Yoga Day: a Comeback of the Divine Right of Kings

This government, like most monarchies in history, wants to get into people’s minds together with a dose of divinity. Once the common man falls for the scheme, he attaches divinity to the government itself. His mind cannot disentangle the two easily, even though the government is no more than India’s biggest corporation. Reason thus blinded, the poor fellow finds it nearly impossible to question those actions of the government which have a greater bearing on his own life. And that’s the whole idea.

Rabindranath Tagore, undoubtedly one of India’s greatest sons, defined a nation as an ‘organization of politics and commerce’. He contrasted it with society which he called the ‘spontaneous self-expression of man as a social being’.

This bifurcation takes some time to sink in. It may never happen to those who have been indoctrinated to worship the nation. But if and when it sinks in, it becomes a very good tool to understand the world in general and India in particular.

From this understanding, it becomes clear that Yoga is the product of a society, not a nation. Politics or commerce didn’t lead to Yoga. In fact, when it was first discovered (or invented, you choose), there was no pan-Indian politics or commerce. There was no Indian nation.

The Government of India, on the other hand, is not a social institution. It’s is a national institution, i.e., one of politics and commerce. It’s really the biggest business in the country, and it must behave as such.

While it would be idiotic to deny the greatness of Yoga, it would be equally idiotic to think of the Government of India as having anything to do with it.

Yoga Day, therefore, signifies the usurpation of society by politics and economics, i.e., the usurpation of society by nation.

All those text messages about the importance of Yoga, which the Government of India seems to have sent to every Indian with a mobile phone, all those ads, all that propaganda, were nothing but a vulgar display of the power of the Centre to infiltrate into society and take control.

Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Patanjali is no justification for Modi. However, because of the sheer power that the Government of India wields, many will end up thinking he is. That’s the desired result.

In other words, Yoga Day is designed to justify Mr. Modi and his government, their actions, and their right to rule India. It’s this century’s Indian avatar of the Divine Right of Kings.

This government, like most monarchies in history, wants to get into people’s minds together with a dose of divinity. Once the common man falls for the scheme, he attaches divinity to the government itself. His mind cannot disentangle the two easily, even though the government is no more than India’s biggest corporation.

Reason thus blinded, the poor fellow finds it nearly impossible to question those actions of the government which have a greater bearing on his own life. And that’s the whole idea.

Put differently, Yoga Day is an attempt by the Government of India to appear divine to the people of India by psychologically overpowering them, take away their liberty when they’re unguarded, and thereby win on the material plane. This psychological attack is at the very foundation of the party currently running the government.

It’s no secret that the BJP has forever tried to justify coming to and remaining in power using Hindu gods such as Rama. Having learnt that they’re too controversial, they’ve moved on to Yoga.

This time, together with the execution excellence of Modi’s team, the psychological overpowering is almost completely successful. The Divine Right of Kings, ladies and gentlemen, is back in currency. In a democracy.

Indian States Must Recognize the Ghost of Lord Wellesley

It is the overall organization of politics and commerce which the Wellesleys of India created that we call as the Government of India today. The spirit of the Subsidiary Alliance is so deeply entrenched into India’s political establishment that even to this day, the Government of India considers itself the higher-up who needs to intervene in order to maintain tranquility. The ‘kids’, i.e., State governments and political parties vying for power at the State level, for their part, have been brainwashed into believing that they need to appeal to this higher-up whenever any quarrel arises.

When children quarrel, it’s natural for the victimized child to report the incident to an higher-up and try and get justice. This is because he (or she) believes that the higher-up will look at the matter from a neutral standpoint, if not his or her own standpoint, and protect him (or her) from the other child using methods inaccessible to him (or her). This belief, of course, is acquired. Children are instructed to bring such matters to the notice of adults and refrain from trying to settle it themselves “beyond a point”.

Colonialism works exactly like this. British colonialists in India, who looked at Indian rulers as adults would children, declared it to be the duty assigned to them by Providence to maintain peace and calm by intervening as the greater power in the quarrels of the natives.

General Marquess Wellesley used this idea to justify the Subsidiary Alliance in 1804 [Ref 1]. Without British intervention ‘warfare, turbulence, and disorder’ would remain ‘irremediable’ according to him. Not only that, placing the kids at a high degree of ‘dependence on the British power’ was important in making sure that they didn’t form ‘a confederacy hazardous to the security of the British empire’.

This latter motivation is normally absent in the adult-child relationship. The adult who cares for the children wants peace and tranquility alright, but he or she also wants them to learn how to work and play in a group. That is, the ‘confederacy’ that the colonialist fears is exactly what a loving adult actually wishes to see in children. This is because the higher-up, in this case, has no intention to run an Empire.

The analogy remains valid, however, in the case where the intention does exist. If the adult doesn’t care much for the children but acts entirely in his or her own narrow self-interest, he or she would do exactly like the colonialist: keep the children from uniting, always ask them to come to him or her to settle disputes, and extract his or her pound of flesh for ‘keeping general tranquility’.

It is the overall organization of politics and commerce which the Wellesleys of India created that we call as the Government of India today.

The spirit of the Subsidiary Alliance is so deeply entrenched into India’s political establishment that even to this day, the Government of India considers itself the higher-up who needs to intervene in order to maintain tranquility. The ‘kids’, i.e., State governments and political parties vying for power at the State level, for their part, have been brainwashed into believing that they need to appeal to this higher-up whenever any quarrel arises.

In reality, the relationship between the States and the Centre is not constrained to be analogous to the child-adult relationship. It can potentially resemble an employer-employee relationship. That is, the States can potentially look at the Centre as a service-provider who is called, employed, and paid according to the quality of service, when and where the need arises.

For this to happen in reality, the States have to find a cure for the disease they contacted during British days: the Higher-Up Syndrome. That cure is not complicated. They just have to realize that they aren’t kids and there’s no higher-up to go to. The higher-up who does show up is not the loving adult we all went to as kids after quarreling, but the ghost of Lord Wellesley.

Reference:

  1. For further info and a quote from Wellesley’s dispatch to the Resident at Hyderabad on 4 Feb 1804, see Ch. 5 of The Pyramid of Corruption.

An Alternate Way To Run India’s Finances

Neither the own money nor the aid money of the States needs to be collected by the Centre. It can simply get out of this whole business of collecting and distributing money. Each State can collect all the money it needs from its own people, and we can call this as state money. In case there are States that send in any aid, it can simply be added to this and utilized with thanks.

The Government of India is under the impression that the States are fundamentally incapable of dealing with money. The idea has stuck that they can neither make money nor spend it in the right way. One can see this in the sermons the Centre gives the States on how to spend the money it gives them, both tied and untied. While it is true that the Centre collects the money in question, we must not forget that it actually comes from the people of the States. The Centre doesn’t have people of its own.

The funds that a State gets from the Centre is of two types. The first is money that originally went from the State to the Centre and returned, which we can call as the State’s own money. The second is money coming in from the wealthy states via the Centre, which we can call as aid money. Every State gets its own money back, although the wealthy States get only a fraction thereof. And then, of course, it’s only the poorer States which get any aid money.

As far as own money is concerned, it takes simple commonsense to conclude that the States can collect the necessary tax from the people directly instead of looping the Centre into the affair. This requires a reduction in the Centre’s powers, not any sort of ‘growing up’ or ‘evolution’ on the part of the States.

As far as aid money is concerned, the whole concept is based on the theory that it is good for everyone concerned. But it is important to note that this theory, right or wrong, assumes one society which the rich and the poor are part of. But this is not the case here. It is nonsensical to talk of, say, the Kannadigas and the Biharis being part of one society. They are part of one political unit, yes, but that doesn’t make them one society however much one might pretend they do.

In fact, Indian states can be called nations going by the universal understanding of the term. When a rich nation supports a poor one, it is not out of any compulsion by some sort of Central Government of the world, but out of its own self-interest. Even in the case of one State supporting another in India, there is no fundamental reason why the Centre should collect aid money and decide how to distribute it.

There are some who are concerned that if the Centre gets out of the loop, the wealthy states will no longer support the poorer ones. Opinion is divided on whether aid money to entire States is useful at all, but the worst way to address the concern is to use Central coercion. Although coercion can appear to be the ideal solution till the last moment, it can ultimately lead to the secession of the wealthy States, as has happened elsewhere in the world.

Nor is it true that if States stop giving or receiving aid money the idea of India simply dies. What dies is the thinking that aid money is central to the idea of India. It helps to note that this aid money didn’t feature in Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of India. He wanted Gram Swaraj or the independence or self-sufficiency of the village, which ruled it out.

Thus, neither the own money nor the aid money of the States needs to be collected by the Centre. It can simply get out of this whole business of collecting and distributing money. Each State can collect all the money it needs from its own people, and we can call this as state money. In case there are States that send in any aid, it can simply be added to this and utilized with thanks.

The Centre needs funds to do things the States don’t need to. As I see it, the Centre should hold only defence and external affairs portfolios and leave everything else to the States. The funds to run these portfolios, too, need not be collected by the Centre directly from the people. Over and above state money, the States can collect federal money  (money to run the Federation of India) and pass it on to the Centre.

[Photo credit: livemint.com]