Indian Presidents are Political

It has become a thing of fancy to say that the President of India is apolitical. But that is plain wrong.

Most people who say apolitical actually mean non-partisan, not knowing the difference.

An apolitical person is one who doesn’t hold any public office, while a non-partisan person is one who doesn’t belong to (or isn’t loyal to) any particular political party or parties.

Every office created or authorized by the constitution is political.

Also, you shouldn’t fall for the “holy book” fallacy. God didn’t write the constitution; God didn’t say “There shall be a President of India” in Article 52.

It was a set of fallible humans, and it’s a fundamental right — nay, duty — of every new generation to question them.

Here’s Why Paying Tax to GoI Doesn’t Quite Make Your Money White

What is black money? Money hidden from the government in order to avoid tax.

If you’ve been following any of the debates about black money in India, you probably haven’t paid attention to the fact that by government, everyone means the Government of India here. They’re not referring to State Governments because, as required by the Constitution of India, they aren’t really governments. They’re more like municipalities.

Anyway, the word black notwithstanding, we can call black money bad only if we can prove that paying tax to the government – central, that is – is good.

It’s not any easy proof, I’m afraid. In fact, when you pay tax to the Government of India your money doesn’t exactly become white; it arguably becomes black. I’ll explain.

There are well-known diversity-agnostic reasons why paying tax to the Government of India is not necessarily good. For example, the said government often enriches itself using tax money; it uses the money in a highly inefficient manner; it uses it to do things which aren’t necessarily in the public interest; and so on and so forth.

But making diversity-agnostic arguments don’t suffice for India. We must take diversity and its mishandling also into account. When we do that, the idea that tax paid to the Government of India is good becomes even more difficult to support.

The Government of India as an institution has a distinct Aryan or North Indian hue to it, complete with upper-caste control and official-language status to a language which is foreign to most of India.

It’s not exactly a scientific fact that it’s good for a Kannadiga or a Malayali or a Tamil to pay tax to such a government. It’s only as good as, if not worse than, paying tax to the Government of, say, Bhutan or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. For South Indians the last one is, arguably, geographically and culturally closer than North India.

It’s clearly better for Kannadigas, etc., to pay tax to their own State Governments instead of to New Delhi or Colombo. India’s State Governments are the people’s “own” governments in the same way as the Government of France is “own” for the French, the Government of Germany is “own” for the Germans, and so on and so forth.

Consequently, although nobody cares to notice, money which India’s State Governments haven’t had the opportunity to tax is blacker than money which the Government of India hasn’t had the opportunity to tax.

In fact, most of the tax collected by the Government of India is tax revenue lost by the State Governments for no good reason, and that actually makes your white money black.

Who is responsible for making it black? Not you, because you’ve done your part by paying tax, what if to the wrong entity as required by law. The credit for making your white money black goes to the Constitution of India.

Demonetization? Yes, Prime Minister

Demonetization is taking too much time and the news about it a little too serious, so I decided to have a little fun. If you’ve ever seen Yes Minister / Yes Prime Minister, you’ll enjoy this much more than if you haven’t.

L to R: Sir Humphrey Appleby, Prime Minister Jim Hacker, Sec. Bernard Woolley

Prime Minister Jim Hacker: “Humphrey, I have an idea.”

Sir Humphrey Appleby, whispering: “Not again!”

Prime Minister: “Did you say something, Humphrey?”

Humphrey: “Not a word, Mr. Prime Minister! I’m all ears.”

Prime Minister: “Last night, when I was in the loo, I got an idea with which to destroy all our political opponents: Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Mamata Bannerjee, and what’s his name?”

Humphrey: “Arvind Kejriwal, Mr. Prime Minister”

Prime Minister: “Yes, him. Can you close the door, Bernard?”

Bernard: “Westminster is a safe place for Prime Ministers, Mr. Prime Minister.”

Prime Minister: “What was I saying, Humphrey?”

Humphrey: “You were in the loo last night, Mr. Prime Minister.”

Prime Minister: “Ah yes. Did you miss the point about destroying our political opponents?”

Humphrey: “No, Mr. Prime Minister, In fact, I….”

Prime Minister: “Okay, okay, let’s get to the crux of the matter. We pull the carpet under their feet so that we’re the only ones with carpets under us. Do you get the point, Humphrey?”

Humphrey: “I do, Mr. Prime Minister. You want to demonetize 500 and 1000 rupee notes.”

Prime Minister: “Did you peep into my scratchpad when I was in the loo, Humphrey?”

Humphrey: “No, Mr. Prime Minister! I respect individual liberty and I consider it a serious transgression to peep into scratchpads in loos.”

Prime Minister: “No no, I meant… never mind… what do you think of the idea?”

Humphrey: “It’s brilliant except for one small glitch, Mr. Prime Minister.”

Prime Minister: “No, I’m absolutely certain we’ll pull the carpet under every one of those rascals and you know we’ll cover our own arses in time for the grand announcement, don’t you?”

Humphrey: “That’s very thoughtful of you for a change, Mr. Prime Minister, but you’ve forgotten someone.”

Prime Minister: “I insist I haven’t, Humphrey!”

Humphrey: “With respect, I insist you have, Mr. Prime Minister!”

Prime Minister: “Okay, are you going to tell me who?”

Humphrey: “The people, Mr. Prime Minister.”

*Curtains and closing musical score*

Bernard: “I’m afraid there are a few of them.”

Modi’s New 500 and 2000 Rupee Notes Solve the Smaller Problem Temporarily

By smaller problem, I mean the problem of operational corruption. In case you don’t understand this terminology from my book, it’s the corruption in the operations: black money, hidden money, whatever you want to call it. Essentially, it’s shady financial activity which governments acknowledge as illegal.

Realize that Modi’s new notes provide only temporary relief from operational corruption. Although the new notes are stone-gray and magenta, there are experts who can turn them into black. It’s just a matter of time before fake-note printing presses and tax evaders catch up. In other words, the new 500 and 2000 rupee notes will eventually be abused in the same way as the old notes.

But forget operational corruption; efficient administrators like Modi can handle it from time to time.

I want to talk about the bigger problem which nobody wants to talk about: primitive corruption. This is the corruption built into the system. It’s the abuse of public power for private gain that happens even when there is no black money, no hidden money, no illegal financial activity whatsoever.

One example of this is the idea that a government sitting in New Delhi, made up of people 95 out of 100 of whom don’t speak our language (Kannada) can legally take away our money by taxing us, write laws for us, and so on and so forth.

Why is this corruption? Well, refer to the definition of corruption and open your eyes and see India’s diversity.

Corruption is defined as abuse of public power for private gain. While most people think of individuals when they hear this, I like to use this definition to talk about groups.

One specific group walks away with private gain by abusing the government of India’s power: Upper-caste Hindi speaking North Indians.

This group controls the government of India and most of the nation’s commerce after having rendered every other group powerless at a time when nobody was looking: during this nation’s inception. It has the audacity to reduce every Indian language other than Hindi to worse than footnotes on banknotes – an audacity which has been amplified in the new notes released by RBI yesterday.

If this group has its way, India’s diversity will be wiped out with the same efficiency with which the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes were wiped off in a nation with 1.3 billion people. Overnight. They have the legal sanction to do this.

The Modis of India can’t solve this, the bigger problem. They don’t want to. It’s the solution they are aiming at by removing stumbling blocks such as black money.

Abolish Govt. Control over All Talaq and All Nikaah

Why should marriage or divorce come under government control? I know, this is not the current topic all over the news, but it’s as good a time as any to talk about it.

Governments might want to get into people’s bedrooms, pants and quarrels to do the right thing, but it’s not exactly required.

I marry or unmarry whoever I want and whenever I want. Who is the government to tell me how or when to do it?

I know what you’re thinking. I create trouble for my spouse and she wants justice.

Still, why should the government – in this case one in which the 65 million people around me have literally no say – provide that justice? What’s wrong if local panchayats decide? Indeed, what’s wrong if she and her parents or whoever actually kill me for my crimes?

I know, you’ll say this is anarchy. But I ask you – do you really prefer law and order over self rule? Have you thought about it? Worked out all the pros and cons?

Who said one sixth of humanity needs one law to prosper? Most human prosperity in the world, I’d argue, happened when there were no obese governments like the Government of India. We wrote the Vedas, composed Ramayana and Mahabharata, developed great languages, created great forms of music, art and sculpture, and what not.

I have to go.

You haven’t heard of Gram Swaraj, have you?

No issues. Go back to your TV, facebook or twitter. You’re all set. Just remember to vote next time.

A Short Note on the 2 Types of Yoga

There are two types of Yoga – political and spiritual. The second form is not taught in India today; only the first. You have a better chance of spotting the second abroad.

How do you recognize Political Yoga? It’s quite simple, actually. Listen to the teacher or his attendants. They drift from talking about asanas and pranayama to talking about “us”. And then come “they”. We are superior, they are inferior. And then, of course, they begin to talk about Bharat, i.e., India, right in the Yoga class.

The moment you hear that word, you know it’s political. Bharat, i.e., India, is not a body part or the name of an asana. Nor is it mentioned in Patanjali’s Yoga sutras.

Of course, what I’m saying here applies to spiritual discourse of all types, in general. Heads of Mathas can’t see the lakshmana rekhe when they cross it and begin talking about politics.

Understand The Forces

The army is paid to kill. It kills for the payers. That’s its job.

Stop talking about “demoralizing” it with debate. If it gets demoralized as some think, fire those who are demoralized and hire anew. They must learn to keep emotion aside and do what they’re paid to do.

Stop talking about standing with the army or the forces, too. They must stand by what the people decide after debate. Debate can’t be wished away or even hurried through in a democracy.

The Supreme Court’s Supreme Wisdom in the Kaveri Matter, Explained

The combined population of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is 142 million poeple, but of course, a handful of us know better. We have passed a judgment in our supreme knowledge and authority, and you better behave.

Many states share a river in this world. Dissatisfaction about water sharing is common everywhere. But the issue is almost completely handled by the states in question without a third party poking its nose into the matter.

But India, as Gandhi would have liked to say, is…

A state “like none other in the world”

So we’ve very much got the Third Party. It’s called the Govt. of India and it wants to completely decide the matter. In fact, it would like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to stop having any say.

In fact, the Third Party is not convinced that the people of these two states (or any state for that matter) can behave appropriately. In the interest of world peace, and in order to hasten the process of making thy kingdom come, the Third Party can’t let the barbaric races of the world make decisions.

No wonder, therefore, that the judicial wing of this Third Party, a.k.a. the Supreme Court of India, whose pronouncements continue to be echoes of the colonial whip, had the following to say about the ongoing Kaveri river water protests:

“Behave”

We expect the inhabitants of both states, TN and Karnataka, shall behave and the executives of both states are under the constitutional obligation to see that law and order prevails.

The combined population of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is 142 million poeple, but of course, a handful of us know better. We have passed a judgment in our supreme knowledge and authority, and you better behave.

We know your water. In fact, it’s not your water. We can’t trust behaviorless people with water, so it’s ours.

We have plenty of proof that you aren’t very good at behaving. We’ve been observing it from several millennia. How can you be when you don’t even?

So leave everything to us and learn to behave. We’ll teach you how to do that. In fact, that’s our burden. Only we, with our with superior blood, we who follow the only true religion, know how to behave. So learn from us, or else.

And you two – the executives of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka – make sure what we, the Third Party, have ruled, is implemented without any events. If required, get your police (with their toys) to scare all those behaviorless people away, or just give us a call. We’ll be there with our army which, of course, is something for people with behavior.

Hey, who’s that standing in the corner?

Did you see him? I saw him. He’s called Uncle Sam (the Queen’s grandson), and he wants to apply the same logic for river-water sharing between India and Pakistan. He has ample proof that India and Pakistan are much more ill-behaved. And of course, behavior is his middle name. Uncle Behavior Sam.

8 Reasons Why It’s Clumsy for Kannadigas to Chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’

1. It’s Hindi. We can no longer afford to accept Hindi imposition. Hindi must go from public places in Karnataka yesterday.

2. It’s political. Some people will pretend it’s not, but it is. We can no longer afford to be tutored by others on what political slogans to shout and which EVM (electronic voting machine) button to press. This docility is killing us.

3. The Kannadized version of Bharat, i.e., Bharata, doesn’t go well with pure Kannada words denoting mother. Thus, while Kannada Taayi is euphonic and nobody questions whether it’s good Kannada, Bharata Taayi sounds alien; it’s also difficult to utter because of the mahaprana in Bha and the unfortunate repetition of ta at the junction of the two words. Nobody says Bharata Taayi. You can’t mix Bharata with other pure Kannada words for mother, either. Bharatamma or Bharatavva are both unacceptable. Nobody says that. On the other hand, Kannadamma and Kannadavva are perfect Kannada words. Note that Maataa is Sanskrit, as is Bharata, and the two words obviously go well together. But when we say Bharata Maataa, it’s not really Kannada. It’s an imported term which cannot be easily translated into Kannada using pure Kannada words. In other words, thinking of Bharat Maataa as our mother requires us to import the words in which to think so, taking the whole process quite far away from our hearts.

4. Even if the Hindi slogan is translated to Kannada as (say) Bhaarata Maatege Jayavagali, it does not come with a universally accepted meaning clarifying the chanter’s stance on his language, its speakers, and their historical abode. The chanter could actually be wishing Bharat Maate well at the cost of Kannada, Kannadigas, and Karnataka. The fact that the sentence is Kannada doesn’t provide the missing clarity.

5. If chant a slogan we must, we Kannadigas have Sirigannadam Gelge Sirigannadam Baalge. By chanting this we unequivocally wish ourselves, our people, and our language well. Doing this and letting other linguistic peoples do the same must be our way of ensuring India’s victory.

6. Although our great poet Kuvempu called Karnataka Maate the daughter of Bharata Maate, the former existed long before the latter, and there are good reasons to call the former the latter’s mother. Thus we the children of Karnataka Maate are like Bharata Maate’s siblings. Both we and she must sing praise of our common mother, Karnataka Maate.

7. Some people want us to ‘think accommodatively’ and sing priase of both Bharata Maate and Kannada Taayi. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that Bharata Maate is our sibling. In fact, those who worship this sibling have very little respect for Taayi. They call mother unofficial and claim to have the right to cut her into pieces. They’re not even done celebrating the dissection of Telugu Taayi.

8. Even above Kannada Taayi sits Shakti, the abode of cosmic energy, that Goddess from whom everything emerges. When we feel really spiritual about where we live, we must chant Shakti‘s praise, not anyone else’s. This is done very beautifully in the Anthem of Mysore, Kayou Sri Gowri, sung even to this day with the greatest feeling of bhakti, thereby connecting the singer and the listener alike directly to divinity. No intermediaries, thank you.

Here’s Why SC Shouldn’t Have Invoked Vedas, etc., in Sabarimala Case

I’ve already argued that the Indian state should stay away from this matter, and also addressed question as to whether this is discrimination and how it should be fixed if true. So I won’t go into that. Let me instead make a few quick points to show that the Court is ill-advised.

Today, I was surprised to note that the Indian state’s trespassing into society is not only unnecessary but also very, very, ill-advised. The Supreme Court apparently asserted today that:

  1. There should be “no discrimination” (against women) at Sabarimala because there’s no discrimination in the Vedas and Upanishads, and that this “discrimination” has “cropped up historically”, and that
  2. Since Krishna “is everywhere in everyone, men and women”, “there should be [no] gender discrimination in the premises of the temple”.

I’ve already argued that the Indian state should stay away from this matter, and also addressed the question as to whether this is discrimination and how it should be fixed if true. So I won’t go into that. Let me instead make a few quick points to show that the above assertions of the Court are ill-advised:

  1. It’s not statesmanlike to bring up the Vedas, Upanishads, the idea of Krishna, in this matter because even if they did permit the alleged discrimination, India cannot behave as if it’s not a sovereign state. It can’t take lessons on law from those who can interpret the Vedas, etc. It brief is to stick to the constitution and interpret it all by itself.
  2. It’s irrelevant to bring the Vedas, etc., in the matter of Sabarimala in particular because it is very likely the modern form of a Buddhist shrine. The Buddhists couldn’t care less about them even if the Indian state were to surrender its sovereignty to them. (From #1 above, I don’t have to add that it’s not stately to invoke the Buddha either.)
  3. It’s erroneous to single out social practices and say only they are “historical”. Even the Vedas, etc., are historical. S N Balagangadhara has made it crystal clear that the Vedas, etc., cannot be taken as the holy books of a “religion” called Hinduism. In fact, he shows how India has no religion (note the singular) but only traditions (note the plural). Given this, it’s a mistake to think that the Vedas, etc., apply to every single Sabarimala temple in every nook and corner of India.