Merchants in Maharashtra have begun a hunger strike to eliminate local taxes. Unlike poor farmers consuming pesticide or distraught students immolating themselves, this involves what seems to be relatively well-off businesspeople lobbying for lower taxes. Whatever happened to the traditional method, buying a politician?
[A Maharashtra trade association] has called for a hunger strike on April three protesting against the levy of octroi… [Link]
Similarly, Sonia Gandhi’s renunciation theater should have her winning re-election shortly:
Sonia Gandhi, the leader of India’s governing coalition, stepped down Thursday as a member of Parliament… a New Delhi-based political analyst… compared Thursday’s announcement to Gandhi’s decision in 2004 to refuse the prime minister’s job, which sent her popularity soaring as many people saw it as a rare act of renunciation in Indian politics. [Link]
Sonia Gandhi and her supporters have shown themselves to be by far the wiliest folks in Indian politics. I don’t believe this “sacrifice” nonsense, but I have to doff my hat at the tactical brilliance of this decision… [Gandhi] is brilliant at impression management and knows the value of a “moral high ground” in as emotional an electorate as [India’s]. [Link]
Of course, the Indian script of sacrifice has long precedent:
[Mohandas Gandhi] launched his last fast-unto-death in Delhi, asking that all communal violence be ended once and for all, and that the payment of Rs. 55 crores be made to Pakistan… the Government rescinded its policy and made the payment to Pakistan… Gandhi thus broke his fast by sipping orange juice. [Link]
In contrast, American politicians often see sacrifice as an act of weakness and step down only under duress:
Mr. DeLay, who stepped down as majority leader last fall after being indicted in Texas, told his constituents on Tuesday that he would not run for re-election and would resign from Congress in the next few months. He acknowledged that the criminal inquiries into former aides and his own activities had affected his re-election prospects… [Link]
Al Gore’s refusal to appeal Bush v. Gore in 2000 ‘for the good of the nation’ marked him as weak in his backer’s minds. In Semiotica, a.k.a. India, it might have made him a demigod.
I’m not quite sure what all the guilting means, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with Indian mothers, Mother India, claims to moral superiority and why the trains don’t run on time.