Thoughts on economics and liberty

Author: Sanjeev Sabhlok

Greek thought, the harbinger of world liberty, has its direct source in INDIA

While revising my manuscript The Discovery of Freedom‘ (DOF) I could not but help noting how similar the view of Indian sceptics including Buddha, and Socrates were. And that Indians came earlier in historical time than the Greeks. So yesterday I had this question: did India influence Greece? A bit of reading from books at home and a bit of research on Google seems to have ‘solved’ the puzzle.

When, upon reading A Critical History of Greek Philosophy by W.T. Stace (MacMillan,1965) I came across his rather niggardly view on Indian philosophy, arguing that Indian thought doesn’t arise from ‘pure thought’ and that it is ‘poetic rather than scientific’ (p.15), I decided to investigate further. I have now found a recent American PhD dissertation (2000) that uses the most recent sources to firmly demonstrate that it was INDIAN scepticism that traveled to Greece through Persia and brought out the temperament of questioning that finally led to Socrates. I’ve extracted a short section from the dissertation below (the dissertation is publicly available). I encourage everyone to read the entire dissertation, if for nothing else but to learn more about the sophists and to understand the importance of Protagoras who may ultimately turn out to be more important in world history than even Socrates.

Does it matter to me whether humanity has benefited in the areas of mathematics (number system) and philosophy more from India than from, say, Greece? I’m not particularly fussed where the source is, India or Greece. These ideas belong to all of us. Humanity. No country owns them, at least not today. What I do want, though, is accurate attribution of sources. It won’t do to attribute the first seeds of rational thought in the world to Greece when these ideas arose in India, and were transmitted by Indians to the Greeks. I’m not a specialist in history so I won’t finalise my opinion on this issue, but I will note in DOF the strong possibility of Rahula’s research findings being true.

EXTRACT

Extract from The Untold Story about Greek Rational Thought: Buddhist and Other Indian Rationalist Influences on Sophist Rhetoric, PhD dissertation by BASNAGODA RAHULA, found as PDF on the internet. [Copy on my server] [This is a conversion from PDF to text – a painful process with a lot of errors. A lot of manual editing, and references have been removed. They are all available in the original PDF].

General Signs of Indian Influence on Protagoras and Gorgias

Three factors may justify the possibility that the unusual resemblance of Indian rationalist thoughts to Greek sophist thinking was caused by a connection between the two societies. First, Protagoras, the alleged father of Greek sophistry, was given Persian education, an easy route to the access of Indian wisdom. During Xerxes’ invasion of Greece, Protagoras’ father, an extremely rich person in Abdera, entertained Xerxes and received the emperor’s permission to educate Protagoras under Magi. This report was supported by Herodotus’ notes that Xerxes, during his return journey, “stopped at Abdera and made a fact of friendship with them [people in Abdera].” As Untersteiner noted, Protagoras was a young child when Xerxes’ visit to Abdera took place, and Protagoras education under Magi could have been arranged for a later date (2). Based on the traditional practice of the pupil’s visiting the master, one may conclude that Protagoras later went to Susa and studied under Magi. This visit would have been more profitable for Protagoras since he would hardly miss Indian wisdom those days in the central part of the Persian empire. On the other hand, wherever Protagoras was educated, knowledge coming from Persia could have included Indian thinking since Darius had already accommodated, as the next chapter will elucidate, Indian wisdom in the Persian empire. Protagoras’ Persian education seems to be a strong support for his possible acquisition of Indian concepts in epistemology and other fields.

Second, Protagoras was the pupil of Democritus who was presumably benefited by a multitude of Indian concepts, including Buddhist concepts as his major source of influence. Philostratus was the first informant of Protagoras’ learning from Democritus,’ and this information can also be true, “concerning the intellectual development of Protagoras” (Untersteiner 2). Particularly, Democritus’ theory of knowledge seems to have enkindled a new interest in epistemological inquires among his followers, and Protagoras’ directions in the same field may have been guided by Democritus. Protagoras’ closeness in his epistemological studies to the Indian counterparts will be discussed later, but here it should be briefly stated that Democritus’ possible Indian influence could hardly leave no marks on his pupil Protagoras.

Third, Gorgias was the student of Empedocles, whose philosophical theories reflect his possible familiarity with Indian idealistic and rationalistic views. Laertius and Quintillian and some others reported that Gorgias studied under Empedocles, and there is no reason to doubt these reports. As Untersteiner indicated, Empedocles’ influence on Gorgias is “generally recognized by scholars” (92), and Gorgias’ particular interest in epistemology is a possible sign of this influence. It is probable that both Protagoras and Gorgias exhibited a similar interest in epistemology and both maintained skepticism towards metaphysical concepts since the teachers of the two sophists retained a particular interest in the same field.

The major aspects of sophist rational thought and their similarity with the Indian counterpart will be discussed in separate sections, but it seems apt to highlight here a unique flavor in argumentation entertained by Protagoras-the flavor for arguing for or/and against any topic-as a possible Indian derivation. Perhaps this hypothesis appears to be an overstatement since argument on probabilities is said to be of Greek origin. Nevertheless, a careful examination of the practices in Indian debating during the sixth century B.C.E. and comparison of those practices with Protagoras’ attitude towards argumentation justify the possibility of this hypothesis.

Interestingly, there was a group of Indian debaters namely Vitandavadins who roamed among all sorts of thinkers and challenged other views. “He [a Vitandavadin] had no views of his own but merely indulged in eristic for the purpose of securing victory in argument” (Jayatilleke 217). Even though the word Vitandavadin did not occur in the Sutta Pitaka, one finds numerous examples that during the sixth century B.C.E. these debaters frequented debating halls, parks, and other meeting places, challenging all sorts of views of other traditions, without maintaining any particular philosophy or theory of their own:

There are recluses and Brahmins who are clever, subtle, experienced in controversy, hair-splitters, who go about breaking to pieces by their intelligence [pannagatena] the speculations of others. Were I to pronounce this to be good, or that to be evil, these men might join issue with me, call upon me for my reasons, and point out my errors.’

These remarks suggest that those “recluses and Brahmins” were not those who held any particular view or theory but those who were indulged in debating rarely for the sake of defeating the opponents and establishing rhetorical power. Whatever concept or theory one held, those debaters opposed one’s position using their intelligence and verbal skill. This practice is farther confirmed by the sentence, “Some recluse or Brahmin is addicted to logic and reasoning.” Saccaka, who earned the description of “one who indulged in debate, a learned controversialist, who was held in high esteem by the common people” was, undoubtedly, one of them. The Majjima Nikaya has preserved a very important sentence that reflects his theoretical practice and skill:

If I attacked a lifeless pillar with my language, it [the pillar] would totter, tremble, quake; how much more a human being!’ Saccaka was more a demonstration of his verbal power than a theorist. Here, he has presented no theory, but simply boasts about his invincible rhetorical power. ‘Whoever he argued with, he defeated the opponent’s theory without insisting on a particular view of his own but only using his verbal skill (eristic) and argumentation (antilogic) that would suit to the occasion. The Samyutta Nikaya has provided “an eye-witness’s account of these recluses and Brahmins in action” (Jayatilleke 221). Kundaliya, a visitor to the Buddha’s monastery, told the Buddha that he (Kundaliya) would visit parks and frequent assemblies as a regular habit because he had found interest in seeing some recluses and Brahmins having being engaged in debates. The purpose of those debates was only to emphasize their own argumentation (itivadapa mokkhanisamsam) and to disparage that of others.” All this evidence indicates that debating for the mere sake of reflecting the opposition had become a prevalent practice, as well as a crowd-gathering entertainment, during the time of the Buddha. The topics reportedly argued about by those controversialists speak a volume of this peculiar practice of debating. Most of the topics were in pairs, representing the thesis and the antithesis of the same subject. The following is the first list of such topics given in Pali texts:

The fact that they were originally in pairs is confirmed by the remarks attested to one particular pair of topics:

1.The universe is eternal/The universe is not eternal.
2. The universe is finite/The universe is not finite.
3. The soul is identical with the body/The soul is different from the body.
4. The enlightened person exists after death/The enlightened person does not exist after death.
5. An enlightened person does and does not exist after death/An enlightened person neither exists nor does not exist after death.'” A more expanded list of thirty-one topics, all in pairs and each pair dealing with the opposite of the same subject as given above, is found in the Lankavatara Sutra.’ The fact that they were originally in pairs is confirmed by the remarks attested to one particular pair of topics:

The threefold world is caused by ignorance, desire, and Karma. The threefold world is not caused by ignorance, desire, and Karma. This pair too belongs to the Lokayata category of questions. (qtd. in Jayatilleke 53)

It is obvious that this development of questions in pairs echoes the practice of debating, in which the mere skill in argumentation was emphasized. Debaters such as Saccaka, whose primary interest was “displaying dialectical skill and defeating their opponents, regardless of the nature of the arguments used” (Jayatilleke 219), would probably argue one day in favor of the infiniteness of the universe and the other day against it, depending on the position of his opponents. Even though some debaters actually held some theories of their own, rhetorical skill was the main weapon that they employed to attack the opposition and defend their own views. The important point here is that in India there was a predominant and widespread debating practice in which both the proponents and opponents vehemently debated on the thesis and the antithesis of the same topic, adducing equally powerful arguments.

In Greece Protagoras was the first rhetor to introduce this kind of argumentation. Laertius said that “Protagoras was the first to say that on every issue there are two arguments opposed to each other.” Clement repeated the same statement, saying that Greeks said, “Every argument has an opposite argument,” following Protagoras.” Seneca wrote, “Protagoras says that one can argue equally well on either side of any question, including the question itself whether both sides of any question can be argued.” Not only did Protagoras introduce this “eristic argument” as remarked by Hesychius,” but he also demonstrated the truth of his theory, arguing “by the method of questioning, a practice he originated.” Protagoras also “wrote down and prepared disputations on notable subjects.” Thus it is evident that Protagoras held his two-logoi theory as one of his major concepts, having introduced it, practiced it, and written treatises on it.

This theory of argumentation seems strikingly similar to the popular Indian concept of arguing for and against the same topic. Just as the topics used by Indian debaters consisted of the direct affirmation and the direct negation of the same statement, Protagoras’ topics also consisted of pairs of two extreme opposites. Similarly, the field from which these questions were drawn seems to be exactly the same for both Protagoras and the Indian debaters:

Protagoras, when once the existence of ‘two logoi in opposition to each other’ was discovered as inherent in all reality whenever one tries to consider it abstractly, translated this properly of the metaphysical world into contradictory pairs of opposites, making of it a precept for argument; that is to say, he must have demolished by dialectical arguments and with a certain systematic severity all the principle concepts created by Reason, beginning from the problem of God in order to pass on to the others. (Untersteiner 35)

Notably, Protagoras’ “contradictory pairs of opposites,” as Untersteiner has stated above, did not originate in traditional Greek rhetoric; rather, it originated in metaphysics, the field from which the Indian debaters also selected their topics. There is the possibility that Protagoras learned this practice from Democritus, who could have been very much exposed to the Indian way of debating while he was in India. One should also wonder why Protagoras was not exposed to the same theory of argumentation while he was receiving his Persian education.

A controversial situation might arise from this disclosure since the argument about probabilities has long been accepted as an essential, inherent characteristic in traditional Greek rhetoric. It should be repeated, however, that the origin of systematic persuasion in Sicily was a little over two decades old when Protagoras came to Athens, and whatever arguments on probabilities that might have existed in Sicily before Protagoras began his rational persuasion in Athens was probably in legal discourses. Contradictory references to the existence of argument about probabilities in Sicily would make this second assumption even more doubtful. Plato, referring to the example of a weakling’s assault on a strong man, indicated that Tisias argued about probabilities in legal discourses. However, Aristotle cited the same example to suggest that Corax, not Tisias, argued on probabilities in legal speeches. In contrast to both, Cicero, relying on another Aristotelian source that is now lost, remarked that Corax and Tisias prepared only a handbook for the civilians to regain their (civilians’) lost property from the fallen tyrants.” Another alleged reference is that Corax “developed a tripartite scheme of oratory to help the citizens speak in the assembly” (Kennedy, Art of Persuasion in Greece 59). However, no argument about probabilities was ever mentioned in this scheme of oratory that was invented at least a decade after the origin of judiciary discourses. If whatever persuasion on probabilities ever achieved any importance in Sicily before Protagoras entered upon rational argumentation in Athens, that would probably be only in legal speeches.

As noted in the introduction, when Gorgias and Tisias visited Athens about three decades after Corax and Tisias prepared the earliest handbook on legal discourses, Protagoras had already enkindled an interest in debates, eristic, and antilogic, using his two-logoi theory. He introduced “the method of attacking any thesis,” conducted debates, and earned the nickname “master of wrangling.”‘ His two books—The Art of Debating and Contradictory Arguments in Two Books—may further authenticate his intention and interest in this field. This rhetorical situation, which apparently had no roots in Greek culture, connects, both in appearance and content, only to the debating habits practiced by the Indian debaters during the late sixth century and the early fifth century B.C.E.

The difference between Protagoras and Sicilian Gorgias may be marked by the latter’s overemphasis on the invincible power of language, ft is apparent that Gorgias had developed this attitude towards language before he visited Athens in 427 B.C.E, as an ambassador to Leontini since his sensational speech in Athens against the impending attack on Leontini by Syracuse bears witness to his confidence in the power of language and his demonstration of that power, “Encomium on Helen” farther clarifies his attitude towards language, “Speech is a powerful lord,” which affects the mentality of all sort of people,” Words are like magic and drags that cause unbelievable changes in individuals,’ While Protagoras maintained that antilogic and eristic would empower the opposing argument, Gorgias mainly held that the power of the language itself might determine the skill in persuasion.

