Thursday, August 23, 2007

Morons of herculean proportions..


The Left phobia in the media continues. That the media today is inhabited by loads and loads of morons is confirmed day in and day out.

Today the Times of India declared that Indians in the "red" bastions of Kolkata and Kochi had voted for the nuclear deal. A graphical illustration of some questions and answers with votes in percentages is laid out for the viewer to see the conclusion that there is a huge upsurge of votes for the nuclear deal. Hidden conspicuously however is the most important thing to note: The Sample Size of the voters. What kind of stupid vote is this? Tomorrow, I might publish a vote sample of 15 people (all of whom I know) in a particular locality in some particular town and say that 91% Indians have voted for the nuclear deal because 14 of the 15 people agreed with it! What kind of nonsense is being peddled by these media-men? I am shocked and appalled at the lack of quality.

Hindustan Times was more honest. It boldly declared that Indians have rejected the nuclear deal by testing this question among the mammoth number of 586 respondents!

Yesterday, Sagarika Ghose betrayed an absolute ZERO knowledge of the workings of a Communist party in a discussion titled, "Karat and Stick", asking if Karat was the most powerful man in India today. That the fact that the CPI(M) depends upon collective decision making is solely forgotten or rather not unknown by these moronic journalists. Questions such as how the Bengal Left hadn't attended the Central Committee meeting (because the Bengal CM, one among a dozen CC members from Bengal, had skipped the meeting to attend a investment meet), is Karat the high priest of the Leftist "Church" etc were asked in this nincompoop special program. Ms Ghose should talk to her dad sometime, who surely knows a thing or two about the functioning of Indian parties and their organisations. That Bhaskar Ghose has a nincompoop for a daughter is really sad to know.

An yet another idiot in CNN IBN writes a blog entry questioning the Left's dependence on nationalism when they should be working toward working class consciousness as he pontificates. This idiot simply doesn't even know that the Left in India today have been subscribing to the theory that third world nationalism is a bulwark against imperialism, since the early 1930s. The fool then asks why the Left is supporting the nuclear bomb lobby when it opposed the deal. Easily ignored by this idiot is that nowhere in the Left's multiple releases (available at hte public domain at ) is the mention of a nuclear bomb being made.

Today in the Outlook, a fool named Jaideep Mazumdar (a correspondent based in Kolkata) writes not a word about the Left's position on the nuclear deal but affirms that he supports the deal because Manmohan Singh says so! Why? Because Manmohan Singh is a honest man and thats why the nuclear deal is good. And what follows is a huge rant about the Left's policies in Bengal on urban neglect, trade unionism, blah blah and therefore the nuclear deal should be supported! This idiot must be first trained in logic, I believe sincerely. And this idiot should also answer the question as to how the Left has ruled for 30 years in a state in India, winning election after election, if all they have done is misrule! And this nincompoop proudly says that he hasn't read the details of the nuclear deal, either.

The filth in the Indian media just keeps piling on and on. There are legitimate points that can be made as critiques of the Left's position on various issues. That the media lacks a semblance of knowledge of the workings of the Left and even the objectivity to study the deal as well as the strategic question is a severe indiction of the lack of quality in these circles. Too much Page 3 has got their brains fried in cocktails, I believe.

But the answer to the piling nonsense and savagery of criticism is very simple. These corporate owned mouthpieces of the bourgeosie have no concern for the common Indian citizen to whom this facade of a nuclear deal brings nothing significant. No question is asked about the costs that would be entailed or whether at all if this energy is going to be feasibly increasing India's thoroughput.

Vague answers on "India becoming a world player" (when there are honour killings, starvation deaths, farmer suicides, separationist struggles, tribal doldrums, rising inequality, pathetic HDI {India is 127th in the world in this index}) because of a deal with the superpower, without even giving the fineprint of the strategic costs and benefits of such a deal are peddled.

The only thing that the mass media is capable of, is to cater to the lowest tastes of hype and hyperbole. Witness the ultra-heavy coverage of the Sanjay Dutt saga.

A friend of mine, in la Sukumar Ray style wrote this on the Indian media:

Every hour by the studio clock
Comes news from here and there
limited by the atmo-sphere
Read by some Singh or Sharma
or Some Sood, Gupta or Varma.
all chips of the Hindi block.

A sample of the past few days
shows the pathos that Hindi plays


Good Morning its six o clock
Sanju has brushed his teeth
there is a flood in Bihar
While Sanju sips his tea
mumbai has two feet of water
Sanju has just done his potty.
He missed his toilet paper
and did his do with a "lota"
And then the camera zooms
to the channels "local" in view
asking Sanju coming from loo
"Abhi kaisa lag raha hai"
A normally constipated face
beams in a new found gaze.
"I know now why I did the do"
Its the blessed prison's chai


While all of us thus get sanjood
the sensex drops 600
and farmers die of debt
But thats not news you dude!


