Monday, November 05, 2007

India Commentary

Indian social and political issues have been studied for quite long by outside intellectuals. In last few years, there seems to be more such interest in Indian issues; especially policy debates in mainstream media by outside India intellectual. Here are 3 such examples:

- “Communism is Dead” by Anothny Giddens in Times of India
(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Opinion/LEADER_ARTICLE_Communism_Is_Dead/articleshow/2517507.cms )

- “No, No, No, Don’t Follow Us” Tom Fridman in New York Times (as he is traveling India)
(http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/opinion/04friedman.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin )

- “Of job hunting and Indian Caste System” news item by Suman Guha Mozumdar in Rediff (http://www.rediff.com/money/2007/nov/02hire.htm )

Anthony Giddens articulates quite well in that article – yet another persuasive argument for Indian Commies to change. Giddens is a professional intellectual with tremendous ease in writing intellectual essays (shall we say in the mould of Bertrand Russell?) as manifested in his vast output of Sociology literature. But he is not just a prolific writer, his contributions to Sociology are of immense value too.

Basically, it is a UK Labor Party Policy position and Giddens is saying Indian Commies to turn into Indian equivalent of Blair-Brown Labor Party. Giddens does not comment in terms of advocating ‘loop sided’ America tilting of Blair’s policies. Quite likely he himself would not have approved that, especially in regards to Iraq War. In any case Brown is surely trying to distance from Blair’s Iraq Policy and consequent foreign policy of ‘lap dog’ of America. In this article Giddens does not talk about any of such heated topics. Indian Commie’s are making precisely their ‘last stand’ on such perceived pro-America policy of Dr. Singh’s government. So the thrust of Gidden’s article is quite right and applicable to India Commies.

But alas, there is no hope that Indian Leftist will ever take such a transformation. There are too many ‘low hanging’ fruits to be snatched by simple ‘America bashing’ and in the process it is perfectly acceptable to regurgitate same old useless Leftwing policies. If common Indians loose, who cares. As long Commies are able to maintain their political pocket burrows, life is quite fine with America bashing and why risk the applecart? So note withstanding a very useful advice from Giddens, Indian Commies will not change and India will continue to have ancient Leftwing arguments.

Meanwhile, Tom Friedman is continuing his ‘wide eyed’ journey of India. Except that this time it is not about ‘how flat is the world’ but problems of India in the Global Economy and possible policy outlets to address the existing and new challenges. Again, his outlets and policy prescriptions (in this case specifically about public transport) without analysis and ‘whys’ of political compulsion; are too na├»ve and quite unlikely to have any impact in any sense even though his approach of highlighting positive aspects of ‘changing India’ is quite constructive. The absence of understanding of ‘political reality’ of India system makes all these prescriptions far away from reality with no chance of getting enacted.

Finally, the news item by Suman Guha in Rediff talks about built in discrimination against low caste candidates for jobs in big private firms. It is about one such study done by Katherine Newman, Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. The contention of the study is right – indeed there is discrimination based on caste when any private employer puts emphasis on ‘family background’. It is all valid and true. The only question is has Newman taken into consideration ‘the process’ of firing low caste employees when they do not perform? The nightmare for the employer is all about the political ruckus generated by ‘caste based harassment’ in such a situation. If anyone is aware of how difficult or almost impossible to ‘fire’ low caste employee for the performance reasons in India; then one can understand why employers are hesitant in this regard. The key issue is, it must be politically possible for employers to fire employees for their poor job performance regardless of caste background. Unless that happens, exhortations of Prof. Newman are incomplete and one sided.

Umesh Patil
Cupertino, CA 95014
November 05, 2007.

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