Media spin on Akhilesh Yadav and the pariWAR

For the past few years, the “Modi cannot, should not, will not win” left “liberal” cabal has been searching for a suitable white knight to come riding to their rescue. After high hopes placed on Kejriwal turned out to be dud investment, the search is still on. The main messiah, Rahul Gandhi continues to move from one gaffe to another, keeping even in staunchest advocates scrambling for justifications and explanations.

In the meantime, Narendra Modi has taken control and the elaborate system of patronage and privilege setup over decades is unraveling at rapid pace. Give him another five years the famine would become unbearable.

Now it appears Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party, described by its own well wishers as one of musclemen, has become the latest messiah. His qualification? Unlike his pop Mulayam, he doesn’t want the Prime Minister chair for himself, happy to leave that for Rahul Gandhi to chase in exchange for another five years in Lucknow throne. Demonetisation too has given them a lot of hopes. As Smita Gupta puts it in Hindu, it presents an “opportunity“, never mind the deaths in queue our liberals were shedding copious tears on.

So the prospect of happy of days of 2004 returning has our left media warriors salivating and licking their palms in anticipation. For sure Rahul will need Alimuddin’s support and approval to function so it can be back to the glory days of UPA 1. One can bet lobbying has already begun for NIC memberships, “research” positions, grants and ambassadorships and of course fresh “investments” by the likes of Naveen Jindal in their magazines and ventures.

The latest skirmish in the disgusting family quarrel dubbed “pariwar” has resulted in articles, op-eds and tweets bordering on bizarre and ridiculous. The goal appears to be to paint Akhilesh Yadav as the new-age messiah, untainted by all his years with his “muscleman” father and his gang of lathi wielding thugs and caste warriors. In the process the hope is that a grand “alliance” of Congress and SP will grab power and set the stage for Congress to return to power at the Center in 2019 no doubt propped up by the left and likes of Lalu Prasad Yadav. Let Kejriwal eat cake!

Two things are abundantly clear – One, NONE of these liberal stalwarts have anything worthwhile to say on Akhilesh Yadav’s five years in power and secondly none of the familiar noise about deprivation, poverty and marginalised subalterns is going to come in the way of singing the praise of new-age messiah of high-tech future.

Swait Chaturvedi writing for NDTV makes clear she is not even going to bother defending his track record – “Ahkilesh enjoys a lot of popularity, despite the Samajwadi government being a dismal failure in governance and law and order“. Guess it doesn’t matter, because “None of the SP’s criminal nexus mud will stick to him despite a lot of his candidates being also shortlisted by his father“. So it is OK if 80% of the candidates selected by both camps are same, dispute “only on 20-25 seats” and bizarrely, Akhilesh retains more of the current batch of MLAs than his father wants to! None of these will stop our media stalwarts from awarding “Tipu” the prize of new-era champion of clean politics. Saba Naqvi whose hatred for BJP is too well known to require elaboration helps out:

Smita Gupta of Hindu is not far behind in singing the praise of the new messiah. Again, she could not bring herself to certify the track record of her prince (that would stretch credulity too much) but engages in verbal gymnastics to spin it. “Now almost five years later, he may not have accomplished what he had set out to do, but he is that much closer to his goal

But if facts are inconvenient, rumour mongering is always an option available to our liberal, secular, progressive media, with the usual “anonymous” sources to the rescue. Ask any question, you will get labelled a fascist troll, bhakth, sanghi. Here goes Barkha Dutt

As Prasanna Viswanathan points out, the media elites were hailing Mulayam as a hero of secular forces not too long ago!

No scrutiny no questions asked

Moreover, NONE of the intense scrutiny of track record that Modi or any BJP CM was subject to, none of the wailing over infant mortality, lack of primary healthcare and other favorite topics of our left liberals was allowed to get in way of this wholesome praise of “Tipu”. No media crook posted pictures of garbge, potholes, dysfunctional school or hospital to “puncture” the development claims. Construction of a cricket stadium of “international” standards was praised as a “development” initiative and a key “achievement” without any of the usual breast beating over people dying of starvation etc. The Lucknow-Agra highway was similarly hyped as a major achievement when similar claims by any BJP leader would be dismissed with focus relentlessly kept on one those that lost their lands in the process.


