May 15, 2021
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'A Failure Of Intellectual Argument'

'A Failure Of Intellectual Argument'

Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express says our debates are about scoring points, not in making progress:

The government believes it is more important to be seen to be doing things than to be doing them well. The proposed food security legislation is another example of this tendency. The legislation exemplifies the self-defeating obduracy of bureaucratic modes of thinking. But the debate around it also exemplifies a failure of intellectual argument in India. Our debates often have this character. First, we spend a lot more time arguing about the destination than necessary. It is absolutely unconscionable that the need for a credible food security system still needs to be argued. Then we have a slightly more productive discussion about the route to get there. Some will argue that the Public Distribution System, though currently broken, can be fixed. Others will argue we need to replace food with cash. Sometimes these debates are in good faith. But sometimes in these debates, as in identity politics, belief chases evidence, not the other way round. But once we have, for good or for ill, chosen a route, we stop caring whether we will drive well enough to get to the destination. Or, worse still, we will actively subvert whatever route has been chosen. Often this is because each side can say, “I told you PDS won’t work.” Or, “I told you private provisioning won’t work.” We make sure that the conditions that might make the chosen architecture work do not obtain.

Read on at the Indian Express: Food Insecurity Bill

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