One may observe a close similarity between Gorgias’ emphasis on the power of words and the Indian debater Saccaka’s assertion of the same, Saccaka, as quoted above, maintained the invincible power of words, giving his own exaggerated skill of frightening a lifeless pillar with his words. Based on the awareness of the highly competitive debating background during this time, it may be assumed that there were a host of Saccakas in India, maintaining the same power of words with some variations. This widespread emphasis on the power of language might invite one to investigate a possible Indian influence on Gorgias, who also asserted the same power of words. Overemphasis of language as a tool to beat the opposition in India and to convince the opposition in Sicily was determined by the demands in each society, but the invincible, almost magical power of words might have originated from the same source.

One important clue available to suggest a transmission of this concept to Gorgias is the possibility that Gorgias’ teacher Empedocles had known about the debating practices of Saccaka and of similar Indian debaters. The discussion in the previous chapter revealed that at least two contemporaries of the Buddha-Ajita and Kacchayana­ had held the theory of elements exactly in the same form as Empedocles held it, providing strong support for Empedocles’ possible borrowing of that theory from the Indian sources. Both Ajita and Kacchayana were themselves debaters, but the vital point is that they both were engaged in debates with Saccaka:

Saccaka is made to say that when he joined them [the six famous debaters including Ajita and Kacchayana] in debates, they evaded in one way or other, shifted the topic of discussion, and showed signs of irritation, anger, and displeasure. These are among the recognized ‘occasions for censure,’ and their mention here implies that Saccaka was victorious in these debates. (Jayatilleke 219)

So the probable assumption should be that, if Ajita’s and Kacchayana’s theories of elements reached Empedocles exactly in the same form, the Greek thinker should also have heard about the debating power and practices of Saccaka, the more famous figure than the two theorists of elements. The rest is understandable. Even though one may not hear Gorgias say anything about Empedocles, it is probable that Gorgias came to know about the invincible power of words from Empedocles. This assumption will be farther justified in the next section of the present chapters when Gorgias’ theory of knowledge is evaluated in the light of Indian skepticism.

The lives of the other sophist thinkers except of Critias are surprisingly obscure; little is known other than the reports that several of them were the pupils of either Protagoras or Gorgias. Nothing is known about Thrasymachus other than that he came from Chalcedon in Bithynia and lived in the second half of the fifth century B.C.E. Hippias was a contemporary of Socrates, but his life is unknown except Suidas’ report that Hippias learned from virtually unknown Hegesidamus.’ Antiphon the Sophist was mixed up with two other Antiphons, and, despite having a certain collection of his writings, his early life remains unknown.

Despite the unavailability of biographical details about these sophist thinkers, strong similarities exist between their thinking and Indian thought. Particularly, the common Indian theory of knowledge and the Buddhist theories of sociology and ethics bear an undeniable resemblance with the thoughts of Prodicus, Antiphon, and Critias. Perhaps, Protagoras’ and Gorgias’ inquiry into epistemology paved the way for the rest of the sophists to continue with the same investigation. All sophist thinkers generally maintained a close relationship with other sophists. Several of Platonic dialogues have shown that sophists gathered together and held conversations together. It is possible that the younger sophist thinkers learned from more honorable Protagoras and Gorgias, whose teachers were the possible borrowers from Indian sources.

Addendum: I made the following entry on Wikipedia on 23 March 2010, but my experience with them is very poor and it is that they will likely delete it. So be it. Let this information stay on my web page.

Indian thought as direct precursor of the Sophists

Basnagoda Rahula, in his PhD dissertation (December 2000) entitled, ‘The Untold Story about Greek Rational Thought: Buddhist and Other Indian Rationalist Influences on Sophist Rhetoric’ (Texas Tech University), provides evidence on the influence of Indian philosophy on Protagoras, the founder of sophistry. In particular, “a careful examination of the practices in Indian debating during the sixth century B.C.E. and comparison of those practices with Protagoras’ attitude towards argumentation justify the possibility of this hypothesis.”

Further readings

Accidental compilations of references that may be useful to me for further investigations if time permits:

1) India in early Greek literature: by Klaus Karttunen: here and here

2) India and the Greek World; A study in the transmission of culture by Sedlar, Jean W.

here

 

3) Early maritime linksIndian Economic & Social History Review, Vol. 31, No. 1, 65-88 (1994)

Continue Reading

Educating our children: A free market in schools

(This article of mine was published in the July 2009 issue of Freedom First.)

In the May 2009 issue of Freedom First I suggested that in addition to ensuring defence, internal security and justice, the free society must commit to equality of opportunity (EO). Delivering EO requires removing discriminatory obstacles to achieving public office, ensuring a good universal school education system, and guaranteeing a social minimum.

School education as a key element of equal opportunity

No child’s future should be jeopardized because its parents happen to be poor. We must guarantee good school education (including vocational training, where appropriate) to all children who want to study to year 12 (or age 18). Twelve years of education has now become a minimum given the complexity of technology that must be mastered in order to become a productive member of society. Such education will generate an enormous economic dividend for India through positive externalities including social capital formation.

In this article I outline how we can successfully deliver high quality school education at a relatively modest cost to the taxpayer (details are available in my book, Breaking Free of Nehru, Anthem Press, 2008).

A fully privatised school system

Children from rural areas or slums cannot even dream of equal opportunity today. These luckless children are destined for a lifetime of failure by the inefficiencies and corruption entrenched in our government school sector. The best these children can hope for is to get some patchy education in government schools where such schools exist (many government schools are found only on paper, or teachers are paid without attending school).

But why does a government need to operate schools? Managing a school is a hands-on exercise, much like managing a business, and governments are terrible at managing anything that must deliver value. Government officials and teachers have little or no incentive to deliver world-class education at the lowest possible cost. In comparison, the private sector can only survive if it delivers value for money. Therefore, parents who can afford it, prefer to send their children to private schools.

Governments are also unusually soft on their own failures. A Director of School Education in a state government will demand stringent standards from private schools even as he ignores the shoddy education provided by the government’s own schools. Governments should therefore not directly manage schools. However, they could regulate school standards, noting that self-regulation by a body of experts is the preferred way for such a task.

As a first step, our governments should stop building, owning, and maintaining schools. That would include an end to the appointment of lakhs of school teachers, an activity that is a source of great corruption and favouritism. School assets (bundled with a long-term lease on the school’s land) should be auctioned to educational consortiums that are at least partially owned by local teachers and residents. I have suggested a transitional mechanism for this in my book that will protect existing teachers.

This will immediately ensure that the incentives of school managers are better aligned to the needs of the local community. Further, the lands and buildings belonging to schools will also be much better maintained and utilised.

Customised vouchers for each child

Privatisation is only the first part of this model. Parental choice is the other part. School education vouchers would be issued by the government for each child and mailed out to parents. Children of poor parents would be issued high-value vouchers. Rich parents will not get any vouchers. The lower economic classes may get vouchers, depending on how much it costs to deliver good education. All parents would thus be empowered to send their children to almost any school they want to. All they would need to do is to pay a top-up amount over and above the value of the voucher.

Under the current model, government schools receive funds unrelated to the size or nature of their enrolment(s) or educational outcome(s). In the new model, they would get money based on a reimbursement of vouchers. They would therefore need to enrol as many children as they can. They will have to go out and literally beg the poorer parents – such as the parents of child labourers – to send their children to school. Where necessary, schools would provide a breakfast for these children: anything to ensure that parents agree to send their children to school. Enrolment rates would therefore shoot through the roof.

Second, schools would need to ensure that the children they have enrolled achieve the required educational standards. Only then will they be able to invoice the government against these vouchers. The more the number of children these schools enrol and pass out at an agreed, independently tested standard, the more the money they will receive.

Note that through high-value vouchers for poor parents, schools in economically backward areas will be able to afford high salaries for teachers and potentially attract even better teachers than schools in wealthy urban areas. Good schools would thus emerge in rural areas and slums for the first time in India’s history. This would dramatically increase both the quality of education and competition in the school market. Very little central planning or quality control will be needed as the market will sort out good schools from the bad. (A self-regulating body of school experts would help.)

Above all, the preferences of parents in selecting the right school for their children will be honoured, and who can be a greater well wisher of a child than its parents?

Raising money for the vouchers

It is true that defence, police, and justice must take first priority for any government. However, universal high quality school education must receive a high priority as well. The system outlined above will not cost too much because the current funds allocated to tertiary education would be shifted entirely to school education. In the tertiary education sector, students would be asked to pay their fees through loans issued by the government (I’ll talk more about this topic in a separate article).

Second, funds needed beyond that could be raised through capital markets as a long-term investment loan. This should be easy, given that there is nothing in any society that yields higher returns on investment than good school education. Third, schools will be permitted to use their land and buildings for commercial purposes after school hours, thus using their assets more productively and keeping the fees in check.

A free market in schools of the sort described above is guaranteed to deliver high quality education – as guaranteed to succeed as India’s current socialist method is guaranteed to fail. There is an open and shut case for change.

Freedom Team of India

Sadly, this simple and effective model will remain a pipedream since ruling politicians in India currently use the school education system almost purely to ‘mint money’ for themselves. Education is simply not their goal. Money making is. To implement such a system liberals will need a mandate from the people of India to form an ethical, liberal government. The Freedom Team of India (http://freedomteam.in) is pushing ahead in that direction. I would encourage you to find out more about the Team.

Addendum

A new RCT look at educational vouchers From Matthew M. Chingos and Paul E. Peterson (pdf):

In the first study using a randomized experiment to measure the impact of school vouchers on college enrollment, we examine the college-going behavior through 2011 of students who participated in a voucher experiment as elementary school students in the late 1990s. We find no overall impacts on college enrollments but we do find large, statistically significant positive impacts on the college going of African American students who participated in the study. Our estimates indicate that using a voucher to attend private school increased the overall college enrollment rate among African Americans by 24 percent.

Private Schooling In India: Results from a Randomized Trial
by Alex Tabarrok on February 5, 2014

THERE IS NOT THE SLIGHTEST CASE TO HAVE A SINGLE GOVERNMENT SCHOOL

"private schools achieved equal or better outcomes at one-third the cost"

ADDENDUM

More evidence that all schools should be free schools

Continue Reading

Sex, Science and Profits by Terence Kealey

The death knell of government funding of tertiary eduation, science, and research.

I accidentally came across this book (London: William Heinemann, 2008) while browsing a bookshop last week and bought it because it was very well written and dealt with economic policy. By the time I finished it (just a few hours after starting it, so engagingly written is this book!) I found that I now have another personal companion for life: a book to live with; to carefully re-read when one has some time on one’s hands. It is on par with my top favourties: Julian Simon’s The Ulitmate Resource; Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom; Ayn Rand’s Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

What I like is that F. A. Hayek is very strongly vindidated through this book (even though Kealey doesn’t cite Hayek even once). The book offers the strongest possible support for sponteneous order and self-interested drivers for the advancement of science and technology. It tells us that freedom should be our first priority in life, along with the accompanying systems of justice and law and order. Everything else we can take care of ourselves. We want our governments to stay away from us as much as possible for they harm us badly each time they try to help us.

The book sends higher education and science bureaucrats packing! They won’t like it one bit. Indeed, the collectivists, mercantilists, and statists in our midst (most ‘intellectuals’ fall in one or other of these categories) will resist the message of this book and keep harping on the need for government funding of higher education and R&D for apparently that is the only way to foster innovation. But Kealey shows that innovation has overwhelmingly come through privately funded initiatives. Indeed, wherever the government supports higher education and research, expect it to damage all prospects of innovation.

Sadly (and as expected), many modern economists with fancy toolkits but with little understanding of business, science, or society have fared rather poorly. But the book vindicates some of my favourite economists: Adam Smith, Joseph Schumpeter, Armen Alchian, von Neumann, and Robert Axelrod, among others. The book has also reminded me that I should try to read up more on Thornstein Veblen when I get some time: a person much neglected today. Also William Baumol and a few other modern economists. Unfortunately, one simply doesn’t have the time to read everyone.

What was really surprising, though (and this is simply an aside; nothing to do with the book’s main theme), was my discovery that Keynes once thought that The Origin of the Species is ‘economics couched in scientific language’ (p.361). That is quite startling, for it implies that Keynes possibly had a broader, evolutionary view of society and understood the nature of competition and spontaneous order – but that view doesn’t seem to come through in his rather statist General Theory that demands collectivist intereference in our freedoms by the state.

Either way, the classical liberals have been strongly vindicated. Most mind blowing (as far as I am concerned) in the book was the vindication of Thomas Jefferson’s famous belief that ideas should be free. As he had said, “He who receives an idea from me without lessening me, as he who lights his candle at mine receives light without darkening me.” Kealey confirms that Jefferson was right and that governments should not issue patents (except in the pharmaceuticals industry) for issuing patents almost invariably harms innovation and significantly reduces wealth – including the wealth of patent holders themselves! Even patent holders are far better off by using their findings commercially and letting competitors try to improve things: that triggers further innovation rapidly and yields the highest profits for everyone.

This book strongly reinforces the purely market-based model for university education (supported by loans from government for students) that I have advocated in Breaking Free of Nehru. In particular, for the Freedom Team of India, my message would be: we shouldn’t advocate government funding for universities in India. Let the market work out what it needs, including the science it needs. Much material from this brilliant book will now find its way into my second book, The Discovery of Freedom in the coming weeks. It supports everything I have been saying. No wonder I like it so much!

A brilliant piece of work! STRONGLY recommended!

