Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Posts Tagged ‘Indian politics’

What Can India be Proud Of?

Posted by Jerry on August 14, 2008

The celebration of Indian independence should be more than a record-keeping of years. Yes, it is undeniable that India has progressed appreciably in recent years; however, realize that while India rides on the shoulders of foreign and multinational giants, who lead this march towards prosperity, India simultaneously shackles them under the burden of its contradictory and arbitrary legal dictats. In truth, India’s freedoms are not yet secured; and the greatest threat to it is the Indian government empowered by the Indian Constitution, which is the entire basis upon which this country is founded. We are building castles of concrete and glass upon thin air.

I am reprising an article I wrote sometime around last year’s independence day. The specifics are different now, but the general theme continues to be relevant.

=======

I find it rather apt that, in the run-up to the day of India’s independence, the nation finds itself embarrassingly servile to the hooliganism of some idiots who sit in the legislatures of this country.

The well-known Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen was attacked by Islamo-loonies at a book launch event here in India, and the only people protecting her were–no, not the police–but the media persons. Nasreen was physically attacked by members of a muslim political party who alleged that her books were insulting to their “prophet” Mohammad. The leader of that muslim political gang demanded that Nasreen’s head be chopped off. Even the most widely read muslim Urdu newspapers faulted the muslim thugs not for attacking the author but–get this–for not having done enough! They wanted her blood.

Carrying pictures of [the muslim party] legislators hurling bouquets [at the author], a newspaper came down heavily on the leaders for allowing her to leave Hyderabad unhurt.
Considered a critic of MIM, the Siasat newspaper lampooned the legislators for their failure to inflict injuries to a woman. The paper suggested that Nasreen could have been killed as the police reached the scene 30 minutes after the attack.

Not to be outdone by this height of vicious irrationality, the Indian police decided to register a case against Miss Nasreen, faulting her for writing a book that stoked communal discord and unrest, while letting the rioting Islamic marauders go scot-free!!

So, as we get closer to the day of India’s independence, we are faced with a political party whose members sit in the people’s house of the Indian parliament; we have a bunch of muslim idiots who get on a brutish rampage against an author and demand that her head be chopped off–a clear and actionable threat that warrants arrest; we have an unarmed, helpless author who had no police protection of any sort; and finally, we have the Indian police registering a criminal case against the author for writing a book, for which she could be imprisoned for up to two years, while those savages who made the actionable threat are roaming the nation free to celebrate India’s independence day.

Is this merely a one-off incident? Most certainly not. Rioting marauders epitomize the Indian democratic machinery at work. In this country, democracy means rioting on the streets, attacking innocent civilians, going on strike every two days, stifling expressions of speech, destroying property, and spreading civil terror. Most of these marauders are religious-political parties, political leaders, and their hired goons. In other words, the very people who pull the levers of this democratic machinery are the ones looting and plundering on the streets.

Political power wielded through violence is the predominant medium of “democratic” expression in this corrupt nation–a nation founded upon a ridiculously long, obtuse, and inept constitution that guarantees no rights to any citizens. Truth be said, Indians should properly have nothing to be proud of about their country–and should rightfully be enraged that this is the case!

If you choose to point out the economic progress achieved over the past 17 years in India, note that it has been achieved mostly despite the mangled laws and institutions of the Indian democracy and predominantly by the willingness of non-Indian investors to take on the high risks of functioning in this chaotic, corrupt system, and persevere in the face of it all.

Indians are being made complacent by the illusion of a sanguine future made possible by the global enterprising system of the free market; however, we are missing the crucial fact that the future of this free market is precarious given the lack of a rights-protecting institutional system. Where there’s an institutionalized political system of force and violence, where the government is itself the perpetrator and idle spectator of violence, there can be no freedom.

What exactly can we claim as the proper achievement of Indians? Certainly not the wealth and prosperity we see today made possible mostly by the foreign entities. The legacy that properly and wholly belongs to Indians is the abject poverty among the masses and the hopelessness of a dim future among the youth that permeated this nation prior to the early 1990s. It is no wonder that all those who could, scrapped every loose rupee to flee India during those years. If we are to be proud of all the 60 years of our independence, we must answer the question why were our parents fleeing the freedom of a newly independent India? What were they running from? Did they not share the sense of pride in a free nation? Were we truly free? Are we still?

Happy 62nd, India.

==============

Related posts:

Dangerous Democracy and Fundamental Freedoms
The Contradictions of the Indian Constitution
Not a Tourist Brochure: India

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, India, Indian Blogs, Islamo-loony, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

Indian Democratic Lawlessness

Posted by Jerry on August 29, 2007

Last night on Indian national news, I was shocked and physically disturbed to watch the most gruesome video footage of mob and police violence in recent memory: a gang of savages–including two police officers–were most brutally clobbering, stomping, kicking, and beating an emaciated young man as punishment for his crime of trying to steal a necklace. I’m not posting the video here because it is too gruesome to watch; those interested, can follow the link to watch the video. 

