June 12, 2007Public Policy

My op-ed in Mint : Entitlement, Intolerance & Violence

Three beasts that the political class rides—and would do well to get off

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

My op-ed in Mint today points out the damage that the entitlement economy, competitive intolerance and returns to violence are causing. It draws on some of the earlier posts on this blog on the subject. Excerpts:

The political exploitation of ethnic, caste and religious identities would have been bad enough without the third trend—that of rewarding political violence. It’s a matter of deep irony and deeper shame that a nation born out of non-violent struggle should consider it somehow acceptable for rebels, discontents and separatists of various kinds to use violence as a tool to press their demands. Under UPA government, not only has the home ministry demonstrated monumental incompetence in apprehending and punishing perpetrators of political violence, its cheerleaders have explained away criminal behaviour as a legitimate expression of socio-economic deprivation.

The entitlement economy is causing a crisis of selection—it is impossible for India to be competitive globally unless it can put together its best team, regardless of groups the players belong to. Competitive intolerance is beginning to hollow out intellectual and cultural life. And leaving political violence unpunished is not only wrong in principle, but extremely dangerous in practice—not least in the context of caste/community-based entitlements.

It must rank as a supreme example of groupthink among the political class that not a single party or politician of note has summoned up the courage to offer an alternative narrative. In that unfortunate fact lies the political opportunity of the decade. [Mint]

Update: Harsh Sethi refers to this op-ed in the July 2007 issue of Seminar magazine

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