Pending bills in Rajyasabha – Is Modi regime derailed?

We often read about logjams in the US House or Senate, with the President’s party outnumbered by his opponents who do their best to scuttle his agenda. India, despite its much more divided and bitterly polarised politics, has not seen much of this. No doubt there have been noisy and prolonged disruptions in the Parliament but those have been event driven or tactical. They have often resulted in back room deals and compromises that eventually lets the government have its way. In any case the opposition never had the numbers to force their way other than through disruptive tactics such as storming the well of the house, preventing any business from being transacted. In other words the problem was not ‘structural’

But now Narendra Modi’s less than year old regime faces, for the first time, a clear and present danger of seeing its legislative agenda brought to a complete stop at least as far as meaningful bills go. This is because its problem is not one of tactic or strategy but a structural one, much harder to solve. Journalist R. Jagannathan’s excellent article in the First Post provides valid reasons for this – BJPs opponents are fighting for their political life, nothing less.

Let’s examine these questions

  1. Who’s to blame
  2. Prognosis for current stalemate
  3. What does it imply for Modi’s government for the rest of the term
  4. BJPs game plan

Who’s to blame?

As with almost anything else in Indian politics, this depends on who you ask or read. Pro-Congress Marxist newspapers like Hindu have clearly laid the blame at the foot of Modi regime. In fact their coverage of Modi’s troubles has been sort of celebratory, with every opposition victory presented as if it were a fresh triumph by the men in blue at the World Cup Cricket series now on in Australia. See this article and this

All things considered it could be said Modi government perhaps erred in rushing through the ordinances, particularly on matters like Coal, Citizenship, Insurance etc., where the chances of consensus were much higher. As far as the Land bill goes, he would never have been allowed to have his way anyway, so an ordinance may have made sense after seeing the rest through. Is the government so bereft of legal talent that it could not see the difficulties in using the joint session route? Or the tactics opposition could adopt to legally stall its agenda?

It is easy to have perfect vision in hindsight. Anyway, these are water under bridge and the more important question is what happens going forward.

Prognosis for current stalemate

Again, if one were to go by the pro-Congress media, Modi regime is doomed. None of the five pending bills would pass the Rajya Sabha, forcing the government to either give it up or risk another confrontation with the President as well as the opposition in extending the ordinances. Even the joint session route is years away given the rules and opposition strategy of not rejecting the bills outright.

As usual back room negotiations are on. And the Central government is not exactly powerless, particularly given the vulnerabilities of some of the opposition parties and their leaders. This all or nothing scenario may not come to pass. It is quite likely that some of the less contentious bills may pass through even as the opposition has its way on the Land bill and perhaps even the Insurance bills. In other words a 3-2 victory for the opposition is likely. The smooth passage of the Citizenship bill is a pointer in this direction. That was hit with an ordinance too.

The primary reason for this optimism on our part is the fact that the opposition would not like to be seen as too anarchist as it doesn’t suit their agenda. Their case would be, “Look, we are so nice, we help pass bills that are good, only oppose ‘anti-people’ ones”

Implications for the remainder of Modi’s term

If at all once could turn this episode into something positive, it should be remembered, all this is happening early in his tenure. In other words, he has almost four years to rethink strategy, retool, and change course.

Clearly, contentious and easy to politicise issues, or in other words, bold reforms, cannot be legislated by this regime until and unless it gets majority in the RS. That may never happen in this term.  Any attempt to tinker with labour laws, for example, would be very easy to project as anti-labour and block.

This may require a careful re-calibration of expectations. Primarily expectations created by Modi’s own words and actions in the past which have been of the He-Man, Terminator variety.

Indeed there are so many things that can be done outside of the Parliament and this is time to go deeper into those and come up with creative solutions. For example, the Companies Act, among other laws, allows considerable leeway to the government to issue Notifications that can be quite powerful.  So much can be done to simplify business compliance just by tweaking them.

By keeping a steady trickle of non legislative reform initiatives, along with simultaneous attempts to reach out directly the the public and sell the government vision can ensure Modi’s agenda not only survives but flourishes. As the Economic Survey clearly points out, big bang reforms are not feasible in a country like India except during a crisis.

"Boldness in areas where policy levers can be more easily pulled by the center combined with incrementalism in other areas is a combination that can cumulate over time to Big Bang reforms" (Economic Survey 2015)

This would gain praise from the business lobby as well as international media and thereby generate a positive environment for investments and eventually jobs to grow.

BJPs game plan

The confusing statements coming from Prime Minister himself have made it quite difficult to figure out BJPs game plan. Is it conciliatory or confrontational? If confrontational, why beg cooperation and offer olive branches? If conciliatory, why not concede some of the more harmless of opposition demands such as allowing them to seek clarifications on PM’s address to Rajya Sabha? After all he can be better than the best in replying to any political attack?

Be that as it may, there are still many things BJP can do to keep its momentum going despite its crippling lack of majority in the RS. In fact it could even turn it into an advantage!

