Monday, 3 October 2022

Shruti Kapila krapping on Kharge v Tharoor

Punjabis are shrewd people and excellent psychologists. They can easily predict who will emerge the victor in a battle of egos. True, there is a thymotic aspect to the Punjabi politician who might persist in a doomed struggle but that is a tribute to the Punjabi character. 

Shruti Kapila is Punjabi but, sadly, she was brainwashed at JNU and now teaches nonsense to cretins at Oxford. She write in 'Print' re. the Tharoor/ Karge contest that she was initially disappointed at the lack of juicy gossip leaking out but

I am a historian who takes politics all too seriously.

Yet her political journalism is unintentionally hilarious. 

In that vein, and from the comfort of my distant university spires, a different view emerges.

It is a cockeyed view.  

It is curtains for the Congress party as moulded by Indira Gandhi.

Only if Kharge becomes the dictator of the Party- which is unlikely. An 80 year old can merely be a figurehead. Morarji was 81 when he became PM. He presided over a shitstorm. 

If Tharoor wins, which is very unlikely, he will need the dynasty to intercede for him with Northern leaders whereas if Kharge wins, everybody will be going straight to the dynasty with their grievances. Either way, the dynasty will be 'backseat drivers'. 

It is true that Narasimha Rao, and- later on- Kesri- tried to flex their own muscles. But, at that point, Rahul was out of the country and Sonia couldn't be sure it was worthwhile assuming the Regency herself. Still, such was the chaos, she herself had to takeover. It is noteworthy that, once Bofors charges were dropped and Rahul had returned to India, Sonia immediately clarified that she would build the Ram Temple, if that was what the Courts decided, and she roped in a Shankacharya (who had previously performed Griha Pravesh ceremony for her family) to legitimize this. In other words, Sonia had put Congress back on track to be the default National Party. The high price of onions brought tears to the eyes of Vajpayee. Then Sonia played her master-stroke. She put in Manmohan who won two terms. There was a clear time-line for the succession. First Rahul would take charge of the Commonwealth Games, as his Dad had taken charge of the Asian Games. Then he'd bring in young, charismatic, candidates. Finally, he'd shoulder Manmohan aside- complaining of corruption or lethargy- and would lead his party into the 2014. The BJP would put up Advani- who was twice his age- and the Lion of Gujarat would have to be content with roaring once or twice. But Rahul would win by a landslide. Even if he was subsequently brought down by corruption and intrigue- as his father was brought down by V.P Singh and Arun Nehru- he'd have acquired gravitas. Congress would remain the default National party. 

It is only because Rahul was gun-shy and useless that things have come to the current pass. But, whoever becomes President of Congress- an 80 year old Dalit, or a posh 'outsider' who has recently written somewhat disparagingly of Ambedkar- the Dynasty remain the backseat drivers. Sadly, this means a car-crash of one type or another. 

Yes, you read that right. Many of the party’s current stalwarts, especially but not exclusively those huddled under the so-called G-23 faction, cut their young teeth in her (Indira Gandhi's) era or have been mentored by leaders of those decades. This includes Ashok Gehlot.

Only Kharge could be said to have entered politics in Indira's era. But he rose by merit within his own State. That's why he would have been a good choice- but for his age.

Obviously, slightly younger Congress leaders could only have 'cut their teeth' in Sanjay's era. Gehlot was pushed up by Rajiv and later by Sonia. That's what makes him more of a loyalist than Azad. The case of Manish Tiwari- who was an MP from Punjab- is most interesting. He seems to have risen by merit. But Congress is wholly without merit. There is little point being in the driving seat if the car will inevitably crash. 

This end is not merely a generational shift.

Sonia is 75. Kharge is 80. What 'generational shift' is Shruti talking about?  

But rather a shift that has been demanded by India’s new political reality today.

But this 'political reality' is likely to give BJP a third term. Now, as eight years ago, Congress has no Prime Ministerial face. Kharge can't be PM- or even CM of Karnataka. Tharoor can keep his seat because he is an excellent constituency MP and he will retain his hold over the rising, aspirational, English-learning and increasingly English-speaking class. He deserves to. He has worked hard and has an attractive personality. But he can't be CM of Kerala and is too much of a nice guy to achieve anything within Congress's Augean stables. 

For one, the Congress party, as remade after Indira Gandhi split it in 1969, was overwhelmingly concerned with the pursuit and maintenance of power.

Because previously it was concerned with the pursuit of nice flower- right?  

Pragmatism or the belief that ideas were only good if they were successful and practical created a distinct and arguably a brutal new polity in India’s history.

This stupid woman does not seem to understand that Indira turned sharply to the Left because she quite genuinely was of the Left. Later, disillusioned by the utter failure of Leftist panaceas, she became pragmatic. But so did a lot of other Socialists over the course of the Seventies.  

Good or bad, authoritarian, or populist, some of this is now being debated about her era, at least in scholarship.

It was debated long ago. There is now no such thing as 'scholarship'- just affirmative action for the victims of epistemic self-abuse.  

In terms of the Congress, what was key is that there was little to no distinction between Indira Gandhi’s massive persona and the party.

No. What was key was that there was a massive difference between Sanjay's & his Mummy's persona. She called elections in '77 to cut the fellow- and his goons- down to size.  

This in turn created a new kind of politician who was marked by savage self-interest.

The 'aaya Ram, gaya Ram' politician- i.e. strategic defector notorious for corruption- was a well established stereotype of the late Sixties.  Indira was trying to make Congress a full blown Socialist Party with a Defense Pact with the Soviet Union etc. 

Indira’s Congress overturned the idea of political work as sacrificial duty that had defined the earlier generations who had transited the party and indeed India from colonial rule, to national self-government.

This is nonsense. There was municipal corruption from 1923 onwards. After 1937 the thing had become a scandal. It worsened after Independence because of the arbitrary power of officials tasked with regulating the public distribution system and licensing system. Only by lifting all such controls could politics have been purified. The thing never happened. Nehru's centralizing drive made New Delhi the center for extorting money from the private sector to finance the Party. Indira's husband, Feroze, could be considered the foremost anti-corruption campaigner of the period. He forced TTK's resignation much to Nehru's displeasure. 

The all too aggressive power-plays in the Indira era overwhelmed idealism or the pursuit of political principles.

No. Idealism was in plentiful supply from JP & Co. It was the disastrous decision to make an 81 year old crank, whom everybody hated, Prime Minister which destroyed idealism. Better a dynasty than anarchy.  

The Congress party with Indira Gandhi morphed into a system of patrons and clients

which is what it had always been 

as politicians divvied up factions, or sections of society that they represented.

Factionalism within Congress was at its most intense at the time of 'Lal, Bal & Pal' heading the 'Garam Dal' which fought tooth and nail with Gokhale's 'Naram Dal.  

Power emanated from her and ended with her.

As had been the case with Nehru after Patel's death.  

Above all, this arrangement was only possible as the Congress party was the party of power.

A leader can have an iron grip over her party even if out of office. 


In the forty years since Indira Gandhi’s violent death, India’s democracy changed dramatically. Not only has political power been pluralised

It was always plural- that is why there was partition. In1957, Nehru's Congress retained 45 percent of the vote but JP's party got over ten percent and the Commies got about 9 percent.  

it is now distributed along several parties, social groups, and regions.

That transition occurred in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Janata's victory in 1977 was actually a victory for a Kaleckian 'intermediate' class. The future lay with vernacular, caste based, regional outfits. Brahmin/Kayastha domination was over though this was not apparent so long as the BJP could appear to be a Brahminical outfit. But it was the 'casteless' Advani whose 'rath yatra' opened the gates to power for them. Rahul's 'pad yatra', foot-journey is supposed to reverse the outcome of the 'chariot' journey. But Rahul could have been Prime Minister. He chose to get out of the chariot and hand it over to Modi who, it must be said, has used it to some good purpose. 

To be sure, the challenge to Indira’s Congress came from

Sanjay's Congress. Indira could lock up everybody except her own son. This was the Mughal dilemma replayed in family descended from a Mughal-era 'kotwal' (police superintendent).  

highly mobilised social movements of caste, religion, region, and sometimes even just sheer anti-Congress-ism.

There were rival Congress parties- Congress O, CFD, etc. You could say this was a battle for the soul of the party. Then, in 1980, it became dynastic. But autocracy is tempered by assassination. Rahul prefers that the dynasty die nasty only in a political sense. He doesn't himself want to end up like Daddy or Granny.  

The rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party came precisely as it pursued its exclusive ideology but crucially created a social mobilisation for itself.

This is nonsense. The fact is Lohia and then JP brought in the RSS and Jan Sangh for their own purposes. But a price had to be paid. The Janata Morcha fell apart on the 'dual membership' issue. Thanks to Advani's rath yatra- and Vajpayee's charisma- it was the BJP which inherited the Janata mantle. Modi got his start by publishing a book about his subversive activities during the Emergency. But it was Advani who lifted him up so as to make his rath yatra a success.  

However, the BJP in Gujarat was as faction prone as Congress. Modi was brought in as a trouble shooter. His intelligence and hard work did the rest. 

By contrast, in the intervening period and despite being in government for ten years, the quintessential Congress party politician remains, with few exceptions, someone who is

either a parasite or a paranoid nutjob. Merit has quit the party. Which way will Manish Tiwari jump? What of Sachin Pilot? They know they can't join Kejriwal because he will pump and dump them. Perhaps Nitish has a plan. Mamta may decide to concentrate on Bengal. People are looking across the border at what Sheikh Hasina has achieved. West Bengal must catch up. Hasina's new trade initiative sends a clear signal. The entire region can rise rapidly through inter-industry trade. Calcutta's glory will be restored. Economically, it remains the most promising metro because of its unrivalled status within its hinterland.  

adept at factional fighting and pursuing and gaining patronage.

But, Punjab has shown that this talent is useless. Factionalism and intrigue are useless if your entire party is wiped out. Instead of sitting in the C.M's chair you may be grinding corn in jail. Look at the brilliant Sidhu! 

Therefore, Congress MLAs, whether in Punjab or Rajasthan or Goa, are prime if not easy targets for the party’s opponents. After all, the question remains what is it that they stand for, now that the grand old party is no longer a power machine?

Their constituents know the answer. So long as the MLA does a good job for his voters, he can be re-elected. Ultimately, all politics is parish pump politics. 

From transactional patronage to ideological faith

Congress has always been a big tent affair. No 'ideological faith' was required. Party discipline was sometimes very lax.  

