Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Abhijit Bannerjee's Nobel for nonsense

2019 saw the Global extreme poverty level to fall to just 8 % from 28 % two decades previously. In India it is now thought to be 3 %.

What has driven this change? The collapse of the Left which in turn has meant much greater inequality in Wealth and Income. One consequence of much greater inequality is that there's more money to be spent on studying poverty alleviation rather than actually doing it. For a little while longer, Whitey can get to pat itself on the back even if this means including a darkie in its circle jerk of self congratulation. Yet, the stark fact is, this year's laureates were financed by a Saudi business family- I believe the were the first Toyota distributor in the Kingdom- and thus Whitey is taking credit for stuff done with non White money.

The Econ Nobel Prize committee writes-
Despite massive progress in the past few decades, global poverty — in all its different dimensions — remains a broad and entrenched problem. For example, today, more than 700 million people subsist on extremely low incomes.
The reason for this is obvious as is what needs to change for this to cease to be the case. The people who have moved out of extreme poverty and those who helped them do it were not Academic Economists. Deprivation is idiographic, not nomothetic. It is something better understood by those with no theoretical blinkers. No doubt, in the past, Economists were able to create poverty because it was not widely known that they were all cretins. But those days are long gone. If a person is a good Economist then they can get rich themselves or run a charity better than any one else.

We don't expect Professors of Literature to be good writers- or to be able to tell good Literature from bad. Nor do we expect Economists to actually economize on any scarce resource. Still, Literary Theorists are welcome to compete with each other just as Academic Economists afford us entertainment by outdoing each other's cretinism.
How to effectively reduce global poverty remains one of humankind’s most pressing questions.
This isn't true in the slightest. It declined precisely because 'humankind' realized that the extremely poor can't topple governments. All they can do is starve to death. It was up to those at risk of falling into extreme poverty to take preventive measures. Improved communications and mimetic effects have played a part in this. However, where the Left still rules, extreme poverty can increase.
It is also one of the biggest questions facing the discipline of economics since its very inception.
Ricardo and Malthus between them saddled Economics with the notion that, as the Bible says, the poor we shall always have with us. Yet, the solution was simple. Don't let parents make money off their kids and implement a social insurance scheme and the problem disappears.

So how best to identify strategies to help the least well-off?
Only one thing works- giving those who are somewhat better off an incentive to extend a social insurance scheme to the very poorest. They can also impose norms and set off mimetic processes such that the problem diminishes and a 'social minimum' becomes more and more affordable. However, this can only be done on their own terms. Accountants or Economists or Actuaries are welcome to advise but the scheme must be felt to be autochthonous.

This year’s Prize in Economic Sciences rewards the experimental approach that has transformed development economics, a field that studies the causes of global poverty and how best to combat it.
Development Economics started out by telling countries what to do to become Developed. Sadly, it fucked up massively. Still, for a while it attracted world class economists like Samuelson. It was linked to mathematical growth and capital theory- both of which imploded. By the time I got to University- in 1979- it was linked to Trade theory. The latter thrived. Development Economics went down the toilet. On the one hand, the case against overseas aid had won the day. On the other, the reputation building effect of appearing to help very poor black people had increased thanks to things like Band-Aid. Given this pincer movement, touting silly panaceas- like micro-finance, which featured on the Simpsons- and then doing statistical work showing it wasn't a panacea was the sort of junk social science which drove clicks and careers.

In other words, Economists no longer pretend they can do anything save hand out gold stars or frowny faces- if not medals like the Nobel Committee. Thus this year's Econ Nobel is a medal for giving out brownie points. Obviously, this is connected to Global Poverty alleviation because...urm... well Banerjee looks kind of brown and probably could use a square meal or three.

In just two decades, the pioneering work by this year’s Laureates
has turned development economics ― the field that studies what causes global poverty and how best to combat it ― into a blossoming, largely experimental field.
This is nonsense. What has happened is that Economists get to do experiments in very poor countries provided those experiments don't matter in the slightest. The thing is like ecological tourism- a fad among the Rich which the poor are supposed to be thankful for.
Innovations both inside and outside of this field helped sow the seeds of the transformation. Inside the field, 2015 Laureate Angus Deaton pushed the research in development economics towards microeconomic analysis. He also championed the idea that the measurement of well-being, especially the well-being of the poor, must
be closely integrated into the fight against poverty.
Deaton was a good econometrician whose work was probably quite useful to Advanced countries. He was a good man and it may be that his work helped people interested in Overseas Aid. But Aid is not the solution- it can be a big part of the problem.

Still, the White Man has an interest in magnifying this type of achievement. I myself have awarded the Iyer Prize to myself for my work in alleviating spiritual poverty in Advanced Societies. Atul Gopichand, a previous Iyer Prize recipient, has remarked that though I have not farted and exited an elevator when Amartya Sen entered it, nevertheless I would certainly do so if afforded the opportunity. Thus I certainly deserve the Iyer Prize which I may mention was the joint winner, in 1997, along with the Nobel Prize, of the Iyer Prize Prize which is given annually to the best Prize in the world.
Outside the field, the so-called credibility revolution, which first took off within labor economics in the early 1990s, pushed economic research in several areas towards a stronger focus on estimating causal effects.
This 'credibility revolution' was about taking the con out of econometrics. However, this also meant that the subject could no longer even pretend to alleviate anything. It would be like Astrology admitting it does not matter what star sign you were born under. On the other hand, using statistics, they might be able to connect your birthday with your personality type- perhaps if you were born in winter you'd have started crawling when it was sunny and so you'd have a sunny disposition. Alternatively, if you were born late in the year, perhaps you'd have been developmentally behind kids born early in the year and this might affect your academic performance. Stuff like this may be interesting but it isn't 'Astrology' any more than it is 'Economics'.

Certainly, it could lead to poverty alleviation if a guy figured out how to make a lot of money out of this statistical regularity and then gave that money to the poor.
In addition, a well-articulated microeconomic theory appeared on how incentives and information, together with behavioral constraints, shape human behavior.
The problem with this theory was that it was still crap compared to what people with idiographic knowledge and 'skin in the game' came up with by themselves. It had no link to norms or mimetic effects. It was just something to show on the blackboard to young people seeking to acquire a Credential which might land them a nice white collar job.
This theory — rewarded with several Economics Prizes — gave researchers a powerful analytical tool kit to analyze the determinants of poverty and channels of poverty alleviation.
But these researchers were as stupid as shit. Poverty alleviation was occurring for reasons they either did not understand or considered undesirable.
 These methodological gains were prerequisites for the transformation to follow, but a core piece of the puzzle was still missing.
WTF? Did Deng Xioping ever read any of this shite? Of course not! He sent out plenty of young Chinese people to study STEM subjects. But not Econ. The thing is useless.
These methodological gains were prerequisites for the transformation to follow, but a core piece of the puzzle was still missing.
What fucking transformation? The world was changing because Leftist Economics bit the dust in the same way that Development Economics had given up the ghost. Who cares how the Econ curriculum in a shite branch of the subject changed?
 Specifically, a well-articulated theory may be crucial to discovering possible mechanisms behind poverty and to guiding the search for effective ways to combat it.
But history shows that 'well-articulated theories' about redistributing land to peasants and taxing the fuck out of 'luxury' goods, were complete bollocks.  Poverty diminished because politicians decided that 'to get rich is glorious'.
But it is not sufficient to guide policy. While theory can pinpoint certain incentives, it does not tell us how powerful these are in practice.
Don't guide policy. Give policy makers an incentive to let others get rich rather than fucking them over incessantly in the name of alleviating poverty and economic injustice. Just bribe them or ensure they recruit only utter cretins.
To give just a few examples, theory cannot tell us whether temporarily employing additional contract teachers with a possibility of re-employment is a more cost-effective way to raise the quality of education than reducing class sizes.
Nothing can tell us the answer to this question. The thing is wholly idiographic.
Neither can it tell us whether microfinance programs effectively boost entrepreneurship among the poor.
Obviously not!
Nor does it reveal the extent to which subsidized health-care products will raise poor people’s investment in their own health.
It will do so to the extent given by the answer to the question 'how long is a piece of string?'
Knowing the right quantitative answers to such specific questions is vital for enhancing human capital, increasing income, and improving health among the poor.
There are no right quantitative answers to these questions. Telling economists and other cretins to fuck off, however, is vital for enhancing human capital etc. How would you like it if some fucking economist interposed herself between you and your G.P or your kids and the School they attend? How would you like to be part of a randomized controlled trial? You may not greatly care if the thing is done to convicted child molesters in a prison but you don't want your Government to dick around with you in that manner so some stupid pedant gets her jollies.
Answering these questions requires an empirical approach that allows researchers to draw firm conclusions about causal effects.
Pretending these questions have nomothetic answers is mischievous. Researchers don't matter. Only those with skin in the game can do anything scalable and sustainable.

