Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Indian middle class believes in nothing and stands for nothing.

I have thought about this question and now I see a new paper (ungated here) on the topic:
“Genes and culture are often thought of as opposite ends of the nature–nurture spectrum, but here we examine possible interactions. Genetic association studies suggest that variation within the genes of central neurotransmitter systems, particularly the serotonin (5-HTTLPR, MAOA-uVNTR) and opioid (OPRM1 A118G), are associated with individual differences in social sensitivity, which reflects the degree of emotional responsivity to social events and experiences. Here, we review recent work that has demonstrated a robust cross-national correlation between the relative frequency of variants in these genes and the relative degree of individualism–collectivism in each population, suggesting that collectivism may have developed and persisted in populations with a high proportion of putative social sensitivity alleles because it was more compatible with such groups. Consistent with this notion, there was a correlation between the relative proportion of these alleles and lifetime prevalence of major depression across nations. The relationship between allele frequency and depression was partially mediated by individualism–collectivism, suggesting that reduced levels of depression in populations with a high proportion of social sensitivity alleles is due to greater collectivism. These results indicate that genetic variation may interact with ecological and social factors to influence psychocultural differences.”

Jaithirth Rao in The Indian Express:
“I think it is a mistake to categorise India as a soft state. It is certainly not a hard one. It is a flexible one with a deep survival instinct. Our science teacher in school would tell us that grass blows with the breeze but never gets uprooted however strong the winds. A big tree which does not bend or blow can and sometimes does fall down in a severe storm.
“The Republic of India and our political leaders (who, despite all their faults, need to be admired) are like grass. They have figured out that a good-cop bad-cop approach works. Sometimes we do have to use the army against some alienated groups. But even as one set of leaders are behind that effort, another set is offering an olive branch to that same group.
“Our greatest contemporary intellectual refers to Indians as an argumentative people. I think we can refer to our country as a “talking republic”. And that central fact is of great importance. Binary either-or solutions, while attractive on the surface, could easily destroy our country.
“We need both efficient toughies and talking softies. We never need to make fundamental concessions that we find unpalatable. Holding our own while talking and talking about talking is what this big fat democratic Indian republican party is about. The combination has kept us together, and hopefully it will continue to do so.”

Professor JyotirmayaSharma of the University of Hyderabadauthor of “Terrifying Vision”: M.S. Golwalkar, the RSS and India— writes in Mail Today:
“The Indian middle class loves someone who takes on imaginary and real villains. It cannot do much to make buses and trains run on time, it cannot wish away pollution that is caused largely due to its fondness for cars, and it cannot effectively ensure regular supply of drinking water and electricity.
“It is impotent in the face of corruption and helps feed the corruption spiral by its sheer impatience. It loves words like efficiency and development, but gets worried when the same development leads to the naxal problem. It believes in nothing and stands for nothing.
“It lives with the contradiction that there is no safe drinking water in large parts of the country but there is mobile phone connectivity almost everywhere. It celebrates shopping malls and American fast-food joints but knows that there is a fair chance of one never emerging the same as before after being inside an Indian hospital, be it public or private.
“It speaks of merit and excellence but pays donations to get into colleges and universities. It hates the noise and the bustle of India but remains glued to reality shows as the only form of reality it can take in.
“It swears by Indian traditions but is ready to flee to the United States and Europe at the slightest provocation. It calls Hinduism as a way of life but is oblivious as to whose way of life it is or who determines Hinduism. It celebrates India as the largest democracy in the world but envies countries like Malaysia, Singapore, China and Israel.
“Narendra Modi is the embodiment of this class: he too stands for nothing and believes in nothing but himself. That is why Modi and sections of the Indian middle class never suffer from any form, whatsoever, of contrition and think of honest self- reflection as a form of liberal indulgence.”

India can teach you many lessons about how to conduct a coalition, though I am not sure you want to be too good a learner.
Coalitions in India are larger —many more parties than just two as in your case (though I know that your party as well as Nick Clegg’s have each a Right and Left wing plus a large middle.) But you don’t need to worry about the class position of your ministers —aristos or middle-class, nor their regional affiliation — Scottish, Welsh etc. The UPA, your host government, has to worry about the caste and regional identity of all their ministers and of the ministers of their partner parties. Indeed, regional affiliations are so strong that competence in the job is not at all necessary. 

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