Saturday, October 14, 2017

Is Sex with an underage wife Rape?

The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday ruled that a man is committing rape if he engages in sexual intercourse with his wife who is aged between 15 and 18. How logically sound this Supreme Court ruling is? To know the answer of this question we must first understand what ‘rape’ is. An online dictionary of law defines rape as the crime of sexual intercourse (with actual penetration of a woman’s vagina with the man’s penis) without consent and accomplished through force, threat of violence or intimidation (such as a threat to harm a woman’s child, husband or boyfriend). This means, a rape basically is a violation of others’ bodily property right. It is an initiation of aggression against others’ private (bodily) property. Any case of such initiation of aggression re sexual intercourse is a rape no matter what the age of the person whose bodily property is violated is. The age factor is irrelevant here.

The ruling of Supreme Court is purely arbitrary and illogical having no basis in any sound legal principle. Why only wife between 15 and 18 years old? What if the wife is 18 years and 1 day old? What if she is 19 years or 20 years old? In any case of rape the only thing the court has to decide is whether any kind of sexual aggression has took place or not without looking at the age of the victim or aggressor. A rape is a rape. A sexual aggression against an 80 year old wife is also a rape and 16 year wife is also a rape. The Supreme Court is unduly complicating the matter and the law. By doing this, they are inviting all kinds of troubles for people who will get falsely accused of rapes in future.
The fact of the matter is, in India the judiciary system lacks any basis of sound legal principle. Whatever principles they are using are all arbitrary subjective values of the judicial body members.

The state judiciary system functions like this only everywhere. Their goal is not of producing ‘Justice’ for the victims, but to endlessly complicate matters so that the institution of state and its organs like the justice system can be perpetuated indefinitely. As long as the state is in charge of the judiciary system, there is no hope for the victims of getting ‘Justice’.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Coalition Governments and Economic Growth in India

Former RBI governor Y V Reddy said that Coalition governments in India have produced better economic growth rates in the last three decades than a strong majority government… Interestingly, the highest growth in India from 1990 to 2014 was really during coalition governments… So, in a way it’s consensus based… in Indian situation, a coalition probably produces better economic results than a strong government.

Mr. Reddy is committing a logical fallacy of Cum Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc. Just because two things are occurring simultaneously and are closely connected with each other doesn’t mean one is causing the other. Better economic growth has nothing directly to do with what kind of governments, either coalition or majority, India has. What matters for growth is what kind of economic policies these governments are going to follow. If the government is small and less meddling in the free market enterprise system then it will produce stronger economic growth like what happened after 1990 economic crisis and following Rao-Manmohan liberalization reforms. And if the government is totalitarian and imposes its controls on the free market enterprise system then it will strangle the growth like what is happening under present Modi government.

The only reason Mr. Reddy sees this correlation is because India is a typical Wittfogel style oriental despotic country where demagogue despots are lurking in the background to seize the power and impose their will on people whenever opportunity allows them. The coalition government restrains such demagogues so they have to listen to others’ wishes and stay away from totalitarian controls. Coalition government works under restrains because it is working constantly under threat of losing power if they ignore others’ wishes. Such government also results into more political log-jam in parliament so they can’t pass draconian controlling bills easily. But majority government doesn’t face such restraints. Whenever one party is successful in getting full power via full majority, like what Narendra Modi got in 2014, they impose their totalitarian controls on everyone resulting into dismal economic performance.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Narendra Modi Government Faces Economic Reality

The full impact of Narendra Modi government’s economically unsound policies of demonetization, GST as well as lose money policy of RBI in the form of lending cheap artificial credits to insolvent borrowers via commercial banks resulting in huge load of unproductive debt has started to show on the Indian economy.

Finance ministry officials are now saying that India could be forced to cut spending on key infrastructure such as railways and highways as lower-than-expected tax collections and sluggish growth have upset the government’s budget calculations. This was well expected. As we have said in past here on Mises India, when the government gets bigger and totalitarian, the economy tanks rapidly. When the business environment becomes extremely uncertain, entrepreneurs will halt their business plans and stop any further present or future investments, and this will hit the economy hard because only production, saving, investment and capital accumulation can increase economy’s future growth. As Thomas Sowell famously said, the first principle of economics is that there is scarcity of everything, and the first principle of politics is to disregard the first principle of economics! Politicians like Narendra Modi think that they can disregard the laws of economics, which are absolute a priori laws of human action, forgetting the consequences of ignoring them. They forget that the forces of market are much more powerful than any politician and his political power. Market forces are always working in the background, and in the end they will force politicians like Modi to stop wasting society’s resources, and that is what is now happening in India. The report throws light on this fact:
The main problem has been the introduction of the GST, billed as India’s biggest tax reform in 70 years.
Ambiguous rules, an onerous return filing system and glitches with its IT back-end have made doing business far more complicated for many companies. Frequent changes in tax rates after the GST’s launch have heightened business uncertainty, resulting in many firms failing to register for the new tax.
India’s GDP growth itself has slowed to 5.7 percent in the April-June quarter from 7.9 percent a year earlier, a slowdown also partly blamed on the introduction of the GST, adding to the pressure on the state coffers.
Dividends from state-run companies are expected to fall and a $11 billion share sale programme is slowing down.
Complicating the finance ministry’s budget arithmetic further, the Reserve Bank of India announced last month that its annual surplus, a dividend transferred by the central bank to the government each year, would be only $4.9 billion, less than half the initial estimate, largely due to costs of Modi’s shock “demonetisation” initiative last year.
If Narendra Modi is not going to learn any lesson out of his momentous mistakes then the Indian economy is just going to go in a total free fall in future. If he continues his binge spending programs and RBI keeps on cutting interest rates to boost growth artificially then the economic woes of Indians are just going to become astronomical in future. Government spending and RBI manipulation of interest rates can’t create or boost growth. Government spending is always inimical to progress because what government spends on A, it has always took that forcefully from B; spending on A is always wasteful because it ignores the individual’s subjective preferences embedded in price signals, and so it lacks the market test of profit & loss. Progress requires government spending of 0 rupees.  As long as that is not happening, do not expect any real growth in India. The disaster in India continues to unfold.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Demonetization Disaster

The exercise of demonetizing around 87% of all circulating currency note supply taken by Narendra Modi and RBI last November has resulted into nothing but overall disaster for the economy. In his televised speech on 8th November, 2016 Narendra Modi talked about three main goals of the whole demonetization exercise, and they were:
  1. Curbing financing of  terrorism through  the proceeds of Fake  Indian Currency Notes (FICN)   and use of such funds  for subversive activities such  as espionage, smuggling of arms , drugs and other contrabands into India; and
  2. For eliminating Black Money which  casts a  long shadow of parallel economy on our  real economy
At that time Modi government was expecting that the substantial amount of black money that people were hoarding will never return in the banking system and that will become a windfall gain for RBI which it can then transfer in the government account. Now that 10 months have passed and data are coming in, what is the outcome of this exercise? Did this exercise bring back any windfall gain to RBI which it transferred to the Modi government? Did a substantial amount of black money never returned to the RBI vaults? Did the fake currency notes stopped circulating in the economy? Did the terrorism financing stopped and so terrorism stopped?

Even after 10 months of this exercise the Indian central bank RBI has yet to release full figures, but in their annual report, released few days ago, the RBI said that total 99% of all banned notes have returned in the system: India received a total of Rs 15.28 lakh crore in banned 500 and 1,000-rupee currency bills, the RBI said, which means 99 per cent of the banned cash has been legally returned in the eight months since demonetisation. The one per cent that has not returned to the RBI adds up to around Rs 16,000 crore. This means the demonetization exercise failed in unearthing any black money. In fact, people were able to convert their black money into white using the demonetization exercise itself! After this news came out, the finance minister Arun Jaitley was seen changing objectives of this whole exercise to hide his government’s failure by saying that, that was not the objective of demonetization…it was not an exercise to confiscate money but to nudge India towards digitization, ending anonymity of cash. Basically the government is now saying that the whole aim of demonetization was making India a ‘cashless digital economy’ and not curbing corruption and black money as originally stated by them.

Did RBI receive any windfall gain which it then transferred to the Modi government? Not at all. In fact, the recent data released by RBI show that instead of getting any windfall gain, RBI has made losses and it is only transferring Rs 30,659 crore, less than half the amount Rs 65,876 crore it transferred last year, dividend to the government this year implying lesser non-tax revenues to the government. This means, demonetization exercise turned out to be very costly for the government! It cost more money to RBI to print new currency notes and bring back old notes in the system than any so-called benefit of demonetization exercise!

Demonetization has also failed in curbing terrorism as can be seen in the on-going almost daily insurgent attacks on Indian nation state forces in places like Kashmir, North-East etc. The data released by the South Asia Terrorism Portal shows that, after demonetization exercise in year 2017 132 security personnel and 139 civilians have died in Jammy and Kashmir region itself. The three years of Modi government has turned out to be more deadly for the security forces compared to past years of Manmohan Singh government.

And, the fake currencies of even the new currencies introduced by the government started circulating in the economy during the demonetization exercise itself.

