Ego, Ayodhya, pirates etc

Some people enjoy thinking about ways to spend other people’s money, the men who eat other people’s cabbages, as Ernest Benn described them. Mukesh Ambani spending his money on his house irks such people. Why didn’t he donate the money to charity? How dare he build a home worth a billion dollars plus in Mumbai when half the city dwellers live in slums? Etc etc etc. The most galling comment comes from Praful Bidwai, who said this in ’07: “Mr. Ambani is building an edifice to his own ego. It will not go down well with the public and there is a growing tide of anger about such absurd spending.” Mr. Bidwai, apparently, is a very humble person who isn’t full of it and therefore doesn’t comment on the affairs of others. As for those who are angry about such “absurd spending,” they can start venting their anger by kicking politicians out of their multi-million dollar taxpayer-financed properties in Delhi—why can’t presidents and prime ministers live in 1-bhk apartments when most Indians, who finance their expenses, don’t even have that kind of luxury—or they can go screw themselves. Ambani isn’t helping himself, though, when he makes statements like this: “We cannot have islands of prosperity surrounded by oceans of poverty.” Which is what his palace literally is.

Mukul Kesavan, writing in The Guardian

The supreme court is the likely place where this matter will be resolved. Indians who take the secular guarantees of the constitution seriously must hope it reverses the high court’s judgment. If the supreme court were to uphold the high court’s verdict, India will look the same the morning after, but the common sense of the republic will have shifted. It will begin to seem reasonable to Indians that those counted in the majority have a right to have their sensibilities respected, to have their beliefs deferred to by others. Invisibly, we shall have become some other country.

But isn’t that what democracy is all about? Majoritarianism? A constitution that does not protect individual rights, and hence does not respect individualism, has no business talking about secularism.

US tech companies such as Microsoft and Yahoo have been embarrassed in the past due to their actions in China, in terms of censorship and help provided to the Chinese government on the search and email front. Microsoft faced another problem when police states started raiding NGOs under the guise of combating software piracy, like in Russia. It has started making amends

[Microsoft] plans to provide free software licenses to more than 500,000 advocacy groups, independent media outlets and other nonprofit organizations in 12 countries with tightly controlled governments, including Russia and China.

[…]

Software piracy is widespread in the 12 countries covered by the new program, and Microsoft has long urged governments to curb it. But in Russia, officials used the intellectual property laws against dissenters.

The security services in Russia have confiscated computers from dozens of advocacy organizations in recent years under the guise of antipiracy inquiries. Some of these groups did have illegal software, and the authorities have said they are carrying out legitimate efforts to curtail software piracy. But they almost never investigate organizations allied with the government.

Microsoft had long rejected requests from human-rights groups that it refrain from taking part in such cases, saying it was merely complying with Russian law.

[…]

[The new policy] essentially bars the company’s lawyers from assisting the police in piracy inquiries against the groups.

Though that may not necessarily curb the crackdown on dissent: “[China-based experts] pointed out that if the security services wanted to hound or close advocacy groups, they had many other ways of doing so.” Exactly. Still, it’s better to forgo some revenue than have the blood of innocents on one’s conscience.

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Comments

  • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On October 18, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Just goes to show how biased the system is. The rich get richer, poor gets poorer thing. The red tapism doesn’t help either.

    Starting a business in india takes : 38 days
    http://www.doingbusiness.org/Data/ExploreEconomies/India/starting-a-business
    (provided you have the political clout and money power)

    India ranks 133 in this chart
    http://www.doingbusiness.org/Rankings
    Every single country in our periphery is better than india. I guess the only thing that works for us is our population. Some people want the money so bad that they are ready to go through all the ghuuss-khori to get a piece. But it doesn’t help the ordinary man at all.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On October 18, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      Empirical evidence that socialism breeds corruption. As for paying bribes, the practice may be illegal, but it is not immoral as long as one is doing it to get things done which would otherwise have happened at no cost. So, everyone ought to do it, if they can afford it, even the ordinary man. Raja Harishchandra, or Madhav Apte of Dombivli Fast are bad role models.

      • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On October 18, 2010 at 5:31 pm

        That idea made me remember a line i read somewhere on the internet.

        “Sometimes being adharmic in the short term is actually serving dharma in the long term and sometimes insisting on being dharmic in the short term implies serving adharma in the long run.”

        I don’t like the current system where only the rich and the powerful can cross the regulatory hurdles. He crosses the line to the other side and is sure that most cannot join him there. It works to his benefit because the regulations actually decrease the chances of competition. Either the bureaucrats are sleeping or they are getting fat cases delivered to their bedrooms to keep the system the way it is.

        • Aristotle The Geek  On October 18, 2010 at 9:59 pm

          # “Sometimes being adharmic in the short term…”
          Sounds like something from the Mahabharata, a justification for Krishna’s actions.

          # “I don’t like the current system where only the rich and the powerful can cross the regulatory hurdles.”
          It doesn’t work that way all the time. If you take people like the Ambanis, or Sunil Mittal, they were not born filthy rich. If the system behaved in a particular way and that prevented them from achieving their goals, they had no compunction in gaming such a system. That’s how they got to where they are. They changed their business methods when the markets became freer. Lobbying will always exist, and will keep all but the most tenacious of people down. That’s something that cannot be wished away. But there are limits to what influence can buy. Even that market has competition.

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