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.

 

XI reasons not to lose sleep over CPEC/OBOR

Thanks to our famous DD newsreader, by now the whole world knows how to pronounce Chinese President Xi Jinping’s name! So here’s our top 11 reasons not to lose sleep over CPEC, OBOR, BARF, BRF, SRI or whatever its most recent name is.

  1. There’s a lot of marketing hype that would put a dotcom bubble company to shame! Words like “game changer”, “new dawn” are used with such regularity, they have almost become pedestrian. Riding on the bandwagon, projects that have nothing to do with belts or roads or China are getting tagged with the label hoping there will be some lucrative contracts or deals (mostly for Chinese companies, of course) or lemons would magically transform into hot potatoes. One example is the Singapore-KL High speed rail project. This not only predates the OBOR initiative, it is mostly bilateral and nothing to with China.
  2. US/Europe sending delegations doesn’t mean a thing. Greece, Germany and other European nations, apart from Australia, reportedly refused to sign the official declarations because there were no assurances of “transparency” in deals – code word for “let me have my share of the meat”. EU that has nothing to lose in territory & is strategically in deep trouble anyway, simply wants its companies allowed to grab some of the contracts. It is not an endorsement of the OBOR or any specific projects. Obviously China’s ideas are something else.
  3. A lot of the connection is already there and hasn’t change any game for anyone. They get a fresh coat of “OBOR” paint for propaganda purposes. For example the much ballyhooed London-China direct train service. This too predates the OBOR by years. Here is a nice article in SCMP that debunks much of the hype about its “game changing” potential. A container ship can carry nearly 300 train loads! To replace that (that is, just one ship) trains have to run every 90m in both directions, something the infrastructure can hardly handle! On top of that it is twice as expensive if not more! Interestingly, this also means China doesn’t really need Gwadar to import or export from EU as it makes zero sense sending goods partly by train or truck & then ship them again when the train goes all the way!
  4. Just look at the rogues gallery of leaders that signed up! Clearly no globally respected, truly democratic & sensible leader has bet his reputation on CPEC/OBOR/BRF. Duterte of Philippines whose foul mouth and anti-US sentiments are well known, Najib Razak of Malaysia reeling from corruption allegations following the IMDB scandal, Hun Sen the long ruling dictator of Cambodia, Jihadi terrorist Pakistani generals and their puppets in the civilian government, Mahinda Rajapakse regime facing human rights questions in Lanka & ignored by the West, Thug-ocracy of Chavez/Maduro in Venezuela…the list goes on. Most of them, if not all, have practically no options worth considering and this pushes them into the laps of Xi Jinping who can pretty much dictate any terms he wants to! Sadly the people in these countries will pay, not the leaders or their cronies.
  5. Projects not bankable! Many of the projects have not taken off all this while because they were not bankable in the first place! That is, no one wants to invest or lend to them. This is precisely what motivates smaller nations and those with dubious records to rush to China. After all, Tata or Birla don’t go to the pawn broker for money. This also means, once they are constructed the chances are they will become white elephants that someone finally has to pay for. That is more likely than not the hapless tax payers of these countries who had zero say on them to start with. Sri Lanka’s Hambantota is a good example. There are more, including a refinery in Kyrgyzstan. Here a refinery was built without tying up oil supplies!
  6. China is simply looking for insurance policies not live alternatives. After all, if Malacca straits are not blockaded by war it makes zero sense shipping from Gwadar via Xinjiang across thousands of miles to China’s industrial heartland which lies in the East! By the way Xinjiang already has good connectivity to Central Asia through numerous initiatives of the past and doesn’t need Gwadar for transit. Nor have they changed any “game” for the nations involved. Myanmar’s new pipeline to Yunnan at least makes some geographical sense, even that has viability concerns!
  7. The doors will not close just because we don’t sign up on Day 1. These veiled threats have been issued both by China’s official media and by its friends in India. Sign NOW or you’ll be a loser forever! But then that is not how world of commerce and diplomacy works. China will be (and is most certainly not) a complete idiot to punish India or burn bridges with a nation against which it is running a huge trade surplus (About $4b a month, that is a lot more than CPEC which is a 10+ year project). India can wait, haggle, raise the price and finally settle for something that makes sense to its own interests as it is not a banana republic run by a tinpot dictator or loose mouthed loonie without any other sensible options on the table.
  8. China is already supplying to India, giving loans, investing! And in billions! CPEC or BRF notwithstanding! This is apart from the trade figures we cited above. But then these projects are going through proper bidding, on commercially sensible terms, and in mutual interest, not grabbed by diktats at crazy predatory prices. Alibaba, Dalian Wanda, Didi Taxi, Haier, Huawei and so many others are investing where it makes sense to them. And they will continue to do so. We don’t need government to government deals certainly not for power, roads etc. May be railways – yes given their long gestation, but here again our needs are vastly different from, say, Philippines or Indonesia who have very little internal expertise, technology, project management skills or funds.
  9. China is not the only game in town. We can and should team up with the Europeans, Japan and many others for select projects where there’s commercial and strategic synergy, bidding is transparent and transactions commercially viable and most importantly, beneficial to the host nation. China has already lost a lot of credibility in a wide range of markets thanks to the greed, corruption, insensitivity and bad quality of its businesses. We don’t have to rush to import more of the same.
  10. China’s credit squeeze is hurting many of the promised investments. This will eventually hurt many so-called OBOR/BRF projects that have nothing to do with the core strategic aims of China and are renamed simply to ride on the marketing hype. The Bandar Malaysia project (see our separate article on that topic) is one. So it is not a smooth pathway to investment nirvana for the receiving nation.
  11. We are big enough to do it ourselves. Need we say more on this? Ironically many of our champion non-aligned, anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, anti-globalisation anti-big business left “progressive intellectuals” have become de-facto marketing agents of China pushing OBOR/BRF with all the naive enthusiasm as a housewife that signed up for latest pyramid marketing miracle drug or slimming plan to hit the town!. Shame on them. https://twitter.com/mkvenu1/status/863330735377141760

So let us stop whining, worrying, biting our nails off and wallowing in defeatist rhetoric.

Comments are welcome!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malaysia cancels Chinese project – Bandar Malaysia

Indian media covers CPEC a lot but happenings in other parts of the world that are equally important receive scant coverage. How many of us know that unlike CPEC which is mostly talk (and some coal fired power plants on one sided terms that no sensible nation would accept) China has already invested US$35b between 2010 and 2016 in Malaysia.

Malaysian Government decision to scrap the sale of Bandar Malaysia site to a consortium that included a Chinese government entity is one such event has has passed unnoticed by Indian media.

About Bandar Malaysia

The Sungai Besi airport, about 7km from KL city center is an old one – this is where Tunku Abdul Rahman landed from London, bringing news of Malaysia’s independence in 1956. It was used by Malaysia’s Air Force and for some VIP flights and is largely unused.  The site was sold in 2011 to the infamous 1MDB to become “Bandar Malaysia”, a city within city incorporating various developments and drive Kuala Lumpur area’s future growth. When 1MDB collapsed (a hugely entertaining story in of itself) the land was taken over by Ministry of Finance as part of “restructuring”, rather rescue.

The area of land involved is about 190Ha.

In late 2015, 60% ownership of the land parcel was sold again by MoF to IWH / CREC consortium for RM7.4b. IWH owned by ethnic Chinese tycoon Lim Kang Hoo who also runs the Danga Bay Waterfront city (4300acre) in Johor in the south, close to Singapore. CREC is PRC goverment owned China Railway Engg Corpn. CREC also threw in a sweetener, promising to build a RM8b Regional HQ in the site.

As with CPEC various grandiose plans were bandied about (one was a “digital” FTZ), along with talks of changing face of Malaysian growth, enormous local employment opportunities etc.

Subsequent developments have made the site worth a lot more – the Singapore – KL High Speed Rail (HSR) project terminates in Bandar Malaysia. This plus the new MRT line under construction that will link Putrajaya (in the south) to Sungai Buloh via KL city is also likely to boost land values. In fact the original RM12b valuation, it is reported, will be well above RM20b now.

Malaysia wakes up?

As with most other deals of this sort in Malaysia, it is not clear how this particular consortium was chosen for the award. Supposedly at government levels without any bidding. But at that time it was justified since 1MDB collapse was hurting Malaysia badly and no one else was willing to come to its rescue other than the Chinese.

