Taxpayers, citizens and the idea of university

Reading Marilynne Robinson as reply to T Mohandas Pai’s argument against JNU

GN Bureau | March 9, 2016


#Barack Obama   #marilynne robinson   #t Mohandas pai   #kanhaiya kumar   #education   #standwithjnu   #jnurow   #jnu  


T Mohandas Pai, a respectable corporate leader, represents a wider audience when he targets JNU students and their misguided idealism for misusing taxpayers’ money.

Then, of course, there is another viewpoint, many have highlighted the vacuity of Pai’s arguments on social media and elsewhere. Furthering this debate – on using “taxpayers’ money”, here is a fresh essay from Pulitzer-winning author and teacher Marilynne Robinson. Since even president Obama too recently turned to her for some wisdom, we too can benefit from her views on the same matter:

Click here for the essay published in the Harper’s magazine.

Here are some points relevant to the Indian debate:

* There has been a fundamental shift in American consciousness. The Citizen has become the Taxpayer. In consequence of this shift, public assets have become public burdens. These personae, Citizen and Taxpayer, are both the creations of political rhetoric. (It now requires an unusual degree of historical awareness to know that both politics and rhetoric were once honorable things.)

* It can be said, however, that whenever the Taxpayer is invoked as the protagonist in the public drama, a stalwart defender of his own, and a past and potential martyr to a culture of dependency and governmental overreach, we need not look for generosity, imagination, wit, poetry, or eloquence. We certainly need not look for the humanism Tocqueville saw as the moving force behind democracy.

* The Citizen had a country, a community, children and grandchildren, even — a word we no longer hear — posterity. The Taxpayer has a 401(k).

* From the perspective of many today, the great public universities (and many of them are very great) are like beached vessels of unknown origin and intention, decked out preposterously with relics and treasures that are ripe for looting, insofar as they would find a market, or condemned to neglect and decay, insofar as their cash value is not obvious to the most stringent calculation.

Comments

 

Other News

Cyclists plan ‘memorial ride’ to press demand for infrastructure

Cycling is a passion for many, and it is a way to fitness too. With rising numbers of vehicles on the road, the government encourages this environment-friendly mode of transportation, but it comes with numerous challenges. An accident last month on the Mahipalpur flyover of south Delhi, which took the life

“World headed towards stagflation; India must take care of the poor”

As the post-pandemic fallout and geopolitical uncertainty slows down global economies and sanctions against some nations, energy crisis and inflation are adding to the troubles, India is projected to be decoupled from world economy and fare better. To check if this belief really holds water, in the latest

The changing nature of CSR in India

With the advent of globalization came a new set of challenges for corporations, notably the duty of ensuring the well-being of all stakeholders while also protecting the planet`s natural environment. Although we are dedicated to a faster and more inclusive rate of growth, it is equally imperative that we f

BMC commissioner Chahal conferred with hon. doctorate

BMC commissioner and administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal has been conferred with a Honorary Doctor of Science Degree (honoris causa) by Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, Punjab. Chahal was conferred the degree during the 48th convocation of the University in Amritsar at the hands of Punjab

Sebi to have two-track approach on ESG

Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) aims to use a two-track approach on environmental social and corporate governance (ESG). Addressing a conference on ‘ESG for Atmanirbhar Bharat` in Mumbai, Sebi chairperson Madhabi Puri Buch said that that there should not be a single carbo

Accuracy more important than speed in news: Anurag Thakur

Presenting authentic information is the prime responsibility of media and that facts should be properly checked before they are put in the public domain, union minister of information and broadcasting Anurag Thakur has said. “While speed with which the information is transmitted is imp

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter