Sunday, 6 August 2017

Corrupt Indians prefer Government jobs, Stupid Academics prefer Junk Social Science

Hanna & Wang, of Harvard & Wharton respectively, have a paper claiming that propensity to corruption is linked to a preference for Public Sector employment in Karnataka, India.
Students in India who cheat on a simple laboratory task are more likely to prefer public sector jobs. This paper shows that cheating on this task predicts corrupt behavior by civil servants, implying that it is a meaningful predictor of future corruption. Students who demonstrate pro-social preferences are less likely to prefer government jobs, while outcomes on an explicit game and attitudinal measures of corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. A screening process that chooses high ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption. The findings imply that differential selection into government may partially contribute to corruption. 
Hanna & Wang didn't survey Arts students- claiming people who study Politics or History or Literature don't end up as Public Sector workers even though, historically, Arts subjects are considered a gateway to Babudom. Instead, their sample is about 80 percent Commerce and 20 percent Sciences. Students of the former receive some instruction in basic concepts of Game Theory and Mechanism Design and this is reinforced by popular articles. It is likely that such students would show different behaviour in a 'lab test' even if they share the same normative values with students who don't understand the importance of the concept of Mechanism Design in modern Social Science. In other words, this methodology is ab ovo flawed.

Do Hanna & Wang have 'a screening process' for high ability applicants? No. Their sample was of students, not applicants for UPSC jobs. If the cost of application for Public Sector jobs is zero, which is what they assume, then, okay, there is likely to be a correlation. However, the actual cost of attempting the UPSC exam in a credible fashion is at least 700 dollars in coaching fees and other expenses plus an enormous opportunity cost in terms of time and effort. It is unlikely that the 80 percent Commerce stream, 60 per cent female, 40 per cent minorities, sample they have used is in any way representative of actual applicants, let alone successful ones.

This is not to say that a survey of actual applicants for UPSC jobs might not yield a similar result. However, our two researchers have not in fact made any such survey. Yet, by a piece of verbal sleight of hand, they substitute 'applicant' for 'student' on the basis of a farcically wrong assumption. Their work does not 'predict' anything- save perhaps that their next paper will be garbage.

Hanna & Wang's methodology was as follows-
 'we asked each student in our sample to roll a standard die 42 times and to report the number of each roll in order to receive a payment that was increasing in the number reported. Thus, while we do not know with certainty if an individual lied, we can observe how far each individual’s distribution of reports is from the uniform distribution. Note that this measure is appealing in that it does not prime the subject on corruption or dishonesty explicitly and allows them to feel comfortable in knowing that no one can say with certainty that they are cheating.                   

' key contribution of our paper is that we then conducted a validation exercise of this measure using a real measure of corruption. Specifically, we conducted the dice task with 165 government nurses who were part of an experiment conducted by Dhaliwal and Hanna (2013), in which they collected detailed measures of absenteeism through the use of random checks over two years. Thus, we can test whether the dice task outcome predicts fraudulent absenteeism. '

So students aiming to crack the IAS are being compared to poorly educated female nurses in the districts who have much lower cognitive ability and who are being paid for their participation in the 'lab test' with candy, not money.

Why? It is because the main job of an IAS officer ( 75 % of whom are likely to be male) is emptying bed pans. Moreover, a young Bureaucrat who is good at his job can easily get a visa to Europe or the Gulf and earn much more money for doing the same work.

What about 'fraudulent absenteeism'? Is that a good measure of propensity for corruption? No. A corrupt staff nurse will show up for work every day and extort bribes from patients by threatening to withdraw vital nursing services. Moreover, absenteeism is high where the posting is undesirable- some rural shithole- but the posting is undesirable only because the nurse doesn't have the money or the connections necessary to pay a bribe for a good posting. Such absenteeism has to be tolerated because of poor working conditions and the fallibility and expense of monitoring.

There is literally no similarity or connection between the two sample populations Hanna & Wang have chosen. The nurses are poor and stupid and what's more they know that aint going to change any time soon. Their fate is sealed. The students are not as poor or as stupid and their life is still before them. They can dream dreams. With hindsight, it will be obvious that a lot of them hadn't a hope of cracking the UPSC exam. Some may end up with MPhils or PhDs but still applying for peon's jobs.

Why are Hanna & Wang pretending that there is some hard-wired trait corresponding to a stable, exogenously given, propensity for corruption? Is there any evidence that the thing exists? If it does, why not study how it can be detected and cured? But, why stop there? Why not subscribe to a wholesale Manichaeism? Why not say that this survey predicts that the evil Demiurge is recruiting Satanically inclined minions to staff the Public Sector in a manner that passes Human Understanding?