It will be interesting to see if Akhilesh turns out to be the messiah that he is made out to be by the Delhi media or will turn out to be another Kejriwal. If Akhilesh kisses and makes up with his Uncle Shivpal and Pop Mualayam, accomodates the other 10-15% of candidates that are in dispute, expect the narrative to once again shift to ‘secularism’ from ‘development’ with Mulayam once again praised as the Lohiaite socialist mass leader, firm in his secular credentials and agendas. All talk of thugs with lathis will cease.







Open letter to Rahul Gandhi

Dear Pappu

There was a time “Pappu” was considered derogatory. But then your own party workers are using it freely now, so I presume you will not be offended by my using it!

It must be frustrating for you – whatever you do or say seems to be perceived as childish or immature. Even your media friends are doing you no favor by declaring every few months that you have finally matured and arrived. As if you were that “special” child until yesterday.

All is not lost. You have a few distinct advantages

  1. You are young. You have time on your side. Barring Kejriwal almost all your competitors will hit 70 or more by 2024.
  2. Congress rank and file or middle tier leadership is in no danger of discovering its self respect. It is still and will be for the foreseeable future, a private venture of your family. So there are no internal threats. Of course, this applies to your rivals too.
  3. You have a pan-India mind share which is unique with Kejriwal being the only exception. No one outside Bengal will dream of seeing Mamata B in the PM chair and same can be said of Nitish Kumar too, particularly in the south.

But then you have unique challenges too.

  1. Congress is the only party that has a track record to explain. Others come with more or less clean slate. Their performance in their own backyards can be questioned but only so much. They can easily spin it in their favor barring major scandals.
  2. The very fact that there are so many claimants to the PM chair means you have to put a distance between not just Modi and yourself but between yourself and Nitish, Mamata, Kejriwal and others too.
  3. Unless Modi screws up enormously (Demonetisation is NOT one, regardless of what your retainers may tell you), a wave election favoring a single non-Modi candidate can pretty much be ruled out for 2019. It will be BJP again (perhaps with reduced majority or a need to strike new alliances to shore up numbers) or a fractured 90s style verdict.
  4. The others in the fray have made it amply clear time and again that they do not see you as their leader. Just getting them to join a meeting has been a herculean task for you.
  5. DMK/ADMK, Naveen Patnaik, KCR may hold 80-100 seats between them and none of them have any particular reason not to sign up with Modi should he need their help. Of course, they may support you, but they may also support a 3rd front. You are neither here nor there.

Given this background, what should you do? This is the high level “strategy”

  • Focus on differentiating yourself from the rest of the also-rans.
  • Take it slow, easy.

How do you get there? What are the tactics?

  1. Forget 2019, focus on 2024 – this sounds defeatist. But you don’t have to give up until the last vote is counted and writing is on the wall. But you don’t have to be so desperate like the rest for whom 2019 is the last chance in life. So you are hitting both strategic goals with this approach.
  2. Forget Modi, focus on others – Again this sounds like a bad advise. After all, isn’t he the man to beat? Yes, but for you the rest are as much rivals if not more. Remember, Modi’s die hard voters will vote him even if he is caught spying for Pakistan. (They will claim he has some special trick up his sleeve). You have a tough job convincing anti-Modi voters that you are THE man for the job. Naturally if you do a good job at this, the race becomes a two horse one. You just can’t wish away the other horse, rather, the elephant in the room. At least not in 2019.
  3. Collaborate with Modi on specific agenda items – Again this is contrarian. When Mamata and Kejri are crying themselves hoarse seeing conspiracy in every shadow, can you lag behind? But then the point is, that is precisely why you should do this. To show the educated, post-caste, mature electorate (whose numbers and proportion will grow with time) that you are PM in waiting not an anarchist clown who can’t be trusted. You can work together on Kashmir, Election funding reform, GST and few other areas where it costs you nothing, benefits you enormously to be seen as facilitating, mature, sensible leader with sound ideas. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you have to pull punches on other issues. It just means you don’t have to constantly oppose and hog the airwaves screaming and shouting when you have two professional anarchists to compete with and have no hopes of outracing them.
  4. Do not sign away any state with suicidal “mahaghatbandhan” – Yes that is precisely what you did in Bihar and trying to do in UP. A few seats and perhaps one or two ministry posts mean nothing if that state is lost for next ten years or more. It takes work no doubt but you have think of yourself (ie Congress) as natural alternative to BJP. Only then you can convince voters of that.
  5. Don’t touch the left with a 10 foot pole – Sitaram Yechuri and his comrades are still living in Stalin’s 40s. They simply do not have any credible economic plan for 21st century India. As the country grows they will be have even less relevance and will have a stake in nothing but anarchy, violence and backwardness. At best, they may be able to deploy their loyal army of “intellectuals” in the media and so-called “civil society” to sing your praise if you dance to their tunes. But then they have little choice and will anyway come crawling once you capture power. You can throw them some crumbs and gigs at ICHR or whatever. After all, they will be starving and completely famished by the time Modi is done. By allowing them to act as your mentor or advisors you are simply signing up to be their B-team captain. Unless that is your objective.

