Tag Archives: India

The Theory of Hurt Sentiments

“Hurt sentiments” are a strange thing. X decides he does not like what Y has written, or said, or done, and then goes to court about it. It’s not as if he was thrashed by Y; more like he thrashed himself and then held Y responsible for his own actions. The idea of libel/slander/defamation, and (nearly) all censorship is based on this ridiculous notion. The Americans are the only people in the world who, thanks to the first-rate minds behind the First Amendment, enjoy some measure of protection under law when it comes to censorship; even they are not immune from persecution for libel. The rest of humanity is at the mercy of lunatics and barbarians.

The comment by a judge of the Delhi HC warning Google and Facebook that the judiciary would “go China” on them unless they get their act together is par for the course as far as India is concerned. Politicians and judges indulge in this behavior only because the majority of people in the country are in favor of such enforcement.

Mencken was right.

The tyranny of the elected

This is what Congress Party’s Manish Tiwari said today:

If this democracy faces its greatest peril from someone, it is from the tyranny of the unelected and the unelectable.

I wonder what is so sacrosanct about elections and the elected. The mob votes for someone who then goes on to represent it, which in a first-past-the-post system like ours means that a fellow can become a representative of the people even if he gets a mere 20-30% of the votes. And he then follows the diktats of the “high command,” or the politburo or whatever, not the wishes of those who elected him. Even if he did look out for his voters’ interests, what about those who didn’t vote for him? Why should they be bound by his actions?

Tiwari’s “democracy” is a kleptocratic oligarchy at best, and an ochlocracy at worst. Defending such a system is an act of lunacy. Not that Hazare’s or Ramdev’s ideas and actions are any better. The political theater in Delhi now borders on the absurd.

Annoyance

The Indian IT Act of 2000/2008 already prescribes punishment for causing “annoyance” via electronic means. According to new rules prescribed under the act, which is being seen as a “blogger control act,” now “intermediaries” are required to take “due diligence” and see to it that their users (bloggers/commenters etc) fall in line by warning them against publishing/storing/etc etc information which:

is harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, blasphemous, objectionable, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, libellous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable, disparaging, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise unlawful in any manner whatever;

or

causes annoyance or inconvenience or deceives or misleads the addressee about the origin of such messages or communicates any information which is grossly offensive or menacing in nature;

or

threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states, or or public order or causes incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence or prevents investigation of any offence or is insulting any other nation.

etc etc etc.

I would have been surprised had I been under the illusion that the constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights, or that we were a civilized country. Since none of the above is true and similar language can be found in nearly every act passed by the Indian parliament, the “rules,” the secretions of an authoritarian mind, are simply business as usual.

“Free the police”

This is what Swami said on Sunday-

[W]e must extricate the police from the control of politicians, and have a truly independent Police Commission, which will stand up to politicians as firmly as the Election Commission. Law and order is a state subject, so we will need police commissioners in every state, under a national police commissioner.

[…]

NC Saxena, who headed the 1962 National Police Commission , once wrote that the police had ceased to regard crime detection and criminal conviction as their key goals. This was because the agenda of home ministers in every state was very different. The top priority of home ministers was to use the police to harass political opponents. The second priority was to use the police and prosecutors to tone down or dismiss cases against their own parties and coalition members. The third priority was to provide VIP security. The very last priority was crime detection —that yielded no political dividends and so was paid the least attention.

Here again, only institutional change will produce better results. Japan has an independent police commissioner. Why not India too? Law and order is necessarily political and has to remain with home ministers. But crime detection should not be political….

A comment on the piece that I am in complete agreement with-

I do not agree with you at all, Mr. Aiyer. Its more like a schoolboy essay. Every thing looks so rosy on paper but on the ground its different. I do not trust police to be good. Not only they will have the batons but will require no permission to use them. And there will always be witch hunts. If we have magistrates who can sign arrest warrants for the president what about the ordinary man.

All coercive capabilities of the state must always be under civilian political control. The politician can be kicked out. What about the “independent” police commissioner and his subordinates? In an attempt to put corrupt politicians behind bars, we might end up causing innocent people even more trouble. It’s a cliché, but, who will watch the watchmen?

Earned, not demanded

Minister Anand Sharma behaving like a mobster in Canada-

India’s industry minister is lashing out at critics of his country’s readiness to host the Commonwealth Games, warning potential trade partners to treat the emerging economic powerhouse with “respect.”

[…]

Sharma reminded India’s trade partners there could be economic consequences for those who find fault with the games facilities. “It would be a mistake not to engage with India with respect, and when it comes to business, whose loss (would it) be?” said Sharma.