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Boycotting Republic Day? Why not?

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Over the past 3 weeks in India at large and in Delhi in particular, there have been many large protests to highlight the plight of women in India vis-a-vis the violence and rape perpetrated against them, The proximate cause of these protests was the gang rape in Delhi of a 23 year old women, who later succumbed to her extensive injuries. An in depth discussion of this rape is beyond the scope of this post which would focus on one small tangential aspect and the response of an academic thereof. Please consult Wikipedia for a reasonably extensive summary of the incident.

In the aftermath of the rape, a demand was raised in various corners to boycott India’s Republic Day, which is held on January 26 of every year.

The Republic Day holds a two fold significance for India:

  1. On January 26, 1930 the Indian National Congress, the main political group agitating for Indian independence from British colonial rule, meeting in Lahore (now in Pakistan), promulgated the declaration demanding Purna Swaraj or complete Independence from the UK. Following this January 26 was celebrated as Independence Day.[1]
  2. On 26 January 1950 the Constitution of India was adopted, declaring India to be a sovereign democratic republic. This date was chosen to commemorate the Purna Swaraj Declaration (see above).

The Republic Day Celebrations in Delhi mostly consist of a parade of the different regiments of Armed Forces and the paramilitary forces, trucks towing aircraft, missiles and howitzers, and tanks (not in this exact order), followed by tableaux exhibiting the culture of the different parts of India. The forces salute their commander-in-chief, namely the President. This is replicated in the capitals of the States with the Governor substituting for the President. While the day is meant to celebrate the adoption of the Constitution and refreshing one’s loyalty and fealty to it, it is mostly a celebration of the power of the State as manifested by the guns, rifles, tanks, howitzers, missiles and combat aircraft.

Given the significance of the date, there has been a backlash to the call for boycotting the Republic Day. Given that Kashmiri separatists and Maoist guerrillas have called for similar boycotts in the past, opponents of the boycott call have equated those advocating a boycott this year as ideological bed fellows of the separatists and guerrillas.


This argument is puerile. It is similar to saying that since ISCKON promotes vegetarianism and the Swaminarayan sect also promotes vegetarianism, their adherents are no different from Nazis. There can be many reasons for boycotting the Republic Day Celebrations. One reason may be to not identify with the Indian State and the Indian people. I will not go into the legitimacy or illegitimacy of this reason in this post. Another reason can be to not identify with the Indian State while still pledging one’s loyalty and fealty to the Constitution and one’s identity as a people. As explained above, the formal governmental celebrations are a celebration of the State and its lethal power. It is perfectly reasonable to reject the celebration of this power of the State which is powerless to prevent heinous crime. It is perfectly reasonable, instead, to swear an oath of loyalty to the preamble of the constitution

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC[2] and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, DO HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.


(emphasis mine)

As has been explained in numerous opeds to reduce rapes in India requires not just law and order reform, it requires a change in society, a change in thinking which gives women equal status as men, where little girls are treated the same as little boys, where every individual’s dignity is assured from birth and is honoured and protected by all.

Swearing an oath to uphold the constitution and its guarantees to all people is a more meaningful gesture (and if followed up a more meaningful action) compared to the routine genuflection to the might of the Indian State, a might which is powerless not just to prevent but to even account for the acts of violence and injustice its citizens (or, given the attitude of the State, its subjects).

However trust a historian[3] of Modern Political History to make a knee-jerk accusation that any boycott of the Republic Day celebrations is anti-national. No explanation of why the boycott is anti national or why the boycott strikes at the people rather than the State. One would expect him, being a professor and an intellectual, to engage with the substance of the argument and attempt to educate others, rather than make some inane pun. Such an attitude is not just a reflection on him but on his employer. I would not be surprised if Prof. Habib defends the principle of academic freedom. But the flip side of academic freedom is the duty to communicate ideas or facts, not evade questioning via clever wordplay. Not surprisingly I was subsequently blocked on twitter by the esteemed professor.[4]


Given that January 26,1950 was the day when the Constitution of India was adopted, the words of late Justice Hans Raj Khanna[5] are appropriate

If the Indian constitution is our heritage bequeathed to us by our founding fathers, no less are we, the people of India, the trustees and custodians of the values which pulsate within its provisions! A constitution is not a parchment of paper, it is a way of life and has to be lived up to. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty and in the final analysis, its only keepers are the people. Imbecility of men, history teaches us, always invites the impudence of power.[6]