For the moment, Hanna & Wang are being modest. Probably, they suspect they aren't 'high ability' and so will be screened out if they start babbling about Gnostic Demiurges or Lizard People from the Planet X. Thus they observe-
 students who had above median dice points (i.e. higher probability of cheating) were 6.2 percent more likely to want a government job. We find no significant difference in the predictive value of the dice task for high-ability students than for low ability students in terms of job preferences. This implies that screening on ability would neither exacerbate nor mitigate the selection problem among government workers in this context. Importantly, we find that nurses with above median dice points were 10.7 percent more likely to be fraudulently absent than those below it. Furthermore, as in the student sample, we do not find any significant heterogeneity in the predictive power of the dice task for nurse absenteeism by ability. This simple fact that the dice task also predicts the corrupt behaviour of the government nurses helps validate the interpretation of the student sample. 
Liars tell more lies than non liars which is why it is meaningful to speak of liars as opposed to non liars. We expect Public Sector workers who lie about one thing to be more likely to lie about another thing. Does this prove that liars are more likely to want to be Public Sector workers? No.

Perhaps it 'validates an interpretation' of a study which shows liars prefer Public Sector jobs? No. Substitute the phrase 'Cat lover' for 'Public Sector'. The fact that Cat loving liars tell more lies than Cat loving non liars does not 'validate an interpretation' of a small sample test where it was found that Cat lovers were 6.2 % more likely to tell lies. On the contrary, it invalidates any interpretation of the academic paper in question as other than Junk Social Science.

Civil servants need to be civil. They slot into a hierarchy. It may well be that telling lies is correlated with a type of 'Social intelligence' which is based on what the Greek Church calls oikonomia as opposed to Akribeia- i.e. flexibility rather than rigid exactitude. Lord Armstrong, a leading Thatcher era British Civil Servant, is credited with popularising the expression ' to be economical with the truth'. There is no suggestion that Armstrong was corrupt. Why not? Well, Armstrong was subject to strong checks and balances. These could only be subverted by a powerful nexus created and sustained by the elected politicians he answered to. Even then, he'd have been caught unless the British Courts had as big a backlog of cases, or were as accommodating in granting extensions, as Indian Courts.

In India- Karnataka specifically- preference for Govt. employment is tied to housing situation and family obligations. Those who are well housed in a good area are also likely to have better educational opportunities and choose high paid private sector employment. The Public Sector is only sought by either dunces or those who are part of a powerful clan- i.e. they are, in effect, being recruited by an existing syndicate. One reason for this is that the first years of Government service are financially strenuous. One needs to pay a lot in bribes to get a good posting, nice housing, a non crazy rapist of a boss etc. At this time, it is the extended family which supports you. Sometimes, it is the in-laws who stipulate that you stay in such and such Govt. job so as to be useful to them when you get promoted on the basis of seniority (the bribes only affect posting, not status).

Hanna & Wang chose to remain blissfully oblivious to any and all considerations of the sort listed here. Why? The answer is that Stupid Academics like telling Stupid Lies. Other Stupid Academics, like the good folk at Marginal Revolution, are happy to quote these Stupid Lies because that's how availability cascade based Junk Social Science operates.


Hanna & Wang are good people.
More sadly, they are smart people.
What they are doing is corrupt.
Not ugly and hateful, like what I am doing- as I said they are actually good & smart.
Still... dunno why precisely
Coz I respect their character- their capacity for metanoia- I must trash their thoughts and work.
Below, I quote their paper and then make comments in bold.

Economic theory predicts that civil servants often shirk or take bribes because it is difficult for central governments and citizens to monitor and subsequently punish these bad behaviors (e.g. Banerjee, 1997; Shleifer and Vishny, 1993, Di Tella and Schargrodsky, 2004; and Olken and Pande, 2012). 

What is wrong with this sentence? It says that Economic theory predicts something that utterly implausible- viz. that civil servants shirk or take bribes when they are likely to be caught and shot in the head if they do so.

That just aint true. 

Anyone, not just a civil servant, is likely to shirk or take bribes if it is difficult for his employer or his clients to monitor and subsequently punish bad behaviour. That's why Econ has an incomplete contract theory. It's also why Harvard/Wharton type Econ is an, adding noise to signal, Availability Cascade productive only of degenerate Research Programs and yet more worthless Virtue Signalling.

What is the point of quoting Banerjee 1997 as supporting this view? His paper, when it appeared, wasn't utterly foolish. Or, at least, we didn't know that we would judge it to be foolish twenty years later.

Why not? Well, it did not make absurd claims like 'civil servants shirk or take bribes because, of its nature, performance of ANY civil service job is difficult to monitor.' Suppose there was some problem peculiar to civil service contracts such that the above statement were true. Then, there is an easy solution. Privatise everything. Put everything out to tender. Reclassify each and every Babu as an employee of a Private Sector Enterprise or else an NGO or, worst comes to the worst, just designate the fellow as a urinal or other such public convenience.

This implies that variation in the ability to monitor or incentivise civil servants may drive the observed differences in corruption across countries, across agencies within a country, or even across the types of tasks for which public servants are responsible. 

Not true. The prediction of an Economic theory does not imply- i.e. stipulate- anything about the truth value or likelihood of any conditional. I predict it will rain in 5 minutes time. This prediction does not imply that there will be rain clouds in the sky at that time. Why not? It's because I'm using an Economic theory, not a meteorological one, to make my prediction. I believe the bureaucrats in the Celestial Ministry of Rain production are amenable to bribes of a certain sort because Arrow's Theorem has proved Godel's proof of God is valid in the manner of an 'invisible dictator' and thus monitoring of Celestial Civil Servants is lax or incentive incompatible.

