Thursday, August 16, 2012

Politically Incorrect: Comments on recent incidents

1) The BJP was given a chance to prove its governance credentials in the South when the people of Karnataka elected the party to power in 2008. While it could be argued that the 2008 win for BJP was a punishment to the JDS for reneging on the power-sharing deal, it was a great opportunity for the BJP to make its case in the entire South by means of proof by action, rather than via the standard rhetoric of proof by words. Four years into the BJP rule, we see that the BJP is not very different from the other national party -- the INC. Intrigues and factionalism, divisiveness and ineptitude, endless corruption -- you name it, BJP == INC. Latest in the exhibit list of inept behavior by the BJP is the exodus of Indians from the Northeast from Bangalore. On why this is ineptitude on the part of the State government and not the Central government, here is some civics 101: Law and order is a state subject with the administrative hierarchy going the way of Home Secretary --> Home Minister --> Chief Minister. May be the parties involved are busy soothing the egos of the Vokkaligas and Lingayats frayed in the succession battle of a few weeks back? Or may be everyone involved is counting the moneys tithed by the mining mafia?

2) That said, there are fears that the Indians from the Northeast will be divorced from "mainstream" India because of this one incident. Nothing could be farther from the truth and this one incident will have little say in the matters. The truth on the ground is that we "mainstream" Indians have a deep fear in accommodating people who do not look like us, who do not speak like us, who do not live like us, who do not [fill in the blank]. That fear is not patented by "mainstream" Indians, it is a classic sociological divide that comes naturally. Why, we even sub-divide ourselves and hunt down affinities to belong to, an entirely different story. Modulo all that, we really have a problem that we are unwilling to accede to and which the "mainstream" Indians are guilty of -- we have divorced our fellow Indians from the Northeast from us and us from them, because they look slightly differently from us, and that too only because of microscopic mitochondrial mutations. No amount of ostrich-like hiding under the bench will change facts on the ground. In that sense, this one incident will have no bearing on how people behave with each other and treat each other. "Mainstream" middle-class Indians in their vanity have essentially ignored much of India, why we hardly have a clue about rural India and what goes for educational facilities in rural India.

3) Let us look at this exodus of Indians from the Northeast from major "mainstream" Indian cities a bit more objectively. If it appears that the source of all this fear and paranoia is indeed provocative social media messages from the Islamist segment of India, this act will have indeed set forth a circle of reactive acts. In one swift act, the Muslims (from West Bengal, Bihar, Bangladesh, Assam and Manipur) will have created bucketloads of enemies at the drop of a hat. Manipuri Pangals have had a long history of co-existing with the Mizo, Naga and Hindu/Sanamahi Meitei affinities, but then as we saw in the blockades and counter-blockades of not-so-long-back, it is dried wood that needs no big sparks to set fire to. It is indeed the valiant who will blasely assume that only one party is the eternal victim and the other the eternal victimizer. Even a casual reading of history shows that both the Muslims and other "tribal" affinities have hit back and forth with violence and vengeance that is all so human. If there is a truce on the ground as witnessed by less of Muslim-tribal fistfights, it is because of a stalemate enforced by lack of demographic opportunities to see a battle to the finish. However, such a game at its supposed Nash equilibrium can change in the solution contours by a small change in the assumptions, such as more determination to seek vengeance. So, in short, the Muslims (if indeed they are the agent provocateurs) have by choice pitted themselves in a losing demographic battle in "mainstream" India and bucketloads of enemies with potentially more determination in the Northeast. If that is indeed a trajectory chosen by strategic foresights rather than by pure chance, such insights richly deserve the Darwin award!

4) Continuing on the path of continually questioning assumptions, here is one more. The recent Bangladeshi Muslim and Assamese Muslim vs. Bodo fistfight in Kokrajhar and elsewhere have really nothing to do with the "Muslim" factor. Even if Bangladesh were overwhelmingly Hindu, we would have had a similar problem, just less violent. To make such profound conclusions, one needs to fit some known theories to human behavior. In this direction, here is my (not-so-lame) attempt at using thermodynamic principles for violence and chaos.

First Law: The amount of violence in an essentially isolated society (dU) is given by T dS - P dV, where T is a measure of misgovernance in the territory, S is a measure of distinction between identities, P is a measure of the combativeness of peoples, and V is the amount of foraging space for the various contestants.

So you see, the only thing that will change is P (hopefully the level of combativeness between Hindu Bengalis and Bodos may not be as high as that between Muslim Bengalis/Bangladeshis and Bodos with an overwhelming religious slant).

In the same vein, here is an equivalent form of the Second Law (just to complete things): People continue to self-divide themselves into sub-identities. And if there is none, there will be a need to invent one.

I could come up with a Third Law that connects the God phenomenon with identities and sub-identities, and thus close the circle, but lets just say enough political bullshit for the day!

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