Modi is not a Maun Mohan Singh, not only he talks (some would say too much) but he is a forceful communicator. He goes direct to the people, bypassing hostile ‘liberal’ media elites. as his recent effort to sell the Land bill to a rural audience in Rajasthan clearly shows. While the opposition may have the numbers in Rajya Sabha, it doesn’t have anyone of the calibre of Modi to sell its vision to a national audience.

What this implies is they could win a battle or two, yet lose the war. After all Modi could easily turn the tables and blame the opposition tactics for any problem on the investment or jobs front while claiming credit for any positive news as hard won victory ‘despite opposition sabotage’. Given the discredited and corrupt image of some of the ageing patriarchs of the opposition, this message could indeed sell. For example, if the Coal bill were to be defeated, it would be politically very easy for Modi to portray this as “anti-national” move by the “corrupt” Congress to protect favored businessmen who got direct allotment, depriving the nation of revenues running into lakhs of crores of rupees.

BJP’s game plan should also be to continue its aggressive moves to expand its base in various states thereby signalling clearly that its political agenda cannot be traded for cooperation in Delhi. This is likely to force some of the more amenable players to work with BJP to seek common ground instead of working with the opposition and gaining nothing. States where the BJP threat is remote and distant (like Tamilnadu) are more likely to fall in line to this approach. States like Bengal, due for elections in the near term and where the BJP expansion is credible and threatening, are obviously lost causes in terms of getting the opposition (TMC in this case) to cooperate on any term.

Obviously, needless confrontation and strong words can be and should be avoided. But meekly surrendering to the opposition tantrums and turning dovish is clearly not the option. This essentially means a free handle to BJPs opponents to continue their war while Modi is effectively disarmed. In fact, no matter what the price is, some parties like TMC and even the Congress would simply see no benefit in siding with the BJP or its reform agenda. They get no credit for its victory and may be blamed for not opposing strongly enough by upstarts like AAP, if it fails.

In sum, a clever plan to push non-legislative reforms combined with aggressive moves on the political arena to counter the opposition propaganda may yet see the BJP get its way.

 

The Afghan mess

The flurry of recent high level visits in the region and the impending US pullout no doubt has put Afghanistan on the front burner at least from a regional perspective. There is apprehension that India’s role in Afghanistan would diminish and India would be asked to ‘take a hike’ now that big boys are coming together to play a game that is in a different league.

Is India’s Afghan policy doomed?

Commentaries of this nature have appeared in local media. C. Raja Mohan writing for Indian Express doesn’t sound too optimistic. Of course, commentators like M K Bhadrakumar play up this doomsday scenario, primarily to scare Indian Government into ‘accommodating’ Pakistan’s demands. Bhadrakumar for one, has been prophesying about the grand and imminent victory for Pakistan’s Afghan strategy for a few years now. The victory has always been around the corner and is likely to remain so.

Much of the hand wringing and breast beating (we seem to be experts in this) over India’s ‘diminished role’ or even a strategic nightmare unfolding in the coming months may be unwarranted.

The mistrust

Afghan Pakistan mistrust is a result of years of Pakistani double dealing and it would be insulting Afghan intelligence to attribute it entirely to some deep Indian conspiracy. Even the Taliban fighters have been quoted bad mouthing Pakistan and its Army. Ahmed Rashid’s recent BBC article is but one example.  They probably alternate between being used and using the ISI to further their own agenda. Their reluctance, even while in power, to accept the Durand line as the official Afghan Pakistan border has often been cited as an example of this mistrust and independent agenda. What is also surprising is the level of hostility towards Pakistan amongst ordinary Afghans be they villagers or educated elite. What this means is that even if Ashraf Ghani has entirely signed up for the Pakistani plan, given his own fractured verdict and shaky hold on power in a country full of ethnic and other fault lines, he is not going to wave a magic wand and transform Pakistan’s image problem in Afghanistan.

His rival Abdullah, who is “CEO” under the power sharing system worked out after last elections is much more friendlier towards India.

Ghani’s gambit

That brings us to the new President, Ashraf Ghani. Ghani obviously will have Afghan interests as his bottom line. He may be convinced, rightly or wrongly that being friendly to Pakistan will further that interest. He has certainly kept India at a safe distance, avoiding a visit. He even cancelled long pending arms request which India was reluctant to provide anyway. Sooner or later he may have to change tunes. This is because Pakistan will continue to play games and expect a one sided relationship where its own demands take precedence and offer nothing in return. Pakistan’s generals are in cocky mood, congratulating themselves for hoodwinking the Americans for decades. They were successful in bilking billions of dollars even as they actively sabotage American interests and lives in the region. It is likely they continue to believe this can be done for many more years profitably. If the mighty Americans can be fooled for so long, it would be even easier to do so with the Afghans who can’t even hit back.

However, not having any results to show after several months of bending over backwards to Pakistan’s demands would destroy whatever little credibility Ashraf Ghani enjoys now.

