One-stop shop to make India 20 times richer

#2 discussion with Jayant Bhandari regarding the underlying causes of India’s misery

Please first read this blog post before reading this. I’ve decided that for ease of reading, it is better to post my comments on a separate blog post than as comments on the previous one.

Jayant responded here to the previous discussion. I’ve taken his comment and interwoven my further thoughts in blue here. I hope we will have a coming closer to one or the other position at the end of this discussion.


Yes, it is indeed true that I see absolutely no hope for India unless Indians change culturally. India is a society where honesty and integrity has virtually no value.

[Sanjeev: Jayant, I’m not sure whether any of your family members who still remain in India are fundamentally and culturally corrupt. As far as my own family is concerned (and I include my father’s side and mother’s side relatives – well into my cousins) the levels of personal integrity are overwhelmingly high. The first time our family came across anyone in the vicinity of our family being corrupt was when one of my uncles married a doctor in the late 1970s. That doctor’s brother openly said how he had bribed inspectors to set up his shop in Delhi. But that doctor’s brother was a young man who, I suspect, had already got badly influenced by the socialist incentives of India.  

But as far as the rest of the family is concerned, I’ve yet (even today) to come across any case in which our family members have have lacked integrity in their actions. To the contrary, the levels of integrity in our family – including on my wife’s side and my sister-in-law’s side – have been so high that the one lesson I have learnt from my interactions with them is that India’s society has the perhaps highest levels of integrity in the world (or rather, had, till Nehru started ripping India’s moral fabric apart with his socialist system.

I was reading a very detailed history of India sometime ago – can’t readily recall where – in which the British who came in the 1600s were astonished at the extraordinarily high levels of integrity and trustworthiness in the Indians. Indeed, without that they could not have managed to run a country of 300 million with a mere 300,000 of them. A good example of this was the ICS – members of which had the highest possible reputation for integrity. Even today, people hire personal servants in the assurance that the vast majority of them are ultra-honest.]

Indians have to find anchor of reason and morality before there is any hope.

[Sanjeev: I trust you are aware that ancient Indians founded virtually all schools of rationality – around 2500 years ago. Things like atheism which came to the West only in 1800 or so, have been a part and parcel of India’s eclectic thought since at least 2500 years. In DOF (download here) I have discussed this at length, in around 10 pages with extensive referencing.

Buddhism and Jainism are atheistic religions. Buddha’s sermon to the people of Kalama is a masterpiece of reason, 2500 years ago!

Yes, there is one crucial thing in which the West made a breakthough before India did – and that is in the discovery of the scientific method by Francis Bacon. But India has adopted to science like a duck takes to water. I agree it is odd to see Indian scientists who believe in weird religious symbols and idols, but as far as the actual science is concerned, they’re pretty close to being the best in the world – among those who have migrated to the USA, where such science is taught.

So, there is a very strong anchor of reason as well, in India. Indeed, it is found in me, as I speak. I come from that same culture which you find doesn’t support reason. My parents and wife are believers in mythologies, but are not at all fussed that I am not Hindu.]

Without Indians becoming rational, India will stay a tribal and superstitious society. It will fail to generate inner capabilities to differentiate between right and wrong, and will stay adrift by the forces of expediency.

In an irrational society even if you install a perfect institutional structure, it will get eaten away and destroyed from within exactly the way termites destroy a physical structure. As it stands today, Indian institutions that the British left now stand almost completely destroyed and eaten away by Indian culture. Only the facade is left.

[Sanjeev: Actually, it was not Indian culture that destroyed the seriously outdated institutions that the British left behind. Indeed, it was that culture that supported them – even today there are hundreds of thousands of ultra-honest people left inside the Indian bureaucracy despite all predictions from economics that would point to their becoming corrupt. Instead, it was Nehru’s socialist system that totally distorted incentives and destroyed the system from within. Do read BFN, particularly chapters 4 and 5. There are also extensive Online Notes which had to excise from the book since the publisher wanted me to cut down one third of the volume of the book.]

In an immoral society it is impossible to get a good person elected as a leader. An immoral society would not only fail to appreciate a leader it will also actively destroy good people.

