional law which he can advance. The fact is, the Constitution isn't about protecting a sitting CM's job even if he has lost the confidence of the House. It is about preventing this type of breakdown of democratic due process. 

If you try hard enough, and engage in enough linguistic and conceptual pyrotechnics, maybe you’ll even succeed. Or you could trust the evidence of your eyes and ears, and acknowledge that what is happening here is not the application of constitutional law, but the Constitution – and constitutionalism – shaping itself to meet the demands of political power.

In the opinion of a cretin who thinks Judges can be sued for defamation for what they say in court.  

Examples of this could be multiplied. I have discussed some glaring illustrations in the seventh anniversary post for this blog. From the non-hearing of crucial cases such as the electoral bonds case,

which isn't crucial at all. The fact is criminals could extort money by claiming to be collecting money for a political party. India had already undergone the pain of demonetization. It is a legitimate political goal to get black money and extortion out of politics. The Bench has promised to review this and it may make some useful changes. But the plain fact is Modi is in power because there is no other credible candidate. Electoral bonds don't matter.  

to countless substantive decisions (the most recent being, of course, the PMLA judgment, and other “Executive’s Court” judgments discussed in this blog post) where existing principles of constitutional interpretation are either discarded or simply ignored in order to reach the outcome,

This simply isn't true. A bigger bench will look at profound constitutional questions- e.g. what is or isn't a money bill- but that will take time.  

it seems to me that our present context is not too dissimilar from what my Russian colleague described:

But Bhatia is a guy who is so ignorant of the law that he claims that Judges can be sued for defamation for what they say in open court! 

a situation where constitutional law is no longer constraining political power, but instead, is subservient to it, and in many cases, serves to entrench and legitimise it. This is the antithesis of both the idea of constitutionalism, and the idea of the rule of law.

Gautam thinks that the Bench should strike down every law passed by the Legislature and prevent Governors and other officials doing their constitutional duty. This is the voice of paranoia.  

Such a situation raises the obvious question of what purpose – if any – is served by constitutional scholarship and writing, which must continue to assume a reality that no longer exists in practice.

The answer is that paranoid ranting is not scholarship. Bhatia may have thought that studying Law was a way to prevent elected politicians from being able to do anything to help the country. He was wrong. The Indian Constitution does not exist so that Bhatias can fuck up Bharat. It is there to make things go more smoothly.  

In this piece, for example, Andras Jakab discusses various ways in which one may teach constitutional law in such a context – and how one might maintain one’s intellectual integrity in the process – but doesn’t go further in asking why one ought to do so, or what the point of it is.

Jakab says ' One of the key functions of constitutional law is the softening of political conflicts (i.e., integration, peaceful conflict resolution etc.). In order to fulfil this function, constitutional lawyers (constitutional scholars) should behave in a manner that is compatible with being (and looking like being) above everyday party political conflicts. A constitutional law scholar who openly acts like a party politician (either on the side of the government, or on the side of the opposition) is a self-contradiction. It is, of course, possible to change careers, but you cannot exercise these two roles at the same time. No matter how much you love football, you cannot be the referee and the striker at the same time.'

Bhatia can't take Jakab's advise because he simply does not know the law. Also he is utterly paranoid. Everything is a big conspiracy and the Fascists have already taken over everything. 

Jakab is telling his students 'look, if you sound like a sane and erudite lawyer, people will listen to you. If you scream and shit yourself and say 'Judge should be sued for defamation!' people will think you are a lunatic. Don't shit yourself. Try to earn some money as a lawyer by actually studying the law and saying sensible things.' 

One answer, I believe, is found in comparative constitutional history.

In which case, India should be looking at what happens in Pakistan and Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Their constitutional history is more closely comparable to ours. Bhatia, of course, will choose the most outlandish countries to compare India with. 

For example, South African lawyers

That country had Apartheid till 30 years ago! India never had a color bar. No Whites settled there. Why is this cretin comparing India with South Africa?  

have highlighted the importance of a continued and regular engagement with constitutionalism and the rule of law during the years of apartheid, when – for decades – legal doctrine and court rulings valued neither.

This is foolish. South African Courts enforced Apartheid but did apply legal doctrine to settle cases between Whites or Asians etc. The truth is, an Indian origin merchant in Durban got better service from local courts than he would in India on a matter to do with ancestral property or breach of contract. I recall helping a family get their aged mother out of India after their rascally in-laws tried to get her thrown in jail under the anti-dowry law. 

The importance of engagement lay in the fact that when South Africa transitioned into a constitutional democracy in the mid-1990s, it did not have to discover from scratch the concepts of constitutionalism and the rule of law.

It also had a good economy and excellent schools and Colleges.  

These concepts had been kept alive in adverse circumstances, and this meant that that the the tradition could simply continue, instead of having to be reinvented.

One may say the same of Zimbabwe. The question is whether South Africa is going to go down Mugabe's road. Some would say it already has. Constitutional Scholars aren't going to alter the outcome.  

The purpose of constitutional scholarship and writing, thus, is future-looking: it seeks its justification in keeping alive an intellectual tradition and a way of thinking that might be held in contempt in the present, but has been indispensable in the past, and will become indispensable again in the future.

But Bhatia's battiness has always been held in contempt. It was mischievous in the past and losing any attraction it might once have had for the loony left. The plain fact is, these nutters could be jailed in the same manner that they sought to get others jailed. What is sauce for goose... 

If we do take this as the justification for continued constitutional scholarship and writing at this time, however, intellectual honesty demands admitting to ourselves a few uncomfortable truths.

Bhatia is incapable of acknowledging the truth- viz. he is as stupid as shit and has wasted his time.  

The first is that as far as the present is concerned, constitutional scholarship has no tangible contribution to make (to put it bluntly, it is useless).

No. There are good lawyers who can advise us not to transact particular types of business within Indian jurisdiction precisely because some constitutional matters are unresolved. That sort of scholarship gets incorporated into advise given to Corporations. It is useful.  

You can, for example, study the drafting history of the Xth Schedule, read all the prior cases on the point, and construct detailed arguments about interpretation, but when the exigencies demand it, the Xth Schedule will get suspended by a one-line interim order of the Supreme Court, and it simply will not matter what the canons of interpretation are.

But that is subject to review by a larger bench. Clearly the canons do matter. What constitutional scholarship can usefully do is explain what the current position is in simple terms. Is it the case that 'retail' defection is barred but 'wholesale' is permitted? Legal scholarship needs to be useful not paranoid because the Law is a Service industry. It aint some fucking terrain of contestation between brave little Bhatia and Modi's Mongol Hordes.  

As pointed out above, constitutional scholarship operates in a world in which the Constitution determines the scope and limits of political power.

No such world exists. Suppose India changes its Constitution such that the Governor of Assam gains power over the Sun and Moon. Would she really be able to cause an eclipse? No. The scope and limits of any type of power are material and strategic. Bhatia has been living in a fantasy world where the Bench has a magic wand. But Bhatia has a tiny little wand of his own and he keeps tugging at it furiously in the hope that this will cause the Bench to do whatever he wants.  

There is another world in which political power determines the scope and limits of the Constitution.

In the real world, political power creates and amends and ignores or enforces Constitutions. Bhatia is tugging at his little wand in a desperate attempt to escape to some other world.  

When the latter becomes the “real world” – the world in which we live in – then, for obvious reasons, constitutional scholarship becomes as illusory as the world within which it exists.

Is Bhatia saying that he might snap out of his delusion system? Will he accept reality? No. Don't be silly.  

We then say that the justification for constitutional scholarship lies in the long term, and what sustains it is a vision of the future, much like the South African lawyers were sustained by a vision of the future.

Though most people think South Africa is headed down the Zimbabwean shithole. Previously it was thought that if various tribes were sufficiently hostile to each other then 'Constitutionalism' would prevail. But the only tribe which matters is the wabenzi tribe- those who drive Mercedes Benz.

However, that requires a second admission, which is that there is no way of knowing just how “long” the long-term might be. Prominent Kenyan lawyers and constitutionalists who fought for constitutionalism and the rule of law in the 1980s were lucky enough to see something of it come to pass within twenty-five years,

Kenyatta and Odinga have buried the hatchet. Things are looking up for Kenya. But this isn't because of constitutionalism. It is because of a rapprochement between ethnicities and regions.  

but not everyone might be so lucky (once again, I’m thinking of my Russian colleague). In that sense, then, continuing to engage in constitutional scholarship and writing requires admitting to oneself that not only is the work useless in the present, but might continue to be useless for a good while in the future, and indeed, one might never actually see it come to any use.

Why not simply do some proper, sensible, legal work instead? Why pretend tugging at your little wand will make the Bench take out its much bigger magic wand?  

In doing this, therefore, one is betting upon a future that might never come to pass. This becomes even more difficult to justify when one thinks of the fact that there are other, more immediate, and more tangible uses to which the law can be put: for example, bail applications. In that context, continuing to focus on constitutional writing and analysis seems to become an almost unforgivable luxury. To keep doing it, one has to convince oneself to take a leap of faith.

There is a market for readable, reliable, objective reporting of open questions in constitutional law. Bhatia is too stupid, ignorant and utterly paranoid to supply that market. He has no alternative but to double down on this hysterical nonsense. Sooner or later some International NGO will give him a sinecure.  

As this blog enters its tenth year, these are the guiding principles under which it will continue to exist. The focus will remain on examining the interface between political power, the rule of law, and constitutionalism in present-day India, without deceit, and without illusions. And to the question of why, the only answer is: we are all on a leap of faith.

Bhatia, tugging his little wand, is indeed taking a leap but it is up his own arse. The truth is that the Bench will finally start reforming Court administration and streamlining things. It will have to be much more activist but only in curbing nuisance suits and demanding better standards of legal draftsmanship. There must be 'expert systems' and AIs which can help the Bench regain prestige. But, precisely because it would be doing its proper job better, the Bench is likely to develop a more capacious doctrine of political question. What I would like to see is Law & Econ mavens organizing a Utilitarian equivalent to the Federalist Society in our Law Schools. We have had enough of shrill Setalvads and batty Bhatias.  

Amartya Sen, Bangabibhushan & the bow wows of Ballygunge

In his Grundlegung zur Metapbysik de Sitten , Immanuel Kant argues for the necessity of seeing human beings as ends in themselves, rather than as means to other ends:

Kant believed that there were 'laws of freedom' just as there are 'laws of physics'.  He thought both were 'synthetic a priori'. But we know there are no such physical laws. Thus Kant's analogy fails. He was simply wrong. He didn't actually give any argument for seeing human beings as ends in themselves. He just said there was a moral law to that effect. 

"So act as to treat humanity, whether in thine own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end withal, never as means only".'

But if you act in accordance with this injunction your action is a means to its fulfilment. It is unrelated to yourself or humanity's own 'ends'. Put it another way, it is one thing to do what is in your own interest while not transgressing the law and another thing to obey the law disregarding your own interest. In the former case, you are an end in yourself. In the latter case you are using yourself merely as a means to fulfil the law. 

Laws of nature, to our present conception, don't depend on volitional obedience. They are descriptive or predictive simply. There may be 'economic laws' or even rules of 'natural justice' but, as Hume had already pointed out, this depends purely on utility or convenience such that some person or set of persons were 'ends in themselves' and those who were a means to their gaining a benefit were themselves recompensed in a manner satisfactory to what they were as 'ends in themselves'. Thus the meal we order is to satisfy ourselves alone. The waiter who serves us gets a good tip which he uses to advance his own ends. Utility or what Pareto called ophelimity is always about 'ends in themselves'. Obeying laws just because they are laws means making oneself a means to an end- that of some impersonal duty or deontology- rather than an end in oneself.  

This principle has importance in many contexts - even in analysing poverty, progress and planning.

No. This principle is wholly useless. Sen's own work hasn't helped us analyze poverty or progress or planning. But that was not because he was a Kantian. It was because he was stupid and ignorant and didn't really give a shit about the miserable people in the starving shithole from whence he came. By contrast, an ICS officer- Binoy Ranjan Sen- as head of FAO, materially contributed to the reduction of global hunger and to vast improvements in food security 

Human beings are the agents, beneficiaries and adjudicators of progress, but they also happen to be - directly or indirectly - the primary means of all production.

Sen did not know that an 'agent' is employed as a 'means' of getting something done. Adjudicators too may be employed though they may not be worth the wage. Beneficiaries of production provide the means by which producers are rewarded and are thus enabled to pursue their own ends using legitimately acquired means.  

This dual role of human beings provides a rich ground for confusion of ends and means in planning and policy making.

Only if you are as stupid as Sen. Everybody understands that producing stuff involves disutility. But if we are compensated for this adequately, then we spend our leisure hours consuming things which give us utility. We are a means to serve the ends of others at work. At home we use the means we have acquired to pursue our own ends. Consumption is different from Production. There is no fucking confusion here at all save in Sen's sententious and utterly vacuous mind.  

Indeed, it can - and frequently does ­ take the form of focusing on production and prosperity as the essence of progress,

because progress means moving in a desirable direction. Regress means moving to a worse position. Sen made progress by abandoning his own bride and running away with the wife of his best friend. This is because he desired that Italian lady more than his Indian spouse. He also moved from India to England, and then the US. This was perfectly understandable. Sen's income went up. His utility went up. He had made progress. But anybody who listened to his worthless shite regressed. That's cool. There's no law against teaching worthless shite.  

treating people as the means through which that productive progress is brought about

But that's not what happens. Producers are treated as the means through which productive progress is brought about. They experience disutility or have high 'transfer earnings' which is why we have to pay them more as they become more productive. They use the means we provide them to pursue their own ends or utility.  

(rather than seeing the lives of people as the ultimate concern and treating production and prosperity merely as means to those lives).

Is 'seeing the lives of people as the ultimate concern' itself the means to anything or is it an end in itself? In the former case, we would have to see whether it is a productive or unproductive means. In the latter case, it is no different from 'seeing the lives of people as the ultimate proof of God' or 'the Devil' or a confirmation that everything is absurd.  

Indeed, the widely prevalent concentration on the expansion of real income and on economic growth as the characteristics of successful development can be precisely an aspect of the mistake against which Kant had warned.

Kant made a stupid mistake. He thought that if 'laws of nature' are synthetic a priori (which they aint) then there must be moral laws of a similarly a priori and indefeasible type. Thus, since we know Kant was a kretin, his warnings are as worthless as those of Nostradamus. 

The plain fact is that 'real income' in Econ is defined in such a way that only its expansion can be characterized as successful development. Failure to measure real income properly is what can lead to 'unsustainable development' or 'immeserizing growth'. Partha Dasgupta has explored the former. Bhagwati expiated on the latter. Sen merely talked vacuous bollocks.  

This problem is particularly pivotal in the assessment and planning of economic development.

Rubbish! Planning is about financial budgeting and O.R. It is based on mimetics- imitating what has worked- not on meretricious mathematical turnpike theorems or virtue signaling bollocks.   

The problem does not, of course , lie in the fact that the pursuit of economic prosperity is typically taken to be a major goal of planning and policy-making.

Planning is about budgeting as is policy-making. Both should concentrate on taxing and spending in a manner such that there is a virtuous circle whereby tax revenue rises as Incomes rise thus permitting further Government spending of a useful kind.  

This need not be, in itself, unreasonable. The problem relates to the level at which this aim should be taken as a goal.

It is at the level of Fiscal policy that a goal should be set. Tax Revenue is a function of GNP. Your plan, or budget, should ensure that you don't waste money or get into a debt trap. That's it. The thing is bleeding obvious. No fucking philosophy is involved.  

Is it just an intermediate goal, the importance of which is contingent on what it ultimately contributes to human lives?

But Fiscal policy is itself intermediate. Thus its goal must be intermediate. It can't be final. No doubt, some may say the State must dedicate itself to making citizens more God fearing or more Communist in their ideology or more addicted to talking Sen-tentious bollocks. But that is a separate matter from Fiscal policy and setting a budget and having a plan for the economy. 

Or is it the object of the entire exercise? It is in the acceptance - usually implicitly - of the latter view that the ends-means confusion becomes significant - indeed blatant.

There is no confusion at all. Everybody understands that Fiscal policy instruments are means not ends. Indeed, instrument is another word for 'means'. The instrument does something which is correlated with a better outcome. It is not the case that the fork and knife I use are themselves nutritious or digestible. They just make it easier for me to put tasty food into my mouth. It is food which is nutritious and digestible. Only Sen could get an instrument- like a fork- confused with the the thing it acts upon- spaghetti in this case.  

The problem might have been of no great practical interest if the achievement of economic prosperity were tightly linked - in something like a one-to-one correspondence - with that of enriching the lives of the people.

But this is exactly what would happen if real income were being correctly measured. Sen confuses criticisms of National Income statistics- which may not give the full picture re. externalities, depletable resources, etc.- and the notion that real income is not linked directly, by one-to-one correspondence, with the enrichment or ophelimity of living people.  

If that were the case, then the pursuit of economic prosperity as an end in itself, while wrong in principle, might have been in effect, indistinguishable from pursuing it only as a means to the end of enriching human lives.

This is meaningless sophistry. Why not simply say 'taking a shit as a means to rid yourself of shit is wrong in principle. Still, in practice, the effect of doing this wrong thing is that the end of being less full of shit is served.' ? But why stop there? Why not say 'being less full of shit is wrong because it is merely a means to the end of emptying your bowels'? As for emptying your bowels, that is merely a means to the end of experiencing some abdominal relief.' But experiencing abdominal relief is merely.... 

But that tight relation does not obtain.

It could do if we had a good enough measure of real income. The problem is that this is defined in terms of what can be spent without diminishing wealth which is what determines income in the first place. As Partha Dasgupta has warned, it is more than likely that many will experience a collapse in real income and wealth over the course of their lifetimes. Indeed that is what happened to much of Europe over the course of two world wars and Revolutions and counter-revolutions.  

Countries with high GNP per capita can nevertheless have astonishingly low achievements in the quality of life, with the bulk of the population being subject to premature mortality, escapable morbidity, overwhelming illiteracy and so on. 

If so, then simply deflate per capita Income in a suitable manner to reflect lower ophelimity. Pareto talked about stuff like this 120 years ago. The thing isn't rocket science. 

Sen says- 

First, economic prosperity is no more than one of the means to enriching the lives of people.

This is false unless the availability of 'free goods' changes- i.e. some things become scarce, i.e. gain an alternative use.  Otherwise Economics defines real income to include anything which contributes to utility or serves as a store of value for households. Sen is too stupid to understand that this is a question for those who specialize in collecting National Income statistics. It has nothing to do with moral philosophy or Kant or Aristotle. 

It is a foundational confusion to give it the status of an end.

The only confusion lies in Sen's shitty brain. Utility is an end in itself. That is its definition for Econ. True one can use the term ophelimity or felicity if you don't like Utility but that is mere semantic quibbling. Utility is simply a Tarskian primitive which is undefined. But then so is 'end'. 

True, if you believe in the after-life things get more complicated. Poverty and privation is this world may mean eternal bliss in the world to come. But Sen is an atheist. 

Secondly, even as a means, merely enhancing average economic opulence can be quite inefficient in the pursuit of the really valuable ends.

Only if you are measuring 'average economic opulence' incorrectly. You may need to exclude outliers and adjust for negative externalities and depletable resources etc.  

In making sure that development planning and general policy-making do not suffer from costly confusions of ends and means, we have to

tell Sen to fuck off. Employ sensible people with ideographic knowledge.  

face the issue of identification of ends, in terms of which the effectiveness of the means can be systematically assessed.

No we don't. If we treat others as ends in themselves we must not start identifying their ends. Otherwise they may retaliate in kind. Thus I have identified Sen's ends as involving scouring the streets for dog poo which he eagerly devours. He may deny eating dog turds. He may provide ample documentary evidence that he dines only on exquisite gastronomic delicacies provided by the finest restaurants in the world. I reject his arguments by saying he merely feeds on delicate fare as a means to build up stamina to pursue his true ends- which involve scouring the streets for dog poo. 

Sen says his 'capabilities approach' is indebted to Marx. The problem here is that Marx had a theory of economic determinism whereby the very fact that Sen comes from a Turd World Shithole implies that he has shit for brains. Bengal is simply too backward for Bengalis to understand what Marx was getting at. That was why the slavish Bengali buddhijivi, having had to bid goodbye to his nice British Nanny, immediately put himself under the tutelage of the Commissars of the Kremlin, or, a little later, Mao's murderous mandarins. Sen, to his credit, escaped from India to England along with his best friend's wife who happened to be related in different ways to both Sraffa and Gramsci. Partha Dasgupta went one up on Sen by marrying James Meade's daughter. But Sen did not despair. He next married a Rothschild. The ghar-jamai tradition well suited the buddhijivi anxious to escape to the West. 

On the other hand, such egress took its toll on the little grey cells. Consider the following- 

an important part of Marx's programme of reformulation of the foundations of political economy is clearly related to seeing the success of human life in terms of fulfilling the needed human activities.

Sheer nonsense! Marx's big contribution was his prediction that Capitalism would dig its own grave by extracting surplus value more and more ruthlessly till a Revolution occurred.  

Marx put it thus: "It will be seen how in place of the wealth and poverty of political economy come the rich human being and rich human need. The rich human being is simultaneously the human being in need of a totality of human life-activities - the man in whom his own realization exists as an inner necessity, as need.:

This is from an 1844 manuscript. Marx says Science is one and the same as Industry. Industry reveals man's true nature which is as a Socialist with no need for God or some Hegelian or Feuerbachian Geist. Industry will go on progressing. A new kind of man will inevitably emerge. 'Need' will mean what Industry wants a particular guy should do to advance industry. The new kind of man created by industry will automatically feel a fierce hunger, a burning thirst, to turn up at the office and complete the Quarterly returns before feeling an urgent need to relieve himself by doing the filing and photocopying before clocking off for the day. He won't feel the need to blow off steam coz his life sucks ass big time because man would be the creation of industry and would live to serve it so it could recreate him. Thus true recreation aint getting drunk at the pub, it involves returning to the office and re-doing the fucking Quarterly returns because Head Office has changed the format- again!

Had Marx done a day's proper proletarian or even petit bourgeois work in his life, he would not have held such absurd beliefs about the need of Socialist man to be the slave of a boring and shitty industry. True, there was a 'Mussar' element to Marx- my spiritual needs are the material needs of the other- and he did gas on about how poverty gives rise to the emotion which seeks the greatest wealth- through industry- for the benefit of the other except don't for fuck's sake give money to the poor. Give it to me so I can tell you nice fairy stories about the world to come when there will be a whole lot of industry and nobody will find their office or factory routine dull and boring because...urm... Feuerbach just aint as smart as me. Nobody is. Take my word for it. Also, after youse guys do a Revolution don't forget to call me in to run things. I just am hella smart, you know. 

If life is seen as a set of "doings and beings" that are valuable,

nothing whatsoever is gained. Why not see life as a net of goings and comings or a bet on booings and cooings or a get for your wife who wants to divorce you and marry the butcher?  

the exercise of assessing the quality of life takes the form of evaluating these functionings and the capability to function.

Very true. Sen is capable of eating dog turds. He has a shitty quality of life because he is too stupid to understand this. Sadly, Sen won't pay me any money for assessing the quality of his life. On the other hand some starving Bengali mathematical economists might get some billionaire to give them a bit of money so they can assess whether starving people in an African shithole are better off than starving people in an Asian shithole.  

This valuational exercise cannot be done by focusing simply on communities or incomes that help those doings and beings, as in commodity-based accounting of the quality of life (involving a confusion of means and ends). "The life of money-making" , as Aristotle put it, "is one undertaken under compulsion, and wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else."

But Aristotle charged money for teaching rich kids. He was competing with athletic coaches and sophist-lawyers and comely prostitutes. He had to pretend that what he was selling was yet more valuable. Few believed him. On the other hand, his pupil, Alexander became a God.  

The task is that of evaluating the importance of the various functionings in human life, going beyond what Marx called, in a different but related context, "commodity fetishism".