(emphasis mine)

One, final point. There could, conceivably, be objections that a boycott of the Republic Day is tantamount to disrespecting the sacrifices the Armed Forces have made for India’s security. However such objectors would have to explain how celebrating one day, according to the diktats of the State, amounts to honouring the soldiers who have served and sacrificed much for the nation. One can honour them on other days also e.g. the Army Day (January 15), Navy Day (December 4), Air Force Day (October 8) and Coast Guard Day (October 8). Moreover if one truly wishes to honour the sacrifice and service of the Armed Forces let them truly help the veterans (most of whom come from lower economic classes of society) and the widows and orphaned children of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice by giving them the love and support (both emotional and financial) they are entitled to, not just on one day but over the long term. After all, this is the same State, which while insisting that the Republic Day is a celebration of the sacrifice of the brave soldiers also pays the widow of a decorated army major an insulting Rs 80 (not even US $2) per month in 2010.[7]

Footnotes


[1] This is similar to July 4 which is celebrated as Independence Day in the US but is actually the date when the US Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. The American War of Independence formally ceased under the Treaty of Paris while the last hostilities ceased in 1781 with the fall of Yorktown

[2] Initially the preamble did not include the words socialist and secular when the constitution was initially adopted. They were added to the preamble by the Forty-second Amendment. Interestingly this amendment was enacted during The Emergency when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended elections, civil liberties and bestowed on herself the power to rule by decree. Not surprisingly I oppose the inclusion of both words; secular because it is superfluous given the protections under Articles 25-28 and socialist because socialism led to the economic stagnation of India for 45 years after independence. Moreover the very same amendment also introduced, for the first time, Fundamental Duties on the part of every citizen. Trust a State which abrogates the fundamental rights (including habeas corpus) of its citizens to also demand fundamental duties of them.

[3] According to the Times of India, he is the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad chair at Delhi’s National University of Educational Planning and Administration. However at the university’s website he is not listed amongst the faculty. Probably because the website is not up to date.

[4] I had also been previously blocked by Kanchan Gupta. That is a story I may tell some other time.

[5] Notably Justice Khanna was one of the dissenting judges in Additional District Magistrate of Jabalpur v. Shiv Kant Shukla which shamefully upheld the government’s decision to suspend habeas corpus. His dissent stated

The Constitution and the laws of India do not permit life and liberty to be at the mercy of the absolute power of the Executive . . . . What is at stake is the rule of law. The question is whether the law speaking through the authority of the court shall be absolutely silenced and rendered mute… detention without trial is an anathema to all those who love personal liberty.

[6] Khanna, H. R., Making of India’s Constitution. Eastern Book Co, Lucknow, 1981. ISBN 978-81-7012-108-4

[7] “The petitioner before us in the present case is a widow Pushpa Vanti, whose husband was an army major who had fought in three wars (in 1948, 1962 and 1965) and was decorated with fourteen medals. However, the petitioner is getting only Rs.80/- per month as pension, in these days when a kilogram of arhar dal costs that amount.” Pushpa Vanti vs Union Of India & Ors. (2010).

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

January 4, 2013 at 05:31

How Government leads to Xenophobia aka Blame Canada!

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Given the strong Canadian dollar and the suppression of the price of milk in the US due to government subsidies, Canadians across the border from Bellingham, Wash., have been flooding across the border to buy milk by the truckful:

Many Canadians are taking advantage of the high Canadian dollar by shopping across the border — with cheap milk and gas being two of the big draws — but some Americans are fed up with the cross-border crowd.

Some Bellingham, Wa., residents started a Facebook page calling for American-only hours at the local Costco.

On the Facebook page “Bellingham Costco needs a special time just for Americans,” residents write that they have seen flats of milk stripped away in seconds.

Some write that they have to wait in long lines at the Costco gas station as Canadians fill up first their cars, and then their gas cans.


The Facebook page states:

To our Canadian friends on here that think we hate you: You have to look at the root of the problem. Bellingham has laws that keep big box companys from expanding. The overcowding in this small slow paced town has agitated people. … So, the surface problem is overcrowding and the root problem is expansion. Basically, how would you feel if 10 extra people landed in your house out of your control and government officials wont let you do anything about it. You would be grumpy at those 10 people that you have no choice but to deal with. Are those 10 people to blame, no they are not.