By pioneering an approach to empirical research for providing such answers, the 2019 Laureates ― Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer ― have transformed development economics. Their approach remained guided by microeconomic theory and the use of microeconomic data. But it shifted focus towards identifying workable policies, for which one can make causal claims of impact. As a result, we now have a large number of concrete results on specific mechanisms behind poverty and specific interventions to alleviate it.
Nonsense! Economists have no idea why some places are war-torn and others are progressing. Ordinary people, on the other hand, can figure this sort of thing out pretty quickly for themselves.
For example, on schooling, strong evidence now shows that the employment of contract teachers is generally a cost-effective way to improve student learning, while the impact of reduced class size is mixed, at best.
Baloney! You can have crap contract teachers paying kickbacks to the contractor. What determines outcomes is stuff the economist can't see.
On health, poor people’s investment in preventive care has been shown to be very sensitive to the prices of health products or services, giving a strong argument for generous subsidies to such investments.
Wow! What an amazing discovery! What's next? Discovering that having your head chopped off could decrease your productivity and negatively impact your social life?
On credit, growing evidence indicates that microfinance programs do not have the development effects that many had thought when these programs were introduced on a large scale.
Many? Are you kidding me? The thing was an obvious fraud.
The transformation of the field involved important contributions by several scholars. Three contributions by the Laureates, however, stand out. First, in the mid-1990s, Kremer and his co-authors launched a set of randomized controlled trials on schooling in Kenya.
But what caused Kenya to develop such an extensive primary school system in the first place? How did the Government overcome traditional opposition to a new fangled type of education?
In effect, their approach amounted to splitting up the question of how to boost human capital in low-income countries into smaller and more manageable specific topics, each of which could be rigorously studied via a carefully designed field experiment.
Rubbish. All these guys could do was measure outcomes with respect to things which were already being done. Kenyans know very well how to 'boost human capital' but they also know why there are vested interests- not least those of teachers- to prevent any such outcome.
American Universities could easily boost the marginal efficiency of the human capital they impart. But they don't coz it would mean sacking a whole bunch of Professors and closing down worthless Departments. Also, a lot of admin staff get chucked out.
Soon thereafter, Banerjee and Duflo, often together with Kremer or others, broadened the set of educational topics and expanded the scope of the research to other areas, including health, credit and agriculture.
Cool! They set up hospitals and clinics and Banks and discovered new crop strains with higher yields. Oh. Just checked. They did nothing of the sort.
Second, in a series of contributions, Banerjee and Duflo articulated how pieces from such microeconomic studies can help us get closer to solving the broad development puzzle: what explains the enormous difference in per-capita income across countries?
Productivity. That's it. No more puzzle.
They started by documenting a striking empirical fact: low- and middleincome economies encompass enormous heterogeneities in the rates of return to the same factors of production within countries, which dwarf observed cross-country heterogeneities in economy-wide (average) returns.
But everybody already knew this. People could see with their own eyes that the pilot of the plane on which they flew into the shit-hole in question was highly productive coz the plane was worth millions of dollars. By comparison the guy digging the ground with a stick was not very productive at all coz all he had was a stick.
In other words, some firms and individuals in developing countries use the latest technology, while others in the same country and sector use outdated production methods.
Looking at a picture in National Geographic of a half naked guy digging the ground with a stick conveyed the same information.
In high-income countries, these within-sector differences in productivity are much smaller.
Coz nice shiny tools are cheap and ubiquitous. If you go into the garden and start digging the ground with a stick, some helpful neighbor will give you a spade.
A deeper understanding of the development problem thus requires an explanation of why some firms and individuals do not take advantage of the best available opportunities and technologies.
How come the guy digging the ground with a stick isn't using a combine harvester which can be bought for the low low price of 50,000 dollars?  Please, please, Mr. Nobel Laureate, come and explain to me why this is happening!
Banerjee and Duflo further argued that these misallocations can be traced back to various market imperfections and government failures.
Like the fact that the guy doesn't have 50,000 smackers in his pocket.
Hence, a core step in understanding, and ultimately alleviating, poverty is to identify sources of the observed inefficiencies as well as policies that could address them.
Sadly, everybody else has not just taken this 'core step' but gone much further down the highway because they know that the only policy which can address the 'inefficiency' of not having any money in your pocket is to go somewhere you can earn some money.
Finally, by designing new experimental research methods and by addressing the key challenge of generalizing results from a specific experiment — i.e., the issue of external validity — the Laureates firmly established this transformed approach to development economics. This laid a solid stepping stone for a new generation of researchers in development economics and other fields.
But, sooner or later, these fuckwits will be chased away by irate locals.
In sum, by bringing the theory of incentives closer to direct applicability, the research by the Laureates has profoundly altered the practice of development economics.
But the practice of development economics remains entirely worthless. What is actually happening is that pedants teaching a bogus subject are getting a little publicity so as to keep up this Ponzi scheme for a little while longer.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Only in Ireland- Indian racism against Indians

A Dublin restaurant has been fined 3000 euros for refusing to serve an Indian customer. 
The kicker is, it was an Indian restaurant.

The Irish Times reports
In the discrimination case before the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Marie Flynn has ordered Ravi’s Kitchen at Pembroke Road in Dublin to pay Mayank Bhatnagar €3,000 to compensate him for the distress caused to him over the refusal of service.
Ms Flynn stated that in making the award under the Equal Status Act she was taking account of the embarrassment that was caused to Mr Bhatnagar when he was refused service in front of two subordinate colleagues.
In his evidence, Mr Bhatnagar told the WRC that he is Indian and alleged that he was refused service on the grounds of race.
Mr Bhatnagar stated that he attended Ravi’s Kitchen on July 10th, 2018 with two colleagues for lunch at approximately 12.30pm and that they were shown to a table by a female waiter.
Mr Bhatnagar stated that when the proprietor was handing out the menus, he asked him if it would take long as they had limited time for lunch. Mr Bhatnagar alleged that without answering his question, the owner asked him if he was Indian.
Mr Bhatnagar stated that when he said that he was, the restaurant owner said that he doesn’t serve Indians and Mr Bhatnagar had to leave.
He stated that when he asked the restaurant owner why he had to leave, the owner began to shout out loud about how his family had suffered.
Mr Bhatnagar stated that himself and his colleagues got up to leave and the restaurant owner continued to shout and the female waiter also started shouting in their direction.
Does this make any sense? Sure. Clearly Ravi's Kitchen is owned by a Pakistani or Kashmiri Muslim.

Except it isn't. The owner's name is Ravi Shukla- a high caste North Indian Hindu name just like Mayank Bhatnagar.

The Irish Times clarifies this-
 However, in an interview, owner of the restaurant, Ravi Shukla said on Tuesday that he didn’t attend the WRC hearing because he never received notification to appear.Mr Shukla said that it is his intention to appeal the ruling “and fight against this each and every step”.
Mr Shukla said that he is from India himself and has never refused a customer service on the basis on their nationality.
Giving a different version of the exchange with Mr Bhatnagar, Mr Shukla denied that he didn’t serve Mr Bhatnagar because he was Indian.
A native of northern India, Mr Shukla claimed: “I refused to serve him because he was unhappy with how long the lunch would take and he wanted a buffet and we didn’t have a buffet.”
Mr Shukla said: “It is a very one-sided ruling. I have lots of Indian customers and I have never refused them service because they are from India.”
Mr Shukla said that he was disappointed with the ruling “because I didn’t get a chance to speak”.
He said: “I have worked across the world for 35 years and I have an impeccable record as always living on the right side of the law. I am a hardworking businessman.”
So what actually happened? Did Shukla really tell Bhatnagar to fuck off because his own family had suffered at the hands of Indians or was Bhatnagar drawing the longbow?

As an elderly expat Indian myself, I can understand a reflex of hostility towards entitled young superstar IT titans or MBA Masters of the Universe who is merely a bird of passage in the West. These kids come from affluence and will return to even greater affluence. They inhabit an India which did not exist when we left. Unlike them, on our return to India we will be merely modestly middle class.

On the other hand, Indian restaurants all over the world need to have a few brown patrons purely as a signal of quality. Shukla is unlikely to have wanted to drive a brown guy out of his restaurant while seating his two white subordinates. I guess he will win on appeal.

Anyway, the only reason I mention all this is because Ireland is doomed to destruction caused by Indian on Indian racism unless it at last admits that Ireland belongs to Iyers only. We, I mean me, should be made Taoiseach immediately. I'd immediately through all those beastly North Indians- including Varadkar- out and thus restore the golden age of the leprechaun.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Meghnad Desai & the legality of buggering bullocks

Lord Meghnad Desai writes-
A group of eminent Indians had written an open letter to the Prime Minister pointing out the problem of vigilante attacks. Such attacks have been occurring for a while now and the main victims are Muslims. The attacks occur mainly in the Hindi belt.

The authors were not revealing a dark secret or a vital aspect of India’s defences. Even so, a citizen filed an FIR with the police, and a local magistrate in Bihar then filed a case for sedition under the Indian Penal Code. The case has now been closed.
Who was this citizen? It was Sudhir Kumar Ojha, a famous lawyer who has filed over 500 cases against celebrities over the last 20 years. Four years ago he hit the headlines with a case involving Bollywood stars. LiveMint reported-

Saying he had fallen ill after eating Maggi noodles, Ojha filed a criminal case against Nestle’s managing director Mohan Gupta and the joint managing director Shabab Alam, and actors who have appeared in Maggi ads: Amitabh Bachchan, Preity Zinta and Madhuri Dixit.
The case was filed 11 days after authorities in Uttar Pradesh decided to prosecute Nestle, alleging high levels of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead in Maggi noodles.
Ojha filed the case under the Indian Penal Code sections 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 273 (sale of noxious food or drink), 276 (sale of drug as a different drug or preparation) and 420 (cheating and dishonesty).
Lord Desai writes-
The astonishing thing is that the person filing the FIR was not a military or a civil servant.
No. He was an officer of the Court. Soldiers don't file FIRs. The Ministry of Defense contacts the Ministry of Home Affairs if police action is needful. Certain types of Civil Servants may initiate an action which results in the filing of an FIR. However, it would be ultra vires for soldiers or civil servants to do so by themselves and in violation of the chain of command or code of conduct.

It is perfectly proper for an officer of the court to initiate a judicial procedure in the Public Interest. Since the Eighties, Indian intellectuals have favored Public Interest Litigation and seen it as a bulwark against authoritarianism. However, it was always a double edged sword.

In this case the complaint has been dismissed and the initiator is to be investigated. He may be punished if his affidavit displays a reckless disregard for the truth of the sort which Lord Desai is displaying. On the other hand, in fairness it must be observed that Desai is very very old and that his column is titled 'Out of my Mind'!
The evidence advanced for the sedition charged was that the letter is likely to bring India into disrepute. What evidence could there possibly be for this belief? Why should a section or two of the IPC frustrate the Freedom of Expression guaranteed as a Fundamental Right in the Constitution?
The Constitution describes various exceptions to the rule. Thus were I to write- Lord Desai must be prosecuted for sedition because he is seeking to overthrow the Republic of India, at the behest of his fellow British peers, and his chosen means of doing so is by writing such utter nonsense that readers, including Indian soldiers and policemen, are likely to experience a complete shutdown of higher brain functions thus leaving the country at risk of foreign invasion or seditious insurrection'- it would be open to Desai to prosecute me for libel or else for an officer of the court who believes there is some substance to my allegation to petition the court to prosecute Desai for sedition.

But, something similar could be said of British Law. American Law is a different matter, but it is possible that their Supreme Court will overturn Smullyvan v NYT in which case Newspapers will have to be very careful about what they publish.
To understand this, you have to go back into the past when the British ruled India.
Nonsense! The Indian Constitution declares all Laws, whatever their historicity, to be autochthonous. This may be a legal fiction, but it has the force of law. Thus no 'understanding' can be gained by listening to this senile economist who is ignorant of a fundamental principle of Indian jurisprudence.
They introduced the law, lawyers and law courts which Indians love so much that 33 crore cases are outstanding, waiting to be decided. As British rule spread across India, the British needed some laws.
Why? They could kill anyone they liked and grab whatever took their fancy. The Brits like other rulers turned a profit on the administration of justice which, in any case, made the country yield a fiscal surplus which the rulers appropriated.
Warren Hastings had hoped to rule using existing Hindu and Muslim legal texts but soon that friendly approach was abandoned.
How was it friendly? Is Desai utterly mad? Even white people like Sheridan and Burke protested against Hastings' looting 'the Begums of Oudhe' and so forth. Why tell such a foolish lie? Is Desai hoping to compete with Amartya Sen for the title of stupidest Indian Economist ever? 
English laws were to be used to keep Indians in order.
Nonsense! Indians were kept in order by shooting them out of the mouths of canons or simply massacring them- as happened at Jallianwallah Bagh. In the North West, planes dropped poison gas bombs on innocent villagers. English laws were only used when the English, for some reason of their own, thought it more economical to keep the seditionist alive so they could use him down the line.
The British rulers never understood their subjects — the mob as they called it. They needed someone to fashion tools for keeping Indians in order.
Nonsense! Everybody knows that if you machine gun a mob and then make everybody crawl, then people will learn the lesson that resistance is futile unless you have guns and tanks.

Genghis Khan didn't need to understand anything about the various peoples he ruled. Just massacring them from time to time and building a mountain of human skulls was good enough. 

The one person who met the challenge was Thomas Babington Macaulay. In the five years he had on the Governor General’s Council, he changed the face of India forever.
Rubbish. He did nothing remarkable whatsoever. The only reason he is remembered is because he wrote well and played a prominent role in British, not Indian, politics. 
Forget his Minute on Education. That only trained generations of Indians in English and the treasures of Western science and history.
Balderdash! Macaulay says there were plenty of Indians who had paid through the nose to acquire such an education. What they were asking for was a subsidy for this type of education. They would still pay a lot of money themselves but it would be nice if the Sarkar threw in a bit of cash.  By contrast, if you wanted Indians to learn Arabic or Sanskrit in a Govt. funded institution, then you would have to pay them to study. This is also the story of Rohit Vemula. He expected to be paid almost twice the manufacturing wage to study some stupid Sociology. By contrast, Indians would beg and borrow to pay for a STEM subject qualification. Thousands of Indians now go to China to qualify as Doctors. This is cheaper than studying in India.
But he gave us a jewel which every government in India values as the best gift of two centuries of English rule.
Utter nonsense! Any clerk could have drawn up the IPC. Macaulay endowed it with prestige but left no other impress upon the Indian judicial system.
This is the IPC (Indian Penal Code). He boasted that he was going to prepare the best short summary of the English penal system. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
But this sort of 'short summary' could be produced by anybody. Nobody remembers who produced the Penal Code of Ceylon. It was better than the Indian one because it was produced at a later date.
The Independence movement knew the IPC well. They suffered day in and day out from it.
But, had it not existed, they would simply have been shot. Their survival and eventual power and prestige arose from its operation. 
It was repressive.
But not as repressive as being beaten to death.
But when they came to power, they did nothing to remove the IPC or even amend its worst features.
Very true! They continued to punish rapists and murderers.
When they had the chance, they retained not just the IPC but the entire collection of laws of repression installed by the British.
They considerably added to that collection of laws precisely because they didn't want to rule the country exclusively by extra-judicial killing. 
The rulers may have changed colour but their suspicion of the mob had not gone.
Desai is absolutely right! During the 'hoodie riots' in London, the Government showed suspicion of the mob. David Cameron thought that it might loot the shops and commit arson and murder. Desai Sahib knew different. He rose up in the House of Lords and gave a ringing speech denouncing unjust suspicions against mobs. He proved, using mathematics and econometrics, that mobs don't kill people or go in for looting. They just want to cuddle and kiss policemen. Cameron should not have taken any action against the 'hoodie' mobs. He should have come out of Downing street to kiss and cuddle and be kissed and cuddled by these feral youngsters. 
The British have reformed their laws and their penal system.
No they haven't. A lot of the hoodie rioters received custodial sentences. One study found that sentences were 25 per cent more severe than in normal times.
But India loves Macaulay (and British Rule) so much that it cannot abandon or reform a rusty 19th-century law.
If India loves British Rule then it must greatly love a British Peer like Desai. But does it actually do so? No. Indians think the fellow is a senile cretin. Incidentally, the fuckwit was part of the Nalanda fiasco.
The mob has to be ruled with an iron rod.
Is what we think. Desai doesn't. Why? This high caste Hindu probably wants Dalits and Muslims to be lynched by mobs. He feels the Government should not beat or shoot the members of such mobs. This cretin pretends that England has abolished laws which treated crimes by members of a mob as being worse than similar crimes committed individually. 
Now even a group of writers and creative artistes have been denounced as a mob would be.
Nonsense! When a mob is denounced, little attempt is made to list out the participants. When a group of writers are identified separately in a list of names, it is a perversion of the English language to say they constitute a mob.

An officer of the court exercised his prerogative but he may be punished for wrongly doing so. This is purely a matter for the courts. Senile economists who are out of their mind can only add to their own obloquy by sticking their oar in. 
The irony is that filing of the FIR has already done the damage to India’s reputation.
There is no irony here- though the sight of those 'public intellectuals' shitting themselves in fear was undeniably comic. 
After a long agitation Section 377 was removed.
It hasn't been removed. Its scope has been reduced to non-consensual sex (including with minors since they lack legal capacity to consent) and sex with animals.
More needs removing.
Like what? The law against buggering your bullock? Desai wisely keeps silent about what laws he wants removed. Still, if I were you, I'd keep him away from your cattle. 