ADDENDUM

Excellent article by Peter Roberts in AFR 21 October 2010, p.68, “Funding’s role in science”

From catalaxy files

Terence Kealey on the economics of scientific research

A summary of the book appeared in a series of posts on the Cat a few years ago and this is theconsolidated summaries.
A few extracts to give the flavour.
Chapter 5. The Agricultural Revolution.
The area of innovation shifted to Holland and England. Vital innovations such as crop rotation and systematic improvement of crops and pastures were driven by gentleman farmers such as “Turnip” Townsend and associations such as the Lunar Society which consisted of a mix of scientists, engineers and industrialists.  By 1850 agricultural productivity in Britain was increasing by 0.5% per annum, unprecedented in history. Laissez faire ruled (almost) and there was no state involvement in research or industry policy.
Chapter 6. The Industrial Revolution.
Between 1780 and 1860 the population of Britain tripled from 7.5M to 23M and the real per capita income double in real terms across all classes.
The drivers were increased productivity of machines and the movement of labour from the land (and Ireland) to the factories.  The driver of machine technology was NOT science as predicted by the Bacon but the improvement of existing technology by ingenious artisans such as Newcomen, Watt, Trevithic and Stephenson. Amazingly, the scientists were struggling to keep up with the tradesmen! Hooke (the scientist) told Newcomen that his idea would not work while he was developing it (fortunately he persisted) and Carnot’s work on thermodynamics was prompted by Watt’s steam engine which could not work according to the laws of science as they were understood by leading scientists at the time.
France followed the Bacon model and set up glittering science laboratories and institutions of learning, while the state ran on the basis of taxes extorted by an army of Farmers-General (tax farmers) working on a commission basis with draconian powers of search, detention and confiscation. Hence the Revolution, while the science laboratories produced scientific advances without any impact on technology or the wealth of the French people.
Chapter 7. Economic History since 1870
This chapter is about the comparative economic performance of nations with some warnings about the valid and invalid comparisons that are often made. Invalid comparisons are often used to promote the Baconian approach to science with the aim of getting more state involvement by way of industry policy and public spending on science and education. A classic example is the comparison of Germany and Britain post 1870. Bismark’s warfare/welfare state sudsidised and protected local industries, especially steel. With the inflated cost of German steel it made sense for England to produce less and buy from Germany, still a lot of people just saw the decline of an industry, not wealth transfer from Germans to Britons. They also misread the play on technical education, being over-impressed by the network of state-funded technical colleges in Germany and forgetting about the 700+ industry-funded mechanics institutes that were established  in Britain between 1820 and 1850.
There is a stunning table on the economic performance of the current (1980) 16 richest nations from 1870 to 1980. These figures indicate  GDP per capita in 1870 adjusted to the $US in 1970.
Australia at 1393 leads the UK 972, Belgium 925, Holland 831, Switzerland 786, US 764.
On an index of  productivity Australia scored 1.3 compared with UK 0.8, Holland US and Belgium 0.7. Australia was at the bottom in growth of productivity since that time.
Chapter 8.  Science Policies of the Twentieth Century
In this chapter Kealey traced the evolution of science policy in the US and Britain. They both started with a substantially laissez faire economy and also minimal state involvement in science, then during the 20th century the Baconians and the Czars of science took over and they went for central funding and control in a big way. For those who have been receptive to Kealey’s argument thus far, the results are  predictable (cw 18th century France).
Chapter 10.  The Real Economics of Research
In this chapter Kealey looks at the economics of R&D and then the economics of academic science, in each case asking whether government funding is required to optimise spending.
He confirms three Laws of  Funding for Civil R&D.
First Law. The % of national GDP  spent increases with national DGP per capita.
Second Law. Public and private funding displace each other (compete). So public funds tend to displace private funds.
Third Law. The public/private displacement is not equal. Public funds displace a larger volume of private funds than the public input. (net loss).
Continue Reading

How justified are India’s beliefs about Australian racism?

[I've also got two other blog posts on this subject: here and here]

[Addendum, 6 June 2009: This blog post has received a lot of visits and many comments. Going by some of the comments posted by readers, I suspect that some of them have only read parts of this post. But most importantly, probably none will spend the time to read my draft manuscript 'The Discovery of Freedom' – which is over 500 book-pages long – that I have cited as reference, and which contains extensive discussion on 'racism'. There is therefore great potential for readers to misunderstand what I am saying. Therefore, let me make a few comments upfront:

(1) Biological fact: Genetically speaking, we are ALL – each and EVERY human on earth – essentially BLACK North African brothers and sisters. The white skin emerged as recently as 5500 years ago. We ALL have one COMMON great-great–grand mother, with some of us having a few harmless mutations of skin colour that arose to help us adapt better to low sunlight and snow in the higher latitudes. So welcome to this post, brother, sister. (If you don't agree with this biological fact, you may be a part of the problem. Read up biology and become a part of the solution!). And consider this simple fact: I have donated blood in India, USA and Australia. My blood has therefore gone into the veins of people with all skin colours and helped them live, or even saved their lives. So please, before considering this issue further, let us be clear that we are a single species which is surprisingly homogenous given its vast spread across the world.

‘It is impossible to look at people’s genetic code and deduce whether they are Black, Caucasian or Asian.’[1] ‘Modern human genetics … deliver[s] the salutary message that human populations share most of their genetic variation and that there is no scientific support for the concept that human populations are discrete, non-overlapping entities.’[2]

[1] Henderson, Mark, ‘Gene tests prove that we are all the same under the skin’, Times Online, October 27, 2004, [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article499598.ece]

[2] Lynn Jorde and Stephen Wooding of the University of Utah, cited in Henderson, Mark, ‘Gene tests prove that we are all the same under the skin’, Times Online, October 27, 2004. [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article499598.ece]

(2) Racism violates equal freedom. Racism is not merely discrimination against others on grounds of their skin colour, but also on the basis of nationality, state of origin, caste, and tribe. I condemn all forms of racism as these are both false in their underlying logic and violative of equal freedom for all. Everyone should be treated on merit, not on a prejudicial basis.

(3) Individual justice, not paint-brushing entire collectives. Freedom demands individual accountability. (My comment of 4 June says it thus : It is individuals who must be accountable for their actions, not entire communities. There is a serious error of analysis in jumping to collectivist conclusions and generalising beyond the particular incidents. Such errors of analysis, if uncorrected, can themselves become the cause of future problems.)

(4) The challenge of explaining the causes of crime. A hypothetical multivariate equation explaining the incidence of crime would look like:

Incidence of crime = f (availability, opportunity, motive) + Delta, where 

availability = f (availability of victim, availability of criminal), being in turn, a function of (place of residence and work, time of the day, level of drugs use and unemployment in society )

opportunity = f (level of isolation, level of police or other surveillance, level of use of knives and guns in society)

motive = f (greed, hatred – including racism, fear, revenge, etc.)

It is very hard to distinguish the racist element from the ordinary statistics of crime.

5) Why do Indians have to leave India in the first place?

This is a vital issue. It must be noted that the Indian education system is broken, its governance, its police etc. are broken. Its residents continue to flee India because discrimination is rampant, corruption is perhaps the only way to prosper, and because life and property are in constant danger. Its rich live in walled houses and cities, with guards and dogs to protect them from chronic crime. A major part of the solution is to fix India. India needs leaders who can take it out of its mess. I encourage you (if you are from India) to look at the Freedom Team of India and consider whether you are willing to lead India to greatness, so that others will come to India, and Indians not have to leave India for simple things like good education.