This is where the unknown unknowns come in. Because it was a rescue operation, it is not clear what was promised to the Chinese in return. Reports indicate the Singapore-KL High Speed Rail project is one such quid pro quo. That’s worth a lot – US$23 billions by some estimates. Now Japan is rumoured to be the front runner.

JV with Chinese characteristics

PRC has its own way of doing things in such “joint ventures”. It controls the entire supply chain and brings its own labour even for unskilled jobs. Supply of materials too is from Chinese entities. As Singapore’s Straits Times reported, even the canteen staff in Xiamen Uni campus in Malaysia are from China! While this may be perfectly acceptable to the mard-e-momeens of Pakistan thanks to its irrational anti-India hatred and army de-facto rule, Malaysia is a different case.

Although it was desperation (caused by the 1MDB collapse) that threw Najib into the arms of the Chinese, (a theme that should be familiar to Pakistanis re CPEC) he is smart enough and Malaysian politics unstable enough for things to change when circumstances change. Under the table promises are also harder to enforce.

There have been murmurs of dissent and complaints from local industrialists over lack of goodies from the gravy train to local tycoons, who, ironically are almost all ethnic Chinese. In fact there have even been reports that Chinese citizens will be allowed to settle in Malaysia in real estate projects such as Danga Bay, because there are not enough locals to fill those apartments! Such reports have been denied but allegations are not just by the fringe, and have been made by Mahatir Mohammad, Malaysia’s ex-PM.  Since ethnic issues are never too far below the surface in Malaysia, this can be troublesome for the ruling elite to explain.

What next?

Going by reports, it seems Najib cleverly grabbed the chance to get away from a bad deal using non payment as a convenient excuse. The Chinese quid pro quo demands (termed in one report as a “shopping list”) was just too much for Malaysia to pay. Now he can re-sell the same land to another consortium for even bigger amount (should one be willing) and start all over again!

However, it is not clear how PRC will react to this since it seems its capital control restrictions on overseas investments have a role to play. If it is so, it may bite the bullet, even if the bullet train project is not for it to take a bite on. In fact, China has been rolling back or pulling out of numerous Malaysian (and other international) projects because of its internal issues, capital flight, dubious viability and other concerns. The fact that it is still “investing” in CPEC goes to show the juiciness of those contracts, thanks to Pakistani surrender. After all who else can give 15-30% assured returns on equity, 7%+ interest rates on loans and ability to sell third rate products (anyway in surplus) at super premium prices without any competitive bidding?!

Or it may react with under the table pressure and squeeze Malaysia to give up something else in return for the 1MDB rescue act. The fact that such murky deals always involve murky pay offs may give it additional leverage given the political situation in Malaysia.

All this gives us enough indications on how CPEC itself will proceed. Given Pakistan’s utter helplessness and abject surrender thanks to its own visceral hatred for India, the scale of loot is likely to be worse. If the aam Abdul in Pakistan wakes up one day just like Najib did, there could be interesting repercussions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agenda for Yogi Adiyanath

Dear Yogiji

CONGRATS!! You have been chosen. As Tavleen Singh so rightly says it in her column winning is the easy part. She is also correct to say the depravity in UP is so bad, voters ask for very little.

With that in mind let us take the liberty of suggesting an action plan to you.

  1. Ignore the constant sniping from liberal media agents of corrupt dynasts. They are paid to do what they are doing. They get the airtime but people don’t listen to them.
  2. Be careful in what you say and tell your followers to do the same. You know secularism in India is such Azam Khan or Owaisi can say anything but you cannot.
  3. It doesn’t take a lot of money or time to do “development”. Grand schemes, metro railways, big dams and highways can wait. But take simple steps that common man can see for himself and enjoy benefits of. We give a few suggestions on this below:

The development agenda

  1. Ask BJP IT cell to help you create a database of each and every village or settlement in UP. Don’t bother about caste, religion, zone etc.
  2. For each village the database should show statistics on basic things like this picture shows. For cities, use mohallas or blocks, not villages.
  3. Make this publicly available so people can point out mistakes, errors. Suggestions.
  4. Assign local MLA + one minister to each of them. MLA is primarily responsible, minister oversees. Also assign one babu. For opposition wards, assign suitable candidates.
  5. If users click on each cell, it should take them to a page where status of what is being done to solve the issue is shown. For example if power lines are being constructed, the page should show status, which contractor, value etc. So people know who to complain against if they are doing bad job.
  6. Of course, this is basic information, you can add more details such as maps, plans etc also.
  7. Just sit back, monitor and sack anyone not doing his job. Whatever other things you do, such as mandir, cow slaughter, inaugurating big schemes can of course, go on, but don’t forget this main task!
  8. That’s it! You will prove 2019 is no different from 2014 or 2017, even better!

