Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.
Outlook reports from Jalandhar:
Want to seek greener pastures abroad? Come to a gurudwara here and offer a plane and who knows your wish might get fulfilled.
This may sound strange but Punjabi youths, especially from the Doaba region, have been thronging the Gurudwara Sant Baba Nihal Singh Ji Shaheedan in Talhan to offer toy planes so that their wishes of going abroad and getting lucrative jobs are fulfilled.
Toy planes, inscribed with names of different carriers, are found in front of the Guru Granth Sahib.
And then, of course, the confirmation bias kicks in. Some of these dudes will go abroad, and will tell all their friends, Hey, that toy-plane offering worked. You try it too. While the dudes who couldn’t go abroad will find other reasonable explanations for their failure, and may actually come back and deposit more toy planes.
Also, there’s self-selection. Outsiders could compare people who offer toy planes to people who don’t, and find that a larger percentage of the former group goes abroad. From this, they will conclude that the offerings work. But the conclusion is wrong because people offering toy planes are likely to be far more eager to go abroad than those who don’t, and that eagerness will get more of them on the plane out of here. The toy planes themselves will obviously have nothing to do with it.
(Indeed, if God existed, She would probably have gone WTF when those offerings were made. I’m God, and you’re trying to bribe me with toy planes? Get outta here!)
To carry this silliness forward, I wonder what these people will offer when they want a new house. A new car. More sex. The mind boggles.
(Hat tip: Aditya Kuber.)
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