So:

  1. Governmental subsidies keep the price of US milk artificially low.
  2. Government regulations keep businesses from expanding.


Solution?

  • Let’s discriminate against Canadians!! Who cares about the tripling of sales tax revenue due to the massive influx of Canadians?
“In the last two years, our sales tax generation has doubled or tripled the pace in the rest of the state, and its almost entirely because of the Canadians coming south,” [Ken Oplinger, president of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce] said.[1]


And finally to the person who setup the Facebook page: Those 10 extra people are NOT in your house, they are in Costco. And as far as I know, Costco is NOT your private property. Too many people forget what private property is all about.. But atleast you don’t blame the Canadians; that should count for something.


Take it away South Park:


Footnotes


[1] Facebook page calls for American-only hours at U.S. Costco

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

August 17, 2012 at 12:02

Grauniad and Nick Cohen, Your Bias is Showing

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Nick Cohen of The Observer has a column up on the prosecution of Simon Walsh for the possession of extreme pornography. A quote:

Charges of possessing extreme pornography are enough to destroy any man. When the Crown Prosecution Service added the allegation that the pornography included an image of child abuse, Simon Walsh’s disgrace seemed complete. He was a barrister, a City of London alderman, a magistrate and one of Boris Johnson’s appointees on the London Fire Authority. The mention of paedophile porn, and gay porn at that, sent these venerable institutions running.

I know it is hopeless to seek to dent Boris Johnson’s self-portrait of a carefree British patriot in this moment of Olympic euphoria, but it’s all an act. In the 1930s, a journalist confronted Brendan Bracken, Churchill’s bumptious sidekick, and bellowed: “You’re phoney! Everything about you is phoney! Even your hair that looks like a wig – isn’t!” Bracken had a mop of red hair to match Johnson’s mop of blond. If Johnson were a true, plain-speaking patriot, he would have stood by Britain’s best principle that a citizen is innocent until proven guilty. But he is a phoney, and his officials fired Walsh without a second’s thought.


Given that Cohen has taken, the requisite Guardian mandated, potshots at a Tory politician, what he chooses not to mention in his column is illuminating:

  1. The law under which Walsh was prosecuted, the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, §63 was passed by a Labour controlled Parliament.
  2. The law was heavily promoted by then Labour MP Martin Salter
“No-one is stopping people doing weird stuff to each other but they would be strongly advised not to put it on the internet. At the end of the day it is all too easy for this stuff to trigger an unbalanced mind. These snuff movies and other stuff are seriously disturbing. Many police officers who have to view it as part of their job have to undergo psychological counselling. [The Act] simply plugs a hole in the law because the Obscene Publications Act is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard as far as the internet is concerned. This new law is designed to meet the challenge of the internet.”[1]

“I am absolutely thrilled this law has been passed. But most of all I am delighted for Liz. If we can reduce some peoples’ temptation to watch violent images, including rape and mutilation, then that is a good thing. It is also important we protect the women who are in these videos.”[2]


But of course, no mention of Labour or any Labour MP anywhere in the article.


Footnotes


[1] ‘Extreme’ porn proposals spark row

[2] Justice for Jane as bill becomes law

An Economic Case Against Immigration? Durka Dur

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Came across this article in @TRISH00L’s twitter feed

The author, Jaideep Prabhu (who also tweets as @orsoraggiante lays out an economic case against immigration to India of unskilled labour in response to an article by Nitin Pai in the Business Standard

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Former UNHCR Official to Economic Migrants: Screw You!

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Shashi Tharoor was, at one time, a staff member of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and he also headed the UNHCR office in Singapore from 1981 to 1984. Given his background one can assume that he has an intimate knowledge of why people become refugees. That makes his comments on migration for economic reasons even sadder.