Suggestions welcome!

 

UP results – conclusions and warnings

The dust has settled and the results are in. Modi has won. Period. Amen. Despite the setbacks in Goa and the more anticipated defeat in Punjab, there can be no two opinions on who the winner is.

What are the conclusions we can draw & more importantly, what are the warning signals from voters?  Spoiler alert! We are not even going to talk about Rahul Gandhi!

No. 1: The complete decimation of Arvind Kejriwal – at least for the foreseeable future.

The writing has been on the wall for a while now. It is not that Kejriwal has changed. He has always been what he is – foul mouthed, prone to irrational exaggerations and conspiracy theories, megalomaniac and ambitious. And totally unfit to govern. It is just that the scales have fallen off  the eyes of too many, both at volunteer level and voter level. Of course, Delhi media was still rooting for him (more on that in the next point).

If you go back to 2012 or 2013, amidst the stench of dynastic loot, plunder and scams, he was a whiff of fresh air, the knight in shining armour, the messiah. Bankers, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, professionals and other well meaning citizens were leaving well paid jobs and careers to be part of the “movement”. To clean India, to bring a new style of politics.

Just that they have finally realised, Kejriwal is not the man to do that. They never signed up to become another Mani Shankar Aiyar or Ambika Soni, loyal boot licking servants of one family whose only ambition is to come to power at any cost. They never wanted the irrational negative politics, fake conspiracy theories and brazen lies, embrace of jihadi terror and fanaticism in the name of secularism, compromises with corruption, business-as-usual style of politics, misuse of state funds for electoral advertisements, excessive power in one person’s hands, coteries of sycophants and vicious suppression of dissent and independent thought. In other words they did not want another Gandhi dynasty.

But then that is exactly what they got with Kejriwal and they left in droves. Now people are doing the same.

It is highly unlikely he can pick up the pieces again given the eccentricity hard-wired into his persona. Certainly not before 2019. Goa proved that beyond doubt. 50k odd votes about half what often loony and non serious (like the Party of Stark-raving-mad kind that show up in UK elections) independents secured! His irrational rant over EVMs that goes totally against the instincts of his target audience – young, tech savvy, educated Indians seeking fortunes in globalised world – show clearly where he is headed.

No. 2: Delhi fake liberal media loses whatever little credibility it had to start with

The bias and agenda driven reporting was always there. But the scale was certainly mind boggling even by Indian standards. After their Bihar success, the media lynch mob finally saw a golden chance to bury NaMo so deep into the ground, he simply had no chance in 2019. UPA III, the happy days of loot, plunder and “sharing and caring” in the form of dubious “investments” from moneybags favored by corrupt rulers, can come back. You could almost see them licking their hands in anticipation.

The wall to wall coverage given to “failure” of Gujarat model where every pothole and unpainted wall was projected as “proof” gave way to blanket coverage of Akhilesh’s “development record” – all based on one highway project! The same highway, if done by NDA would have had our liberal hearts bleeding over lost farms, livelihoods, land acquisitions etc.

No discussions on infant mortality, pathetic state of hospitals and schools etc that keep our liberals worried were ever allowed to raise their head. The depravity of UP was swept under the carpet once he signed up with Rahul Gandhi’s Congress (and to the Marxist agendas). Certificates of “new generation” politics were liberally issued despite his “minor 10%” differences over candidates with his allegedly thuggish, casteist father and Uncles (who were secular heroes not too long ago).

The hypocrisy was astounding too. Even as his online rag Wire was ranting against allegedly biased media predicting Modi victory, M K Venu was going ga-ga about Dimple Yadav’s connect with the people!

Saba Naqvi was predicting a AAP sweep of Punjab even as she was questioning objectivity of anyone predicting BJP win in UP!

“Project Akhilesh” – to project Akhilesh Yadav as a newly minted popular leader loved by all, caste bias free (yet magically retaining his Yadav base) and a serious challenger to Modi’s development mantra, even his PM chair, yet humble enough to let Rahul occupy it, failed big time. Economic Times almost ran a parallel campaign devoting pages after pages to anti-Modi rhetoric and Yadav sycophancy.

