Friday, 30 March 2018

Is reciprocity possible between Judaism and Hinduism? Prof. Alon Goshen-Gottstein

A Hindu Spiritual entrepreneur, or Swami, can always promote any Jewish disciple to Arhant or Avadhoot or Maharishi or Bhagwan status.
A Hindu Purohit faces no difficulty in admitting a Jew who follows relevant Vyavaharik rules and is capable of uttering the relevant mantra into the highest Hindu Varna. A Rabbi, by contrast, can't even promote a non-Kohain to Kohain status. Even accepting the conversion of a Hindu who might plausibly have Jewish ancestry is a controversial matter.
Thus there can't be reciprocity between Hinduism and Judaism though there can certainly be a highly productive type of harmonious co-existence.

Alon Goshen-Gottstein, the head of the Elijah inter-faith Institute, is an Israeli Rabbi and academic who has listed some ways in which the two religions can develop better relations.

I list them below in bold with my comments appended in italics.

1) Judaism is not fully recognized in Indian public consciousness as a distinct religious tradition. There is a long history of Judaism being subsumed as a branch of Christianity, rather than appreciated as a self-standing tradition. 

I was not aware that this was the case. Indeed, I was going to challenge this  till I realized that this guy is an Israeli academic. They check their facts rather than just dash off anything that comes into their heads.
The truth is, even cosmopolitan Hindu preceptors, like Vivekananda, saw Judaism as being like Purva Mimamsa as opposed to Vedanta- i.e. a fossil religion. In this view, denial of Christ as the avatar was similar to the type of ritualistic Brahmanism which gave no special place to Lord Krishna, being content to just follow the old tradition in a mindless and spiritually dessicated manner.

The truth about Judaism is quite different. The 'Pharisee'- whom an earlier generation of Hindu would have identified with the Navya-Nyaya pedant- had a marvellous collective Spiritual life based upon a  very high 'Mussar' ethical conception expressed by the formula 'the material needs of the other are the spiritual needs of the self'. The notions of Sarvodaya and Daridra Narayan are the root out of which all diaspora Judaism originates. (The Samaritans never left Palestine).

2) there is no reciprocity of interest. Hindus travel to Israel for studies or for business. They are not learning about the spiritual and cultural treasures to be found there.

Israel is a very successful knowledge economy. However, its extraordinary achievements in Science and Technology have their wellsprings in the Religion itself. 'Jewish' Maths, or 'Jewish' Physics, or 'Jewish' Econ- do exist in the sense that the same ethical values, the same scrupulous accuracy in reasoning, the same sublimity of spiritual insight, are to be found in these Secular fields as have always flourished in the realm of the Sacred.

It seems to me that those Hindus who have made genuine contributions- not careerist 'second order' work- to research in Maths or Physics, had a similar psychology. Our mistake is to pretend we can achieve Intellectual excellence through shabby careerist means. Like the Israelis, we must ensure that we have the right motivation. 
Indian Universities were set up from 1857 onwards. Israel's Universities, which were smaller and less well funded, came into existence some 60 years later. But, significantly, they chose to teach in Hebrew, not German, though few Jews would have spoken Hebrew back then. Secondly, they were devoted to Research from the get-go. They weren't 'degree mills'. Later, Higher Education did change to accommodate the needs of the 'bildungsburgertum' (middle class by education) but it was done in a pragmatic manner, not just to ration job opportunities or provide a credential for marriage purposes. The Israeli who is genuinely interested in a subject will be aiming to do Research from day one. In India, people did a PhD because they didn't get into the Civil Service or were intending to emigrate.

3) . Reciprocity of mutual learning. As a consequence of the previous two points we note total lack of reciprocity in academic studies. Indian studies and the study of Hinduism have a place in just about all major Israeli universities. By contrast, there is not a single chair in Judaism in the entire subcontinent. In introducing a book called Karmic Passages, a work that features the academic achievements of Israeli academics on things Indian, then Indian ambassador to Israel, Arun Singh, notes that Israel is probably the only country in the world where academic studies are the follow-up to in-person exposure to Indian culture, experienced by Israelis through their travels. There is no similar tradition of Hindus visiting Israel which would provide feeders for the Academy. Thus, lack of reciprocity extends to academic study, teaching and research. India is important for Israeli intellectual life. The reverse is not true.

All our 'Research programs' in the Humanities are 'availability cascades' of an obviously meretricious type. To take an example, Indian historians and social scientists have been repeating Gayatri Spivak's utterly mistaken notions regarding the Guleri Rani for three decades now.  Along comes an Israeli back-packer who spends a couple of months in Garwhal and then goes back to register as a research student and the next thing that happens is we have a proper, fully researched, paper capturing all the salient features of that Queen's story. Still, we Indians ignore the Israeli's alethic contribution in order to 'whine about whitey' by quoting Spivak. (Come to think of it, I was attracted to her books only because of that Jewish sounding name! I thought the author might be someone like Ruth Prawer Jhabhwala who would see things invisible to us 'natives''.)

Israeli intellectual life is based on alethic, as opposed to credentialist, research. No doubt, they take an interest in India and China and everything under the Sun. Our young people aren't wholly different to Israel's in this respect. But our Academy is.

4) Commonality of foundational teachings
Judaism and Hinduism are the solution to a coordination problem viewed as a 'repeated game'. They are non-coercive and can exist without Kings or States or coercive mechanisms.
Hinduism explicitly shows that the Just King, or family or enterprise head, must understand Game theory in order to overcome hamartia and 'vishaada' (accidie). Robert Aumann has been showing game theory in the Talmud. Unfortunately our Game theorists- people like Kaushik Basu- are careerists or copy-cats simply. So, first some Israeli will have to research this topic and publish a ponderous tome, then the Indian savants will rush in with some meaningless 'second order' refinement.
Actually, this would only be true if the Israeli is someone like David Shulman- i.e. also has a prestigious chair at Ivy League. Still, the thing can be done- the Indians can see that they have a commonality of foundational teachings with Judaism- once the Jews have done the heavy lifting.


5) Centrality of Spirituality
As with (4) this is problematic. Certainly, the supposed supernatural powers attained by the great Rabbis are similar to those of the Rishis. However, for Hindutva, Spirituality would mean a rejection of material power or other felicity, gained though it be by supernatural means, in favour of selfless service to the Creator by means of service to the entire family of Creation. This is not different from Mussar Judaism.
Professor Alon says-  both struggle to realize the challenges of spirituality in the face of the challenges of today’s world. Secularization, technology, exposure to external cultures and ideologies, the challenges of transmitting tradition – these challenges are common to both nations and both cultures. If we recognize that the encounter between these nations and cultures is a meeting point of classic spiritual aspirations and contemporary realities, our conversation will proceed along lines that will be mutually beneficial. We can then share survival strategies, educational lessons and the vision that is common to both traditions.
The big problem here is that Indians have neglected shiksha (study) have scamped seva (service) and turned sadhana (worship) into a gaudy spectacle which is an end in itself rather than a training in tenderness of the heart.

It would not take much effort for an Urdu speaking Indian to grasp Jewish spirituality because the Hebrew vocabulary is almost the same as the Islamic Sufi terminology familiar to us from popular singers and poets. The difficulty is to link these ideas to open problems in Maths and other alethic disciplines so that 'shiksha' once again gains salience. The atmosphere in India was such, in the aftermath of Independence, that Acharya Kausambi's very gifted son published worthless proofs of the Reimann hypothesis while writing pseudo-Marxist nonsense about ancient Indian history and literature. Being a Brahmin, he naturally ascribed magical powers to Brahmins. Sheldon Pollock, being almost as lazy and bombastic as the Kausambi type of Hindu, has won the favour of the Murthy family because he too ascribes magical powers to Brahmins. This sort of nonsense can't get us very far. David Shulman, by contrast, though often writing grandiloquent nonsense, has some alethic content. Significantly, he teaches in Israel as well as America.

6) Commonality of God
A decade ago, a representative group of Hindu leaders met with some of the top representatives of the Jewish religion, including the Chief Rabbis of Israel. The Hindu group, and the initiative, were led by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who was PM Modi’s Guru. Swami Dayananda considered one of the great achievements of the Jewish-Hindu religious summits to be the acceptance by all parties that in fact Jews and Hindus worship the same God. Hindus, stated the common declaration, worship the Supreme Being only and not any lower form, even while the Supreme Being is worshipped through other forms. For Dayananda, this put to rest the charge of idolatry that Hindus felt was levelled against them by Jews (and other monotheists).

The 'bat kol' (voice from Heaven) of Judaism and the upashruti (which can also be translated as rumour) of Hinduism have no judicial force. Furthermore, both religions have a notion of halachah vein morin kein in the special sense of a Law which, iff known, prohibits the very action it otherwise enjoins. This defeasible, anti-akrebic, commonality is indeed divine and points to a common moral oikonomia. 
Given the tremendous lead tiny little Israel has taken in alethic research and genuine, as opposed to credentialist, scholarship, I'm afraid the relationship between Hindu and Israeli Jew would be that described in the Kuzari as existing between Judaism and the King of India.

Prof. Alon writes- The challenge remains. I have devoted a book length study, titled Same God, Other god – Judaism, Hinduism, and the problem of Idolatry to this challenge. I am not convinced the problem has been resolved by an English language declaration that received next to no exposure on the Jewish side. I think a lot more has to be done in order to affirm commonality of belief in God. These efforts involve Jewish theological reflection, research data among Hindu believers, consideration of educational initiatives on the Hindu side, and above all much more sharing and dialogue. Cultures that have been estranged for millennia cannot close gaps in understanding in a matter of years, or even decades. This is one of the most formidable challenges, and one that can and should be addressed, even at the next convening of our imaginary council of the Jewish and Hindu wise, when the PM of Israel pays his reciprocal visit to India.
Islam is the bridge, or barzakh, between Judaism and Hinduism. It may be that we can seek a common genealogy in the annals of ancient Iran. The notion of barzakh derives from the Avesta and, in Hinduism and Indian Buddhism, has an erotic charge. Perhaps the imagery of the Chinvat bridge has been transmogrified by esoteric Judaism. It seems to me that the juxtaposition of the words 'da'at' and 'yichud' could holdsa similar erotic charge. Of course, the collocation would be more familiar to my young readers from the game 'Wolfenstein'.

7) The challenge of personal identity. Identity is a key feature of the Jewish encounter with Hinduism. My The Jewish Encounter with Hinduism – Wisdom, Spirituality, Identity explores this challenge at length. Maintaining Jewish identity is the primary concern of Jewish organizations globally, facing weakening of identity, assimilation and intermarriage. Conversion to another religion has been seen as a threat to Jewish continuity and survival for millennia. Jewish converts to Hinduism similarly challenge the Jewish community in that they are considered a loss to the Jewish community. This is a point to which Hindu leadership has shown very little sensitivity.

