Saturday, November 29, 2008

It takes a Nobel caliber mind

“It is extremely important to understand that the criminal activities of a minuscule group, even if it turns out to have home-grown elements, say nothing about Indian Muslims in general, who are an integral part of the country’s social fabric,” Amartya Sen, the Harvard economist and Indian-born Nobel laureate, wrote in an e-mail message. “Even if it turns out that the Mumbai terrorists had a base in Pakistani territory, India has to take full note of the fact that the bulk of Pakistani civil society is an ally, not an enemy, in the battle against Islamist terrorism, for they too suffer greatly from the violence of a determined minority based in their country.” - Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics, quoted in the New York Times

We are told that for a long while, there were tip jars in the restaurants in Pakistan for diners to contribute to the jihad. Perhaps the bulk of Pakistani civil society never ate out, or some other complicated thing that only a Nobel laureate can figure out. I have yet to see on Pakistani TV or in their press any sense that the jihad hitting India is a bad thing. To most of the "civil society" that you see in the media, India mostly deserves it. We even had some email exchanges with a couple of them in the days when it hit only India, didn't they think the jihad would hurt them one day? (I think it was Ejaz Haider and Ayaz Amir. Maybe my memory is faulty.) Nah, to them it was an very effective policy of state.

But Amartya Sen is a laureate, and laureates see things normal mortals don't. Maybe Pakistani civil society is like dark matter, known to be present only by inference. Just like the astronomer will point to galactic rotation curves, gravitational lensing, and arcane cosmological calculations to prove that not only does dark matter exist but it exceeds in quantity all of the visible matter, perhaps likewise there is evident through some social science mantras pronounced in his university office, a quantity of Pakistani civil society that exceeds the visible one, that opposed the jihad against India, or at least thought it was a bad idea.

Pakistanis no doubt want intra-Pakistani violence to stop. But I challenge you to show me any significant person over there who will say in public: "The jihad against India has to stop".


Rajan P. Parrikar said...

Amartya Sen employs peculiar techniques of induction. When Muslims engage in terrorism against Hindus he sees only a "miniscule" section of them and tells us not to extrapolate that behavior to the larger Muslim population. But when it comes to the Hindus, he adopts the inverse: a miniscule of Hindu extremists is enough to set off the bees buzzing in his bonnet, about BJP, RSS, VHP etc.

It comes down to simply this: Amartya values the safety of his bones. He knows full well that bad-mouthing Hindus have never and will never invite adverse consequences on his life and limb.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

I won't speculate on the substance of your post, but the fact is that Pakistant is a very divided and fractured country. Many of the targets of the radical jihadists have been Pakistani. The natural human instinct is to say "kill em all and let God sort them out" but unless you really want all out war there is a point in making distinctions. The leaders of Pakistan have some clear reasons for wanting to tame the monsters they helped create - what is less clear is whether they have the will and the means.

It is clear that India can no longer tolerate mere lip service to subduing the jihadists. Action is needed, and decisive action.

Arun said...

CIP, What you see is what you get.

There is no inference here except that Amartya Sen is an ass to suggest that India and Pakistan have a common enemy. And the reason is because Pakistanis on the whole approve of the jihad against India, even when it is conducted by people who are killing Pakistanis, too.

Maybe I'm not the normal person, but I don't have the supposedly normal human reaction of kill them all. There are specific people masterminding this, they have to be taken out of circulation by capture ideally or by killing. But I'm not going to go into Amartya Sen's lala land imagining that somehow India would be striking at a common enemy.

Dunno where you're drawing dark inferences from.