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Ash: your mail needs me to spend time: I would really like someone else to
comment first. I think it might be worthwhile looking at mankind's
progress from a primitive 'monkey-like' mammal to a tribe, city republic/
monarchy/ dictatorship, into finally, a democratic nation state. That too
is evolving into a federation/ customs union. There was nothing given to
us "politically" by nature: everything has been created out of
self-interest. The greater the expression of self-interest that a 'common'
citizen can find, the greater the democratization.
I am distinguishing 2 parts of a government:
security + everything else
Security from agression of others is critical. I am afraid of being
attacked at night in the streets of Delhi/Bombay. I need Police to be on
duty at night. I am afraid of being attacked by China and so I need Army
to be on duty 24 hours a day.
After security is provided, everything else is a matter of taste,
preferences, choice, technology, convenience. Currency is NOT necessary to
be issued by a government. Private banks have done that earlier and do so
today (in Switzerland?). In fact, government entered this business much
later. Government is not required - by some essential law - to enter into
social welfare or economic development. Much of these things are recent
developments. Roads/ canals/ railways/ telephones have in many cases been
successfully run by private interests. Welfare state of course is the last
concept to enter governance.
While not denying the role of govt. in many economic/ social welfare
activities, I would like us to emphasise the FUNDAMENTAL COMPACT of
security from agression of other human beings. I DO NOT need government to
protect me from other animals like tigers or snakes. I need government to
protect me ONLY from one animal: OTHER human beings.
If you look at the genetic makeup of human beings, nothing says that a
person has an "Indian" gene or a Bangladeshi gene. That is what I meant
by the first opening line. Political boundaries are ever-shifting.
With that I will revert to your points later. Please consider in the light
of simple facts presented above.
I touch upon Arvind's points briefly:
On Thu, 20 Aug 1998, Arvind wrote:
> > Does the contractual nature fly in the face of patriotism? Maybe,
> > but isn't patriotism itself a misplaced concept? I would certainly
> > like to know what others think about this - Is it an unnecessary
> > emotion or is it a neccessary ingredient to be able to run the
> > country? I feel it is enough that our actions are not harmful to the
> > society we are part of.
> > Should a person who is indifferent to emotions like patriotism
> > but who contributes to the society be considered a traitor?
In my view patriotism is a critically important emotion. It is essential
because we need to have someone who is willing to sacrifice his/her life
for us. I would have done that during the course of my duty (almost did,
once, during the Bodo agitation), and I think I would have felt good (in
heaven?) about my having been at the vanguard of providing a public good:
"security" for the people who appointed me.
Without patriotism - howsoever it be defined - we shall not have much to
talk to each other at all. Patriotism hides tremendous agression against
other human beings: of other nations. That is its true origin. We not only
want to protect ourselves from the agression of 'others' but we also want
to agress upon others, such as get gold medals, 'beat' them in wealth,
etc. Patriotism is a very agressive and powerful human emotion, rooted in
the primitive urge to form a tribe and to go out and grab the bounty of
other tribes (observe the behavior of victorious soldiers: uniformly,
these folks plunder and loot, and even rape: huge agression this
patriotism thing leads to). Of course the boundaries under which this
emotion survives change over time; India is no longer what it was earlier,
and has changed a thousand times, over the millennia, and will change
again and yet again.
Remember: I told you about the patriotism displayed by Americans on their
Independce Day in Santa Monica college. This is an emotion to be
cherished, and controlled. It is a primitive emotion which might
ultimately be curbed in the human species ( I doubt it though) .
But until it 'evolves' itself out of existence, I do not wish to change
this human nature of agression by preaching against patriotism. I would
rather 'channelize' it to productive and fruitful ends the same way we are
talking of channelizing economic self-interst. The fact that I am born
with a strong tendency to tribalize myself, to consider narrower and yet
narrower perspectives such as the 'son of the soil' perspective (as
compared to the "Citizen of the Blue Planet" perspective, which even Ash
finds rather repelling), has to be curbed through conscious effort of
globalization and reason. But let us not make the fatal mistake of wishing
away its existence, else a patriotic Chinese army could simply attack us
and lay us bare one day.