Anand said...

Somewhat off-topic, but what's your reaction to Utsa Patnaik's latest article in EPW?

I'm amazed (well, maybe not), at the non-existent media reaction to these concerns. I've seen a few articles in The Hindu sometime back, but nothing elsewhere that suggested that anybody's taking it seriously. The "economists" of the other newspapers have reacted dismissively.

Do you know of any serious critique/other support for these claims, which I'd say are shocking to say the least?

Srini said...

Dear Anand,

Before I reply to your comment, I have to say that there is a lot of commonality among our thoughts. Your first blog on "India Unbound" was in the same vein as my first blog on Thomas Freidman's book on globalization. I am glad we think in a similar way. Enjoyed that piece of yours.

As regards Utsa Patnaik's articles, the point remains that she, as a the foremost agrarian economist in our country today, has foretold the miseries of farmers today even way back in 1995. P.Sainath, the Ramon Magsaysay winner said this in a private conversation to me.

Prof. Patnaik has been calling the bluff of the poverty estimators for quite sometime now (since 2005 specifically) finding fault with the methodology, which she accuses has undergone a shift of goalposts (vis-a-vis calorie calculation and even with issues such as selection). The slew of critiques that she has offered have tended to question the BPL identification (which has affected food security) and also issues as destruction of rural economy.

There is a lot of conscience behind her writings, no doubt about the same.

Yet, just one point. Her latest article in EPW claims that from her "direct estimates", rural poverty reaches nearly 87% (for 2004-05, if I remember correctly). Now 87% sounds a figure that seems incredible!. I haven't studied her methodology (what she claims as direct estimates) yet thoroughly. I personally believe that 87% is too high a figure.

As for your questions, whether there has been any critique/ other support for her claims, I know of no mainstream economist today focussing on rural economy in the positivist sense (as in the way it is and the way it functions). Public debate on the rural economy is primarily normative (as to how to "tap the rural market") or how to bridge the urban-rural divide and litany of articles/ public debates can be found for this line of thinking.

But of course, please watch the space at EPW. There might come in some constructive critiques of Prof Patnaik's findings and her suggestions of estimation.

Karan Vaswani said...

To anybody reading this blog post, I would suggest reading the articles Srini mentions, rather than just his summaries of them. Jaideep Mazumdar's summary of the Left's policy errors in West Bengal over the past three decades is particularly good -- yes, the Left has done well by the rural voter, which is why they have won elections, which seems to be the most important criterion for judging policy success or failure as far as Srini is concerned :) -- but yes, as Jaideep Mazumdar points out, the Left has also been disastrous for the urban and industrial sectors, which represent the real economic future of any developing economy. Just because the rural majority supports a certain set of economic policies doesn't make them the right ones for the long-term, as Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is now tacitly admitting with his reformist agenda, which he is doggedly pursuing in the teeth of opposition from farmers and activists. Srini is right, though, that Mazumdar does not provide cogent arguments for supporting the N-deal, and prefers the ad hominem approach, which is disappointing. This does not, however, change the fact that the Left's economic policies in Bengal have been terribly unwise, that they did not heed warnings from their political opponents at the time about what the disastrous consequences of those policies would be (warnings which have been, unsurprisingly, proven correct) and that their current economic prescriptions at the Centre are almost equally unwise, and threaten to repeat or prolong many of the same mistakes that were made in Bengal. This is the main reason I hope the government falls and we have fresh elections sooner rather than later. We simply cannot afford further Left-induced delays on urgently needed reforms. Whether Congress or the BJP wins is immaterial, as long as neither party is held hostage by the Left on policy matters, as the current government has been for far, far too long. Let the Left play the role of opposition outside the government, rather than the ambivalent role of both a de facto opposition on economic reform and the formal parliamentary support of the government. :) They can make as much noise as they want that way, without actually having any real obstructionist influence over the reforms -- the perfect position for them to remain in for the next 30 years while others actually develop the country properly, and the next best thing to an outright ban on them, in my opinion. :) Of course, it would be a lot safer (as far as ensuring that reforms are not reversed or retarded goes) to just exile the ringleaders and ban the parties outright, as the U.S. and other countries once did -- but I'm willing to compromise and settle for just keeping them as far away from real power at the Centre as possible. :) Let them argue and protest as much as they like, as long as they do it from a position of complete impotence -- a position of permanent opposition with no hope of participating in the government. :) Hopefully that day will arrive two years from now, or, if they persist in their obstinacy, even sooner by forcing premature elections...

Anand said...

I won't comment on Left's economic policies for now.