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Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

August 1, 2012 at 03:59

Q. What is the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything? A. Capital Punishment

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  1. Randevouzz
    @ShashiTharoor according to me best Law = Saudi Arabia law. Behead the Killers and Rapists. Clean the country from filthy blood..best LAW..
    Sun, Jul 01 2012 17:26:59
  2. PolvolterDnkymn
    @Randevouzz And what if the executed person turns out to be innocent? Can we execute you then? @ShashiTharoor
    Sun, Jul 01 2012 17:27:37
  3. Randevouzz
    @PolvolterDnkymn Your question suites your ID name. Understand my Comment then use keyboard wisely dude. @ShashiTharoor..
    Mon, Jul 02 2012 13:59:26

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FPTP is just as bad!

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  1. PolvolterDnkymn
    @sabhlok All the ills described in the linked article happen in India which uses First Past The Post

Sanjeev Sabhlok excerpts from an article in The Australian by Janet Albrechtsen[1] on why proportional representation (PR) is bad (for Australia). He uses this article as to why India should not adopt PR for elections. I counter that all the evils of PR as propounded by the article happen in India too which uses the first past the post (FPTP) voting system

Albrechtsen’s salient points are:

  1. PR ensures extremist (I read as non-major)[2] parties get representation
  2. No centrist party gets a majority and thus has to enter coalition government with the smaller extremist parties
  3. Thus these smaller extremist parties hold the balance of power
  4. Policies not desirable to the greater centre have to be adopted so as to placate the extremist party.
  5. Under PR, voters cannot know, when they vote, what the future governing coalition will look like
  6. It takes months of horse-trading and backroom deals to form a new government

Refutation of Sanjeev Sabhlok’s contention

Each of these above scenarios occur in India too which uses the FPTP system

Table 1. Tally of Seats won by INC and BJP 1989-2009
Lok Sabha[3] INC BJP Total/% of seats
Ninth (1989)[4] 195 89 Not calculated[5]
Tenth (1991) 252 121 373/68
Eleventh (1996) 140 163 303/56
Twelfth (1998) 142 183 325/60
Thirteenth (1999) 118 189 307/56
Fourteenth (2004) 159 147 306/56
Fifteenth (2009) 210 117 327/60


  1. Non-major centrist parties get elected to the Indian Parliament.
    • The major parties in India closest to the “centre” are the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The last time the INC ever had a majority in the lower house of the Indian Parliament was in 1984.[6] The BJP has never achieved a majority on its own (it was formed in 1980)
    • Thus even with FPTP 40-45% of the seats go to the non-major parties
  2. Thus the smaller parties hold the balance of power
    • In 1999 the governing coalition was brought down by a minor partner[7]
    • But it is not the smaller parties only which are guilty. In 1991 and 1997, the INC which was supporting the coalition from outside withdrew support resulting in elections
  3. Smaller parties in India have also forced the government to adopt policies at variance with the major party.
    • The Indian government’s policy to allow foreign direct investment in the retail sector was derailed by the TrinaMool Congress (TMC) which has 20 (4%) of seats in the Lok Sabha and is a member of the current governing coalition.
    • The Indian government barely survived a confidence motion in the Lok Sabha after the Left Front[8] having 60 (11%) seats withdrew support over the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement[9]
  4. It is laughable to say that under PR voters cannot know, at the time of voting, what the future governing coalition will look like. Such phenomenon occur in FPTP too.
    • In the UK general elections in 2010 no party had a majority resulting in a coalition between the Tories and the Lib Dems. At the time a tory voter or a lib-dem voter voted, s/he had no idea that there would be a future governing coalition (let alone what it would look like).[10]
      • Voters who voted for the Lib Dems, after the party pledged not to raise tuition fees, wouldn’t have known that the Lib Dems would vote for a tuition fee increase when in government as a coalition with the Tories.
      • Voters who voted for the Tories, believing its manifesto promise to be tougher on Europe, wouldn’t have known that the Tory PM Cameron would make a U-turn on his campaign promise to support a campaign by the European Parliament to reduce its monthly “travelling circus” to Strasbourg.
    • In India, due to the emergence of non-major parties on to the national scene, parties usually contest elections as part of larger coalitions, which one may think gives the voter an indication of what the future governing coalition would look like. However such coalitions are extraordinarily fluid and regularly lose and gain members.
      • The United Progressive Alliance (of which INC is the major member and which is now in power) has regularly lost members.
      • The National Democratic Alliance (of which BJP is the major member and which is now in opposition) has also regularly lost members.
      • In fact most of the smaller parties keep switching between the two major parties. Thus even in an FPTP system voters cannot know, when they vote, what the future governing coalition will look like.
  5. The last objection to PR is that it leads to months of horse-trading and backroom deals to form a new government. Such horse trading and backroom deals are nothing new in India.
    • Aaya Ram Gaya Ram politics in India have been going on for decades.
    • Horse trading in Uttar Pradesh has a long and (un)distinguished history.
    • In 1993 certain MPs of a small party were given “donations” of money to vote for the government and against a no-confidence motion (which the government survived).[11]

