Friday, 23 July, 2010

Public sector hotels and private hospitals

What are more important, hotels or hospitals? I’d say hospitals. But the government, which is supposedly incapable of efficiency or honesty, should be in defence, education and health and leave everything else to the private sector, whereby market forces will ensure efficiency and fairness.

But if we had to choose, wouldn’t we take efficient hospitals over efficient hotels every time?

Well, we use hotels every year, but hospitals very seldom. So maybe… Besides, if I die, it won’t matter if the operation succeeded or not. But I will probably survive dinner and so it does matter that it is good.

Anyway, Nehru was a fool. that much is sure. So if he got the satte into anything, it shouldn’t have been there. Because no fool can do wise things.

It doesn’t matter where India started from. It doesn’t matter where it reached under him and how much his daughter and grandson screwed up. It doesn’t matter that there are no parallels with which we can make a comparison. If India 1962 wasn’t UK 1962 or even China 2010, Nehru’s stupidity is self-evident.

The point isn’t whether Nehru was a fool or not. The point is getting the diagnosis right, because while Nehru is dead, I’m alive, and my future depends on fixing what’s wrong, not propaganda.

Western Democracy?

Salazar, Franco, Mussolini, Zog, Metaxas, Horthy, PiƂsudski, Antonescu, Hitler, Dollfuss, Stalin... plus two enormous empires, French and British, with zero rights for darkies and yellows. So what is the democracy we must learn from them? 

Thursday, 22 July, 2010

Hindus won in India

Subramanium Swamy says here that Hindus did not lose to Muslims because in spite of 1,000 years of Muslim rule, India is still 80% Hindu. He also says Indian heritage is mainly Hindu. 

First, you’d need a very special reading of history to get those 1,ooo years because it forgets all Hindu and Sikh kingdoms existent when the British created their Indian empire. Those 1,000 years should be in mad heads like Zaid Hamid’s and Pravin Tagodia’s. Strangely, it is in almost all our heads’. In this video, a medieval historian repeats it, and I suppose he is typical. I have heard it more times than I can count.

Second, Dr Swamy gets his demographics wrong, which is strange and perhaps not an altogether innocent mistake considering he teaches economics. While my country is 4/5 Hindu, the Indian subcontinent (India + Pakistan + Bangladesh) is 3/5 Muslim. So, Hindus can still be ‘congratulated’, if they must be, but the ‘margin’ doesn’t look so impressive any more.

If we could wish away religion, I wouldn’t care about the margin either ways. We can’t. Also, we cannot wish away the role of religion in shaping our thinking, even if we may be atheists. 

Which means whether it is 4/5 or 3/5 perhaps does matter in understanding ourselves. To use Indian as synonymous for Hindu is not only dangerous but stupid (unless one is doing it deliberately to incite hate).

I would be very surprised if you found only Hindu beliefs if you somehow dag into my mind; and not at all surprised if you found Muslim and Christian beliefs as well.  If our language, clothes, architecture and food were ‘polluted’, should we not expect that our minds were polluted too?

I am not saying Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai or that the Christian English civilised us or that everyone except Communist historians are communalists . I am saying we Indians have at least three religions in our heads. That’s all.

But do Swamy & Co mean that since Hinduism has been around much longer than Islam and Christianity, India is mainly Hindu? By that logic, Western Europe must look for all answers in Athens and Rome and none in Jerusalem. And Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia must find their history in Ajodhya. Can they?    

Monday, 19 July, 2010

One word definition

India = corrupt; China = communism; Africa = cannibals; Muslims = terrorists. 

How far do we want to go with definitions like this? “These people don’t integrate.” How will they? People integrate with people. Words can’t.

And by the way, do you integrate? Or do you live by yourself, in white expat communities. And believe wholeheartedly that you should not be subject to laws of brown people’s countries.

Let’s get human, man. Please.    

Sunday, 18 July, 2010

Why education is no good

I start seeing this lecture on Religion & Violence. 

Nehru tried secularism, which failed; and was replaced by BJP or Hindutva which was very successful in politics. They wanted to go back to the vedas, which gave all the Hindus an  identity after years of foreign rule.

When? We had a BJP led coalition, but at no time was BJP a dominant party in the sense the Congress was after the 1984 elections. In fact, we haven’t had a dominant party in the Lok Sabha since 89. What is she talking about?