This ought not to be a big stumbling block. We would say that a Jewish Vaishnava has Krishna as her ishtadeva but retains her kuladeva which she can transmit to her children. Anish Kapoor considers himself Jewish and was awarded the Genesis Prize.

Still, it is something Hindus should keep in mind. A Jew can always be Hindu-ish without losing their identity. In any case, such inter-marriage is more likely among highly educated people and, given the prestige enjoyed by the Jewish religion,  the Hindu side is less likely to prove intolerant.  However, in the case of divorce, it is likely that the Hindu sentiment which stresses the superiority of the mother's rights will get short shrift. Some years ago, a female Doctor married to a Jewish 'house-husband' felt very bitter when her Religion was presented as outlandish in Court and thus the father got the children as well as a big financial settlement. Interestingly, one reason for Jewish intellectual pre-eminence was the tradition of the wife working to support her husband's studies. 

Prof Alon writes- Some perceived Jewish missionary work with the tribes of bene menashe has even got in the way of Jewish-Hindu relations. I think these conversions were from Christianity to Judaism in a sensitive tribal area. Incidentally, there was some talk of conversion of Dalit Christians to Judaism some years ago but again this was not a problem for Hindus. Indeed, the impression in India was that the Israelis had put pressure on the Indian Govt. because they didn't want darkies to turn up claiming 'right to return'! 

8)  Affirming collective identity. Israel's Army has turned into something like an Academy which encourages technological research. India could take the same road by turning its various tax funded institutions into productive, fit for purpose, engines of growth. The only way to affirm collective identity is by creating collectives which actually do something useful.

Israel, which people thought would be predatory because it was financially unsustainable, has made its army pay for itself. This has changed the geopolitical equation. It appears the Saudis are on side. Who knows what the future may hold? Fifteen years ago, there was speculation that the neo-cons in Washington were hoping to renew the Israel-Iran alliance on a theological basis. An American journalist reported that a senior neo-con had said that the Ayatollahs had similar rules to the Orthodox Rabbis on various recondite matters. 
Now, it seems, Israel will be friends with anti-brotherhood Sunni regimes. 
Meanwhile, in India, it appears that caste will once again trump religion so Hindutva may be on its way out.

9)  Balancing religion and politics. Flowing from the previous point is the thorny issue of relations between religion and politics. Israel does not have Church-State separation; India does formally. Yet, with the rise of Hindu-oriented political parties, the political landscape is increasingly informed by religious concerns (and the religious landscape increasingly informed by political associations). The past week has seen how politics plays out in Israel and the Jewish world in relation to conversion and the status of the Western Wall. In India there are equally problematic expression of legislation by religiously oriented political parties, that have consequences for some parts of society. One of the hot topics in India is very recent legislation limiting the sale of cows, in an attempt to reduce or prevent cow slaughter. This issue has become a bone of contention, cause for riots and even killings. At the root is the challenge of mixing or balancing politics and religions, and how these play out especially in relation to minority religious groups. There is a lot to gain from a discussion across the traditions. Personally, I believe such a conversation can provide correctives to drives that all too often go unchecked when a tradition, or political party, simply follows its own mandate, based on particular religious teachings.

Prof Alon probably does not know that Gandhi's first foray into mass politics in India was a smoke screen. What was really going on in Bihar was a campaign of violence against the Muslim minority which ended when they gave up cow sacrifice. Gandhi himself wasn't complicit in this, but that's what actually happened. The cow ban was implemented by some States. It is a directive principle in the Constitution. All this happened under Gandhi and Nehru. There has been no 'very recent legislation' in this area. The laws were passed long ago. Enforcement was a different matter. Insanitary slaughter houses paid bribes and continued to function. The agricultural crisis changed the ground reality. A rent previously pocketed up by the higher ups would have to be shared with local thugs. This is not about 'balancing politics and religion'. It is about who gets to extract rents. There is also a Sociological dimension in States like Gujarat- but the BJP has to tread carefully. Modi has consolidated a cross-caste 'good governance' vote but the agricultural crisis will worsen. Similarly, a shakeout in the modern sector has to precede any real take-off. Modi may be able to get a second term but the truth is Caste is trumping Religion. Rent-seeking, not Governance, is what is uppermost in the minds of most politicians.

It is important to remember that the RSS is not really a Religious party like the Ikhwan. It is an anti-casteist organisation. But, most Hindus reject it for precisely this reason. Ideally, like the Lingayats, we'd all like to gain minority status for our own sects because we believe that the occupation traditional to our own caste is the true imitatio dei. Only our own caste-fellows are the true Kohanim.

10)  Advancing a culture of pluralism and dialogue. Indian spokespersons praise India for being religiously tolerant and consider this an expression of Hindu culture.
Hindu Jurists give priority to local common law while holding scriptural law to be defeasible. This militates for, not pluralism, or dialogue, but 'Tiebout sorting'- i.e. subsidiarity and competition rather than the synoecism and universality characteristic of Judaism.
Incidentally, 'Indian spokesperson' means someone who is using his mouth for a purpose normally associated with the anus.
 Yet, reality on the ground is shifting. Moreover, Indian pluralism is often based on lack of meaningful contact beyond daily living. Superficial tolerance often breeds deeper lack of acceptance. Today’s India is experiencing this increasingly. The roots of intergroup intolerance remain unchecked. India has a very little developed culture of interreligious dialogue. 
Sadly, this isn't true. Every time a riot occurs in some cow-town, the District Magistrate organises an inter-faith dialogue and a 'kavi sammelan' (poet's conference). The very thugs who were busy killing their rivals the week before turn up at these events and quote Kabir and Nanak and so forth.
I recall reciting a verse I had laboriously composed on one such occasion which included an Arabic hadith. The D.M jumped to the conclusion that I must be some particularly psychotic nutjob and asked the police to investigate this evidently very low caste infiltrator. Much to his chagrin, he learned we were related. 
I have seen this in my efforts to bring the know-how of dialogue to Indian religious leaders and academics.
Indian religious leaders have been rendered utterly imbecilic by the mindless adoration they receive. They can give 'darshan' (audience) but they are not like a Jewish darshan who can engage in hermeneutic disputation.
As for 'Indian Academics', Ved Mehta, who was born blind, was able to see how that class has perpetuated itself. What happened was that his father sent him to a Blind School where he was taught Braille. This enabled him to read out aloud to the Headmaster who had been chosen for this post by his family because he was illiterate.
The Indian Academy is adversely selective. Why? Well, common sense tells us that if a person takes ten years to read a Subject everybody else masters in a year, then clearly they are unfit for any type of useful work. They might as well teach those as retarded as themselves. 
 Even more significantly, it has a very low level of religious literacy in all that concerns other religions. 
Illiteracy is Godly. A true Holy Man proudly boasts that the nonsense he utters was not learnt from any book.  
Due to State-Church separation, no religion is taught in the school system and therefore opportunities for educating to a culture of tolerance and acceptance based on real knowledge of the other are almost non-existent.
The real problem is caste. Kids are left in blissful ignorance as to its origins and thus heteronomous notions get linked to this aspect of Indian social life. Once one realises that every occupation is an imitatio dei, then false 'pathogen stress' derived notions of 'pollution' are sublated. 
This paradigm is very different from the paradigm that informs large parts of the Western world, especially the English speaking world, where educational efforts include religious pluralism. Sadly, in this respect Israel is much more like India than it is like parts of the Western world. Ignorance of the religious other is rampant and engagement in constructive encounter and dialogue a low national and educational priority.
I'm not sure the 'Western world' does justice to Judaism. Still, I imagine great strides have been made in the last few decades. But, perhaps, films and TV have played a bigger part. Certainly, in India, the film industry has helped improve appreciation and understanding between communities. 
A three day visit is probably not enough time for our imaginary group of leaders and scholars to engage all these issues. But it is an occasion for recalling that much more ties Israel to India than agriculture or the sale of military equipment. The relationship holds huge promise, but such promise also requires a spirit of honest exchange and interrogation, that would allow both nations to advance in their respective societal missions through dialogue with the contemporary reality of the other. Let us hope that this imaginary conversation can one day be made real, to the benefit of Jews, Hindus and all members of the states of India and Israel.

Amen! Or as we say down South 'mind it kindly!'



Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Haldane and the Goodwin 'class struggle' model

Few Indians have a kind word for the Planning Commission which Modi finally scrapped in favour of a 'Niti Aayog' (Policy Commission) which is just as stupid but which has no power.

Yet, in its heyday, the Planning Commission attracted some of the finest minds in Economics- Ragnar Frisch, Jan Tinbergen, Oskar Lange, Charles Bettelheim, Richard Stone, Simon Kuznets, N. Georgescu-Roegen, Branko Horvat, Paul Baran, Ian Little, MichaƂ Kalecki, Nicholas Kaldor, Gunnar Myrdal and Joan Robinson. 

J.B.S Haldane actually took Indian citizenship, while Richard Goodwin, as I learned from this paper by Vela Velupillai, made annual trips. 

It seems Haldane gave Goodwin the idea for his 'predator- prey' model of Capitalism, where workers are predators continually pushing for higher wages till their prey collapses.
the genesis of the model of 'A Growth Cycle' was a fortuitous after-dinner conversation with J. B. S. Haldane, in the library of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), which was located in the home of P.C. Mahalanobis, in 19559 . During this conversation Haldane had suggested to Goodwin that the ‘best way to model the contradictions of capitalism was to consider it a partly complementary-partly hostile system  along the line of the Lotka-Volterra Prey-Predator dynamics.’ 
Why did two white leftists, meeting in a country where real wages were stagnating, think that, in the Class struggle, the workers are the wolves and the Capitalists are the sheep?
Did they really not understand that the wholly worthless Planning Commission was creating risk-free profits for people like, Goodwin's friends, the Sarabhais? How could they have been so stupid?

Milton Friedman, on his brief visit, had noticed the chronic under-employment that characterised every sphere of Indian economic life. Goodwin himself could see that most of the clerks and peons milling around were utterly useless. Why? What was their purpose? The answer is that they served to demoralise their entire class. When people see that most people doing the same job are contributing nothing, they revert to a child like state of dependency.
Friedman praised the industry and enterprise he saw in Ludhiana, not the Corporate gigantism of Jamshedpur. He understood that it was the second tier metros, not Lutyens' Delhi, which could raise  India out of poverty. On the other hand, he wasn't much of a mathematician. So India ignored him and wasted three decades. The wolf of mathematical economics grew fat upon the carcass of Indian Enterprise. Then, it quietly packed its bags and migrated to the Ivory Towers of Europe and America.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Sen's intellectual inedia and the Bengal Famine

Sen was greatly affected by the Bengal famine he witnessed as a child. Perhaps it explains his inability to digest brute facts as opposed to continually vomiting up stupid lies.
The Bengal famine of 1943, which I witnessed as a child, was made viable not only by the lack of democracy in colonial India, but also by severe restrictions on reporting and criticism imposed on the Indian press, and the voluntary practice of ‘silence’ on the famine that the British-owned media chose to follow (as a part of the alleged ‘war effort’, for fear of aiding the Japanese military forces that were at the door of India, in Burma).
The Bengal famine was caused by Japanese aggression. Democracy was not lacking. Ceylon had got universal suffrage in 1931. India could have got the same thing if the minorities had not objected.