Thus given the above evidence I believe, unlike Sanjeev, that India does not need to be wary of proportional representation because any “ills” it has are already manifested in India with its FPTP system. Sanjeev’s position therefore stands refuted.

A Theoretical and Philosophical argument againt Albrechtsen

Turning to a more theoretical and philosophical discussion regarding PR and FPTP, I wonder why Albrechtsen is hostile to small parties. Is it because as a supporter of one of the major Australian parties (the Liberals) she is does not like the feeling of having to negotiate and compromise with other duly elected representatives? It seems to me that the article is arguing that the centre should be allowed to ignore the non-central opinions, that the 60-70% of the electorate has the power to ignore the remaining 30-40% which does not agree with them.

Turning to the issue of smaller parties preventing the adoption of good policies by the centrist parties, what is preventing the centrist parties to come together in support of the good policy and freezing out the smaller parties. e.g. in a 11 seat legislature let’s assume A has 5 seats, B has 4, and C and D have 1 each, with C and D being the non-centrist parties and A being in a coalition with C. If A is pushing a policy opposed by C with C threatening to leave the coalition why doesn’t A solicit support from B? If it is a reasonably centrist (and thus desirable according to Albrechtsen[12]) policy then I don’t see why B and A cannot negotiate some sort of acceptable compromise legislation. It is a failure of the major parties to come together to pass centrist policies and this failure is being disguised, by the likes of Albrechtsen, as the unreasonableness of the smaller parties.[13]

As for smaller parties forcing through undesirable policies, who is letting them? The major parties should be blamed for kowtowing to the smaller parties in their lust for power. If the policy is undesirable to the major party what is stopping it from telling the smaller party to take hike? The fear that it will lose a no-confidence motion? So is staying in power more important to the major party than opposition to bad policy? And instead of blaming the major parties Albrechtsen is blaming the small parties?

Australian Context

One point that should be made is that Albrechtsen wrote this piece in the Australian context. In Australia the upper house is elected by a PR system incorporating a single transferable vote with an “above the line” system. In this system a voter instead of individually ranking each candidate, ranks slates of candidates (each slate comprising of all the party candidates). Since the parties are in possession of these preferences they can then trade them with each other. While such trading agreements are published in advance, they are complicated enough such that it is difficult for the average voter to easily determine the fate of his or her preferences. In such a context parties get enormous power on how to direct the individual voter’s vote. Thus it makes the parties powerful and also it abrogates the link between the elected official and the voters and weakens accountability. I agree with Albrechtsen and Sanjeev that such a system which gives so much power to parties is bad for democracy.[14]

Personally I prefer the Instant Runoff Voting System. This allows voters to show their support for smaller parties without the risk of a major party losing because of a divided vote. Given that the Freedom Team of India (FTI) is a fringe party I am surprised Sanjeev[15] would not be in favour of a system which will allow people to vote for FTI without fears of a wasted vote.[16]

A Note on Language

The last important point I want to note is the language used by Albrechtsen. She uses the word “extremist” and “fringe” to denote the non-major parties. This a point worth noting. By labeling the non-major parties as extremist and fringe Albrechtsen is attempting to confine them to beyond the pale. However what is left unexplained is on what basis should the major parties be respected? Because they are supported by a majority of the public? The smaller parties are to be ignored because they are not supported by the majority? That logic is no different from one justifying the tyranny of the majority; so why constrain[17] the power of a government duly elected by a majority? But is being extremist wrong? In a polity dominated by major parties which do not believe in free trade[18] a position supporting free trade is by definition extremist. In a world where mainstream policy favours protectionism support for free trade is extremist. In a polity where the major parties do not believe in personal liberty[19] a position believing in personal liberty and autonomy is by definition extremist.

Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.[20]

A corollary to the above is the combination of Australia’s compulsory voting system with Albrechtsen’s view that fringe parties are not worthy of representation. It is akin to forcing people to go to the voting booth and then making them choose between alternatives which are both repulsive (one may be slightly less so than the other): “You must buy a car and it could be any colour you want as long as it’s vomit green or feces brown.”

By Albrechtsen’s (and by extension Sanjeev’s) logic parties such as Lok Satta and FTI that are fringe (and extremist given the pro-statist ideologies of both the INC and the BJP) do not deserve legislative representation.[21]

And the very last point. Majority government does not magically provide good policy and governance. A majority government is just as likely as a coalition to promulgate bad policy. It even finds it easier to ride rough-shod over individual freedom and liberty because there is no party in the legislature to challenge it. The only good government is a small government (whether minority or majority), constrained by a constitution with enough space for economic freedom and personal liberty to unleash the power of the free markets and free minds — the surest engine of human growth and progress.

Footnotes


[1] The Australian is the newspaper of the conservative establishment in Australia. Albrechtsen is a columnist for it. It is no surprise that the article is a paean to the establishment.

[2] This is a major point which I will come to later. As of now I will restrict myself to pointing out that the label of “extremism” is used to delegitimise the smaller parties.

[3] As of now its strength is 545 members

[4] The second largest party in that election was the Janata Dal which thereafter split repeatedly

[5] Because the INC and BJP were not the two largest parties

[6] 426 seats; The BJP had 2 seats.

[7] The minor partner was the AIADMK which had 18 MPs in a house of 545 (3%). It withdrew its support to the governing coalition because certain demands were not met e.g. dismissal of the then Tamil Nadu government run by AIADMK’s arch rival DMK

[8] A conglomeration of communist parties

[9] The said agreement is a most complicated agreement and on which I am not an expert. However it goes to original anti-PR point that small parties have a disproportionate influence on policy. My point has been that such disproportionate influence exists in FPTP too.

[10] One may object to this argument on the basis that it is not an apt analogy because in PR voters know that there would be a coalition, they only don’t know what it would look like and that this was not the case in the UK, since the voters expected their party to win (not the lib-dems surely?). However final polls before the start of voting show that no major party was close to getting a majority of the seats, thus raising the spectre of coalition.

[11] See also It’s official; political bribery is tax-free. Ask the taxman,

[12] Coalitions comprising of fringe parties produce “lower-quality policy and politics”. Supra note 1

[13] The issue of FDI on retail in India is the example of such failure by the major parties. As has been detailed above the TMC held the governing coalition hostage. The BJP could have supported the governing coalition as it had supported the policy when in power. Of course needless to say it dropped such a policy when in opposition.

[14] One rationale for why above the line voting was adopted is that since Australia enforces compulsory voting it behoves the administration to make voting as easy as possible. However above the line voting is an attempt to mitigate the impact of a bad policy viz. compulsory voting (based on the same rationale as conscription) by another bad policy such that the net result is even worse.

[15] He is a member and supporter of the FTI. His writings on FTI.

[16] Some may object that IRV denies the “one person one vote principle” but I disagree. While it may seem that the voters whose first preference candidate loses get to vote a second time for another candidate, nobody is preventing any voter from ranking any number of candidates. If a voter declines to choose any candidate apart from his/her first preference, it is no different from an eligible voter abstaining from an election in an FPTP system.

[17] Courtesy Sanjeev Sabhlok.

[18] Only 25 members of the US House of Representatives in the 108th Congress voted consistently in favour of free trade Free Trade, Free Markets: Rating the 108th Congress

[19] The House of Commons passed, by large majorities, the Health Act 2006 which banned smoking in pubs. A private member’s bill to exempt pubs from the 2006 ban was defeated in 2010

[20] This is a paraphrase. The actual quote is “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!

[21] I have purposefully referred to Sanjeev’s writings on the two major parties of India given that his endorsement of the Albrechtsen’s viewpoint would lead to their entrenchment in the Indian polity.

