Blogs > HNN > AN EXCHANGE WITH RICK SHENKMAN ON INDIAN ELITE

Nov 24, 2006 4:31 pm


AN EXCHANGE WITH RICK SHENKMAN ON INDIAN ELITE



Rick suggested that I post our exchange on the Indian elite posted bellow. I am glad to oblige:

Rick wrote:

Most of the time I find myself in agreement with you—or at least find your comments stimulating. But this statement:

“Indians also like to watch their country being put down”

is strangely anti-democratic to my ears.

Criticism is the food on which democracy feeds.

Watch the Daily Show on Comedy Central. It’s a put down a minute of America. And it’s the healthiest democratic forum on television.

I answered:

I agree with you that criticism is the life blood of democracy. But here it goes beyond specific criticism of a policy. It goes to a put down of the country as such. I have discussed it with people and they all agree.

Why does it upset me? Because what you hear and see every day is radical criticism of democracies and a complete lack of such criticism of tyrannies. Hence, the people end up believing they are better! This is the heart of the problem as far as I am concerned. China is selling itself on the same basis as fascist Italy used to - making the trains run on time. India knows it pays a democracy permium - 7-8% development vs. 10%. Why pay it if it's democratic system caused it to become a devil why China/Singapour are shining? I am not being facetious. It is the question which confronts me day in and day out watching BBC and CNN roast democracies while making excuses for tyrannies.

In a comparative program on India and China, the BBC reporter explained that kicking the farmer off their land is a policy but failed to mention that the fact that the farmers cannot sell their land and thus benefit. Instead, corrupt municipal official pocket the money. Instead, he made it seem like a tough but useful policy and even praised the openness of the Chinese for admitting that 87,000 uprising occurred last year. This is the kind of cover up that is possible because there is not an opposition party and the media is worried about keeping access in the country.

If we do not stand up for democratic freedoms, millions of people will be convinced that they are not worth having and, certainly, not worth fighting for. Indeed,"managed government" is a better system. To sum up, Fukuyama is wrong. History may have ended in the West but it is alive and kicking in the East and the east is rising. Sorry for long diatribe. It is just that I worry.




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