If you stick to this agenda, you will do reasonably well in 2019 and be in a position to seen as the best bet to anyone looking for a non-Modi option. Today this demography is spoiled for choice.







On Carnatic music and manual scavenging

Leftist daily Hindu, controlled by N. Ram a well known Marxist and SFI activist in his younger days, often prints opinion pieces by well known “intellectuals” aka hardcore Marxists and Maoists. We all know the horrible and blood drenched track record of the Marxist demi-gods like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. But their followers in India have cleverly occupied the “liberal” space. Using classic Goebbelsian tactics and vice like grip over media, history and culture they have succeeded in projecting themselves as champions of the downtrodden and the poor, even patented that right so no one dare encroach on their patch. Most of these “intellectuals” are themselves upper caste and their party Politburos are similarly dominated by upper class and caste elites.

Ananya Vajpayi a famous leftist “intellectual” often writes for Hindu. One such article appears today (24th Dec). You can read it here. The topic of the day is Carnatic music and manual scavenging. The occasion? A talk show with Bejwada Wilson and TM Krishna.

No one can have a quarrel with ending the horrible practice of manual cleaning of toilets, that too performed by the so-called lowest caste. Technology exists. Friends, camp followers and well wishers of the left elite have been ruling us for more than half a century, handing out juicy gigs, titles, awards (none of which were returned until Modi took over), frequent flyer miles and lecture tours to these “progressives”. Fact is, the leftists are not genuinely interested in solving the issue rationally or rapidly. For them it is a useful stick to beat Hinduism with and they would wish to see it continue. They don’t have to discuss equally inhuman instances of discrimination practiced elsewhere but that doesn’t fetch lucrative rewards.

Coming to the issue of Carnatic music, she again makes it appear there is some giant conspiracy by the “Brahmins” to usurp the erotic and esoteric art of the masses and turn it into a devotional, elite art form that they and only they can practice. To support her cause she picks T M Krishna, who has turned Brahmin bashing into a lucrative career and a useful shortcut to actually doing something useful to popularise classical music among the masses. (See link below)

Even rudimentary knowledge of the history of Carnatic music or Indian classic music for that matter, would show this to be patently false.