Prof. Fudge fudging the facts re. the Satanic Verses

The Ayatollah's death sentence on Salman Rushdie, for his novel 'Satanic Verses', is now 30 years old. Fudge, a Professor of Arabic, has written an essay for Aeon commemorating the event.

First some context. The Indians had banned the book. This put the Iranians in a pickle because they had given  Rushdie a prize for his previous novel 'Shame'. That was before the fellow married an American Jew and started babbling about Satanic Verses.

Prof. Fudge has a different theory- viz. that Rushdie was a modern day Averroes who poked the beast of orthodoxy.
In exploring the life of Muhammad, Rushdie poked and prodded the Islamic tradition in its most sensitive regions.
To 'explore the life of Muhammad', one would need a profound knowledge of Arabic. Rushdie possessed no such thing. No doubt, he was poking and prodding something. But it was an action of a vulgar kind, not something nuanced or epistemic.
Early Islamic sources contain a number of elements that are at odds with the conventional, ‘orthodox’ or popular versions of Islamic origins.
This is true of every Religion. That is why, as one's theological study progresses one comes to rely increasingly on the wisdom of venerable elders thus incrementally fitting oneself to become one of their own order. In Islam, there is a haqiqi/majazi- exoteric/esoteric- distinction just as there is in every other Religion.
For example, there are a number of instances where Muhammad appears to be all too human in his apparent desires and actions,
That's a good thing. Prophets should be 'all things to all men'. Sinners need to latch on to some seeming weakness so as to identify with the Messenger and thus internalize the Message.

such as an occasional vindictiveness
Again, a good thing. He was a proper leader of men- not a push-over.
or his numerous marriages.
An excellent thing. Marriage is a blessing, provided you have the means to maintain your family. Emirs need to have a whole bunch of wives to cement alliances. Obviously, this implies great virility- a desirable quality, more particularly as you get on in years.
Muslim tradition tends to downplay these elements or rationalise them as part of his larger, divinely inspired plan.
There is no need to do so, save when warbling in virginibus puerisque.
Anti-Muslim polemicists, however, have long seized on such accounts as evidence of Muhammad’s malignity, and mention of human weakness or personal idiosyncrasies tends to be taken as a provocation.
Anti-Muslims don't believe the Quran is a revealed Scripture. That is the root of the problem.
Rushdie’s satire is provocative, certainly, but it is not part of that tradition.
Rushdie's writing was of a 'look at me! I'm so smart!' variety.  The satire was, however, of a self-confuting sort.

Khushwant Singh, a lawyer and prominent Indian man of letters, was asked to read the manuscript of 'Satanic Verses' to see if it was suitable for publication by Penguin India. He thought it was offensive in precisely the manner of 'Rangeela Rasool'- a scurrilous work published in the Twenties which caused a change in Indian law. There have always been shady print shop owners who bring out collections of smut. In India, such scoundrels could always be found to print up something offensive so as to trigger a communal riot. Sometimes, respectable people might get carried away and use offensive language in connection with venerable personalities honored by a rival sect. Indian Case Law has established clear precedents. An atheist is incapable of giving offense to anyone no matter what he writes but a Sectarian using vulgar language, perhaps in the heat of the moment and by way of retaliation, crosses the line. The Law prescribes an easy way of withdrawing the offensive material and clearing the air.

This is perfectly sensible. After all, respectable people don't want their sons or daughters reading about the supposed peccadillos of venerable personalities because their children's passions may be inflamed and they may be tempted to a like dissipation.
Islam is premised on the authenticity and integrity of the Quran, but there are some indications in early Arabic accounts that the collection of the Holy Scripture was not as complete and accurate as convention would have us believe.
Once again, this is true of all Religions. Convention is irrelevant. Obviously, human reception of the Divine is imperfect. But the Quran, like the Bible or Veda, is considered to be uncreated and eternal.
It is important not to exaggerate these elements, though: Muslim scholars have been aware of them for centuries, and Islam has flourished quite well nonetheless.
Quite well? Which other Religion almost immediately came into possession of an enormous Empire?
If the conventional narrative has a few holes, any skeptical alternatives have many more.
Indeed! Revelation is wholly imperative (insha), not alethic (khabar) in any respect. Thus skepticism has no internal inconsistency or other lacuna to latch on to.
Even so, these gaps and contradictions are present, and who is to say that one should not consider them and what they might mean?
Ijma- the 'overlapping consensus' of sensible people- gets to say that the activity is a nuisance. This is not to say that 'ijma' may be wrong. Still, it is fortunate that there is 'ijma' between all sects that the 'Satanic Verses' is apocrypha. There is similar ijma about all sorts of other things- e.g. slavery is wrong etc. Christianity and Judaism and Hinduism and so forth have also made great strides of a similar nature.

It is a different matter that, as a matter of protocol bound juristic discourse, a particular judgment is sanctioned on the basis of a particular Scriptural or other doxastic injunction. However, if you are not a lawyer or a Divine, why meddle with hermeneutics? If there is some utilitarian measure you wish to advance, spell out the costs and benefits and then apply for fatwas from Jurists. That's what Mohammad Ali Jinnah did when he alerted the Muslim community to the manner in which traditional Waqf law was disadvantaging them in comparison to the Hindus. Later on, Timur Kuran rediscovered this point for himself.

Prof. Fudge is not suggesting that Rushdie was seeking to reform Islam from within. He quotes the novelist as saying, that he intended

‘to write about religion and revelation from the point of view of a secular person’.
The problem here is that the Islamic Religion, unlike the Christian religion, holds revelation to be wholly imperative and eschatological. A secular person can have no view point on something which, of its nature, is outside the Aeon (al Dahr) and wholly unseen. No doubt, one could look for something like Al Arabi's notion of barzakh in Quantum phenomenology or even 'Quantum cognition' or 'Quantum finance'. Alternatively one could write a novel about a guy who falls in love with a Genie but remains an agnostic or something of that sort.

Rushdie wasn't taking that road. Prof. Fudge explains
'The themes of ...the novel...are ambiguous and impossible to summarise. One constant, however, is the question of belief, or more accurately, the shades of doubt between belief and disbelief.
A work of fiction only works if readers believe in the reality of the characters' psychology and thought processes. Now, silly people may be inclined to believe anything about people from a far away country because furriners be kray kray but inducing such people to believe stupid shite about towel-heads ain't what an artist is supposed to be doing.

Still, a poorly written novel of a scenes a faire type could have aesthetic value if it were topical or conveyed information of a type which changes one's values or preferences in a desirable manner.

More rarely, a work of fiction whose characters are mere puppets conveniently afflicted with psychosis so as to explain away their actions, may acquire importance because of the yet more unbelievable real life mishegoss it sparks off. But, when this happened to Satanic Verses, it was not Islam but belief in the value of the Great Modernist Novel which was shown up to be puerile.

Prof. Fudge takes a different view-
Rushdie’s is a modern, individualist perspective, and The Satanic Verses repeatedly shows us the point of view of a person asked to believe in something he doubts, like certain of Mahound’s associates and the husband of one of the most zealous devotees of Ayesha the seer. This is not a perspective with much precedent in Islamic literatures.
Islamic literature was written by people who knew a lot about Islam. Faith is a Gift. If it was granted to x and not y, then there is a mystery here which passeth all understanding.

No Muslim need believe some 'seer' can part the Red Sea. Jesus was the Seal of the Miracle Workers as Muhammad was the Seal of the Prophets. Islam's great utility is that provides one a legal defense against having to believe or disbelieve any nutjob who turns up. Either one is a Muslim or one isn't. Faith is a lemma immune to Evidential Decision Theory's dilemmas.

Rushdie, who studied a shite subject at Uni, was, of course, innocent of any complex Epistemological motivation.

As Prof. Fudge says-
For Rushdie, the essentials of religion are fairly simple. He is not concerned with scriptural hermeneutics or jurisprudential subtleties. Religion is not even a matter of ethics. It is a matter of whether you believe in God or not, and if you don’t, which he doesn’t, what to do about this fellow Muhammad?
If Faith has not been bestowed on you, you don't have to do anything at all which might otherwise be an 'outward and visible' sign of Election. This is common sense. There's no law saying you have to be a dick about stuff you don't believe- e.g. my certainty that all them posh British peeps aint secretly from Ludhiana and dance the bhangra the moment I take my eyes off them, does not entail an obligation on my part to turn up at their domiciles demanding makkian di roti anytime I have of strong drink partaken.