6) India own crime rates are sky-high but no frenzy seems to emerge:

At least 6,000 (and up to 25,000) women are killed (not just injured) each year for bringing inadequate dowry. These are called dowry deaths. But there is stunned silence in the media and TV about it. Thousands of murders and thefts, of which very few get reported because the police will not lodge a report without a bribe. Why is the Indian media silent about it? Not to diminish the attacks against Indian students outside India, but to ask: why this frenzy? Why is there no balance in the Indian media reports?

7) Read the report on Overseas Student Education Experience Taskforce (Victoria) chaired by Marsha Thomson: http://tinyurl.com/mewm9f

Addendum 22 July 2009. Complexities involved, including data: Visa crackdown will hit numbers (Australian 22 July

Now Read On!

An Indian student was recently attacked in Melbourne. This is not the first such time. S M Krishna, India’s Foreign Minister said he was appalled by the racist attack (SIFY headline: http://tinyurl.com/nzw6jz. "SM Krishna condemns 'racist' attacks on Indian students in Australia" or Economic Times: http://tinyurl.com/m7xm5s "India on Wednesday expressed shock over the racist attack on four Indian students in Melbourne and asked Australia to take steps to prevent such incidents on Indian students.")

NOTE added on 31 May 2009: I now gather that there has been serious misreporting in the media on this issue, and that SM Krishna's written statement does not allege racism as the motive. See statement of SMK http://www.hcindia-au.org/pr20090529_01.html). As a result of the new information, I'm deleting the paragraph of this blog posted yesterday that read: "I agree that more can be done to ensure the safety of Indian students. But I am personally outraged at the unsolicited allegation being made about Australian racism by the Indian Foreign Minister (and India’s High Commissioner as well). This amounts to the pot calling the kettle black. Look into the skeletons in your own cupboard, SMK, I would ask!" I should have done due diligence and checked original sources. However, I continue to have the strong impression from many sources that many Indians see Australia as a particularly racist country. And so the rest of this post is still relevant and will remain broadly 'as is' except for minor editorial tweaking {1 June 2009: I've taken part of a comment I posted below into the main text now, and reshuffled the order of the post to make the flow of logic more evident. In addition, I've brought part of the text of my other 'sister' post on this subject here as well, to better substantiate a statement made earlier} The rest of the post should now read thus.

I agree that more can be done to ensure the safety of Indian students. (Addendum 4 June: Here's a write up by Miranda Devine in today's Age that points to the need to beef up Police more generally in Victoria, a matter on which I have no expertise.) (Addendum 5 June: There is plenty of violence going around in Melbourne on an average night.) Let the criminals who perpetrated these crimes be brought to book, and let various steps be taken to improve security of all citizens in Australia/Melbourne. I have nothing to say on that.

But if India tries to use the
'race card' in this debate, it enters deep waters. The allegation of the Indian High Commissioner that there may be "a racist element in some of the attacks" is perhaps unexceptionable although unsubstantiated. But unsolicited allegations in parts of the Indian media about Australian racism are quite excessive. Yes, there is some racism in Australia (and I'll touch upon it below), but we have to be very cautious either about claiming that racism was a causal factor in these attacks or, worse, generalising about a society that has done so much about this issue over the past 30 years.

Indeed, beliefs that attacks on Indians in Australia are racist raise many significant issues.

1) Proof needed that this (or these) attacks are driven primarily by racism

Addendum, 9 June 2009. It now appears from the police chief that there is proof that at least some of the attacks are racially driven. See here. "Some of these crimes are racially motivated; however I also believe that many of the robberies and other crimes of violence are simply opportunistic." Except for white supremacists, other crimes can be easily muddled with racism. The loafers and louts of a society will obviously use foul language that can be construed as racist. But I would suggest these crimes are still largely (not entirely!) opportunistic because of the vulnerability of Indian students who live in crime-infested places.

Crime happens. Others too get attacked. Melbourne is not crime free! It is broadly safe, but not crime free. (Addendum: The violent street culture in Melbourne is significantly on the rise – The Age 16 July 2009). India must prove (apart from getting its own house in order first) that racism is either rife or increasing in Australia; AND that racism was involved in the recent cases. If not, it should treat this as a regular criminal matter and stick to non-inflammatory language. Particularly the Indian media.

Mixing crime with racism is bad statistical analysis. The vast bulk of crime in Australia is 'white against white' crime. Drug related crime, robbery, etc., happens to everyone. All kinds of weirdos exist in all societies. The local Police investigated this particular matter and I recall reading somewhere that they believe that the current incident was not race based. [Addendum 3 June: a news report confirming my hypothesis: "police believed that Indian students had suffered disproportionately because they were more vulnerable. Many needed to take jobs, often at late hours, to support themselves, and they used public transport heavily, often at times when few other passengers were travelling." Addendum 8 June 2009: Came across this article from The Age today ("Indians an easy target for cowards lurking in shadows" by Anson Cameron) which tells a different story to what the Police have been publicly saying, and seems to confirm that Indians are being disproportionately attacked. Apparently the local Police told the author of this article informally that "it's usually Indians or Asians who are targeted because they're small and non-aggressive."If true, and if the Police at senior levels are aware of this, then this is a matter of great concern: a) First, because the reported incident was from Port Melbourne, an otherwise wealthy area with presumably low crime [which means the earlier argument doesn’t apply]. b) Second, the informal argument of the local Police doesn't make sense because there are small and non-aggressive people from all nationalities and 'races'. Are all of them equally vulnerable? Why are small and non-aggressive people of Asian and Indian origin being singled out for attacks? If evidence of this sort is confirmed, I may need to partially change my views and agree that 'race' – if not racism – is perhaps a factor underlying some of these attacks. Addendum 25 June 2009: Indians safer in Australia: Rudd, The Hindu, 25 June 2009. Addendum 4 July, 2009. Some issues with death data Age 1 July, Age 4 July. ]

Although louts and ruffians will always use foul language which can be construed to be racist, ordinary crime should be treated as crime. Period. Except for white supremacists who are genuine racist criminals (and these are seriously curbed by the Police), the rest of the criminals are just that – plain louts. Melbourne has had a spate of stabbings of all kinds of people: not just Indian students. It therefore doesn't behove the Indian media to characterise one of the most multicultural societies in the world as racist. Racism (to the extent it does exist in Australia and in the West) operates more at the economic level. Racists are not, as a rule, criminals who will use violence. Criminals who use violence are usually a totally different category altogether.

The only proof of these incidents being caused by an increase in racism (or being motivated purely by racism) as claimed in the Indian media will be to demonstrate statistically that the crime rate experienced by people of Indian origin in Australia is HIGHER than that experienced by the rest of the Australian population, after controlling for place of residence and work.

