jul 25th, 2009
i read your well-written article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124840931940378415.html on the sad lack of charitable giving in india.
i believe there are a couple of reasons for this shortfall, in addition to the fact that tax codes do not encourage philanthropy in india (it is likely that americans would also be less generous if there were no tax benefits -- note that as a nation, the US is far more stingy in its charitable funding abroad than most other rich countries).
one is the continuing legacy of a stalinist state: wherein a "shortage economy" is the norm. this also explains corruption, of course, as well as the senseless mayhem on indian roads -- people are, as it were, worrying the road will disappear, so they attempt to grab as much of it as possible. this is a rational reaction to a shortage economy, as is the great difficulty people have in queuing up at railway booking counters -- they are afraid things will run out before they get to the head of the queue.
since these are all remnants of the nehruvian mindset, you should be talking about the "nehruvian rate of growth", the much-loved 2-3% growth that nehru let us all 'enjoy' till recently. after all, nehru is gone and his rate of growth is also gone. this is additional reason for you to use this accurate term. after all, the hindus are still around, aren't they? so how could it be the "hindu rate of growth"? this was a racist and insulting term coined by a communist, raj krishna, for whom this is his 15-min -- and sole -- claim to fame.
as a paper that does not believe in equal-opportunity denigration of religions, you should stop using this horrible term forthwith. after all, i have read your paper for decades, and i have never seen you refer to pakistan's or somalia's growth rate as the "islamic rate of growth", or rwanda's or haiti's as "the christian rate of growth".
and we have good reason to believe (see angus maddison) that the historical and actual "hindu rate of growth" was the highest in the world -- after all, india was the richest country in the world till around 1700. in addition, let me point out that hindus (and buddhists) were highly philanthropic. the temples at tanjavur or sanchi, the remaining sculptures at hampi, the shelters for travelers constructed by asoka, the great universities at nalanda and taxila, the gau-shalas or shelters for cows -- all these bear inscriptions pointing to a tradition of giving not only by kings but also by rich citizens. the colonial loot of india by the british impoverished the society (the loot was of the order of $10 trillion in today's money), and the dirigiste stalinist state after independence actively prevented people from making money. after all, the state provides no social security, and it is up to individuals to hoard enough so that their children will be provided for.
therefore, it is unfair of you to ridicule the citizenry. the fault remains with the government and with the erstwhile thieves. india believed in butter, not guns. elementary mistake, because thugs with guns took all the butter away.
once again, let me request you to abjure the offensive phrase "hindu rate of growth" in your writing. it is demeaning, it is not historically accurate, and it is racist.
management consultant and op-ed writer (rediff.com, new indian express, the pioneer, mint)