The problem with investigating one's beliefs or non-beliefs is that a public nuisance may be created.
These are the areas that Rushdie chose to investigate.
The Satanic Verses contains, for example, a heavily fictionalised story of Ibn Abi Sarh, who worked as Muhammad’s scribe, copying down the revelation as the messenger recited it. Several sources tell us that Ibn Abi Sarh, when taking dictation, continued to write after Muhammad had ceased to speak, completing phrases with words he thought appropriate. When his additions went unnoticed, he was shaken. How could these be the words of God? They were his own! He left and fled to the prophet’s enemies. When the Muslims had conquered Mecca and Islam was triumphant, Muhammad demanded that Ibn Abi Sarh, among other apostates, be killed. He was eventually persuaded to grant clemency to his former scribe, but later expressed his regret that his companions hadn’t simply cut off his head.
Fudge is skating over the real offense here. Sarh was Arab. Rushdie names Salman Farsi as the offender. Why insult Persian people? Would he have done the same with respect to Hazrat Bilal Habshi? No! As a Caucasian he'd have been called out for racism to Black people.
Even more sensitive is the story of the satanic verses. In the earliest days of Muhammad’s prophetic mission, he was despairing of winning any more converts to his cause. Opposition was fierce. His message of one unique god was not welcome in a community that had long worshipped a variety of deities. Then, he received a revelation that seemed to resolve his problem: in addition to the one god, Allah, one could pray to three other minor gods, all female. Some of his enemies prostrated themselves alongside Muhammad: it seemed as though a compromise had been reached between his strict monotheism and the multiple deities of the Meccans.
There are different versions of what happened next. Either the angel Gabriel appeared and told Muhammad that Satan tampered with the words, or he realised himself that he had recited something not right, something that sacrificed his most fundamental principle. Subsequent divine revelation announced that, while Satan might interfere with a prophet’s recitation, God will intervene to remove the offending part. The ‘satanic’ words, those affirming the existence of the three female deities, were then excluded from the revelation, and strict monotheism was reconfirmed. The polytheists of Mecca resumed their hostility, but Muhammad had compromised nothing.
There was already a long tradition of Prophets' interceding on behalf of Humanity so that religious obligations be reduced and the path made easier for weaker vessels.

There are several anecdotes showing Prophets as having a motherly care for their flock or showing lovably human traits- e.g. a liking for sweets or a tenderness for cats.

No doubt, there is also a long tradition of pedagogues and preachers saying silly things. Still, all cultures have an equal share of that type of stupidity.
Today, virtually all Muslims consider the episode of the satanic verses to be a fabrication.
Today, virtually all Muslims think they have better things to do with their lives than argue the toss over something which has zero importance for their moral and spiritual life.
It is inconceivable, they say, that Satan’s words could have found their way into the revelation.
They say nothing of the sort unless you are being a dick and they want you to shut the fuck up and leave them alone.
It is inconceivable that the messenger of God, the prophet who serves as a guide for all believers, could have committed such an error.
It ought to be inconceivable because no good can from conceiving any such utterly useless shite.
The story was surely a falsehood concocted by the enemies of Islam. In the 1960s, an Egyptian scholar went so far as to propose that all mention of the incident be excised from future editions of historical texts.
History, it appears, has forgotten his name. But there is no shortage of stupid Egyptian or Anglican or Equadorian clergymen. That's part of the fun.
But the problem is that many historical texts do contain the anecdote, in around 50 slightly varying versions.
Is this a serious problem? Suppose Prof. Fudge is your son's tutor. He calls you up and says 'We have a problem. Could you come to my office?'. You break into a cold sweat. Is it drugs, or has your kid gotten mixed up with some crazy terrorist cult, or has he been caught cheating in an exam or...for fuck's sake, tell me what the problem is, Prof!

Imagine your relief when Fudge says 'the problem is that many historical texts do contain a particular anecdote.'  You realize you were worrying for no good reason. As you stand up to go, your anal sphincter loosens and you quickly shove the back of your hand down the seat of your trousers to catch a dribble of feces. You then shake Prof. Fudge's hands with vim and vigor and wipe the rest of the chocolate fudge that you made on the sleeves of his tweed jacket.

Problems of Fudge's sort are best resolved in no other way.
Moreover, as the book Before Orthodoxy: The Satanic Verses in Early Islam (2017) by Shahab Ahmed convincingly shows, the first generations of Muslims did not question the incident.
It is not possible to 'convincingly show' any such thing. All Shahab Ahmed could do was to show that no epistemic scandal arose at that time in this connection.
Ahmed passed away recently at a young age. I'd certainly have liked to have a drink with him. He wouldn't have liked having a drink with me. This is because I am living disproof of his notion that wine can push forward mystical discourse, as opposed to incontinence and talking garbled nonsense. Islam prohibits wine for a good reason. An idiot like me can feel on a par with the Ulema after a couple of drinks. A great nuisance is created thereby. It is better that the great and good deny themselves the daughter of the grape so that the Mosque does not become polluted by Circe's swine.

Still, mention of Shahab Ahmed makes one thing clear. A guy who went to a British Public School can 'investigate' Islam to some good purpose but only if, like Ahmed, he knows 15 languages and can converse on a plane of equality with great jurists and historians.

This is not to say that great jurists and historians aren't as stupid as shite. Any one of them might be guilty of such misology as is demonstrated by the following-

'For orthodoxy to obtain as a social fact—that is: for a single truth-claim to establish and maintain itself in society as the sole and exclusive truth—it is necessary, as a practical matter, for the proponents of that truth-claim to be in a position to impose sanction (which need not necessarily be legal sanction) upon dissenters. Orthodoxy, in other words, is not merely an intellectual phenomenon: it is also social phenomenon—it is, as Talal Asad has famously said, “not a mere body of opinion, but a distinct relationship—a relationship of power.”

Ahmed is committing a 'modal scope fallacy'- i.e. placing a degree of unwarranted necessity on the conclusion. Babies and kittens and puppy dogs all think they are soooo cute and that they can crawl all over you and you will squirm with delight. This is a social fact regarding which I want to be a dissenter, indeed, I often pretend to be a stone-hearted curmudgeon till left alone with one of these creatures. They can't sanction me in any way, yet there I am, a couple of minutes later, cooing over them and seeking ineffectually to engage their affections.

Most 'social facts' are established non-coercively in line with the folk theorem of repeated games. By contrast, coercive orthodoxy breeds its own resistance because coercion is costly. It uses up scarce resources. It becomes vulnerable to phase transition.

Talal Asad had a peculiar history. What he says makes sense given his antecedents. But people would think I had gone crazy if I wrote 'Tamil Brahman Orthodoxy is not merely an intellectual phenomenon: it is also social phenomenon—it is, as Cho Ramaswamy would have looked an utter fool for saying, “not a mere body of opinion, but a distinct relationship—a relationship of power.'

Islam found an Occassionalist solution to its Aristotelian problem before Western Christianity. This entailed a modal collapse such that the doctrine of imkan-al khizb- God's inability to lie- became the default position.

Following Ahmed, Fudge takes a different view-
Only gradually, with the development of certain doctrines regarding the sinlessness of prophets, did the story become impossible to accept. Even Ibn Taymiyyah, the 14th-century firebrand and intellectual forefather of Salafism, accepted the veracity of the satanic verses story.
Thus, the story is wholly inconsequential. I recall hearing a story when I was a kid that the Moon landing was bound to cause a profound convulsion within Islam coz it conflicted with orthodox beliefs. Nothing of the sort happened because Scripture is wholly insha, imperative, and has no alethic, khabar, content whatsoever.

I also recall some nutter in India getting worked up about the 'Da Vinci Code'. The notion was that Christianity would collapse if people believed Christ had got married and that his blood-line survives amongst us probably in the shape of Netanyahu & Trump's secret love-child.
In his book, Ahmed proposed that the story served particular functions in different contexts for the very first generations of believers: it might have originated to explain certain obscure Quranic verses; it might have been an uplifting narrative of triumph over adversity, of succumbing to temptation at a moment of despair, and then returning to the straight path. In other words, it is possible for believers to find meaning in a non-orthodox interpretation of the anecdote. Likewise, it is possible for a nonbeliever such as Rushdie to find something valuable in the life of the prophet, even when God is out of the picture.
Psychosis is not valuable. Nor is a story about how Power corrupts and Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely Fabulous luvvies who live in Holland Park or Notting Hill.

It is perfectly possible to take a game-theoretic 'Law & Econ' approach to Scripture. Robert Aumann has illumined the Talmud in this manner. However the Rabbis had already developed very sophisticated juristic principles like 'halacha vein morin kein'- the law, knowledge of which forbids the very action it otherwise enjoins.

