19 April, 2021

The Blight Of Unthinking

Under Modi, serious debate has drowned in saffron diatribe

Illustration by Saahil
The Blight Of Unthinking

Amartya Sen hailed our great tradition of public debate and its importance in his book The Argumentative Indian. But anyone watching recent developments in India must be wondering what happened to the fabled argumentative Indian. Returning to India after a gap of several years, I’m struck by a conspicuous lack of serious debate—on immediate as well as long-term issues.

There’s a lot of sloganeering on—‘Make in India’ and so on—but slogans, however catchy, are no substitute for clear thinking. Arun Shourie has revealed how the prime minister likes to tell his advisors: “Arey yeh theek nahin hai, kuch dhamakedaar idea do! (This won’t do, give us a sensational idea!)” The result is policies made on the hoof—with an eye on impact, and designed to generate headlines.

Any wonder then that no less a person than RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has publicly questioned the logic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ policy. And on grounds that should have been...

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