Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pratap Bhanu Mehta on some protests in India

Protest, but softly (via Qalander). An excerpt:
"As a result of growth, more people do have more assets and more complex economic interests. Even though, there is good reason to be dissatisfied with government performance, the uncertainties produced by social protest seem to put more at risk. Hence the argument that the economic consequences of social protest are not desirable has more traction.

But there might also be a deeper story to be told about class and protest. It is often said that the privileged influence public policy while the poor don’t. There is much truth in this claim. But it can also be misleading in some sense. It disguises the fact that the ability of the privileged to collectively shape and reform the culture of the state in the direction of the public good is severely circumscribed. But the privileged have considerably more adaptive power. All their efforts are going towards private adaptation to the state’s deficiencies rather than public goods (private security, private electricity, private education, and private health). For them social protest is essentially an imposition of costs with no gain, since they do not really believe the state can be made to serve public good."

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