'Legal fictions' feature in the early evolution of every system of Jurisprudence. The early Muslims were great jurists. But defeasibility is the essence of the Law. That's what permits the flourishing of Trade and the fine Arts and exact Sciences. Unfortunately, it also creates material for scurrilous schoolboys, of whatever age, to exercise their stupidity over. Stuff like this-
The Muhammadan revelation becomes a matter of human history and behavior, a story of belief and credulity, of power and knowledge, one that has echoes throughout human experience.
So, Christ didn't die for our sins but merely so that Monty Python could make 'Life of Brian'
None of this is to say that The Satanic Verses does not offend. It clearly does. For those who make it that far into the novel, the scenes in which the prostitutes adopt the names and personae of Mahound’s wives are guaranteed to send the faithful into fits. Neither the novel nor its author makes any suggestion that this is meant as a comment on the prophet’s wives, real or fictional, and to claim otherwise, as many have, is simply incorrect. At the same time, one can hardly claim surprise that people are offended.
The prostitutes, in Rushdie's novel, takes on what they view as the attributes of historical personages. Thus the novel does comment on them as it does on the Prophet himself. There is a Robert Graves 'King James' twist to this which parallels the Shah's twin sister's appearance in the Khomeini episode and the characterization of 'Hind'. I suppose if you are a guy with a Muslim name writing about Muslims, misogyny comes as standard. Bitches be kray kray. They will poison you or destroy your life. Talaq them now. Talaq them good. Then Talaq them once more, just to be on the safe side.
One might argue that whatever his criticisms, Rushdie should have been more respectful. But this is a dangerous path, one that misjudges what is at stake. Is it not the case that many great works of Western literature, from Fran├žois Rabelais to Voltaire, James Joyce to Philip Roth, offended a good number of religious groups and authorities?
I think it was very wrong for Rabelais and Voltaire to write in Chinese in such a manner that Chinese people would feel hatred, loathing and contempt for Western Europeans and the Religion they professed. What's that? Rabelais and Voltaire didn't write in Chinese? Oh. In that case, Rushdie is nothing like them. Nor is he like Joyce or Roth because the vast majority of subcontinental Muslims are either ignorant of English Literature or as agnostic as I am of claims that it has produced anything finer than Agatha Christie, P.G Woodhouse, and J.K Rowling.

This is not to say that I don't get that Joyce was a great writer for smart Irish peeps. I was taught 'Portrait of the Artist' by an elderly Irish Christian Brother. His comments gave me an inkling of what an Aquinian Universal Socialism might look like.

Similarly, Roth was writing of his own highly successful community during the midst of a great revolution in sexual mores. In neither case was there any lasting offence.

Rushdie's book is in a wholly different category. It is 'Rangeela Rasool' tarted up with a bit of pseudo-intellectual, Homi Bhabha type 'hybridity' or plagiarism.
This was the argument of Sadik Jalal al-Azm, a Syrian philosophy professor who was arrested in 1970 on blasphemy charges stemming from his book Critique of Religious Thought (1969), in which he condemned religiosity in the Arab world, and blamed it for many social and political ills.
The man was an old fashioned Marxist and thus had his own protectors. Rushdie, unlike Tariq Ali, was pretending to be an 'emic' Muslim rather than a deracinated, but still posh, Trostsykite.
He wrote various pieces in defence of The Satanic Verses and its author, including ‘The Importance of Being Earnest About Salman Rushdie’ (1989), an extended comparison with Rabelais and Joyce, noting the difference between the canonical status granted to Western authors who challenged religious authority or orthodoxy and the, at best tepid, support for Rushdie.
Joyce inspired Lacan, Derrida, Deleuze and so forth. How is he comparable to Rushdie? Even Homo Baba has stopped gushing about him.

The least interesting thing about Joyce is his 'challenge to religious authority'. On the contrary, many a Jesuit has written a PhD thesis on the manner in which Joyce was 'steeled in the school of old Aquinas'.

Fudge comments-
Some might protest at the assumption of Muslim backwardness in need of secularisation, but al-Azm argues that there is a long list of Muslim writers who have faced various trials for their expression of independent or secular thought. Rushdie, he says, is part of this lineage.'
Al-Azm wrote in Arabic for Arabic readers. Rushdie wrote in English for fellow Oxbridge graduates. Had he been a Leftist writing for an Indian audience, he'd have been obliged to be either a Marxian miserabilist or a Naipaul type Eeyore. Instead his books were gossipy and salacious. Thus India, the country he identified with (though his family emigrated to Pakistan) returned his affection and merely banned one of his novels because it crossed a line. He was welcomed back to tout his subsequent works.
It is certainly true that anti-Muslim sentiment (and politics) has reached levels where any criticism of Islam is suspect for its motives, but one wonders about the fate of this intellectual tradition of secular dissent.
The fate of this tradition was to be as boring as shit and then to emigrate somewhere a handful of journalists would pretend to give a damn.
In the current climate, the fate of a highbrow novel might not be the most pressing issue, but it does seem that those who value literature should at least be aware of what is at stake.
Those who value literature should write. They should then look around and see who writes better than them. Support that guy. In this way, Literature advances. Joining Oprah's book of the month club will make you stupid- but not as stupid as reading Booker picks or whatever text it is the Nobel committee- whom I firmly believe to be a bunch of pervs- wants to shove up our collective arse to get its jollies.

Fudge writes-
 Should we, in any case, assume that everyone of Muslim background takes offence? No. In 1989, a Pakistani reader wrote to The Observer newspaper in London:
Salman Rushdie speaks for me in The Satanic Verses, and mine is a voice that has not yet found expression in newspaper columns … Someone who does not live in an Islamic society cannot imagine the sanctions, both self-imposed and external, that militate against expressing religious disbelief … Then, along comes Rushdie and speaks for us. Tells the world that we exist – that we are not simply a fabrication of some Jewish conspiracy.
This Pakistani guy knew very well that Pakistani newspapers- like Indian newspapers- are shit. But so too is the Observer.
Rushdie wasn't writing for sub-continentals without a visa to Yurop or Amrika. He was gloating over his own immunity to the concerns of the people he pretended to be writing about. That's why he couldn't be the second Kipling.
Al-Azm, too, noted that the controversial sections of The Satanic Verses spoke to him personally, that he too had wondered what kind of a man was Muhammad:
Was he a world-historic figure or an instrument of Divine Will and Plan? Was he a pious God-fearing figure of traditional legends or a shrewd and calculating long-distance trader and merchant? Was he a servant of the Spirit and its higher ideals (having read some Hegel) or a philanderer and womaniser? After some exposure to Freud I did ask myself questions about the psychoanalytic significance of his earlier marriage to a woman fit to be his mother and his later infatuation with girls fit to be his daughters.
This Al-Azm character must be as stupid as shit. The hero of a particular age is given attributes that age considers worthy of admiration. Having lots of wives was considered a good thing back then. Ayesha's claim is that by some miracle she attained puberty at a very young age. It is utterly foolish to quote Freud- whose Medical practice was based on fraud (the A.M.A decided almost half a century ago that 'neurosis' is not a medical condition) in connection with the 'seal of the Prophets'. There is no evidence of any 'infatuation with young girls'. It is highly repugnant to make this suggestion. It licenses crimes against young people. The sensible thing is to say, 'God can cause even a newborn to assume the form of a fit and healthy adult'. But, God isn't doing that anymore so lay off kiddies you disgusting pedo swine otherwise we will cut your goolies off and kick your head in for good measure.'

Fudge ends his essay thus-
Rushdie’s satire has nothing to do with the crude criticism of Islam that has become widespread and that Rushdie himself (somewhat understandably) has engaged in, which posits a fundamental incompatibility with modernity or the need for an Islamic ‘reformation’.
I think Fudge is fudging the facts when he makes this claim. Rushdie, writing at a time when Zia ruled the roost in Pakistan, is making the case that Power is essentially Fascist and that no type of Islamic politics can have any trajectory that does not end in either impotence or what Hitchens would call 'Islamo-fascism'. Rushdie was moving away from an earlier 'Sufi' ambivalence of a jadidi type to full blown American vulgarity.
It is instead the kind of critique that only a novel can provide. It points to the cracks and weaknesses in the certainties of the tradition; it tells us that commands and prohibitions can reveal more than their issuers intend, that Muhammad’s power and status might have changed his behaviour, that the Quran as we know it might not in fact be the direct word of God, that if the scripture says that the prophet’s wives should remain behind a curtain, some imaginations will run wild about what is going on in there – that to talk of belief implies the existence of doubt and nonbelief.
The trouble is this sort of critique is wholly paranoid. It can find the same 'cracks and weaknesses' in any protocol bound, juristic process which culminates in 'buck stopped' certainties or intensional propositions. One could find patriarchy in mathematical physics and pederasty in the two times table. Following a Foucault or Chomsky one could denounce the neighbor's cat for illegally surveilling you in a manner that serves the interests of American hegemony and Globalised Finance. I'm not saying stuff like that doesn't happen in real life. As I have frequently explained on my blog, I wasn't actually doing anything sexual to my Dyson vacuum cleaner. However, the neighbor's cat witnessed what happened and I accept that it might have got the wrong idea about why I stuck a certain appendage of mine down the hose. I just wanted to clear a blockage is all. What happened subsequently may indeed have voided the warranty. In any case, the lady at John Lewis to whom I return my Dyson vacuum cleaners, because they lose suction so quickly, was getting somewhat shirty. She'd put on disposable gloves to handle the item. Anyway, that's the reason I have a non functioning Dyson in my flat. I'm not saying the neighbor's cat is a spy for the big Corporations. However, it does seem to be more than a coincidence that Jim Dyson has moved his head office to Singapore where all cats are enrolled in a Government mandated surveillance program. At least this is what I have been told by my cousins who live there. I had wanted to visit them but they dissuaded me by telling me of Singapore's draconian punishments for interfering with domestic appliances.

