How long we Indians would be under the British syndrome trap? Why don’t Indians learn to think independently?

Why do we always look for outside opinion? Are we not dependent upon outside opinion to even understand ourselves? Why still the surveillance, servility of mind? What do we mean by syndrome? We mean a combination of opinions or a collective mindset. When it comes to India and we Indians seem to be still under the British-dominated opinions that we hold as a nation and people.

Prof. Tapan Roy Chowdhury

Prof. Tapan Roy Chowdhury

We have to read our history; history in general in new light. Our education is highly imitative and superficial. Everything is commercialized and there is no sense of any originality. The 10th and the 12th school exams have become a big mental burden for the Indian youth.

In a recent autobiography, the recently-passed Prof. Tapan Roy Chowdhury, a long-time professor of history at Oxford for over twenty years has left behind his views of India and Indians and also the British-Indian mindset as he had observed for so long. For Indian readers of this generation, I like to add some more additional information that might give more relevance to what I come to say.

Prof. Chowdhury is also a contemporary of Amartya Sen, the Nobel Laureate who had written an introduction to the autobiography. Prof. Chowdhury was also very close to the famous author, Nirad Chaudhuri, the author of the famous autobiography, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian which came out in 1951 and instantly established itself as a classic. He was an unabashed admirer of the British and the British rule in India.

He wrote the English language, said some British critics when the book appeared, “better than Jawaharlal Nehru”!  That was enough to make the book more famous! The point here is that most Indians who went to Oxford, there are several, from the old to the new generation, we learn from Tapan’s book; he devotes one full chapter on how the British academics tried to teach, I would say “brain-wash” the Indian students (this includes Manmohan Singh too!) that the British rule, the British empire was on the whole was good for Indians!

When Manmohan Singh was given an honorary doctorate, the former Prime Minister said famously at the convocation that “all the best that is with Indians in governance etc. was owing to the British rule in India”! When he said this, many took offence! In fact, I too wrote an editorial condemning Dr.Singh.

Soon after, Prof. Irfan Habib, the eminent Indian historian too wrote a stringent criticism for Dr.Singh’s rather pathetic words! Now too, there is still the same sort of serveillance, servitude and inferiority complex in the Indian minds when it comes to paying homage to the former rulers! I am sorry to say here some unpleasant historic truths. Even Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru were old-fashioned when they fought the British. In the end they capitulated to the British tricks and in the end we got freedom only after partitioning the country! It is a bitter truth we have to digest even now!

Even otherwise, we have remained an unthinking people ever since, right? Take our education, much of our interpretation of our own past, our culture and art and much else even in our capacity to think independent in matters like taking an independent stand on some leading intellectuals and intellectual opinions. James Mill, the father of the famed John Stuart Mill, wrote a multi volume history of India and this was prescribed for the British students who went to the Haileybury School which trained the British civilians who came to India as civil servants, the ICS!

Mill wrote it without visiting India and he wrote by reading and hearing about what he learnt from others. All the prejudices and ignorance is there in the book. No single Indian student, academics and others who later became famous for one reason or the other, mostly for serving the British, of course, ever mentioned Mill or others like Macaulay and many others. As a result, even till this day, we Indians never dared to challenge the British prejudices be it culture, art or learning. Do the British have anything like the Indian sculptures, the South Indian bronzes or temples or books like Bhagwad Gita or Upanishads? Did we dare to raise such topics in our discourse with the British, academics or administrators?

Coming to more serious issues, do we ever raise such issue like the long famines, disease, the hunger that caused millions of deaths and many agonies? So, in my humble opinion, this is my current view of the Indo-British encounter!

Our education, I mean our education vision and policy measures are patchy, to say the least. It is unfortunate that our current education ministers are still more pathetic. They have taken up funny subjects like Charles Darwin’s theory and also the physics of Isaac Newton! What a pity! What we Indians need is a new awakening. We have to learn to embrace the world currents in knowledge seeking; much sciences and social sciences and humanities so that the modern generation in India must be able to use and speak the modern jargon of sciences and technology.

Luckily, India has changed and is changing fast and so we should let the Indian people to derive all the benefits of modern day sciences, including the medical sciences. We have to combat the diseases that are still persisting among the people, more so among the poor and the vulnerable.

Let India become a modern nation. Let our educational thoughts too become current and let us become on par with other big nations. India can contribute to intellectual debates and we must be partners in these adventurous times.

Is this all to the eradication of corruption?

Under the Modi government?
And only this much of expertise from the NIIT?

Bibek Debroy

Bibek Debroy

Yes, this is a very timely book no doubt. It gets a collection of articles written by almost by all members who work at the NITI, the body that replaced the old Planning Commission with a new name.