Whether or not you want to dismiss them as romantic or useless, principles, in fact, make and break politics.

Only if those principles translate into benefits- 'deliverables'- for the voters. In the short run, people may believe that the 'principled' man will deliver what he promised. When they discover otherwise, they drop the fellow like a hot potato.  

Principles create power.

No. Expectations of achievement create the power to attempt turning promises into reality.  

Arguably and in a perverse manner, this is the singular lesson that the ruling BJP has given to Indian democracy.

No. The BJP has shown that hard work and organizational cohesiveness is all that matters. Focus on booth management and last-mile delivery. You must always bend your principles so as permit salutary developments. Politics is the art of the possible. If you are stupid and useless, go be a professor of Political Science somewhere far far away where students won't immediately be able to spot you for an ignorant cretin.  

Its ‘principles first’ project for Hindu nationalism has also identified the average BJP party worker as a ‘committed’ political actor.

No. The RSS and some BJP activists work hard in a self-abnegating way. But then AAP was able to mobilize people of this sort of diverse classes first in Delhi and then in Punjab. Let us see if they can succeed in Gujarat.  

Whilst I am all too aware that it is a cadre-based party with a complex structure in alliance with other organisations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, at least in popular perception, the typical BJP politician is not up for sale nor in any danger of becoming a turncoat.

Shankarsinh Vaghela turned his coat twice or thrice. There is nothing unique about the BJP. It's a different matter that people get behind a leader of exceptional skill. But that is a function of public spirit and desiring what is best for the country.  

It has little to do with power. The many now benched ministers and Rajya Sabha MPs of the ruling party seem to be holding their nerve quietly.

My guess is that Modi finds them something useful to do. This may not always be possible. Still, to have served under a great Captain is itself some consolation. Problems arise where merit is replaced by sycophancy. 

This should give the Congress politician a pause and cause for concern.

It has done more. Many have quit. Congress must allow CMs to get on with the job rather than spend all their time fighting off intrigue.  

The transacting of patronage between different levels of the party hierarchy is now a withering game of diminishing returns.

Negative returns.  

And that’s true for all in the party, regardless of their position— from the very top to the regional brokers, the media darlings of Delhi, to the faceless backroom operators in party offices.

No. Congress still has some very talented and inspiring people who can tap into the huge reservoir of public spirited people of all walks of life which exists across the length and breadth of a nation on the move.  

Suppose Rahul, at the end of his yatra, says 'look, I'm not smart. But I have a good heart and will work under orders of anyone who has ability. We should not be concerned with who is President. We only care to serve the nation.' Then Congress will revive. Rahul himself will feel happier and a burden will be lifted from his family. 

We can understand why Modi wants to be PM. He genuinely is good at the job in all its aspects. Most importantly, he has a personal narrative which by itself goes a long way to defeat some prejudices older Indians still have.

Suppose Rahul gives up dynastic privilege to become a humble svayamsevak or volunteer of the party- then he can rise in spiritual and moral stature thus safeguarding his family's legacy.


The two contenders for the party’s official mantle — Kharge and Tharoor — have little in common

Except one thing. They can't control the party. The dynasty will remain an 'obligatory passage point' fostering factionalism and intrigue. Sonia had a good adviser and appealed to Indians as a pativrata widow safeguarding the interests of the family and its loyal retainers. Rahul initially had even greater appeal. But he wouldn't step up to the plate. It may be in taking leave of power, he will gain moral authority. But, only if he actually does take leave of power. As a 'backseat driver' he will have 'power with responsibility' which is 'the prerogative of the harlot'.  

. Ultimately, it is inconsequential who takes over the vast if now largely hollow Congress party machinery.

No. It is highly consequential. The machinery will fall into other hands- perhaps anti-national ones of a yet more mischievous type.  

Without the redefining of the Congress politician, in this era of little power, the task to helm will be fiendish.

A Congress politician is defined as an Indian politician competing with other Indian politicians of other Indian political parties. Any other definition or redefinition is pointless. The more Rahul kept bleating of 'vichardhara'- ideology- the more people thought him a moon-calf without an idea in his head. By contrast, Bhutto's grandson, Bilawal, now Foreign Minister of Pakistan, appears smart and confident. He is 34. Rahul is 52. Why couldn't Rahul have joined the Cabinet in 2004 when he was 34? What was his major malfunction? Stupidity is no bar to high office more particularly if you are an aristocrat- that too one with an Ivy League education. 

The leadership election is a tipping point for the Congress. No, not for its death as that prophecy is as old as the party itself.

No it isn't. There was a theory that Congress would remain an elite talking-shop. But as, Viceroy Landsdowne noted, the Arya Samaj led anti cow-slaughter movement had given it a mass contact vehicle. That was back in the 1890s.  

Instead, it is a critical moment to adjust the party’s default settings to its original inheritance.

Cow protection? Mahatma Gandhi and Prasad and so forth got that into the Constitution long ago. Congress, as the Mahatma said in 1939, was the High Caste Hindu party. It delivered power into the hands of the 'learned' Brahmin, Kayastha and other similar castes. It began to falter with the rise of 'dominant' supposedly 'educationally backward' groups. From 1967 onward, these castes gained control in the regions. But they could not establish hegemony at the Center. The BJP was Brahminism's B team. It was 'Mandir vs Mandal'- i.e. the need for Hindus to unite rather than squabble over reservations- which gave them salience. But the Ram Mandir should have been Rajiv's legacy. Sonia, the pativrata Sita to Rajiv's Ram, staked her Party's claim to build the Temple 20 years ago. Now Modi has got the credit. This was pure luck. But, had Shah mishandled the building of the Temple, it could easily have been a poisoned chalice. Modi & Shah aren't miracle-workers. But they can seize any opportunity presented to them and profit by it. 

It is early days for the long Bharat Jodo yatra which seems to be channelling the Mahatma’s ideas of mass contact for the pursuit of principle.

The Mahatma led the Dandi march. He highlighted an issue- symbolic perhaps- of relevance to the masses and thus showed them that Congress was unlike other parties. It was not concerned with the spoils of office. It wanted to reduce the tax burden on the poor.  

By contrast, Bharat Jodo is a stunt. The country is already united. Why pretend it is divided? The other problem with the pad yatra is that it has already angered the CPM. When the need of the hour is 'unite the opposition'. Congress should be trying to build up a 'States' Rights' Coalition in which Regional parties can feel confidence. This is particularly important for the South which has had demographic transition and which would lose representation if seats are redistributed according to population. 


Can the Congress politician sacrifice the search for patronage?

If, like Tharoor you can get re-elected on your own, then- sure. But a Congress heavyweight can always create his or her own party and ally with the National Party when convenient. Sharad Pawar and Mamta are examples- though it seems Sonia's rapport with Mamta has been disrupted.

The plain fact is that a politician who needs patronage is likely to be corrupt or incompetent. Since Congress is becoming unelectable, its leaders will neither be able to give candidates money to campaign nor a charismatic leader who can attract votes. 

Gossip or no gossip, the answer to this question will indeed determine the future of India’s oldest party.

No. The question is whether talented people will come to Congress or remain in Congress. A politician can't decide to be talented. In a meritocratic party, the sycophants and parasites will be deterred from attempting entry. 

The question facing Congress is whether it will join an Opposition coalition and accept a non-Congress Prime Ministerial candidate for 2024. If it doesn't do so, its potential allies will seek to cannibalize its votes. It is one thing for Modi and Shah to take potshots at Rahul. It is another for all parties across the spectrum to start attacking Rahul for backseat driving his Party to disaster. Consider how much the BJP was damaged by the allegation that the RSS leader was pulling its strings. Congress will now be in that position. Sonia is gone. Rahul says he is gone. Priyanka (and thus her son) have also been ruled out. 

What comes in with Kharge? To answer this we need to look at Kharge's role in Karnataka- where a Congress/ JD (S) coalition was recently brought down and BJP secured its 'gateway to the South'. In the process, Kharge lost his seat in the Lower Houseto a Congress turn coat. It stands to reason, that Kharge's first priority will be to bring down Bommai by hook or crook because the nightmare for Congress is that the rapidly urbanizing Dravidian States will see a decline in casteism and their intrinsic Hindu identity will reassert itself. Stalin, in T.N, is well aware of this possibility- remote as it might seem. The problem, of course, is that Bommai has an incentive to poach more Congress MPs so as to show up Kharge as a senile fool. Stalin, who suffered torture during the Emergency, may decide that the UPA is as dead and buried. His peers are Mamta and Naveen. I think he is the same age as KCR who, having pumped and dumped Congress in 2014, made a feeble attempt to create a 'Federal Front' in 2019. In fact he is still talking of creating a new opposition party. Maybe Stalin will see some profit in throwing a lifeline to the ultra-religious KCR if only to send a signal that the Southern CMs need to work together. It is better that a regional satrap cannibalize Congress while projecting a 'States Rights' candidate who has a chance against Modi. But this still means that BJP gets momentum in urban areas while picking up support from disaffected castes- especially Dalits. Some fresh thinking is required but it requires ideographic knowledge. 

In my opinion, Kharge, who rose by merit and is considered clean, would have been a great choice but for his age. People see him as a guy with a legitimate grudge of a more than politically partisan type. Why was he denied the Chief Minister's post? The answer, I am sorry to say, is caste. Kharge represents the old 'Brahmin-Dalit-Muslim' strategy which only elderly folk like me can recall. What opposes it is the 'Janata Parivar'- represented by the Gowdas in Karnataka. This includes Naveen Patnaik, Nitish Kumar, Akhilesh and Lalu Prasad Yadav, Chirag Paswan etc. If Kharge fails to unite Congress, Indian politics, at the Center, might become Sangh Parivar vs. Janata Parivar. In other words, Congress will be marginalized as two offshoots of the Janata Morcha square off against each other. On the one hand, casteism; on the other hand 'Hindu consolidation'. Which way will Gehlot jump? He understand anti-incumbency in Rajasthan. He can hang on as CM for now. But if the Janata Parivar can cobble together a PM candidate and Congress does not join in, his best bet is form his own Regional party and go to the polls on that basis. Even if he loses, he has staked his claim for the next round. 

The problem for the Janata Parivar has always been that the Jan Sangh was the only non-wholly shite component of the Janata Government. Under Modi the BJP has greatly improved over what it was under Vajpayee. But we can't say Akhilesh is a great improvement over Mulayam. As for Nitish, he is back in the arms of Lalu. Congress, of course, is in a completely separate category. There has never been anybody quite as stupid and useless as Rahul. 

Perhaps Congress will become a 'B' team- i.e. something kept around to split the other party's vote. Whose B-team will it be? That of the Sangh or the Janata Parivar? Will it matter? Like Congress politics, Janata politics is passe. Without casteism, Hindu consolidation too is passe. 

AAP took Punjab easily enough. It only came into existence ten years ago. Prashant Kishore has started his own party. It may be that by the end of this decade, a 'youth-quake' will wholly reconfigure Indian politics. I hope so. The next Modi can't arrive soon enough. Rapid economic growth is what takes hysteresis out of politics. That means 'historians' get disintermediated. Ergodicity permits 'economia'- not the rule of economists- who are only marginally more hysterical than historians- but ecumenical rule based on a common oikeiosis. 


Saturday, 1 October 2022

Lawrence Hamilton on how to read Sen's shite

 What did Sen actually think of India's reforms in the early Nineties? Did he think? Could he think? Probably not. This is what he wrote-

Outside India the reforms have been fairly universally welcomed,

because they solved a pressing problem 

but they have been, since their inception, the subject of severe debate within India.

because they represented an abandonment of 'Nehruvian Socialism' 

The controversies have been extensive, and the arguments on each side quite forceful and rm. This collection of essays is not—at least not directly—a contribution to those debates.

In which case, these essays are meaningless.  

Rather, it is a part of an attempt to shift the concentration of economic arguments away from the rather limited issues on which these largely political debates have tended to focus. The object is not so much to search for authentic answers to familiar and well-rehearsed questions, but to ask and explore quite a different set of questions.

Which ones? Whether Spiderman can beat up Dracula?  

These broader investigations, we argue, are needed right now,

by us, because the only thing we like talking about is Spiderman and Dracula 

and they can inter alia alter even the way the more traditional queries are answered.  
There are two elementary points of departure. First,

talk irrelevant bollocks 

there must be an attempt to link the strategies of development to something more fundamental, in particular, the ends of economic and social development.

A strategy is a mapping from a set of instruments to a set of outcomes. Strategies of development are already linked to 'the ends' of development. Nobody had suggested otherwise. One might as well say ' we must attempt to link the strategies of killing Dracula used by Spiderman to the ends of killing Dracula which involve Dracula no longer being able to suck the blood of beautiful virgins.'  

Why do we seek development?

Because we want to develop- i.e. have more of some desirable trait. 

What can it achieve, if fruitful?

Development- i.e. having more of desirable traits and less of undesirable ones.  

How are the successes and failures of policies —including the ‘reforms’ of traditional policies—to be judged?

By their outcomes in terms of having more or less desirable traits.  

It is only with an explicit recognition of the basic ends that debates on means and strategies can be adequately founded.

This is simply untrue. Debates on strategies to kill Dracula don't require an explicit recognition that Dracula will no longer be able to suck the blood of innocent virgins. The thing is bleeding obvious.  

The second basic departure takes us beyond the scrutiny of ends, to the investigation of means. What are the means that have to be employed to achieve these ends felicitously?

This is silly. The end is merely the terminus of the means. The ends do justify the means if there is such a terminus. If there isn't, it is obvious that the means give rise to hysteresis effects such that there is no actual terminus. There are further consequences and feedback loops.  

While the debates on the current reforms concentrate on a particular class of means related to the use or non-use of markets (such as incentives for private investment, reliance on international trade, and so on), there are many other means, especially dealing with the ‘social’ side of economic operations and successes, which typically tend not to figure in these debates.

In which case, rope in a Sociologist or people with domain expertise. Don't get in a Sen-tentious theorist.  

To the foundational lacuna of neglecting the scrutiny of the basic ends

which never actually occurs. People know that when they order a sandwich, it is because they want to eat it and gain nourishment from it. No fucking 'scrutiny' is required.  

is, thus, added the more immediate gap of ignoring the examination of some powerful means that help us to achieve those ends.

Such ignorance can only be found in Sen-tentious theorists.  

In fact, we argue that achievement of even the limited objectives

which was to put an end to the Balance of Payments crisis.  

of the current reforms will depend crucially on

elasticities of demand and supply for internationally traded goods and services. That's it. That's the whole story.  There is no need for

conscious and organized pursuit of the social means on which economic performance and results are frequently conditional

because the 'social means' are captured precisely by the relevant elasticities. This is a purely alethic, objective, matter. 

. This collection of essays presents and develops the arguments for taking a much broader view of the needed economic and social change in India.

But it was only a balance of payments crisis- that too under a minority government- which concentrated minds sufficiently to enable the reforms to go through. The plain fact is that whatever 'needs' Sen thought India had, Indian policy makers did not. So what follows is just pie in the sky.  

In this first chapter the reasoning is developed at the national level, looking at India as a whole. That reasoning has been developed more extensively in the companion volume (Drèze and Sen, 1995). While that is mainly a ‘national’ study, the argument draws, among other things, on the deep diversities that characterize the varied economy of India. The diversities are partly related to India's varied history before independence (for example, the bulk of modern Kerala is made up of what were so-called ‘native states’—Travancore and Cochin—formally outside the British empire

but actually more, not less, controlled by Britishers. By contrast there were large tracts of directly ruled territory where the zamindars or taluqdars or other local notables had far more power.  

) and after the British left (for example, the relative strengths of political parties have been quite different in the different regions of India).

But such 'relative strength' did not correlate with differential achievement though it did correlate with the adoption of British methods and modes of thinking.  

But the diversity relates also to the nature of the Indian constitution, which identifies as ‘state subject’ many areas of governmental action that are crucial to economic and social development.

But that merely reflects ethnographic and socioeconomic diversity. Sen must have noticed that the people of an Indian State tended to speak the same language and have a common habitus.  

Thus, the historical diversities have tended to be consolidated and reinforced by the legal structure of the Indian union.

No. The legal structure follows the human geography because that's how history works.  

An understanding of the Indian economy has to be informed by an adequate recognition of deep-seated regional diversities and heterogeneities. 

No it doesn't. All that matters is whether there is access to open markets. That's what the reforms made clear. Get rid of red tape and trade barriers and the more 'Britishified' States start to take off. The less Britishified ones understand that they need to get their kids to study English and do Engineering and create Enterprises rather than focus on kidnapping or rape as a way of life. 

India can learn a lot from the experiences of other countries which have done, in different ways, better than we have.

Learning doesn't matter. Imitating does. I have learnt a lot about how Beyonce become such a successful star. But, because I didn't imitate Beyonce, I have failed to rise up in the world as a twerking diva. 

Imitation need not involve any actual learning.  

More on that presently, but we must also note the fact that India has much to learn from India itself.

Why stop there? Why not say 'India has much to learn about learning from India from learning from India learning from India itself'?  

We live in a most diverse country, and in many spheres our records are extremely disparate.

Not really. India was less diverse than comparable big countries because stupid economic policies had kept almost everybody as poor as shit.  

The average levels of literacy, life expectancy, infant mortality, etc., in India are enormously adverse compared with China, and yet in all these respects Kerala does significantly better than China.

Not if you compare Kerala to a Chinese littoral population with good emigration possibilities. Economists are supposed to compare apples with apples.  

For example, in adult female literacy rate, India's 39 per cent is well behind China's 68 per cent, but Kerala's 86 per cent rate is much higher than China's.

They are now level pegging in literacy, but Chinese per capita income is quadruple that of Kerala.  

Indeed, as will be presently shown, in terms of rural female literacy, Kerala has a higher achievement than every individual province in China.

Did this enable it to do better than China? No. China had more thoroughgoing reforms. It is only now that Kerala has a CM who wants to be the Deng Xiaoping of India. We are speaking of forty wasted years.  

Lawrence Hamilton, a political theorist, published a book in 2020 titled 'How to read Amartya Sen' from which the quotations given above were extracted.

 My own finding is that the right way to read any sentence written by Amartya Sen is

1) to establish what factual claim it makes and, by doing a bit of Googling, to discover it is egregiously false

2) to consider what economic or philosophical theory Sen is appealing to and establish that Sen has totally misunderstood or misapplied that theory or concept. 

3) to consider what value-judgment Sen is making and to establish why it is evil or mischievous. 

It would be nice if there was some way of reading Sen such that some useful technique or policy suggestion becomes available. 

Hamilton takes this optimistic view-


The best way to ‘read’ Amartya Sen, I suggest, is as a series of courageous theoretical and practical innovations regarding how better to solve instances of injustice via the support, revitalization and reform of democracy, especially in India.

But Sen hasn't made a single theoretical or practical innovation and done nothing to solve any type of injustice or reduce any type of malfeasance or inefficiency. He has had zero role in the 'revitalization' or 'reform' of democracy in India or elsewhere. 


India, the largest democracy on the globe and the oldest in the developing world, is

a democracy only because, firstly, that was the political system bequeathed by the Brits and secondly because it is linguistically diverse but overwhelmingly Hindu. Where Hindus aren't in the majority, there is secessionism. Democracy suits Hindus who feel they need to hand together or else once again succumb to Muslim or Communist salami tactics.  

rightly proud of its postcolonial achievements in terms of formal democracy.

But India could have got universal franchise at the same time as Ceylon in 1931! The Muslims objected and so it was not obtained. The Brits can be proud of holding the first elections in India, Ceylon, Burma, etc and handing over power to elected governments there. 

Yet, this record has not translated into substantive democracy, that is, the kind of achievements in quality of life across the board that would empower all of its residents to take advantage of both its growth in GDP terms and the successful maintenance of formal democracy.

Britain and America and France and everywhere else have also failed to achieve 'substantive democracy'. There are differences in quality of life across the board in all these countries. Which planet has Hamilton been living on? 

India chose to pursue a Socialist path and thus remained poor like other similar Socialist countries. But that was a democratic choice. The plain fact is, democracies can decide to do genocide or to starve a portion of their population or to ethnically cleanse them or to render them little better than slaves or serfs.  

The Covid-19 situation in India is a powerful illustration of this lack of empowerment.

No it isn't. India had lower mortality than USA but China did very much better than either precisely because it isn't a liberal democracy. What Covid showed was that authoritarianism is better at controlling populations because...urm... it is authoritarian. That's important when it comes to things like

1) preventing epidemics through quarantines, compulsory vaccinations etc.

2) implementing compulsory education 

3) rationing food and preventing hoarding during periods of food availability deficit

4) punishing law breakers and purging repugnancy markets

India’s associated abrupt and severe lockdowns have accentuated the inequalities and deprivations of its massive population.

Nonsense! Inequalities and deprivations persist for demographic reasons. Poor people who have lots of kids perpetuate poverty. Rich people who have few kids whom they educate and bequeath assets to, cause higher income and wealth for their descendants.

Demographic transition was delayed in India because India pursued a Socialist path under corrupt and incompetent leaders. However, opportunities for migration greatly impacted life-chances. 

Although the highest infection and death rates are still in the wealthier megacities of Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai, the virus is now spreading fast in more rural areas in the east and south of the country.

Viruses also spread in rich countries. Hamilton is too stupid to understand that something which affects both the rich and the poor can't explain why some are rich and some are poor. Reading Sen has made him stupid.  

And, it is the urban and rural poor who feel the full force of the three-pronged crisis.

Whereas rich people who die or get very very fucking sick don't feel there is any crisis- right?  

The abrupt loss of livelihood due to associated job losses is creating a very dangerous mix of viral spread and impoverishment.

Male migrants may have taken a big hit for about 6 months between 2020-21. Female migrants may still be less remuneratively employed. India is so desperately poor and its organized sector still so shackled that work disutility and purchasing power considerations neutralize much of the welfare effect we would expect. I suppose, transfers cushioned the blow to a greater extent than previously. However, it should be borne in mind that Indian economic development has been so badly mismanaged that migrants have faced other types of disruption before. In other words, welfare is so low and uncertainty so high that impoverishment is the rule. Departures from it are the exception. Only demographic transition can alter this stark fact.  

The poor, migrant workers, for example, which make up a huge proportion of the Indian population and economy, come from historically disadvantaged classes and castes

with higher fertility. The 'advantaged' are becoming a smaller and smaller proportion of the population.  

and work very low-paying jobs without legal contracts.

Thanks to Democracy. Legislators pass laws which won't apply to the vast majority. This is virtue signaling- just like what Sen and Hamilton are doing.  

They live hand to mouth. The original decision to abruptly lockdown India

which was the result of the abrupt decision of COVID to start killing people 

left them marooned far from home, without shelter, work and sustenance, bar the incomplete coverage provided by the public distribution system (PDS) and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).

But that work was precarious. Why? Crazy labor laws. If you more or less criminalize employment there is no route out of poverty.  

Overnight this generated a mass migrant exodus, which has been compared to the great migration during partition (Deshingkar 2020). And, as the disease spreads east, for example, it is those who eke out basic subsistence in the poorest states, such as Bihar and Jharkhand, with high population density and much weaker medical infrastructure, who will be under the most severe threat of food insecurity and infection (Drèze 2020).

What was the alternative? Let the disease kill off tax-payers and employers? What jobs would there be for migrants then?  


All told, the poorest, most precarious and least powerful parts of India’s population have been largely abandoned by the Indian state

Sen abandoned India long ago 

in their time of need.

No. The State made what provision it could for them in return for their votes.  

The arrogance and indifference to the plight of these lower caste, uneducated, labouring classes brings into sharp relief the extreme inequities Sen has fought for more than half a decade to overcome (Mander 2020).

What fighting has Sen done? He didn't even beat up his best friend so as to run away with his wife. He went to England and then America and made some money teaching worthless shite and pretending he cared deeply about poor people. 


In the second edition of Drèze and Sen’s magisterial account of the various things that have plagued public policy for development in India, especially in areas such as health, education, social security, environmental protection, economic redistribution and so on, they argue convincingly that these components of development depend on public action.

No. They depend on sensible actions. India went in for stupid public actions and private hypocrisy of a Sen-tentious sort. To improve health outcomes, you have to defund shite hospitals and sack useless doctors and nurses. To improve education, you have to shut down shite schools and sack teachers. To protect the environment you have to kill people who would otherwise kill those who try to stop their illegal activities. Some of these people may be very poor. But to help the majority, you have to be ready to harm a minority. Self-interested people who belong to the country may have an incentive to do so. Sen-tentious scoundrels have none. They can go on ranting in a paranoid fashion about an evil neoliberal state which is very callous and unfeeling and probably Islamophobic and totes Fascist. Meanwhile Indians will vote for Indians who actually live in India and who are willing to exercise power- not talk bollocks incessantly. Look at Rahul. He won't or can't be part of the solution. Thus nobody listens to him when he prates on about everybody's duty but his own

Effective public action is not possible without significant change to how it is thought about and implemented in India.

This requires getting rid of Sen-tentious cretins and NGOs and andolanjivis and PILs. They insist on crazy laws which keep the country poor and then clutch their pearls and express amazement that the poor can't rise up.  

It depends on high standards of governance both in the determination of where and why extreme deprivations exist

the brains of our virtue signalers are extremely deprived.  

and how best to keep corruption at bay and accountability to the fore.

But there still won't be enough money to do take care of material deprivation.  

It is an indictment on successive Indian governments over the last two decades or so that,

they let virtue-signaling nutters roam around preventing development so as to boost their own reputation and get rewarded by Western Academia and NGOs. 

despite high levels of growth, its latest social indicators are still ‘far from flattering’.

That's not how indictments work. If a crime has occurred- e.g. money for social welfare has been stolen or misspent- then that is what the indictment mentions. It does not mention that some indicator is flattering or unflattering. You may be indicted for killing your wife. You can't be indicted because the wounds you inflicted on her have made the photograph of her in her coffin 'unflattering'.  

China may have been less successful at keeping famines at bay,

It exported food to get hard currency even though people were starving. Stalin did the same thing. But it reformed agriculture and industry to a greater extent than India over the last 40 years. 

but in terms of social progress – from ending poverty to the provision of decent education and functional toilets – it has been far more successful than India.

Because it isn't a democracy and shoots or Gulags those who don't get with the program.  

Moreover, as regards most relevant social indicators India is still worse off than many of its much poorer south Asian neighbours, such as Bangladesh,

which started to do privatization under Ershad in the early Eighties and which has shifted rural girls into giant factory dormitories 

Bhutan,

which expelled Nepalese 

Nepal

which Nepalese don't believe 

and Sri Lanka.

which has gone off a fiscal cliff 

With the sole exception of Pakistan, India has the lowest life expectancy, the highest child mortality rate and the highest fertility rate.

Because it is more democratic and still more Socialist than any other country in the region. Also, it has too many Sen-tentious cretins objecting to any type of reform.  

In terms of sanitation and child nutrition India fares worse than all of its neighbouring countries. Its rates of female literacy are amongst the lowest in the region. And, staggeringly, over 40% of India’s children are underweight, compared to 25% in Sub-Saharan Africa (Drèze and Sen 2020).

Sen and Dreze are boasting of the achievements of their ilk in preventing India from rising up. Sadly, those nutters are being increasingly disintermediated. Preventing Indian NGOs getting foreign cash to fuck up Indian development- an initiative revived by Manmohan but which he could not carry through- is beginning to curb this nuisance.  


So, it is a little surprising that Sen has held firm to a view of ‘democracy by discussion’ as a way out of this predicament.

But Indian democratic discussion has come to the conclusion that Sen-tentious shite is wholly mischievous. Bhagwati said this baldly when UPA was still in power. Sen failed to discuss or debate him or anybody else.  

It is surprising for two reasons. First, it is not clear how this view of democracy could transform the power relations and associated social, economic and political structures that undergird India’s stubbornly unflattering social indicators. These forms of domination in terms of caste, class and gender need less polite mechanisms of change.

But 'less polite mechanisms' may lead to incarceration, if not mob-justice handed out by the majority. Democratic mechanisms of change have, quite lawfully, disintermediated the Lefty virtue signalers. Soon there will be visa bans on them. They can still write nonsense but they can't pretend to have an emic perspective or to be doing evidence based research.  

Second, it is far from clear that ‘democracy by discussion’ can provide the kinds of incentives and guidance to elites to make judgements in line with the varied – often competing – interests of their populations as a whole. We need to look elsewhere to properly empower the least powerful, those at the bottom of the economic ladder, often without voice.

Where did these nutters look? Was it to knee-jerk support for any crazy 'aandolan'? Consider the recent farmers' agitation. People like Gerta Thurnberg lost credibility for supporting it even though reform is needful to prevent an ecological catastrophe. Dreze, poor fellow, felt obliged to admit that though cash transfers are better, subsidies are the only real option. Yet, it is obvious, that subsidies will disappear as States are forced to provide them by taxing the urban and landless sections of the population. Look at what happened in Punjab. It was the urban, Hindu, bania, Kejriwal who benefited. His party swept the polls. Going forward, it is clear that voters will insist on getting cash and freebies (e.g. x amount of free electricity) which in turn means that the State has to prune subsidies to special interests. No doubt, there will be an entitlement collapse for many along the way but the final equilibrium will be one where voters are directly bribed and vested interests are disintermediated. Meanwhile, Leftists will continue to lose obligatory passage point status. In other words, going forward their input on such matters will simply be ignored. 



As discussed in the first two chapters of this book, Sen is rightly famous for his explanation for why famines do not occur in democracies.

Though Bangladesh was a democracy in 1974. 

Even though only a minority in the population may actually face the deprivation of a famine, a listening majority, informed by public discussion and a free press, can make government responsive.

Or unresponsive. If the majority wants the minority to fuck off and die that could be the outcome. Suhrawardy was blamed for the '43 famine. In '46 he became the Premier. Mujib would have been re-elected if he had not been assassinated though, of course, he may have dispensed with elections because it had become obvious that democracy can cause vast excess mortality from food availability deficit because of corruption.  

More pertinently for India, following political independence, famines, despite threatening on a number of occasions, were firmly kept at bay due to

American aid, in the first instance and then massive support to the best and most prosperous farmers which in turn meant that the Left was disintermediated by the rise of caste and religion based 'intermediate class' vernacular, regional, political configurations. There was once a time when the second largest share of the popular vote was won by the Communists. That was in the Fifties.  

this vital practical benefit provide by democracy. By contrast, famines were a common occurrence under authoritarian British rule.

No. The Brits stopped them. However, in 1937, elected Ministries got control of food. Bengal, in particular, suffered. Democracy's great gift to the Bengali was famine and ethnic cleansing. Their revenge was accomplished by exporting Sen-tentious academics and 'activists'. 



Alongside the periodic role that elections play in keeping democratic governments accountable – it is partly because of the need to win votes that government has to listen –

Lawrence Hamilton may find that Whites like him will have to run away from South Africa precisely because 'governments have to listen'.  