[Sanjeev: Since we differ in our premises, we necessarily differ in our conclusions. I have explained in BFN that under today’s socialist system it is next to impossible for an honest person to get elected. Despite that there have been many cases of vast numbers of honest people getting elected. The students of Assam who formed the Asom Gana Parishad were one such group. I saw first hand at close quarters. They came come in impeccably honest. But I also saw them being eviscerated by the socialist incentives that are part of India’s governance system. Another example – AAP managed to get a lot of good people into government recently. But, of course, all of them will not only fail since they are socialists, but they will also get mired in corruption – soon enough.

A good example of the extraordinarily high levels of integrity can be seen in the initial leaders of India (Congress). My own uncle (from my wife’s side) from Assam was MP for many terms from the 50s to the 70s and chaired many PSUs. He lived next door to us in Guwahati. He lived and died in extraordinary penury – a humble Gandhian. The Chief Minister of Assam, Sarat Chandra Singh in the last 1970s, till Hiteswar the crook came in, was another such example.

Indian governments started very honest after independence but by the late 70s they were seeing the inevitable impact of Nehru’s socialist impositions. Incentives were getting extremely skewed; opportunities for corruption were increasing exponentially. What we see today – an immoral government system – is not due to India’s culture, but because the socialist model only allows the scum to exist. No wonder I left the system after 12 years – plus six years abroad; a total of 18 years.]

Do the above mean that I hold your political party in contempt? Not at all. I appreciate and hugely respect what you are doing. It is a courageous endeavour. Enlightening a society or people is the highest endeavour.

It is often difficult to differentiate between a social organization and a political organization. What is important to remember is that politics (which is about forcing top-down an institutional structure on a society) is by definition a violent, statist, and collectivist approach. From where India stands today—an extremely backward, poor and intellectually wretched place—I am not against trying all possible approaches to make Indians see reason and understand the concept of liberty.

We all use different tools and methods. Even rough tools might work right now.

Our institutions are indeed capable of improving. I did not say that they cannot be improved. But they can in my view only be improved from bottom-up.

Top-down “improvements” do not work. They are certainly no sustainable.

[Sanjeev: Top-down matters a lot. Top-down destructions by Nehru are the sole cause of India’s current state of affairs. These can only be undone by top-down reform that radically undoes the damage caused by Nehru and his godchildren.]

If India by some magic got a great Prime Minister tomorrow, Indians will revolt. No one will listen. In India, I cannot get five subordinates to do what I want them to do. How can you ever hope of changing 1.35 billion from top-down?

Indians need to start thinking. Critical thinking is conspicuous by its absence in India. To start off, the so-called educated Middle Class should become rational.

I am not disputing that you cannot plant reason in the society through what you might call a political party. But the concept of reason must be implanted somehow in India before there is any hope. That will be the re-start of cultural renaissance that was nipped in the bud with the passing away of Tagore.

Sanjeev… You and I no longer live in the mainstream society. We have got distanced from their psyche. I like to get my hands dirty once in a while and I keep reaching the same conclusion: that Indians fail to comprehend the concept of freedom and actively fight against it.

[Sanjeev: Yes, it is true that Indians fail to comprehend the concept of freedom. I wrote about this point in my recent TOI article. But they are in exactly the same position in this regard – having been in a feudal system for thousands of year – that the British were in around 1500 or 1600. The British, too, at that time did not comprehend freedom. That changed – not by magic change to "culture” – but because of the hard work of people like John Milton, John Lilburne and John Locke – and through the influence of the scientific work of Bacon and Newton. We have no escape from educating the society. But note that all three examples I gave – all the Johns – were political. That is because liberty is political. They politically fought for it. No amount of think tanks can make the slightest dent. Liberty – from the government – has to be fought on the streets.]

Because they lack reason they consistently fail to understand that freedom leads to a better and peaceful life. A respondent above says it perfectly, “Sanjeev has spent most of his time out of India now, and he mostly interacts with the best of Indians when he does, so I understand he does not get it how stupid and just plain arrogant Indians can be.” [T[Typos corrected]p>

Look at what is happening in UP. Couples are being brought out of their homes and taken to the police station by a goon-group called Yuv Vahini. This is repulsive behaviour. But ask the guy on the streets and he gives his approval. He needs to change his mind. He needs to understand that if he wants India to be a free society, he has to stop imposing his ways of life on other people. Now, the Indian constitution does not allow for any of this to happen but these things happen for institutions don’t matter, culture does.

As time has passed, I have increasingly become cynical about the possibility of the concept of reason taking hold in India.

