Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dim Witted Strategy

Pragati: The Indian National Interest Review” is the publishing equivalent of the commercial in which grotesque kids pretend to be adults.

Although it describes itself as “a publication on strategic affairs, economic policy and governance,” the contents of the monthly tend to be a strange muddle of right-wing ideology and – how can I put it kindly – stupidity. Much of the writing is by NRI academics in Singapore, Canada and Britain, and the funding of the evidently well-endowed non-profit is a mystery.

The magazine’s website currently has a piece that declares, “Food Security Bill and the Bhagwad (sic) Gita: There is a connection between the two.”

What is the connection?

It lies in a quotation from one Pratap Bhanu Mehta who in a 2003 book, The Burden of Democracy “identified” the following “trait” of the Indian State:

“The Indian state almost never evaluated policy by consequences, almost always by its own intent; if the tribunal of its own intentions had been satisfied, nothing else mattered. If it thought rent control helped the poor get housing, or curbs on investment were producing more prosperity, this was so regardless of whether it, in fact, did; particular projects were a success simply because the state had made an allocation for them, not because they reached their intended targets and beneficiaries. The habit of state officials to respond to every query — say why child labour exists — is simply to say that a law exists to deal with the problem. This is not just a last-ditch defensive gesture, it is symptomatic of the way in which the state can become oblivious to the concrete efforts of its own action or inaction. The state has internalized the message of the Bhagwad (sic) Gita: only intentions and not consequences matter.”

An anonymous Pragati editor adds approvingly: “The NAC’s Food Security Bill is in total consonance with the message of the Bhagwad (sic) Gita: only intentions and not consequences matter. How can anyone ever argue with that? The NAC wins. India loses.”

I wonder how many people saw that bit of nonsense before it was immortalized online. Did no one object to the silly caricaturing of the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, one of humanity’s grandest statements of philosophy and faith?

1 comment:

EmptyLife said...

Yes, I was saddened to read that.