Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sunil Khilnani on India's Knowledge Bankruptcy


Today, the Indian state seems particularly inept at generating the kind of knowledge it requires as it tries to realize its global aspirations. We have severe deficits when it comes to producing our own information, on the basis of which our strategic and policy decisions can be taken, our greatest long-term hopes pursued. The two major security threats we face, external and internal, embody this current lack.

From his latest Mint column. The external "security threat" Khilnani refers to is the once coming from Pakistan. But his views on the internal threat are worth highlighting:

...[The threat] emanating from the impoverished areas of the country in which Maoists are operating. We all acknowledge that these parts of the country are in great social and economic distress. But our sense of the nature of that distress is appallingly general. Our government and our social scientists lack the detailed, rigorous field studies that would illuminate, in a nuanced, non-ideological fashion, the key drivers and the casual [sic] chains that lead towards violent agitation. It’s all the more galling, then, to learn that it’s the Maoists themselves who turn out to be, in addition to gun-toting militants, rather expert social scientists with a more impressive grasp of the structures of contemporary agrarian society than our own government. Some in their membership have done real field work to advance plausible explanations of why so many Indian citizens feel compelled to take to armed revolt.

Is it true that "our social scientists lack the detailed, rigorous field studies" that illuminate "the key drivers and the casual [sic] chains that lead towards violent agitation"? Or is it the case that India's social scientists (and journalists and human rights activists) know a great deal about -- and understand -- the key drivers and the causal chains, but the Indian state has no intention of listening to them?

2 Comments:

  1. jbeck said...

    Is it true that "our social scientists lack the detailed, rigorous field studies" that illuminate "the key drivers and the casual [sic] chains that lead towards violent agitation"? Or is it the case that India's social scientists (and journalists and human rights activists) know a great deal about -- and understand -- the key drivers and the causal chains, but the Indian state has no intention of listening to them?

    Yes to the first, and an irrelevant NO to the second.
    We have produced 1 or 1.5 social scientists since independence between Andre Beteille and M.N.Srinivas. The Center for Study of Local Cultures (CSLC) at Kuvempu University, jointly founded by the university and the Indo-Belgian scholar of letters SN Balagangadhara, has for the first time ever produced data based research on the communities of India in the public domain. India's anthropological survey does some good work but has been poor at generating theory. The second question is misplaced. The government should not wasting its time studying the problem, we know what it is, an inability to implement the law, and a reluctance to use overwhelming force. The latter because the Congress 2.0 that rules India now is only interested in expanding its base across BIMARU by building up votebanks. With the help of YSR it collaborated with the Naxalites in AP and finished off or quelled the TDP and powered itself into the administration. In BIMARU one of the things it is working on, is to co-opt the naxalites and use them to subvert the opposition in these states - Orissa, C'garh, MP etc. This is exactly what is happening in WB, where Mamata has been using the naxalaites to fight the LF. Hard ruthless policing and if not that military action always works and has as a rule destroyed rebellion and insurrection. India itself offers several examples of success - SS Ray who in WB wiped out the '60s naxalites, KPS Gill who wiped out the Khalistanis in Punjab, the success in J&K, YSR in AP who finished off the PWG and had almost brought the naxalites to ruin when he died in that tragic accident. The Sri Lankan example is also noteworthy. While the SL forces decided to go all out, the Indian military helped with crucial intelligence that disrupted the LTTE's seaborne supply routes (helping destroy their high seas supply depots) starving the LTTE and ultimately mopping it up.
    Sunil Khilnani is talking thru his hat and is one of our useful idiots who is paid to entertain his foreign paymasters. A man who knows nothing beyond English and has produced no scholarship in Indian languages should not pontificate.

  2. jbeck said...

    http://www.dailypioneer.com/313455/Jharkhand-is-the-next-big-mover.html

    I get it. It's Sunil Khilnani who is ignorant.