Bengal was ruled by a Muslim League Government. Food was a devolved subject. The Governor of the State was a British official- later, in 1944, an Australian was appointed- but this did not impair the elected Ministry's autonomy when it came to dealing with the Food situation.

Punjab, whose Premier was a friend of the Bengali Premier- both had signed the Pakistan declaration- wanted to sell food grains to the Bengalis for the same reason the Australians did. The Ispahanis, who were big supporters of the Muslim League, were to get the contract. Shurawardy, the Minister chiefly involved, says he wanted to include a couple of Hindu business houses but that the Ispahanis refused to countenance this 'liberalism' of his. However, other Provinces were not keen on the deal going through. They too had food shortages from which their financial backers were making big profits. In any case, the Muslim League was able to put the blame on Hindu hoarders- who supported the Congress party.

Democracy worsened the food situation in India. State Governments prevented the export of food. Later on, Central Govt. preferred 'begging bowl' diplomacy to raising up a prosperous yeoman class who would vote for members of their own castes, not windbags from the educated elite.

 The combined effect of imposed and voluntary media silence was to prevent substantial public discussion on the famine in metropolitan Britain, including in Parliament in London, which neither discussed the famine, nor considered the policy needs of dealing with it (that is, not until October 1943 when The Statesman forced its hand). 
Sen thinks the vernacular press was prevented from writing about the famine. He is being silly. The vernacular press was owned and controlled by the same people who financed the main political parties. The 'British owned Media' would have been delighted to expose the follies and frauds of their new Brown masters. They feared to do so because retaliation would have been swift. The British owned 'Statesman' had the courage to break the story but it put the blame on White officials in Delhi, who had no power, not Brown politicians in Calcutta who alone were constitutionally empowered to declare a Famine and implement the Famine Code

The Communists, who had become pro-British after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, did show some interest in the issue. But they were Communists. Their aim was to fuck over the peasants the way Stalin fucked over his peasants. Still, for a time the peasants were fooled. It wasn't till Singur (which Sen supported) that the penny dropped.


There was of course no parliament in India under the British colonial administration.
WTF? The Bengal Legislative Assembly was established in 1935. It had the power to enforce rationing. It chose not to do so.
In fact, governmental policy, far from being helpful, actually exacerbated the famine.
Yes! Politicians and their backers became very rich thanks to the famine. The same thing happened during the Bangladesh famine which occurred because Democracy was established. After that Democracy was ended it coped better not worse with food shortages.
There was no official famine relief over the many months in which thousands were dying every week.
Why? Because elected politicians couldn't be bothered. They knew they could blame Hindu 'hoarders' and get re-elected- as did in fact happen.
More than this, the famine was aggravated, first, by the fact that the British India Government in New Delhi had suspended the trade in rice and food grains between the Indian provinces, so that food could not move through legitimate channels of private trade despite the much higher price of food in Bengal.
It was brown elected politicians, not white bureaucrats, who made that decision. India retained these stupid laws after Independence. Why blame the British?
Second, rather than trying to get more food into Bengal from abroad – the New Delhi colonial administration was adamant that it did not want to do that – the official policy took the form of looking for food exports out of Bengal over that period.
This is sheer nonsense. Food was a devolved subject. New Delhi had no power over Calcutta in this matter. British bureaucrats knew that any impropriety on their part might become the basis of a question put by an Opposition M.P to the Secretary of State for India. This might involve the loss of a 'gong' or an undesirable posting.
British officials in Bengal, similarly, were afraid of an adverse note in their file made by the Minister under whom they worked.

 Indeed, even as late as January 1943, when the famine was about to break, the Viceroy of India told the head of the local Bengal government that he ‘simply must produce some more rice out of Bengal for Ceylon even if Bengal itself went short!’
Politicians say stupid things. Suppose Linlithgow had actually issued such an order. The Government of Bengal would have rejected it as ultra vires. Churchill ordered Percival to defend Singapore to the last man. Percival surrendered. He was the man on the spot and the decision was his to make.

As a matter of fact, Fazl ul Haq- a lawyer by training- was poorly informed about the food situation. Indeed, the official statistics about food production were wholly misleading. Contra Sen, there was a combination of exogenous shocks which led to a food availability deficit which officials failed to predict.

It must be mentioned here, to make any kind of sense of British Indian official thinking on the subject, that these policies were based on the idea that there was no particular decline in food output in Bengal at that time, and ‘therefore’ a famine ‘simply could not occur’ there.
British Indian officials in Calcutta had to do whatever Bengali Indian Ministers told them to do. These Bengali Indian Ministers spoke Bengali and represented Bengali people. They were in a better position to say if there was or was not a famine than any Civil Servant.

This is not to say that British officials had no thoughts of their own. Their country was at war. They wished to do whatever would benefit their homeland in its hour of need. Whether or not Bengalis starved while nominally British or after a Japanese conquest was immaterial. All that mattered was winning the war.
The government’s understanding of the volume of the food output was not altogether wrong, but its theory of famine was disastrously mistaken, since the demand for food had radically expanded, primarily because of the war effort in Bengal, with the arrival of soldiers and other war personnel, new construction and ancillary economic activities associated with the war boom.
The army brought their own food with them. Since many civilians evacuated Calcutta- because of the bombing of Calcutta by the Japanese in December of '42- there was no great increase in the urban population.
Those who starved had no money at all. They did not represent 'effective demand'. Only if the Government- which was Bengali, not British- had declared a famine and stepped in to supply them with food and other necessaries could their deaths have been prevented.
In his book, Poverty and Famine, Sen writes
If there was no decrease in food availability why did people starve in Bengal? Sen says prices rose so some couldn't afford to buy food. Why did prices rise? A boom in Calcutta caused people to eat more. But, when people get more money they buy less 'Giffen goods' like rice, and purchase richer fare. One can easily double or triple or even quintuple one's spending on food. One can't eat 5 times more rice or potatoes or bread than one did before. If anything, Calcutta's affluence should have led to less demand for the food of the poor. Other things being equal, its price should have fallen.

Sen tells us that the Famine Code was not implemented by Bengali Ministers who alone had the constitutional right to do so. He says this was 'curious' but shows no curiosity whatsoever in following up the matter. Instead he quotes the recently transferred Governor who was representing the view of the elected Premier of the Presidency. Why does Sen do so? Does he not understand that Bengalis were running the show? He should be looking at Bengali primary sources.

Sen says that it does not matter how a famine is caused, what matters is that the public distribution system have a lot of food. This is quite foolish, more especially in the Indian context. Bureaucrats are perfectly willing to sit upon a mouldering buffer stock while people starve in the vicinity. Indeed, they would be acting ultra vires if they distributed food to the poor absent an official order to do so. But such an order can only come from the Ministry ruling over the Province. Food is a State matter, not a Federal one.

The fact is the 1935 constitution gave too little power to the Centre. That is why it couldn't implement a rational Food policy for the country.
A very substantial part of the population, mostly in rural areas, with stationary income, was facing much higher food prices, thanks to the demand-fed price rise, and consequently starved. To secure the ability of the vulnerable to buy food, it would have helped to have given them more income and purchasing power, for example through emergency employment or public relief, but help could also have come from having a larger supply of food grains in the region – despite the fact that the crisis was not caused by a supply decline, but by a demand rise.
Sen believes that a warehouse full of food has a magical effect. Why? He is assuming that speculators will 'dis-hoard'. However, they will only do so if they believe that the Ministry will order the disbursement of this buffer stock. If they can see with their own eyes that the Party that is in power is making a lot of money out of the misery of the people, they will not 'dis-hoard' but pay off the local bosses in order to ply a similar trade.
What was extraordinary, even beyond the colonial government’s belief in a wrong theory of famine, was New Delhi’s inability to notice that so many thousands were actually dying on the streets every day: the officers had to be real ‘theorists’ to miss the facts on the ground in such a gross way.
New Delhi is far away from Calcutta. What was truly extraordinary was that Bengali Ministers in Calcutta did not notice what was happening. Unless, of course, they were getting rich by not noticing.
A democratic system with public criticism and parliamentary pressure would not have allowed the officials, including the Governor of Bengal and the Viceroy of India, to think the way they did.
The Governor of Bengal could have dismissed the Muslim League Government subject to the Viceroy's assent. However, no other Administration could have been formed which would have acted differently. Instead the Muslim League in Bengal would have made common cause with Congress. Churchill would have sacked the Viceroy for having alienated the Muslims.

Bengal and later on Bangladesh both had transitioned to popularly elected Governments with full powers over food when they experienced terrible famines. Sen knows this. Democracy doesn't matter. The fact is, people in overpopulated countries feel that some proportion of the population should starve from time to time. Public Agitation on this issue can backfire. People might dismiss you as a publicity hungry bleeding heart or impractical idealist. Saints and Parsons have been preaching about Charity for thousands of years. People pay the Saints and the Parsons in the belief that this will get them into Heaven or, more realistically, that they will gain a reputational benefit which might increase their power and wealth.
A third way in which government policy was counter-productive was its role in the redistribution of food within Bengal. The government bought food at high prices from rural Bengal to run a selective rationing system at controlled prices, specifically for the resident population of Calcutta. This was a part of the war effort intended to lessen urban discontent.
The same policy characterises all third world countries even when there is no war. The politicians don't want their mansions burnt down by the mob from the shanty towns.
The most serious consequence of this policy was that the rural population, with their low and stationary income, faced rapidly exploding food prices: the strong outward movement of food from rural Bengal because of the war-fed boom was powerfully reinforced by the government policy of buying dear from rural areas (at ‘whatever price’) and selling it cheap in Calcutta for a selected population. None of these issues came into parliamentary discussion in any substantive way during the period of news and editorial blackout.
There was no 'news and editorial blackout'. The Statesman did report the story much to the satisfaction of the White population of Calcutta who knew this was a coded attack on their new Brown masters. The fact is, Brown Muslim League politicians were responsible in law and in fact for the famine. Saying so in print might get you knifed or your daughter raped. So, the Statesman shifted the blame to White people in New Delhi and Westminster. What were they supposed to do? Dismiss the elected Governments in the Provinces and assume direct rule?

Why did Sen's parents or other relatives not write articles about the famine? The answer is that they would have been denounced for having blasphemed against the true Religion. In any case, that family would soon be ethnically cleansed from its ancestral home.
 The Bengali newspapers in Calcutta protested as loudly as government censorship permitted – it could not be very loud, allegedly, for reasons of the war and ‘fighting morale’.
Saying 'Fazl ul Haq is a robber, Shurawardy is a bigger cut-throat than the pimps he represents in Court' would not have damaged 'fighting morale'. But, it would have got your head kicked in. Mujib ur Rehman, democratically elected as Bangladesh's first President, presided over a famine and then got rid of both Press Freedom and Democracy. But then he was shot. Ultimately, guns matter. The Press doesn't.
Certainly there was little echo of these native criticisms in London. Responsible public discussion on what to do began in the circles that mattered, in London, only in October 1943, after Ian Stephens, the courageous editor of The Statesman of Calcutta (then British owned), decided to break ranks by departing from the voluntary policy of ‘silence’ and publishing graphic accounts and stinging editorials on 14 and 16 October.*
So, a pukka White Sahib ended the Bengal Famine because he happened to be the editor of a paper. How did he do it? By talking to other elite White Sahibs. Bengalis are shit. Whether they have Democracy or a Free Press, they still gobble up more and rice so that their cousins in the countryside die of starvation.

Sen has made a remarkable discovery.
The rebuke to the Secretary of State for India, quoted earlier, was from the second of those two editorials. This was immediately followed by a stir in the governing circles in British India and it also led to serious parliamentary discussions in Westminster in London. This, in turn, quickly resulted in the beginning – at long last – of public relief arrangements in Bengal in November (there had been only private charity earlier on). The famine ended in December, partly because of a new crop, but also, very significantly, because of the relief that was finally available. However, by this time the famine had already killed hundreds of thousands of people.
There you have it. Democracy doesn't matter- unless it is located in a Westminster populated by pukka Sahibs- and the Press doesn't matter- unless a pukka Sahib is the editor.
Ian Stephens’s dilemma on the subject, and his ultimate decision to give priority to his role as a journalist, is beautifully discussed in his book Monsoon Morning (London: Ernest Benn, 1966). When, later on, I came to know him in the 1970s, it became clear to me very soon how strongly the memory of that difficult decision lived on in his mind. He was, however, rightly proud of the fact that, through his editorial policy, he had saved the lives of a great many people and had managed to stem the tide of the ‘death roll’.

Did Stephen's really save a great many lives? No. Wavell did. He was a General and understood logistics. That's why he succeeded. Why did he want to tackle the problem? The answer is in two parts- firstly helping a civilian population boosts morale. It increases the willingness of the civil administration to cooperate with the military.
Wavell's second reason for tackling the problem had to do with the Americans. Roosevelt's people had formed a low opinion of the upper class British official in India. This affected American policy. Roosevelt had a secret plan to hand Hong Kong to the KMT. The Americans saw the Indian sub-continent as a fertile field for domination. Unlike the British Mandarin, the Americans were technocrats. Sadly the Indians didn't want to adopt American methods to boost agricultural production. Instead, this nation of farmers begged for food aid- which suited the American farm lobby. But PL480 food aid came with strings attached. On the one hand it forced the Indian Govt. to tackle actual famines because failure to do so would lead to the cancellation of Aid amid accusations of gross incompetence and fraud. On the other hand, Indian economists also, very patriotically, denied there was any food shortage in India. Indeed, during the Emergency, some even declared that India had already become a developed country.

A lot of injustice is about stupidity and ignorance. Democracy, certainly, panders to stupidity and ignorance, as does 'Public Reason'. But at some point both go too far. They start sounding stupider and more ignorant than those they mean to manipulate. So their ability to fuck things up is curbed. It is in this interregnum that a greater mischief- viz. a Rights based approach to everything under the Sun- can gain salience.
This has nothing to do with the Law- which recognises that Rights are linked to Obligations under a bond of law. If the obligation is onerous or inadequately compensated, people will exercise their right not to provide it. The bond of law will be a dead letter.

Sen takes a different view. He believes people have as strong a 'justice drive' as a 'hunger drive'. However, people are very stupid and ignorant. Thus some nice Professor has to explain to them what Justice is and what rights human beings ought to have
For a freedom to be included as a part of a human right, it clearly must be important enough to provide reasons for others to pay serious attention to it.
We know that journalists want press freedom because it benefits them. Poor people want rights to food and medicine and education and a basic income because this benefits them. Professors want academic freedom- i.e. tenure- so that they don't get fired for talking worthless shite.

Making a nuisance of yourself can get others to pay attention to a right you claim. Religious groups can and have asserted their right not to be offended by 'blasphemy'.

However, it is not enough that a right is recognised by some State or International body. What matters is if an obligation is created in an effective and incentive compatible manner. If it isn't, rights are just pi-jaw.
There must be some ‘threshold conditions’ of relevance, including the importance of the freedom and the possibility of influencing its realization, for it to plausibly figure within the spectrum of human rights.
This is quite unnecessary. What matters is whether you can make a big enough nuisance of yourself.
In so far as some agreement is needed for the social framework of human rights, the agreement that would be sought is not only whether some particular freedom of a particular person has any ethical importance at all, but also whether the relevance of that freedom meets the threshold condition of having sufficient social importance to be included as a part of the human rights of that person, and correspondingly to generate obligations for others to see how they can help the person to realize those freedoms, a subject that will be more fully discussed presently. The threshold condition may prevent, for a variety of reasons, particular freedoms from being the subject matter of human rights.
Quite untrue. Sen thinks a right Indians currently possess- viz to get the Courts to ban books which insult their religious sensibilities-  fails the threshold condition. Yet this right is effective whereas many other rights Indians have are wholly ineffective.
To illustrate, it is not hard to argue that considerable importance should be attached to all five of the following freedoms of a person – let us call her Rehana: 
(1) Rehana’s freedom not to be assaulted;
Rehana may enjoy this freedom in certain places and at certain times. She would be very foolish to rely upon this supposed right of hers in other places or at different times.
(2) her freedom to be guaranteed some basic medical attention for a serious health problem;
'Freedom to be guaranteed something' is not a freedom. It may be a right but that right may turn out to be ineffective. Madoff's investors had a right to a good return on their money. Much good it did them.
(3) her freedom not to be called up regularly and at odd hours by her neighbours whom she detests;
This is a right to quiet enjoyment.  It may not be safe for her to assert this right. She might be better off moving.
(4) her freedom to achieve tranquillity, which is important for Rehana’s good life;
Yes. We must force her to do Transcendental Meditation.
(5) her ‘freedom from fear’ of some kind of detrimental action by  others (going beyond the freedom from the detrimental actions themselves).
And also get her committed to an asylum.
Even though all five may be important in one way or another, it is not altogether implausible to argue that the first (the freedom not to be assaulted) is good subject matter for a human right, as is the second (the freedom to receive basic medical attention), but the third (the freedom not to be called up too often and too disturbingly by unloved neighbours) is not, in general, reason enough to cross the threshold of social relevance to qualify as a human right.
Freedom means being allowed to do certain types of things. A free man may kill anyone who tries to kill him. That is his right. He has a specific type of immunity with respect to a certain class of self-regarding actions. But this immunity depends on the jurisdiction. A 'stand your ground' State may grant higher immunities than one which requires 'proportionate response'.

What does ''freedom not to be assaulted' amount to? A guy with superior weaponry and ruthlessness enjoys this freedom. A weak and puny fellow does not enjoy it at all unless he can call upon guys with superior weaponry and ruthlessness. But this is a function of the freedom of those other tough guys, not of anything pertaining to the puny guy's freedoms.

Will a Human Right 'not to be assaulted' help me evade a mugging if I walk at midnight through a sink Estate? Nope. It does not change my 'freedoms' in any way.

What about 'freedom to receive basic medical attention'? Unless one is held captive by a vicious gang, we all possess this freedom. Who on earth would stop some injured fellow receiving medical attention?
What Sen is talking about is a Right, not a Freedom. But, no one possesses this Right in an unqualified manner. I currently need basic medical attention for my hangover. I ring up the NHS helpline and ask for an I.V to be sent to me. They refuse. They say- 'drink plenty of water and take an aspirin'.
Of course, if I had money to burn, I could pay for a Harley Street Doctor and a beautiful nurse to turn up to minister to me. Even then, my Right only exists in a qualified manner. The Doctor may refuse to give me  'basic medical attention' because of the pile of dead hookers in my vestibule.

In general, there can be no Human Right to basic medical attention. A dangerous lunatic who likes killing nurses and doctors may have no such right.

By contrast, everybody does have the 'freedom not to be called up by unloved neighbours'. All they need to do is disconnect their phone. True, this might involve a cost- for example missing an important business call. Still, that's how freedoms work. They involve trade-offs.

Does this freedom, which I do have, also give rise to a Right? Yes. In most jurisdictions, I have been the victim of a crime and can prosecute the offender or take out an injunction against her. In general, this Right is unqualified and thus can be referred to as a Human Right.

In contrast, the fourth (the freedom to achieve tranquillity), while quite possibly extremely important for Rehana, may be too inward-looking and beyond the effective reach of social policies to be good subject matter for a human right.
Freedom to achieve tranquility must involve some Rights against others as well as certain Immunities for oneself.  As such it falls within the rubric of, and is in fact covered by, Human Rights.
The exclusion of the right to tranquillity relates more to the content of that freedom and the difficulty of influencing it through social help, rather than to any presumption that it is not really important for Rehana. The fifth alternative, involving fear of negative action by others, cannot really be sensibly judged without examining the basis of that fear, and how that can be removed.
When drawing up a Will or Deed of Trust, we may be motivated by fears. It is not necessary for these fears to 'sensibly judged' by an examination of the basis of that fear. If such 'sensible judging' were a feature of the enforcement of Wills or Deeds of Trust, they would lose their efficacy. All that matters is whether assets and their method of disposal have been unambiguously identified and that the purpose is lawful.

Human Rights should include freedom to contract or make Wills or set up Trusts even if no 'sensible judging' of the basis of the fear that motivates them occurs. An action may be lawful even if motivated by an irrational fear.
Some fears may, of course, be entirely cogent, such as the fear of the finiteness of life as a human predicament. Others may be hard to justify on reasoned grounds, and as Robert Goodin and Frank Jackson argue in their important essay ‘Freedom from Fear’, before determining whether we should ‘rationally fear’ something, we ought to ‘ascertain the likelihood of that possibility, which might turn out to be very remote’.* Goodin and Jackson are right to conclude that ‘freedom from fear’ seen as ‘being free from undue influences that irrationally frighten us, is . . . a genuinely important but genuinely elusive social goal’.
Important to whom? Armchair theorists? Why? The fact is, if we find ourselves incommoded by the irrational fears of others then we take some first order action. we say 'Don't be silly! Trump can't possibly be elected.'
And yet freedom from fear can be something that a person has reason to want and that others – or the society – may have good reason to try to support.
While you were reading the above, some girl- not necessarily named Rehana- was assaulted despite the fact that her right not to be assaulted passed Sen's 'threshold'.

In Bengal in 1943, the people did have a right to food under the Famine Code. They didn't get it because Brown politicians were in charge. The arrival of a White General made a difference. Why? Because the guy was a good organiser and his troops morale was improving as the military balance tilted in favour of the British. This had noting to do with 'rights' or 'freedom's or any other such pi-jaw. It is notable, in this connection, that Bangladesh coped better with famines under a General than under a very popular elected leader.




Sen-tentious social Choice

 In his book 'An idea of Justice' Amartya Sen writes-
In formulating the problem of social choice based on individual preferences, Arrow took the viewpoint (following what was by then the dominant tradition) that ‘interpersonal comparison of utilities has no meaning’. The combination of relying only on individual utilities and denying any use of interpersonal comparison of utilities had a decisive role in precipitating the impossibility theorem.
If Sen is correct, then Arrow's theorem has no real world application save perhaps to machines. Human beings have preferences or utility functions which are not at all independent of each other. What we want changes depending on whom we are with and how they will be affected. If human beings did not have this quality, we would not be social animals and would probably have have ceased to exist as a species.

Sen's own idea is that 'interpersonal comparisons of Utility'- i.e. a common metric for measuring pleasure or strength of preference- provides a way out of Arrow's impossibility theorem which essentially says that no voting rule has certain desirable properties.

However, any 'interpersonal comparison of Utility' could be reflected in people's preferences profiles because they may choose what they consider best for Society, all things considered. In other words, if people want a voting rule to work in a particular way they could ensure it happens. If they don't, then that is their preference. There is no way to force the thing on them- which makes sense, because we are speaking of Choice, after all.

Let me illustrate an aspect of this difficulty. Consider, for example, the problem of choosing between different distributions of a cake between two or more persons. It turns out that in terms of informational availability in Arrow’s 1951 framework, we cannot, in effect, be guided by any equity consideration that would require the identification of the rich vis-a`-vis the poor. If ‘being rich’ or ‘being poor’ is defined in terms of income or commodity holdings, then that is a non-utility characteristic of which we cannot take any direct note in the Arrow system, because of the requirement to rely exclusively on utilities only.
 If people were interested in equity then they would derive more utility from equal shares. If some people are older and others are kids with a sweet tooth, the distribution might be between only the kids.
People could ensure that their preferences permitted the outcome they wanted.
However, because we are speaking of the free choice of a set of people, it would not be possible to impose some a division upon them in the name of equity.
But nor can we identify a person’s ‘being rich’ or ‘being poor’ with having a high or a low level of happiness, since that would involve interpersonal comparison of happiness or utilities, which is also ruled out.
We can't do that anyway because the thing is false. Happiness has nothing to do with being rich or poor.
Equity considerations basically lose their applicability in this framework. The extent of happiness as an indicator of a person’s situation is applied to each individual separately – without any comparison between the levels of happiness of two different people – and no use can be made of the happiness metric to assess inequality and to take note of the demands of equity.
We do use a 'happiness metric' all the time. When I pass by a crowd of people leaving a cinema theatre who are beaming with happiness then I am inclined to buy a ticket to see the same film. On the other hand, if I see people leaving a restaurant clutching their tummies and vomiting and howling with distress, then I am inclined to dine elsewhere.

However, happiness has nothing to do with Wealth or 'the demands of equity'. That is why, as a species, we don't use a happiness metric to measure wealth or to redistribute income. It would be crazy to tax the poor but happy so as to further enrich the wealthy but miserable.
All this informational restriction leaves us with a class of decision procedures that are really some variant or other of voting methods (like majority decision). Since they do not need any interpersonal comparison, these voting procedures remain available in Arrow’s informational framework. But these procedures have consistency problems (discussed in Chapter 4), as had been noted more than two hundred years ago by French mathematicians such as Condorcet and Borda. For example, an alternative A can defeat B in a majority vote, while B defeats C, and C defeats A, all in majority voting. We are left, then, with the unattractive possibility of having a dictatorial method of social judgement (i.e. handing it over to one person, the ‘dictator’, whose preferences could then determine the social rankings). Dictatorial decision-making may, of course, be ferociously consistent, but that would be clearly a politically unacceptable method of decision-making, and it is in fact ruled out explicitly by one of Arrow’s conditions (that of ‘non-dictatorship’).
Sheer nonsense! Suppose there is a guy whom we all know to be smarter and more benevolent than any of us. We could delegate social choice to him. He wouldn't be a dictator at all. Arrow's theorem is a pile of shite because it defines anyone who arrives, by non-deterministic means, at the same result as the 'perfect', deterministic, voting procedure as a Dictator even if they have no power and are wholly anonymous.
This is how Arrow’s impossibility result emerges. A number of other impossibility results were identified soon after, largely under the shadow of Arrow’s theorem, with different axioms but yielding similarly discouraging conclusions.
Arrow thought he had put paid to Bergson's Social Welfare Function but he was wrong. The fact is a guy with expert knowledge and benevolent intentions is trusted by ordinary people to choose for them. This does not make him a dictator any more than a Heart Surgeon I have freely chosen is actually a dangerous criminal because he cuts into my flesh with a knife.

It is true that it is a waste of time to find out what a person's utility function actually is. I don't myself know my own utility function. It is not worth my time to find out. I prefer to 'crowd source' or take expert advise when it comes to costly purchases.

Interpersonal comparisons of utility have to be made by judges and administrators and politicians. They may ask for expert testimony or rely upon market research or follow previous best practice.

This does not mean it is worthwhile to construct a Social Welfare Function for Society. Aggregating so much information accurately is simply too costly and error prone.
The ways and means of resolving such impossibilities have been fairly extensively explored since those pessimistic days and, among other things, it has clearly emerged that enriching the informational basis of social choice is an important necessity for overcoming the negative implications of an information-starved decisional system (as voting systems inescapably are, especially when applied to economic and social issues).
By 'enriching' Sen means 'telling stupid lies'. As a matter of fact, India's voting system features 'reserved seats' for certain sections of Society. However, this does not seem to have helped them very much.
For one thing, interpersonal comparisons of the advantages and disadvantages of individuals have to be given a central role in such social judgements.
If stupid people, like Sen, make social judgments those judgments are bound to be stupid. They can make all the interpersonal comparisons they like but will still end up wrecking the economy and destroying the polity.
If utility is the chosen indicator of individual advantage, then it is interpersonal comparison of utilities that become a crucial necessity for a viable system of social assessment.
Nobody has calculated his own utility function. It would be a waste of time to do so. Society shouldn't waste resources doing stupid shite just coz some stupid pedagogue says so.
This is, however, not to deny that it is possible to have social choice mechanisms that do without any interpersonal comparisons ofadvantages or utilities, but the claims of such mechanisms in fulfilling the demands of justice are weakened by their not being able to compare the well-being and relative advantages of different people in congruent scales.*
Nonsense! South Korea implemented one type of mechanism. North Korea implemented a very different one. We can compare North Korea and South Korea. Millions of the citizens of the former have to be forcibly prevented from running away to become citizens of the latter.

A fool like Sen may not be convinced by a metric involving people voting with their feet. But that's what makes him a fool.
Alternatively, as was discussed earlier, the informational inputs in a social choice exercise in the form of individual rankings can also be interpreted in ways other than as utility rankings or happiness orderings. Indeed, Arrow himself noted that, and the nature of the debate on the consistency of social choice systems can be – and has been – moved to a broader arena through reinterpreting the variables incorporated in the mathematical model underlying social choice systems. This issue was discussed in Chapter 4 (‘Voice and Social Choice’), and indeed ‘voice’ is a very different – and in many ways a more versatile – idea than the concept of happiness.
'Exit' is less versatile but wholly conclusive determinant. If people say how much they enjoyed your party but head for the door within 15 minutes of arriving then you know it was a mistake to construct all the canapes solely out of dog turds.

The utilitarian calculus based on happiness or desire-fulfilment can be deeply unfair to those who are persistently deprived, since our mental make-up and desires tend to adjust to circumstances, particularly to make life bearable in adverse situations.
No utilitarian calculus can in fact be constructed. It can't be unfair to anything because it can't exist. Sen's idea of Justice consists in saying mean things to a wholly imaginary shibboleth.
It is through ‘coming to terms’ with one’s hopeless predicament that life is made somewhat bearable by the traditional underdogs, such as oppressed minorities in intolerant communities, sweated workers in exploitative industrial arrangements, precarious share-croppers living in a world of uncertainty, or subdued housewives in deeply sexist cultures.
Why did Sen's people migrate from their ancestral home in Bangladesh?  They could have 'come to terms' with being an oppressed minority in an intolerant community. Instead they kept moving to greener pastures. 'Exit' matters. It is based on interpersonal comparisons of utility of quite a complex kind. But no calculus is actually constructed. Mimetic and network effects 'crowd source' the result.
The hopelessly deprived people may lack the courage to desire any radical change and typically tend to adjust their desires and expectations to what little they see as feasible. They train themselves to take pleasure in small mercies.
But run away when they have a chance. If they don't get the chance then they work in an increasingly sub-optimal manner. That is why the utilitarian wants to improve their living standards and life chances. Their productivity increases so the thing 'pays for itself'. Utilitarianism is about removing ignorance and prejudice and complacency and laziness. Sen thinks its about constructing a calculus. No doubt, pretending to have such a calculus- like pretending to have supernatural powers- may yield an advantage in the short run. However, sooner or later, the truth will out.

Perhaps Sen, as 'the Mother Theresa of Economics' thought this book of his would make rich people in the West care more about poor people. It has the opposite effect. It makes us think there is no point to helping the poor. Sen says we have a natural tropism towards Justice. We will help the poor because we yearn to remove 'remediable injustice'. But, if this is the case, then the thing will have already happened. Sen's book is worthless. We don't have to read a book called 'the idea of Nutrition' in order to remember our duty to feed ourselves. Yet, Sen says we have a drive,  similar to that of hunger, to help those who have less. Why, then, does he feel it necessary to write such a long book?
The answer is that he thinks some Dead White Males most of us have never heard of made some mistake in some books they wrote a long time ago. This lead to the whole world failing to help the poor. Suppose those same Dead White Males had made an error in their theory of Nutrition- suppose they said food should be shoved up the anus, not taken orally- then everybody would have starved to death.

Sen's book is a 'second order theory'. He is criticising 'first order theories'. But those theories have had no practical effect. They are simply an unimportant part of a particular pedagogic tradition. They are wholly disconnected from any 'idea of Justice'. By contrast, actual Judges have to make interpersonal comparisons of utility and decide equitable damages all the time. This is an idiographic, practical matter. Nomothetic theories can only show their own irrelevance.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Sen's specious 'opportunity aspect' and 'process aspect' of Freedom

Sen claims that if
 social realizations are assessed in terms of capabilities that people actually have, rather than in terms of their utilities or happiness (as Jeremy Bentham and other utilitarians recommend), then some very significant departures are brought about.
Yes! Hitler's 'social realizations' were based on the capabilities people actually had. So were Stalin and Mao's 'social realization'. A human trafficker running brothels staffed by underage sex-slaves is bringing about a social realization based on capabilities. Bentham and other Utilitarians had no truck with this sort of 'capability'. Not even Marx entertained such a foolish theory.

All through History, oppressed people have suppressed information about their capabilities. The old story is that monkeys refuse to speak so as not to be forced to work.

The Sen-Dobb thesis had to do with freezing real wages (i.e. preventing malnourished Bengali workers from having more food and medicine which by itself would have raised their productivity) so as to generate a surplus that could be invested in capital intensive industries staffed by people with College degrees.

Had India remained a Fascist country, as it was during Indira Gandhi's Emergency, Sen's mentor Sukhamoy Charkroborty- a crawling sycophant she appointed head of the Planning Commission- would no doubt have been very willing to discuss how the 'capabilities' of India's poor could generate profits for MNC's and their local compradors- i.e. Mrs Gandhi's family and camp followers.

Perhaps, Sen used this sinister word 'Capabilities' so as to curry favour with the CPM, which ruled his native Bengal till recently. They were keen to enrich the relatives of their gerontocratic leadership with comprador profits derived from handing over fertile agricultural land to MNCs anxious to take advantage of Bengal's low real wages.
First, human lives are then seen inclusively, taking note of the substantive freedoms that people enjoy, rather than ignoring everything other than the pleasures or utilities they end up having.
What on earth does Sen mean? The vast majority of the people of the world have horrible jobs. They have to be compensated for the disutility associated with employment. Even if there is no disutility, there is some risk or responsibility which has disutility.
If we assume free entry and exit and that market power is not too concentrated, then we can say that utility counterbalances disutility. We need only look at the former.
In any case, ordinary people have no idea what their capabilities are. They do know these can change by things they can do and other things they can't do but which others can do for them. They also know that capabilities have changed because of new discoveries. But, they need advise and training and structured jobs so as to make concrete those capabilities.

 It may be that some students who studied Sen-tentious shite thought they'd thereby become more capable of making the world a fairer place. Boy, were they wrong!
There is also a second significant aspect of freedom: it makes us accountable for what we do.
Rubbish! Slaves are accountable for what they do. So are prisoners. Freedom allows us to exit jurisdictions where we are held accountable for certain actions and to enter other jurisdictions where we are not held accountable for them at all. Wesley Hohfeld has analysed rights into four 'incidents' or basic elements. One of these is 'immunity'. Freedom with respect to a particular action means immunity- which inter alia means non-accountability- in all respects concerning it. Thus if I choose to buy a pizza instead of a curry for myself with my own money, I am not accountable to anybody for this decision of mine. However, if I was acting as your agent and you had expressed a preference for curry, then I have to give an account of my action. I may say 'I saw diners vomiting in the curry restaurant. Some one said that the kitchen is very dirty and this had caused food poisoning. I saw on Yelp that the pizza place has excellent reviews. So I bought a pizza with the money I gave me. I was acting in good faith and with the intention of promoting your best interests.'
Freedom to choose gives us the opportunity to decide what we should do, but with that opportunity comes the responsibility for what we do – to the extent that they are chosen actions.
Sheer moonshine! A slave who has been appointed tutor to a patrician's son may be held responsible for the child's actions. An employer may be held responsible for his employee's actions. A Trustee may be held responsible for a dereliction on the part of an employee or Agent of the Trust. In some jurisdictions, this responsibility may be evaded by showing a proper standard of care. However, there will always be instances where we feel responsibility for a tort or felony has been placed on innocent shoulders.

Some jurisdictions have a 'Good Samaritan Law'. Others don't. Jerry Sienfeld and his friends, in the last episode of the hit show, do nothing to help a victim of a car-jacking because they are not aware that the local Law placed this responsibility upon them.

Responsibility is not a wholly social or legal concept. It also arises in 'games against nature' as well as in metaphysical areas in a non justiciable manner. It is foolish to equate it with Freedom because servitude features more responsibilities than enfranchisement.
Since a capability is the power to do something, the accountability that emanates from that ability – that power – is a part of the capability perspective, and this can make room for demands of duty – what can be broadly called deontological demands.
Power is the ability to defy any and every demand with respect to a particular object or relationship. If a capability is a power to do something then it is accountable to no one, it may be impossible to measure or independently verify, and is proof against any deontological demand, coercive threat or tortious interference.

John Stuart Mill linked Freedom to Punishability. He didn't link it to 'Responsibility' or consider that it remained 'Accountable' to anyone or subject to 'Deontological demands'.
Suppose he had believed, as Sen appears to do, that Power remains accountable and subject to deontological demands, then how could Mill have supported an extension of the suffrage to Catholic workers (who were believed to have a duty to obey their confessor and to vote as he directed) or, indeed, to married women (who supposedly had a Biblical duty to obey their hubbies and vote as they were ordered to do)?

It is a separate matter that a crime or tort committed by a free-man may be punished. However, the slave suffers additional chastisement for not working to his full capability. The Free, however, till Sen came along, were in no such danger.
There is an overlap here between agency-centred concerns and the implications of capability based approach; but there is nothing immediately comparable in the utilitarian perspective (tying one’s responsibility to one’s own happiness).
WTF? A ten year old girl who has to look after her four siblings and nurse her widowed Mum has a lot of responsibilities. Sen thinks they are tied to her own happiness. This is very generous of him I'm sure. No doubt he would congratulate her on her increased capabilities as a sex slave discharging a loathsome type of responsibility to her pimp.
The perspective of social realizations, including the actual capabilities that people can have, takes us inescapably to a large variety of further issues that turn out to be quite central to the analysis of justice in the world, and these will have to be examined and scrutinized.
Does Sen actually 'examine and scrutinise' anything to do with actual capabilities in Chapters 11 to 13 of his book?
No. He talks bombastic nonsense.

 Twenty-five hundred years ago, when young Gautama, later known as Buddha, left his princely home in the foothills of the Himalayas in search of enlightenment, he was moved specifically by the sight of mortality, morbidity and disability around him, and it agitated him greatly.
Everybody gets old, everybody falls ill, everybody dies. There were some fools and fraudsters who thought Human Capabilities included becoming immortal, invulnerable, omnescient etc. Buddha was gulled by these charlatans. He arrived at a 'Middle Path'- which consisted of claiming to have achieved something greater yet without showing any physical sign of having done so. He founded a rules based Monastic Institution which was wholly unconcerned with Social Justice and then ate some bad pork and fell ill and died.

But only apparently, because you see the Universe only exists momentarily. There is no past or future or causality or anything compound- like the ego. Instead, the Buddha attained a higher position than the Gods and...urm..don't forget to donate your wealth to the Monastery otherwise you will be reborn as an ant.
He was also distressed by the ignorance he encountered.
Right! Coz he wasn't ignorant at all!
It is easy to understand the sources of Gautama Buddha’s agony, particularly the deprivations and insecurities of human life, even if we may have to ponder more about his subsequent analysis of the ultimate nature of the universe.
Is it really easy to understand why a guy would leave his wife and baby son in the middle of the night just coz he finally understands that humans are mortals and subject to disease and senescence?
Ambedkar has a better theory. The Buddha left because his people were in conflict with a more powerful Kingdom- a conflict they were bound to lose. Buddha essentially said 'look, I'm leaving but, as a monk, I won't be contributing to the other side's power. What's more I'm not sticking around to argue against you guys resorting to military action. Thus, I'm not undermining your fighting spirit.' Ambedkar's point was that the Buddha, unlike Mahatma Gandhi, was making a choice for himself which did not undermine the cohesiveness and fighting spirit of his own people.
Ambedkar's theory, obviously, is imperative rather than purely alethic so the Buddha's action- if the conventional story is accepted- is still mysterious. With hindsight we are tempted to say that there was a 'timely', kairotic, aspect to the Buddha's decision. After all, the religion he founded helped Society move from a 'thymotic' (rajsic) equilibrium based on tribal cohesiveness to an 'universal', rational, type of bureaucratic Imperialism in which trade and commerce could burgeon.
It is not difficult to appreciate the centrality of human lives in reasoned assessments of the world in which we live.
It is much easier to appreciate the same thing in unreasoned assessments and lyrical outpourings. A reasoned assessment should have some practical value. That is what Sen's book lacks.
That, as has already been discussed in the Introduction and later, is a central feature of the perspective of nyaya in contrast with the rule-bound niti, even though the idea of nyaya is not at all alone in pointing to the relevance of human lives for assessing how a society is doing.
Sen comes from the traditional centre of the revived Nyaya (Logic & Epistemology) school. He knows very well that Nyaya is rule-bound and devotes a lot of time to arguing over what, if any, animals aren't too holy to be eaten.

The Pundits trained in this School had zero interest in Social Justice. They did not deny that customary law always took precedence in Hindu India. The big question was whether Niti rules which breached caste based ritualist codes could be tolerated. The answer was 'yes, provided the King fucks you over if you disobey. Might creates Right. Apadh Dharma- i.e. exigent circumstances- excuses everything. Sure, you can pay a bit of money to a priest for ritual expiation, but otherwise just keep your head down and make as much money as you can.'
Not surprisingly, this Nawadwip, Navya-Nyaya, school, which Sir William Jones compared to his other alma mater, Oxford (about which Adam Smith had bitter things to say), was fertile ground for future comprador 'Babus' who rapidly deserted it in favour of a worthless English literary education which further confused their thoughts but, alas!, placed no curb upon their wearisome eloquence. The greatest bores, as Brewer's Dictionary noted, are of the Brahmaputra.

A Government is a stationary bandit. It devotes some time and effort to discovering the resources of its realm- including 'human capabilities'- with a view to squeezing as much out of them as it can. That's why National Income accounts exist. Sen believes otherwise.

Indeed, the nature of the lives people can lead has been the object of attention of social analysts over the ages. Even though the much-used economic criteria of advancement, reflected in a mass of readily produced statistics, have tended to focus specifically on the enhancement of inanimate objects of convenience (for example, in the gross national product (GNP), and the gross domestic product (GDP), which have been the focus of a myriad of economic studies of progress), that concentration could be ultimately justified – to the extent it could be – only through what these objects do to the human lives they can directly or indirectly influence.
Right! So, if a slave-owner keeps an account book of how much his slaves produce, that could be justified as evincing a keen interest in the welfare of those whom his overseers periodically whip.
The case for using instead direct indicators of the quality of life and of the well-being and freedoms that human lives can bring has been increasingly recognized.
Quite true. Some morons- too stupid to be hired by the private sector- could get a job compiling these sorts of  metrics. However, they turned out to be shite. What is the point of a metric which says 'Cubans are better off than a certain segment of Americans'? We all know that Cuba exports medical and pharma goods and services and so is an exception to Baumol cost-disease. We also know that its regime scares the shite out of even Columbian narco-kings. So, sure, it has that going for it. But the metric is still meaningless. It is comparing apples with not even oranges but hand grenades.
Even the originators of quantitative national income estimation, which receives such attention and adherence, did try to explain that their ultimate interest lay in the richness of human lives, even though it is their measures, rather than their motivational justifications, that have received wide attention. For example, William Petty, the seventeenth-century pioneer of national income estimation (he proposed ways and means of assessing national income through the use of both ‘the income method’ and ‘the expenditure method’, as they are now called), spoke about his interest in examining whether ‘the King’s subjects’ were in ‘so bad a condition, as discontented Men would make them’. He went on to explain the various determinants of the condition of people, including ‘the Common Safety’ and ‘each Man’s particular Happiness’.
Petty's pamphlet was similar to other pamphlets circulating at the time. Like them, his too was disingenuous and strategic. Sen knows this. Why is he pretending that originally there was a 'good' type of N.I accounts which was sabotaged later on by stupid Utilitarians?