Come to think of it, perhaps there is some merit in Rushdie's book. Clearly only magical-realism can illuminate contemporary problems like the one posed by neighborhood cats spying for big Corporations.

As Fudge says-
It is these aspects of The Satanic Verses that have been eclipsed by the Rushdie affair and its aftermath, but it is these that will persist well after the current social and political landscape has changed.
 In other words, the fact that 'belief' and 'certainty' bring about their own antithesis is a fact that will persist. Currently you may believe, nay you may be certain!, that the cat is not spying on you. However, if Fudge isn't fudging his pants as opposed to speaking sooth, then it is these aspects of your episteme which will be undermined long after Sir James Dyson has gone bankrupt because of all the Singaporeans who interfere with his appliances when their cats are not looking. Them Singaporeans are very sneaky that way.

Rudrangshu Mukhurjee's illiterate cri de coeur

The historian, Rudrangshu Mukhurjee, Chancellor of Ashoka University- writes in a new book of his

India today, seventy years after Independence, is facing a situation where some of the fundamental features of democracy are under serious threat. 
This is a remarkable claim. Fundamental features of Democracy have justiciable remedies if threatened or curtailed in any manner. Indira Gandhi abused her power. Raj Narain took her to court. The Court decreed against her. She then suspended the Rule of Law in the name of Democracy and changed the Constitution. Can Mukhurjee point to anything similar happening now? Is there a dynasty being established? If so, where is the equivalent of Sanjay Gandhi riding roughshod over Ministers and Civil Servants? Are opposition leaders being incarcerated without due process? Has Censorship been imposed?

The answer to all these questions is no. What then is it that worries our historian?

The threat emanates from the ideological orientation of the present prime minister and of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
No ideology represents a threat to any fundamental feature of Democracy. That is why Democracies don't ban ideologies.

Mrs Gandhi may or may not have had an ideology. She established a Dynasty. That is a fundamental threat to Democracy. The BJP has done nothing similar.
There are two aspects of this ideology that need to be noted here. One is the assertion that India is a country of the Hindus and that the true future of India lies in making a Hindu Rashtra.
Where has that assertion been made? From the ramparts of Red Fort on Independence Day? Nope. Modi talks about the need to build Toilets so as to end open defecation. He never speaks of Akhand Bharat or Hindu Rashtra.

People of a particular Religion may wish their creed to be embraced by everyone and that this outcome will be attained in the fullness of time. Such a belief is not a threat to Democracy. Mitt Romney, as a Mormon, may have believed that America, and the World's, destiny was to embrace his own Religion. The Mormons are very active proselytisers. They baptize dead people into their faith. But, Romney did not represent a threat to Democracy.
Other religious groups — Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and so on — will have to live in India on terms determined and dictated by the Hindus, the people who can project what is truly Indian.
After Independence, Muslims in Hindu majority areas had to live on terms determined and dictated by Hindus. The mention of cow protection in the Constitution is evidence of this. The suppression of Urdu in favour of Hindi, the loss of reserved seats, and a great decline in the proportion of Muslims in Legislatures and the Civil Service, occurred while Nehru was Prime Minister. That is why many Muslims migrated to Pakistan in the Fifties. The 1965 War marked the apogee of insecurity for the Indian Muslim. Salman Rushdie's father- a Cambridge Graduate, barrister and successful businessman, felt he had to up-sticks and get out of the country because the 'Custodian of Enemy Property' was persecuting him.

Nothing similar is happening now.

These views are not confined to the world of ideas. They have become a part of the grim reality of the daily lives of ordinary people, who have become perpetrators of intimidation and violence, as well as its victims.
Mukhurjee knows full well that communalisation, which was declining in the early Seventies, re-emerged during the Emergency when Muslims were victimized by the administration- most blatantly in Old Delhi as part of Sanjay Gandhi's 'Civic Beautification' campaign. After Mrs. Gandhi returned to power, the condition of Muslims deteriorated markedly. Sikhs too were targeted. Nothing similar is happening now.
Ordinary individuals pursuing their trade and professions have begun to group themselves in localities to preserve and protect what they think, following the Sangh Parivar, as Hindu and truly Indian. Perceived threats to this Hindu India are then made targets of violence. The targets are always ordinary Muslims, who are attacked and lynched.
Always? Mukhurjee Sahib, you are departing from the script. You must include Dalits. Presumably what you are getting at is the beef issue. But cow protection laws were brought in by Congress and other political parties.

In the name of Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra, the rule of law is made to disappear and mob violence prevails. And because perpetrators of this kind of violence are always supporters of the ruling political dispensation, the police become bystanders and no action is taken against the inciters and the executors of violence. Lynching and mob violence, on the rise in many parts of India, began almost as soon as Narendra Modi came to power. In 2016, a student was arrested from Jawaharlal Nehru University and was beaten up by lawyers while the police remained passive bystanders. None of the offenders — those who took the law into their own hands — was charged or arrested.
Between 2013 and 2016 there was a decline in lynchings. Social Scientists link this sort of mob violence to the health of the agricultural sector. Farmers' distress has increased. Dominant castes are demanding reservations.

The ruling party needs to preserve Law & Order and deliver cash based transfers so as to defuse a potentially explosive situation. India is already a Hindu Rashtra in all but name. Rahul Gandhi is now saying he is a Shaivite, sacred thread wearing, Temple visiting, Brahmin. Hindus have been appeased. Now they will cast their votes on the basis of how much better Governance can ameliorate conditions for themselves and their caste fellows.

Since then the list of such incidents has grown at an alarming rate. And increasingly, almost always, the victims of the violence are Muslims who are suspected of eating beef, selling beef and so on. The actual reason is that they are Muslims and therefore are seen as enemies. Bigotry nurtured by a political ideology has made people, as it always does, blind and intolerant. There is one associated feature of this violence to which attention needs to be drawn. In every case, the prime minister and his close associates and leaders of the Sangh Parivar have failed to or refused to condemn the violence. Murder in the name of Hindu Rashtra is fast becoming a way of life in democratic India.
Nonsense! If the majority wants to slaughter the minority they can do so. The vast majority of the army, the paramilitaries and the police are Hindu. Most Judges and Civil Servants are Hindus. If the thing were popular, it would have been done already. If it isn't popular, it will be curbed when it is expedient to do so.

These events, where supporters of the Sangh Parivar in parts of India have used violence, boasted about using violence and incited violence, reveal an ominous political trend in India. It is significant that there are groups of people, supported by political leaders, who are unashamed — on the contrary proud — of their use and advocacy of violence against individuals and groups who do not share their views.
So what?  The Communists were the worst offenders in this regard. That did not mean that Democracy couldn't turf them out when their hoodlums went too far.

The counterpart of this kind of exhibition of intolerance of dissent is authoritarianism. 
Which is why Mukhurjee is now in Tihar jail and Ashoka University has been reduced to a pile of rubble.

Why is Mukhurjee using the word 'authoritarianism' as if it has a pejorative meaning in India? He should use words like tyranny or misrule.
A political party and its various wings, because they enjoy a popular mandate, are assuming that they have the right to impose their views on people who disagree with them.
Everybody has the right to impose their views on everybody else as well as to resist any such thing happening to themselves. Thus, if a Christian Missionary knocks on my door and begins haranguing me to come to Jesus, it is not the case that Theresa May, a Vicar's daughter, has licensed them to do so.They may believe otherwise but it still isn't true.