His pathetic record of thuggery, crime, corruption and failures over five years of mis-rule was totally ignored by corrupt yellow media focused on Modi’s alleged shortcomings during his 2 year run. People of course, saw it through. Interestingly after elections were over, the very same media gave the very same misrule as one of the reasons for the defeat. Something they clearly missed prior to the vote count!

No. 3: It is too early to call 2019

Some media servants of Janpath have now started giving up on 2019 – Modi is being handed outright victory on a platter.

But this again is poisoned chalice. BJP and Modi would do well to simply ignore these predictions and focus on the job.

Because the media elite handing out these premature victory awards are doing it not with any joy or acceptance of Modi’s hard work and connect with people but in frustration, sorrow and tears over the decimation of the corrupt cabal that kept them well fed.

Seriously speaking, 2019 is still too early to call simply because India is too complicated and anything can happen. Voters in national polls vote based on regional and local allegiances as Naveen Patnaik, Mamata Banerji and JJ’s sweep of their states showed.  Three term anti-incumbency in MP and Gujarat may still lurk below the ground. BJPs 100% sweep in so many cow belt states may yet turn out hard to replicate. After all, there is only one way to go from winning all the seats.

Considering all this, BJP should, at least ask its own leaders to be very very careful in what they say, certainly not be fooled by corrupt media’s foolish predictions and left handed compliments.

No. 4: Speed up

The right way for Modi and his government to read this would be to see it as a call to step on the gas. People want faster and faster results, development, visible progress, rescue from the morass and swamp and don’t care about the caste or religion of the person delivering it.

After GST is through, Modi should speed up on various other reform agenda items. Sell off BSNL, Air India and other sinkholes that suck people’s tax money to fund well paid parasites. Here he should take on left’s nonsensical propaganda head on and show the Indian poor how they are carrying the parasitic PSUs and their arrogant staff in palanquins and get very little for their back breaking work.

He should roll back useless forms, returns, registers, approvals, certificates and other such remnants of 50s socialism that make life difficult for small businesses and tilt the scale in favor of imports. Here his record has been quite slow to be frank. A lot of Congress era shackles remain in the books, fiercely defended by the corrupt bureaucracy who see them as cash generating franchises. Here again he can take the left head on by comparing with China.

No. 5: Don’t write off caste based parties

If caste was the loser in 2017, it is not down and out yet. The casteist parties have not disappeared, still get 20% or more in votes and much higher percentages of votes from their own groups. As JD(S) in Karantaka shows, it is hard to get rural masses to vote truly on merit, ignoring caste even though a leader of Modi’s calibre can cut through in his appeal.

Modi would ignore caste at his peril as it can rear an ugly head anytime. Solution? Rock solid governance that delivers to all – ie. simply implement the “sub-ka-saath” agenda sincerely and effectively.

No. 6: BJP needs more Modis.

Clearly the bench is light. Only Parikkar, who was doing a great job in defense, could do for Goa and UP may rob another good senior minister from the center. Alternatively the huge gaps in Union Cabinet may have to be filled by airlifting a capable & performing Chief Minister, leaving a hole there in exchange.

Talent is hard to get, even for a party like BJP where you can rise to the top from the very bottom. It takes decades in power to develop that depth of talent but Modi has to get started now so that BJP can reap the rewards in five, ten years time in trickles. To solve short term issues some capable youngsters may have to be given over-sized charges, a risky gamble but one that may pay off well like in Maharashtra with Fadnavis.

 

The Ramjas saga – Does left really want freedom?

It is not just naive but dangerous to conclude that the assorted hardcore left (in their usual liberal masks) that are frothing over “liberal values” and “room for debate” in our campuses want that. What they want is monopoly over thought and words. Monopoly they enjoyed in a mutual back scratching deal with corrupt dynasties in the past.

What they instead are fighting for is not just the exact opposite but something left globally as well as in India is quite famous for – monopoly of thought, complete suppression of any opinion that doesn’t fit with their narratives enforced with violence, mass murders and other forms of savagery. All supported by a cabal of charlatans that call themselves humanists, intellectuals, liberals who slam the door shut on any genuine liberal that doesn’t take instructions.

This has been demonstrated time and again in JNU and other left controlled institutions including Lit Fests, academic institutes and think tanks on history, culture etc.

The dangerous pro-jihadi Islamist slogans that the left-Islamist continuum raises in JNU and tried to raise in Ramjas is explained away by some well meaning useful idiots as “youthful idealism”. This is bollocks.

There is no hint of youthful innocence or idealism and there has never been. Today’s Politburo members and commanders of armies of mass murderers and rapists that wreaked havoc in Nandigram, Singur and elsewhere are stocked with the exact same JNU alumni who were supposedly “idealist youth”. They never dared open their mouths against the Tiananmen massacre of students by their handlers in Beijing. Driven by similar ideological thought, today’s leftist students of JNU, AISA, SFI etc are preparing for a career in serfdom to Beijing by being very selective in their quest for liberty, secession, azaadi (Freedom) etc.

Distant Palestine (and assorted obscure Central American or Latin American states) attract their loud support. Kashmir does too. So does Manipur and various other North Eastern states of India. But NOT A WORD on Balochistan, Sindh, Xinjiang, Tibet! So much for their “idealism”. They know a career in Marxism in India requires complete obedience to the holding company’s narratives. Not just Beijing but its “taller than mountain, sweeter than honey” jihadi terrorist subsidiary in Islamabad too can’t be questioned!

An orchestrated campaign is being launched in media sympathetic to the Stalinist left as if the violence was only by ABVP. Nothing can be further from the truth. Violence has always been the hallmark of left right from its founding days. Stalinist “liberal” media even showed a picture of prominent SFI (CPM) goon assaulting a student with false news portraying the victim as the assaulter!

In fact the violence by the left in Ramjas was proudly owned by  several Marxist twitter activists including the one cited in the opindia.com report linked above. This again is not uncommon at all. Left is very famous for proudly owning up to its massacres and atrocities (as a way of sending message to its enemies), even as it deploys its “intellectual” army to cover up its crimes and apply a coat of white paint in the name of “liberal, progressive” values.

If you recall the rapist savagery in Nandigram, Bengal’s Marxist Chief Minister Bhattacharjee proudly congratulated his army of rapist butchers for having “taught a lesson” to the poor villagers protesting against their land being seized for a Chinese businessman. In Kerala, yet another senior Politburo member openly bragged about killing Congress members and was given a gentle knock on the wrist with feathers as “punishment”. Even Chomsky who delivers lectures on humanism and is one of left’s leading intellectual lights, tried to whitewash the mass murders and Polpotist savagery of his fellow left in Nandigram by saying it should not be raked up for the sake of “left unity”.

Given this background, it is very important for BJP as well as ABVP and the right to put the truth out. Given the rigid control of Stalinist left over the curriculum that has prevented Indian students from learning the true horrors of Marxism in Cambodia, China, North Korea and elsewhere as well as the role of Indian left in supporting and furthering these genocides, Modi government would do well to look closely at how true history and facts can be taught to Indian students so they grow up to be true liberals.

 

 

 

 

Sasikala and Sonia

Let us come to the main point of this article right away: Why this discrimination? Why do our elite media warriors who suck up to the Mainos in Delhi thumb noses at V K Sasikala in Chennai?

In what way are they different?

Is one super duper educated sophisticated PM-grade leader only because of her skin? If it is not a sin for a former barmaid to actually run nation from behind scenes as “super PM”, is it wrong for a simple businesswoman from the provinces to do the same at state level?

Is keeping low profile, giving carefully choreographed interviews to even more carefully selected corrupt media propaganda agents aka “liberal journalists” OK for Madame but not for VKS? Why this derision?

Is involving all & sundry from family in politics alright for Congress but not for ADMK?

Is it OK for Robert Vadra to come out of nowhere and become “crorepathi” overnight thanks to his “connections” but not for Dinakaran and assorted nephews of VKS? And we are supposed to believe that only one of them is a natural born business whizzkid and the other is corrupt?

We have lost count of the number of “re-launch” and reinvigorated Rahul Gandhis that media helped launch in the past ten years or so, but will same chance be given to Sasikala’s kin?

Turning MGR/JJ’s ADMK into a “family property” is sin, but turning Gandhi’s Congress into a dynastic property is OK?

The list goes on..but you get the point!

Let us also make one thing clear – we are holding no brief for VKS, nor do we like to see her anywhere near power, but the hypocrisy and selective outrage of our corrupt elites is stupefying!

 

 

 

Budget 2017 – our comments

Most speeches by Finance Ministers follow a predictable template – throw in a couplet here and proverb there, pay homilies to the downtrodden, poor, dalit etc., talk about poverty elimination and so on.

Buried in this poetry and the usual “2% reduction in excise on matchbox”, “3% increase in customs duty on televisions” sort of announcements that waste time and fill pages, are far reaching changes that most casual observers miss entirely.

Because of imminent arrival of GST, thankfully the excise, customs changes are negligible. And they have been pushed to the Annexure not read out item by item.

Despite merger of the railway budget with the Union Budget, not much time has been wasted on minor matters such as extension of trains, addition of coaches etc., that in any normal country a low level official will do.

Thanks Jaitley sir!

  1. Reducing taxes for the entry level slab is a welcome move. Perhaps the limits could have been increased. Even better if these are routinely hiked considering inflation and other factors.
  2. There is also yet another proposal to simplify the ITR form for them. But one has to see how “simple” this form turn out to be, by the time the bureaucrats are done with their tinkering.
  3. There is a plan to ‘ask states’ to remove perishables from APMC monopoly. Our farmers bear the brunt of inefficiency, sloth, harassment and corruption inherent in such state monopolies. Ideally BJP states should have taken the lead in doing this long ago.
  4. A million farm ponds have been constructed this year through MNREGA! This huge number should make a difference to drought management if these are real ponds and don’t merely exist on paper. MNREGA has been criticised for fake projects and leaks in the past.
  5. The target for PM Mudra Yojana a loan scheme primarily targeted at SMEs has been doubled to Rs.2.44 lcr having exceeding this year’s target. Hopefully these loans have been given to micro enterprises that generate thousands of jobs. FM would have done well to present some statistics on this front so the impact is not lost in fine print.
  6. We heard this before, but FM has repeated the shocking number of just 144k tax payers reporting income over Rs.5m many of who area salaried class who have no choice but report. Again the hope is that deposits forced into the banking system by the demonetisation will lead to better compliance. Proof will be visible next year hopefully. FM says 148k people have deposited an average of Rs.3om and this plus other deposits over Rs.500k should keep IT officials busy. The key here is to prioritise and go after the real big fish and not waste time on harassing the small fry. But knowing our babus, chances are the exact reverse will happen unless the FM and PM crack down hard on continuous basis.
  7. The reduction of Long term capital gain eligibility (2 years) plus the base shift should be a huge boon for many.
  8. Reduction in tax for smaller companies a welcome move. These are the ones that deserve help as they create a lot of job for the same investment.
  9. Spending on Namaami Gange plan is way below estimate, this should worry the PM whose constituency is Varanasi. For a priority project this is indeed sad.
  10. Reasonable limits on fiscal deficit (3.2%) have been forecast and the actual performance too has been creditable if the revised estimates are true. This should ease concerns on inflation front.
  11. Scrapping FIPB is a good move though sections of biased media has chosen to see this as concentration of power in PMs hands.

On the whole a balanced budget without much of big bang but without any negative aspects as well.

Implementation, as usual is the key. Devil is in the details.

 

Turkish (blood) bath

The new year has started horribly for Turkey. If the year that just went by featured regular terror attacks, often killing innocent civilians, the bloody start to the new year with the deaths at the Reina club attack was shocking even to people used to bad news coming regularly from Istanbul.

No doubt there will be a lot of op-eds condemning the incident, offering sympathy to the dead and the usual “nothing to do with Islam” protestations which remind us of the old Tamil adage “Father is not hiding in the barn”. Sensible comments and prescriptions, such as this, have been rare.

What exactly is ailing Turkey?

Briefly, Turkey is Pakistan-ising itself. And the chief architect of that is President Recip Tayyip Erdogan – the Turkish Zia ul Haq.  The resemblances are indeed startling. This is sort of ironic because Pakistan wanted to model itself on Attaturk’s Turkey. Now it is leading by example.

1. Just as Pakistan sought “strategic depth” in Afghanistan and considered it its province, Turkey under Erdogan sought regime change in Syria. Not only that, exactly as Pakistan did, it acted as a transit lounge cum supply base for jihadi fanatics fighting secular Assad regime. Practically every ISIS-wannabe even from far off places like Malaysia and Indonesia, flew to Turkey to join the jihadists. No doubt many stayed back, looked around and found a lot of un-Islamic things in Turkey itself that need ‘correction’. As if that were not enough, his sudden and selective U-turn, triggered more by self preservation instincts than change of ideology, has incensed the very snakes he has been rearing in his backyard, to quote Hillary Clinton’s remark on Pakistan. This again parallels the Pakistan situation almost 100%. And like Pakistanis, he too loves to pass the blame to the Americans whenever it suits him and have a love-hate relationship with the ‘great satan’.  Both are not clever enough to realise that the Americans are not idiots and they play the poisonous game in someone else’s backyard, not their own.

2. Pakistan’s dream reviving the golden era of Babur, Lodi, Mughal rule in the sub-continent, expressed with the colourful “green flag in Red Fort” phrase was the exact sort of dream that Erdogan too had. For him it was reviving the Ottoman era when Turkish Sultans controlled vast territory and were ‘amir-ul-momineen’ or Caliphs. This crazy obsession drove thought and policy. Seeing the neighbourhood as a one of ex-possessions that need fresh direction and inspiration from Istanbul no doubt added to the hubris.

3. Erdogan’s cynical use of the shadowy Gulen gang to brutally purge the old secular establishment too is almost identical to the Pakistani use of jihadi groups to deal with secular internal opposition. His even more brutal U-turn against the Gulenists too is simply a case of turf war and mafia style power struggle rather than genuine change of heart against use of religious fanaticism for political gains.

4. The gradual poisoning of secular, liberal Turkish ethos, created after years of effort by Attaturk too has parallels with Pakistan. This meant not just “freedom” to wear burqas, restrictions on alcohol, prayers in the Hagia Sophia and other symbolic moves but also a gradual Islamisation of everything and anything – academia, judiciary, military and so on. Over time, this creates a self-sustaining, growing conservative base which sees each such move as vindication and demanded even more. This set the stage for competitive conservatism with each Talibanic step followed by even more conservative ones – in other words a slippery slope with Saudi Arabia style society as the destination. Again this is exactly the path Pakistan followed in the Zia years and later.

5. Just as Pakistan did, Turkey under Erdogan defined itself as a pure Wahabi Sunni state which effectively de-legitimised all other faiths, beliefs and sects. This meant imposition of one official version of Islam on others who were either agnostic or practiced other synthetic faiths like Alevism. This was done through the school system and through regular haranguing by ruling politicians as well as mullahs. In fact this search for Islamic purity has recently matured to a point where Christmas and New Year were seen as evil habits of kuffars.

Picture from https://twitter.com/andreaskorinov/status/815374246763298816

Naturally the Reina attacker too thought the same, although not everyone arguing against Santa wanted the revelers killed, violent imagery of Santa getting punched notwithstanding. Turkey’s Chief Mullah issued a routine boiler plate condemnation that’s all too familiar now, but he was the one that ranted against New Year celebrations in a sermon read out at all mosques just a day before the attack!

6. The gradual decimation of the army too followed identical templates, though the situations were not identical. The Pakistani Army, once seen as secular and professional was gradually turned into one of bearded as well as beard less jihadi fanatics. Turkish army, fiercely secular, resisted but that resistance crumbled under Erdogan, with the result that both countries cannot trust their armies any more! The recent purge of tens of thousands of Gulenists from the armed forces, on top of the Gulenist inspired purged of equally large number of secularists have altered the face of army, possibly forever. While this may have made the country immune to coups it is certainly a lot more vulnerable to ISIS-lite leadership.

Where does the solution lie?

At least in the case of Turkey, the answer is easy enough. Turn the clock back (or forward, as Erdogan has neatly managed to move it back a few centuries) and go to Attaturk’s Turkey. Not that this solution is unknown to Turks. Many brave Turks are trying to do exactly that and ironically, are getting arrested by a regime that sees them more as a threat than the ISIS!

In the case of Pakistan the delusions run far too deep within the society which never had the strong secular base to start with in the first place. Nor did it have a leader of calibre of Attaturk. More importantly, in case of Turkey, it is one strongman – Erdogan who is pushing it towards 7th century Arab ideal, in the case of Pakistan the rot runs much deeper.