It seems to me that this ignorance and non-willingness to deal with the substantive issues of the N-deal can hardly be fully explained by stupidity. I find generally in all of the articles (those mentioned here and many elsewhere, for example, check out the Indian Express), an unconcealed, ad-hominem attack on anything connected with the Left.

A long-standing position (I think the first reference to this was in 2005) by the Left has generated a hysterical reaction in the media accusing them of everything ranging from lunacy to treason, with no regard whatsoever to their official position.

Manufacturing Consent, anybody?

Srini said...

@ Anand..

Manufacturing Abuse is what I would say. Please check out the forthcoming EPW issue on the Media's abuse factory.

@ Karan..

While I reiterate that Jaideep's (moronic) article is still unrelated to the nuclear deal, I would gladly like to counter some of your equally repugnant views (on preventing some parties from having their say in a democracy).

Well, there are a many things to complain about West Bengal, but to say that the government was only concerned about rural reform and did nothing for the urban areas, is missing the wood for the trees. Jaideep and his gang of perennially frustrated left-baiters (I understand their angst, the left just keeps on winning there), can't digest the fact that WB is the only state in India, where bureaucracy is subordinate to elected local and state representatives. It is the only state where casteism and communalism are alien to the environment (atleast largely relatively). Yes, there are problems of industrialisation, but to blame the Left Front alone for the rugged nature of industrialization that occured earlier is to again miss the wood for the trees. "Freight Equalization" and the Centre's role in fiscal prejudice is all well known as is the nature of enterpreneurship that was the wont of Bengal. What the left erred was in setting high levels of labour protection and thats where they erred, but having said all this; the industrial growth rate in WB today is the second highest in India. The average HDI growth rate is also the second highest in the country. As for the other Left dominated state, Kerala, not enough can be said about social development indicators, which easily rank the best in the country.

Coming to the role of the Left in government today; this brouhaha about reforms being blocked is pure propaganda. When it came to governance reforms (Right to Information) or for sturdy intervention in redistribution (through the NREGA), it was the Left that was responsible for these seminal moves that affect the poor positively today. You and other bourgeois parties (one of which is avowedly communal with fascist elements (a big shame)) might be worried only about economic reform of the IMF-WB prescribed variety, but the truth remains; any government that has taken reform as its primary weapon has been bombarded at the hustings. Even this government by any estimate doesn't seem to have inspired much confidence in the electorate.

The Left has an agenda, a manifesto on which it builds its policy. Primary to their belief is the creation fo equity and that involves the release of productive forces in rural society (long since held in the sway of oligarchic ownership). That involves land reform and rural empowerment, the twin policies that have kept the Left in power for 30 years in West Bengal. Sadly, none of the bourgeois parties have even tried to address these seminal policies which paint the Directive Principles of State Policy.

Coming back to the issue, the Nuclear Deal, None of these morons, Jaideep et al, have shown even an inclination to understand the merits of the Left argument. Obviously, these idiots don't seem to want to live upto the journalistic ethics. All this talk of Chinese influence, blah blah are purely diversionary.

Karan Vaswani said...

Certainly, suggesting that the Left are puppets of their "Chinese masters" on this issue, as several commentators have done, is irresponsible and a wilful misrepresentation, and is bound to irritate people on the Left. As far as West Bengal goes, I agree with everything you've said about fiscal prejudice, freight equalization, etc -- I don't necessarily agree on land reform, and I think in the long term we will find that smallholdings are not a sustainable way of organizing our agriculture, whether of food crops or cash crops -- but I'm glad you've admitted that the Left erred on labor laws -- I would add to the list some of the things Mazumdar mentions, such as English in primary schools, computers, etc. Surely, then, the Left should admit this error and support labor law reform at the Centre?? Our labor laws are not the main hurdle to becoming a global manufacturing powerhouse (the biggest hurdle is infrastructure), but they are near the top of the list. They will also cause our manufacturing companies to bleed like crazy in the event of a sectoral or general downturn, wasting capital that could be used more efficiently to improve competitiveness.

Equally important, to my mind, is the Left's opposition to privatization (or unrestricted private entry) in three main sectors: coal/gas/oil, banking and higher education. Coal shortages have a knock-on effect on many other sectors, including steel and power, and as you may know, insufficient domestic supplies are forcing even NTPC to import coal. Productivity is notoriously low, and the culprit here is clearly the three main public sector companies -- 95% of coal production in India is in public sector hands. The private sector has been allowed only to operate captive mines (such as those of the Tatas which escaped nationalization in the Indira Gandhi era, when most other collieries were nationalized). Captive miners are forced to use all their production onsite and are forbidden to sell their production in the market. This is a very inefficient system -- anyone who needs coal and doesnt want to be stuck trying to buy it from the PSUs is forced to become a captive miner!! Please note: There was an attempt in 2000 to allow unrestricted private entry in the coal sector; the Left opposed it. The problems with SOBs have been discussed extensively elsewhere; they interfere with optimal capital allocation in a dozen different ways. Our higher education system desperately needs reform if we are to continue to grow not only in areas like IT and pharma, but even in order to produce more doctors, managers, teachers, competent public policy specialists -- and well-trained journalists. ;)

If the Left were to support free private entry into the coal, gas, oil and electricity sectors WITHOUT mandating price fixing(which deters exploration and capacity expansion), were to agree that (barring SBI, which could remain a conduit for investments of the sort private banks might not wish to make, so that the government still has recourse to a potent policy instrument in this area) the nationalized banks should be privatized in a transparent fashion, were to support labor laws similar to those in the U.S. and U.K., and were to support delicensing of education and free entry of foreign players not just in professional courses but also in fields like political science, history, etc, then I would have no problem with their constructive participation in the democratic process. Rural investment, microcredit schemes, etc, could then become the main focus of their constructive contribution. At the moment, however, they are in the way of necessary reforms -- I'm not saying they are the only culpable party -- sections of the BJP and the Congress are also anti-reform. But the Left is the biggest obstacle at present. And yes, the electorate may vote reformers out of office -- but that is a price wise statesmen should be prepared to pay for following the policies they perceive to be correct. The BJP did so -- and the likes of Arun Shourie clearly have a lot more credibility on reform and privatization as a result of their prior actions (even if there were some flaws and imperfections in their approach) than the likes of Prakash Karat. So there's no wonder that strong resentment of the Left is building among the pro-reform middle classes.

Karan Vaswani said...

And if these reforms don't happen soon, we will derail the growth momentum which has only just begun to build -- so irresponsible delay is, frankly, criminal -- and deserves to arouse resentment, anger and condemnation from the middle class and the English press. We all know that if this government was not reliant on parliamentary support from the Left, it would by now have implemented at least half the reforms listed above.

Anand said...

I feel that your comments are too general for me. Here's a specific question that we can discuss maybe.

What are your views on organized retail?

I have written about some of my views/issues in this entry.

Many of them are parallel to your concerns.

Karan Vaswani said...

Well Anand, as I've stated, my main concerns are:
1. Labor Laws. (To make manufacturing competitive.)
2. Energy. (To make manufacturing competitive.)
3. Banking. (To make the financial sector competitive.)
4. Higher Education. (To produce more human capital.)
5. Infrastructure: This is one area where I'm reasonably satisfied -- with the progress being made on the airports, urban metros, ports, etc.

I am fully in favor of organized retail, mainly for the effects it will have on the supply chain. Organized retailers will force improvements in the long-haul road system, ensure that wait-times at state borders (which are absurdly long) are minimized, reduce wastage due to spoilage in transit, and, by eliminating middlemen, raise the prices given to farmers. This is in addition to assisting farmers with the actual growing, collection and warehousing. In the long run they will not only improve our freight system, but also force the consolidation of agriculture into larger agribusiness holdings with economies of scale and capital reserves (which will in turn be able to finance better irrigation, use more sophisticated machinery, have deep enough pockets not to be excessively hit by bad monsoons or tighter credit, etc) releasing a great many surplus subsistence laborers (currently subject to disguised unemployment and underemployment)for manufacturing -- but, of course, this will only be beneficial if we enact the other reforms. :) Otherwise manufacturing growth will continue to disappoint (it should be presently growing at 20-25% a year, considering our relatively low base, not 10%), and all those surplus agricultural laborers will be unemployed, fuelling unrest. And the Left will be at least partly to blame.

Karan Vaswani said...

On transport infrastructure, I'd say we started about 10-15 years after China, but our execution appears to be faster and more capital-efficient. For example, Shanghai Metro began operation in 1993, and now, 14 years later, has a network of about 145 km. Delhi Metro, on the other hand, began operation in 2002 (a decade later), but already has 65 km of track, and is scheduled to add a whopping 121 km extra by 2010. In other words, we will be doing more in 8 years than the Chinese did in 14. It's the same story with the PPP airport upgrades and greenfield airports in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad, all of which will complete their first phase next year. Mumbai has had a late start because of political wrangling, but phase 1 of the airport upgrade there should be done by 2010, and phase 1 of the metro will hopefully be done by 2011.

Port upgrades and greenfield ports are also proceeding apace, including minor ports like Mundra and Pipavav. So I have very few complaints on this score.

Vinod_Sharma said...

Multipolar world and anti imperialist stance....the Left has been left behind in the old world. Their view of the India of tommorrow is pathetic and is actually likely to drive India backwards. Are they blind to what Chinese communnists have done to and for their country? Do read my posts at

clash said...

The Indian media simply misses the point!!