Rana Dasgupta takes a hardnosed look at Delhi, in Granta:
...it is difficult to live here and not be stupefied by the speed and brutality with which every resource is being fenced in, mined and commodified. But is it true ... that north Indian Hindus are simply programmed by their history and religion to be rapacious? Capitalism is rapacious, and its new elites, wherever they have been in the world, have usually risen sternly. Is the new Indian elite worse than everyone else? Is it worse, moreover, than the socialist ruling class that went before? It is so common, these days, to hear people indicting the vulgar new India ... by comparing it unfavourably to the more genteel socialist system of the old days. But wasn’t the socialist elite just as cruel and corrupt, even as it quoted Shakespeare and Marx? Isn’t there much that is positive in the explosive dynamism of the contemporary Indian economy?
I go to have lunch with a psychotherapist, Anurag Mishra. I tell him about a man I recently met who told me a story curiously similar to the Sanjeev Nanda incident.
‘His son called him to say he had just killed a man with his car,’ I say. ‘The son was in a panic and didn’t know what to do. There were injured people lying on the street. The father told him, Get out of there as quickly as you can. His son had borrowed his car but he was only sixteen and shouldn’t have been driving at all. So he told him to run. Isn’t that surprising?’
‘Not really. He’s an Indian father, and he’ll protect his son above everything else. A car accident is a matter of perception, it’s a trick of fate, but a father’s duty to his son is absolute. Do you think he’s going to say, Confess to what you have done and pay the price? This isn’t a guilt culture. In the Indian psyche, you dissociate yourself from the bad things you have done, and then they’re not yours any more. That’s why you can never make any accusation stick to a businessman or a politician. They won’t even recognize the crimes you’re accusing them of. They’ll probably have you beaten up for insulting them.’
Read the full piece: Capital Gains
Jul 24, 2009