[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Ash's note

Administrative Note:

Week's Agenda: Economy

          You are right, Ash, this is a difficult problem. However, 
there is something I'd like to say before I begin addressing the issues 
that you raised in your letter. I have never thought that you were 
advocating a pro-Hindu opinion. If anything I wrote in my letter seemed 
to imply otherwise, you have my apologies. Now, I do agree that 
ill-defined boundaries are causing a problem. And, yes, we do disagree 
on a fundamental issue, one around which ideas of social exclusion are 
clearly being formulated and are gaining ground.                                                                                                       
You mentioned two things that you hoped would stand out in the 
discussion:                                                                    a] I do 
agree that there are a lot of people who subscribe to the Hindutva line 
of thought and would not defend it openly. Their attitudes have also 
hardened. You need not try to convince me by quoting statistics. I am 
already convinced. Had that not been the case, I would not have raised 
the issue in my first letter.                    The position I'm taking 
is very similar to the status quo, in so far as it permits 
proselytization. However, I do not agree that it is the status quo which 
is 'not helping the minorities'. As far as I can make out, it is the 
reaction of some to the status quo that is not helping the minorities.                                          
b] Ash no one is stating that economic force is okay. Use of any kind of 
force to change a person's ideas or opinions is reprehensible. The point 
I [and others] have been trying to make is that economic force is not in 
the same league as physical force. They are both inimical to the freedom 
of an individual and are undesirable. However, the reason I distinguish 
between the two is this: the use of physical force against an individual 
does not at any point require the said individual's consent. The use of 
economic force against the same individual does, at one point or 
another, require the said individual's consent [no one deposits money in 
your account or leaves it at your house unless you have explicitly or 
tacitly agreed to accept that money]. Now, this difference is in the 
degree of coercion, therefore, I hold that there ought to be a 
difference in the degree of punishment as well. Let us for a moment 
consider your example of booth capturing and vote buying. I am sure that 
we all agree that they both are wrong. It is also a fact that they both 
exist. Since booth capturing uses only brute force, it is easier to 
identify. This also makes it easier to protect against, and in the case 
of a violation, easier to prosecute. None of this means, however, that 
vote buying is OK. It is not, and the law says so too. Still, less cases 
of vote buying come up as compared to the cases of booth capturing. The 
reason for this is that the burden of proof is heavy; it is not easy to 
prove illegal economic collusion towards a specific end. Again, this 
does not mean that the use of economic force [for any reason, let alone 
for social organization] is legitimized. If one can prove that economic 
force was used during the electoral process, the state will take steps 
to redress the grievance. It is the same with regard to proselytization. 
The Supreme Court, in the Stainislaus's case, stated that each man had 
the right "not to be converted into another religion by means of force, 
fraud, inducement or allurement. He can, of course, voluntarily adopt 
another religion - -." So, the issue is not of the legitimacy of 
economic force-its use is already considered to be illegal. The issue is 
of the burden of proof.                 I also believe that this is the extent to 
which the role of the state should extend in this matter - the 
protection of individual freedoms against any kind of coercion by 
anybody.                                        [Note: The above arguments are based on the a priori 
assumption that economic force (in the sense used above) exists. 
Personally, I do not consider an economic inducement to change my 
opinion as force, as long as the final decision is mine. Coercive force, 
by its very nature, is physical in character. Any other attempt to 
influence my thoughts/actions requires my consent to work, and hence 
cannot be termed coercive. However, I have found that very few agree 
with my definition of coercive force. The concept of economic coercive 
force is a commonly accepted one, thus the a priori assumption. One 
point though; we need to demarcate the areas and situations where 
economic inducement is force, where the same is not 'force' but just an 
illegal action, and where it is normal and right.]              Ash, I said that I 
believe in democratic norms, I do. If the majority opinion were 
transcribed as the law, I would follow it. But that does not mean that I 
would stop protesting against the law, or that I would not try to get 
the law repealed. Here I quite agree with Sanjeev's 'Geiger counter' 
comment. Popular opinion is not necessarily 'wisdom'. Hitler's 
anti-Semitic views were popular in Germany in the 1930s. This did not 
make those views 'wisdom', Ash. When we decide to try to formulate a set 
of policies best suited to India, it was not a decision to poll the 
populace and then adopt the most 'popular' policies. The rules of social 
organization are not supposed to be based on popular opinion, they are 
supposed to be based upon a careful consideration of the rights of the 
individual and how the same can be best protected.                                                                                                                                        

This is a posting to India_Policy Discussion list:  debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/