It is important to understand that out of the roughly 90,000 Indian students in Australia, some will inevitably get caught in crime. Indian students are particularly vulnerable to crime because they tend to live in high risk and high crime areas and work late night and return back by public transport, walking on empty streets, or driving taxis that collect all kinds of weirdos, drunkards, and drug addicts at late night. For someone with that residence and work profile, I don't think Indian students are experiencing a particularly higher crime rate, ie. they are not necessarily being discriminated by the louts and criminals of Melbourne on the ground of their 'race' . But I'm not the expert on this and will leave it to the Police to investigate and tell the people what is going on.

Addendum 10 June: "According to Victoria police officials, in 2007-08, there were 36,765 victims of crimes such as robberies and assaults in the state, of which 24,260 were Caucasian victims and 1,447 victims were people of Indian origin" (here). This is disproportionately high in relation to the population of peole of Indian orgin. But this data could do with some further analysis. I recall reading somewhere that the Police cluster all kinds of Indian-looking people as people of Indian origin, including Philipinos, so the robustness of this classification needs to be confirmed. Second, the relevant control variables which need to be factored in are: place of residence and work, time of attack, kind of attack (ie. group bashing or simple robbery), nature of occupation, whether around public transport, whether around taxi, etc. Addendum 1 July 2009. Here's some more data [The Age 1 July 2009] that shows possibly higher rates of death of Indian students, but it could well be from higher accidental drownings or suicide – ie. analysis is incomplete. Addendum 14 July 2009. The Australian, today outlined the possibility of high rates of suicide in this group given the complex interaction of corruption in India and expectations of parents.]

2) Pot calling the kettle black

But far more problematically, using a blanket 'race' card for all of Australia amounts to the pot calling the kettle black. Yes, there are racists in Australia. No doubt about it. But look into the skeletons in your own cupboard is what I would ask those who make wild statements about Australia or allege racial motives to what does not appear to be (as reported by the Police) race-based crime. And even if it were, the whole context would need to be seen: history, comparisons over time, and so on and on…

India is currently, in my view, one of the world's most racist countries. A fair skin not only gets you a better spouse (higher status husband, higher dowry from the wife, etc.) but a better job. Even in elections the fairer candidate generally receives higher votes; hence posters of candidates paint them almost pink no matter what their real complexion! Fair and Lovely creams do brisk business. But that is only the cosmetic element, no matter how deep rooted in the Indian psyche. [Addendum 25 June 2009: There is only one test of racism (or its lack of): How many Indians will marry a pitch black African from Somalia or allow their son/daughter to marry such a person? My guess is less than 1 per cent. Accordingly I deduce that 99 per cent of Indians are racists. On the other hand there are a good number of such marriages in the West now. Indeed, Obama is a product of one such marriage. Addendum 29 June 2009: Similarly, Indians have imported 1000 totally untalented British actresses to work in Hindi movies, whereas none from dark Africa. – See this article in The Age.]

The worst form of racism relates to the caste system which is in many ways based on historical differences in skin colour. Tens, if not hundreds, of people are brutally beaten/killed in inter-caste violence each year in UP and Bihar. Roughly half the population in India (if the rural people are included) deny merit a chance and give preference to someone based on caste in jobs. Tribal racism in the North East is rife. If you are a non-Khasi in Meghalaya your risk of physically being attacked by Khasi ruffians increases quite substantially, and so on across almost all parts of India. If you are a Bihari you can be beaten up in Assam, and vice versa (horrendous incidents of this nature have occurred not so long ago). And if you are a Bihari in Mumbai, then expect to be beaten up at whim (at least that is what they were threatened with not so long ago).

The media in India of course loves to highlight residual Western racism (which, as I said, is real). But it fails to point out how small it is in comparison to Indian racism. Yet India remains a horribly racist society. [Addendum 21 June: Here's an article that shows just one aspect of it – Diepiriye Kuku: 'India Is Racist, And Happy About It'. Addendum 29 June: Our True Colours, Outlook, 29 June 2009]. Racism is embedded in its Constitution through the recognition of the caste system. Why would caste matter to a government? India needs its governments to crack down on all kinds of racism including casteism and parochial xenophobia within India and stop worrying about the residual racism in the West.

THE FACTS ABOUT RACE IN THE WORLD TODAY

I have discussed racism at great length in The Discovery of Freedom (draft available here)

a) Race is biologically a non-existent concept hence those who believe in it are totally ignorant. That is our role as the educated people: to eliminate this myth of ‘race’.

b) Modern racism started around 300-400 years ago. Before that, where it did exist, the ‘whites’ were looked down upon (except in India, of course). Ie. modern racism has an economic basis.

c) Most of the famous liberal philosophers were racist. They couldn't see the contradiction in their views. Even Lincoln should be considered racist if his comments are read carefully.

d) Racism was very strong in the West till about 50 years ago.

e) Gandhi played the most pivotal role in reducing racism in the West (through his actions in South Africa and further actions in India, plus his influence on Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela).

f) Racism has declined dramatically in the West over the past generation (30 years) and is extremely low today (not non-existent). With Obama's election, even US could be potentially declared racism-free in the next few decades. My estimate in DOF, based on analysis of various studies, is that roughly 7% of the Western population is currently racist – in terms of actually acting on their racist beliefs. This is a serious blemish on western liberal societies that they need to get over, the sooner the better.

g) Racism has NOT declined in India during this period, making India the last bastion of racism in the world. It was the world's oldest racist society (with its caste system) and remains so even today.

Exploring the journey of Australian racism

Australia has changed very rapidly in the last generation. A very significant percentage (perhaps a quarter) of Australians today comprise new migrants who have come to Australia in the last 50 years from predominantly non-British countries: South Europe, Middle-East, South Asia, South East Asia, etc. Immigration has speeded up even further in the last ten years. Melbourne citizens come from over 144 countries. Australia doesn’t really care much if they get Indians, Chinese, or Vietnamese. Not the policy makers anyway. Anyone with skills who meets the point system can get in.

The Indian media is therefore completely wrong on this one, about calling Australia racist. In my experience, the most racist people I have met in Australia (and I've now been here for 9 1/2 years if you count my earlier stint of 1 year in '92-93) are many of the Indians who live here, not the old Australians. I have close friends among all so-called racial groups, but I have been badly shocked to find Indians speak to me in Hindi in front of their fellow workers about these 'Goras' in a derogative manner, or about 'Chinis', etc. Similarly, in USA I was shocked to find PhD students from India talk derogatively about 'Kallus' (American blacks). Indians who live abroad have this huge chip on their shoulder – racism.

How racist are Australians in giving jobs?

Most Indians who leave India are treated on merit and become successful and well-settled. That is why Indians are among the wealthiest single group in USA and Australia, among other places. On the other hand, in India they face caste and region discrimination their whole life. Or they must bribe their way to "success". So many have left that mess, happy to work in junior roles in the West where at least merit is recognised.

