The piece I'm responding to here - linked to me recently by a friend - is typical for him - unresearched pseudo-elitist drivel of the worst kind. You can read it at:
I want to do this point by point. SO MANY points of annoyance!
(My suggestion is that you open his link in a parallel tab, and compare points as we go along.)
First paragraph, straight off the bat, exactly what I've come to expect from him - pure assertion. So convenient to summarise the complex history of colonial occupation, integration & post-Independence organisation / reorganisation into one sweeping generalisation that just happens to chime with your particular mindset, and that of those inclined similarly to you!
(Frankly, Europe is far more concerned with a homogeneous destiny than India ever was. Diversity is always considered an asset here, even if only at a cultural level, right?)
(Disclaimer to next segment: I am a long time Mumbai resident, and probably prone to get defensive about my city. Permit me the impassioned defence so long as it remains empirically sound?)
[ADDENDUM: A friend pointed out an even deeper flaw, while commenting on this piece in another forum: Mumbai probably has the highest ratio of commercial establishments to industrial ones. What this means is that a lot of this money Joseph speaks of is not 'made' in Mumbai in any real sense. It is simply paid here. So, for instance, Tata has no factories in Mumbai, or even Maharashtra that I know of. But they file their taxes through their corporate head office in Mumbai. Can the states where the factories are located complain about deprivation of revenue from 'their' production? Can Mumbai claim to be 'deprived' of it if, for whatever reason, Tata shifts HQ to Gandhinagar? The absurdity of the claim to 'making more money' could not be more evident.]
The next paragraph - RIGHT AFTER talking about migration - links political power with population in the State. Do I need to point out the contradiction? Shouldn't we be eager for migrants, then - to vote in sympathetic elements from the cities to which they migrate (so that their lot can be improved) incidentally gaining political power for their new residences rather than their home states? Again, if the distribution of seats lags behind population migration trends, is that the fault of the migrants? Of their home states? Or are we suggesting these migrants all trek home every election to vote?
And so we come, at last, to his real bug-bear. The idea that an intellectual 'Germany' (and we're taking this comparison at face value because it's an easy reference to follow, which is pretty much the kind of association Joseph relies upon for any of his writing to resonate), consisting of a financial / managerial / technocrat elite, feels they are not "getting their money's worth" out of politics. That this is a naked argument for elitism ought to be apparent, but then Joseph seems to have the good fortune of writing to sympathetic audiences.
The "objection" is ridiculous on many levels. The business of business is business, yes, but the business of government is governance, not business, so you do NOT assess it as returns to investment on the level of the individual citizen. Its purpose is developing the nation, not YOUR little bit of it. AFTER a common minimum is achieved, THEN you can look for something like proportionate gains to your contribution - until then, your entitlement is just the minimum your condition requires. This assumes, too, that you ARE investing heavily in the government, and that's just not true. P. Sainath (most famously amongst a host of others) documents, year after year, the quantum of corporate taxes written off / unrealised by the government; the short version is, in any given year, we could meet all our payments, balance all deficits & perhaps even run a surplus budget if we refused to write off that amount. As I was reading in a different context, this attitude is less about a failure of government & more about a cultural disconnect where an Ayn-Rand-style atomistic capitalist hedonism is placed above an ethic of contribution to society & nation. Economically, anybody COULD be really rich even in the licence-permit era, but there were enough people who felt this was improper when large parts of the country did not even have food to eat. Today, that taboo seems to have vanished - in fact, the dominant narrative appears to be one of individual entitlement to wealth, which is to be protected from the government at all costs. (Ref. Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, 1976 - or this article by his student Block - http://breakthroughjournal.org/content/authors/fred-block/daniel-bells-prophecy.shtml)
Joseph then reduces politicians' behaviour (by recourse to Keynes) to purely a function of short-term profit, and that of the proletarian "Greek" segment (which votes en masse, while the elite "German" segment is hardly participatory) to wrangling for those gains, or else sheer communal clannishness. What sophistry! Could you perhaps articulate that "German" segment dream a little more clearly, sir? How can my vote & theirs be equal? I am the true citizen, it is mine that should carry weight.
And so, to the homily to patriotism in ending. Are people bound by virtues & ideas, or simply time & habit? Could it be, just possibly, that they are bound by an actual belief in a collective benefit that more atomistic views do not offer - and that this comparison simply may not transpose to the European context, where the trade-off between benefits for individual members vs. the collective is a lot sharper? One is not sure that Mr. Joseph could answer, but he resorts to his sole skill - the soundbyte - to sign off instead. Some nonsense about arranged marriages growing stronger when divorce is not an option. Yes, in the ideal, that will happen. But we've seen every degree of dysfunctional & broken home result as well, which is precisely why it was seen as ultimately beneficial for family welfare to bring that option to the table. Or do you think the "Greek" segment should simply volunteer to be the docile, battered wife, and bear all the costs of the marriage while continuing in servile submission?
Thank you for your patience. Pray that I may have the same when I encounter Mr. Joseph's writing once more. As it is, I can only worry what reading such pulp fiction in the New York Times does for a non-Indian reader's view of my country.