However, not all civil servants engage in the same level of corrupt behavior, even in the same position or role. Besley (2005) and Prendergast (2007) posit that this may be potentially due to different government workers having different preferences over engaging in corruption. As such, it follows that the types of individuals that select into government may help explain variation in corruption levels. 

Or it may not. Besley's paper was okay when it came out. It said 'people don't think Blair is a crook because...urm... well, they just don't okay, and I've written a paper so thank you and good night.' That was 12 years ago. Now everybody thinks Blair was a great big crook and all his vaunted Public/Private Partnership schemes and 'Third Way' 'arms length' Management Organisations were a big fucking swindle from which he and his ilk profited immensely.

Why do Hanna & Wang cite a paper about the likes of Tony Blair in a study about poor students at crap Colleges in Karnataka? Are they mad? Or is this stupidity just par for the course?

Let us see-

The empirical literature has mostly focused on documenting how monitoring and financial incentives affect public service delivery in developing countries (e.g. Fisman and Miguel, 2007; Olken, 2007; Duflo, Hanna and Ryan, 2012; Niehaus and Sukhtankar, 2013).

Fisman & Miguel looked at UN diplomats in New York. Those from highly corrupt countries were less likely to pay their fines. Once enforcement was beefed up, by the confiscation of diplomatic plates, the delinquents toed the line.  Big surprise. Why bring it up in this context? Do Hanna & Wang not understand that diplomats have immunity, save by express waiver by their own Foreign Ministry, and that this is almost never granted? A diplomat only has to fear his own country's laws, not those of the host country. There can be reciprocal agreements- e.g. the Americans and Brits can agree that their respective diplomats pay parking tickets in each other's countries. In their absence, it becomes a matter of punctilio for protocol officers to battle things out. What happened in 2002 which made UN diplomats suddenly amenable to pressure from the host country? Think about it. You know the answer. 9/11. After 9/11, New York could crack down on UN diplomats because... guess what other stuff was going down. America was suddenly in the business of 'boots on the ground' 'regime change' and that sure scared a lot of diplos straight. 

Hanna & Wang aint teenagers. They don't come from rural Karnataka. Why are they quoting a study about diplomats in New York in 2002? 

Are they just stupid and ignorant? Or is this symptomatic of some deeper malaise rendering their profession utterly and hilariously worthless?

Much less is known about the type of individuals who select into civil service, whether opportunities for rents in the government sector attract individuals with a high tolerance for engaging in corrupt activities relative to the private sector, and whether screening methods for civil servants could inadvertently screen in more or less “corrupt” individuals.

Much less is known by whom? The Indian UPSC? The Karnataka Civil Service Board? Are you kidding me? Those guys have built up 'expert cognition'. They can smell it out at a 100 yards. Take my old class-mate, Sanjay Pratap Singh. I made a couple of phone calls and know down to the year and the month, if not the precise day, when he turned rotten. Still, there was another moment, a crossing of a subjective point of no return which can't be precisely stipulated. Graham Greene wrote a great novel about a Civil Servant- Scobie- who passed that point. 'In the lost boyhood of Judas, Christ was betrayed'. Not so with my sometime friend. When I met him again at the Academy in Mussoorie, his eyes blazed with fury when he described the corruption of a UP cadre officer of my caste. It was much later when things went wrong. I have other friends who went to the bad in various All India Services. In one case, it was a rapacious wife- in another an American PhD in crap Econ.

I have also seen people who went in corrupt and came out clean. They paid off their debts to the 'clan' or 'syndicate' and then showed their own families a better path. Mahatma Gandhi, in his letters to his elder brother, is doing the same thing. 

It is not true that some people are born corrupt and others are born innocent. The son of an RSS type honest official is now in jail for utterly brazen and reckless corruption.  The daughter of a Muslim Tax Official, proverbial for his courage and clean hands, is- or was, there is some realignment going on as I write this- the politic face of a worthless bunch of gangsters. These things happen. I don't write off the daughter- though she has behaved abominably to my old friend's widow and robbed her own nephew. But, God alone is great. She was too young to know her father well and then her elder brother also died prematurely. It is easy to blame the in-laws especially if they are 'rural' or 'vernacular medium'. Maybe I am a fool. Okay, I'm definitely a fool but it is not utterly foolish to say that there is something else- some non linear aspect to Time, some cancerous type of concurrency- which both predicts delinquency and permits redemption. 

Ah! I'm an old fool. I see now why Hanna & Wang write as they do. They need to keep a distance, to preserve their ignorance, because, in this context, to seek to know is to fellow suffer. Pathos Mathei- Suffering teaches- what? For the greatest of the Greeks, the Latins, the Teutons, the Celts, or our own Mar Thoma Keralites- nothing but the agonies of Christ's endless crucifixion. 

Corruption is such a malaise of the soul- at least in India, for Indians like those kids in Karnataka who, notwithstanding any 'laboratory result' suggesting the contrary are and will remain so good and so wholesome and true that even if they go the way of Sanjay Pratap, yet they can redeem themselves like the Mahatma. 

