Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Divide And Rule

The Indian Government has decided to include caste in the next census. The Yadav leaders Mulayam Singh, Lalu Prasad and Sharad were pushing for it for some time by now. The finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said last day that the decision was made to include caste information in the next census. "Yes, we will include it (caste) in this census.” he said. A column on OBC’s will be included in the census. There are already columns for SCs and STs. The Government argument is that such data is required for welfare policies for OBCs- “to make proportional financial allocations”. “Caste is still a reality”, says the proponents of such policies. Welfare measures, hence, are required to correct past inequities. There are several problems with this mode of reasoning. Firstly, statistical data is irrelevant for sound economic policies. A priori reasoning would do. Secondly, what happened in the past is completely irrelevant for public policy decisions.

This is the classic trick of collectivists to create an “us versus them” feeling. This is “racism”. Ayn Rand wrote decades back in “The Virtue of Selfishness, that “Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.” This is true of “casteism” too.

What the backward castes need is not reservations or ‘welfare”. What they need is capitalism-the free market. Racial (and caste) discrimination is inversely proportional to the degree of freedom of a country. For instance, in North America, as of higher economic freedom, blacks are much better off in comparison to their Southern counterparts. Racism was more prevalent in the feudal South America than in the more capitalist North.

Such decisions and policies by the Government is a product of the hampered market economy. Under a hampered market economy, each group tries to grab special privileges at the expense of others, and the decision to include caste in the census is a move towards it. To quote Rand again: “The growth of racism in a “mixed economy” keeps step with the growth of government controls. A “mixed economy” disintegrates a country into an institutionalized civil war of pressure groups, each fighting for legislative favors and special privileges at the expense of one another.”

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