That motivating connection has often been ignored in economic analysis that concentrates on the means of living as the endpoint of investigation.
The motivating connection was competition between pamphleteers which could result in the gaining of valuable sinecures. In Petty's case more money was involved because he was part of the rape of Ireland. Sen has lived in England for more years put together than I've been alive. He must know that Petty's prosperity was founded upon Catholic Ireland's enslavement and destitution.

Why does this senile old fool not simply say 'Hitler was a Saint who greatly benefited the Jewish and Romany and Slavic people by keeping meticulous records of their capabilities?'  'Dr.Carl Vaernet was an even greater Saint because, at Buchenwald, he sought to increase the capabilities of homosexual men to include having sex with women.'
There are excellent reasons for not confusing means with ends, and for not seeing incomes and opulence as important in themselves, rather than valuing them conditionally for what they help people to achieve, including good and worthwhile lives.* It is important to note that economic opulence and substantive freedom, while not unconnected, can frequently diverge. Even in terms of being free to live reasonably long lives (free of preventable ailments and other causes of premature mortality), it is remarkable that the extent of deprivation of particular socially disadvantaged groups, even in very rich countries, can be comparable to that in the developing economies. For example, in the United States, inner-city AfricanAmericans as a group frequently have no higher – indeed, often a substantially lower – chance of reaching an advanced age than do people born in the many poorer regions, such as Costa Rica, Jamaica, Sri Lanka or large parts of China and India. Freedom from premature mortality is, of course, by and large helped by having a higher income (that is not in dispute), but it also depends on many other features.
Like not getting shot or not doing drugs. African-American people don't need any comparative metrics to know what needs to be done and why doing it has, quite intentionally, been made so difficult by the majority community. They have produced great Economists who do first order work which can actually improve outcomes.
By contrast, Comparative metrics are worthless. At one time, they seemed a good stick with which to beat Liberal administrations. But that stick broke once people like Sen started saying 'Cubans are better off than African Americans' because it was obvious that there was no big migration from the richer country to the poorer. Kerala and Cuba beat Baumol cost-disease by exporting health workers. America, very visibly, does the reverse. Why? It is rich and offers freedom. By contrast, Cuba uses its very efficient and innovative Pharma sector as a cash-cow.

Sen has linked his notion of Capabilities to Freedom in an arbitrary manner. How does he justify it? The answer is he even further vitiates the notion of Freedom by making a distinction without a difference.

Let me first consider a simple illustration of the distinction between the opportunity aspect and the process aspect of freedom. Kim decides one Sunday that he would prefer to stay at home rather than go out and do anything active. If he manages to do exactly what he wants, we can call it ‘scenario A’. Alternatively, some strong-armed thugs arrive to interrupt Kim’s life and drag him out and dump him in a large gutter. This terrible, indeed repulsive, situation may be called ‘scenario B’. In a third instance, ‘scenario C’, the thugs restrain Kim by commanding that he must not go out of his house, with the threat of severe punishment if he violates this restriction. It is easy to see that in scenario B the freedom of Kim is badly affected: he cannot do what he would like to do (to stay at home), and his freedom to decide for himself is also gone. So there are violations of both the opportunity aspect of Kim’s freedom (his opportunities are severely curtailed) and the process aspect (he cannot decide for himself what to do). What about scenario C? Clearly the process aspect of Kim’s freedom is affected (even if he does under duress what he would have done anyway, the choice is no longer his): he could not have done anything else without being badly punished for it. The interesting question concerns the opportunity aspect of Kim’s freedom. Since he does the same thing in both cases, with or without duress, could it be said that therefore his opportunity aspect is the same in both cases?
No. Opportunity cost is a global concept. But, for that very reason, it can't have a separate 'process' aspect for a free agent. 'Process vs Outcome' Accountability only arises where there is Agent Principal hazard or an incomplete contract. It can't arise in the self-employment or self-regarding actions of a free agent. No doubt, I may not want to be free because I make bad choices or because my information set is inadequate. I may seek to bind myself to a particular diet or discipline. But that process is still the outcome of freedom.

In the case Sen mentions,  what is relevant is that thugs have the power to curb Kim's freedom. It does not matter whether or not they exercise actual coercion. Kim's global choice menu is 'get the fuck away from a thug ridden neighborhood' and 'stay and try to gain as much utility as possible'. It may be that what he did, in deciding to stay home, was in the nature of a 'discovery process'. He was trying to find out how likely an attack was. His information set changes when the thugs throw him in a ditch. This may turn out to be turning point in his life. He decides to move and, after many tribulations and hardships, attains a good position in a secure and prosperous neighborhood.

Sen's Kim is a fool. He doesn't know what opportunities he really has. This also means that a process of public reasoning in which Kim has voice won't be able to arrive at the globally correct or substantive policy solution.

Suppose Kim is a newly landed immigrant living near the docks which are rife with crime. The presence of thugs causes him to migrate. With hindsight, this turns out to be a good thing for both him personally as well as the country at large.
The global solution here might be to tolerate criminality in an area people need and want to leave, unless they are subject to inherent vice, while ensuring that new communities are ab ovo better governed by ensuring subsidiarity based Tiebout sorting.
If the opportunity that people enjoy is to be judged only by whether they end up doing what they would respectively choose to do if unrestrained, then it must be said that there is no difference between scenarios A and C. The opportunity aspect of Kim’s freedom is unaltered in this narrow view of opportunity, since he can stay at home in either case, exactly as he planned. But does this give adequate recognition to what we understand by opportunity? Can we judge opportunities we have only by whether or not we end up in the state that we would choose to be in, irrespective of whether or not there are other significant alternatives that we could the other. The nature and implications of the distinction were investigated in my Kenneth Arrow Lectures, ‘Freedom and Social Choice’, included in my book, Rationality and Freedom (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), Chapters 20–22. 230 the idea of justice have chosen if we wanted? What about choosing to go for a nice walk – not Kim’s preferred alternative that Sunday but perhaps an interesting enough possibility – certainly preferable to being dumped in the gutter? Or, what about the opportunity to change one’s mind and, perhaps more immediately, what about the opportunity to choose freely to stay at home rather than the opportunity just to stay at home (and nothing else)? There are distinctions here between scenario C and scenario A even in terms of opportunities. If these concerns are serious, then it seems plausible to argue that in scenario C the opportunity aspect of Kim’s freedom is also affected, though obviously not as radically as in scenario B. The distinction between ‘culmination outcome’ and ‘comprehensive outcome’, discussed earlier, is relevant here. The opportunity aspect of freedom can be seen in different ways in light of that distinction. It can be defined only in terms of the opportunity for ‘culmination outcomes’ (what a person ends up with), if we see opportunity in that particularly narrow way and regard the existence of options and the freedom of choice to be somehow unimportant. Alternatively, we can define opportunity more broadly – and I believe with greater plausibility – in terms of the achievement of ‘comprehensive outcomes’, taking note also of the way the person reaches the culmination situation (for example, whether through his own choice or through the dictates of others). In the broader view, the opportunity aspect of Kim’s freedom is clearly undermined in scenario C, by his being ordered to stay at home (he cannot choose anything else). In scenario A, in contrast, Kim does have the opportunity to consider the various alternatives that are feasible and then choose to stay at home if he is that way inclined, whereas in scenario C he definitely does not have that freedom. The distinction between the narrow and broad views of opportunity will turn out to be quite central when we move from the basic idea of freedom to more specific concepts, such as the capabilities that a person has. We must examine in that context whether a person’s capability to lead the kind of life she values should be assessed only by the culmination alternative that she would actually end up with, or by using a broader approach that takes note of the process of choice involved, in particular the other alternatives that she could also choose, within her actual ability to do so
I'm sorry for quoting Sen's shite at such length but his stupidity has to be experienced first hand to be believed. Sen's 'broad view' is  that  Kim can go for a walk instead of staying at home and being molested by thugs. The global view is that he can run like hell from gangster infested neighborhoods. There is no question of being Free if the Mafia are running your block.

Sen doesn't get that people are plastic, they are mobile, they adapt to the fitness landscape. Through 'limited arbitrage'- e.g. Kim's encounter with the thugs- they nevertheless quickly gravitate to the global solution- Kim tells his work-colleagues about his unfortunate experience and then someone  says- 'you know what? There are jobs in the next State over and a lot less crime. If I were you I'd move there even though it doesn't have all the amenities we have here. Still, it's a place where a young man can really establish himself and put down roots'.

Why does this scenario not cross Sen's mind? Why does he give his Kim less Freedom  than Rudyard Kipling gave the eponymous hero of his best novel? The answer is that Sen is a sack of shite. He despises the poor people he pretends to care about. He is a typical Bengali Babu. Jyoti Basu enjoyed his Cuban cigars and French Cognac while the people of his state lacked electricity. When asked why Bengal exported electricity when most people in Calcutta only got electricity for a few hours a day, the great Communist Chief Minister replied 'What will our poor people do with electricity? They can't eat it!'

This contempt for the poor is what turned the Bengali Babu into a worse ruler than the British official. Why? Unlike the Britisher who could see that the expected present value of his pension would fall if Bengal starved to death and, moreover, that he himself might be censured or lose a 'gong' if a famine occurred on his watch, the Bengali Babu could enrich himself off a collective begging bowl. No doubt, amour propre required some biting of the hand that filled that bowl- for example, by compiling comparative metrics showing Cubans to be better off than Americans and Kerala very Heaven, but the Babu's bite is buried deep within some barking mad bombast camouflaged as 'deep' thought.

Perhaps Bengali intellectuals of Sen's generation were indoctrinated in an elitist view of human beings and thus could not conceive of a 'Freedom as Enlightenment' arising in a 'bottom up' fashion.

In a different chapter Sen writes-

Consider a young person, let us call her Sula, who decides that she would like to go out dancing with a friend in the evening. To take care of some considerations that are not central to the issues involved here (but which could make the discussion unnecessarily complex), it is assumed that there are no particular safety risks involved in her going out, and that she has critically reflected on this decision and judged that going out would be sensible (indeed, as she sees it, the ‘ideal’ thing to do). Now consider the threat of a violation of this freedom if some authoritarian guardians of society decide that she must not go dancing (‘it is most unseemly’), and force her, in one way or another, to stay indoors. To see that there are two distinct issues involved in this one violation, consider an alternative case in which the authoritarian human rights and global imperatives 371 bosses decide that she must – absolutely must – go out (‘you are expelled for the evening – stay away from us this evening – we are entertaining some important guests who would be upset by your behaviour and outlandish look’). There is clearly a violation of freedom even in this case, and yet Sula is being forced to do something that she would have chosen to do anyway (she has to go out to go dancing), and this is readily seen when we compare the two alternatives: ‘choosing freely to go out’ and ‘being forced to go out’. The latter involves an immediate violation of the ‘process aspect’ of Sula’s freedom, since an action is being forced on her, even though it is an action she would have also freely chosen (‘imagine spending time with those pompous guests, rather than dancing with Bob’). The opportunity aspect is affected too, though in an indirect way, since a plausible accounting of opportunities can include having options and Sula can inter alia include valuing free choice (an issue that was discussed in Chapter 11, ‘Lives, Freedoms and Capabilities’).
Sula is not free, period. She needs to understand that. Presumably, her lack of freedom arises from her being a minor. The fact that Sula is not free does not mean she doesn't have rights and that her guardians have corresponding duties. If they fail to discharge those obligations in a proper manner then Sula should apply to be emancipated.
Her 'process' and 'opportunity' freedoms don't matter. What matters is the intention and ability of her guardian. Suppose Sula's guardian secretly plans to defraud her of her fortune on her achieving majority. He is following a cunning policy of always discussing her various options with her and giving her good advise on the risks and benefits associated with these alternatives. Thus, on attaining majority, Sula has reason to trust her guardian. He may present her with a seemingly attractive investment opportunity while dwelling on the associated risks. She may think, 'my former guardian must think this is a good opportunity for me. Since he has trained me to exercise my own freedom of choice in a responsible way, I can decide this for myself.'

In this case, though there was no 'process' or 'opportunity' type injustice during minority, still her rights were violated. She was not truly free when she signed over her inheritance. There has been 'undue influence'. We may say an essential aspect of a minor's to develop into a person able to choose freely has been damaged by the guardian.

All minors need to understand they are not free. Their guardians owe them a duty of care but, being human, may have their own biases or agendas. Petty tyrannies may be a good thing because it reminds children of this fact about the world. Simulated concern, of the sort evinced by the evil guardian, may be the worst thing for the child.
However, the violation of the opportunity aspect would be more substantial and manifest if Sula were not only forced to do something chosen by another, but in fact forced to do something she would not otherwise choose to do.
Sheer nonsense! There is no violation here unless the guardian has an improper motive or is otherwise incapable of discharging a duty of care.
The comparison between ‘being forced to go out’ when she would have chosen to go out anyway, and being forced to stay at home with boring guests, brings out this contrast, which lies primarily in the opportunity aspect, rather than in the process aspect. In being forced to stay at home to listen to pontificating bankers, Sula loses freedom in two different ways, related respectively to being forced to do something with no freedom of choice, and being obliged in particular to do something she would not choose to do. Both processes and opportunities can figure in human rights.
No, Rights are related to Obligations under a bond of law. They are not 'internalised' in a Coasian manner. A Business enterprise finds it useful to distinguish between Process (employees doing what they are told) and Opportunity (employees thinking outside the box and thus boosting profits) under incomplete contracts. Nothing similar can be said about Rights. What matters is the intention and whether due care was taken.

A Ponzi scheme may pretend to be fulfilling a human right to financial security. A populist Government may promise to fulfill all sorts of 'opportunity' based rights. The Dictator of a collapsing regime may promise all sorts of rights if his people will stand with him rather than permit him to be captured and tried for war crimes.

Such rights soon prove to be a chimera. Their promoters may make a profit in the short run. In the long run these 'opportunity' type rights turn out to be non justiciable by reason of insolvency, infeasibility, sovereign immunity or some procedural loophole. This is not to say that an incentive compatible market or institution can't provide the same thing. But it won't be a 'human right' type cheap-talk 'pooling equilibrium'. It will be a separating equilibrium based on costly signals. Thus Social Insurance finance by contributions is feasible. Human rights based Basic Income is not. In practice, some Human right- e.g. that of free ingress- has to be denied or else 'Basic Income' turns out to be purely gestural and not 'Basic' at all.
For the opportunity aspect of freedom, the idea of ‘capability’ – the real opportunity to achieve valuable functionings – would typically be a good way of formalizing freedoms, but issues related to the process aspect of freedom demand that we go beyond seeing freedoms only in terms of capabilities. A denial of ‘due process’ in being, say, imprisoned without a proper trial can be the subject matter of human rights – no matter whether the outcome of a fair trial could be expected to be any different or not.
Due process is part of the Law. There is no valid judgment if there is no due process. By contrast, opportunity or process or anything else does not qualify freedom in any way. To say 'Freedom, for India, meant the freedom to starve for millions and the freedom to sodomise my neighbour's cat for Montek Singh Ahluwalia' is merely a stupid sort of rhetoric.

We don't know what opportunities other people have, or indeed what opportunities we ourselves have. We think Freedom is a good thing because it permits mimetic effects, including Exit from horrible places, to proliferate more rapidly. However, there are certain mimetic effects- like kids joining ISIS, or learning Montek Singh Ahluwalia's way with felines- which we want to suppress.

Nothing is added to either the idea or the practice of Justice by distinguishing between 'opportunities' which we know nothing about, and processes about which we can have some circumstantial knowledge. What matters is intention, due care and the nature of the vinculum juris.

Sen, like other crap second order thinkers, continually takes up a figure of speech- 'e.g I'm no better than a slave because I've got no option but to go to work in that horrible office'- and treats that metaphor as a concrete reality. He then creates a second metaphor- a meta-metaphor- which pretends that this figment of the imagination can be treated like a brute fact about the world. Thus, he might say 'We can help enfranchise office-slaves by distinguishing between their opportunity and process type unfreedoms. Thus, by re-defining the water cooler as a vacation in Hawaii, opportunity unfreedom is reduced- because you can go surfing in Hawaii but can't in the water-cooler- without compromising process type efficiency.' Clearly, I'm putting words in Sen's mouth. But what else does his analysis cash out as?

Consider the following-

While primary goods are, at best, means to the valued ends of human life, in the Rawlsian formulation of principles of justice they become the central issues in judging distributional equity.
Primary goods are necessary means to ends. Most ends have no value in themselves. Sen is a pedagogue. But the subject he teaches has no value at all. In this case, the means are valuable but the end is worthless. After all, Sen could have taught calculus or corrected English grammar.

Primary goods always have value, under scarcity. Ends may or may not. I may decide, after ten years on life support hoping for a miracle cure, that my suffering served no purpose. The money spent on my care was wasted.

Distributional equity can only be about stuff that can be distributed- that is means, not ends. The clue is in the name. Why is Sen pretending that ends can be evaluated? There are obvious preference revelation problems.
This, I have argued, is a mistake, for primary goods are merely means to other things, in particular freedom (as was briefly discussed in Chapter 2). But it was also briefly mentioned in that discussion that the motivation behind Rawlsian reasoning, in particular his focus on advancing human freedom, is quite compatible with – and may be better served by – a direct concentration on the assessment of freedom, rather than counting the means towards achieving it (so that I see the contrast as being less foundational than it might first appear). These issues will be more fully considered in the next chapter. The capability approach is particularly concerned with correcting this focus on means rather than on the opportunity to fulfil ends and the substantive freedom to achieve those reasoned ends.*
Rawls was a silly man who didn't get that compulsory Social Insurance is the correct solution. Sen is repeating the same error. We already have a way of determining quality of life and adjusting compensation accordingly through judicial or administrative tribunals.

Thus if a person has problems with mobility or housekeeping or requires assistance to complete particular tasks, then there is already a mechanism for transfers which bring 'quality of life' up to an acceptable level.

Bullshitting about Freedom helps nobody. First order work can help show how more can be done with the same resources and also how more resources could be made available in an 'incentive compatible' manner.

Furthermore, the fact that a Redistributionary Mechanism exists is an 'opportunity aspect' unfreedom'. It would be prudent to destroy or it, or make ourselves immune to its actions, because there is no way to be certain it might not be captured by malevolent sociopaths.

Still, this does not mean that research in 'Mechanism Design' or 'Incomplete Contracts' can't be useful. It would be good to know how to set up an efficient Redistributionary Mechanism 'just in case'. For example if an asteroid is about to hit the earth and we need to mobilize trillions of dollars worth of resources to avert disaster, it would be very useful if 'first order' research is ready to hand so that the burden of raising this money is equitably distributed in a manner which has no efficiency costs or adverse side-effects.

But Sen isn't doing any such work. He is posing as the Buddha of a Nirvana he has done nothing to create.
It is not hard to see that the reasoning underlying this departure in favour of capability can make a significant, and constructive, difference; for example, if a person has a high income but is also very prone to persistent illness, or is handicapped by some serious physical disability, then the person need not necessarily be seen as being very advantaged, on the mere ground that her income is high.
Absolutely! A 100 year old millionaire who needs a billion to be spent to keep him alive is very disadvantaged compared to the poor nurse, on minimum wage, who tends him.
She certainly has more of one of the means of living well (that is, a lot of income), but she faces difficulty in translating that into good living (that is, living in a way that she has reason to celebrate) because of the adversities of illness and physical handicap.
So true! The rich have ailments that are so expensive to diagnose, poor people never discover they have them save on their death bed. We must do more for our very rich who are aware that they have persistent illnesses and handicaps poor people die before discovering they share.

We have to look instead at the extent to which she can actually achieve, if she so chooses, a state of good health and wellness, and being fit enough to do what she has reason to value. To understand that the means of satisfactory human living are not themselves the ends of good living helps to bring about a significant extension of the reach of the evaluative exercise. And the use of the capability perspective begins right there.
Quite right! Ninety year olds are capable of getting nineteen year olds pregnant. We must help them achieve this capability. Not to do so means we as a Society suffer from an 'unfreedom'.

Sen is writing worthless shite- but the globalised market is for nothing else in this area, so good luck to him. The opportunity and process aspect of Freedom are one and the same thing. Spinoza referred to this as 'conatus'. Sen's process involves churning out high minded nonsense. This is all that his Freedom, or inertial conatus, amounts to. It is not the case that some opportunity available to him was curtailed thereby. It would not be possible to compensate him so adequately that he'd write a better book or one with a different import. Indeed, on examination, we see that Sen could not have written a better satire on his own worthless availability cascade than this final, and utterly futile, distillation of his oeuvre.

There is a lesson here all who run may read.
Mind it kindly.
Aiyayo.