Why does the Government have to do all this?

with 3 comments

  1. venkatananth
    @shashitharoor Can you please help P Kunhimohammad and Joseph Abraham make it to Colombo for the Olympic qualifier? Rs. 30k for travel.
  2. I gather that the above tweets refer to the news story below:
  3. My question is (as asked in the headline): why should it be the government’s responsibility (and thus in its power) to send Indian athletes to the Olympic Games? And why do Indians believe that MPs should spend their time in such one-off highly targeted initiatives which, as far as I can see, do not have any tangible long lasting effect. MPs are elected to Parliament as representatives of the people to hold government to account when it fails to improve the general welfare of the people it is supposed to serve. Sending an athlete to an Olympic qualifier does not qualify as improving the general welfare of the people. 

    The frustrating thing about this is that people believe that the government is there to solve all problems. An athlete can’t get to a qualifier? Petition the government. Autorickshaws charging exorbitant rates? Petition the government for more regulation (subject of a later post). Animals dying of heat stroke in India? Petition the government to open animal shelters.

    The cost of sending P Kunhumohammed to the qualifiers in Colombo, Sri Lanka? Rs. 30,000. Not such a huge sum even by Indian (upper middle class) standards that 50 to 100 people cannot come together to contribute. The linked Indiatimes article had > 300 comments (last I checked). If each of them contributes Rs. 100 the required sum will be raised.

    This is a problem which does not require government intervention to solve. So why do people still think that the government should be involved? Maybe because 50 years of socialist rule, where the government did everything, where the sarkar is the mai-baap, civil society has atrophied to such an extent that people cannot conceive of solutions which do not require any government involvement. 

    And this is the biggest hurdle in India’s progress and growth, in the growth of India as a free-market liberal nation.

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

July 5, 2012 at 22:30

A Staggering Sense of Entitlement

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Context: July 1 is the birthday of Kalpana Chawla, one of the members of the ill-fated STS-107 mission using the space shuttle Columbia. She was an Indian-American astronaut. Born in India, she went to the US for graduate studies following which she joined NASA. She died in the Columbia disaster of 2003. On July 1, there was an eruption in the Indian twitterverse of tweets praising her and tweets asking celebs to RT tweets praising her. And if a celeb for some reason was a little late in responding to such tweets, they were challenged as to why they didn’t respond in time (according to the challenger). It is as if one is entitled to get a response to one’s tweets immediately. The following is a conversation with one such entitled person.

  1. AviBsharma
    @ShashiTharoor Today is the birthday of Late Kalpana Chawla, our very own Indian Astronaut #KalpanaChawla
  2. Nearly three and a half hours passed by with no response from @shashitharoor. But then again he, like most other people, has a life. But could someone tell that to @avibsharma?
  3. AviBsharma
    @ShashiTharoor Cricket is important sir but not wishing Late Kalpana Chawla on her birthday? Many tweeple sent you tweets but no response!
  4. PolvolterDnkymn
    @AviBsharma Wow. Is @shashitharoor your monkey that he must do whatever you ask of him? The entitlement culture is staggering
  5. AviBsharma
    @PolvolterDnkymn @shashitharoor He is not my monkey but i expected him to do this at least as a mark of respect for a national hero/star!
  6. PolvolterDnkymn
    @AviBsharma “Expect”? Again is he your monkey? Why this entitlement? Why are you not bugging 1000s of people to remember B C Roy’s birthday?
  7. AviBsharma
    @PolvolterDnkymn Isn’t that my choice? I did retweet tweets related to him and doctors day as well. Yeah, I’m guilty!
  8. If only other people were given that choice by @avibsharma
  9. PolvolterDnkymn
    @AviBsharma So it is your choice to tweet/RT but if some celeb doesn’t RT what you want them too, you start guilting them? Hypocrisy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

July 2, 2012 at 13:56

Posted in Flame Wars

Tagged with ,

Why Do People Spew Their Opinions on Twitter If They Do Not Like Being Challenged?

with one comment

It all started with @nickgillespie

  1. nickgillespie
    RT @HBO: Don’t miss tonight’s new Real Time with @billmaher with guests Kirk Douglas @Mruff221 @nickgillespie @maddow Mort Zuckerman

    Fri, Jun 22 2012 14:46:28
  2. Atleast I think it was this tweet. Twitter either did not retain the threading information or maybe @gbtru initiated a new thread instead of replying.
  3. GBTRU
    @nickgillespie are you a republican or democrat?

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 00:04:50
  4. GBTRU
    @PolvolterDnkymn ahhh the smell of a free nation.