Fuck it.
I just heard myself.
Okay, Hanna & Wang aint Junk Social Science
They are just... Social Science.
For Flaubert, Art was a prophylactic.
Worthless Econometrics is now the Soul's used condom.

Perhaps Hanna & Wang's 'lab work' resulted in some human interaction or even a Hawthorne effect.
The fact that this used condom of a 'paper' is all the evidence of it that we see is not germane.

Nothing is, which is not close cousin to 30 pieces of Silver, and an impossible bride price.
Nothing becomes true till it acquires a martyr to this truth.

Has Hanna & Wang's methodological misology become a Religion?
Let us see-
First, is there evidence of selection, wherein individuals who apply for government jobs have a higher propensity for corruption? Second, we ask whether the screening process serves to mitigate or exacerbate this problem.
Sounds reasonable. But, first of all, did Hanna & Wang actually choose a data set of applicants for government jobs? No.  They have a cheap, 'quick and dirty' sample of people unlikely to spend the time and money to actually apply for government jobs, their preferences notwithstanding, because an effective application costs money and time and cognitive resources their adversely selective sample most likely lacked.

Do Hanna & Wang actually evaluate the State's 'screening process'? No. They are too stupid and ignorant to do so or even pretend to have done so. Their screening process was worthless in context. Further, it was one their own sample of 'Government servants' were too stupid and cognitively impoverished to hack. Why are Hanna & Wang telling us such stupid, obvious, lies?
We motivate our empirical exercise by examining the decision to apply for a government position given the returns to different characteristics in the public and private sector. India—like many developing countries—employs civil service examinations primarily aimed to screen potential candidates by cognitive ability. 
Did you just hear that?
Three percent of Muslims crack the Civil Service exams.
That's way below what would one expect- unless Muslims are stupider than Hindus.
They are not.
Hanna & Wang are not Indian.
They are welcome to believe otherwise.
But, if an Indian believes that ANY community in India is less 'cognitively able', then they should just fucking emigrate- and good riddance to bad rubbish is what Eugenics and Scientific Method would say.  Muslims have the same DNA as Hindus or Christians or whatever. I may be as stupid as shit. But, not even I am so stupid as to believe otherwise. 

The truth is well known. If you are of a dominant caste, then a Government job brings you extra perks. If you aint, it is a Cross your family must bear to testify to your Public Spirit.

The framework demonstrates the conditions under which we will observe high-ability individuals who apply for public service jobs also having higher levels of non-wage benefits (such as corrupt payments or utility from public service) in the government. Thus, if screening primarily on ability, one may inadvertently select individuals who possess these other characteristics.
Hanna & Wang went to Harvard and all they got was a lousy T shirt saying-
'India, like every other country, does not practice any Institutional Discrimination whatsoever'.
Fuck is wrong with these retards?
                                                                 The answer soon appears.
They believe there is a 'propensity for corruption' which is individual not Statistical.
So, we now have a new m.p.c- not the stupid Keynesian marginal propensity to consume which gives rise to a delusive 'multiplier'- but a marginal propensity to be corrupt which can act as a multiplier of Junk Social Science.

 our main challenges was devising a meaningful measure of an individual’s propensity for corruption given that individuals may not want to reveal this
That was your major challenge?  Why? Was proving P=NP too easy for you? Why are you two geniuses not claiming the Millennium Prize? After all, you have found a way of defeating an impredicative preference revelation problem, not in the general, or Evolutionarily Stable, case but in the individual case! Wow! You have solved every problem of Mechanism Design and incarnate the Revelation Principle. Why the fuck are you writing stupid illiterate nonsense about kids in Karnataka or poorly paid nurses in the boondocks? Do they really look to you to be so very evil? Shame on you! They are honest and hardworking under very adverse conditions.  What is your excuse for labelling some portion of their number with a 'propensity to corruption?' Are conditions at Harvard or Wharton really so bad? Were you tortured? Were you beaten? 

Narendra Modi said, and the World applauded, 'Harvard Economists are inferior to Hard Working people.' 

Why? The latter can admit the truth. The former live by telling stupid, ignorant, seemingly bien pensant, but actually deeply Racist and Elitist lies. Why were you so lazy as to write in the manner that you have done? Why try to pass off opportunistic, methodologically worthless, work as part of an academic availability cascade? What is your major malfunction?

Saturday, 5 August 2017

South Asian writers reflecting on Partition

For Pankaj Mishra-
To think about partition on its 70th anniversary is to think, unavoidably, about the extraordinary crisis in India today.
Ethnic cleansing killed or displaced tens of millions during Partition. There is no ethnic cleansing- even of Hindus in the Kashmir valley- today. Yet it is unavoidable for Mishra to link the two together. Why? Because he is stupid and has nothing new to say.

Salman Rushdie, expresses pessimism about India's future because
In the land of the sacred cow, people are being lynched for the “crime” of allegedly possessing or eating beef.
It doesn't occur to him that it would only be in a country where the cow is sacred that a beef eater would be in danger of lynching. I might well be lynched if I am suspected of having stolen and eaten a baby in any country where a baby's life is considered sacred. In order to safely chow down on little children, I would need to move to a country where the national dish is fricasseed toddler.

Kamila Shamsie, a Pakistani, writes
There was never a reckoning for the violence of partition; that would have got in the way of the narrative of a glorious independence. Instead it became easier to blame the other side for all the violence, and pretend that at the moment of inception both India and Pakistan didn’t wrap mass murder in a flag and hope no one would notice the blood stains.
The Indian National Congress opposed Partition. Its leadership did not instigate or condone ethnic cleansing. The Muslim League did instigate and condone ethnic cleansing to gain power. They never held elections to legitimise what they had done. All the blame goes to Pakistan which has wrapped mass murder in an Islamic flag. None attaches to India.

Mohsin Hamid, also Pakistani, writes-
 India is descending into an intolerant Hindu nationalism, apparently intent on imitating the religious chauvinism and suppression of dissent that have served Pakistan so poorly. In Pakistan, a moment where it seemed that the press might finally become free and elected civilian rulers might regularly complete their terms has passed.
 Does he really believe anyone can have the intention of imitating Pakistan? It didn't institute legislative checks and balances at inception and its judiciary was initially inclined to endorse a 'doctrine of necessity'. That does seem to have changed- the Pakistani Supreme Court showed extraordinary courage in confronting a Military Dictator. However, the Pakistani Press enjoys little protection from the ISI and its minions. Hamid, as a Muslim, is perfectly within his rights to detest Hindu nationalism. However, he must know he is deluding himself if he thinks anyone wants to emulate Pakistan.

Kiran Desai, too, has something to say. Unfortunately, this is the deeply self aggrandising way in which she commences her piece-
Every Saturday I suffer from a depression I call my Saturday depression. The main symptom of this is that when I look in the mirror I don’t see myself, I see a ghost. The sight of this ghost fills me with fear. I know this spectre is merely the cumulative result of one more week in one more year of many years of self-imposed isolation for the sake of a book I have been working on a long while.
I read no further.

In less precious vein, Siddharta Deb writes

How difficult was it, I thought when hearing my family talk about leaving Baniachang, for them to choose one kind of identity over another, in this case religion over language and culture?
Did his family really give up their Bangla language and culture in Shillong? Are they now fluent in Khasi? Have they converted to Christianity- the majority Religion in that city? No.

Deb tells us his family had a choice. They did- stay and get slaughtered or run away. They chose the wiser course.

Why did Deb's family have to run away from Sylhet? This is his answer-
The British and Indian elites making their new nations – men exemplified by the British viceroy, Louis Mountbatten, the future Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his hardline Hindu nationalist deputy, Vallabhbhai Patel, the Indian industrialist and Gandhi patron GD Birla – were all in a hurry to force the process through.
Wow! Land hungry Muslim peasants did not kill Hindus. What happened was Birla bribed Patel and Mountbatten whose wife kept raping Nehru till he said 'enough already! Just Partition everything and leave me alone!'

There was no such thing as Suhraward's 'Direct Action Day' which happened before Mountbatten arrived. There was no Pirzada in Naokhali orchestrating ethnic cleaning. It was all the fault of some Hindu billionaire and some Hindu politicians and, of course, Queen Mountbatten.

Is Deb mad? He writes-
Seventy years after Partition, Toba Tek Singh’s defiant madness evokes freedom better than anything achieved by the supposedly rational nations that came out of that bloody process.
Judging by their pensées on Partition, collected by the Guardian here, South Asian writers in English are genuinely committed to outdoing Toba Tek Singh's Gramscian deconstruction of the nomological contradictions of neoliberal hegemonic practice under conditions of Capitalist catachresis.
To wit- 'Opad di gud gud di moong di dal di laltain'. Can South Asian writers- at least those who write in English- ever utter anything as sensible? No. Not if they want to get published or get quoted by the Guardian. Still, they continue to try. How else end the tyranny of Modi's genocidal regime?

Friday, 4 August 2017

A panegyric on Arvind Panagariya

That not Sen-tentious Chronos but Thy Bhagwati's Kairos govern Ind's Oikonomia
The former, a but Navya-Nyaya Availability Cascade of spurious Akribeia
The latter, Aayog's new Niti as univocal, incentive compatible, Riti
Let Vivek praise thy vivek of kshana sampatti Panagariya!

Prince! Chrematistics is heartless, its instance, as Wealth, so fraught a delusion
Work as Force times not Distance is the lonely Heart's only solution.

Christophe Jaffrelot on UK Caste discrimination Law

Christophe Jaffrelot is a Visiting Professor at the King's College India Centre in London. Does he actually know anything about India? Let us find out. Below is an article he published recently in an Indian newspaper. My remarks are in bold.

'Recently, the National Council of Hindu Temples (NCHT) and the Hindu Council UK criticised the British government’s call for a public consultation on caste. UK’s citizens have till September 18 to reflect if caste should be banned by law or not.'