So, despite what I say in chapter 5 below, that there are three main views of democracy –

there is one sensible view- viz. democracy is majoritarian. In the short to middle term, the majority may be tolerant if there is a perceived economic benefit they disproportionately receive. Long term, they prevail.  

‘elite’ or ‘minimalist’, ‘liberal’ or ‘realist’ and ‘deliberative’ or ‘discursive’ – and that Sen’s view sits squarely in the last of these, it is possible to identify a fourth, more radical version of democracy.

One that ends up fleeing the country or incarcerated or so utterly impotent as to be ignored by all.  

It is not that distant from Sen’s own, but it is also not identical. It is more realistic about the significance of economic and social position in shaping public action and policy support and less sanguine about the power of discussion. Moreover, it provides sharper teeth as regards the stubborn realities of class and caste everywhere, and particularly in India.

Having sharp teeth does you no good if the majority has guns or just sticks to beat you to death with. Man has prevailed over the tiger and the wolf.  

Much more can be said about this more radical view democracy, especially as regards what forms of institutional change would enable this dynamic, anti-oligarchic form of democracy to consistently empower the least powerful in social and economic terms and keep elites properly in check.

It can be said by Trump and Bolsonaro and QAnon or anybody else. Nobody has a monopoly of crazy. The problem is that campuses won't continue to be 'safe spaces' for Sen-tentious shite. They will be defunded. A Credentialist Ponzi scheme will collapse or has already done so.  

Complimenting Sen’s groundbreaking work with Ambedkar on democracy may be a good place to start (Drèze 2018). For, although Sen’s capability approach provides an excellent tool of analysis and on-the-ground empowerment, it is surprisingly silent about who would be best placed to undermine existing forms of domination. Representatives of marginalized or oppressed groups, with class- and caste-specific quota in representative institutions (or specific offices, as in Rome’s tribunes of the plebeians) would be best placed and incentivized to keep the domination of elites at bay (Hamilton 2014).

The Brits had plenty of quotas and reserved seats and so on. Majoritarianism prevailed. All that shite was swept away save where it increased the power of the Center.  


Even when representative democracy works best, public discussion does not bring about deep-seated change, at least in terms of the kinds of power relations and social realities that bedevil India.

A good thing because deep-seated change tends to involve famine and ethnic cleansing and a more illiterate bunch of gangsters grabbing power.  

While it is true that in the long-term changing identities and values through public discussion makes old kinds of politics impossible and new kinds possible,

the BJP has become the default national party thanks to anti-national nutters of the sort Sonia encouraged.  

in the short-term, empowering oppressed or marginalised groups is what brings change, often through confrontation, disruption and resistance.

Hindus like Modi were indeed marginalized. The odd thing is that India started to rise up when they pushed their way to the top. Even 10 years ago most economists my age would have voted for Rahul. Now, we see no alternative to Modi till Kejriwal- or some coalition of regional satraps- can put forward a credible candidate for the top job.  

Unfortunately, contemporary India, with its recent authoritarian and ethno-nationalist turn threatening the fundamentals of even formal democracy, looks highly unlikely to engender either kind of change.

Translation- 'sadly, India has too many Hindus. Worse, those Hindus want to be richer and stronger. That's totes Fascist!'  

So, a clear grasp of Sen’s ideas (supplemented by an updated version of Ambedkar’s vision of democracy) is now doubly important to save the world’s largest democracy.

Sen has no ideas. He just wastes everybody's time by saying stuff like 'before we can have an idea we need to clearly distinguish between what an idea means and the means by which meaning itself can be a means to talking yet more interminable bollocks.  

In other words, what is needed is more radical agents of change, that is, institutional structures that effectively incentivize representatives to support progressive change (Hamilton 2018).

People don't need material things like food and clothes. They need radical agents of change, institutional structures, that effectively incentivize broad-based campaigns demanding the right to food and clothes. It doesn't matter if  they starve to death in the process of campaigning for the creation of effective institutions which can campaign for the campaigning for effective institutions which can incentivize such campaigns. 


In sum, if we read Sen’s courageous and elegant ideas in the way I suggest, we will all be inspired to face two challenges democracy reveals.

Only if some worthless University department is paying us to be so inspired.  


First, we must find a roadmap for how we can properly make the health and well-being of a state’s population the raison d’être of its government.

Which involves finding a roadmap for how we can properly make the health and well being of those looking for that roadmap the raison d' etre of our search. This means getting a grant and then tenure or a sinecure with some stupid NGO or kleptocratic billionaire's bogus Foundation.  

The first thing to identify is that health is not the mere absence of disease but the status we each have when our ever-changing needs are optimally satisfied.

Which is why, if your Uni isn't offering you tenure, you should be allowed to present a Doctor's note signed by your Mummy (whose health requires she be recognized as an M.D) which clearly states 'give this little shit tenure already. Nobody else will offer him a job coz his brain is full of shit. It's a fucking medical condition I tell you! Make him a Professor otherwise everybody will think he is sick in the head.' 

For this, we need a politics that allows us to express and assess our needs,

Very true. Currently, I get sent a voter registration card which asks me to confirm I live at such and such place and have the right to vote. This is unacceptable. The Electoral Commission should encourage or at least allow me to express my needs- including my assessment that I need to be recognized as the Queen of Engyland due to the Nicaraguan horcrux of my neighbor's cat is totes Fascist and Neo-Liberal and shit.  

and determine who is best placed to represent us in responding to these needs, all in non-dominating conditions (Hamilton 2003, 2014).

Exactly! Nicaraguan horcrux of pussikins is totes domineering! Army should take action.  


Second, given that it is no accident 
hat those leaders who have responded worst to the Covid-19 crisis have also been the main sources of countless conspiracy theories and misinformation, we must learn to keep oligarchs away from political power.

This is simply untrue. Peru, not Brazil, was the worst affected though Peru had gone for lockdown immediately and had emphasized the danger. Bulgaria was the second worst affected even though it too was quick off the mark. Orban's Hungary takes the fourth spot- but Orban used COVID to take dictatorial powers! 

Oligarchs don't want to die. They are likely to support stringent measures against a pandemic. 

Under representative democracy, bar outright revolution, we do not have the power to affect the everyday decisions of our representatives,

Yes we do. We can phone them or go and see them. They understand that we can switch our vote or stop donating money and time to the party. I used to have an MP whose office would phone me to get my views not because anybody thought I was smart or influential but because my reactions were typical of the great mass of stupid people- i.e. voters.  

but we can keep those with exclusive social and economic interests out of positions of political power.

Very true. Keep out the Jews and the Bankers and the Lawyers and the Homosexuals and the immigrants and my cousin brother who falsely claims that I iz a bender what got rich by sucking off Jewish billionaires of immigrant origin. Actually, it is him wot is the pouf. Anyway, Uncle promised that I'd be our Party's candidate after he died. It's totes unfair that his son is claiming to represent the Iyerland Liberation Front just coz he takes it up the arse from leprechauns. I have discussed all this in my PhD thesis. 


Amartya Sen’s incredibly rich and ground-breaking contributions in ethics and economics, outlined in this book, have revolutionised so many of our received opinions, making us look afresh and act differently.

What has Hamilton achieved? Nothing. What was Sen's contribution? Zero. Useless tossers continued to virtue signal in a useless manner. But nobody was listening.  

As his readers, we must use our political agency

Hamilton has none 

to find effective ways of enabling the political changes necessary to implement his ideas and harness their capability for real freedom for all.

Sen got a Nobel for being brown. Hamilton isn't brown. Sooner or later, South Africa will dispense with the sort of fig-leaf he represents. We imagine him growing old on some provincial campus in Europe or America arguing with other geriatrics about how S.A needn't have turned to shit if only its black population had had effective institutions which could convince them they weren't black at all. They were actually Sen-tentious Professors of some worthless shite. 



I am very grateful to Richa Burman

apparently she was a commissioning editor at Penguin

for suggesting I write a preface for this new edition, to Penguin and Polity for enabling it and, in particular, to Jean, for ever so politely and firmly bringing us all together to make it a reality. Thanks too to Laurence Piper for commenting on a draft of this preface, as did Jean, twice, and to Jean for his elegant foreword. Last and not least, Amartya: thank you for your very kind reception of the first edition of this book. If and when this crisis abates, I hope we are afforded the opportunity to discuss these ideas.

Lawrence Hamilton

Johannesburg

13 July 2020

So this book was written to order for a small clique which makes a little money by publishing nonsense. Who, outside that clique, can be grateful for it? Nobody. There is only question to ask when reading the work of an economist- does it actually lead to the economizing of the use of scarce resources? If not, what has been written is nonsense. Political Philosophy, on the other hand, is not meant to be read at all. It is merely a symptom of a mental illness for which one may be rewarded- if the right bunch of nutters gain power ; or punished- if it proves too much of a nuisance. Otherwise, the thing is as pointless as socioproctology. 

Friday, 30 September 2022

Debangana Chatterjee's hijab of paranoia

India has a liberal constitution and judiciary. Thus liberals in India have a duty to support stupid shit so as to make the Indian constitution and judiciary even shittier than it actually is. An example of this type of stupidity is supporting the demand that girls, in a girl's school, should be allowed to wear the hijab inside the classroom though this violates Islamic rules (females must be able to verify that no men have entered a female space and thus are not allowed to cover their face or hair) as well as an essential aspect of classroom functioning- viz. the teacher being able to see whether students are comprehending the lesson. 

By contrast, liberals have zero influence in Iran which has an Islamic constitution. Supporting or not supporting hijab protests there has no effect whatsoever. 

Debangana Chatterjee, a Professor of useless shite, takes a different view. She writes in Scroll- 

Understanding context:

Academics can't understand shit. 

Why liberals support hijab in India but oppose it in Iran

It's coz they are stupid and useless.  

Specific historical and socio-political contexts are important when trying to understand the demonstrations about the veil in each country.

Sadly this academic does not know either the Indian or Iranian context. In Karnataka, PFI type nutters were trying to create mischief. In Iran, there was a genuine grievance.  

For just under two weeks, protests against the hijab have spilled over onto the streets of Tehran, with women burning their hijabs and chopping off their hair. The protests, which have reportedly claimed at least 76 lives across Iran, have been directed against Iran’s infamous morality police and the country’s theocratic regime.

The flashpoint was the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini on September 16 after she was allegedly assaulted in custody for wearing her hijab “inappropriately”.


There has been a recent crack-down on wearing the head-scarf in a fashionable rather than puritanical manner. If the protests aren't suppressed wholly and quickly, it will embolden the opponents of the regime.  

The word “inappropriate” is already detested for its unruly impositions on women’s lives.

This crazy broad thinks that the main complaint young Iranian women have involves how they cover or don't cover their hair! No doubt, she thinks the Jewish women have a poor opinion of Hitler because he thought Yellow Stars would look chic on all sorts of female attire. Forget the Gestapo, it was the Nazi fashion police who persecuted Anne Frank.  

That apart, it is essential to recognise that the hijab – despite being a bone of contention in several parts of the world – has different implications in different settings.

Not to Muslims. Their faith has the same meaning in every setting.  

For instance, it does not have the same meaning in Muslim-majority Islamic Republic of Iran as it does in Muslim-minority India.

It does if you are a Muslim.  True Muslims scholars or others may differ on theological or juristic matters but these differences are context independent save regarding narrow matters of jurisdiction. Thus for an Indian or Iranian Shiah, the question of hijab is resolved by the mujtahid though, no doubt, 'hukum' may differ according to jurisdiction. Any contradiction is easily resolved by an act of expiation or 'tawbah'. 

Specific historical and socio-political contexts are important when trying to understand the demonstrations by women in Iran who are demanding the removal of the law making the garment compulsory and the agitations in Karnataka where college students protested to be allowed into class wearing the veil.

No. Muslim women who say the hijab is not obligatory and the mujtahid has no right to issue 'hukum' under the plea of Velayet-e-faqih are taking a theological position- one endorsed by some conservative clerics of various mazhabs. The girls in Karnataka are just being silly or trying to make mischief on orders of the PFI or some such outfit. 

Liberals don't understand their own historical and socio-political context. They exist as a subsidized class so as to prove that liberalism is shit and to ensure 'liberal' institutions fuck up completely. Demanding women should dance naked in Churches while having abortions has been a gift to Trumps and Putins and Bolsanoros and so forth.   

Of course, the hijab may simply be considered an article of clothing and a sartorial choice.

Only in the sense that it may also be considered a type of cat.  

Yet, due to its association with Islam, it has long been in the eye of a political storm. While the Arabic word “hijab” indicates segregation, the garment is mainly associated with an idea of modesty. It also communicates a statement on identity.

This silly lady does not know Islam. Nor do I. But I have enough general knowledge to know that some Islamic jurists consider hijab to be cultural, not religious. The 'ijma' on this differs. We are not greatly concerned with it, if we are not Muslims. 

Though the hijab offers bodily coverage and concealment, it also enacts a political spectacle relating to the visible of Muslim women.

No it does not. This is a stupid line of argument. It is the other side of the coin to nutters who say that if women wear trousers then they will develop penises and beards will grow on their soft cheeks. On the other hand, it is certainly true that men who wear skinny jeans turn into cunts.  

In Iran, the genesis of the political storm over the hijab can be traced back to 1936 when an edict was issued banning all veiling practices.

Nonsense! The modern feminist abandonment of the veil dates to the mid nineteenth century when a leading Babi poetess appeared unveiled. She was executed in 1852. Another lady, Safiya Yazdi, the wife of a leading Islamic clergyman. discarded the veil and opened a Girl's School in 1910. 

The Western-influenced Kashf-e hijab decree – which means “unveiling” – issued by Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime forced women to abandon the hijab or else keep away from public view.

His son permitted the veil.  

Many women gave up the traditional Iranian chador, or cloak but instead began to wear the manteau (a long jacket) with a rusari (headscarf), which provided a functional sense of modesty.

How strange! One would have thought they would have put on boiler-suits and Doc Martens.  

In no time, though, the veil became a symbol of resistance against the oppressive Shah regime. Even women who otherwise would not have worn the garment came out on the streets with their heads covered in solidarity with those who had chosen to be veiled.

Yup. Some women can sure do stupid shit. Like the girls who ran away to join ISIS, they soon regretted their 'resistance'. Come to think of it, there were some 'liberals' who thought Khomeini might turn out to be Santa Claus for the LGBTQ community.  Also he'd convert at least half of all Iranian mosques into discotheques. 


After the Pahlavi regime was unseated by the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the clerics who took over soon imposed compulsory veiling for Iran’s women, citing “moral cleansing”. As a retort to the Shah’s regime, constructing a code relating to women’s modesty became necessary. Modesty was redefined in the name of Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter.

Liberals were expecting Modesty to be redefined in the name of Honeytits Cumbucket, a leading Porn Star of the period. They remain puzzled, to this day, why this did not happen. The majority opinion is that it has something to do with Ronald Reagan and the Washington Consensus.  

The measures of repression remained unchanged for both regimes, with the moral police of the Islamic rules taking the place of the Shah’s secret police.

The quantum of repression increased. Measures of repression changed greatly.  

No matter how Westernised or Islamic the regime under which they live, Iranian women have been stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Because wimmin be shit. I hate you Mummy! If only Mummies killed all their sons, wimmin wouldn't have got stuck with a rock up their hard place or whatever it is the kids are into these days.  


In India, the debate around the hijab has been raging since January after educational institutions in Karnataka began barring students from wearing the headscarf. On September 22, the Indian Supreme Court reserved its verdict on a petition challenging a Karnataka High Court order that upheld the state government’s ban on hijabs in educational institutions.

There was no government ban. There was a uniform code by specific educational institutions. Does a Girl's College have the right to prescribe a common uniform? The High Court said yes. It further banned all religious attire on school premises. 


The idea of the hijab in India has been merged with the image of the Muslim “other” – a dreaded figure located in the country’s communal history and minority politics.

But some Muslims have condemned these silly girls and the stupid and crazy policies of the PFI. The plain fact is many Hindu women observed purdah. Forget about hijab, they never ventured out of the four walls of the 'andaroon'. Rajendra Prasad's Bihari Kayastha family was one such.  

The perceived threat posed by Muslims is embodied in material form in the hijab.

No.  It is embodied in the suicide bomber who might wear a hijab or some other garment to disguise the 'material form' of the fucking explosives in his or her vest. 

Frustrations and hostility against Muslims can easily be channelised against the garment.

In which case, Al Qaida should encourage it. Instead of attacking their training camps, their enemies would be wasting their time snatching hijabs of elderly ladies.  

This is the context in which the controversy over the hijab in India should be understood.

Only if you are as stupid as shit. But that's what Indian libtards are. Say to them 'shove your head up your arse because that is the only way to prevent Nazism' and they will do so- provided both they and you are Bengali and have relevant PhDs. 

I suppose, it was the Commies who invented this trick. When I was a kid, people would say 'subjectively, Khomeini is more right wing than Banisadr but objectively Khomeini's triumph will pave the way to the proletarian revolution so you should stick your head up your arse and just put on a hijab already.'  


In the Karnataka hijab debate, religiosity became the point of focus rather than women’s right to education.

No. The point of focus was the ludicrous notion that Muslims girls, in a girls school, should wear full hijab while sitting in the classroom. It is not enough for Liberalism to be stupid and useless. The PFI or the Commies or whoever is pulling their strings need to ensure that everybody understands that liberals and stupid and useless- which is why Liberal Democracy and Constitutional morality are doomed.  

Advocates of the ban have expressed the desire for uniformity in the classroom. But little has been said about the sudden imposition of a dress code, a code the protesting Muslim students did not sign up for while seeking admission to these colleges.

This is utterly false. The code existed before the protests. The girls were saying they could defy the code because of a superior right they possessed. The High Court said they did not have a superior right. The College did. Let us see what the Supreme Court decides. 


How fair is it to breach an existing contract? It is a breach that refuses Muslim women their right to study.

But it would also breach the Hindu woman's right to study. Moreover, the thing would apply to men as well.  


Be it Iran or India, the question is not whether one is for or against the hijab. It is how state regimes – irrespective of ideology – attempt to control women’s bodies and try to dictate how they should live their lives.

Iran does dictate how women (but also men) live their lives. India, very largely, does not. This stupid woman looks at 'historical contexts' to come to the conclusion that India is just like Iran which is just like France which is just like China which is just like Nigeria. Women everywhere are constantly being raped. Their bodies and minds are controlled. No matter what they wear or they don't wear, they are objectified or reified or rendered an alterity.

This type of Feminism is always worse than even the most misogynistic type of Religious Fundamentalism. Why? It is sometimes the case that almost all women are in a substantially worse position than most men. It is never the case that a paranoid victimology can improve matters. Faith in God, however, can permit Right to prevail- if that is the Will of God.  

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Sen's Why Socialism?- Sixty three years ago

This is what Sen believed in 1959- 


ECONOMIC planning is a little like a chameleon; it can have different colours.

This is false. Economic planning is economic- i.e. concerned with scarce resources. Either those resources actually exist or there is no planning- merely a foolish or fraudulent scheme or speculative bubble of some sort.  

While the Soviet government plans the activities of the socialist economy of the USSR, the Nazi party also used to plan the economic operations of a fascist Germany.

And America and the UK and France and everybody else planned their re-armament and rationing and so forth. 

Before advocating planning for the Indian economy, we should pause to inquire what is it that we are trying to recommend.

Sen didn't know that if a country has a budget, then it has an economic plan. It is committing itself to the provision of a set of goods and services as well as the acquisition or maintenance of a set of assets. 


The issue, it seems to me, is not planning (that is only a by-product), but socialism.

One can have socialism without any government and thus no national budget and thus no economic plan. 

Do we wish to have an economy with socialised means of production and an absence of property income?

Our wishes are irrelevant. Do we have the power to prevent people from exercising control over property? For India, the answer was no. The soldiers were the sons of agriculturists and other land owners. They would slaughter anyone who tried to take away their family land or cattle or other assets.  

If we want socialism in this sense, then there must be state planning to replace the role the capitalist plays in a free enterprise economy.

That won't change anything. You can have a plan and then you can abandon the plan- declare a 'plan holiday'- because you ran out of money and nothing would change. Only if you can actually take property away from its owners can you get rid of 'capitalism' or 'feudalism' or whatever it is you are against.  

Planning thus becomes a necessary condition for socialism,

Nonsense! Killing all property owners or intimidating them till they run away or claim to own nothing is the necessary condition for socialism. Planning has no effect whatsoever.  

though socialism is not a necessary condition for planning.

Control over resources is a necessary condition for genuine planning- as opposed to building castles in Spain.  

When we discuss here Why Planning, we shall really be discussing Why Socialism (and, hence, Why Socialist Planning).