[<[Sanjeev: I think reason is not so much the issue as freedom. Economic self-interest is driven by reason, and everything – including the behaviour of farmers who litter the streets of India with their barren cows – is 100 per cent predictable through the standard analysis of economics, which uses reason as its benchmark. The problem is that Indians just don’t know better – no one has ever told them. SBP’s message has also not yet reached more than a few hundred people. 

Here’s an interesting point regarding reason. Consider your own comment re: UK: "At the death of Princess Diana, whom I had always considered rather stupid, hundreds of thousands of people in England, a relatively sophisticated society, went into hysteria. These were exactly the same people who until a day before had lived for the next issue of the tabloids so they could practice voyeurism on the intimate details of Diana’s life".

We economists don’t really care whether people worship Diana or Kali. There is always an element of unreason even in the most free societies. That’s never of significant concern.

But note that the despite this mass hysteria, the UK remains largely free – due to the political battles waged for 300 years by its innumerable fighters for liberty. India has its own forms of unreason but the main issue is that no one has taught Indians freedom. Instead we went straight from feudalism into socialism, courtesy Nehru. He used political levers to impose socialism on us. We have to use political levers to fight for liberty.]p>

That does not mean that I will ever stop trying to make a difference. It merely means that I am no longer anxious when Indians keep doing more of exactly that has made India one of poorest and most wretched places in the world.

Let me address some of your specific points now:

a) East Germany was under the control of USSR. So, even with all its goodness it had not escape.  [Sanjeev: Jayant, do you realise that in saying so, you’ve merely transferred the issue to Russia! Are you saying that Russians are culturally evil? The fact is that Russia never saw any fighters for political liberty in its entire history. It remains a feudal society that’s was once captured by the communists and now by oligarchs. So the issue is lack of the ideology of liberty, not that Russians are somehow "immoral”.]p>b) North Korea again is caught up between two forces: China and the USA. Despite a population no more than that of Delhi, North Korea is still a formidable force. They have technology that major countries do not have. Linked here are my expanded views on the subject.

c) Singapore: Virtually all the top positions in Singapore are populated by westerners. Singapore has consistently struggled with trying to develop creativity in its society. They have so far had little success.

All the above three societies have deep rooted cultural element of group discipline. Group discipline can take the society either way. They can work towards progress or destroy themselves. [Sanjeev: China presumably had the same "group culture” under Mao? So what has changed? Only ideology – since 1979. So even if they did not get personal freedoms in 1979, they got relatively more economic freedom. Result was that the same people with the same culture are now 5-7 times richer in merely 35 years.

Singapore is even more stark. Its ideology changed in the 1960s – it is now the richest nation on earth and is projected to become nearly double the per capita of any other nation in the next 30 years.

I think culture is a very weak explanatory variable. It is very easily trumped – in every case – by ideology.]Now, India has zero group discipline—discipline does not exist in India culture, the reason why India is always a chaos.

[Sanjeev: On the other hand, India has more group discipline than most countries. Have you ever been to school in India (I have), and also seen how students behave in the West (I have)? India is actually a hierarchical and extraordinarily disciplined society. Yes Indians often behave badly in queues, but with demonetisation and international travel, they’ve probably now learnt even to stand in queues.]s culture pre-empts Indians from forming organizations. Indians fail to follow instructions.

[Sanjeev: It is true that many Indians fail to follow instructions, but that is not because they lack discipline but because they just don’t understand the instructions. Most have not been trained. But when you do train them properly, they become a formidable force.

The level of discipline in the Indian army and in the way India conducts its elections is legendary. I can attest to that. Message for the rest of the world: Don’t ever mess with the Indian army! And no other country can organise such mass-scale elections as Indians can. In the remotest parts of India. 

In any event, you’ve now shifted the goalpost to defending "group culture”! We started with "immoral” society, went into an "irrational” society. Let’s not create a new hypothesis now.]dia is a chaos, which means that it has no direction or capability to become either North Korea or East Germany—but this is for wrong reasons.

India had a hope of becoming Singapore or HK, but for that they should have begged the British to stay on, or bring a lot of Europeans to indirectly run the society as Singapore has done.

Also, you can suppress a society with a good culture (and there are some great things about Korean, Singaporean and German cultures), but you have no dough to play with in the bad culture of India. The concept of reason is simply absent.

d) About Indians who emigrated: These were the entrepreneurial ones. These were the smart ones. About 30 million Indians are believed to be living outside India. This is equivalent to 0.025% of Indian population. This is statistically insignificant to form any opinion from. (Note, however, that Indians outside India predominantly vote for the left, something I explored in details in the linked article. Once their vote starts having an influence, the society they emigrated to would rapidly start to mirror India). [Sanjeev: I think when you are talking about millions of people, you can clearly start seeing patterns. And yes, there is unambiguous evidence – from the millions of Indians who have migrated (not all of them entrepreneurial or professionals – many were coerced to migrate to Africa and Fiji and they are the richest in their nations, as well) – that there is nothing in Indian culture which is inconsistent with Western values. Instead, many Muslims face a stiff challenge in adjusting to the West – not Indians. And yes, most Indians in the USA are leftists – but that’s because they are a product of Nehru’s indoctrination, No one has ever taught them liberty.]when capitalism policies are adopted, India sees hugely increased benefits.

[Sanjeev: thanks – you at least agree to my main point. Thanks. Let’s just agree on this.]ans then rapidly fritter them away. Today, all over the country, parents are asking the government to get involved and interfere in running private schools. They cannot understand that if they really want the government to run schools they should send their kids to government schools. So we do improve institutions and then we regress all the way back.

[Sanjeev: I’d cite James Tooley who has researched the situation extensively on the ground. Around 40 per cent of the poorest parents are sending their children to low cost for-profit private English medium schools across India. It is only the socialist-trained upper middle class who demand more government intervention.]n fact, with what is happening in India currently—Cow-vigilantes and anti-Romeo squads—India might be taking two steps backward for everyone it took forward in the past.

[Sanjeev: Yes, I agree that political Hindutva is trying to take India to a new medieval age (the original medieval age in India was not this bad). The solution? A political fight for liberty. That fight is unavoidable if India has to succeed. Liberty never came in a platter.]ional changes are not sustainable unless Indians understand the concept to reason, and hence fundamentally change their culture.

Without the concept of reason, you cannot accumulate intellectual or financial capital.

I see no hope that Indians will vote for a classical liberal party. My guess is that you cannot even find a handful of good people to run for office. But that is no reason to feel bad. You add supreme value to the society by talking with them about liberty and reason. You add huge value by promoting the idea of liberalism, rationality and liberty.

Jayant, can I request you to suspend your belief in immutable culture and support the political fight for liberty in India?

No one has EVER fought for liberty in India politically. 

Let’s do that and see whose hypothesis is right.

If after 20 more years of active fighting for liberty you find that nothing is changing, you will be proven right.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

View more posts from this author
16 thoughts on “#2 discussion with Jayant Bhandari regarding the underlying causes of India’s misery
  1. RR

    It’s wonderful to see this dialogue. I wanted to point out that 30 million Indians living outside India are about 2.22% of the total population of 1.35 billion (not 0.025%), not really a statistically insignificant size.

  2. Jayant Bhandari

    RR: Thanks for the pointing out the mistake. You are correct. To add… As such 2.22% is a seemingly significant size, however, these are the people who found a way out of India. These were not the normal population. Moreover, as I discuss, except in small countries (all of which are chaotic and corrupt: Fiji, etc.), Indians are not significant to be a political force. They however do vote to make their new home leftist, as I discuss in a linked article using an example on tribal voting pattern of even the so-called educated Indians in the USA.

    Let me add something about Singapore…. It is an extremely clean and orderly city. Little India (an Indian community) is dirty and has pan strains. I do not say this to demean Indians (and I am an Indian), but because unless we start accepting that there is a cultural problem in India, we cannot really change.

  3. Raj

    Sanjeev, Bhandari needs to know and realise, above all, that each and EVERY single one who wishes to in India, and UNDERSTANDS freedom, most necessarily needs to join hands and fight this. We HAVE TO fight this together.

    Bhandari is too precious to lose. He needs to get that. We are far too few to squabble about whether we’d win or not. Putting on half a fight would move mountains; let’s at least give it a shot!

  4. Joyson Fernandes

    Little India is comprised mainly of laborers from India and Bangladesh. No wonder it’s dirty! Indians born and educated in Singapore are much more different in their outlook from their counterparts in the mother country.

    Cultural change takes many generations. It’s a process which happens on its own. The French were among the filthiest people in pre-modern times, surely much more lacking in civic sense and personal hygiene than Indians are today. They invented perfumes and their aristocrats would powder their skin, because they hated bathing. The cities and towns were polluted dumps. But all of this changed over the centuries.

