Sauvik -with characteristic satire – provides the antidote viewpoint.
I wonder, I wonder – why are people not happy? Lust has made us all and it has made us all blind too.
Traditional people eking out a subsistence refusing to modernize, government “by the people” exploiting and killing “the people”. Is there anything simple and uncomplicated in the world anymore?
G posted recently on her blog about the Indian budget and her reaction to it. I commented, saying I would respond with a post! So here goes.
At the outset, I must mention that I detest centralized planning, hence the central government spending craploads of money is not desirable. That said, it is how it is.
Note: Points beginning with # are from G’s original post. Stuff below that is my response!
# So why make so much noise about it? Most aam-aadmis are not going to feel much.
This begs the question of who the aam-aadmi really is. I am at a loss to understand this much bandied about word in the Indian media. Let us assume for now that any person who travels by local train in Mumbai is an aam aadmi (this is as arbitrary a definition as any other). How will this person be affected by the budget? Presumably some aam aadmi’s are salaried professionals who will be affected by changes in tax rates. All aam-aadmis are consumers who will be affected by indirect taxes, duties, subsidies and such which affect prices of goods and services. Budgets have an impact on inflation, so the rupees in the aam aadmis pockets might lose value due to the budget and so on. Effectively, aam aadmi’s are directly affected by central budgets. Whether they think they are or not is another question.
# A negative ball is sent rolling by the media and it amasses so much mass along the way that it might fatally alter the original intent and actually have a negative impact versus the projected negative impact.
The mainstream media will pass judgment on the budget and impart a positive or negative spin on it depending on what they believe to be true. Given that a country like India has a relatively free press, I think this is desirable if not a must. The press must objectively judge the State and its decisions and criticize or praise them. The impact of a budget decision is never totally deterministic given the complexities of economics (hence my dislike for central planning), however I agree that opinion makers influence decision makers, thereby having an impact of their own.
# The point is, most people, especially the aam-aadmi, have very little clue as to how to interpret the budget.
This is precisely why a free and objective press is necessary.
# Hence, a good thing for the govt. to do would be to step in the media and influence it to say good things about the budget. By hook or by crook.
ZOMG, here G gets into Orwell territory. If the government starts controlling the press, then all hell breaks loose (in my philosophical world). For starters, the italicized free press in the previous statements implied freedom from government control. The press must be free because only then can the aam-aadmi expect to understand what is truly being done with his money. If the government has to be “for the people”, it must be questioned repeatedly and pointedly as to how its decisions are “for the people”. This can only be done if the press is indeed free of government control. In addition, in today’s electronic/social media world, the press is an aggregate of all free speech and free speech is integral to a functional democracy. As T. Jefferson says,
“There are rights which it is useless to surrender to the government and which governments have yet always been found to invade. These are the rights of thinking and publishing our thoughts by speaking or writing; the right of free commerce; the right of personal freedom. There are instruments for administering the government so peculiarly trustworthy that we should never leave the legislature at liberty to change them.
#Don’t we want this? Don’t we want to perceive that their govt. is on our side? … then why not shove a positive opinion about the budget up people’s a##?
We want the government to actually BE on our side, not create the perception that it is. The government is us! There is no us and them. We need to fight this perception of the government as some sort of magical being that does things that we cannot control. The only tool we have to do this is free speech. Take stands, make your voices heard – the platforms exist, use them!
# In any case, the aam-aadmi will be a happy even if he’s got a highly frustrating educational system and repressive social system to deal with.
Again, who is the aam aadmi? Are *you* an aam aadmi? Even so, if enough aam aadmis are frustrated then change will come, though – in my humble opinion – in spite of the government, not because of it.
Comments and debate welcomed!
Its been a long hiatus from blogging! Primarily because I had nothing to say!!
And then I stumbled on this picture which reminded me of how Aishwarya Rai and Akshay Kumar received the Padma Shri from the government of India this year. Now, I’m no cultural snob, but I thought the Padma Shri is a rare honor given for rare achievements in ones field. Do the international khiladi and the former Ms. World really deserve it? I don’t think so!
Amit Varma on India Uncut asks:
“If anthropologists from 300 years later see the screenshot below, of the Times of India’s headlines right now, I wonder what conclusions they will draw:
I stumbled upon the India Uncut blog recently and love it! Found this quote over there:
“… the following statement qualifies as a boast, not a confession?
I was the one who had had a leading Bengali daily’s office vandalised because it had defamed Jyoti Basu.
That’s Subhas Chakraborty, a West Bengal minister, speaking to Rediff in the WTF interview of the day.”
Has politics in India come down to this?
In other words, my pet peeve! I don’t want to rant – I will let this article do the talking and maybe follow up with a post later!
What do you think the Indian education sector needs to become world class? For starters better leadership-Arjun Singh and his ilk better realize that our competitive advantage will rapidly erode if we do not invest in the right areas! Get good people to teach, don’t have ten year old curricula. Invest in research and infrastructure. Reform the exam system (very important)… Dang I am ranting – stop. So, what do you think?