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 12:16:52
  5. GBTRU
    @PolvolterDnkymn Your welcome!! Enjoy your weekend. Check my twitter feed for one of your republican reps, and his actions. You’ll enjoy!

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 13:28:47
  6. Now that I was invited to check @gbtru’s twitter feed I proceeded to do so

    The first tweet to get my attention was:

  7. blakehounshell
    RT @markknoller: Obama gets thunderous cheers & applause as he slams Romney for outsourcing jobs in China & India.

    Fri, Jun 22 2012 13:46:24
  8. This was an RT by @gbtru
  9. I responded:
  10. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU David Duke gets thunderous cheers & appluase as he slams rest of America for outsourcing jobs to blacks and jews

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 13:36:36
  11. For more context:
  12. There was another interesting tweet:
  13. GBTRU
    @DailyCaller The Bush admin started the program, like rendition, and Obama admin ended it. #remeberPatTillman #executiveprivilege

    Fri, Jun 22 2012 05:09:50
  14. This was in response to Republicans in the House taking the Obama Administration to task over Fast and Furious
  15. GBTRU
    #fastandfurious what about the billions unaccounted for from Iraq from the first contractors.

    Fri, Jun 22 2012 23:14:47
  16. Since @gbtru raised the issue of the “War on Terror” such as rendition, I of course brought up the Obama administration’s stellar prosecution of said war
  17. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU How about classifying all military aged males in AfPak as enemy combatants?

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 13:38:54
  18. Some context:
  19. Now the fun started:
  20. GBTRU
    @PolvolterDnkymn your either a troll or a coward behind some aggregate website.

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 13:53:49
  21. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU Where do you get the “aggregate website” from? And troll? Just for disagreeing with you? How the word has been debased :(

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 13:55:39
  22. GBTRU
    @PolvolterDnkymn Well looking at your page, you mass tweets but no followers, or following. Kinda transparent. #moveonkindlycoward

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 13:58:18
  23. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU So I need to follow a large # of people and be followed by a large # of people?

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 14:00:15
  24. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU By that logic @barackobama is a troll compared to @ladygaga

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 14:02:06
  25. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU I do note that you are unable to attack me on the merits. And I am a troll?

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 14:03:33
  26. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU So what is wrong with Indian and Chinese doing work that used to be done in the US? Do they not deserve jobs?

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 14:04:17
  27. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU How is denying due process to Gitmo detainees different from classifying all military aged males in AfPak as enemy combatants?

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 14:06:10
  28. Meanwhile there were some slytweets too:
  29. GBTRU
    When debating Politics and policy you get cowards who hide behind fake accounts. #twitterproblems

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 13:59:46
  30. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU Ever heard of Publius and the Federalist Papers?

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 14:06:31
  31. GBTRU
    @PolvolterDnkymn You seem versed, use your real account coward!! Then we can chat.

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 14:11:41
  32. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU Why do you need to know who I am? How does that affect the logic of my arguments?

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 14:12:31
  33. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU Explain to a #coward the difference between denying due process to Gitmo detainess & declaring all military aged males as the enemy.

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 14:23:30
  34. Was not really sure what the point of this digression was. The linked article was an odious comparison of Jerry Sandusky with Obama (stating that Obama’s executive decision to stop deportation of illegal immigrants who were brought over as children by their parents, subject to age and some other conditions was an abuse of such children for electoral benefits equivalent to Sandusky’s rape of children). As a believe in the Four Freedoms: Freedom of movement of (1) People (2) Goods (3) Capital and (4) Services, I responded
  35. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU I agree with you that the comparison of Obama with Sandusky is odious. My take on immigration: Open Borders (only stop criminals)

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 14:55:18
  36. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU May I bother you for an explanation? Dunce because I agree with you?

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 15:03:08
  37. GBTRU
    @PolvolterDnkymn move on, dont you have someone else to fuck with? LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!!

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 15:06:47
  38. PolvolterDnkymn
    @GBTRU You seem to think I am fucking with you, but I am only asked you a few questions. I am only replying to your replies to me.

    Sat, Jun 23 2012 15:08:30

 

So dear readers why do people spew their opinions on twitter if they, like @gbtru, hate being challenged?

 

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

June 29, 2012 at 03:14

Posted in Flame Wars, Storify

Tagged with