According to some reports, the clobbering lasted for close to 30 minutes. In this wholesale celebration of savagery, tribalism, and sub-humanism, there were two enthusiastic police officers willing to take this extent of brutality to a higher level: one of the officers tied a rope around the man’s feet to his motorcycle and dragged him–bare-bodied–along the road for about five meters.

Further similar incidents involving law-enforcement officials (who make a farce out of that term) have occurred in various parts across India.

In November last year (2006), police constables in Mumbai mercilessly beat up a group of blind men. A group of blind protestors had gathered to demand better job opportunities for themselves outside the state secretariat – when the police used brute force to break up their agitation, mercillesly [sic] lathi-charging them and bundling them into police vans. [bold added]

In India, democracy has a new meaning—violence as the voice and medium of expression of a sub-human mob.

===========

Related posts:

Dangerous Democracy and Fundamental Freedoms
The Contradictions of the Indian Constitution
What Can Indian be Proud of?

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, India, Mumbai, On Collectivism, Political Issues, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Contradictions of the Indian Constitution

Posted by Jerry on August 15, 2007

In my previous post challenging the notion that Indians have something to be properly *proud* of about their nation, I made the following statement:

Political power wielded through violence is the predominant medium of “democratic” expression in this corrupt nation–a nation founded upon a ridiculously long, obtuse, and inept constitution that guarantees no rights to any citizens.

My astute readers might have wondered if the above statement were merely hyperbolic or did I have some substantial argument behind it. I believe I have. My previous post adequately demonstrates the ground realities of how Indian democracy is practiced, i.e., violence is indeed the means of democratic expression in this country.

This post will substantiate my claim that the long and mangled mess of stated laws in the badly-written Indian constitution precisely makes it possible for the political system to institutionalize the violation of rights on a legal and routine basis, thereby guaranteeing no rights to any of its citizens.

The articles dealing with fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution is broadly structured as follows:

  • First, a statement of law guaranteeing a right is asserted.
  • Next, several practicable implications of the law is ennumerated.
  • Then, a series of exceptions to the “guaranteed” right is highlighted, and the central State is regarded as the final arbiter on all cases of exceptions.

Here is the section of the article dealing with the “Right to Freedom” from the Indian Constitution:

19. Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.

(1) All citizens shall have the right—
(a) to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) to form associations or unions;
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
(g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

(2) Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

(3) Nothing in sub-clause (b) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause.

(4) Nothing in sub-clause (c) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause.

(5) Nothing in sub-clauses (d) and (e) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub-clauses either in the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe.

(6) Nothing in sub-clause (g) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the general public, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause, and, in particular, nothing in the said sub-clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it relates to, or prevent the State from making any law relating to,—
(i) the professional or technical qualifications necessary for practising any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business, or
(ii) the carrying on by the State, or by a corporation owned or controlled by the State, of any trade, business, industry or service, whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, of citizens or otherwise.

***** 

The bold and italics in the above “exceptions” are mine; they highlight the direct contradiction and actual impossibility of guaranteeing the right to freedom for any individual–either of speech, expression, or action. If the State is the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes the “interest of the general public” or the interest of some tribe, or what motivates public order and what disrupts it, or what is considered “moral” and “decent” and what is construed immoral and indecent, then how is an individual *guaranteed* the freedom and safety of expression unless he has first gained the official approval of the State? And what if the State itself is constituted by men of clear ideological agendas–be it Socialist, Hinduist, Islamic, or Atheist!

This is the structure, nature, and implication of the articles in the Indian Constitution. This contradictory mess of stating a law and ennumerating exceptions to its enactment make it impossible for any individual to act with the safety and security of knowing that he is acting *within* the law. 

Under the current state of affairs, one cannot possibly know that one’s actions are within the law, since the State is the ultimate arbiter of the legality and *morality* of your actions. As evidence, witness the recent attack on the author Taslima Nasreen and the subsequent criminal charges filed against her by the State’s law-enforcement machinery for writing a book. Obviously, since Nasreen did not have her book sanctioned by the government, she had no way of knowing that she failed to meet the State’s interpretation of what constitutes a proper freedom of expression in writing the book; hence, she has criminal charges against her.

All that being said, the matter here is more fundamental than merely not having the confident knowledge of the legality of one’s actions–even though that in itself is a serious issue. The matter is of principle. Human rights are a matter of principle–and as such, there can be no exceptions to principles. You either have a right or you do not. Your right is either violated or it is not. There is no middle ground, no gray area, in the matter of principles.

The celebration of Indian independence should be more than a record-keeping of years. Yes, it is undeniable that India has progressed appreciably in recent years; however, realize that while India rides on the shoulders of foreign giants who lead this march towards prosperity, India simultaneously shackles them under the burden of its contradictory and arbitrary legal dictats. In truth, India’s freedoms are not yet secured; and the greatest threat to it is the Indian government empowered by the Indian Constitution, which is the entire basis upon which this country is founded. We are building castles of concrete and glass upon thin air.

Happy 60th, India.

==========

Related posts:

Dangerous Democracy and Fundamental Freedoms
What Can Indian be Proud of?

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, India, Indian Blogs, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments »

Dangerous Democracy and Fundamental Freedoms

Posted by Jerry on August 13, 2007

[I posted a modified version of this post earlier. But it warrants resurrection as we approach the day of India’s independence.] 

