Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On the other side of reason!

I could not but resist my temptation to respond to Ms. Arundhati Roy's article: 

The link is attached to an extensive article filled with factual inaccuracies and comparisons between unrelated numbers.  


A formula done to death. Introduce the reader to the imagery of rich capitalists and their overflowing assets, and then contrast it with slum dwellers and debt ridden farmers and expect the self proclaimed altruistic and well meaning readers to find a causality in the two images as if to suggest, the rich capitalist stole it from the debt ridden farmers or the poor adivasis. 

The problems with such uninformed passionate writing, are the assumptions and factual inaccuracies that stem from a complete reliance on literary skills and creative imaginations that postulate solely for the purposes of jaundiced argument and explanation.

In reality there is hardly any causality between a rich capitalist and a debt ridden farmer, it would have been so if total wealth and everything of monetary value been finite. In India, the factors that explain a debt ridden farmer and burgeoning migration to the urban slums, are caused by the lack of formal market or capitalistic penetration and not by the abundance of it. 

The poor farmer is debt ridden not because the rich capitalist like in feudal setups have usurped all of their wealth but because the feudal informal market with lack of symmetric information devalues the farmers produce inefficiently from what is the going market rate and at the same time extends informal credit at rates beyond conventional banking conventions. As a matter of fact any true capitalist worth its salt benefits from citizenry with purchasing power as opposed to those without. 

The poor farmer is therefore never subjected to capitalist trickery as is argued by the author but in an informal cycle of inefficient wealth aggregation mechanism by feudal and informal forces. A very similar kind of argument is what vetoed the decision to liberalize retail, a sector that is responsible for the largest stream of inefficiency, wastage, leakages and exploitation of the farming community. 

Arundhati Roy's argument that Nilekani's technocratic obsession is misplaced as she rather sarcastically comments, "as though lack of information is what is causing world hunger", exemplifies the extent of her ignorance along with other such well meaning self proclaimed intellectuals in matters of economics, poverty and the very subject on which she writes. Lack of information is certainly what causes world hunger and however sweeping and absolute it may sound, lack of critical information skews market forces, gives rise to inefficiency and promotes leakages in welfare spending. And encourages incorrect diagnosis of some of the most debated and pressing challenges of civilized humanity, as validated by the majority of Roy's rants on everything she knows very little about. 

While some fiction fanatics might go gaga over such a creative rant, I cannot but dwell in the inaccuracies of her arguments, ignorance of facts and hypocrisy of conclusions. 

Among the many comments to her article I could not but ponder over one , "Self-proclaimed intellectuals like Arundhati operate as double parasites: they feed on the blood of the rich and live on the sores of the poor." Need I say more? 


nesvaruos said...

Mr Lahiri, all your writings are pretty matured and cohesive. Proud to have known you from such close quarters.

Keep them coming. One of the things that I have learnt with my life is that if you don't keep in touch with writing, writing won't keep in touch with you either.

So long!

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Anusia said...

Very well written. I must say its really thoughtful.