  1. The present day state of affairs of the Carnatic music scene reflects years of impact by personalities, events and trends far too complex to be controlled by one caste or group. Any conspiracy theory simply ignores this to engage in bashing of a community using classic left tactics.
  2. Devotion has been woven deep into Carnatic music for centuries now and across several states and territories that had very little coordination and certainly no centralised planning to conspire to exclude or snatch away any particular art form from any particular group.
  3. In fact even social ills were brought to light and critiqued using devotional music. We all know about the discrimination Saint Nandanar faced, thanks to Gopalakrishna Bharathi who was himself a Brahmin. If Gopalakrishna Bharathi brought it to the musical mainstream, the task of bringing it to real mainstream through the medium of a movie was left to Film producer S. S. Vasan, another Brahmin.
  4. Thanks to the freedom struggle, poets like Bharathi and other factors, non-devotional compositions have in fact increased their market share, although still quite small. The Hindustani music Khayal singing gives importance to the raw music itself and not the words and has been lucky to escape this bias.
  5. In fact in the Carnatic “Pallavi” singing, which usually involve one line compositions, non-devotional verses have been used for years. As artiste Sanjay Subramaniam rightly pointed out (and sarcastically too!) Alathur Brothers were singing such Pallavis in the 50s instead of writing articles in The Hindu. He cited the pallavi in raga Natakurinji made famous by the Brothers. One may have issues with this domination of religious theme, if but to spin conspiracy yarns is ridiculous, to say the least. In fact agnostic or non-Hindu artistes have been able to treat them as mere musical lines and sing them quite effectively too without resorting to abuse and criticism. One has to only listen to Parveen Sultana singing “Bhavani” to appreciate this.
  6. If Brahmins have come to dominate the profession today it is because numerous artistes have put in the effort to learn, practice and perfect, often for decades. They were humble in seeking knowledge and had huge respect for the “Isai vellalar” community musicians.
    1. For example, Madurai Mani Iyer (1930s-60s) has spoken about walking all night behind temple chariot processions to listen to elaborate recitals by Nadaswaram vidwans who were usually from the non Brahmin community. Needless to say, he had enormous respect for such vidwans and never failed to acknowledge their expertise and talent.
    2. Lalgudi Jayaraman’s biography has an interesting anecdote about his grand father, who was slapped hard by his elder brother for merely uttering the name of a musician who had called at his house in his absence. “Just say Pillaival ( a caste / community honorific like Panditji or Khan saheb) had come, that is enough, why take his name?” Such was the level of respect, untainted by any casteist feelings of superiority.
  7. Similarly due to circumstances of history and various complex factors, some communities come to dominate some professions or trades. The domination of Nadars in trading (mainly provision stores) is also a recent phenomenon and is not a grand conspiracy too. Today they may lose out to dot coms and on-line retailers and not to Brahmin traders.
  8. For professional, financial reasons or mere jealousy and petty mindedness, musicians may not share their ‘secrets’ with others or allow the rise of new talent. This has been a problem for ages in many professions in many countries. This too cannot be blamed entirely on caste. Both victims and perpetrators have been from various castes. Rivalries have not even spared siblings and close relations (The famous Lata-Asha rivalry comes to mind). Again, Brahmin artistes too have struggled to overcome such factors.  One anecdote highlights mridangam player Palghat Mani Iyer breaking one such attempt to deny him visual clue of the beat. (That is usually done in Carnatic music by systematic clapping of fingers on the thigh). This particular artiste who wanted to be clever did so under his dhoti thereby making accompaniment impossible!

Clearly it is not desirable to have a particular art form exclusive monopoly of one caste and something needs to be done. It is a challenge to get youngsters even of upper caste interested in classical music. It is going to be a much steeper climb to get others who have traditionally never partonised the art to do so.

Another sad fact is the profession has never been lucrative or cash rich except for very few at the very top. In other words there was never a huge pot of gold to usurp and monopolise. Even at the very top the rewards were peanuts in comparison to the movie world.  The famous tamil phrase “half-coconut Kutcheri” where the artiste merely gets the coconut broken by devotees at the end of the concert as reward, illustrates this.

Which is also why growing the base was not easy. Many top artistes (including Brahmin ones) have died in penury unable to afford even decent medical treatment.  The increase in affordability, economic growth, online music sales, systematic recording of revenue and royalties, clout of NRI crowd etc is changing the picture albeit slowly.

But the way T M Krishna is going about it, mostly scolding and sometimes abusing the dominant group is certainly not the way. But then doing useful work takes years and doesn’t fetch you Magasaysay awards unlike routine rants against Hinduism, Modi, Brahminism for “progressive” Marxist media that dovetails nicely into evangelist propaganda objectives.

Even if the objective is to find the reasons behind the decline of non-Brahmin communities’ interest in Carnatic music, this should be done in a scientific manner and not by coming out with conspiracy theories that are floated merely as part of Stalinist pogrom against the community and Hindu religion itself. For example, the artiste we mentioned earlier, Madurai Mani Iyer, routinely had a violin accompanist from the Naicker caste in the 50s and early 60s (again this goes to show talent was sought regardless of caste provided it shines through). Today it is practically impossible to find one. Why? Was it a giant conspiracy? Obviously not. The real reasons may be more prosaic or complex. It is worth finding them with open mind.

