Justice Katju was in the news recently, asserting that “90 per cent of Indians are fools.” His reason: they vote on caste and communal lines. I disagree. In reality, most Indians don’t vote. And when the poor do vote, they do so only when agents of political parties bribe them with booze, and also provide them with transportation to and from the voting booths. Anyway, they have proved beyond doubt that they cannot be taken for granted.
But leave democracy aside – for ours is rigged, and only socialists can compete – and look at the market, where the old proverb says “a fool and his money are soon parted.” Here, as every MNC has found out, the Indian consumer is a very “tough customer.” No fool.
The Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament contains many with the word “fool” – like the one right at the start, which goes:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and discipline.
However, a footnote says that the original Hebrew word for which the translator has used “fool” denotes something quite different – and that is, “someone who is morally deficient.”
If this Biblical definition of “fool” is considered, we as a nation are ruled by fools – but they are a small minority, for all governments are minorities. Our numberless, unlettered masses as all equipped with “natural honesty” and “natural religion”: they are all “God-fearing.”
Not only the entire “political class” – which includes the bureaucracy – but, I would insist, our judges are all fools, too, for the Book of Proverbs also says:
If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law,
Even his prayers are detestable.
The Law begins with Property. Period.
Indeed, it is only because there was Property, that Law came about. Another Proverb instructs us to “never move an ancient boundary stone.”
Of course, most of our top opinion makers and journalists are fools – in this Biblical sense. Barkha Dutt is just one example. But I thought Swaminathan Aiyar was made of other stuff. However, his latest column on the “poverty numbers” has forced me to alter my views, for it is in praise of Montek! He cites three “authorities” in favour of his arguments: The World Bank, a communist from the Planning Commission itself, and a JNU “bureaucrat-professor.”
In any case, as Swami has himself been pointing out for years if not decades, India has prospered and poverty has lessened not because of State action, not because of any “welfare,” but only because of Economic Freedom and Free Markets. I find it astonishing that he has penned this mendacious piece.
How is this a sign of “moral deficiency”?
Well, the great Victorian moralist, Samuel Smiles, wrote thus:
The worship of power is debilitating in its effects, and is far worse than the worship of mere wealth would be.
Power is the problem.
Freedom is the answer.
Fools have all the power.
And bigger fools worship them.