Most of the contributors are described as young professionals working at the NITI. There are about 16 chapters by the same number of authors. The book is edited by Bibek Debroy and his deputy Kishore Arun Desai. There is a long introduction by the duo and it reads not like a straight introduction but as a fairly talk, about Lord Rama, Ramayana and also Kutilya etc.

Yes, the book “On the Trail of the Black” sounds well but in fact after scanning through the pages, of course in a rapid way, we find the book very disappointing. Why? First it turns out to be an academic book and it is meant to distribute the government departments where only it might not find many the time or the energy, much more the very truth we might be looking for who are all the major actors, major players and the genuine ones who really search for truthful action and some achievements.

Yes, there are some enough data on the major areas of corrupt Food grains distribution, Coal scam, 2G spectrum Belekeri port Commonwealth games, total black funds involved Rs.6,58,645 crores.

Is this all there is to corruption in India?

Not at all. There is any number of corruptions, from the states to the Centre.

The authors had chosen the easy way out. They have taken up the post 2014 General elections and they have dedicated the book to the Prime Minister Mr.Narendra Modi and it is all in praise of the incumbent PM! Does this need much imagination to see that this less than adequate, a bit immature academics joining together and paying tribute to the PM and his steps so far to tackle corruption?

When the public is fed by a series of, almost unceasing raids by the three prominent agencies, Income Tax, CBI and the Ed and that too almost all against the Congress ministers and functionaries? What sort of administration of justice, the running of the Special Courts that too ended up in much hallow ends.

Why the sort of fiasco had happened to the 2-G Scam?
It is this the way we administer justice?

After nearly 8 years of trial and after, adjourning, reserving judgements for more than a year, the final judgement came as a dampner! How much of the time of the common man was wasted in this tardy affair?

Who has the patience to follow the very boring narration of old corruption stories? The old stories from 1963 onwards are brought into the naraation

The publisher, Kapish Mera, we met once in Delhi and when we discussed about the possibility of a new book we were narrated into a near impossible task. How then this government-sponsored book, it is what it is, is promoted? By simply forcing the copies on the government depts.

There is no merit in the book which doesn’t even take the names of some of the great fighters, the NGOs and other valiant individuals against the corruption menace? No, Aruna Roy, no Medha Patkar or other fighters like the lawyers and other activities like Prashanta Bhushan and his formidable father, Shanti Bhushan or Teeseta Setalvad and many others.
Where is the brigade, the Anna Hazare band?

Even such radical legislations like Lok Pal and Lok Ayukhta are mentioned only in passing, there is really no heart in the making of the book.

Please let us not cheat ourselves. We are a nation of cowardly people; we try to fall in line with whoever comes to power. So, long the going of good for those who get into this business, so much is only possible.

There are gaping holes in the choice of the individual corruption cases. Nor the politically sensitive cases. Under the present regime the conducting of the corruption cases, the almost non-stopping of the on-going raids, on more high profile Opposition figures, from Coal scam to 2-G scam to fodder scam, why even the way the courts announce the sentencing timings, on such cases smack of  vengeance and a sort of public spectacle!

Tit for tat will be the revenge, sooner or later. And what about the still much more insidious cases of corruption, the unaccounted political party funds?

The large number of MLAs, MPS involved in criminal cases and the special courts promised by the government.

These are too hot cases and the lowly level officials working in the NIIT and outside in some of the specialised agencies are honestly unequal to the task at hand!

Let us bring in truthful tackling of the black menace that is corruption!

Economic growth slows down?
No, not at all!
See, the World Bank’s projection for the next year!

The very next day after the Prime Minister met the economists, came the World Bank projection of 7.3% for 2018 and 7.5 % in the next two years.

modiYou see the economists these days have become more timid, academic and pro-government. The talents at the NITI Ayog seem limited.

It is the practical men, the politicians and the leaders who can take a broader view of things. It is the classes, in the Indian case, the caste groups, the privileged and the disadvantaged sections who can give policy makers a sense of robust reality and therefore some practical policy inputs.

One newspaper full page advertisement by a trade body put out even a crass claim of “How the Indian economy can grow at 10% per year for a decade”.

Is this not a certain madness, if not plain stupidity to trates the serious issue of economy growing or otherwise?

You see, we seem to be living through a particular way of politics and doing business and many other areas of national life.

First, economy is a tough field and its growth or slow-down depending upon various factors, politics included. Even the Prime Minister has not responded to the news about the economy slowing down. There are also various viewpoints as to why the economy slowed down. May be there are certain objective factors like the policies like Demonetisation or GST etc.

We need a more detailed analysis of policies we have adopted so far. The last three and half years are certainly a crucial period. Nor can we simply jump to the conclusion that the Indian economy under the UPA regime was all that good. The peoples’ perception certainly matters. There was large-scale corruption and the people were faced with many other issues like unemployment etc. The poverty ration, when compared to China, was still higher here.