And which veda was Vajpai, Advani & Co taking us to? Which Hindu rightist is the vedic scholar? What's in those vedas anyways that would make the Hindu's bosom swell with pride, assuming he gets along to reading some.  

Of course, she prefaces this with the British taking over after 500 years of Mogul rule. I recently heard an Indian medieval history processor say something like that (700 years of Muslim rule). Are there people deliberately bending history to spread hate? Or why do they not recognise that vast areas of India were not ruled by Muslims by the time the British expanded their empire?

And, while we are on it, why isn’t British rule Christian rule and the British invasion (conquest) a Christian conquest or Crusade? 

Then, Tamils were favoured in Sri Lanka and Sinhalese were marginalised before its independence. Tamil coolies were the favoured race!  

With scholars like this, what will we learn? That white people don’t give a damn about us darkies? 

Revising god

Dr Zakir Naik is a very dangerous man. He knows the Koran by heart and spends his days quoting it to prove that (a) Allah is all-knowing and (b) Islam is the best religion.

Now, I hold that all religions are bad for us. So Islam being the best of the lot, assuming it is, doesn’t help or hurt matters much.

But the proofs of Allah being omniscient  worries me, because they go unchallenged. 

Well, there are two obvious problems with his proofs. First, it does seem rather strange of Allah to know everything but to tell us so little. I mean, if he knew the cure of, say, cancer, why did he not tell Muhammad that? One may say, “If he did that, cancer would no longer be a punishment.”

(I assume that we get inflicted by cancer and other nasties because that’s Allah’s will, because everything is his will, isn’t it?)

But men, including Muslim men, have discovered cures for other diseases and presumably taken away these diseases’ power to punish.  So why did he give them the power to heal? And what about the poor guys who popped of before scientists came out with the cures? How were their sins different from ours?

The second problem also deals with the progress of science. In one lecture – or tirade – Naik imagines a dialogue between a scientist and a true Muslim (His idea of a true Muslim, not my). The latter asks the former questions about the solar system, then shows that all that we have learnt in the last five centuries or so (for instance, the earth is spherical; the moon has no light of its own) was in the Koran 1400 years ago.

This, according to him, is proof of that Allah created everything because the designer knows from the beginning what others may discover later.

It does seem however that the Koran doesn’t say much explicitly. It doesn’t say, “The moon reflects the sun’s light.” It’s not an astronomy textbook. It says something that can be interpreted as meaning that the moon reflects the sun’s light, or at least does not contradict that. (I may be wrong about this particular thing, but that’s more or less how Niak goes.)

In other words, the Muslim is sure to find something in the Koran that matches current knowledge.

Which puts us in a fix. We know that current knowledge is limited. We will know tomorrow more than we know today, including, in many instances, that we were wrong. Science will have to be revised accordingly. Does that mean the Muslim will reinterpret the Koran too?

If we were to discover that, say, the moon has its own light, will Naik & Co find some verse in the Koran supporting that?

It’s all very strange. But then it’s religion. And “God moves in a mysterious way.”

The most mysterious question is why doesn’t someone expose Naik and get him to shut up?

Friday, 2 July, 2010

Indians are obsessed with saving face

How many times have you heard that? Many times? It’s true, isn’t it?

But my last nine months with Westerners and many years of reading Westerners’ accounts, about themselves and about us, tells me that there is another way of looking at it.

Everyone wants to save face. Them, us, everyone. But they don’t notice it when they do it. It’s normal.

But is a darkie argues back or refuses to do exactly as told, they can’t take it. It can’t be because he has a point, or his interests are different from theirs. It must be because he’s stupid. Or, if he isn’t, it’s because he can see the Westerners’ logic and his mistakes, but wants to save face.

A few days back, I read an article in which an Englishman argued that the UK should withdraw aid to India because (a) we do not import from them as much as we used to (in relative terms) (b) we have a huge defence spend and © young Indians do not have fond memories of Empire. He acknowledged that millions of Indians are desperately poor, but he put British trade first. 

I can’t see how the two are related. Should we trade inefficiently to buy British? Should we be defenceless because we are poor? Should help be dependent on commerce? If so, doesn’t it, to some extent, become a subsidy for the donor’s goods?

In short, I found the writer illogical and mean.

I’m sure an Englishmen sees the whole thing very differently. And I’m just as sure I feel this way because I’m obsessed with saving face, not because I have a different point of view.