Not only this, the latest GDP data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that the first quarter GDP growth rate of the Indian economy has hit the lowest in last 3 years of 5.7% only, which is the slowest pace of growth under the Modi government. The demonetization exercise and then implementation of GST last July has hit the Indian economy hard. This was expected because when government fiddles with 87% of economy’s money supply, increases taxes on its people incessantly and also makes tax compliance so complicated that no one knows what is going on, the economy is going to tumble. Businesses survive and thrive in an environment of secure property rights and lower future uncertainty. When the economy gets one shock policy move after another in the form of demonetization and GST, it creates an environment of extreme suspicion and uncertainty among the business community. They start expecting more such shock policy moves from the government and stop any big present or future investment plans, which results into economy almost halting.

All in all, demonetization has resulted into total disaster for the Indians and their economy. The former RBI governor Dr. Raghuram Rajan warned about the dangers of demonetization and told Modi government about its heavy short term cost which will far outstripped its any presumed long-term benefits (sic), but Modi didn't listen to him and removed him from his position. The present BJP government is not ready to accept its failures and make corrections, but is busy making excuses. In such an environment expecting anything positive in future is going to result into disappointment only. We must brace-up for even worst situation in future because the world itself hasn’t got out of the deep depression that started in 2007.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Is Privacy a Human Right?

Yesterday a 9 judge bench of the Supreme Court of India gave a so-called historic decision of declaring privacy a fundamental human right now enshrined in the article 21 of the Indian constitution. Many are saying that this for the first time that some verdict is given unanimously by the bench 9 judges. This verdict now includes privacy also as a part of fundamental rights in article 21 of the Indian constitution, which wasn’t the case previously. Most people of the country and intellectuals have cheerfully welcomed this verdict hoping that this will stop the ruling BJP government from becoming totalitarian. The legal experts have hailed this verdict as historic, a watershed moment and a victory for common citizens by saying that it has far reaching implications for the matters like the beef ban, forceful use of Aadhaar card, government telling people what to wear and eat, abortion, LGBT rights, government surveillance in the form of reading peoples’ emails, text messages, listening to phone calls (wiretapping), and married women will have the right not to get raped in marriage etc. etc.

Most freedom loving people of India are also cheering this verdict because they think this is a blow to the Modi government who was arguing that people don’t have a right to privacy.

I think this is a moment which needs a calm reflection without any kind of such euphoria. I can understand that people are happy because the way Modi and his government are trying to control the body and mind of people this verdict seems like putting a break on those efforts. Notwithstanding this perception, the fundamental issue involved here is, should we give so much of importance to the issue of right to privacy and think it is a fundamental human right? What if the fundamental human right is something else and Supreme Court is not talking about it at all? In that case all hope of this verdict stopping Modi and his government from trampling on human rights turns out to be delusional. A careful logical analysis of ‘privacy as a human right’ issue will make this clear.

Is Privacy a Human Right?
Before answering this question of whether privacy is a human right or not we have to understand what human right actually is. To show that something is right for the humans we have to understand the basic human nature. Anything that is in accordance with this human nature is right and if it is not then it is wrong. The basic human nature is that nature has given all of us life. The basic life form is our own body. This life we can all sustain and enjoy only if we are free to use our bodies without any kind of restrictions from outside. Our body is thus our own i.e., we are the ultimate owners of our body, and ownership means this body is our property. For sustaining and enjoying our lives to its fullest potential we also need other resources like food, water, clothes, home, cars, computers etc. etc. We can acquire and own these prior unowned physical scarce resources via use of our bodies by appropriating them first. By this way we can make these resources our property too. Thus, as long as we are free to use our bodies and resources appropriated by using that body, together called our private property, we fulfill our nature. Anyone who infringes on the use of our private properties is violating our right. This proves that human right is nothing else but property right. This also proves that human right is basically a negative right i.e., others cannot stop me from using my property and similarly I cannot stop others from using their properties. As Prof. Murray Rothbard, the great 20th century philosopher of ethics, said:
And yet, on the contrary the concept of “rights” only makes sense as property rights. For not only are there no human rights which are not also property rights, but the former rights lose their absoluteness and clarity and become fuzzy and vulnerable when property rights are not used as the standard.
In the first place, there are two senses in which property rights are identical with human rights: one, that property can only accrue to humans, so that their rights to property are rights that belong to human beings; and two, that the person’s right to his own body, his personal liberty, is a property right in his own person as well as a “human right.” But more importantly for our discussion, human rights, when not put in terms of property rights, turn out to be vague and contradictory.
After elucidating what human right is, we are ready to tackle the question of privacy as a human right. As Murray Rothbard above said, when human rights are not defined based on the bedrock standard of property rights they lose their absoluteness and clarity and become fuzzy and vulnerable to misuse. The case of privacy as a fundamental human right, as declared by the Supreme Court, falls in this category of defining human right without the firm base of property right. As Prof. Walter Block said, privacy is a benefit and not a right. To understand this fact let us take an example involving the issue of privacy. In this regard I am going to quote Prof. Murray Rothbard. Rothbard is using an example:
Does Smith, for example, have the right to print and disseminate the statement that “Jones is a liar” or that “Jones is a convicted thief” or that “Jones is a homosexual”? There are three logical possibilities about the truth of such a statement: (a) that the statement about Jones is true; (b) that it is false and Smith knows it is false; or (c) most realistically that the truth or falsity of the statement is a fuzzy zone, not certainly and precisely knowable (e.g., in the above cases, whether or not someone is a “liar” depends on how many and how intense the pattern of lies a person has told and is adjudged to add up to the category of “liar – an area where individual judgments can and will properly differ).
Suppose that Smith’s statement is definitely true. It seems clear, then, that Smith has a perfect right to print and disseminate the statement. For it is within his property right to do so. It is also, of course, within the property right of Jones to try to rebut the statement in his turn. The current libel laws make Smith’s action illegal if done with “malicious” intent, even though the information be true. And yet, surely legality or illegality should depend not on the motivation of the actor, but on the objective nature of the act. If an action is objectively non-invasive, then it should be legal regardless of the benevolent or malicious intentions of the actor (though the latter may well be relevant to the morality of the action). And this is aside from the obvious difficulties in legally determining an individual’s subjective motivations for any action.
It might, however, be charged that Smith does not have the right to print such a statement, because Jones has a “right to privacy” (his “human” right) which Smith does not have the right to violate. But is there really such a right to privacy? How can there be? How can there be a right to prevent Smith by force from disseminating knowledge which he possesses? Surely there can be no such right. Smith owns his own body and therefore has the property right to own the knowledge he has inside his head, including his knowledge about Jones. And therefore he has the corollary right to print and disseminate that knowledge. In short, as in the case of the “human right” to free speech, there is no such thing as a right to privacy except the right to protect one’s property from invasion. The only right “to privacy” is the right to protect one’s property from being invaded by someone else. In brief, no one has the right to burgle someone else’s home, or to wiretap someone’s phone lines. Wiretapping is properly a crime not because of some vague and woolly “invasion of a ‘right to privacy’,” but because it is an invasion of the property right of the person being wiretapped.
Similarly, the reason why government cannot stop us from eating whatever we want (beef) or force us to use Aadhaar card by making it compulsory everywhere is not because these actions of government violates our ‘privacy right’ but it violates our ‘property right’. The government cannot invade our privacy not because we have such ‘right to privacy’ but because the government itself has no rights at all. The government itself is an illegitimate illegal institution because it violates property rights of everyone, by initiating violence against all of us in the form of taxation etc., for its existence! Because of this reason, the government has no right to do anything.

As we have seen above, privacy is not a human right let alone a fundamental one. The only fundamental human right is property right. The Supreme Court ruling never ever mentioned this property right. In fact, the Indian constitution nowhere mentions property right as a fundamental human right. In fact, the Indian constitution is replete with rights like right to education, right to be not discriminated against etc., which are not rights at all but violation of (property) right! The fact remains that there is no concept of property right in India!

The danger of cheering for Supreme Court’s decision of including privacy as a fundamental human right in article 21 of the Indian constitution is the implicit acceptance of whatever the Indian constitution is saying. This constitution is a flawed document designed, prepared and signed by few people six decades ago. That document cannot bind billions of Indians in some imaginary implicit social contract with the Indian nation state (aka government). In this regard the great American legal theorist Lysander Spooner said:
The Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation. It has no authority or obligation at all, unless as a contract between man and man. And it does not so much as even purport to be a contract between persons now existing. It purports, at most, to be only a contract between persons living eighty years ago. And it can be supposed to have been a contract then only between persons who had already come to years of discretion, so as to be competent to make reasonable and obligatory contracts. Furthermore, we know, historically, that only a small portion even of the people then existing were consulted on the subject, or asked, or permitted to express either their consent or dissent in any formal manner. Those persons, if any, who did give their consent formally, are all dead now. Most of them have been dead forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years. And the constitution, so far as it was their contract, died with them. They had no natural power or right to make it obligatory upon their children. It is not only plainly impossible, in the nature of things, that they could bind their posterity, but they did not even attempt to bind them. That is to say, the instrument does not purport to be an agreement between any body but “the people” then existing; nor does it, either expressly or impliedly, assert any right, power, or disposition, on their part, to bind anybody but themselves.
The Indian constitution has no authority over us. It is a ruse used by the state officials to rule and control us for centuries. As long as Indians continue to be ruled by these state officials, by using the document that they designed, Indians can never be free to enjoy their lives, property or even privacy.