Reality Check India

Are we only fit for the factional levels ? To the Economist

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on April 8, 2014

A quick blog about the anti Modi articles in The Economist, Guardian, and New Yorker. 

Is this man incompatible with "modernity" ?

Is this man incompatible with “modernity” ?

The United States government does not run exclusive scholarship programs for blacks. Nor for Jews, or Hispanics. They do not have a separate ministry for Methodists. Polish Americans in Chicago can run schools, but not with any greater degree of autonomy than a German American from Indiana. There are no separate laws for Asian Americans or Blacks for freedom of speech. There are no benefits that ANY identity based group can bestow upon itself without it being frowned upon.

India, today is quite the opposite and is headed even further with great velocity.

On this blog, we have hit upon many  of UPA’s flagship schemes such as Right to Education, Lokpal with quotas, IDMI scheme where private non-Hindu schools were given government aid, Minority only scholarships and exclusive universities,  MSDP schemes where a 25% minority block get dramatically enhanced allocation than a 24% minority block, caste based loan waivers, caste and religion based loan programs, even outright allocation in all ministries pro-rated to the minority population, the list is endless.  I will stop here.

These kinds of schemes are so egregious to the political economies of the home countries of these magazines that one would hope they would notice the paradigmatic difference in how India is organized. Has the Economist or New York India Ink  even commented on this ?

Here are two questions. 1) Why is it that the West is so much against factions? and 2) Why do their analysts either not comment on or actively promote factionalism in India ?

West and Factionalism

What are factions ?

Factions are groups of citizens who unite under a common interest or goal, and James Madison argues in Federalist #10 that the formation of factions is the natural behavior of men. Whether the group is a majority or minority faction, the goals they pursue may be counter to the good of other factions, or society as a whole. Differences in political ideology and religious views can break people into factions.  More..

The founding fathers of the USA figured it all out brilliantly. Madison put forth the dangers of factionalism in  his paper Federalist 10 where he a) recognizes the damage that factions can cause if some of them come together to form a majority coalition b) correctly identifies the way to stop factionalism is to control its effects.

In short, the core of their society is to give you full freedom to form or join whatever  group you want for any purpose including plotting domination over others, but the institutional structures prevent factions from putting their predatory plans into action. Put simply – Talk all you want but no special laws to any group. This is where they hold the line. Even today.

India is exactly the opposite.  In the Indian situation operating under a shapeless ideology called the “Idea of India”, factions are not only encouraged but are always necessary.  The unit of concern is not this or that particular faction, but a winning coalition of factions. Each with its own and often disjointed motivations. The real prize is the following : Once factions come together to form a winning coalition,  they are allowed to self deal benefits like exclusive loans or enhanced quotas in various economic activities.  The most outrageous being laws like CVB and RTE –  where factions in the winning coalition exempt themselves from the very  laws they pass for others.

Now, why is factionalism necessary in India?  In this environment described above, if a group turns mutant and refuses to play along citing national interest, they will be decimated because other groups can get on the “inside track” and prey on them.  If you let a negative system like this soak for a few decades – a completely new kind of political arrangement emerges. You are unable to see where you came from anymore, unsure of where you want to go. This third world gridlock becomes the norm and people like me are suddenly labeled bigots for being true to the original format. Controversial historians who are constantly pushing the envelope on sedition anoint themselves the  new liberals.

So whats the problem with Modi

Lets go back to this in the Economist

By refusing to put Muslim fears to rest, Mr Modi feeds them. By clinging to the anti-Muslim vote, he nurtures it. India at its finest is a joyous cacophony of peoples and faiths, of holy men and rebels.

but joyous cacophony can also be confused with wailing in third world misery.

moving on

 There are plenty of them and modernity is what Indian voters increasingly demand.

And if they still choose Mr Modi? We would wish him well, and we would be delighted for him to prove us wrong by governing India in a modern, honest and fair way. But for now he should be judged on his record—which is that of a man who is still associated with sectarian hatred. There is nothing modern, honest or fair about that. India deserves better.

Source: Economist


Now, modernity is a loaded word. It actually refers to a post medieval period of transition. That magical moment when the west apparently outgrew tribalism and feudalism. If you look at Modi’s record he IS the modernizer.  To give you one example he opposed the exclusive minority scholarship program. Yes, the same kind of sectarian program you westerners would never allow to take root in your own countries.   Quite the opposite, the so called modernist Congress IS promising factional benefits and a massive expansion of the existing sectarian schemes including separate budgeting under the 5 year plan.  Would you call a president who did to your country what Congress has done to ours a “modernizer”?  Modi is not proposing a single law that is beneficial and exclusive to the Hindus, neither is he calling for new takings from non-Hindus. Call him what you want, but he is talking of an EVEN distribution of BURDENS and BENEFITS. The same fundamental stuff  you people take for granted in your own countries for over 200 years.

What makes you think we cant do it ?


12 Responses

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  1. AD said, on April 8, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Excellent thoughts, may I say that things you write here are difficult to understand since they are of top quality research level. Would humbly suggest you to write a book on pitfalls of Reservations and Special laws. You should seriously consider approaching shri Narendra Modi if he forms the Government to join him as a policy expert.

  2. pp_chn said, on April 8, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    We can’t do it because we didn’t do what Madison and others did. Decimate their minorities and force hindu culture on the rest of them.

  3. pp_chn said, on April 8, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    It also helped that USA circa 1776 didn’t have universal suffrage.

  4. let me remain anon said, on April 9, 2014 at 3:10 am

    My conspiracy theory. 🙂
    Sanghi Agents (or NaMo himself) paid Economist to write such an abusive article so as to force neutral Indians to vote Modi into power as a retaliation.
    Not sure if any other political party raised this point or if it can be proved but this would be one nice spin.

    • desicontrarian said, on May 4, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Yes, reverse psy-ops. They learnt this from Operation Clarke County when the UK newspaper Guardian asked Ohio voters to listen to the non-voters in the rest of the world ;-).

      Reminds me of …

      Homer’s brain: Use reverse psychology.
      Homer: Oh, that sounds too complicated.
      Homer’s brain: Okay, don’t use reverse psychology.
      Homer: Okay, I will!

  5. Kixow said, on April 9, 2014 at 6:22 am

    nice quality points put forth. Thank you. But what I dont get is, even those people from India who have been out to and stayed in the West for a long time, don’t get these simple basic facts – State cannot take sides except in rare occasions. The US still has lots of minorities-blacks, indians, spanish etc. but they never once talk about blanket benefits like ours. the discourse should change here as well even if 200 (or 70+) years late. I think our founding fathers at least I know so are more ideological than pragmatic. Root cause of our problems I think.

    • rc2 said, on April 9, 2014 at 6:46 am

      The great Indian mystery isnt it? Watch as we unravel it bit by bit.

      Its our only ticket out of misery.

  6. Pradeep CK said, on April 9, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Actively aiding and abetting mass murder is NOT modernism.

    • shiv said, on April 9, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Dear Pradeep,
      Mass murder is what people of your likes do! The rest work deligently without taking advantage of perfidy called religion like you do.

      • harsh said, on April 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm

        So you actually believe that they did not mass murder? 🙂

  7. Sharan Sharma said, on April 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Excellent piece, RC.
    (But IMHO ended a bit abruptly…just as it was warming up)

  8. Paancha Janyan (@PaanchaJanyan) said, on May 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    “… no special laws to any group.” How about American Indian Reservations? But I suppose if a faction is decimated to the levels of museum curios, one needn’t worry any further!

    In the American System, property rights are:
    i) at the level of the individual, and, at least in principle, a person can aspire to own any kind of property he could acquire legally.
    ii) The means – work or occupation, to acquire such property, is also open for all at an individual level.

    This system pits individual against individual and all intensely compete with each other for resources for their livelihood. In this situation, a group of people can always gang up and attain a competitive advantage against an individual by forming a faction and hence the need of laws to prevent such a scenario.

    In India, till the recent past, ‘property’ rights were the exclusive preserve of a group of people – the jAthi. (By ‘property’ I mean BOTH physical property (shop, house, gold etc.) AND the means to acquire them – occupation) In this system factions do form but since the factions do not compete with each other for the SAME resource, destructive internecine competition is avoided.

    If it is agreed that faction formation is natural amongst men, what would be the easier option – channel such an instinct constructively to guarantee an assured right for all to a particular livelihood, or attempt to curb this proclivity by means of artificial laws and that too when the ground reality fosters ruthless competition?

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