But if we rule out information from markets, where are we to get the metric for evaluating functionings?  There may be experts who can improve functionings in some respects and their input could be helpful. But, otherwise, we have no way to proceed. There is objective criteria whereby Sen could refute my claim that he is deeply deprived and is malfunctioning in a horrendous manner because he is not able to eat as much dog poo as he likes. 

A thoroughly deprived person, leading a very reduced life, might not appear to be badly off in terms of the mental metric of utility, if the hardship is accepted with no-grumbling resignation.

Such is Sen's case. He appears perfectly happy to have got the Nobel rather than the dog poo he craves.  

In situations of long-standing deprivation,

Sen hasn't eaten his fill of dog poo for almost ninety years! 

the victims do not go on weeping all the time, and very often make great efforts to take pleasure in small mercies and to cut down personal desires to modest ­ "realistic" - proportions. The person's deprivation, then, may not at all show up in the metrics of pleasure, desire-fulfilment etc.,

which don't objectively exist any more than metrics of capabilities or functionings exist 

even though he or she maybe quite unable to be adequately nourished, decently clothed, minimally educated and so on.12 This issue, apart from its foundational relevance, may have some immediate bearing on practical public policy. Smugness about continued deprivation and vulnerability is often made to look justified on grounds of lack of strong public demand and forcefully expressed desire for 'removing these impediments,

Vajpayee, who well knew that Sen craved dog poo, gave him a Bharat Ratna instead. Modi must take back that Bharat Ratna and force feed dog poo to Sen otherwise a manifest injustice, under Article 32, will remain uncorrected due to legacy of colonial era laws which are inhibiting buddhijivis from chowing down on puppy doo doo. Since Modi is too Hindutvadi to do the needful,  Supreme Court must take suo moto cognizance of this glaring atrocity! Mamta Didi may kindly preside over a suitable ceremony. She was wrong to offer the fellow Bangabibhushan when what he has really wanted all these years is turds from such bow wows as foul the pavements of Ballygunge. 


Thursday, 4 August 2022

Shruti Kapila & Ranveer's occulted dick

Shruti Kapila writes in Print-  

I have been in a decade-long debate with a German friend and historian at Cambridge University, and it remains visceral and all too timely.

It is foolish. Germany had a bellicose General Staff because it had only been able to go on to the Gold Standard after getting French reparations in 1870. It believed it needed to conquer territory to its East to feed itself- a view held by Keynes. India has never believed it could get rich or more secure by conquering anybody. On the other hand, Hindus did decide to unite so as to prevent Christians, Muslims and Communists using 'salami tactics' against them. That is why no Hindu majority area of India is secessionist whereas every non-Hindu majority area - except some small islands- has a secessionist movement.

It concerns the grim theme of violence and its experience in our respective societies and histories.

Punjab may have had a 'grim theme of violence' because of the substantial numbers of Muslims and Christians . Hindu majority areas may have a bit of a Naxal problem but they have seen very little violence. Most Germans would have a relative who died in one of the other World War. Very few Indians can say the same thing. Punjab is a bit of an outlier in this respect but Punjab represent about 2 or 3 percent of the population. 

Germany seems to haunt certain Indian political fantasies. Only the other day, Haryana Chief Minister M.L. Khattar prophesised that like Germany, today, India too could be reunited with Pakistan and Bangladesh!

What Khattar said was

' Partition should not have happened. Some people in Congress maybe wanted to grab power quickly. If they had let go of some power, then it could have been possible that 5, 10 or 20 years later, Partition would not have happened. We want that we have good relations with our neighbours".

"East Germany and West Germany can unite, then can’t India, Pakistan and Bangladesh unite?… it happened not that long ago… around 1990-91 I think. People came and tore down the [Berlin] Wall… so there are different ideologies, he added.

Khattar was speaking of the peaceful reunification of a country divided by the Great Powers. Since he was addressing his Party's minority wing, his meaning was 'Congress created sectarian differences. They were greedy for power. They haven't changed. Don't vote for them.' 

Unification or not, my German historian-friend remains staggered that a million Indians killed each other in a single year during Partition with basic and household weaponry and without State apparatus.

Why? The Rwanda genocide happened in 1994. A tenth of the population was killed with agricultural implements. Partition deaths could not have been more than 0.3 percent.  

Our debate is not simply about which violence is more ‘inhuman’ — the one carried out with kitchen knives by erstwhile neighbours or the other that was done in industrialised gas chambers, matched by brutal bureaucratic machinery of mass death. Though we also often argue about that.

Both are fools. Rwanda showed that genocide is cheap. But Hitler's people knew this already from the Armenian genocide. Incidentally, one of Hitler's mentors had been a witness to it. Indeed, he had raised his voice against it.  

As contemporaries, I am as far removed from the civil war that accompanied our Independence

there was no Civil War. Punjabis may have slaughtered each other but few Indians are Punjabis. Hindus don't go in for that sort of thing on any large scale.  

as my German friend is from the Holocaust, which remains the exceptional horror of human history.

Unless you are Ugandan. Still, Hindus have historic memories of genocide which is why they chose to stick together.  

Our debate has no real winners given the topic is how two different societies manufactured and operationalised deadly hatred.

This is foolish. Hitler & Co thought they'd get richer through genocide. Punjabis may have been motivated by religion and 'land hunger'. But politicians and Princes could have worked out an orderly population exchange of a type familiar to Europe since the treaty of Lausanne. 

What remains moot is the role of the State in managing antagonism and protecting the vulnerable against violence.

Fuck moot. The plain fact is that Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah etc. were shit. Anyway, it wasn't their own people who were killing or getting killed. The vast majority of Hindus were entirely unaffected by Partition. In Tamil Nadu, it was the refugee from Burma who received sympathy. Nobody gave a fuck if Punjabis chopped each other up. What was important was that independent India, neither the verbose Bengali or the bellicose Punjabis would have much role. There was a peaceful handover of power from the Brits to the INC.  

I will come to that in a minute, as this is indeed critical to the state of peace in India today.

Shruti is from the Punjab which isn't critical to the peace of India at all. Consider the Khalistan unrest. Perhaps as many as 50,000 were slain. Nobody outside the Punjab greatly cared.  

My friend and I only agree that our societies dealt with the aftermath of mass violence entirely differently with lasting consequences.

Germany did well. Punjab may improve under AAP. I'm kidding. Still, you have to admit that Punjabis have better food, better music, and a much better sense of humor.  

He grew up being schooled in collective guilt and responsibility for the crimes of his forefathers

his country was occupied. 

with the aim to learn that hatred towards the other is not only inhuman but, above all, cannot and should not be repeated.

because it leads to poverty and humiliation. Concentrate on making good cars and selling them for a good price.  

By contrast, in my Indian education, Partition violence came first into view for my generation via State television and the Doordarshan series Tamas.

 The Ramayana and the Mahabharata had people glued to their screens. Tamas bombed. The plot premise was crazy. When you need a pig carcass to fling in a mosque so as to trigger a riot, you don't buy a pig and then pay some other guy to butcher it unless you happen to live in Birmingham or Boston. 

People at JNU may have pretended to have watched Tanas. But the anti-Sikh violence in Delhi had shown that the thing was a naive Leftist fantasy. After the anti-Sikh pogroms, nobody was talking about 'communal harmony'. Rajiv had sent a clear and direct message with the result that he won the elections by a landslide.  

In this series and countless other accounts, Partition violence is still understood widely as emotional but collective suffering in which everyone was a victim of a moment of violent madness.

Everyone except Punjabis and some Bengalis 

Neither the State nor any people have taken responsibility for those mass killings.

Shruti certainly hasn't. 

The lesson is that since there has been no responsibility or culpability for it, Indians, arguably, have been condemned to repeat a bad history.

Shruti is repeating bad history. Shame on her! 

Recent Indian headlines

like any other headlines 

only affirm the power of repetition that gives any traumatic history, and especially that of violence, its force.

You’d be forgiven if newspaper headlines seem to teleport you back into the 1920s. The themes are eerily similar. Confrontations over blasphemy: Check.

Charlie Hebdo- right? 

Mob policing of inter-faith intimate relations between men and women: Check.

This didn't happen in the 1920s. Pimping existed. Policing didn't.  

Heated polemics over religious conversions: Check.

Gandhi's son converted and then re-converted thanks to the Arya Samaj 

Fear based on fiction or downright lies on demographic takeover by a religious minority: Check.

But Muslims in Pakistan started off as a minority. There genuinely was a demographic takeover there. That's why Hindus and Sikhs had to run away.  

Obsession with who is praying where in public: Check.

Did not exist in the Twenties 

Demolitions of homes or small shrines to create religiously segregated neighbourhoods: Check.

Again, this did not happen. 

A century apart and the repeated pattern bears the same controversies. The violence that accompanies each of these controversies remains tightly bound to the social fabric of communities in India even today.

But this has spread to Europe. 

To take one instance, in the 1924 case of Rangila Rasool,

why not the 1988 case of Satanic Verses when Muslims tried to storm Westminster? 

votaries and protagonists of that infamous blasphemy controversy and consequent violence appealed to the courts and the State to determine the ‘truth’ of one religion and also to dispense justice between two hostile groups.

Nope. A Hindu was killed. Is that Shruti's point? Muslims are bad-ass? But her side of Punjab ethnically cleansed Muslims with vim and vigor.  

But unlike then, when foreign masters tightly held the reins of the State,

There way dyarchy. Elections had been held the previous year.  

today’s political institutions are entirely Indian but deploy a law designed by the British.

It was proposed and passed by Indian legislators.  

The violent hatred that has propelled recent religious controversies in India, however, is misidentified as debates about freedom of expression.

It is about an equal freedom for Hindus to abuse missionary sects which have a long tradition of abusing Hinduism when not killing or forcibly converting them. 

Whether or not you are a free speech absolutist, a proper contextualisation of this clutch of laws is essential.

Laws are meaningless save in context.  

British imperial imperatives deliberately miscast this relationship as one of freedom

This is wholly false. British imperialism never held freedom of expression to be a sacred cow. If the thing did not exist in the home islands, why the fuck would they impose it elsewhere? Shruti may live in England but she does not know about the Lord Chamberlain's office or the strict laws on blasphemy and obscenity. America's First Amendment had no European parallel till relatively recently.  

and with deadly consequences to date.

Deadly consequences arose because some people like cutting off the heads of other people who might decide to kill before they are killed.  

Simply put and to cut a very complex and long history short, after the Rebellions of 1857, the British empire made a U-turn on its prevailing social policies and decided against any activism in Indian religious affairs.

Nonsense! Britain banned missionaries till 1813. Suttee was banned in 1829 but Raja Ram Mohan Roy had lobbied for this. Other than this, there was no 'activism in India's religious affairs'. After 1857,  however, the Brits cracked down on what they called 'Wahhabis' and took sides in religious matters so as to favor 'loyalists'. 

Consider the fact that prior to the rebellions/mutiny, intervention in religion — the abolition of Sati (1829), followed by the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act of 1856 — had formed the centrepieces of British imperial rule and law.

These only applied in directly ruled territory. The latter was permissive merely and rarely availed of. The centre-pieces of British imperial rule were the Army and the Navy. Nobody gave a shit about widows. 

With the activating of the Indian Penal Code in 1861,

which merely codified what had previously obtained 

the imperial State took a so-called ‘neutral’ stance of intervening in religion only to maintain ‘public peace’.

This had always been the case. Nothing very dramatic happened in 1862. The IPC merely made things easier for Judges and advocates.  

This had three major and enduring consequences.

There was no change and thus no consequences. 

First, the domain of religion, as opposed to the political arena, afforded relative freedom to colonised Indians.

But, the domain of religion has always afforded freedom of a particular type even to slaves or outcastes. How fucking stupid is Shruti not to understand this? 

Religion was thus easy to mobilise, especially by conservative politicians given to exclusivism such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

Tilak was radical. Gokhale was moderate. Conservatives opposed both. Indeed, they were considered 'acharabrashta' because they had 'crossed the black water'. Shruti is wholly ignorant of India. One could say 'Revolutionaries, like Tilak, Vivekananda, Amba Prasad Sufi etc., used religion to mobilize the masses'.  

By contrast, newspapers and pamphlets were heavily censored for political writings and especially any criticism of government policies.

This was equally true of religious literature with 'seditious' content.  

The Sedition Law (IPC 124A),

specifically put in to deal with the supposed 'Wahhabi' threat 

further policed and ensured this.

It merely turned customary practice into 'black letter law'.  

It was not that the State was entirely removed from religion or distant from it.

The State was entirely removed from Hinduism and Islam and Jainism. The UK has an established Church. The Raj had none.  

But rather, it strongly defined its intervention in terms of maintaining peace between communities.

and preventing a repetition of the Mutiny. The Brits were more concerned with protecting their own skins, not to mention their investments, than with preventing darkies of various creeds slicing each other up.  

Second, and in so occupying the role of a ‘neutral mediator’, the colonial State set up Hindus and Muslims as legally competitive and antagonistic entities.

Islam, like Christianity, was antagonistic to Hinduism. But Muslim rulers tended to back their co-religionists against their Hindu subjects. The Brits did not extend the same protection to darkies who had found Christ because, let's face it, they were niggers just the same.  

Finally, the law increasingly judged theological issues of religion

Nonsense! British Courts in the UK did not judge 'theological issues'. Why the fuck would their Courts in distant Ind do so?  

but displaced and named them after freedom of expression.

This is wholly false. You could go to Court and say 'shebait of such and such temple is not performing such and such ritual correctly. Kindly transfer management to me as I am the next in line.' Orthopraxy is justiciable. There is no 'freedom of expression' when it comes to the proper management of certain places of worship. Shruti is wholly ignorant of Indian law.  

The colonial State went on to not only arrogate the power to judge the life of a prophet or doctrine

This is wholly false. The British were requested numerous times to prosecute the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement but they always refused. It wasn't till the Seventies that Bhutto passed a law stating that the Qadianis were not Muslim.  

but also significantly legalised religious competition and antagonism.

Religious competition may have been illegal under Aurangazeb but that was a long time ago. As for 'antagonism', it declined under Pax Brittanica and resurfaced as Empires around the globe began to crumble.  

To say that this has been toxic would be an understatement.

There may be competition between the Swami Narayan sect and the Arya Samajis or other branches of Hinduism. But such competition has been salutary. It is not toxic in any way. By contrast, what happens to Hindus in Muslim majority areas has nothing to do with competition. It has to do with running away or having your throat slit.  

The postcolonial State and the much-celebrated Indian Constitution, while being radical in endowing individual rights,

Individuals had rights under the Brits. There was nothing particularly radical or innovative about the Indian Constitution in this respect.  

has failed to dismantle this colonial relationship of law and religion that has effectively set up a hostile competition between groups.

Shruti is utterly mad. There was 'hostile competition' between Muslims and Hindus. Then people like Shivaji and Guru Gobind Singh rose up and the picture changed. Had Hindus managed to unite and put aside their dynastic squabbles, India might have built a strong navy and protected its own commerce and thus risen up economically and technologically. Pretending that the Brits stopped Hindus and Muslims kissing and cuddling in the streets is simply stupid. Why not go the extra mile, like Divya Dwiwedi, and say 'Brits invented Hinduism in 1916'. Previously everyone was Muslim. Evil White peeps got some stupid darkies to worship Ganesa and Hanuman instead of doing namaz and wearing hijab. The BJP is very evil because instead of scolding Hindus and asking them to return to Islam, it is pretending that India was originally a Hindu country. 

Shruti makes this point forcefully in her latest article for

Is India’s political order today best described as a party state?

BoJo's Britain could be described as being in a state of having a terrible hangover after too much partying. India, sadly, is a serious place where the PM puts in long hours at his desk.  

I am all too aware that A for ‘Authoritarianism’ is the favoured currency of commentary and analysis for describing it.

Come to think of it, 'Authoritarianism' would translate to 'Anushasan' which Indians want. Modi is authoritative. Rahul is adolescent. This remains the choice facing the voter 

If authority is the hallmark of today’s political culture, then the absence of liberty is its manifest and lamented condition.

Who the fuck is lamenting 'encounter killings' or the locking up of gangsters of the bulldozing of their homes? Shruti writes as though Yogi wasn't re-elected.  

The branding of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government as authoritarian only amplifies its power if with a negative shade or two.

Negative for professors living in Oxford- sure. But there is nothing positive we can say about them. 

However, in what is usually the weakest moment in a government’s cycle of power or the dreaded ‘mid-term’, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party appears to be stretching out rather than curling into its comfort zone.

Under Modi, the BJP has been proactive.  

I am not even a novice at martial arts

martial farts are a different matter 

let alone an expert, so my gambit here is not to use the power of the opponent against them.

she is going to use their power for them because she is as stupid as shit.  

My newfound suspicion of ‘authoritarianism’ as a label to describe Modi is not to underestimate his power.

So, it is to overestimate it- right? The problem here is that shitty authoritarianism can exist- i.e. the dictator can give orders and everybody falls about laughing if not, like Shruti, farting in his face.  

It’s simply inadequate.

In which case it is an appropriate label which must be reinforced with a strong adjective like 'merciless' or 'punitive' or 'savage'.  

I am spending this summer researching for a new book and devoting long hours in the University Library’s China section that has brought a thought I can’t quite shake off—India’s new political trajectory shares remarkable features with its outsized Himalayan neighbour.

Shruti is as stupid as shit. She doesn't get that Mao's party conquered the country after chasing away General Chiang Kai-Shek. No political party in India had the military capacity to do anything similar.  Thus India can't have a trajectory similar to China. 

If modern China could give the world capitalism without democracy,

Neither Holland nor Britain was not democratic when they gave the world modern financial capitalism. Shruti is a Professor of a subject she knows zero about.  

then, is India set to give the world a one-party state in a multi-party polity?

Shruti does not know that China has nine recognized political parties.  Eight of them are so useless that they are headed by Professors. 

The party-state is synonymous with China

It was a Leninist invention. There are other such one-party states.  

as it refers to its one-party rule. But that is not of the essence.

That is absolutely of the essence. A country where everybody belongs to the 'Lets have a Party' Party is not a one-party state unless the office-holders of that Party exercise power over the apparatus of the State.  

Instead, party-state refers to a relationship between State and society.

But the relationship between the State and Society is the same wherever you go. In America, it is the State which runs the police and the courts and the penal system. The same is true of China or France or anywhere else.  

More precisely, party-state implies the absence of boundaries between state, society, party and indeed cadre.

But such boundaries exist in China just as they do elsewhere. A person may be deprived of party membership while continuing to be employed by the State. The reverse is also true. The Chinese invented bureaucracy. There is a chain of command. Within a particular Bureau there may be a technocrat in charge of day to day operations but the Party cell within the Bureau may dictate strategy or intervene in particular matters.  

By contrast, modern liberal states prize and thrive on the distinction between the different organs of government

The Chinese make the same distinctions. Like 'modern liberal states', people within 'different organs of government' may consult each other and take a coordinated approach. Thus, the response by both the public and private sector to the Ukraine crisis in the UK, where Kapila lives, has shown remarkable homogeneity. 

and their policing via checks and balances

In China, those 'checks and balances' may involve kleptocrats getting a bullet to the brain.  

and, above all, seek to represent rather than overwhelm society.

The Chinese Communist Party is successful because it does do a lot of 'representing'. The question is whether it can change tack quickly as the popular mood changes. But this is equally true of 'liberal states'. COVID has shown that we are all more similar than we used to think.  

The difference between modern China and India’s political order—best captured by its two founders, M.K. Gandhi and Mao Tse Tung—

Gandhi was a subject of the British Crown. Mao was rebelling against the KMT which was indigenous. But India's 'political order' is almost exactly what the Brits bequeathed. It isn't really Gandhian at all. By contrast, under Chairman Xi, we have seen that the spirit of Mao continues to animate and inspire the Chinese leadership.  

is now perhaps becoming less distinct.

It is becoming much more distinct. China isn't even pretending to do minority accommodation or 'grass roots democracy' or 'human rights' any more.  Meanwhile, in India, participatory democracy has gained in strength. Look at what has just happened in Shruti's own native Punjab. A party which did not exist ten years ago has swept the polls thanks to ordinary people taking power into their own hands. 

To be sure, this distinction is not about violence or ideology alone but is crucially about the relationship between the political party and society that they forged.

but that relationship was entirely a function of violence and ideology.  

Mao rose to power first by overwhelming the formidable Chinese liberal, nationalist party, Kuomintang or the KMT.

It wasn't liberal in the slightest. The plain fact is, Sun Yat Sen only came to power through a military rebellion. The loyalist Yuan Shi-Kai was given the Presidency in return for getting the Emperor to abdicate. But he declared himself Emperor. When Sun returned to China it was as a military leader, not a 'liberal' or 'democratic' politician. He saw that Chinese national unity could only be achieved by the sword. He allied with the Communists to achieve this. His successor was a professional soldier who had married the sister of his wife.  

The KMT was dominated by intellectuals, westernised men and women primarily from southern China, with Shanghai as its locus, as embodied in its cosmopolitan leader Sun Yat Sen.

But the KMT could only dominate China by military conquest- which was only possible with Soviet help.  

At the same moment, Gandhi converted a sleepy but noisy, and an all too elitist, Congress Party that was dominated by English-speaking lawyers of Bombay and Calcutta into the world’s largest mass party.

But it was dedicated to non-violence- in other words, its job was to make the life of the British official safer and easier. Congress may have been the largest mass party but it was also the most useless.  

Both Mao and Gandhi made this dramatic change by courting and privileging a restive and highly mobilised peasantry as the prime and correct agent and mover of history.

Fuck off! Gandhi refused to back a 'no-rent' campaign. Nehru too was skeptical about 'land to the tiller'.  But the big landlords disappeared anyway- unless they could turn into gangsters. 

By contrast, Mao was the son of a peasant. He knew what the peasants wanted was land. So, he first gave it to them and then took it away and laughed heartily as they starved to death.  

But to divergent ends. By 1950, both had kicked out foreign powers, and while India became the largest democracy, China became a revolutionary state thanks to the surging cadres of Mao’s peasant army or the People’s Liberation Army.

In other words, China actually became Socialist while Indians just talked bollocks about Socialism.  

Over the next sixty years, as India became a multi-party democracy,

It had had multi-party elections since 1923. China had restricted franchise elections in 1912 but the Assembly was soon sent packing. Come to think of it, China did have a Presidential election in 1923. It was a farce. In 1948, Chian Kai-Shek won (indirect) elections by a landslide. Everybody immediately understood that the fellow would soon have to flee. 

The plain fact of the matter is that the Brits created multi-party democracy in India and the Hindus, for their own reasons, chose to bolster it. This is because Hindus feel they have to unite against the salami tactics of the Muslims and Commies and Christians and NGO nutters and so on. But that unity can't come at the point of a bayonet. Only elections confer legitimacy same as in good old Blighty. 

China became a party-state,

under first the KMT and then Mao's Communists.  

notably under Deng Xiaoping and Xi Jinping, who decisively updated Mao’s vision at critical moments.

Deng didn't do crazy shit. Xi may yet do so.  

At least four core features of China’s party-state resonate with India in the Modi Age.

in the opinion of a cretin. 

It is not about any institutional capture or the now pliant mediascape alone.

Is Shekhar Gupta or Print India 'pliant'? If so Shruti is being paid by Modi to make Oxford look bad. 'Make in India'- don't go all the way to Oxford to shit on your own country.  

Significantly, the ruling BJP is producing a tight coalition that seeks to brook no boundary between society, culture, ideology, and the State.

There is no boundary between a society and it culture and the ideology of that culture or, in a democracy, that of the State. British society is indivisible from British culture and the British way of looking at things. One may say 'I don't feel I fully belong to British society because my right to chop the heads off infidels is not being respected'. But, if one is tucking into a bacon sarnie and wearing a 'bring back Boris' t-shirt, people tend to assume you are Jacob Rees-Mogg unless you iz bleck in which case people assume you are Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nanny left you out in the Sun too long. 

In installing Draupadi Murmu as the first tribal woman to India’s highest office, Modi did much more than create the current off-the-charts inspirational (or is it aspirational?) buzz. The BJP is breaking the barrier between party and society via full-spectrum assimilation of social order.

Nonsense! It was high time we had an S.T President. Smt. Murmu joined the BJP 25 years ago. She served on the National Executive in 2013 and held other Party posts till 2015 when she became Governor of Jharkhand. Shruti is extraordinarily ignorant if she thinks various political parties had not been doing 'full-spectrum assimilation' of STs. The fact that they have reserved seats is enough of an incentive.  

If India’s Other Backward Class (OBCs) parties

dominated by one particular 'dominant' OBC 

competed against and blocked the rise of the BJP thirty years ago,

this was because Congress had turned to shit while the Commies were too gerontocratic and elitist to get in on the action 

a re-branded BJP is on the path of their aggressive assimilation.

Shruti thinks tribal people should be shunned.  

India’s social order, which is in fact a series of sub-castes, offers rich pickings for a political machinery attuned to it.

Congress had perfected that machinery. Then it turned dynastic and turned to shit.  

The absorption of selective sub-castes from Dalits to the tribals now, and increasingly, the Muslims (the Pasmandas, for instance) while not challenging upper caste power, is deepening the party’s social footprint.

I wouldn't be so sure of the Pasmandas.  

The BJP now poses the greatest challenge to India’s regional and smaller political parties not only because of the Enforcement Directorate.

But Kejriwal has shown that a new party can rise up out of thin air and completely marginalize the big established players.  

But precisely because regional parties have effectively been caste parties and primarily OBC parties.

Nothing wrong with that if they are good at governance rather than gangsterism.  

Pacification of social opposition through incorporation has been key to the endurance of China’s party-state too.

Only if, by 'incorporation' you mean incorporating a bullet into the back of a head. Slaughtering people or 're-educating' them en masse is what China is good at.  But, China is ethnically much more homogeneous than India. 92 % are Han and even Han Muslims are nationalists. Christians could have posed a problem but they are lying low for the moment. 

This form of social engineering reflects a BJP-led party-state in the making.

in the imagination of a cretin. The BJP is merely becoming what the INC used to be before it turned to shit.  

It implies more than mere voting behaviour.

because the person doing the implying is a fucking cretin.  

This is already leaving India’s much-indulged data crunchers (who double up as political analysts) reeling for answers.

Prashant Kishore aint reeling. He is laughing all the way to the bank. The plain fact is that he- not some Professor at Oxford or Harvard- has changed Indian politics for the better.  

While data surveyors and commentators breathlessly declare each such move to be a BJP ‘masterstroke’ they are unable to identify the big picture, let alone explain its effects on India’s polity.

Shruti's idea of a 'big picture' for India is that it should involve 'fraternal violence'. If you happen to have a male sibling and are Indian, you really ought to stick a knife in him. Otherwise Prof. Kapila will look a fool to her colleagues. They will make fun of her at faculty parties. She will cry and cry.  Don't be mean. Stab your brother already. You know you want to. 

Authoritarian regimes are marked by leaders who routinely confront the civil service or the faceless figures of power behind any government.

Why the fuck would an authoritarian regime need to confront some fucking clerk? If he doesn't obey orders, he will get a fucking bullet in the back of his head. As for 'faceless figures', they don't exist.  

As a well-honed good cop/bad cop routine, this conflict between political leaders and bureaucrats allows for both whistleblowing and the airing of grievances essential to any but especially authoritarian governments.

Fuck is this word salad supposed to mean? If authoritarianism exists, bureaucrats jump to obey or else run the fuck away. There are no 'whistleblowers' though, no doubt, there may be a whistling sound as the wind tunnels through the bullet hole in the back of your head. No 'airing of grievances' is essential to an authoritarian government. Hitler didn't say to Goebells, 'kindly round up some people with grievances so that they can air them for me. I can't get a good night's kip unless such airing occurs.' Stalin, on the other hand, was notorious for popping into Gulags to ask if any of the inmates had any grievances about the food or quality of entertainment.  

Recall the near-daily fracas between Anthony Fauci and Donald Trump at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why? What has it to do with India? Fauci has been head of NIAD- a Federal Agency- since 1984.  He did not serve at the will of the President. Modi is no Trump. He is a sensible man who listens to experts and supports the heads of Agencies in their professional role. By mentioning Trump's relationship with Fauci, Shruti is highlighting the sanity and constitutional propriety that has been the hall mark of Modi's term of office. True, he had to sacrifice Harsh Vardhan- a Medical Doctor- as Health Minister but there were no recriminations over this. 

Closer to home, the rise of the cult of T.N. Seshan, for instance, was directly owed to the preceding era of Indian Emergency’s political excesses.

Nonsense! Seshan was appointed Chief Election Commissioner under Chandra Shekhar (though Subramaniam Swamy, whom Seshan knew at Harvard, claims credit) a full thirteen years after the  Emergency had ended.  

Seshan was rather pugnacious but a great devotee of Sai Baba. I think this helped him in Delhi at a time when Rasgotra, another devotee, had Madam's ear. 

By contrast, Modi’s eight years of rule has produced a supplicant bureaucracy.

No. It has produced a productive bureaucracy which has been disintermediated from the lucrative side of things. That's why many babus want to return to corrupt home states where they can rake in the moolah. But Kejriwal, too, can run a tight ship. It was he who decided to make an example of my old pal Sanjay Pratap Singh. When I say 'pal' obviously I mean we all hated the bastard. He transferred to Modern School. Not a good sign. 

Tellingly, Modi has rarely chastised India’s civil service.

Why chastise guys whom you can transfer if they are lazy or corrupt? The fact is plenty of people join the Civil Service because they actually want to serve Civil Society.  

It would be too conspiratorial to imagine that Indian bureaucrats are fully paid-up members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

BJP politicians don't want babus who outrank them in the Sangh hierarchy.  

Even if this were the case, the proof of complete political alignment with the bureaucracy lies in policymaking and its enactment. Look no further than India’s foreign policy, which, having been steadfast over changing political dispensations, has now gone saffron.

Jaishankar, like his Dad, is a practitioner of realpolitik. The family are typical Lutyens Delhi Tambrams.  Some, when talking to nice blonde ladies like Kira Huju say what they think the lady wants to hear. But, take it from me, they all think Mani Shankar Ayyar is a fucking Commie nutcase. Nehruvian shite is for the birds. As for Israel- which was the reason Sujatha Singh was sacked- the plain fact is the place is- as an Uncle of mine told me back in the Nineties  'the holy land of three great religions- and the Indian Army'. It was Abdul Kalam who revealed the depth of the strategic partnership India had established with Israel. The IFS was slow to change its old habits so Modi had to ease out Sujatha even though she was a pal of Sushma Swaraj. But this does not mean Jaishankar is 'saffron' his last job was with the Tatas!

New prestige or liberalism as (bad) westernism

What is bad about 'westernism' is that, in Obama's words, it has been doing stupid shit all over the place. The War on Terror was a gift to Iran, Russia and, most of all, China. Now there is a big Eurasian power block taking the war to the West. Twenty percent of Ukraine is gone. Taiwan will soon fall. Meanwhile the liberals continue to Magnitsky anything which moves and thus the West will soon get a declining share of the global economy and suffer worsening terms of trade for its high value adding exports. American policy makers no longer have any confidence in 'quad' or in Turkey returning to the fold. Maybe Europe, under French leadership, can get a proper Army of its own. If it can't then NATO unravels because the Biden doctrine is 'we won't put boots on the ground unless you can defeat all your enemies on your own without endangering their human rights.'

The ruling BJP offers new values of prestige and represents the maturing of a new symbolic and cultural capital.

That's a good thing. Shruti might think that India should be ruled by a party which says 'this country is a shithole. Please feel free to fuck us in the ass if you are anywhere in our neighborhood. Also, all Hindus should immediately convert to Islam and behead anybody they suspect of disrespecting the Prophet.'  

The image and culture wars in India today are less about freedom of expression and more about creating a dominant political culture that desperately needs its anti-hero.

Shruti means villain. An 'anti-hero' is still a hero though he may appear to lack some conventional heroic quality.  

Be prepared for more controversies on history wars,

which the Left started but lost 

name changes of cities or streets,

which occurred plentifully under the dynasty. I now alight at Indira Gandhi airport and take the metro to Rajiv Gandhi Chowk. But Curzon road, where I grew up, was already Kasturba Gandhi Marg.  

and cases against naked actors

the guy was not showing his dick! That's what outraged not just modest women but a lot of gay dudes. Incidentally, the guy who filed the complaint was a 50 year old Sindhi man. You go girl! 

and dancing divas because the now-dominant political culture demands not merely fear but uniformity.

Shruti's writings are uniformly shite. This is fault of Modi sarkar.  

Daily denunciations of India’s so-called ancien regime

so called only by Shruti. India's ancien regime was Casteist and feudal just like that of pre-revolutionary France.

through the media, and cultural output are further geared towards shoring up the ruling party’s self-identity.

Denunciations of the Dynasty may do so. But that has nothing to do with Ranveer Singh's coy refusal to display dick which is causing outrage to modest women, and maybe some Sindhi dudes, in Mumbai.  

As BJP and Hindutva become the default political setting in India,

where? Punjab? Tamil Nadu? Kerala? West Bengal? 

liberal ideals are being dismissed as habits of the old elite

their liberal ideal had to do with liberally helping themselves to goodies by foul means or fair 

rather than hard-won political virtues or first principles of a democratic polity.

India's first principle was 'first get shot of Muslims if you want a democratic polity where Hindus can live safely'.  

Liberalism is now deemed a cultural artefact.

Because every ideology is the artefact of a particular culture. Perhaps Shruti means 'antiquity' or 'fossil'.  

It is not only associated with the West, and therefore not native, but is above all, scorned as downright odious for its association with a declined and decadent old elite.

that should be 'decayed' or 'moribund'. Shruti's English is poor. They must be laughing their heads off at her in Oxford. I recall being befriended by Old Etonians at my first job with a Merchant Bank. Then it slowly dawned on me that they were trying to perfect their Peter Sellers accent and 'head wobble'. I was deeply chuffed. Sadly, my attempts to sound more desi backfired. I ended up sounding posher than the Queen's tits. Thankfully, I was soon fired because, it turned out, I was utterly shit at my job. Apparently 'double entry' isn't something sexual. Who knew?  

This has crucially allowed the BJP to emerge as a party of protest or of the underdog—and not only of identity—even as it has been nothing but aggressive in its pursuit of majoritarian power.

Clearly this stupid woman has never heard of Mahatma Gandhi- whose big shtick was 'wear dhoti and speak Hindi'- or Ram Manohan Lohia who had a German PhD in useless shite and who said 'Agnrezi goli se zyada khatarnak hai Angrezi boli. Haan ji haan. Chashme buddoor.' This was funny because he had a thick German accent. The fact is everybody has been protesting against Indians wot spick Inglis and pamper their pet dogs instead of kicking those curs anytime they have a chance. Gandhi, of course, went further. He claimed that killing dogs was Ahimsa. Failure to kill every bow wow you chance upon is a terrible sin.  

The 2014 election that installed Modi’s BJP was dubbed an ‘economy election’.

No. It was considered an anti-corruption election. Anna Hazare and his merry band had succeeded in making Congress look utterly kleptocratic as well as incompetent.  

Throughout that long campaign, the decibels on Hindutva were low if muted.

Muted means low. Why does Shruti not know that? She tells us that she was ' was born, educated and made in India. I graduated from Panjab University Chandigarh with top honours followed by a Master's in Modern History at JNU, Delhi and received my doctorate from SOAS, London University.' This means she was educated in both India and Britain. Sadly, what she didn't study in London was the English language. Also she is as stupid as shit. JNU made tatti inside her head. 

Oscillating between the two poles of Hindutva and on the other, a commitment to a new economy or technology softens the totalising power of the party that demands loyalty.

How? Totalization is a Hegelian or dialectical term. Defining poles between which there is oscillation permits the understanding of  'disparate and unrelated phenomena' by connecting them with a larger complex totality. 

This could potentially drain out political opposition.

How? Defining 'poles' has the opposite effect. In this case it would unite those who are against Hindutva with those who are against 'a new economy' or those who hate technology.  

In a series of articles in The New York Times, political scientist Ming Xia argues that both Chinese elites and the aspirational are increasingly anti-political.

Because peeps don't like having bullets fired into the back of their heads.  The question facing scholars like Ming Xia was whether China would actually allow a smidgen of democracy at the Provincial level or, more recently, through Local Legislative Outreach Offices. The answer was 'no. Don't be silly. Would you like a bullet in the back of your head or would you prefer to ask no more questions and just shut the fuck up?'

Even though Communism is but hyper-nationalism in China,

This simply isn't true. The Chinese actually read Marx who said 'to each according to his contribution'. But that contribution must be to the resources of the Party.  

ideology has been supplanted by a fixation on infrastructure and technology.

as opposed to a fixation with talking bollocks about 'fraternal violence' or 'maternal eye-gouging' or other such shite. 

As global successes, these are attributed to the Chinese party-state that, in instilling pride, help discount political debate.

But America had lots of infrastructure and technology at a time when political debate was plentiful. What discounts political debate is bullets in the back of your fucking head.  

Modi’s India is marked by a zeal for infrastructure and connectivity.

Manmohan hated infrastructure. He wanted to shut down the transport system. 

Whether it is expressways or Digital India—they look imposing and can be awe-inspiring.

There speaks the soni kudi from the pind.  She will show Ranveer Singh awe-inspiring expressway and then pull down his pants so as to outrage her own modesty. 

What is less clear and worth investigating

like Ranveer's dick 

is whether this fixation on the digital and infrastructure like China is allowing technology to trump political debate in the ‘new India’.

Shruti is training to be a Lacanian psychotherapist. God alone knows what fixations or hers she discusses with her training Analyst. My bet is it is Ranveer's dick. But I could be wrong. It may be that it is awe-inspiring expressways that get her motor running.  

Whether or not these four key features of the party-state

neither the 'key features' nor the 'party-state' actually exist. On the other hand, Ranveer probably does have a dick, not an awe-inspiring expressway. That is what Shruti should focus on. Or perhaps that is what she is focused on while typing out this garbage.  

will strip all social and political agency essential for true democratic politics

Stripping is not enough. Ranveer stripped. But he didn't show his dick. Rahul Baba must take action! 

will depend entirely on India’s opposition parties.

Rahul, that means you! Tell Ranveer to show dick or else you will become President of the INC once again.  

Democracy is defined by deliberation, debate and above all, conflict of views and visions.

No. Deliberation and debate and conflict of views and visions can occur under any sort of political system. Democracy is defined by whether or not voters can boot out the current administration and replace it with something more appealing or less appalling.  

A giant lotus currently seems to be on course to envelop India.

Unless Ranveer shows his dick to awe-inspiring expressways.  

If India is to avoid the fate of the party-state,

or the gate of the farty-mate, not to mention the hate of the tarty-date or the plate of the smarty- tet Punjabi soni kudi who was made in India 

its opposition parties will first and foremost have to forge a new political language that can capture and contest the zeitgeist.

So, Shruti's old political language simply won't do. Shocker.  

Otherwise, like the original party-state of China, authority in India will soon be considered a political virtue

In all countries, it is considered virtuous for a holder of political office to exercise their authority rather than sit around with their thumb up their ass.  

and coercion will be experienced as voluntary submission

If Shruti beats Ranveer and forcibly pulls down his pants, Ranveer will experience this as 'voluntary submission' 

and national duty.

thinks nobody at all. The fact is if 'voluntary submission' is occurring- e.g. Ranveer displays dick so as to forestall the outrage of modest women and maybe one or two elderly Sindhi dudes- then no coercion is needful. Shruti may think otherwise but only if we use the word 'think' in very loose terms indeed. Meanwhile let us leave Shruti to her Lacanian loose motion oscillating between the two poles of party-state and tarty-mate or Ranveer's occulted dick and awe-inspiring expressways  or whatever other bug has crawled up her ass.