Ritwik’s lament is that all his arguments with me devolve into nitpicking. My response is, he starts it. For example, in my post about terrorism, I model Narendra Modi as being interested only in votes, not in combating terrorism. Ritwik’s response to that is that while is interested in both fighting terrorism and winning elections, and when there is a conflict between the two, winning elections takes precedence. In FitW’s formulation of the same point, Modi considers winning elections his patriotic duty to keep the evil Congress at bay, and therefore considers short term setbacks in the fight against terrorism as acceptable collateral damage.
This is an astonishingly subtle distinction, and I took some time to grasp it. The trouble is, this distinction has very little to do with my actual argument.
A year back, we were visiting my wife’s relatives. The head of the family, my wife’s uncle, used to be in the police force before he drank himself to death.
As is the norm in these cases, his eldest son was given a job in the police department. Of course, he had to pay a bribe for the job. He got a discount because of his late father, but he wasn’t exempted. If the son had been a graduate, the amount would have been lower, but he would still have had to pay.
And oh – he did not get an actual policing job. That would have cost him much more. He was given a clerical job in the department, dealing with personnel matters. That cost lower.
“I don’t suppose you have any opportunities to make extra money in this section?” I asked him.
It so happens that my article in Pragati is around 200 words shorter than it should have been, because it was supposed to be one of a set of 2, and had a reduced word limit than the normal Pragati article. Neither Nitin nor I are very strict about word counts while editing. If an article is well-written, we don’t care if it goes a couple of hundred words over. But while writing I am very very conscious about word limits. I set a target, constantly check my pace, and almost always ensure that I make the limit. When it became clear that Karthik’s article was not going to arrive, I was thinking of revising my article a bit, but then I had to rush to the hospital. So if I had given myself another 200 words, I would have been able to cover some of points I am covering now.
I have an article up in the October 2008 issue of Pragati. There I argue against Karthik’s post on statistics and terrorism. I argue that if we give a “free hand” to our police to fight terrorism without insisting that they obtain convictions from courts, we will not only end up with too many innocent victims, but also too few genuine terrorists. This was supposed to run in a debate format, with an article from Karthik and a response from me, but Karthik asked for a bailout at the last minute, which left only my article standing.