The first step is to label the dissenters with epithets that incite passion — “anti-national”, “Maoists”, “terrorists”, “perpetrators of sedition”, “beef eaters” are some of the common labels being used for anyone who dares to criticise.
A better first step would be to use epithets like 'senile old windbag' or 'ignorant shithead'. However, the best first step of all would be to ignore critics unless they say something useful in which case you steal their suggestion without acknowledging it.
These epithets are then being used as an excuse for state action — arrests, humiliation, denial of bail.
The epithets are not an excuse they correspond to cognizable offences. However charges can only be sustained if there is verifiable evidence.
The state action is being bolstered by actions of party cadre and party loyalists who are rushing in to harangue, abuse and beat up so called “offenders”. The abuse continues on social media. An ambience of terror and intimidation is thus generated.
No such ambience has been generated. That is why opposition parties are experiencing resurgence. Because of the worsening outlook for India on virtually every front, the BJP may well decide to give up on Governance the way everybody else has and simply concentrate on feathering the nests of its careerists. However, the RSS, being at arms length, will be able to continue to burgeon precisely for this reason.
The targets of this terror are two predictable groups. One is made up of the secular, anti-Hindutva, pro-democratic sections of the population; India’s most endangered species — the secular intelligentsia.
A ridiculous suggestion. These jokers drummed up support, even amongst anglophone NRIs for Modi. Previously we were afraid these dhoti wearing Hindi speakers would make us look bad in the eyes of the world. Then people with high caste Hindu names and Doctorates from Oxbridge or Ivy League started writing of Hindus as bestial terrorists who would outdo the idiocy of the Muslims. At that point, we voted for Modi because at least he dressed well and didn't talk nonsense.
What is also alarming is that attacks against this group are tapping into a pool of public opinion which believes that India should be a strong state, that tolerance is not a virtue, that nationalism is an unalloyed virtue, and that universities should have no autonomy.
So, this was written a couple of years ago, when people like Mukherjee didn't get that 'autonomy' means market oriented reform. That's why the lecturers are up in arms against autonomy. They want the State to continue to pay for everything in return for worthless Degrees. The problem here is that not even the most benighted dehati wants a PhD from JNU in Gramscian gobshittery.  They do want to learn good enough English to at least work in a call center.

And in the second group are Muslims who, it is averred, “should be taught a lesson” for no other reason save that from 1206 to the coming of British rule Muslim dynasties ruled India.
This may be the Congress view because Congress sees the Muslims as a cowed and despondent vote-bank for whom the BJP is a bogey man.

However, for the BJP, people like Abdul Kalam are inspiring figures whom Indians should learn from. There are countless such Muslims. In some cases, their religious faith is directly responsible for their achievements. I may be too lazy to pray even once a day and may consider the ban on alcohol to be unreasonable, but I have to admit that spiritual exercises and flawless sobriety are very helpful in carrying out great tasks.
Muslims are assumed to be anti-Indian/Hindu.
Muslims who say kaffirs should be killed and India should be dismembered are anti-Indian. Indian Muslims, in the main, feel that these crazy killers are not Muslims. They refused to give Islamic burial to the terrorists who attacked the Taj Hotel.
It would be simplistic and erroneous to believe that only the ignorant and the obscurantists hold such outlandish views. These views are held by educated people, seen and heard in clubs and cocktail parties, people whom one would expect to be upholders of the rule of law and the Indian Constitution. This pool of support and the popular mandate provide the sanction for the slide towards authoritarianism.
So Mukherjee is the sort of person people come up at cocktail parties in order to regale him with hate speech. Why is that? How come it doesn't happen to me? Does the fucker have a Hitler 'tache? Or does he just give off a rapey vibe?

It might be asked: how there can be a slide towards authoritarianism when Parliament still exists and is functioning to the extent that the Opposition is voicing its concern on the floors of the two Houses of Parliament?
'how there can be' is Babu English. The correct form is 'how can there be'. The answer is there can be a slide to authoritarianism if the PM doesn't trust members of the cabinet not to mount a coup or else considers them to be useless. This was a feature of Indira Gandhi's paranoid style of exercising power. It is not a feature of Modi Sarkar.

The authoritarianism is manifest in a different, but not an irrelevant, theatre. This is at the street level — the way supporters and party loyalists are mobilising themselves to suppress dissent and the articulation of criticism.
It is Mamta's goons who are doing so in this cretin's native province. Why pretend otherwise? Whom does this buddhijivi think he is fooling?
They are also choosing their own ways of punishing those who differ with them — smearing them with ink, humiliating them, beating them up, lynching them and so on. In other words, through mob violence.
This fucker studied at Oxford. Why can't he write grammatical English? 'In other words, through mob violence' is not a well formed sentence.

This is not to suggest that Modi is ordering or directing the violence, the intolerance and the suppression of dissent.
These are acts akin to those the Stormtroopers and the Hitler Youth carried out in Nazi Germany.
But Hitler directly ordered those acts. He killed, in the 'night of the long knives', those who acted independently.
What is decisive here is not the rule of law, not democracy and certainly not the Constitution, but the brutal use of muscle power to impose one particular ideological view — Hindutva. Such actions have the consent of ideological and the political leaders.
The brutal use of muscle power was a feature of the Communists and then the TMC in Bengal. Gujarat is not a place where 'muscle power' is respected. The RSS has risen there because of its record of social and educational work. Modi's own success had to do with suppressing criminality and corruption. In Bengal, businesses and households are extorted by Mamta's goons to donate money for Durga Puja pandals. Nothing similar happens where genuine Hindu values are respected. 

Many people of Rudy's own class are now voting BJP in Bengal because they are sick and tired of 'goonda Raj'.

This is not to suggest that Modi is ordering or directing the violence, the intolerance and the suppression of dissent. He does not need to. His supporters are second-guessing him and carrying out actions that they know will win his approval. Modi does not need to implement his own ideological agenda; there are people — many of them physically far away from him, ordinary cadre of the Sangh Parivar — who are doing that job of implementation and doing it mercilessly. They are working towards Hindutva and therefore towards Modi’s core beliefs.
The problem here is that Modi knows he has to uphold the Rule of Law if his reforms are to succeed. If others break the law, they must be prosecuted. Civil Society has an interest in seeing that this done. Gassing on about some imaginary 'authoritarianism' does no good at all, more especially if it is admitted that Modi is not authoritarian. He commands nothing which is against the law. 

The emergence of Narendra Modi as the undisputed and the unchallenged leader of the BJP has brought greater clarity to the ideological aims of the Sangh Parivar.
This is nonsense. The RSS is wholly independent. It is suspicious of some aspects of Modi's agenda. Modi is not in a similar position to Mamta or Rahul or Mayawati or even Stalin, now that his brother is keeping shtum.

Modi, like Thatcher, can fall if he makes a mis-step. Demonetization could have done for him as the Poll tax did for Thatcher. Even Nehru wasn't safe after the Chinese debacle.
The velvet glove of moderate Hindutva has been removed to reveal the mailed fist.
When Rudy type cretins railed against Vajpayee and Advani they made no mention of any 'velvet glove'. Why do so now?
This ideological direction has no particular respect for, and interest in, preserving the fabric of the Constitution, the principles of parliamentary democracy and the features of a cabinet form of government.
Nonsense! The Indian Constitution is unitary and gives greater scope to the Center. It is in Modi's interest to work within it. Having a majority in both Houses means a greater commitment to parliamentary democracy. A united and increasingly meritocratic cabinet strengthens that form of government.

Modi, much like Indira Gandhi in her prime in the early 1970s, has fashioned a personalised form of governance by eroding all forms of collective decision-making.
Rubbish! Indira appointed a Bengali Chief Justice out of turn while employing a Bengali philosopher as Minister of Industry and a Bengali mathematical economist as Planning Chief. These sycophants let her son Sanjay run amok. Modi is not appointing Bengali shitheads so as to concentrate power in his own hands. 
Everyone at every level of political power knows where the real power lies — with the prime minister, and its implementation resides in the hands of a few handpicked bureaucrats in the prime minister’s office.
When has the PMO not been the real power-center? Under Manmohan? The PMO would fight public turf battles with whichever Ministry was under Pranab Mukherjee. On the other hand, corrupt Ministers would ignore the PMO trusting to the pusillanimity of Manmohan.

The politics of religious hatred at the street level created by a pernicious ideology that sees Muslims as enemies and anti-Indian, the pandering to this kind of hatred by political leaders, the growing spirit of irrationality in the intellectual space, the diminishing of dissent of all forms, the creeping erosion of democratic and civil society institutions and the deification of the prime minister — all these features are not only threats to democracy, but also to all forms of civilised existence.
But Rudy and his ilk have been spreading hatred of the RSS and the BJP for thirty years in exactly the same way. These cunts even pretended there was a 'Hindu terrorism' which was as great a threat as Islamic terror. Modi was the only person given a visa ban by the US. The Congress administration pretended India was a failed state and thus the Indian judiciary could not bring Modi to justice. Thus the US had to take action under a Law which had previously only been applied to Vietnam.

Was life under Sonia's corrupt and incompetent cabal really such a bed of roses? When the Nirbhaya atrocity occurred, Shiela Dixit, Delhi's CM, confessed that her own daughter could not safely go out at night. Yet, on TV, we could see that girls in Modi's Ahmedabad were perfectly safe to go to a movie or meet their friends even at eleven o'clock in the night!
They define a form of rule in which only hatred and brutality will prevail. These features came together in Europe in the 1930s to create a form of rule which caused the eclipse of liberalism.
But liberalism has never existed in India. It can't be eclipsed. Governance still has many rungs to climb before Liberalism can be established, let alone eclipsed. Under Modi, there is some prospect of this happening. Under dynastic rule, none at all.