Saturday, May 13, 2006

Are we argumentative?

"India has always had an argumentative tradition", argues Amartya Sen in his book Argumentative Indian. He strengthens his argument using anecdotes from our epics and other incidents from our history. But looking at how this nation has reacted to some of the issues in the recent past, would raise some serious doubts about our argumentatitve nature.

Take for instance, the recent assembly elections in Tamil Nadu. Karunanidhi, won the elections based on promises like Rs. 10,000 for every woman below poverty line and Rs. 2 a kilo rice. These are promises that can never solve the problem of poverty and only help in keeping the poor, poor. This in a cynical way ensures that the "poor votebank" is intact. But how many of these liberal progressive thinkers came out strongly against such promises? Where was the counter-argument to expose the hollow nature of such promises?

Today there are protests going on against reservations in higher educational institutions. Barring a few informed discussions, all we hear about reservations on television is how the police lathi-charged the peacefully protesting students or how these protests compare with the mandal protests of the 90s. Let alone political parties, let alone the progressive liberals, even the media doesn't seem to have the courage to enlighten the masses about the counter-productive nature of reservations. Where is the counter point to the politics of Mandal?

Sometimes, to add to the lack of informed and healthy debates, what we get to see is vandalism. From Salman Rushdie to Khushboo, many have faced the wrath of such vandalism. Such vandalism is the result of intolerance to the opposing view.

Although, you might dismiss these as few aberrations, these surely do not reflect well on our argumentative tradition.


Arjun Sharma said...

Karunanidhi actually delivered on those promises of freebies! He apparently has given away the promised TVs and stuff. God save this country!

Harish said...

Arjun, he has also apparently raised the promised free money from Rs. 10000 to Rs. 15000. If some corrective action is not taken, soon elections in this country will be reduced to an auction.