Vantage point

Saturday, May 31, 2003


I think 'Walk the Talk' is going to become my favourite interview show. Shekhar Gupta has the brains of a Vir SAanghvi, plus he has that ability to make a guest open up. Yesterday's epsiode featured Narayan Murthy of Infosys. Great to watch!

Murthy too talked about how shackled our system is. He recounted an incident where the board of directors of IIM Ahmedabad, which consists of people like him, Banga(HLL) and Naik (L&T) were asked by an Under Secretary of the HRD Ministry to explain why they wrote off a maruti, whose book value was 8,000 rupees. That is symptomatic of what is wrong with our country. In fact Murthy hit the nail right on the head when he described this as a "colonial" mentality.

The ICS of the British days had one motive. To administer India while keeping its people enslaved. So the system they set up was too interfering, because even though most of them were brown, mentally they were white. After independence, ICS changed its name to IAS...but that is the only change that took place. The mentality remained the same, i e to control the masses. In that way, our independence was only political and not economical. This means that we are not quite free. Because like it or not, it is economic independence that really matters.

With stereotypes like Laloo, Mulayam and Rabri, we tend to put too much of the blame on politicians. The babudom gets away scot free even though it is as responsible for our stagnation. People should read 'Yes Minister' to understand the power that the bureaucrats wield.

We are a free country and this freedom should be real.

Other than the colonial mentality, another reason for our condition is the socialist way of thinking. It is based on what they call the "Axiom of Stupidity". I have coined this term after my debates with a fellow blogger. Each and every debate ended with him saying "See Gaurav, basically people are stupid". This is the axiom of stupidity, where a few people decide that except for them, everyone else is stupid and so require their 'skills' and 'planning' to help the country do better. Such an outlook is the result of living in a quasi-dictatorial state for too long.

First of all, how does anyone define stupidity? There is no clear metric for that. What happens in this system is that those who have the maximum muscle become the judges of stupidity. So when Thackeray has the 'remote control', Valentine's Day becomes stupid. When Mullah Omar is in charge, a guy not shaving becomes stupidity. When Zia is in charge, marrying without your parents' consent becomes stupidity. When Hitler has control, beng a jew, or being gay becomes stupidity. See how alarmingly flexible the definition becomes. The whole concept of a "benevolent dictatorship" is an eyewash. There is an antithetical phrase if I ever read one.

We are born free. We should have complete freedom to do what we want. The state should only be there to formulate some commonly acceptable rules. It should have no say over morality. It should not be able to dictate us unreasonably. I repeat, we are all born FREE. We are NOT born equal in terms of our skills and abilities. Some will always be better than others. You saw how the USSR collapsed ebcause it based itself on this false axiom of equality and stupidity.

If you combine the two, you have a line of thinking that goes "All people are born equally stupid." And you know how sick that sounds.
On every 15th August, rather than doze away the morning, we should wonder how free we really are. Our nation is free. But are we free from the state? Our struggle should be for freedom rather than for equality. It should be to encourage a free environment which will bring out the best of each person........rather than bring out the stupidity inside each person.