Democracy can be a very dangerous thing. Indeed, Aristotle described democracy as a “necessary evil,” but an evil nonetheless. A democratic country can be a threat to its own citizens as well as to other nations. Consider the threat of democratic, nuclear-capable Iran; or that of the democratically elected Hamas government of Palestine; or even that of the largest democracy in the world–-India.

Democracy, translated in practice, means that the majority gets to decide what the rules of the game are. If the majority of Indians are not “comfortable” with legalizing homosexuality, for example, well then the human rights of the homosexual minority can and should be trampled.

As Farah Baria, a writer for the Indian Express, stated in her article on the criminality of homosexuality:

“Replying to a petition filed in the Delhi High Court by Naz Foundation, an advocacy, AIDS control and gay outreach organization, the Government claimed that Indian society was “not ready” for the practice of homosexuality. In fact the 42nd report of the Law Commission opines that society’s disapproval was “strong enough to justify it being treated as a criminal offense, even when adults indulge in it in private.” The penalty? Imprisonment for ten years or even life.” [emphases mine]

At some point in the future, if the majority decides that they do not like eating broccoli, they can simply pass a law criminalizing its growth and consumption. It would be a strong enough justification to treat it as a criminal offense.

Democracy is the political application of Utilitarianism–irrelevant of all its variations–as the greatest good for the greatest number–and they are both equally evil. Morality is contorted into a statistical game of numbers, where the standard of good is the number of people that can be gathered on any one side; thus, exterminating the Jews in a majoritarian Nazi society would have to be a good thing by such a moral code.

What is the better alternative to democracy then?

In my opinion, the democratic institutions in India as they currently exist are instrumentally causing the decline of liberty and the move towards the fascism of a vocal collective. These legal and democratic structures need to either be dissolved entirely or reformed radically. A new legal structure needs to be introduced—one that is based on the recognition and guarantee of fundamental human rights, not on the guarantee of a majoritarian democracy, a thuggish minority, or one that is based on the expediency of the moment.

One effective and immediate way to achieve this would be to introduce a constitutional amendment declaring certain laws based on objective, fundamental principles as off-limits to a democratic vote. For example, laws such as the guaranteeing of the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, freedom of speech and individual expression (including artistic expression or romantic expression between consensual adults), the strict separation of religion and state, and the repeal of institutionalized discrimination based on caste, religion, or race should be taken off the voting table regardless of popular opinion.

We must outrightly reject the current idolization of democracy as the “sacred” voice of the people. We must reject the current, long-winded Constitution that seeks to enumerate every application of law in every concrete situation; instead, we must call for and adopt a parsimonious moral framework based on objective, fundamental principles that are common to all applications of moral laws and human rights. The current judiciary system more often acquiesces to the laws created by the “representatives of the people” rather than examining the legitimacy and constitutionality of those laws.

Fundamental freedoms, rights, moral laws should be off-limits to the voting of legislators or the public. For example, the recent voting in the legislature based on caste, religion, and origin of birth–including on all the issues surrounding the disgustingly institutionalized terms of discrimination such as “muslim quotas,” “backward classes,” “other backward classes,” “scheduled castes,” and so on, should have been declared illegitimate by the courts and in violation of the right of an individual to choose and express his self-identity without having to be oppressed under the accidental identities of his birth. These are not matters to be put to vote–neither in the legislature nor in the general election. These do not fall within the domain of democracy. No man has the right to label another man as a member of a “backward class.” Man is a self-made being; he should have the autonomy, liberty, and right to not associate with his religion, his caste, his race, or his tribe.

In every election cycle across India, political parties campaign on explicitly religious grounds, with campaign promises that are religious-based (like building this or that temple). Such campaigns should be banned outright–without vote or debate–and such political parties should be barred from elections until their manifestos clearly reject all religious references. The principle of separating religion and state should not be a matter of debate or democratic vote. The government has no right nor any freedom to practice its own religion.

Similarly, in the areas of art, media, television, opinions, blogs, etc., the government has no right or duty to interfere. Any interference must be swiftly restrained by the legal system in order to ensure the principle of freedom of speech and expression. Likewise, the acts of consensual adults–homosexual or heterosexual–are not matters for a democratic vote. These are private affairs of the concerned individuals, and their right to self-expression and autonomy should be respected by the government, upheld by the courts, and protected by the law-and-order system.

Democracy can be a very dangerous thing if let loose in the hands of the majority. Without the restraint of fundamental, unchangeable, irreplaceable moral laws guaranteeing the rights of the smallest minority in the world–the right of an individual–a democracy can be a threat to human life.

John Stuart Mill derided the “tyranny of the majority”; indeed, democracy can be dangerously similar to fascism in that there is no one single dictator but an entire mob that collectively dictates the terms of the existence for the entire population.

===============

Related posts:

The Contradictions of the Indian Constitution
What Can Indian be Proud of?
Indian Democratic Lawlessness

Posted in Culture, India, My Theories and Ideas, On Collectivism, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

 
%d bloggers like this: