2018 Hope and Despair

We enter 2018 filled with hope and also a lot of despair.

Hope

Let us list out the hopes part first

Economy appears to be turning corner, having swallowed GST and DeMo shocks. Safe to bet it should be smooth ride from Q4 2017 calendar (or even Q3 of 2017) all the way. How much that will help Modi in 2019 remains to be seen. Will it be too little too late like 2004? Will it end up benefiting UPA3 in 2019 like it did with for first few of its disastrous plunder regime in UPA1?

Trump is settling down and doing things exactly the way he promised in his campaigns. This may not be 100% good news (H1B for one) but most of it is good for India if he walks the talk. Signs are good.

The global economic situation is benign if not beneficial. Many countries around us are doing well. ASEAN, Japan, USA (which is seeing record breaking growth run not seen for 10+ years). This should help India directly as well as indirectly, absorbing surplus and creating markets.

Despair

But our “despair” list is longer

Senseless procedures, meaningless forms, byzantine laws, opaque rules, incompetent, insensitive, arrogant reckless babu-dom still holds back India and Indians from its rightful place in the global arena.

We still pay bribes to register property, even scooters, get various certificates, licenses and permits for everything from birth to death. Sad to say, this seems all pervasive, regardless of which party heads state or center.

It is the single biggest factor that easily shaves off 4-5% from annual growth.  Modi has been making noises but has not done much about this perhaps fearing backlash, non-cooperation and sabotage. Will he wield the brahmastra? Or plod along? Or make things worse by giving free reign for terror raj in the name of anti-corruption?

We are still wrecked by meaningless violence. Our IT capital Bengaluru or Chennai can be shut down by a few hundred goons for death of a movie star or disputes over water or language. Killings in the name of cow, honor and what not still hog headlines. Kerala is no different from Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Can we not pursue agendas without violence? Why has the argumentative Indian run out of words?!

We seem to be unsure whether to march on to 21st century or remain in 19th. In which other country in the world prohibition becomes a ‘vote catcher’?! Do we have a  politician that dares to say “Come on guys, let us move to 21st century! Let us find ways to solve the problem without bans”. Same goes for beef too.

Our public deserve the governments they get. If the likes of Hardik Patel, Tejaswi Yadav and other such unrefined thugs can swing voters, if they can vote like they did in RK Nagar, if they back leaders like Jaganmohan Reddy, Gowdas and Mamata Banerjee, can we hope for anything other than sub-saharan future in slums? Will this change?

We have still done nothing about lunatic RTE, assault on freedom of expression like Sec 66A, 377 and so many others.

Our sick die in streets, carrying dead bodies in bicycles or get gouged lakhs in plunder by corrupt greedy and Shylockian doctors in “corporate” hospitals. Our children go to fake universities and degree mills whose certificates are not even valued as toilet papers in any decent country in the world for jobs.  Even our own businessmen feel they are unemployable. And they pay a kings ransom to get that. If they are lucky to get in!

We are yet to build schools and colleges that solve the education problem in ways that, 20 or 30 years later will have our “backward” people storming the streets demanding end to reservations. Yes, it can become non issue if opportunity is there and equally available to all.

Back to Hope

On all these fronts, we the citizens expect a lot from Narendra Modi and his government because he is the only hope we have.

Not a bunch of dynastic dacoits that get together on flimsy alliances backed by equally corrupt leftist charlatans to loot even more and throw crumbs to poor as “welfare” to keep them poor carrying them in palanquins. Sipping their Chiantis and Scotch funded by western aid!

Not an anarchist megalomaniac serial liar who hijacks everything and anything with the sole objective of grabbing even more power to be wielded for grabbing yet more power.

Will 2018 deliver? Let us hope and pray!

 

 

 

 

 

Gujarat Results – Good news for Congress?

The results are out!

Let there be no beating about the bush, this is not exactly what the BJP expected or wanted.

Forget the “Mission 150” slogans which dynasty’s loyal media servants that want us to believe they are “independent” will crow about. Point is none of the contestants go into battle declaring they are only going to win 50 or 60 seats. Everyone makes grand predictions.

Forget also the “anything less than complete sweep is a loss, because that’s what 2014 was” sort of statements from the dynasty’s courtiers in media. Setting ridiculously high bars and constantly moving them about is what these charlatans have to do to earn their envelopes. No state votes the same way for local, state and national elections with exact same percentages.

Yet we cannot escape the fact that BJP did not get what it wanted out of Gujarat.

But the Pidis of media are already rejoicing, licking their palms in anticipation of return of UPA loot era. More RSTV gigs, “investments” from money bags that profited from out of turn allotment of coal and other natural resources and so on. Are they justified?

The answer is NO. Why?

1. The situation BJP faced in 2017 Gujarat is somewhat similar to AAP’s in May 2014 – it did not lose vote share at all. Just that BJP did even better because of Modi. BJP forgot this and focused on the 7 seat sweep and thought it sat pretty in the subsequent assembly elections. Rest is history. Come 2019 it is foolish too assume voters will vote exactly same way. A chunk of Congress votes may very well go BJP way because this time voters are clearly voting for (or against) Modi. There is no ambiguity. Reverse is less likely because they would have done so already. After all there are hardly any voters that prefer Rupani but dont like Modi!

2. Everyone focuses on Modi’s rallies and personal campaign. We conveniently forget Rahul’s equally aggressive campaign, amplified by media coolies and the usual “intellectual” charlatans. Everything including the kitchen sink was thrown at Modi. Even BJP dissidents like Sinha were roped in. And yet this is the best they could achieve – practically no improvement in vote share. In 2019 their efforts will be more diffused.

3. The three big negatives Rahul focused on – GST, DeMo and economic growth are all getting better by the day. Surat clearly shows this. Not to say they will vanish as factors but diminishing returns will set in. Jobs growth is an issue that may remain relevant – but here again people may focus on how Congress can do better. And Rahul did not answer that question at all and was never challenged by the media Pidis that control the narratives.

4. The soft Hindutva approach as well as temple runs and deliberate ignoring of Muslim voters (once again Rahul was given free pass on this by the corrupt left intellectuals and family Pidis that control the liberal narratives) may all work in Gujarat but will not have equal results elsewhere. Leaving aside the moral aspects of the strategy, there are other parties more blatantly pro-Muslim like BSP, AAP and Owaisis that will fill the void.

Yet one has to also be clear – BJP clearly has more work to do to keep the chair, come 2019.

  1. Rajasthan, MP if not Chhattisgarh all face anti incumbency and shortfalls in governance to varying degrees.  They are much more rural, backward and feudal. Exactly the sort of playground Congress and the ecosystem enjoys.
  2. The polling dates are also much closer to the 2019 battle and the states happen to be large.
  3. These states also have regional satraps like Gehlot and young dynasts with no negative track record, like Sachin Pilot.
  4. BJP will ignore all this to its peril. And it is not clear how much can be done between now and then.Throwing money at the problem may not work given shortage of time.

Amit Shah, Modi & Co have their task cut out to retain the momentum and go into 2019 with minimal losses in the bruising 2018 election season. Sadly the country will suffer. At best we will have suspension of long term reforms and at worse resort to gutter level politics by all sides. The sabotage of winter session (first few days) gives ominous warnings.

This where Modi’s suggestion of simultaneous polls makes sense. Perhaps the Stalinist left “intellectuals” and media Pidis that attack him for being on “campaign mode” all the time should consider that suggestion seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modi, Manmohan Singh, Aiyar and the political discourse

The Aiyar saga has been an object lesson for anyone studying how the mainstream media sets and controls the narratives. Far from focusing on the outrageous remarks of Aiyar, the entire discourse has been on how Modi has “used” that to further his own political agenda.

On top of that the remarks against Aiyar, MMS & co meeting the Pakistani envoy “secretly” added to the self-righteous indignation from the perpetually outraged gang. Modi was accused of dragging the political discourse to new lows.

Now let us be clear. In any good democracy, leaders at certain levels should not normally question the patriotism or basic integrity of their rivals, however “hot” the situation is. Modi clearly did something wrong here.

But then, are the liberals, which is another code word for dynasty’s media servants, right in increasing the decibel levels of their outrage?

Let us look at their own conduct in the past. After all, unlike them, we do not think BJP and Modi should follow some sort of Norwegian or Danish levels of political correctness and soft words but then those standards don’t apply to anyone else.

To take the earlier remark of “Inko hataayiye” (please remove him) by Aiyar and turn it into a “supari” contract (mafia hit job) was indeed clever but below the belt. That is what twitter warriors of BJP do. Not leaders.  But then isn’t this EXACTLY what the dynasty and their media that controls the “liberal” narratives did when Modi uttered the infamous “puppy under wheel” remark. Was that meant to offend? Was he not simply saying he would be indeed sad even by the smallest loss of life as a responsible person? Isn’t he a man who doesn’t often mince his words and even when he wants to offend, does so clearly and unambiguously with biting sarcasm? (Take the “hum paanch” remark, often repeated by MSM or many others including the Rs.50 crore one). Why is there a need to invent ridiculous interpretations of a remark made in all sincerity in an interview where he mostly said goody goody things?

So we clearly have double standards here. Take any remark by Modi and interpret it in devious ways but when he pays back in same coin, feign outrage and wear liberal masks and shed fake tears!

Coming back to Manmohan Singh and Aiyar (among others) meeting the Pakistanis, once again we agree that Modi should have been careful not to assume the worst and make it a poll issue.

But let us use our imagination for a moment and assume that it was Modi, as opposition leader, that met the US envoy in his residence along with a few ex-bureaucrats, BJP hacks and media men known to be close to BJP. That too few days before a crucial state election.

Can you imagine the noise that would have generated in the very same liberal, progressive media outlets that are crying blue murder now? Every Marxist, Congressman of all shades, “intellectuals” and their media warriors would have outraged for days! The narrative would be that Modi crushed India’s independent foreign policy, sold our crucial interests to the imperialists and collected money for his election budget!

All the clever tricks in the yellow books used by our “liberal” media would be employed. Innuendos by suggestion, spit and run remarks, you name it, it would have been used.

And we don’t even have to dig up old remarks against Modi which he patiently ignored for a decade or more.

Such has been the poisonous vitriol thrown at him by every corrupt politician and pseudo intellectual charlatan and media crook paid off with the proceeds of loot and allowed to plunder state institutions like RSTV, the amazing surprise is that he held back for so long without hitting back.

Come on guys, if we have to have Norwegian standards of political discourse, why not start with the so-called liberals that claim they are purer than fresh snow?

 

 

 

 

 

The Aiyar saga

Aiyar’s “neech” remark is famous now. Perhaps it will exceed his “chaiwala” remark in terms of popularity and impact. Time will tell. Be that as it may, what do we take away from this episode?

  1. The liberal cabal still controls the narrative. Oddly and sadly even the right wing media follows suit. Such is their power. Look at the entire focus on how “BJP will take advantage of the remark” line plugged by nearly every mainstream media “journalist” known for their loyalties to the Janpath crowd.
  2. Interestingly when someone from BJP (however junior or inconsequential) makes a wrong remark, there is no such talk of “Congress taking advantage” because the exact same “journalists” are busy taking advantage of it on behalf of the dynasty! The obscure village level functionary will be elevated to “senior leader” and the remark will be traced all the way back to Modi, BJP, RSS, Golwalkar, Savarkar, Brahmanism, Rig Veda and what not. The broadest brush and blackest paint will be used.
  3. This actually closely mirrors the situation in the US. Trump “takes advantage of slip ups and genuine errors by media” but “Fake news” affects Hillary & the dems. Not the other way around.
  4. Once RG “acted”, the usual media courtiers like Swati Chaturvedi went on overdrive praising him for his “decisive” move!
  5. Rahul Gandhi had no choice but to “act” against Aiyar. He had three reasons to do so – NONE of which were raised or acknowledged by media.
    1. First is Aiyar is a man totally without a constituency anywhere in India. He may not get 10 votes in his name. So swatting him like a cockroach is an entirely all gain no pain affair.
    2. Secondly, elections in Gujarat are being fought by Congress not on their 60 year track record or alternate policies and economic ideas but on caste. That leaves very little room for inaction.
    3. Thirdly, the action is a natural damage control exercise forced by circumstances. No proof required other than the fact that the same Aiyar had insulted so many in the past with crass language and did not pay for it. That probably emboldened him.
  6. Should Modi have ignored the remark? After all he is a politician and Aiyar had already “delivered” once in 2014. So he will be foolish indeed to reject the gift offered on a platter.
  7. Who is to blame? We have to blame the so-called liberal media and the Lutyens fake intellectual ecosystem. Which always had double standards. Anything said against Modi however crass, insensitive and crude, was “intellectual criticism” or “Freedom of expression” but even mild criticism of the royal family was “fascism”.  Naturally leaders like Aiyar get carried away and think they can get away with murder and still be protected by the liberal cabal.
  8. This was OK in the days when their control over narratives was total and there was no social media. And Modi ignored such remarks and never hit back.

Times have changed!

Fixing the “slowdown”

To anyone seeking a masters degree in left propaganda yellow journalism, Indian “liberal” media and its constantly shifting narratives offer a practical course that no University can provide. That too free of charge! Pity they don’t issue a certificate upon completion.

You may recall the concerted campaign mounted hardly 6 months back about “manipulated statistics” & “cooked books” that made India’s GDP growth more than what it “really” was. Of course, it was all laid at the door of Narendra Modi who, we were told is doing this to hide his many failures. No amount of explanation by professional statisticians in the government (none of whom were appointed by this regime) mattered. While some genuine economists had genuine questions about changed methodology etc (which are never static), it was mostly propaganda noise by faithful media warriors of the left + Congress continuum that reached high decibels.

Now once the govt announced that growth slowed to 5.7% in the latest June 2017 quarter all this talk died down and vanished like a ghost. In its place another narrative – that India’s economy is in a “tailspin“. It is no one’s case that economic growth is doing fine but surely tailspin is not the most appropriate word for a rate of growth most developing countries will happily report? Apart from the tailspin narrative, it was all talk of gloom and doom and what Modi should or should not do to stop this free fall that was a product of his own miscalculation.

Arvind Panagariya, until recently Vice-Chairman of the NITI Aayog (whose departure created yet another wave of senseless speculation and innuendos), wrote a brilliant article for TOI advising caution and putting the numbers in perspective. All was not lost and there is no need for desperate measures. Other op-ed writers including the likes of Mihir Sharma who is not exactly Modi regime friendly echoed the same prescription (not to loosen purse strings at cost of fiscal stability) but of course differed on the cause and magnitude of the problem.

In this context what should be the “common sense” approach for the Modi sarkar? We summarise them below.

  1. There’s lots of low hanging fruit in the ‘ease of doing business’ department. Most of them do not need ANY legislative change, just mindset change. PM Modi should ask each of minister to abolish just 1 form or return each week. We have mentioned this earlier, but any SME that chooses to incorporates itself into a Pvt Ltd company files a lot more returns and faces tons of paper work that companies in Malaysia or Singapore don’t face at all.  Among other negative effects, this (plus various other reasons) forces Indian startups as well as established companies to setup holding companies there and raise funds in Singapore instead of India!
  2. A give and take approach to labour law reform. Unions can be asked to tick off reform measure they will approve happily in exchange for benefits and facilities that they need and is fair. Implementing incremental changes in India is lot easier and better than “boil the ocean” types that take decades. Not only that within existing bunch of labor laws one can be 400% sure, as Musharraf would say, there is scope for procedural simplifications, speed up of decision making etc that will keep things going and can make a major change.
  3. That brings us to the next topic – speed up the administration. We in India always think of constitution changes, major laws with draconian clauses etc to fix problems for which much simpler solutions are available. Even if a particular law or Act requires ten steps, where one would be adequate, there is NOTHING in any Act that says don’t do them fast and in fair manner! What is stopping successive regimes from simply cranking up the motor? It is here that Modi has, in our opinion, failed to make a major difference.
  4. To give a simple example, opening a restaurant in USA or Germany or even Singapore is not easy. It may require permits relating to Fire, Food safety, Workers welfare and safety, Building Code, Hours of business, Parking etc from many departments scattered over local, federal and state levels. But the key difference is, at each of these places, rules are transparent, fair, available and accessible and one doesn’t have to bribe desk after desk to move papers. So what is desirable and quicker? Amending or integrating 100 different laws (as our labor Ministry is trying to do) fighting through a thicket of resistance from entrenched babus and the ‘system’ or simply looking at implementation speed and fairness of process?
  5. Bypass the banking system to provide funds where it is really needed, perhaps through existing or dedicated development bank. This can be done for quick win projects that create jobs. Again quick to do while debates about who takes the hair cut and how much can go on for another 20 years in the regular banking system. In fact, there are even doubts if private businesses are keen to borrow and spend on capacity even if funds were available on demand until existing excess capacities are taken care of.
  6. Go easy on harsh and punitive measures particularly in relation to GST. The last thing that one wants is depressed sentiments and fear psychosis caused by overzealous and often corrupt bureaucrats raiding and destroying genuine businesses because there are “errors” in returns that no one understands. There is time and place for that kind of measures.
  7. Get more funds from rich friendly nations on soft terms like the one for bullet train project – but for spending on projects that create immediate jobs, kick start consumption and give booster shot to the economy without wasteful expenditure. Japan, Saudi/UAE (but not Beijing) and others that work on government to government levels and who have already promised cooperation are obvious targets. This is far better than borrowing domestically that crowds out others and pushes up rates.
  8. Go faster on reforms that stir the pot and send the right signals but do not bog down the entire government with lots of resistance. Air India is one good example. There are dozens more. Speed of action is of the essence here, without compromising on transparency. Extensive land reforms can wait for Term 2 for precisely same reason. Plus they don’t give results for five or more years. Correspondents of Financial Times and Washington Post do not vote in Indian elections.
  9. Fill up government posts where new recruits are put to productive use. This not only makes electoral sense but is also eminently do-able given the shortfall in many critical areas. Delivery and governance are suffering even as excess staff who cannot be re-trained or re-deployed act as drag elsewhere.

Hope the next few months are full of action that will show results by early 2018 because it may be too late if results come too close to 2019 May. Just check with A B Vajpayee!

 

 

 

Smart Prohibition for Bihar – a suggestion

Nitish Kumar imposed prohibition on Bihar soon after taking power. To be fair to him, most Indian political parties have dabbled with this silly concept. Some like hypocritical megalomaniac Kejriwal promise one in Punjab but increase liquor outlets in states they rule!

But Bihar’s laws are draconian including horrendous provisions like punishing entire families for liquor found, sometimes entire villages. Fines and penalties are so high even rapes and murders are less taxing. Even in best ruled countries this only leads to corruption. In Indian context, even in best managed states it will open doors to horrible corruption. In Bihar it leads to mayhem.

The arguments in favor are silly. Productivity gains, health gains, “family peace”, increased spending on household expenses are all pushed as miracle gains from prohibition. All are based on dubious statistics. Productivity in Asian societies that share similar cultural DNA like India – Thailand, Malaysia etc are far higher and they are not killing each other or beating wives. We cannot compare ourselves to oil rich Arab states that will have foreigners lining up for its wealth even if they slap each visitor at the immigration. We are bench-marked with our near neighbours.

In fact, Bihar cannot even compare itself to richer, more developed states like Gujarat and say why not us. It is a laggard and it has to run faster, try harder to attract jobs, investments.

Unless country-wide prohibition is imposed, something that will render India a Talibanic pariah state that no sensible investor will visit, it also means Bihar ends up losing investment, jobs and reinforces image as lawless poor state.

Ironically, booze continues to flow to those that are most harmed by moonshine – the poor. And cops get richer. Many die horrible deaths or go blind due to methyl alcohol and other poisons. But a responsible, decent citizen or tourist or visitor cannot have a chill glass of beer after a tired day at work.

Even if the policemen and officials are not corrupt, they spend inordinate amount of time implementing these draconian laws under pain of being punished themselves by whimsical politicians. Time that is better spent bringing Bihar up to par with rest of the country and India comparable to rest of Asia.

This is the net effect of prohibition.

But as a CM, Nitish has to protect vulnerable women, even if they are not a vote bank. And it is true that many Indian working class men, particularly in countryside, spend bulk of their daily wages on booze and return home drunk to beat wives and deprive children of decent food and education.

Is there a mid-way?

Yes. That is where technology comes in. Why not Aadhar backed record for each liquor purchase?

Once implemented, this can track excessive liquor spend and let state as well as NGOs and others focus on where the trouble is. If someone spends too much on booze he can be asked to account for the income.

Ban orders can be imposed on any individual with police record of domestic violence or abusive behaviour after drinks. Family (wife) can seek ban orders with sufficient evidence. In fact a similar system exists in Singapore for casino gambling. We could not do with without individual identity system and now Aadhar enables that. That and technology that is cheaper and easier to acquire.

Drunk driving should be punished so severely that it should not be an option for anyone other than suicidal maniacs. Because this is murder.

You may say people may still drink moonshine. Yes. But moonshine becomes unprofitable when official market exists for liquor that attracts 90% of genuine responsible drinkers. They will shut down or go down in number.

You may say people can cheat (buy on others’ Aadhar card etc) but such people are also the ones that drink excessive or misbehave in all likelihood, so they can be trapped and punished for their actions.

Please do consider this.

 

 

 

 

 

Beware of Nitish Kumar

So it has finally happened. Nitish Kumar has ditched Lalloo and joined forces with BJP again. Whether or not that means formal NDA re-admission remains to be seen, especially outside of Bihar.

But is this good news? If one were to go by despondent articles & tweets by dynasty’s loyal media servants (aka secular, progressive liberals) it seems their chances of enjoying happy days of UPA loot when money & “investments” flowed like water, awards and gigs were for the asking are slimmer.

But we don’t agree it is all good news for BJP. Why? Before we get there, let us talk a bit more about the development itself:

No one believes his Lalloo/Tejaswi-corrupt-refuses-to-resign script. That has been known for years now. They did not turn corrupt yesterday. Interestingly all those journalists like Siddharth Varadarajan take special pains NOT to talk about the corruption at all as if that is blasphemy. No picture so palatial malls, mansions & petrol bunks.

The entire “liberal” media focus is, instead, on “scripted show”, “BJP gains”, “blow to secularism” and other topics all of which were emphasised to avoid discussing the elephant in the room – Shameless plunder and enrichment of self & family by LPY. Mind you, this is well beyond the usual fund raising for elections & enjoying free plane trips which everyone does.

It was as if corruption is a necessary price to pay for “secularism” whatever that means. And we all know the Stalinist left’s definition of “secularism” – rabid anti-Hindu venom, support for jihadi terrorism, Islamist fascism.

We even had this pathetic tweet by so called independent journalist Wagle which is what you would expect from a low level sycophant of the dynasty like Aiyar or Jha. As if only BJP created the problems listed & it was a land of milk and honey otherwise.

No doubt this is a blow for Congress and Rahul Gandhi. And to the Marxists who were hoping for UPA3 to give them power without responsibility ala UPA1.

It is also a serious blow to Arvind Kejriwal – a man corrupt yellow media elites dropped like hot potato after hoisting him sky high with lots of hopes. Again they were licking palms in anticipation of his quick rise to power and Wapsi of awards and rewards to the “Idea of India” left brigade. Kejriwal’s bride aka anti-corruption plank hijacked twice – once by Modi and now by Nitish!

But let us come back to the main point of this article. Does this benefit BJP? The answer is not so clear. That’s why we say

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts
  1. Nitish is trying to embed and carve out his image of anti-corruption crusader. Not just in Bihar (where he doesn’t really need that, even in 2019 or 2020) but nation wide. That plus the anti-liquor goody goody image are his only USPs. The second one is actually a crowded field with too many anti-liquor contenders.
  2. This can come back to bite the BJP if he plays his self serving cards again like he did on 25th July. For example, he could pick a random case of “corruption” in NDA cabinet in the Center or in one of the states. And quit over it no matter if charge is fake or real, when he feels jumping back to Congress or Lalloo bandwagon makes more sense for him!
  3. What can the BJP do in that case? After all, they have also certified his anti-corruption image? Yes they can sacrifice that particular minister but that will only feed the fire, not quench it.
  4. He could also become another Shatrughan or Yashwanth Sinha –  relentless headline seeking sniper from within. Modi cannot ask him to get out and have him play the anti-corruption + martyr card. The media would have a field day.
  5. Of course, Nitish Kumar’s credibility will fall even further should he ditch Modi & BJP once again on flimsy grounds. Or for that matter his credibility is so low & he is seen as a political chameleon by so many that his very endorsement of an issue may reduce it to a farce even if genuine! That is probably what Modi & Shah duo are hoping?
  6. BJP will probably have to kiss goodbye to winning Bihar on its own steam in 2020 and on top of that sacrifice LS seats in 2019. If the south does not make up for inevitable losses in the North (after all you cannot do better than 100%), then he becomes even more of a risk post 2019.
Can Nitish be a force for the good?

No doubt we have all turned cynics perhaps by the way politics works in India. But then there are possibilities of this alliance working for India’s and NDA’s good. How?

  1. Nitish can blunt the anti-Muslim edge of BJP and perhaps force some sort of mutual rapprochement. His counsel, both public and private could be valuable if only BJP seeks it out and follows them. This can only be good for the nation. After all, once Muslims (or substantial chunks of them) are convinced Modi / BJP are not the demons they are made out to be, especially if you vote for them, lots of other things will change for the better.
  2. He can also bring economic pragmatism and right of center reform credibility to the cabinet which is short of talent. Of course, he cannot join it himself but can pick good men to represent him and guide them if JD(U) were to join the Union cabinet.
  3. He can reduce BJPs paranoia over inevitable losses in the Hindi heartland and in that process moderate some of their more polarising tactics to entrench Hindu support. Again it can only be for the good of everyone.
Why did he do it?

Let us finally turn to the question we should have addressed first – why did he do it? Certainly the Tejaswi drama is a smokescreen. What gives?

IOHO, it is the realisation that the best he can hope for is to be another Gujral or Gowda in 2019. A pitiable existence no proud, sensible leader with self respect would want. And the more realistic prospect is loss in 2019 + 2020. And the worst case scenario of dynasty + Lalloo dumping him mid way so they can build more malls without any let or hindrance.

Comments welcome!

 

Amazing power of anti-Modi track record

We have heard of mythical herbs that can bring the dead back to life and cure the incurable.

But have you seen them in working like magic with your own eyes in the modern world?!

Yes there is! Once you accumulate enough points, like frequent flyer miles or credit card spend, you become immune to anything.

No sections of the Indian Penal Code or moral code will apply to you! Incompetence is no barrier to lifelong well paid jobs!

That’s the magic power of anti-Modi track record.

Yes!

We know how liberal poster boy Tarun Tejpal tried to dub his roaming fingers molesting a poor young journalist in a lift as “BJP conspiracy”. And therefore he should be allowed to “lacerate himself” in some nice bar over a cool beer instead of going to jail for attempted rape

We also know Lalloo Prasad Yadav and his family becoming magical millionaires owning flashy malls, petrol stations and other property calling their prosecution “fascist attempts to stop him”

Now we have leftist journalist Nikhil Wagle who spends all his waking hours attacking BJP & Modi claiming he has been booted out for his “fighting journalism”. The truth appears to be more prosaic – incompetence and the inability to attract audience, a must for any aspiring anchor or journalist!

Of course we have the Paranjoy Guha Thakurta going around telling us he has been thrown out of EPW for his daring to question Adani, who is supposedly “close” to Modi (although like most businessmen Adani is no fool and is also close to Marxists and Congress – just see how he was received in Kerala).

Oddly enough the team that threw him out are also died in the wool hardcore leftists. Or they would not have gotten into EPW management in the first place!

So a bunch of leftists throwing out a fellow traveler for writing an article that reads more like propaganda hit job than “investigative journalism” is also blamed on Modi, BJP and the mysterious “stifling climate for dissent” One that sees new media startups blossoming almost each week, most of them spending 80% of the time attacking Modi. And the other 20% loudly complaining they are not allowed to criticise him!

So here is your clue – if you are planning anything interesting – be it petty misdemeanor, incompetence on the job or full fledged rapes, loot, dacoity and anything else under the sun, be smart, try build up a anti-Modi track record.

The entire “liberal, progressive” cabal will jump to your rescue!

 

 

Cattle trade notification controversy

Once again Modi Government finds itself amidst a media storm caused by the so-called “beef ban circular”. No amount of protestations that it is a animal welfare move and not against beef consumption is going to convince our liberal brigades who rush from beef eating contests to TV studio debates without a pause for thought.

Naturally as with all other such controversies, overseas (that is, Western) media will lap it all up & project India (and Hindus) as intolerant and backward. Never mind that horse meat and other such delicacies are banned in several of their states.

Now we are hearing that center has “open mind” on the issue and it is not a prestige issue for the BJP. That begs a question- what was done prior to this notification?

Amending the notification or even cancelling it now will not bring any relief because not only is the damage done, any rollback will be seen as “victory” to the barbarians of Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party that brutally slaughtered a calf in full public view, including several young children in Kerala.

In most matters, be it Corporate, Legal, Academic or cultural our bureaucrats have developed this “shoot first and ask questions later” culture. Ministers and political parties invariably fall victim to this syndrome.

But then, it does seem (as per this article) the notification was posted in draft form in public domain but then no one took notice.  Interestingly, the original source quoted by the article not only makes no mention of the “beef ban” aspect, it also includes a quote from a NGO representative praising it! We are not clear if the original draft is exactly same as the one notified or if it was amended later without full debate.

But then our babus and their bosses in the government should be smart enough (by now at least) to the inherent controversy potential of this notification? Should they not have given it much wider publicity or done something to float trial balloons? After all we have TV channels ready to trade favors with the party in power to help in such matters?! In fact even a rumor can be planted & floated that beef consumption is likely to be banned triggering a lot of pseudo liberal outrage before “clarification” about the draft issued, saving everyone a lot of face! Babus, learn to be smart!

Simply publishing in a website may be OK for some cases but there is no harm in sending email notifications to trade associations and their members such as Leather exporters etc. Does it cost a lot? After all the importance of this to their business is no secret.

This is also where proactive communication by senior ministers could have helped. If Dr. Harsh Vardhan had given some media interviews about the draft, invited comments (and brickbats) BEFORE it was made final, may be we could have avoided this?

One hopes the BJP government has learned valuable lessons in PR from this episode.

 

Turkish delight from Erdogan on Kashmir

Just prior to his recent India visit, Turkish strongman Erdogan, fresh from his referendum “victory” threw a curve ball at India – he offered himself (and Turkey) as mediator to help address the Kashmir issue.

Reactions have been varied. Wire columnist  thought Erdogan was reiterating his Islamist credentials in doing so. Hindu too was somewhat circumspect and didn’t seem to really like Erdogan’s meddling.

Prime Minister meets Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey at Hyderabad House during his State Visit to India (May 01, 2017)

Thankfully India’s reaction was mature and subdued. Instead of the usual theatrics whenever someone mentions the K word. That is a great start.

But what about the offer itself? Does it deserve rejection outright? Or worth analysing?

May not be a bad idea

Firstly, let us completely stay clear of Erdogan’s controversial and authoritarian track record and Islamist credentials. They are matters entirely irrelevant to this discussion.  Fact is he represents Turkey and will do so for another 10 years in all probability. Nothing else matters.

If anything that makes it easier for him to play a role.

Let us take a step back and see what options do we have to bring the Kashmir situation to a satisfactory conclusion?

  1. Wait it out. Let time be the medicine, increasing the gap between Pakistan and India in economic and strategic terms and wait for better sense to prevail so settlement can be on our terms or near about.
  2. Physical force. That is clearly out of question unless the provocation is strong enough to make it inevitable.
  3. Settle through talks in the short/medium term with the contours of the settlement along known lines – i.e., keep our part of Kashmir, give up on POK with some arrangement that saves everyone’s face.

Clearly the fourth option of simply giving up on Kashmir and settle on terms agreeable to present Pakistani dispensation is clearly not on the table. Unless again, it is forced by circumstances beyond our control.

Coming to the third option, it should be clear to us, given the nuclear situation, we simply don’t have the means to enforce anything on Pakistan.

Any agreement signed with the Pakistani civilian dispensation is not worth the paper it is printed on. Even if it were to be openly endorsed by the Pakistani military it is in all probability a “taqiya” which will be torn up at the earliest chance. Then we are back to square 1. Furthermore, Pakistani Army will simply take that as confirmation of its “success” and simply expand its shopping list. For all is military might and economic clout, $30b and three decades later Uncle Sam is still happily writing cheques and getting cuckolded. Do we stand better chance?

This is where a third party comes in provided it fulfills main criteria

  1. It has power to enforce any agreement. That power need not be economic or military, it can be religious.
  2. It is not totally biased against us, the best we can hope for, given that there is no such thing as “neutral” in global power politics.

Why Turkey?

Pakistan WILL NOT listen to USA because it has perfected the art of fooling them over multiple administrations and in any case that is a hard sell to the Abdul in the street. After all it is a kuffar power not exactly popular in the streets of Lahore.

Pakistan MAY listen to KSA for religious and monetary reasons but then KSA sheiks are beholden to the Pakistani generals to protect their own crumbling edifice. They make poor mediators.

Pakistan WILL listen to China but then China is just about the most biased and untrustworthy mediator one can find. Not even Modi can go the public and sell a plan brokered by China, except perhaps in Alimuddin Street and JNU.

Any other global power is completely worthless in this context. UK? France? You must be joking. Russia? May be 40 years back, not now.

That brings us to Turkey.

Turkey is a Sunni power and under Erdogan it has shifted away from its European identity to its Islamic roots. Just as Pakistan tried to wash away its South Asian roots and claim Arab, Turkish or Persian heritage, depending on season.

Which means if Turkey underwrites any agreement, it is easier for the Pakistani regime to “sell” it to its Abduls.

Moreover, we simply don’t believe Erdogan is anti-India. He may be pro Pakistan for religious reasons but that is to be expected. After all the so-called secular, anti-Islamist Army led regimes of Turkey were pro Pakistani too. His flexible and somewhat reasonable stance on Israel is a pointer.

That goes for much of the so-called “Ummah” too. Contrary to arms selling super powers like USA and Europe who probably want the conflict prolonged as it comes with bonus of keeping India in check, the Sunni Muslim world has nothing to gain by this conflict and even less to gain if Pakistan were to somehow by some miracle succeed in snatching Kashmir away. After all, at best this can only be done to the valley, not Jammu or Ladakh. Which only makes them even smaller minority in India in addition to permanently antagonising India forever. It also weakens India’s huge Muslim community.

Which is also why other than routine boilerplate template noises at OIC which no one takes seriously, there has not been that much pressure on India to settle at Pakistan’s terms. This is only going to get better from India’s perspective as oil’s importance weakens along with that Middle East’s.

Interestingly, China which shares US/European vested interest in keeping India in check through such conflicts is slowly coming around to the idea that it is a strategy that will harm them more than it does India. The CPEC investments will go down the drain not to speak of export trade that hugely favors China. Again this will get better over time as India buys & integrates even more into the Chinese economy, political tensions notwithstanding.

Badly bruised in the Syrian affair, his reputation in tatters globally, with too many contenders for the mythical Caliph role within the Sunni Muslim Ummah, Erdogan may use Kashmir role to buttress his own credentials and to do so he knows he has to be reasonable with India’s position. A failure will only make him an even bigger laughing stock.

Pre-conditions

But then as we noted earlier, Pakistan has successfully fooled generations of US Presidents. It has nothing to fear from China. Russia too is embracing every loony or reckless state it can find, simply to cock a snook at Uncle Sam.

So we still cannot rule out the fact that Pakistan will use Turkey to draw up some settlement and then renege on its commitment. After all, Turkey hardly has any trade, economic or military levers on Pakistan to pull.

So that means there is a narrow set of circumstances and conditions that has to be met before India can publicly embrace this option:

  1. The broad contours of agreement are drawn up bilaterally using Track 2 or Track 3 channels.
  2. Our own Kashmiri “separatists” are on board.
  3. We know at least on paper the jihadi generals are on board.
  4. China is behind the idea.
  5. KSA has been sounded out.
  6. The Pakistani civilian regime simply wants Islamic rubber stamp on the deal to sell it to its beards. As ex-Ottoman state that once had moral authority over global Sunni Muslims, Turkey still has that goodwill. This is where Erdogan’s strong Islamist credentials help. Any deal will involve compromises and the beards may go ballistic with “Islam in danger” noise and that can be mitigated.
  7. We have clear well defined Plan B in place to deal with any betrayals, expansion of agendas and the like.

Clearly the first 5 items on the agenda will have to be done behind the scenes and bilaterally and only if successfully done can we openly get Turkey /Erdogan involved publicly. That is a big IF.

Because once we cross the rubicon of involving third parties formally, there is no going back.

For now it is best to counsel Erdogan to counsel Pakistan to start behaving and start talking behind the scenes.