What is the point of discussing anything so stupid? Sen and his pals had no power over resources. They might be roped in to help with some clerical work connected to making a Plan or a Budget but they had couldn't establish shit. Sen's own people had been chased away from their ancestral homes not too long ago.  If they tried to grab land from peasants they would be killed. 

In answering this question we must be careful to avoid two mistakes. Firstly, we should not (following the traditional presentation of political theory) assume that the question Why Socialism is synonymous with the query Why Not Capitalism.

There would be no harm in doing so. If X obtains and we want Y to replace it, a good place to start is to explain why X is shitty.  

In India, while the choice is between socialistic and capitalistic modes of production in the industrial sector, that in agriculture is between socialistic production (of various degrees of socialisation from cooperative farms to state owned farms)

Sen thought there would be 'state owned farms' in India! There could be producer co-operatives for sugar or milk etc. and these co-operatives could be captured by the better off farmer but no Indian peasant was going to hand over his land without a fight. 

and production modes that are, so to say, pre-capitalistic, namely peasant farming of various types.

Perhaps he means share-cropping. But share-croppers kick up a stink if you want them off your land. Sen hadn't noticed that he lived in a country where there was immense land hunger which is why family members so often ended up killing each other.  

Thus the issue is not a simple one of capitalism versus socialism.

How is that a 'simple issue'?  In 1959, the question was whether Socialism could attain affluence in the same manner that Post-War Capitalism had done. In particular, could the Soviet Union do 'creative destruction' and something better than 'catch up growth'? That is still an open question. China may be able to pull it off. Alternatively, the smartest young Chinese people may prefer to get jobs in the bureaucracy rather than risk trying to be the next Jack Ma. 

Secondly, the criticism of the capitalistic mode of production should, to be valid in this context, be based on those aspects of it that are considered to be inevitable parts of the system and not those aspects that can be changed with a little reform of capitalism.

There is no such 'inevitable part'. Everything can be reformed. In particular, how capital was owned could change greatly. By 1959, you had the rise of the Institutional Investor. Your Pension fund and Insurance Company owned an increasing percentage of your Employer.  Sen really knew nothing about either neo-classical or Marxist economics or what was happening in the world around him. 


For example, it will be quite inappropriate to base the case for socialism on the much-discussed ground of the dishonesty of businessmen, or the corruption of the capitalists.

Why not? A businessman who does not pay his taxes gets sent to jail. His assets are taken over and sold so as to recover what he owes. It is perfectly proper for a Government to take over a cartel or natural monopoly being run by a crook who is disobeying the law.  

If capitalists, as a class, are dishonest and have extra-territorial loyalties, it is conceivable that state control will improve things. Obviously, there may be a problem of corruption and incompetence but if the state is ruthless with its own minions, the outcome may be better. 

While it is perfectly fair and very useful to criticise the economic system existing in India today for producing, say, adulterated products or financial swindling, the case for socialism cannot be based on these.

Yes it can. These are instances of 'market failure'. One remedy is to directly take over the market. Another is licensing. The industry may be subject to a levy to pay for its proper policing. Why did Sen not know this?  


A fully developed bourgeois society operates, by and large, within its rules of business honesty, which are as yet not very developed in India.

But 'mechanism design'- i.e. penalties for bad actors and the reputational advantage of certification- can fix the underlying problem.  

British owners of flour mills do not put soap flakes in flour, American druggists do not substitute dirty water for penicillin and French sellers of food do not use slow poisons cheaper than the food materials they resemble.

Because those countries have regulated industries and strong tort and other law. An industry benefits when this sort of market failure is tackled directly by the authorities.  It ceases to be a repugnancy market. It gets better as a coordinating mechanism because there is higher trust. 

If the criticism of Indian capitalism consisted only of these, that would not amount to an argument for socialism in any sense.

Yes it would. If Indians are utterly shit, then beat them and imprison them. Let the State take over all essential industries and keep beating the Indians who running them if they show any sign of poisoning their customers. Slavery and the whip are the only way to deal with an utterly bestial people. But once it is 'common knowledge' that dishonesty will be severely punished, a new cohort will show exemplary honesty. Then you can privatize industries so 'control rights' align with market incentives. 

If anything, it is a stronger argument for the right-wing dictatorship of the type that exists now in Pakistan.

Why did Sen not know that businessmen who swindle or poison their clients go to jail even in liberal countries?  Also, why mention Pakistan? Did Sen really think it was a paradise of honest toil and puritanical entrepreneurs? It was obviously an American client using American funds to create a bubble of prosperity in some urban areas. 

This point, though fairly obvious when one thinks about it, is worth making, since a number of defenders of socialist planning in India seem to think that this is the right way of proving their case.

If public servants are all virtuous and businessmen are all rogues, then only public provision will work. Otherwise the market will fail. Nobody will buy anything for fear of being cheated and even honest producers will go to the wall.  


What then are the valid reasons for preferring socialist planning in India? One is tempted to say ‘industrialisation’.

Sen thought that by praying to Socialism, factories would start popping up all over the place. That's what Stalin did- right?  

But is that the right way of putting the problem? After all, the UK and the USA developed industrially without socialistic planning, and even Marx recognised the creative role of capitalism in bringing modern technology to the fields of production.

But British are nice. They are not poisoning and swindling everybody. Us Indians- being utterly shitty- must pray to Socialism to get nice factory. 


It is sometimes maintained that the main factors responsible for the capitalistic economic development in the West ‘do not obtain at all in under-developed countries or obtain only partially.’

Because the people are shit.  

This is not quite correct. Even in India the capitalist class produced a flourishing cotton textile industry, plenty of jute manufacturing and a sizeable steel industry. In Japan there has been a remarkable capitalistic development of modern industries.

Sen had heard of Japan's industrialization. Good for him.  

To argue for Socialism on grounds that it is the only method of industrialisation is, thus, not quite valid. One need not doubt that, given enough time, the Indian bourgeoisie will be able to produce a modern industrialised economy in India and that will be quite in accordance with what socialists (at least of the Marxian school) should expect.

The crucial phrase, however, is ‘given enough time.’

Indian businessmen were better at running businesses than Indian bureaucrats. Capitalist development would have been faster than Socialist development. But the country would have gone for 'wage goods' and exploiting economies of scope and scale and export led growth on the basis of comparative advantage. All this is High School Economics.  

Even if Indian industrial growth takes place at the same rate as that of Great Britain, it will take India more than a hundred years before it can call itself an industrialised economy in any significant sense.

Why should it grow at the same rate as Britain? It could do 'catch up growth'. Just imitate what smart peeps are doing. Don't reinvent the wheel.  

Are we content to go at this pace? This economic history of the modern world shows that in the planned socialist economies, growth is much faster than in the capitalistic countries,

provided the Government actually controls resources. Stalin and Mao could keep exporting food to get hard currency to pay for capital goods even when millions of their people were dying of starvation.  

and this is what we should expect also from a comparison of the nature of a capitalistic economy and that of a socialistic one.

Capitalists can accumulate resources by selling stuff for money. Stalin and Mao could just grab stuff from the people and shoot them if they objected. India could do neither. It didn't have the resources to industrialize. Instead it just expanded the bureaucracy.  


First, in a capitalistic economy, the results of the economic system are by-products of profit maximisation. The allocation of investment, the determination of prices, the choice of imports, all fit, by and large, into this basic pattern. Economic growth may (and, in fact, does) result in a capitalistic economy, but that too is a by-product.

If capitalists feel secure- sure. There could be growth. But if nutters keep talking about Socialism, Capitalists will prefer to bankrupt their enterprises so as to get their money out of the country in some illegal way.  


Now whether the rate of growth will be high or not will depend upon the extent to which entrepreneurial interests coincide with the requirements of economic growth.

No. Economic growth will be high only where there is business confidence which is linked to ease of doing business, political stability, functioning courts, infrastructure etc.  

Every time an entrepreneur chooses a more profitable machine, he may favourably affect economic growth; but every time he uses scarce economic resources to produce luxury goods, he affects economic growth adversely.

Quite false! Luxury goods are high value to weight. They are more profitable. Concentrating on luxuries means more rapid economic growth. There is a limit to the number of potatoes you can eat or the number of matchsticks people will buy.  

In a socialistic economy, however, economic growth will not be a by-product but the object of the exercise and the whole economic machine can be, if necessary, geared to this.

But if you produce useless shite there will be negative growth.  


Secondly, even if the capitalists ignore profits and try to maximise the rate of growth, they will find it difficult to achieve as much as a coordinating national planning organisation will.

Nonsense! Capitalists may want to maximize growth so as to gain economies of scope and scale and thus become a 'natural monopoly'. They can do this better than some bureaucratic machine staffed by nitwits. 

Each entrepreneur lacks some knowledge of what the others are doing.

While bureaucrats don't know their arse from their elbow. Entrepreneurs have an incentive to get relevant information. Those who are bad at doing so go extinct.  

Economic decisions are interrelated, and, for maximum economic efficiency, decisions in one field must be linked with those in others.

That's what the price mechanism is for.  

An organised national planning authority, thus, has certain direct advantages over a collection of decision-taking entrepreneurs from the point of view of this objective.

Nope. The guy should have read a little Hayek.  


The state can of course help even in a capitalistic economy by guarding (through taxation, subsidisation, licensing, etc.) the allocation of resources by private entrepreneurs. But this is possible only within strict limits.

Japan's MITI showed there were no fucking limits to this.  

If interference is too great, incentives may be affected, as the bourgeois in India has often pointed out (correctly, in terms of the capitalistic mode of production and the bourgeois philosophy of action). So ‘guided capitalism’ may not in fact be as simple as one expects it to be.

Businessmen have no objection to being given soft loans, tax breaks, help with Export Credits and Marketing and so on.  


The problem is reinforced by the fact that the relatively less far-sighted right-wingers will tend to produce new conservative parties or organisations whenever they feel that the government is interfering too much.

Help would be welcomed. Interference isn't help.  

It is not difficult to quote examples of this from the recent political history of our country.

In view of all this it is not at all surprising that planned socialistic countries in the world have, on the whole, much faster rates of growth than capitalistic economies.

It is true that 'reconstruction' was rapid in places like Poland. But after that growth stalled.  

Therefore, if economic growth and rapid industrialisation are our objectives, the choice is not difficult to make.

Unless you were Indian and you knew that the Second Plan had run out of money two years previously.  


When Britain was industrialising herself, socialism was not a practical alternative, for the material conditions necessary for socialism (e.g., large-scale techniques of production) were absent. The early socialists were, thus, quite right in looking upon capitalism as necessary.