And also, there is this reality that in the last three and half years there has been no doubt  the Indian economy has undergone a great deal of  structural  shifts, there is transformation of the economy, there is solid growth in several key sectors.

There are external factors too like the crude oil prices that impact the Indian economy significantly. The chief statistician says that advance estimates indicate there is higher growth ahead. From one quarter to another there can be significant variations. Anyway, these are too serious issues for the government to take stock of the economic performance of the various sectors. Each issue needs separate and in-depth discussion.

It is another matter how the politician opinion is being shaped by the ruling and the Opposition parties. You see ours is a democracy and unlike, say, China, we have so many parties and also the highly extreme political polarisation in the polity. The PM also has characterised that there has been a paradigm shift. This is a fairly correct statement, it seems.

The important point here is however that the economy is big, next only to USA and China and as such we have to be very moderate in expressing opinion unless we are committed to the Indian story.
Our political institutions are fairly stable and we have a particular way of conducting ourselves, the media has a role, a responsible role and how the public opinion and public perception is shaped by these institutions.

As for particular sectors, we as a media devoted to the agri sector, has to note that a 2.1 per cent growth is certainly disappointing but not totally unexpected. We are sure the PM-NITI Ayog meet would deliberate on the agri sector issues in a more realistic way.

You see, agriculture would from now onwards become more complex, given the many related sector developments, from faster urbanisation than before, the coming of more National Highways and other infrastructure, telecommunications and of course the spread of education and the entry of more educated and skilled workforce, the traditional land-owning families getting consolidated or in the reverse, the disintegration of such families and also the land ownership further getting reduced.
You see, we are not just routine media in agriculture; we are committed to the agri sector’s future consolidation and strengthening of the rural livelihood future.

As such, we like to see that the industrial development that is taking place side by side of the rural development forces. This means certain new insights into the India’s villages’ future. You have to have a policy that enables the forces that make rural living a viable economic possibility in ten years to come.
Our view is that you have to make agriculture as a viable profession. Either as a small-farmer holding or a commercially viable business activity.

A feature of agri policy making in independent India was the abolition of zamindari system and the enactment of the many land reforms legislation. We saw the extreme features in Kerala which in 1959 under the Communist regime of EMS Namboodiripad, made the traditional tenants (under the traditional zenmi system) overnight land owners!

In other states, like Tamil Nadu too we saw the various land reforms, ceiling limits, tenancy protection etc. that in effect saw the gradual decline of agriculture.

Now, in our opinion, we pay the price for such “restrictive” land laws that there is an all-round decline in the profitability and viability of farming.

So, in our view, the only way to rejuvenate the agri sector is to make agricultural holdings viable. Viable in the sense we encourage more investments in agriculture, make agriculture high-tech, make possible for introduction of many new innovations in agri production or agri services, agri trading etc.

Vadamalai Media is carrying out so many stories that make anyone, including the policy makers, wonder even otherwise, under the older system of restrictive agriculture, such and so many innovative farming is possible.

So, instead of labouring the obvious truth, let us make agriculture sector more liberalised. A sort of 1991 economic liberalisation!

Yes, there is a strong political aspect to this sort of agri liberalisation. Politics? Yes, economics is not just devoid of politics. There is  a whole new paradigm for agriculture reforms.
Agriculture trade,imports and exports and also there are many other aspects to agriculture production and of course distribution, the PDS, the consumer price and inflation that gets more media attention than the farmers’  woes.

So, you, the government ,has to deliberate, consult farmers leaders and other lobbies. We like to see that farming becomes a viable activity, more so to the new generation of youngsters from traditional farming families and also new generation of educated and also technically qualified persons who are entering into farming sector. Again, we like to refer the more serious readers to the pages of our journals and also our websites(www.agriculturalinformation.com).

The last issue carried a few pages on the US agriculture. There too there is the usual drought in US agriculture and also water shortage etc!

So, after a certain period we in India too must realise that we have to treat farmers vs. consumers as vote banks!

The time will come and force us to look at agri sector as an attractive investment destination! These are some of the  thoughts to help agri policy makers.

Who doesn’t know the Indian psychology?

NewdelhiEvery Indian citizens, not necessarily, the ordinary citizens but only those who are government servants or already in the charmed circle of IAS or IPS officers, the IFS lost its old glory and other services are on the whole a disgruntled lot. Why? It is because the very ways in which the New Delhi Lutyens’s bungalow zone is built and where the ones who live for long are constituted. Those who live there are seen as the most privileged. There are of course enough number of the retired politicians who might have doubled up as politicians, or others retired judges and other department personnel.

The way the British built the bungalows with large lawns and long walks and the very imposing look from outside might give a sense of power and prestige. Once you get in or if god favours you, you get to occupy one of these often leaking colonial structures, then you realise how unreality hits your illusions!

The subject here is the state of bureaucracy and the disquiet that pervades there.

A recent news item put out is about the new promotion policy for the bureaucrats. There is disquiet for the reason that the government has bundled two years, two batches, of 1984 and 1985, and also 1987 and 1988, the government wants to hold on some officers and also promote or hold up the promotions. So, in sum, the hopes of the officers are dimming when it comes to the aspiration for every officer to retire as secretaries of departments.

Poor souls, from the news it seems that most of them seem to be innocent and seem to be vegetating in Delhi for the favours they expect from the political establishment.

Who doesn’t know that the whole bureaucracy has become politicised and it is like a lottery and no one knows for sure that who will get what.
Lately, there is utter chaos in the bureaucracy and in the states it is pure political play. A police officer in TN is promoted just on the day of his retirement as the DGP! In the neighbouring Kerala one DGP was installed in his post on the orders of the Supreme Court. In Karnataka it is a free for all. The whole country knows thanks to the high profile AIADK leader who is provided with all luxuries and for having unearthed the scam the lady IPS officer had been transferred.

All these are routine in the services. Also, down the line there is so much cruelty and so much corruption and even risks to life when it comes to attacking corruption.

So, why this craze for government services?

It is the result of our long rule of colonialism and our education that taught us, thanks to the colonial masters, how to live and seek your mokshas through servility, subordination and compromise with the corrupt politicians whose tribe seems to be growing by leaps and bounds!

Corruption will only grow further and see the new tribe of politicians who spring up almost everyday, from various individuals, former police officials and former Income tax officials and others.

Also, the bad example set by some very eminent experts.

Also, lateral entries, even Rhodes Scholars who were supposed to be leaders of society and polity but alas, they too after sometime, they think it is better to enter and end up as bureaucrats, that is the way to heaven!

At the end of the day there is no alternative, except to join the devils who have to fall at the feet of bigger devils who are politicians who too seem to come from very many streams of humanity!

You see that a democratic government is one that is supposed to be a guardian of citizen rights, right?

In the current context, how far the citizens cutting across all class barriers feel about their rights and well-being safeguarded by the elected government?

amartyasen-621x414Then, also, how do the citizens come to know about what is the truth at the ground level?

It is the media, both print and the TV news channels and of course, the latest social media outlets.For the vast majority of people, it is the popular media, print and TV  news channels only.

How is the state of media and also the status of media industry today?
We are almost at the threshold of the new media culture where freedom of the press, freedom of the speech and freedom of thinking, asking critical questions, ultimately what is the latest buzz, the role of argumentative society.

Prof.Amartya Sen is now at the centre of a storm, his words and expressions were ordered to be removed from a biopicture of him. There are also developments.

Recently, one respected research journal, namely, the Economic and Political Weekly, founded by a former RBI employee, Sachin Choudhury and later edited by N.Krishnaraj, friend of the Vadamalai Media and right recently by another well-known senior journalist, namely, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta has come for cersorship.This time, the censors are none other than the Trustees of the Sameeksha Trust whos members are some of the past RBI Governors and one Leftwing historian, namely Romila Thapar.

Recently, EPW published (?) two articles on a leading corporate house, namely, Adani Power Limited and the trustees asked the editor to “take down the articles with immediate effect”. This had led to protests from some 150 odd academic and public personalities. No explanation from the trustees nor any due procedures either in such swift action!

Also, the trustees seem to be acting as owners and even proprietors or investors! It is not clear what really happened.

But one thing is sure:  the editor is supposed to have his or her freedom to do what he or she had done. Also, the trustees, given their background and eminence are supposed to be acting as role models for others in similar situations. But the trustees don’t seem to have bother themselves either.
The protestors, also very eminent names, Martha Nussbaum and one MIT academic, among others.

The protestors has pointed out that the free press is for the  freedom of intellectual expression and also this is largely an academic journal read by only very specialised audience.

The protestors had also drawn attention as to how the corporate takeover of the media industry, both print and TV channels has been going on unrestricted way.So, economic policy making, if it hurts the corporate sector, it, the corporate sector can swing its powerful arm to muzzle the press and there is no one to ask.

In recent times the establishment send CBI to raid media houses and the next day news is flashed and credibility is sought damaged. So in recent times two journalists in Karnataka was punished for having caused defamation to legislators. Much more seriously now privacy of individuals is sought to be decided by the 9 member bench of the apex court.

Please consider the poor farmers, the most disorganised lower sections of society, whose  rights and safeguards, from tenancy rights to right to  fair rent are all sought to be muzzled by a set of policies that have brought to the farm to the present almost irretrievable crisis.

So, there must be freedom first from fear of the government, democratic or the opposite in practice. Let the ground level realities impart some common sense need for restraining unbridled power of the corporates that fund and also control the ruling dispensations. If that is democracy then god only can save the poor and the weaker sections on the economic spectrum!