Untrue. Britain is not deciding whether or not to 'ban caste' by law. It is deciding whether it should adopt caste discrimination laws similar to India. Since conditions in Britain are wholly dissimilar to conditions in India, the British Hindu community naturally thinks this is a stupid thing to do. It is like Scotland introducing a 'Food Security Bill' on the Indian model even though Scotland is rich and most of India is very poor. The Scots are pretending that evil Tories are starving wee Scottish bairns. Similarly, in England, we have already seen a suit brought by a Pakistani cook belonging to the Arain caste against his employer who also belonged to the same Muslim Arain caste. The Tribunal decided that the whole case was nonsensical. The cook was fired because customers didn't like his food, not because he was low caste.

 'In a report released by Subramanian Swamy in London, the NCHT ascribed this initiative to a “colonial conspiracy”.' 
Really? Does Swamy believe England still rules India? Nope. He may have a PhD in Econ from Harvard, but even he isn't that stupid. Swamy says some Christian missionaries supported Colonialism and sought to inflame hatred between Hindu communities so as to gain converts whom they themselves discriminated against.  Swamy seeks to tar some elderly Bishop or such like with the same brush. The joke is that it is Pakistani chefs who will be suing their employer under this silly legislation. Hindus, by contrast, are doing well because they are well educated and forward looking.

'This report is in tune with the views of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who has declared, “Castes play the same role in Hindu society that furrows play in farms, and help in keeping it organised and orderly”.

Really? Is a Rajput politician really preaching Casteism? Are the OBC and SC voters in U.P really so stupid that they voted for a guy who thinks his people are superior to their people? Wow! What an amazing discovery! This Jafflerot dude must be real bright! Let's look at the evidence-

Fast forward to 1.25 on the video.
Yes, the English translation is as Jafflerot says. But listen to the Hindi. The Yogi uses the word maiD- this is not a furrow but a raised portion of earth demarcating a parcel of land owned by a particular individual. He isn't saying 'caste is like a furrow'- that would be meaningless. He clarifies that he means boundary markers and not anything to do with the practice of agriculture. He goes on to say 'jati' (i.e. endogamous groups notionally linked to a particular occupation as imitatio dei) may be okay but discrimination on the basis of jati or its instrumentalisation for a political purpose is wrong.

Economists believe that endogamous groups devise ways of spreading risk and thus have utility. Obviously, once there is a basic Social safety net and a well developed Insurance market, this utility declines and we are more likely to see assortative mating without endogamy.

 The Yogi hasn't mentioned 'Varna' (i.e. the four fold division of Society into priests, warriors, merchants and labourers) at all. He himself is head of a Sect which can have a leader from any jati. That's why OBC and SC voters plumped for him even though he is a Rajput.

'There is a long tradition behind this argument. Deendayal Upadhyaya, the Sangh Parivar’s influential ideologue, wrote in Integral Humanism (1965), “society is self-born’’ and forms an “organic unity” inherited from a caste-based antiquarian arrangement that should not be disturbed: “In our concept of four castes, they are thought of as an analogous to the different limbs of Virat-Purusha. These limbs are not only complementary to one another, but even further, there is individuality, unity. There is a complete identity of interest, identity of belonging”. Here he refers to the varna system as a social model and regrets that it has lost its fluidity with the multiplication of jatis.

Is this really true? Was Upadhyaya utterly stupid? Did he really think that something which is 'self-born' can also inherit something? How? 

I've just checked. Jafflerot is telling porkies. Upadhyaya, being well versed in Hindu Scripture, knew very well that something which is 'Svayambhu' can't have samskars. Otherwise, Advaita is nonsense. Thus the words Jafflerot has interjected prove only his ignorance of Hinduism. They do not indict the Sangh Parivar. 

Upadhyaya is saying that when we all work together harmoniously to promote Social Welfare, we don't care about our status or the type of work we do. The R.S.S gained in prestige because people said - 'the wealthy Seth takes his turn doing manual work. His superior may be a cobbler, but he takes orders from him. Not only do these people cook and eat together, they actually go as volunteers to do relief work when there is a flood or an earthquake.'

 Gandhi's Ashramites also went to do relief work- for example, during the Bihar famine. But, in the opinion of Kumarappa, a Chartered Accountant, they were useless. Kumarappa refused to pay them from the Relief Fund. Gandhi protested but had to tap some other fund for their benefit. 
I have read no similar story about the RSS volunteers being useless.

The Hindu reformers do want to do away with the notion of hereditary occupations monopolised by endogamous 'jatis'. The cobbler and the priest both want their sons and daughters to have a chance to become Doctors, or IAS officers, or Software engineers. They don't want the traditional Doctor caste, or the traditional administrative caste to monopolise those occupations.

However, Hindu reformers aren't advocating laws which prevent people marrying within their 'jati' if they choose to do so. Nor are the British. Jafflerot was lying when he said the Brits were thinking of banning caste. 

I personally would be delighted if they do. Every time some beautiful Hindu girl gets married within her jati, I could bring a court case saying I'd been discriminated against solely on the grounds of my 'out-caste' Brahminbandhu status. English judges are very polite and would hesitate to throw out the case on the grounds that that I am very old and  ugly and fat and stupid and no woman in her right mind would touch me with a barge-pole. Thus, wealthy families will just pay me a small amount of money to drop my suit so as to avoid a nuisance.

'Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, was the first Hindu reformer who endeavoured to rehabilitate the Vedic caste system by endowing this varnavyavastha with meritocratic dimensions. 

The first? My Arya Samaji friends make no such claim but rather refer reverentially to local precursors like the Parmansa Mandali in Mumbai or the Manav Dharma Sabha in Surat. However, there is an unbroken initiation from Sages behind the Arya Samaj which knits it together with other great traditions across the length and breadth of India. That is why the 'Sangh Parivar' ('family of Congregations') has an ecumenical appeal. We can see that a great Saint of our region is connected by deeksha to the lineage of the great Saint of another region. A South Indian, like myself, can overcome my suspicion of the (numerically preponderant) North Indian when these connections become clear. Nowadays, many of us have learnt some basic Hindi and can see for ourselves that people like Modi or Yogi Adityanath are not promoting 'Aryan' superiority against us Dravidians.

'He maintained that hereditary jatis did not exist in the Vedic times but children were placed in different varnas according to their qualities. Through such reasoning, he legitimised a hierarchy imbued with anti-individualistic values — once in a varna, a man and a woman remained in it.

Was Swami Dayanand Sarasvati ignorant of Sanskrit? Had he not even heard a recitation of the Ramayana or Mahabharata? Did he not know that Visvamitra, one of the greatest Vedic Rishis, changed his Varna? 

What about the Punjabis who became devout followers of the Arya Samaj? The cultivator and the small shop-keeper were delighted to see their sons getting an education and becoming Doctors, Engineers etc. That is why the D.A.V schools started emphasising useful subjects rather than purely Religious studies. Not just men, women were able to rise thanks to the Arya Samaj and the Brahmo Samaj and the Ramakrishna Mission and many other similar Sanghas.

I may point out that non-Brahmins took the leading role though in some cases the impetus may have come from Brahmans. 

'Unsurprisingly, the Arya Samajis joined the Sanatanists to form the Hindu Mahasabha in 1915, in spite of the latter’s social conservatism. One of them, M.M. Malaviya, the founder of the Banaras Hindu University, who was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 2014-15, aspired to restore the antiquarian system founded on heredity. “Functions assigned to each class as its jati-dharma, were specialised by different families as their kuladharma and were faithfully and efficiently performed for the well-being of the whole society, which was thus served by the classes and families composing it, as an organism is served by its constituent organs,” he argued.

Malaviya was from a traditional priestly Brahman family and it is true that he felt obliged to argue that young Brahmans should keep up their Vedic studies in addition to more useful and remunerative types of education. This was because traditional Brahmins like himself were needed to keep the Religion alive and free from superstitious practices or unscrupulous charlatans. Orthodox Jews similarly encourage their children to attend Hebrew School. This does not mean (except in the case of the Haredis) that they neglect Scientific studies.

However, non-Brahmins did not believe that Malviya really wanted the children of other occupational groups to stick with their ancestral profession. That's why non-Brahmins felt comfortable in financing the Benares Hindu University and sending their own progeny there.

'This discourse reflects an organicist worldview which has informed the Hindutva social project — but it was not confined to the Sangh Parivar and the Hindu Mahasabha (an organisation that was a part of the Congress till the late 1930s). Mahatma Gandhi’s views on caste were very similar in the 1920s. In 1920, he wrote in Young India, “Caste has saved Hinduism from disintegration. But like every other institution it has suffered from excrescences. I consider the four divisions alone to be fundamental, natural and essential. The innumerable sub-castes are sometimes a convenience, often a hindrance. The sooner there is fusion the better… Interdrinking, interdining, intermarrying, I hold, are not essential for the promotion of the spirit of democracy”.

Jafflerot first says that there was a 'Hindutva Social Project' and that it had 'an organicist world view'. He mentions the 'Sangh Parivar' as though it were coeval with the Hindu Mahasabha. Clearly, this brilliant Professor has gone far beyond Einstein and has discovered that things which happened later actually happened sooner. Wonderful! What a prodigy we have here! Time may indeed be like a Moebius strip. But, as far as the Social Sciences are concerned, Time still has to be linear. If you say there was a Hindutva Social Project and World View and it was the same as the Gandhian Social Project and World View, you are either saying they were the same or else admitting that you have been talking nonsense. You have made a distinction without a difference for no good reason.

'Gandhi’s subsequent views on caste varied, but his initial take on the subject gave conservative Congressmen room to manoeuvre at the expense of progressive minds. In the 1920s, in Gujarat, Vallabhbhai Patel countered Indulal Yagnik when the latter asked Congressmen to work for Dalits. 

Oh! So Patel was Hindutva! Okay. Makes sense. Why mention Yagnik? He was a Nagar Brahman. M.C Rajah, by contrast, was an actual Dalit. He made a pact with B.S Moonje who was Hindu Mahasabha. During the course of the Thirties, even Ambedkar came to appreciate that the RSS was sincere not just in 'inter-dining' but doing socially useful work.

'Another Congress conservative, K.M. Munshi, eulogised the varna system through his Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. In 1950, he declared, “We, who are blinded by an admiration of the social apparatus of the West, fail to realise that chaturvarnya was a marvellous social synthesis on a countrywide scale when the rest of the world [was] weltering in a tribal state”.