Later socialists took over Coal and Steel and other commanding heights and turned them into a fucking money-pit. In the Seventies, the tax-payer began to rebel. Then came privatization. Bangladesh began privatizing in the early Eighties. It is now ahead of Sen's West Bengal though it was poorer at the time.  


The situation is completely different today thanks to development of the material basis for socialistic production in the capitalistic countries (and also, more recently in the USSR).

Stalin could industrialize by selling grain and timber and fur and gold for hard currency. India couldn't. Deficit financing was simply inflationary. India could not afford Socialism  

Thus a direct evolution towards a socialistic economy is, on the one hand, desirable in terms of the objective of rapid economic growth.

But the Second Plan had run out of money two years previously! Did Sen really not know this?  


This, it seems to me, is the crucial point. We may of course add to this the much-discussed advantages of socialism in the shape of a better income-distribution,

in the Gulag?  

a more fair allocation of economic sacrifice,

in the Lubyanka? 

and so on. These points have been exhaustively discussed in the existing literature on the subject

there were plenty of exposes of Stalinism by 1959

so that we may satisfy ourselves by only referring to them.

But Sen does not refer to them. Socialism means Society gaining control over the country's productive resources. How was India to do that? It could have land ceilings- but this would just mean transfers of property or 'benami' transactions. It could nationalize industries but where would the working capital come from? I suppose, it could beg- but mendicancy isn't Marxism. 

We may now come to the agrarian side of the picture. Some form of cooperation in rural areas seems to be necessary for economic efficiency of agriculture.

Some sort of state support for farmers- subsidized inputs, higher procurement prices etc- was needful. That's where the Second Plan fell down.  

Irrigational activities can be performed with much greater ease by cooperatives;

if the Government pays for it- sure. Otherwise, the Canal administration remains in place. 

better methods of cultivation can be used; even the application of chemical fertilisers will be much simpler if peasants are organised in some form of cooperatives.

Who would do the organizing? Where were these highly efficient and cooperative people supposed to come from so as to lead Indian peasants into the new utopia? 

In providing employment for landless labourers, in organising food supply for the urban population and in integrating rural economic expansion with industrial development, the cooperative farms can play a very important part in India’s economic growth.

But they didn't did they?  


We shall not enter here into the controversy on the right kind of cooperation for the Indian rural economy: there are genuine grounds for differences of opinion on the subject. For our purpose, however, it is sufficient to recognise that even in the rural areas, there should be some movement towards socialistic methods of production given the values assumed in the above discussion.

What values were those? Boo to Capitalism? Agriculture is about growing more food with less labor so that there is a surplus to feed the cities and to export. This required Government support for farmers such that they got cheaper inputs. The matter came down to committing resources to the best farmers not the worst ones. Socialism was no panacea. Actual resources were called for.  


In the light of all this, we may now review the evolution of economic planning in India. In the first five year plan there was very little planning in any significant sense.

There was budgeting. That is all that can be usefully done.  

The plan was more of an anthology of what individual enterprises wished to do. Very few industries were state owned and the control over the activities of private entrepreneurs was very loose indeed. The rural sector also did not undergo any very fundamental reorganisation.

India could not do 'reorganization'. It could not collectivize the land or force peasants into cooperatives.  


The second plan brought into the picture a number of state owned industries, but this was very selective. State ownership was restricted almost exclusively to transport and to the production of producer goods: steel, fertilisers, irrigational works, electricity, locomotives, machine tools, etc. The production of consumer goods remained almost entirely in private hands. Centralised planning was applied to the former group and only indirect control to the latter.

The idea was to pump money into the public sector. But the money ran out very quickly. Financial Budgeting is more important than Centralized Planning. You need a back up plan for when the money runs out.

This dichotomy can, under certain circumstances, be quite useful, but in the context of our economy it is also a source of a number of problems. In the first place, the surplus available for public investment is small since the consumer goods industries, which are relatively more surplus yielding, are almost exclusively in the private sector.

Take them into the public sector and they become deficit yielding. Businessmen try to make profits and, if there is confidence that markets are growing, this leads to investment which leads to growth. The Government gets higher tax revenue which it can spend on public goods. You can't have a plan which assumes that resources have been socialized by magic. If you do, you run out of money.  

In most socialist countries, the bulk of the investible surplus comes from the profits of public enterprises and not from taxation or borrowing.

Only if public enterprises actually make profits. One way to ensure this is to shoot managers who don't overproduce their quota in the back of the head.  


In India the case is just the reverse of this. The surpluses in the consumer goods sector go to the private sector and it is considered to be uneconomic to raise the price of producer goods manufactured by the state on the ground that this will affect further production adversely.

If there are economies of scope and scale- this is perfectly reasonable. But if public sector enterprises are inefficient, or sustained only by cash transfers, no such economies will be available. They will become money pits.  

While surplus, a considerable part of the surplus arising in the private sector is spent on consumption by the capitalists.

Because people who don't consume, won't produce unless you can shoot them in the back of the head. 


Secondly, the existence of a big private sector makes national planning rather unorganised.

It makes it a work of speculative fiction which immediately runs out of money. 

The state plans on behalf of the country what should be done, but this may or may not be carried out by the private sector depending on profit opportunities.

So there is no plan. There is just empty talk. 

If we compare the targets and achievements of the Indian plans (particularly, the first), the point looks obvious enough. The divergences between the two are often very remarkable.

But 1957, it should have been obvious that Mahalanobis & Co knew zero about Economics or Commerce or the Law or anything at all.  


Again, during 1956-57, when private capitalists went far above their schedule of imports, the system of import control could not prevent the jump in imports.

So, the system was crap not to say corrupt.  State capacity was lacking. Planning was an exercise in make believe- like Nehru's foreign policy. 

It is not sufficient to say that this was due to just inefficient administration. No administrative machinery can really control satisfactorily as big, as diffused and as powerful a group of private enterprises as we have in India.

In which case, admit that Socialism will have to wait till private enterprise has been crushed.  

The issue before us is clear, the crossroads being not too far away. The ‘middle path’ seems to have run out. We have to make up our minds as to whether we really want a planned socialist economy.

It wasn't on the table because it would have involved starving millions while exporting rice and wheat and cotton and so forth in the manner of a Stalin or a Mao. 

In the light of the above discussion, it can be said that given the economic values assumed here the case for a socialist economy is very strong.

This is typical of Sen's logic. If a thing is impossible, the case for it is very strong. If a thing is possible- e.g. letting the private sector concentrate on 'wage goods', then the case for it is very weak because Economists should have no truck with reality.  


I realise that this choice will not be settled merely by the presentation of arguments on the two sides with a dispassionate assessment of the ends and means. It is a matter of social and political movements and will be influenced by the strength of the trade unions, the power of the capitalist class, the frustration and the determination of the middle classes, the organisation of the peasantry and such factors.

All of these were irrelevant. Everyone may want affluence and security. But nobody will get it unless a feasible- not a crazy- scheme is adopted.  

It is nevertheless of some use to present the arguments as if the choice is to be made by debates and rational deliberations.

Sen still thinks 'debates and rational deliberation' matter. But he and his ilk were incapable of rationality.  


It is particularly important for the defenders of socialism to avoid confusion between spurious and genuine arguments.

But Sen does not know which is which. A genuine argument for Social control of resources is that the population is as crooked as shit. People will recognize that this is true and submit to a punitive system of economic administration because the alternative is that everybody starves. 

We understand that soldiers may run away or sell their guns to the enemy rather than risk their lives. That is why armies have military discipline of a punitive type.  

Some of the widely used arguments for socialism in terms of the dishonesty, inefficiency and corruption of a capitalist economy only conceal the real argument for socialism and, more often than not, prepare the ground for a right-wing dictatorship.

Utterly false. The argument for a right-wing dictatorship is that crazy Leftists might take over by violence. Killing them requires a Fuhrer or Il Duce. 


The basic socialistic (particularly Marxian) criticism of capitalism can be very easily mistaken for a rather petty version of historical criticism. The Italian Marxist leader Antonio Gramsci called the kind of criticism by the appropriate name of ‘economism’.

But Gramsci was ignorant and spent most of his time in jail. Worker control of factories is a bad idea. The factories collapse and the workers don't get paid.  

‘Critical activity,’ wrote Gramsci describing this school of criticism, ‘is reduced to exposing tricks, discovering scandals, prying into the pockets of representative men’ (The Modern Prince, English translation, London, 1957, p. 158).

Mussolini's 'critical activity' was not confined to beating and incarcerating Gramscian nutters. Sad.  


Not merely does this kind of criticism miss the real point. It also leads to a widespread feeling that all that is needed to make things satisfactory is a bunch of honest, moral men quite irrespective of their political ideals or social background.

But honest, moral, people are required to pull off any scheme whatsoever. A bunch of crooks will rob and kill each other. Nothing will be produced.  

This is the kind of atmosphere in which fascism came to power in Italy, and the process has repeated itself in a number of countries since.

No. The kind of atmosphere were fascism came to power was always and only one where Commie nutters were marching in the streets and a strong leader was required to get guys in uniform to shoot them. 

The defenders of socialism and supporters of planning must, therefore, be very careful about the arguments to support their case.

This is what happened. Socialism was to be based on 'free money' and bribes of one sort or another for everybody involved.  

This is particularly important in the context of India, where the right-wing is likely to be increasingly less liberal than it has been in the past putting more emphasis on ‘efficiency’, ‘order’ and ‘honesty’.

Sen hates 'the right wing' because it favors efficiency (which is what economists aim at) and 'order' (as opposed to chaos) and 'honesty' (as opposed to lying your head off). His fear is that if Indians become less shitty they will be right-wing because they will want to do sensible things in an honest and above board manner. That's Fascism! Mussolini was very efficient and honest and orderly. Gramsci was crazy. That's why we must follow Gramsci. Come to think of it, Sen's best friend's wife- with whom he'd run away- was related to Gramsci. Adultery is dishonest. Thus it is Socialist! Running away from India with your best friend's wife is the best way you can contribute to building Socialism in India. 

It is, therefore, just as important to dismiss the wrong arguments for socialist planning as it is to put forward the right ones.

Apparently, the right argument for Socialism is that the 'Right Wing' is efficient, honest and moral. We must embrace Socialism so as to be inefficient, dishonest and immoral. 

Needless to say, Sen would go on to make his mark as a moral philosopher and as the 'Mother Theresa of Economics'.