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The politics of the absurd!

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Everybody in the opposition is upset and their despair is palpable,’….such a mission should normally be announced to the nation and to the world by the relevant scientific authorities like the DRDO….this announcement comes in the midst of an election……!’ Lucky they didn’t ask for proof! Some are going ballistic talking about ‘capabilities’. The usage of the word,’capability’, comes with an either-or proposition. To affirm our capability to strike a satellite in low earth orbit, we certainly needed proof a posteriori.

On the contrary, to affirm it ‘a priori’ harping on ‘capability’ without ever conducting any test is utterly frivolous. Chidambaram, as is his won’t to be outrageously naive on the scale of reason, invokes the solemn code of secrecy to advance an ‘a priori’ argument! In today’s age, the secret about any strategic ballistic defence armament is dead on its arrival! And its seduction, as a deterrent, lies in its revelation and not in concealment! It seems, the PM understood this dynamics of deterrent better than anybody else. One also hears some experts opine that China never officially makes any such declaration. Well, China is a wall; Mr. Xi Ping is only entitled to write in the wall that he has officially become the ‘President for life’!

This reminds us of Edmund Burke who had famously commented, ‘their despair….arises not only from defect of comprehension, but, I fear, from some malignity of disposition!’ Now, who took the decision to go ahead with the A-SAT programme? And, whose decision was it that India required A-SAT? Besides, who would have been blamed if the ‘decision’ had failed? Well, this is emblematic of Burke’s first ‘defect’!

Secondly, by the same token of their ‘logic’ or the lack of it, the rambunctious declaration of ‘NYAY’ should have been made by an economist (of the stature of Milton Friedman, and no less) or a relevant economic institution (Raghuram Rajan is clamouring for an institutional status, he is the only Desi among umpteen economists and historians who predicted 2008 sub-prime crisis)! This amply demonstrates Burke’s second ‘defect’!

And the truth of the matter is that the declaration by PM has been made ex post facto, whereas, ‘NYAY’ is just a lofty promise! Woe to this model code of conduct which so impiously rejects the service of reason; it’s all fine for a drivel generator for his irresponsible drivel of absurdly outlandish doles. Well, a compulsive drivel has to speak louder than his noetic remit. It is not clear though from his boastful rhetoric that he has taken recourse to any pledge of honour to do away with his party’s famous ‘Maximum Income Guarantee’ scheme to benefit his legislators, partymen, cohorts, relatives et al.

We need delve into the promises implicit in ‘NYAY’ in some detail. ‘NYAY’ is quite different from Friedman’s ‘Negative Income Tax’ or the much touted theme of ‘Universal Basic Income’. Frankly, in the loftiness of its promise, and the swaggering confidence of its predictions, it far outdoes all the boasting conceivable from any available empirical evidence. And, there is nil evidence. The arrogance of its pretensions, in a manner provokes, and challenges us to an enquiry into its foundation. Well, it’s theoretical roots are unknown; literature on voluminous economic surveys is not a substitute for scholarly rigour.

When an earnest reader intends to submit ‘NYAY’ to the grind and rigour of some economic ‘apparatus criticus’, he only finds that the apparatus is hardly doing any scholarly justice, it is only popping up some familiar names. It has no bearings on any sound economic theory, IT IS ALL ABOUT CHARITY. What a drift, what a passage of NYAY…an out-rightly corrupt dispensation espousing the virtues of charity! Given that corruption is the only virtue his filial and political sires have bequeathed, this sudden change of heart, this benevolence is suspect.

It is impossible to corral the ever disputatious band of economists on issues of economic parameters save, perhaps, the figure of Direct Tax Collection, no disputes there! With Direct Tax Collection brought about by this government to more than 6% (all time high) of gdp now, it is time for charity! And the percentage of dole is roughly what you get after deducting the highest % of DTC ever achieved in 55 years. But then, how do you propose to finance the welfare schemes already in place and the dole together? You can’t do both, given the size of the kitty. You’ll have to rob Peter to pay Tom!

Promising/giving alms to needy/poor is plain charity! The idea of a democratic government becoming philanthropic is unfathomable, philanthropy as an economic activity is in the private domain. Governments have no ‘utility functions’, private individuals have. It is indisputable that any charitable activity is a public good from which the donors derive utility knowing that less fortunate people are better off through their charity (in some cases and involving a large no of people, the government intervention is sought to avoid the free rider problem). In the whole narrative of ‘NYAY’, one can easily discern the macabre attempts by its proponents appropriating prematurely their utility functions,’Votes’! The very demeanour on display during the NYAY press conference reminds one of Andreoni’s ‘the warm glow’!

The best argument against our democracy today, to spoil a famous quote of Churchill, is the blabber of waivals and charities! Dewey would be shocked beyond his grave looking at our democracy – that it is still beholden to the mid-wifery of inherited incumbency of a frater and a suror!

It is the outcome of a tryst with dynasty made by a political absurd. In the language of Albert Camus, a political absurd in a democracy can be best described as an aberration that comes to face to face in his search for political power in the universe of a cold electorate: he stands face to face with the irrational. The absurd is born of this confrontation between his need for power and the silence of the world. Well, his life, his despair for power is veritably absurd! And his dynastic inheritances are the experiences that further evoke notions and emotions of absurdity. Such realisations or encounters with the absurd leaves the individual with a set of choices: It begins with Political suicide which offers him the most basic ‘way out’ of absurdity; it implicitly declares that the ‘opposition is too much’. It then follows by a Leap of faith. To take a ‘leap of faith’, he must act with the ‘virtue of the absurd’.

In its invocation he is unencumbered by any other values or virtues. This is the case of proverbial Sisyphean toil. And he resorts to plain lying and swearing. It is manifest in the act of lying perpetually only to watch it bounce back and then having to lie again. The final choice lies in ‘Acceptance’ as the only remaining defensible action!

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