So, Congress- not the RSS- was casteist. That explains why Dalits suffered under the yoke of the (Brahman) Nehru dynasty. 

'Soon after, C. Rajagopalachari claimed that jati (not varna) was “the most important element in the organisation of our society” and argued that professional mobility would destabilise the complementarity of social functions at the village-level, making economic development more difficult Another contradiction in the legitimation of caste pertains to the untouchability question: It makes the fight against this social curse more difficult. At the Nagpur session of the Congress in December 1920, during which Gandhi seized power over the party, a resolution condemning “the sin of untouchability” was passed for the first time because of the Mahatma’s determination. But no action could be taken because of resistance within the party. The conservative Congressmen did not support Swami Shraddhanand’s ambitious initiative on that front in the 1920s and in 1929, the party gave Malaviya the charge of reflecting upon the issue of untouchability. Three years later, Gandhi had to return to it in reaction to Ambedkar’s growing influence.

Rajaji was originally supposed to be Gandhi's successor. Thus Jafflerot is showing that it was Gandhi and Congress which believed in 'varna'. Swami Shraddhananand was an Arya Samaji. Why is Jafflerot mentioning him in a creditable light here?

'The Mahatma rejected one of the provisions of the 1932 Communal Award that Ambedkar had obtained from the British — a separate electorate for the Dalits. For Gandhi, such a scheme would break the unity of the Hindu society: “[The Harijans] are part of an indivisible family… There is a subtle something, quite indefinable in Hinduism which keeps them in it even in spite of themselves. And this fact makes it imperative for a man like me, with a living experience of it, to resist this contemplated separation, even though this effort should cost life itself,” he said. Gandhi did not ignore that the social integration of the Dalits in the caste system was taking place “in spite of themselves” and was hierarchical, but he saw these dimensions of society as late perversions of an ancient order that could be restored to purity by social reform.

So Gandhi was a casteist. 

'The fact that even Gandhi was not prepared to support Ambedkar’s fight against untouchability is a reflection of his deep attachment to a form of social organicism.

& into 'social organicism'

 'But the poor record of the Congress’s fight against untouchability after the Poona Pact had also much to do with the resistance of the declared conservatives. In 1933, Malaviya fought against a bill on the opening of temples to the so-called untouchables. 

But Malaviya was President of the Congress, not the Mahasabha, when he did this. By this time, the RSS had been formed and was going in a different, more positive, direction in terms of battling hereditary occupational discrimination.

'The text of a bill on temple entry, also submitted in 1933, was never put to vote. Similarly, when Dalit members of the Madras Legislative Council introduced a Temple Entry Bill in 1938, Rajagopalachari, the Congress chief minister, asked them to withdraw it.

Yet Rajaji was appointed Governor General when Mountbatten left. Who appointed him? Was it Congress or the Mahasabha?

'Sixty years later, in spite of the Constitution, democracy and reservations, the hierarchical view of society finds expression in the defence of caste and reassertion of categories like pure and impure. Yogi Adityanath ordered shuddhikaran (purification) of the CM’s office in Lucknow before entering it and Musahar Dalit families of Kushinagar received soap and shampoo to clean themselves before attending one of his meetings. 

The CM's office was a den of corruption. Yes, it was purified. But that has nothing to do with caste. 
The Yogi did not ask Dalit families to 'clean themselves' before attending his meeting. Some government officials did so. But those officials were following a practice established before the BJP took office. How is it the Yogi's fault if a humiliating practice instituted by other parties was kept up after he took office? 

'And 6,000 km away, in London, the Hindu Council UK partly attributed the initiative of the British government mentioned above to the Indian Christian Dalit lobby in the country.'

Quite true. The credit for this initiative does, quite genuinely, go to the Christian Network Against Caste Discrimination and the Voice of Dalit International, UK. Nothing wrong in that. They are raising their profile and showing their effectiveness. The fact is Dalit Christians in India, despite being the majority, are discriminated against by the High Caste Christians who control the Churches and Colleges. Christians of Dalit origin in the UK- some of the smartest, most educated, most entrepreneurial people here- are using this issue to help redress the balance of power for their own people back in India. I don't see why any Hindu should object. Well, actually, that isn't true. There are some gangster types here in the UK and they will find any excuse to harass people- more particularly in the case of 'inter-caste' marriage. Shockingly, even some educated young men act like this. By all means, criminalise hate crimes based on caste because then the Police can take action more easily. Thus, if my neighbour calls me a 'Paki' and punches me, the Police treat the case very seriously because there is a racial motive.
Similarly, if my son marries a Jat or a Yadav or whatever and the girl's brothers decide to beat him up, then a Police complaint will be acted on immediately. 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Pindaric Palinode & Ashbery's Misology

A poem is as much a place, as much a time, as it is a feeling
Of distaste mounting to the Summer of Haight-Ashbury
Skias onar anthropos ; our Ariadne's unreeling
 Ivory gated misology or thy john's Ashbery?

 Prince! Paideia palled & the Pindaric palinode failed to thrill 
Phaedrus, entailed an American Dream life by the G.I Bill