I still remember the response many people have sent to me on reading the
name of the hypthetical political party that I have floated in 2000 AD (!)
called Victory of India Party. This one arouses strong positive emotion in
most Indians. We want to see ourselves victorious, winners. When Rajeev
Gandhi said, "mera bharat mahan," or we sing "sare jahaan se accha" we all
feel good. That is a gut level response. Completely tribal, sometimes
dangerous; often capable of being used productively.
If as a result of our goading ourselves onward to become No.1 in the
world, we do succeed, then what is wrong with that? That will be the
prefect society for my children and great grand children to live in. That
is why patriotism is such an important emotion. I am a 'rational' patriot,
if such a word can possibly exist.
Let the human race evolve at its own pace.
> > As for changing contractors, we have an interesting situation in
> > India - that of Sonia Gandhi? Should she be disallowed to lead
> > the nation just because of her foreign origins? I don't think so.
> > There is no reason we should have first rate and second rate
> > citizens just because some other countries have. What is wrong in
> > opting out of the system? I became part of the system because
> > I was born in the system. I was not consulted before being made
> > a part of the system.
Opting out - after making the attempt to change the system - and subject
to the existence of someone else willing to accept you if you opt out, is
a clear option for everyone. Millions of migrants exercise it all the
time. I too will exercise it if I find that India does not care for my
voice in which I simply make the claim: I want to serve the country if and
only if you (nation) provide me with clean, honest, capable leaders and
bosses. If you want me to be corrupt, and aid in the existing hypocrisy,
then I will either change you in a way that only the good can be my
bosses, or, if I fail, then I will go to any other clean nation which
might accept me. The final choice always exists: suicide. Sahrid Ganguly
exercised it. Do not forget that. Camus wrote a book on this critical
choice. A very existential choice. I will not use it till it is impossible
to do anything else. Ganguly exercised this option too soon.
But servitude to anyone whom I do not consider to be fit to be my boss is
NOT an acceptable choice.
Let us all decide that as Indians. That is our right. We will PAY for
honesty, competitiveness, efficiency. But we do not want to be led by
moral lepers. There is still plenty of time to use VOICE as a weapon. Then
comes EXIT. From the nation. And finally, if nothing is possible, then
EXIT from the world. The last should only be used as a hypothetical
weapon. A threat that we do not exercise because we all realize why VOICE
should be enough, and why it ALWAYS works, if properly used.
> > The article also contains a statement which says no dues and
> > obligations once I have paid except for taxes. Why have such a
> > restriction? What do you mean by once I have paid? Do you mean
> > a person cannot opt out of the system, say at the age of 18
> > before he has held any job contributing to the society? What about
> > those who want to be lazy? Do they not have a right to live?
> > I do not think we can force anyone.
All land in the world comes with the name of some 'group' of people
(nation) written on it. Through human agression all land has been
captured. There is no safe haven for any person who wants to opt out. Even
escaping into the Himalayan jungles you do not escape from the Indian
If you are being protected by the Indian Army and Police then you have to
pay for it. The fundamental principle being stated here is "PAY FOR WHAT
YOU GET." There is only one place to opt out: go to another nation. And
let that nation not charge you for security. That is their business. But
so long as you live in India, you pay for it through payment of tax.
Payment of income tax is a mandatory part of a society that we create. A
lazy person (if such a person exists) also has to pay. I do not find it
acceptable for me to work, earn millions of rupees, and pay for the
welfare of a lazy (able-bodied) person. I can and will pay for the weak,
feeble, and incapacitated. I will go out of my way to help others. But not
the lazy. And definitely not someone who wishes to enjoy "my" security and
claim that he/she opts out. Let that person take a boat and leave my
nation. There is no opting out from paying tax, WHILE living in India.
Well, more later. Let us think about these things and understand the
social compact a little better.
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