Similarly the case of violinist Mysore T. Chowdiah (from the Gowda community of Karnataka) breaking the barriers of discrimination by upper caste and subsequently benefiting enormously from their respect patronage, as he himself has narrated, was a mere flash in the pan. There has been no other violinist of talent anywhere in that class from that community after that.  Who can be blamed?

The efforts to promote Tamil compositions (aka Tamil Isai movement) offers clue. Frustrated by domination of Telugu compositions, Tamil lovers initially tried various techniques to popularise Tamil. Obviously some of it included abuse and rabid criticism, of the sort Krishna resorts to. Such negative approach thankfully gave way to more positive and useful efforts. This includes rewarding musicians that promote Tamil, encouraging concerts full of Tamil compositions and so on. This was done in a caste neutral way as well. This produced rich dividends and today, many artistes routinely include Tamil songs in their repertoire, even if they are not from Tamilnadu!

To be fair, it can be said that discrimination does exist in Carnatic music. For that matter everywhere in every nation in various forms. But there are also lots of cases of genuine appreciation for genuine talent. I remember watching a TV episode of a music talent hunt show where a young boy of rural (non Brahmin) background sings a famous tragic movie song from “Karnan” bringing the audience as well as the judges to tears. The judges, almost all of them senior Carnatic musicians, needless to say from the Brahmin community, were not only in tears of joy, but also praised and blessed the boy profusely and in turn were praised with enormous respect by the boy’s father who, in a traditional show of respect, fell at their feet. I am pretty sure anyone watching the entire episode would be moved deeply as well. There was also a recent case of a conservancy worker from Madurai, who learnt and plays Nadaswaram in his spare time. He has been honored too, by one and all.

Carnatic music is obviously poorer for missing out on enormous talent from a much larger social base. But getting there is a long hard grind and the best way to go about it is to stop abuse, conspiracy theories and demonisation of a numerically small community however tempting and rewarding it may be to do so.


Writer Jeyamohan wrote an interesting article in his blog when T M Krishna was conferred with the “Magasaysay” award. It provoked a lot of interesting discussion and one such link is here. If you know Tamil, read and enjoy.

Jeyamohan in his own humorous and sarcastic way says if such awards are to be given for mere speeches and articles in The Hindu, thousands have to be printed and handed out each week in Tamilnadu!






On Taimur Ali Khan

The amount of time Indians waste on cricket and Bollywood must be enormous. While at least one of the two tries to bring glory to the country the other has always been insensitive to the very communities they owe their success to and make their living in.

We are talking about super stars like Saif Ali Khan and Kareena who, between them have millions of twitter followers and millions more willing to spend their hard earned rupee to watch. Money, in a poor country like India, that is scarce and could have been spent on various other necessities of life. After all our Bollywood “progressives” like Amir Khan advise us not to waste milk on idols but give it to poor, don’t they? Naturally, these bleeding hearts don’t mind if you waste it on a movie ticket though.

Coming back to the main topic of the day, the superstar couple naming their new born son “Taimur”. There was a huge outcry on twitter and social media because Taimur or Timur or Tamurlane happens to be a mass murderer, who, according to Wikipedia killed up to 17 million people, most of them unarmed non-combatants. Even by the standards of those times, he was seen as a vicious cruel man. Of course he did it in the name of religion which adds to the complexity.

Let us look at the various arguments advanced by our “liberal” brigade in defense of this name.

It’s the right of the couple to name their child, no one can protest.

Let us first make it clear that we do believe the couple have 100% liberty in naming their son. No one can take it away.

But is it too much to demand a little bit more sensitivity, courtesy, respect and decency? Would anyone protest a name like Amaan or Ayaan chosen by Amjad Ali Khan for his sons? Even Akbar would have been seen as benign.

The child was named Taimur not after the mass murderer king but in Turkish the word means “Iron”

Come on, give others a bit of credit for intelligence! If this is not a cheap lie, one can say it is a laughable justification.  We simply quote this response and rest our case.

Perhaps, this baby Taimur would “redeem” the bad name earned by the real Taimur

So Sagarika does not even want to bother defending Taimur’s record as that is a lost case, but simply tell us this boy will be “different”

I wonder what she would say if a “sanghi” celebrity had named his son Adolf or Naturam. Perhaps she would have taken a similar liberal view? Of course not! There would have been a lot of moral outraging, breast beating and wailing on Twitter by the very folks who are giving us lectures on individual liberty now.

History is full of such Kings who waged war and committed atrocities in the process.  No one protests when kids are named after them.

Alexander is cited as an example.

This argument, at least, has some amount of common sense and logic. But then there is a question of cause as well as proportion. In other words, war for a good cause (such as defeating Nazis) or after sufficient pleadings and warnings to reverse course (Mahabharata, Ramayana etc) is always seen as morally distinct from war waged simply to conquer territory. Even if expansion of territory was the sole motivating factor, other factors come into play. The overall track record of the person in question is also significant. Was he just a warlord? Or was he more than that?

More importantly, there is always US and THEM. In other words, every culture worships its heroes and hates its invaders. We are NOT talking religion here. If we hate the colonial warriors of Britain, they are national heroes there. Even a butcher of innocents like Gen. Dyer is not hated. No Christian Indian names their son Dyer just because of shared religion. Cecil Rhodes (whose scholarship our liberal journo Sagarika quoted above enjoyed) is a hero too despite his horrible record in Africa. But you don’t expect an African to name his son Cecil Rhodes in honor just as you don’t expect a Jew to be named Goebbels.

Similarly for the West, Alexander is a hero. For the Turks, their Ottoman Sultans are, though many of them are despicable tyrants and cruel butchers. For Pakistanis, sadly, Ghazni, Ghori and Babur are, though the area that constitutes Pakistan was as much as a victim as any and Arabs, Persians or Turks don’t see Pakistanis as one of them.

That brings us to the crucial question.

Who do Saif and Kareena see themselves as? US – which means us Indian, and that includes Hindus, Muslims and Indians of various colors, faiths and creeds that were massacred? Or THEM who were the butchers, rapists and murderers? Are they Turks or Mongols? Is shared religion the only criteria?

If they had a little bit more sensitivity and empathy towards the poor Hindus (and Muslims, who were killed in sufficient numbers by Timur too) that spend their hard earned rupee on their movies, the answer to these questions would have been obvious. Their moral compass would have pointed elsewhere.

That is the tragedy of this entire saga.

Let us wish the poor boy, who had no choice in this matter, all the best in his life and hope that when he grows up he will see the gross insensitivity and idiocy of his parents and change it himself.



Communalising & politicising Army appointments

As we all know, there is this shrill and noisy brigade of self-appointed guardians of “Idea of India”. This gang was shouting from rooftop for years that Modi “cannot, should not and will not” win. But then he did. So now he has to be stopped, not allowed to govern, no matter what.

As if that were not enough, post demonetisation there is a race to the bottom, with severe competition between Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi and seasoned campaigners like Didi Mamata Banerjee. Each one seems to wake up every morning to check what the others have done and come out with something even more outrageous, ridiculous, even comic. It was almost as if some secret surveys told them Indian voters will elect the most anarchist and irresponsible among them as their PM in 2019.

The selection of Lt. Gen Bipin Rawat as the next Army chief gave the sycophant crowd around these anarchists yet another opportunity to engage in propaganda warfare using lies and innuendo as weapons. In the process, if the Army’s reputation for integrity, secular character as well as the reputation of soldiers who have given their best for years goes for a toss, who cares?

The first attempt at communalising the selection was done by Tehseen Poonavala, who we are told, is related to the Sonia Gandhi clan by marriage.

Even if you ignore the allegations of bias, the statements itself was incorrect as this tweet by Gen Ata Hasnain shows:

If Congress can lie, obfuscate and spin, can AAP, the reigning champions and record holders be left behind? Of course not! Enter Mr. Ankit Lal!

This was so blatantly untrue that it was almost a joke!

Once these tactics failed and were seen as dangerous by ever vigilant social media, the goal posts were shifted again. Innuendo was spread that the spy chief and others were selected because they were of same “caste” as Ajit Doval, the NSA.

Even this cheap lie was exposed mercilessly by social media!

This is dangerous because we will then have the likes of Owaisi saying Muslims don’t get to be chiefs and perhaps others from the “parivar” saying they were promoted for vote bank reasons. There is no end to this.

Thankfully senior journalists like Shekhar Gupta were around to debunk some of the lies and point out facts.

When will this sort of despicable, even treacherous behaviour stop? Only when voters punish the leaders behind such shameless propaganda so thoroughly that they reign in their lapdogs.




Malaysia, Philippines and CPEC

Game changer?

As we all know, Pakistan has been promoting CPEC as a “game-changer” both to aam Abduls of Pakistan itself and to outsiders. This project is supposed to lift Pakistan straight out of stone age into WESTERN LEVELS OF prosperity.

As we have pointed out earlier, thanks to the India-card which Pakistanis have printed out and supplied in abundance, China is able to pretty much ask for whatever it wants, commercially, strategically and militarily. High interest rates, sweeter than honey terms, taller than mountain debt, deeper than ocean opacity, you name it they can get it for CPEC.

Now Pakistan is facing even more competition, from two unlikely new corners – Malaysia and Philippines. What that means is the terms have to become even sweeter before Uncle Xi is going to cough up any more Yuan.

Malaysia, IMDB and China factor

The Malaysian PM, Najib Razak is under considerable pressure not just domestically but even from US, Switzerland and other countries for the vast IMDB scam. You can google for more and enjoy all the juicy details but to cut the long story short, billions of state funds have found their way into personal accounts of the powered elite and their cronies.

As US and others turn on the screws, Najib has responded with typical (and familiar) anti-Western rhetoric and jumped on the Chinese bandwagon.

Interestingly, the response from Najib is quite similar to that of the Pakistani PM. Encourage fanaticism and Islamic extremism, approach “friends” in Middle east for certificates of conduct and bailouts, and last but not the least, court the Chinese ignoring all risks and commercial common sense.

And the Chinese are responding – big time. On top of various other projects and investments, the Iskandar project in the southern state of Johor alone is worth almost $100b – that is twice the size of CPEC.

And all said and done, investing in Malaysia is a lot more secure than Pakistan with more prospects of returns and less of bomb blasts and jihadi terror although Najib’s Malaysia is rapidly moving in the “right” Wahabi direction. Chinese feel at home there thanks to the fact that more than 25% of Malaysians are ethnic Chinese which ensure steady supply of food & entertainment, language convenience, business contacts and cultural familiarity. Plus Singapore which is 80% Chinese and stable, prosperous, is close by and is a key target market.

If you were a  Chinese businessman with $1b to invest, you will be mad to choose Pakistan over Malaysia. Unless you get taller than mountain..well you heard that line earlier 😉

DUTERTE falls at XI’s feet

As if Malaysia’s sudden pivot is not enough, the recent ascent of Duterte in Philippines has given China yet another opportunity to pump funds and buy goodwill.

In addition to shooting off his mouth against the USA on every occasion, Duterte has also made it very clear he looks to China to fund infrastructure and supply arms and boost growth.  It doesn’t matter whether he will succeed or not. He is going to be around for another six years barring disasters, and he is going to make things even more difficult for Pakistan.

Why? Again given limited investment funds, China will look for quality targets not jihadi fanatic cesspool like Pakistan. Yes, it will throw some money at Pakistan too, to keep them on the hook but there is no reason to do so without squeezing out special terms and conditions.

Philippines too shares many of the advantages of Malaysia. Its ethnic Chinese population is more integrated with the mainstream in terms of language,script and religion (unlike the Malaysian Chinese) but it has numerous Chinese tycoons with close links to China who control almost all of Philippines’ business and trade. It has skilled manpower and English speaking populace (another key advantage over Malaysia and Thailand) which has filled numerous call centers and BPOs and is already a decent sized manufacturing base for  hi-tech including Intel chips and solar panels. Duterte himself is a half Chinese.

As if these two were not enough, other despots and undemocratic regimes are also courting China. For their own good reasons and mainly because they can’t get along with the West which asks too many inconvenient questions. Cambodia is one with its strongman Hun Sen a big time friend of China and its “investments”.

If I were Narendra Modi, India should demand a commission from China for CPEC as they are able to get excellent terms thanks to our “threat”.