But there does remain a strong tendency among Indian migrants who don't get jobs in the West to classify their new home country as racist in conversations with fellow Indians and with Indians in India. I agree, there may well be a bit of it (7% or so, as I’ve pointed out above). But the work requirements here and work relations are so dramatically different to those found in India that very few new migrants who have worked in the past in India can demonstrate that they understand how to work in teams and demonstrate the relevant language skills. The poor language skills of many Indians show up in the resumes itself, and yet they complain that they were discriminated against due to race. Merit cuts both ways. You are good: you get in. You are not so good then you do other things. The huge number of Indians and Asian graduates from Australia recruited into public service and other jobs shows that employers are looking for skills-match, and are not bothered about ‘race’.

In Breaking Free of Nehru I have written thus:

"The best people among those who apply are recruited, irrespective of their age or where they come from. Yes, there are periodic reports in the press in Australia about stereotyping of new immigrants based on misconceptions or generalizations about their language skills. It is said that some highly qualified candidates do not always get a foothold. Another problem is when potential employers do not care to contact referees from other countries. But in the same vein, elderly Australians and women also find it harder to get jobs in this system. Making detailed applications for tens of positions, including addressing selection criteria in great detail, can also be a very painful process for migrants and older candidates. But if one prepares well for a well-selected role, there is a good chance of being successful.

“Let me give my own example. Had I migrated to India as an Australian citizen at age 41 (the age at which I came to Australia), I could never have entered government service at all for two reasons:
• no open recruitment is undertaken in India at that age; and
• non-citizens are not allowed to work in government in India anyway (in Australia, non-citizens are able to work in state government departments).
However, not only did I get a research job based on my technical statistical skills (nobody would consider me at the management level at that point!), but I was able to move into a management role after about three years."

[Addendum 19 June 2009: Andrew Leigh's research shows there is some racial stereotyping at the entry level jobs in Australia. This is consistent with similar studies in USA and elsewhere in the West, and confirms that a certain amount of economic racism is definitely prevalent in these societies as noted earlier. The Australian, June 18, and actual research here. Similar stereotyping is also experienced by women and the elderly. In other words, being a person of a non-Anglo background acts as a slight disadvantage in terms of job entry and earnings. Despite this, at the end of their career, people of Indian origin generally figure in the top income brackets in USA and Australia due to their ability to rapidly progress once they get an initial foothold. It is quite possible that reverse racism, against 'Anglos' takes place where Indians are owners of a business. ]

[Addendum 8 January 2010 I know of Indian friends who have lived here for many years, even decades. These are no
t new immigrants. They have much local experience. But they are almost without exception convinced that many (not all!) Australians are racist. These views are made on the basis of (claims of) being discriminated against in relation to jobs and promotions. I have personally seen and experienced this at work in a (very few) cases. I know that MOST people here will literally salivate when they come across someone has relatively junior experience in the UK but will ignore even the most highly experienced person from India. I also know that it is, however, not in the interest of good managers to discriminate racially since then their own performance suffers. Those who discriminate will under-perform and will therefore (ultimately) be removed from the marketplace. In any event, this irritating type of racism is ’soft’ racism. Such racists don't (generally) behave badly or offensively, leave alone injure others or kill.]

Yes, racism is not defensible. All racism must be criticised and addressed though equal opportunity laws and through better education. Let Indians claim, by all means, that a few racists do exist in Australia. But please do also acknowledge that there are 5-8 times (proportionately) that many racists in India. Let there be a balanced and truthful coverage of racism, no matter how fictitious this concept.

THE TASK OF OUR GENERATION: to demolish the concepts of race and caste

It is up to our generation to demolish these shameful concepts. I speak forthrightly thus not to condemn India or Indians generally but to set the facts straight and to ask what gives the Indian government the right to its arrogant belief that it can preach to Australia and others about racism. Express concerns about the safety of Indian students, sure! But to preach to Australia about racism. That's a total joke! Fix your own house first is what I'd recommend to India. Don't make a fool of yourself on the world stage given the huge amount of racism practiced in daily life in India today.

If hearing the truth about Indian racism hurts people who are racist or casteist, so be it. Being told the truth might make them reflect. In any event, I'm not here to pander to wrong ideas, no matter whose these may be, even of my fellow Indians. The politics I stand for (yes, I will be entering Indian politics in the coming years if various things that are currently under way make headway) is not related to power and begging for votes. I'm not into power. I'm into freedom and truth. Let us crush this evil of racism entirely across the entire world. Join me in condemning all racism everywhere.

Addendum 28 June 2009: One of Australia's greatest journalists, Philip Adams, wrote in passing in The Australian yesterday (weekly magazine) about his teenage daughter Rory: "She and her friends can't understand all the fuss about homosexuality and are mystified by racism". The world is lucky to have this new generation of kids: the MTV generation, where blacks and whites sing together, where blacks are now the world champions, heroes in song and movies, world best in many sports including golf, where they have now have produced a black president of the world's most powerful nation. These kids today (and I see my kids mingle daily with all 'races' here in Australia) have simply outgrown the concepts of race. They can't understand it. Therefore there are many 'mixed race' (noting that race is not a biologically viable concept) couples on Melbourne's streets.

I hope that the internet, media, and honest self-reflection among the current jaded Indian generation of 'elders' will bring about the revolution of heart that is needed to abolish racism (including casteism) from the face of the earth.

FREEDOM TEAM. Join the Freedom Team of India if you wish to change India.

SOME SENSIBLE ARTICLES IN THE PRESS

Don't believe the media hype: racism is often a two-way street, by Akash Arora, Age, 2 June 2009

The views of the Dalai Lama on this issue, Times of India, 10 June 2009

No, we are not racists, by Neil Mitchell, Herald Sun, 11 June 2009

‘After 17 years of living here, I am made to feel like an outsider’Hindustan Times, 10 June 2009 regarding the racism and prejudices in New Delhi.

'Street violence to blame, not racism' – the view of former Australian Medical Association president Mukesh Haikerwal, The Age, 14 June 2009

See no evil by JOSH GORDON in The Age, 17 January 2010. [this one has some interesting and releavant statistics – don’t know the source of these stats – needs to be pursued]

Other related issues:

Indians high-risk violators of visas, The Australian, 20 June 2009.

Indian students violate their visa conditions: Hours late and long danger to students, The Age, 23 June 2009.

Australia has the highest proportion of foreign born people: Paul Sheehan Migration: the true story, The Age 2 November 2009.

Follow up comments (based on the issues I have raised in this post) raised in Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reqs.php#/topic.php?uid=79325071064&topic=8937

Some research papers on the subject of prevalence of racism in Australia

Police Chief's analysis of data in The Age, 6 Feb 2010.

The regular crime scene of Melbourn: http://bit.ly/cif3IY

ADDENDUM: CASTE DISCRIMINATION IN INDIA (BLOCKED BY CASTE, ECONOMIC DISCRIMINATION IN MODERN INDIA: Edited by Sukhadeo Thorat, Katherine S. Newman; Oxford University Press, YMCA Library Building, Jai Singh Road, New Delhi-110001. Rs. 750)

Racism is reproduced through children, who show colour bias

Country 'drifting back to racism The Age June 16 2010

Continue Reading
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial