Reality Check India

Blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 26, 2008

Two serial blasts in two days.

An inept central government – and helpless state governments.

Same media stories.

More lamenting about complete lack of progress in the past seven blast cases.

What can be done to change the state of affairs ?

Allow this to become a central election issue.

Are you crazy ? The mass of people who vote on big ticket issues has been compacted to irrelevance.

Thanks for stealing my line. But it is possible to salvage the situation.

How ?

You know how, if you have been reading this blog.

Who cares about the N-deal ?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 18, 2008

or –

Nuclear deal in the time of narrow interests

The Congress is breaking all the rules you learn in Negotiation 101. You do not enter negotiations after precipitating a crisis on a particular outcome. If I were the United States / NSG / IAEA, I would nail India during the negotiations. We got em, Mike. Still, the truth about the N-deal is that no politician in India really cares about it.

The PM and intermediaries who are adamant probably want to save their faces when they meet their US interlocutors.

I read in the papers that Prakash Karat was vacationing in the US and called up Amar Singh to drum up support. Incidentally, Amar Singh was also in the US. Hell, even I would take a US vacation to beat the rolling power cuts in India. The damn heat and dust is not helping either.

Somnath Chatterjee and old CPM guards like Basu know that the N-deal is not worth it. They are now balking at the prospect of appearing to vote on the same side as the BJP. They know that tags like “Communal” are stains – they do not wash easily in the media. They ought to know. Hell, if I were a communist I would be careful not to use the same urinal after a BJP MP.

Some want ministers fired in exchange for the deal. Some want the CBI cases to be slowed down. Some want out of jail. Someone else wants to name an airport. Someone else wants a cabinet birth. Someone else wants the PMO to sort of business battles. Two will oppose the deal in for tickets. This in exchange for the deal.

The DMK and RJD are special cases. They do not care about the deal one way or another. They want to extend their hold on the Congress. They will be friends as long as the great Indian national secret ( monitoring of social justice ) is safe.

Anyone shocked by this ? Not in the least !

If you are a reader of this blog, you will know why these political forces barter their support in exchange for trivial stuff such as naming an airport or cabinet berth for a few months. They are solely elected to protect the interests of this-or-that group, or to seek more territory for this-or-that group. Everything else is up for grabs. The biggest enabler for this state of affairs is “unmonitored social justice”. The judiciary once again sunk into a compromise on the number one constitutional issue before us – thus allowing this state of affairs to continue.

Our friend at Retributions yearned for this :

And so will it continue. And the only way to break this vicious cycle is for people of Bundelkhand to vote as, well, citizens–not upper caste, not dalits–just voters demanding and rewarding good governance.

From Retributions

A lot of people I meet think along the above lines. They look around the filth, squalor, power cuts, bad roads, encroached lakes, and exclaim “Serves them right for voting based on caste”. I have said in the past that the correct way to analyze Indian politics is behaviour theory and not classical political science.

If you are a member of a group that offers you incentives just for being a member of that group, it would be against your self interest to work for issues larger than the group. In other words, it is too much work for dis-proportionally small returns. I wish Mancur Olson were alive to witness his theories being proved on the ground in India.

What would I do ,

1) If I were a member of a caste that offered me automatic concrete benefits (such as a 60% better chance for my kids to pursue education, jobs, etc)

2) If there were a candidate that was primarily responsible for consolidating the above benefits and for protecting it

I would vote my caste every time. Actually, I might not vote for caste if there was an even narrower interest at stake for me. For example : I might vote for a party that waived large farmer tractor loans – if I was a large farmer with tractor loans. The bottomline is that a rational person will always choose the tightest group.

Needed Free Agent voters
So – India is really split into two groups. The free agents and the interest groups. Note that the really backward and poor are true free agents. In this context, “really backward” includes voters really deserving of a place on social justice platforms but politically disorganized to grab it. So their interests are on paper only. This is why schemes like free TVs, and legalization of encroachments work. This is also why evils like Rs 500 cash for your vote works. A middle class professional with group interests does not need cash to vote his group. We assume he is rational and will always select his caste leader. The poor do not care, they just take advantage of election time and grab what comes their way. This is my criticism of those who complain against, “the idiots who vote for a Rs 500 bill and a half of liquor”.

The other set of free agents are those who have no legal benefits to protect. The upper castes may have family and connections – that allow them to take advantage of nepotism. This however is not confined to them alone. This class of free agents – vote on issues. Issues like foreign policy, economic reform, the nuclear deal.

Why did it come to this ? Dont other countries have such behaviour ? Did Obama not get 80% of black votes in the Democratic primaries ? Yes, the black votes will go to Obama for the feel good factor – but the USA still has a majority of free agents.

In a democracy there will always be special interests that influence voting. We cannot prevent that. However, to restore sanity to the Indian system – we need to maintain a large majority as free agent voters. The biggest contributor to this anomaly is the quota system. This ties entire castes into a self-interest-preserving stranglehold. The social justice platform not the culprit. The non-monitoring of social justice is the root cause of this.

Once we increase the free agent voters, then we can talk about the nuances of the nuclear deal. Until then, I will vote in favour the nuclear deal in parliament. In exchange, I want withdrawal of cases against me and my benamis ( plus a plasma TV, a bean bag, and unlimited masala dosa at the canteen, and of course the going rate in cash ). Tee Hee.

Business as usual in India.

Stephens quota – a reality check

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 15, 2008

So there is a hullabaloo over the Christian quota for faculty at St Stephens. Teachers are boycotting classes and are serving an ultimatum to the management.

I just watched a program on CNN-IBN where a speaker from the Delhi Diocese (sorry could not get his name – Immanuel I think) put Sagarika Ghose and everyone else in their place. It was brilliant !

The exchange went (rephrased by me):

Guest 1 : By announcing a faculty quota, you have thrown all norms of academic excellence out the window. It is unconstitutional.

Diocese Rep : What exactly is this academic excellence ? The only excellence we seek is to serve as per the wishes of Jesus Christ.

Sums it up perfectly.

I wish to ask all those who are dismayed at the events at their favourite elite college.

What part of “Christian Minority Institution” do you not understand ?

Sure they allowed themselves over the years to become a elite-crowd-attracting, influence-peddling hub. This does not mean they cannot correct their course. Fellas, this is how it is meant to be. You think St Stephens is an open institute of secular academic excellence. It is not and is not meant to be. In fact, if it were to act open and secular, then it would be unconstitutional.

The position of Reality Check India is clear.

St Stephens and all other minority institutes must admit at least 80-90% students from their own community. Otherwise, it just turns into a “regular college with management belonging to the minority community”.  St Johns and CMC Vellore are examples where a large majority of students and even faculty are from the Christian community. I believe CMC Vellore at least is doing good service to its community. St Stephens must also be free to follow their lead.

Previously on Reality Check

St Stephens hikes quotas , Guha gets it wrong on St Stephens , Rev Valson Thampu administers a reality check , Quota slippery slope