    Political revolution has always preceded cultural change. England became free, because even the monarchy and parliament actively encouraged democratization after Magna Carta. The efforts of English liberal politicians eventually bore fruit and culminated in the Glorious Revolution, which made England a free country. Likewise across the whole of the West.

    In communist societies including East Germany, people are generally greedy, untrustworthy, distrustful, and suspicious of others. Deceit and fraud is the norm. Again this is due to the communist system which has altered incentives and completely transformed society for the worse.

    If the honest and competent liberals of India were to come to power and implement institutional and free-market economic reforms, the country’s underlying culture of irrationality and superstition would surely change, but it will still take many generations. The bottom-line is that cultural change can only be enabled by succeeding in the political process, not by preaching to the masses.

  5. Raj

    Yea. And funnily, and SADLY Joyson, it’s worth noting that East Germany before it came under the devil of the world communists, was actually a part of PROTESTANT Europe. Yup! That part of the world synonymous with some of the world’s most rational, robust and powerful institutions Man knows of today. That part which includes the UK, Netherlands and Scandinavia.

    If the communists can turn a society that was nearly that solid into the mess they’re today, I wouldn’t be surprised a free-market economy altering our culture at least significantly, to say the least.

  6. RR

    Jayant: I’m trying to understand your ideas about Indian culture. There’re two parts to how a human acts – nature (genes or DNA) & nurture. Culture is part of nurture which is shaped by the surroundings. Systems in place influence culture. Regarding your example of Little India neighborhood in Singapore (there’re Little Indias in other countries where the same would be true) – it’s so because when there’re a lot of desis around, our ‘old instincts’ kick in (pushing & shoving, breaking lines, spitting paan, etc.) & Indians start acting as if they’re in ‘the motherland’ (India). This wouldn’t happen if either (a) none of these people had memory of ‘back home’ (i.e., they had never lived or been to India) or, (b) back home such things didn’t happen (i.e.,memory of back home is of cleanliness & order, not mess & chaos).

    Bottom line is, there’s no such thing as individual inherent unchangeable culture. Culture simply changes under external influences.

    If you believe in something called ‘Indian culture,’ i.e., group culture, then, since groups are made of individuals, you must believe in each individual having this ‘Indian culture.’ However, you won’t see individual Indians acting filthily in clean surroundings. Thus your theory is disproved.

  7. Joyson Fernandes

    I would like to further add some examples of how systems change culture.

    For bad going to worse, look at the transformation of formerly free Eastern European countries under the communists into extremely corrupt societies. Communism was imposed on all of these societies.

    Also Weimar Germany was non-corrupt, free, and democratic, unlike the Nazi Germany and the culture of fear and tyranny that followed.

    The Meiji revolution in Japan is another great example of systems changing culture for the good. The emperor Meiji supported by a group of samurai reformed the governance systems and culture. The state led a campaign to get rid of all old customs they deemed evil and sought to westernize the people, and succeeded in the cities at least. The only bad thing they did was copying the authoritarianism and state-worship of Bismarck’s Germany, which led them to militarism and fascism. Following World War 2, the system changed once again and now Japan is renowned as a peaceful pacifist society which shuns militarism and war.

  8. Jayant Bhandari

    if the culture is not right, good institutions will fall apart eventually. In my view, every institution that the British left has been destroyed by Indians. Once destroyed Indians have no capacity to rebuild them. So, most of the engine of change is the culture. A good culture will lead to good institutions.

    Consider the current situation (and look at the guy on the street to make sure you think realistically)… How would you get Indians to vote for liberty? They are not interested. They need free stuff. They need the guy from their caste to win. They are tribal. Until they have integrity not to ask or expect free stuff and an interest in meritocracy, they will vote for the junkies they have voted into power so far.

    So, I see two possible options… Either a cultural change (something that Christian Missionaries did do a good job in) must happen, which could take a thousand years, or a benign rational dictatorship (of, say, Singaporean kind) to come to exist. The latter is what the British were in my view. This is why Tagore supported the British.

    Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to beg the British to return. (Now, some of us who left India must accept that we eventually preferred the rule of the West).

    Where we stand today and the utter mess Modi and his ruffians are creating, I see no hope of either of the two above. Indians are in love with Modi, which tells me that so-called educated Indians have become more propagandized than they were earlier. India will enter a phase of dictatorship eventually. Some army guy will takeover? Very likely. But this will not be a rational dictatorship.

    So, my view is that having a political process is maybe not such a problem if used as a platform to “educate”, but the focus should be on cultural change, and development of critical thinking among Indians.

    RR: Let me add a few more points in response to what you say. I think in the end it is indeed about genes. Indian IQ is 82. Middle Eastern is slightly higher and African (while very varied) is slightly lower. None of these societies have been able to create what we today consider to be a rich, prosperous society.

    West European (IQ of 100) and Chinese/Japanese/Koreans (>100) have indeed gone to new places and made turned them around. Look at Australia/NZ (which was initially criminals from Europe). Even they succeeded.

    There are many places in the world where Indians are significant. None of those societies are organized or rich. Even Mauritius is a chaos, despite massive natural resources and wealth. With time, they have continued to destroy the institutions European power left.

    Again, I don’t say that a change is not possible and we should not work towards it. I spend a huge amount of my time on it. But I must accept the facts of life as they are. Without this I cannot even start.

    Joyson: East Europe was from what I know was tyrannical and corrupt even before communists took them over. In fact communism could find a hold in East Europe because they were fundamentally corrupt. Take example of India… People like Modi cannot stay in power for a day if he were in power in Europe (even) today.

  9. Raj

    So you prefer to sit in another country, preaching people to “be more rational”, and expect it to turn a nation around?

    To be fair, I’m in this for myself, and nobody else really. I really do not care for all my life about India, Indians or whoever else. I want to live in a Free land and the only way to do so, is to change the laws.

    However, I wish you luck in your endeavours to keep chanting “Be more rational” to Indians from a distant shore, and do hope it brings out a revolution. Cuz something tells me it won’t.

  10. Joyson Fernandes

    Jayant, the masses don’t really care about you or what you have to say. They never will! There are enough preachers as it is. It just enters one ear and goes out the other. India is a land of preachers. People only pay attention if you are actively trying to implement your policies. It’s only then that one becomes relevant.

    A true liberal is politically active. Unless you get politically active (not necessarily contest elections) and do what you can to politically advance liberty within your means, your efforts won’t lead anywhere. The only way to affect cultural change is through the political process. There is no other way.

  11. Deepak

    I think people may criticize Jayant for his thoughts, but I can confirm that all people who say Govt is responsible for all ills and not the people or the culture, most of these people have never interacted with the system at the ground level or as Jayant says, haven’t got their hands dirty, that is the truth. Most such people who hold Govt responsible are either NRIs who visit India at times or Indians who are proud of their way of life. I can write about this topic at lengths far more than anything else, because I am a small entrepreneur who has willingly emigrated rather than a one who goes out to a job. But the moment I express the truth, I get abused and termed racist, anti-national, what not…so I prefer to say less on this topic. As Jayant mentions Little India, I noticed the same while I was in Singapore. Someone says Little India is poor laborers, for a moment I agree. But come to Dubai which is 53% Indians. It is a city with so much enforcement of traffic rules, so many traffic radars, more than any other developed country. But look at the way most of these Indian drivers on Lexus and Range Rover bully you on road, look at the dangerous way they drive wherever they can, they show their ignorance for value human life where ever they can. How do you explain this? The only way you can stop them is by having traffic camera every 50 meters which is impractical for any city. I am sorry, it is not rich or poor, not about Modi or Congress or AAP, it is about people, their culture, their thoughts, their competence that decides nation’s prosperity. Elected Govt in democracy is just a symptom of people’s thoughts and their priorities. If you think one person called Nehru destroyed India single handedly, were 700 million people so dumb to know what is right for them or wrong and why was’nt he thrown out?

  12. RR

    Jayant: You said “I think in the end it is indeed about genes.”

    But surely it can’t be genes or else Tagore’s cultural renaissance would have had no effect, right?

    Rationality is associated with IQ. But IQ is not dependent on genes. Instead, IQ is simply dependent on nutrition during developmental years and rationality of the surroundings.

    (as an aside, I have a separate question for you. You said “cultural renaissance that was nipped in the bud with the passing away of Tagore.” Can you refer me to literature about Tagore’s work on cultural renaissance in India?)

    Deepak: Dubai can’t have much enforcement of traffic rules if it lets 53% of its population (quoting your figure) drive dangerously. If it did, Indians (or anyone else) won’t drive like that. In India too, if traffic rules were enforced, Indians won’t drive badly. Indians don’t have a ‘bad driver’ genes.

    To anyone who thinks something is ‘inherently’ wrong with ‘Indians’: Do this thought experiment. A newborn child of Indian parents is left with a US couple in the US (without any subsequent reference ever made to child’s ‘mother culture’). After the child grows up, who would he or she resemble culturally/behaviorally – (B) An American (A) An Indian?

  13. Jayant Bhandari


    You can find a lot of material by googling “Bengali Renaissance”. It was started by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and pretty much ended with Tagore. Both took help from the British and both believed that Indians had to give their illiberal ideas, superstitions and prison that exists within their minds before freedom was possible. They both usee the British to fight against India’s social ills. Once independence movement picked up, the noise and excitement it generated was too much for people to be able to focus on cultural renaissance. It died with Tagore. It is hard–actually mostly impossible–to get Indians to talk about ideas. A momentum that had been created by Raja Rammohan Roy got lost.

    You said, “A newborn child of Indian parents is left with a US couple in the US (without any subsequent reference ever made to child’s ‘mother culture’). After the child grows up, who would he or she resemble culturally/behaviorally – (B) An American (A) An Indian?”

    Now, there are a huge amount of twin studies done that actually show that both “B” and “A” will converge. Remember that gypsies are still a separate community in Europe despite that they left 1,400 years back. I am not in a position to argue this subject at much length for the simple reason that I am not competent enough, although my own anecdotal experiences coincides with the material I have read. My suggestion: Read some works of Charles Murry.

    While nature might be given, I am not sure that we cannot work on it–this might although take a very long time. 1,000 years? And nurture is still in my hands. So, I am not going to stop doing what I must merely because I like the concepts of gene/IQ. Moreover, there are remnants that get sucked in by the irrational cultures–they might need some direction. Understanding of facts merely prepare me better… If I need to produce a 100 rocket scientists, I am unlikely to go looking for kids to train in Congo.

  14. Cold Fire

    Jayant Bhandari…. Namaste I hail from varanasi (yes the constituency of Modi.. :D)…… i have read your many articles and i found one thing very common you critise indians for the critical thinking….. true i agree with you 100% on this indians do not think at all…. thus they never rebel…. i talked to many people about the Anti Romeo squad the UP Government has established…. i was shocked many supported despite (or their inability to think) knowing that this is attack on their freedom and right…..or the finance bill 2017 that has been passed…. or the DEMOn…BUT I AM so suprised to read in ur above comments that u see CHRISTIAN missionaries as a preffered choice…. how can u say that…. looks like u have been too impressed by your western ideals that critical thinking of yours about the western values is totally absent(or you don’t won’t to see)….

    lets see your points… you say indian culture is corrupt, tribal and immoral…. while i wont say that, i would say it is dead ritualistic (it was once alive during the BUDDHA’s time when india was at it’s cultural peak)….and once a culture is dead it becomes ritualistic ,tribalistic and corrupt… yes it needs a complete revolution to abandon its culture and search for something new with science and intelligence(not intellect)….but your point is instead of something NEW it should choose Western culture namely christianity values…. isn’t christianity tribalistic illogical and corrupt… GOD created earth 6000 years old… that earth is at centre and sun revolves around it.. that earth is standing on pillars… and i need not go more deep…. and its institutions like christian missionaries are as corrupt if not more than the indian one… have u ever been on ground with and witnessed what these missionaries do… provide liitle bread scrubs to the poor and convert them to christians… that is there basic Motto: NUMBERS … more the number people more power like other tribalistic culture….have u heard what your SO CALLED SAINT MOTHER TERESA had to say on bhopal gas incident where thousand of indians where killed (and yes company heads where westernes with western values whom you adore so much) dont WORRY ….pray to god DONT REBEL FORGIVE…yes dont REBEL FORGIVE( ) …otherwise how she would have got donations from same corporates who suck poor people and kill them…. and had you witnessed the recent ceremony in which the POPE called her SAINT on the BASIS she had done miracles…. what a great critical thinking…. isn’t…..

    now lets come to another point culture… you seem to adore very much western culture….. western culture has its deep roots in christain values…… and if i need not go in deep the tribalistic and illogical the christian roots are….you must REMEBER SIR… WESTERN SOCIETY IS AT PEAK IN RICHES because it dropped the importance of religion and culture and rather choose intelligence and science as its root…. because it was impossible to go hand in hand with those illogical values and science as together…. Christianity tried hard to supress science because science showed facts which where against the christian facts…. IN those medival times (DARK age) christianity burned and destroyed anyone who was against its fact by telling that science is the invention of DEVIL and burned them as witches… but it had to end … GALILEO too was forced to change his statement because it went against the christianity… so western culture is almost dead … if you want proof go to any church see how many people attend there…. westerners have totally dropped orthodox western cultures…. and if there is any western value which is alive it is on science… and if they try to make western culture alive(which they are trying to do) you can see the fascim and tribalism becoming raw in them….

    coming to the last point you seem to say that britishers and westerners will be more helpful for india as they are more intelligent(more superior)…. watching your comment one may laugh what a great critical thinking you have…. does being BRITISH OR A WESTERNER MAKE YOU more intelligent than others….. this world is one…. all countries are based on artificial borders…. does Nature gives more intelligence to a British than to a indian…. is INTELLIGENCE too based on borders…. i have heard that during india pakistan partition there was a mad house on india-pak border to be partitioned… neither india nor pakistan wanted that mad house so it was decided too ask the mad people for their choice… so they asked the mad people where you want to live INDIA OR PAK? they said we want to live here… the authorities again asked yes you will be here but in india or pak… the mad people said we will live here…the authorities again asked yes you will here but in india or pak….. the mad people said we used to think that we are mad but u seem more mad than us … WE WANT TO LIVE HERE they said….the authorities where confused so they divided the mad house in two parts…. the mad house is still there divided by the wall and the mad people talk to each other on the other side of the wall that it is interesting that we are AT THE SAME PLACE but you are in India and i am in pakistan…. now WHO IS MORE MAD…. INDIANS have been in slavery from 1000 years… they forgetten to rebel and the ability to think in these years of slavery hence such condition of the country…. and it such shame that indian independence was given to us by britain… it was not rebelled and taken away from the britain… and remember that has not be earned is not of much value …. because of the absence of rebellion we have got such leaders….. SO solution for india on my opinion is to think to analyse and to rebel for it FIRE OF REBELLION IN WHICH THE INTELLIGENCE SHINES…..

  15. RR

    Jayant: Thanks for the pointers on Bengali/Indian Renaissance.

    My example was a thought experiment intended to show that there’s no such thing as a “culture gene.” Anyway.

    It seems from the comments in your last paragraph (“nurture is still in my hands”) that you might be coming around to the thought that perhaps something CAN be done to bring change in a society in a relatively short time span (in contrast to pointing at the genes as reason for not doing much).

    Regarding your observations about ‘British institutions destroyed by irrational Indians’ – British did not leave India with a strong minimal government constitution and well protected freedom of speech. Bureaucracy created by the British doesn’t seem to have any strong incentives/accountability in place. The court and police system created by the British seems to have a lot of fundamental deficiencies in these two chief duties of government. Once these issues are addressed (as SBP intends to do), not even ‘irrational Indians’, as you like to call them, can destroy any institutions.

  16. Raj

    I want to add into the conversation that it isn’t “Indian values” (I would more preferably call them General Hindu values) that destroyed the colonial institutions. If anything, it is that which has helped in some way to keep it alive. Democracy, free speech, and the meagre little of ‘live and let live’ we currently have is PRECISELY because of native “values”.

    The British ruled a lot many more than just India, it stretched from Egypt to Hong Kong to Nigeria and Fiji. Yet again, India is easily to most freedom-loving of them all (no matter however little it actually is).

    My point being: I would today, be in a much tougher position to create liberalism had I been born Pakistani. So the existing values help to a certain extent. But true logic, lies in realising that none of this inherited crap matters. What matters is that we realize that the only way to attain any degree of happiness for our souls is being actually DOING that, which keeps us happy.

    But if we do not have the freedom to pursue those goals, it leads to frustration, anger and sorrow and suffering. Which is why we need freedom — to be happy. I repeat, a thing that I often say: There can be NO prosperity without liberty. First comes liberty, then prosperity.

    A reason why I thoroughly reject and outright cringe when I hear stuff like “China is Prosperous”, “South Korea, Singapore is prosperous”. My personal view being, prosperity is not a measure of wealth, but of happiness. As long as the freedom to pursue that, which keeps one happy, remains suppressed. I cannot see what ostensible “prosperity” is being talked of here.. having 5 shiny tall buildings is not the benchmark for prosperity! For the Lord’s sake, let’s dig deeper!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.