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(off-topic) Prof. Subroto Roy's comments: a discussion.
I am sending in some extracts from Prof. Roy's reply to my comments on his
comments, with his permission. Some of this is administrative/ strategic.
Much of it is very profound, particularly the proposal on the Indo-Pak
Confederation. When we come to this issue (defence), let us study this
proposal and try to include it in the manifesto somewhere.
>But you will surely give an A+ to the 'organizers' for making sure that
>participation levels increase, the quality of debate becomes better, and
>that we are able to attract the best in all fields to come to IP and start
>contributing their best. By iterating this process through the minds of
>the best Indian brains, I hope that this will lose its political naivete.
Absolutely. We are only at the beginning of a massive revolutionary
enterprise. There is danger though that we are talking only to an
English-speaking elite with leisure to spare. Any thoughts on how to obtain
participation in the major Indian languages, say, Hindi & Tamil?
The stage 1 is to prepare a draft among these 'English' based e-mail
elite. This draft will go out to thousands of people personally by mail -
including editors of language journals/ newspapers. Personal involvement
of all will be invited. The key problem is of course the scalability of
the debate, and making it productive. Let us all think about how to ensure
that the debates do not go out of hand in terms of becoming an unregulated
cacophony. Multiple mailing lists, each with a particular topic, might
have to be created, as a first step. That should be no problem. Zero cost.
>I would like to request a little clarification on the word "power
> In my mind, the entire political spectrum of India is Left
>of center. And it is these Left power elites that have managed to create
>rents and exploit these rents, while at the same time talking as if they
>Nehru was clearly free of such moral degradation,
>but he was unfortunately dominated in his economic views by his
>class-mate, Mahalanobis, whom he trusted without much thinking, ignoring
>excellent advice from other quarters.
Mahalanobis, not an economist, was certainly totally innocent of price
theory (or microeconomics as it is called today). Shenoy's courage in
standing up to Mahalanobis and the establishment was clearly immense.
> Even the recent report by Jal, from Pachmarhi, shows that its file and
>rank is dominated by incorrigible hypocrisy:
Our democracy is not as old as the West's. People have perhaps not had
enough experience of throwing governments in and out of office. That will
reduce the hypocrisy.
>> there is no genuine voice at the national level for the Indian
>> masses (to use an old-fashioned term)?
>I consider all parties to be Left parties. There is neither a centrist
>party nor a Right party.
I think we are glacially moving towards a broad two-party Centre
Right/Centre Left realignment in India. Viz., on the one hand, the Sangh
Parivar can't be mistaken for anything but being rather much on the Right.
(E.g. social and religious conservatism, protectionism, isolationism, are
all good topics for the old Tory Party in England as well as the right of
the US Republicans etc...). On the other hand, there is Jyoti Basu and H.
S. Surjeet supporting Sonia Gandhi, bringing to mind Mamata Banerjee's
"Watermelon" jibe about Congress being green outside and red inside.
A two-party split will be a healthy thing assuming it leads to more
issue-based politics as opposed to, say, personality cult politics. The
median voter theorem then says that he who captures the median voter wins
the election, so that can't be bad. The aim might then be to move the
median voter's thinking towards more and more reasonable and well-informed
>I like this point. In my (incomplete) book which is on the web, I talk of
>a re-union of India and Pakistan as the only long-term solution. However,
>that is not going to be easy. So I will go by your view at the moment.
>Please elaborate a bit and then this can go into the manifesto.
This is very complex. Along with the Foundations of India's Political
Economy book, we created Foundations of Pakistan's Political Economy:
Towards an Agenda for the 1990s, edited by W. E. James and myself (Sage and
OUP, Karachi.) This reached Nawaz Sharif, whose Government started to
quote from it (about e.g. the "drain" of resources on both sides caused by
defence against one another). It may not be known that we have 19
standing divisions facing 19 standing divisions of theirs on the Punjab and
Rajasthan/Sind borders. (The libertarian Cato Institute are named after
the Cato papers of the 18th Century in Europe (available at Trinity College
Library at Cambridge University) which contain the classic liberal
condemnation of large standing armies.)
In the Introduction of the Pakistan book, I introduced the "Paradox of
Kashmir": how is it that J&K was never an issue during the nationalist
debates, then became the only issue after 1947? Using Ayesha Jalal's
definitive political biography of Jinnah, I suggested that Partition needs
to be understood as a classic Prisoners' Dilemma kind of game-theoretic
collapse. (Akbar Ahmed, one of the authors in our book, liked the
revisionist view of Jinnah so much he then embarked on his movie.) (E.g.
Do we remember that Jinnah was after all the lawyer who defended Lokmanya
Bal Gangadhar Tilak against a British prosecutor?) Other Pakistani
economists in that book, like Mohsin Khan and S. Javed Burki, were full of
praise that our book had taken Pakistan seriously, for the first time in
their experience in the USA.
To cut a long story short, my present work consists of proposing that a
solution to Kashmir lies within a general re-definition of Union/State
economic and political relations within Indian federalism, conjoined to an
India/Pakistan confederalism on the specific issue of a common nuclear
defence. I gave that as a talk at the Heritage Foundation in Washington
D. C., as well as at the Inst of Economic Affairs in London in June this
But who is to persuade Pakistan and its army? Pakistan is naturally wary
of anything which might surreptitiously undo their country. Here is the
role for India's Muslims then, as interlocutors building bridges, but where
are the great Muslim leaders of the nationalist past?
>The alterative is what I am looking for: new and progressive political
>leaders. Leaders are not born on "leader" trees, however. They have to be
>sought out in every corner of India, in fact, created. That is why the
>first step is to let all the people debate and the future leaders ruminate
>on these debates. Then, one fine day, you WILL find the leaders that you
>(and I) are looking for. They will arise and lead once they find that they
>are the ones responsible for the decay and degradation of India. When they
>find that by keeping a low profile, by keeping quiet, and by being kicked
>around by inferior people, they are actually harming themselves and their
>children, then they will rise.
Yes, absolutely, new leaders must and will emerge, who will be able to
articulate a classical liberal position clearly and coherently enough for
the masses of India to recognize their own interests expressed in it.
Winners try to win the median voter; e.g. Reagan won because the Reagan
Democrats saw what he was saying to be in their interest; Thatcher kept
winning because she had redefined the Tories away from the landed rich
towards the new middle classes. Why did Yeltsin become more popular than
Gorbachev? Each country has its own story, and ours is yet to occur.
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