The Taliban

But if one were to assume that the Pakistani Army has turned a corner and is now a truly anti-jihad (which incidentally is their official motif) that makes things even more interesting and complicated. Ahmed Rashid, a well known Pakistani author and commentator is sceptical about Pakistan Army’s clout over the Taliban. They may have been stooges or useful idiots in the past, but have their own plans. They are not going to accompany Gen. Sharif to the slaughterhouse like a lamb. With support from sections of the radicalised Pakistani public, elements in the army itself and sectarian terror gangs like TTP and Al Qaeda/ISIL they may even become openly hostile to Pakistan. If anything, effort by Pakistan to bulldoze Taliban into some ‘settlement’ not entirely to their liking will only confirm Taliban’s suspicion. Getting the Taliban to agree to a compromise that also satisfies Tajik and other Afghan tribal interests would not be easy particularly for a bunch of generals trusted by no one.

Any strong arm tactic to please the Americans or soften up the Talibs for talks would probably end up making matters worse. Yet this may become the unintended collateral consequence of the airstrikes and bombings as well as hangings that have followed the Peshawar school massacre.

Although Obama administration has recently started calling the Taliban ‘armed insurgents’ and not terrorists, they are not another Indian or African National Congress simply fighting for their country’s independence. Their goals and agenda go much further. In fact pressure from even greener Islamist groups like IS would force them to adopt increasingly tough line, simply to keep their flock from defecting. Any defeat at the negotiating table, when they feel they have pretty much driven away the Americans and “won” in the battlefield, is not only unlikely but unrealistic to expect. On the contrary a victory for Taliban would not only be unacceptable to large sections of Afghan public including Pashtuns, it will have long term consequences for Pakistan’s own western provinces as well as its core interests. Islamist forces would see that as a template worthy of implementing in Pakistan itself.

America’s endless generosity?

America’s vital interests in the region have been overestimated. Unlike dictatorships like China, frequent regime changes in America makes it easy for any President to disown and walk away from the mess his predecessor has created and trumpet that as an achievement in of itself. That is exactly what Obama has been promising to voters and doing as well. Unlike George Bush, President Obama has very little ‘face’ to lose because it was simply not his war. A new President even if from the same Democratic party, assuming power after elections next year would be even more distant from the mess and would not want to invest a dollar more.

Frankly, America is least bothered as its oil dependence has dropped considerably. It’s reliance on Middle East oil is insignificant and declining by the year. It’s strategic priorities lie much further to the East and West. In other words, the Pakistani generals and their fan club members like Bhadrakumar that are expecting huge dowries and ransom in exchange for facilitating some sort of grand bargain, are simply day dreaming.

American eagerness to drop this can of worms on China’s lap is seen by some as a great victory for China and a ‘proof’ of its rise, but it is more like American companies getting rid of some dirty or dangerous assembly business to the Chinese because it makes sense.

The China hand

That brings us to China! It should be obvious that China lacks the money to spend the tens of billions of dollars Americans could spend in the Af-Pak theatre each year. It wants to make money, not throw it in a bottomless pit. It’s interests are entirely commercial and self centered. It has two main concerns – the Xinjiang issue and long term economic interests. China has never given big bucks even to its most trusted slave Pakistan, mostly confining itself to flowery words and empty promises. Commercial deals, if any, have been on terms massively in its favor.

China has been enjoying Pakistan’s ‘services’ pretty much free of charge with Uncle Sam footing the bill. It may not have any interest in funding the Afghan economy or much worse, its Army. The trillions of dollars of mineral wealth supposedly waiting to be tapped are worth a lot less for its economy given the price crash of most commodities and the global glut. It may announce a few grandiose projects, more flowery words and poetry and fund some of these projects to some extent and rapidly cut losses and get out if the going gets tough as it did in Africa. For example, its much hyped copper mining project in Aynak have not seen any investments and is simply announcement-ware.

Net Net

All said, Pakistan army is nowhere close to getting what it wants and the only ‘victory’ it scores are in the political arena when it plays games with its own elected civilian leaders. In fact more than India, it is Pakistan that faces the risk of ‘heads you win, tails I lose’ scenario unfolding in Afghanistan.

As far as India is concerned, its legitimate interests merely lie in ensuring Afghanistan does not become a backyard for anti-Indian terrorists or a ‘strategic depth’ for Pakistan. This is achievable in all but the most pessimistic of scenarios, even if Taliban were to share power.

In fact, it may make a lot of sense to just lie low, open a large bag of pop corns and watch the fun from a distance as Pakistan slowly finds its goose cooked to perfection in a mess of its own making.

 

Book Review: Jean Dreze & Amartya Sen’s “An uncertain glory”

The ‘debate’

In the recent past two renowned economists who are generally all but unknown to the ‘aam aadmi’ rose to prominence in the main stream media. One of them was Dr Amartya Sen and the other was Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati. The issue was economic policy and its focus. Sen is widely seen as advocating a left of centre, welfare oriented state that provides basic social services like education, health etc. Whereas Bhagwati is seen as a right winger advocating “growth first” policy. Given the political divide in India, that too in the context of the 2014 Parliament elections, they were seen as favoring either Modi (Bhagwati) or Rahul Gandhi (Sen). Sen openly stated he doesn’t want to see Narendra Modi as ‘his’ PM. On the other hand Bhagwati has been described as ‘unabashedly pro Modi’

I did not follow that debate closely but recently came across a book written by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen titled “An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions“. This article is about this book.

Interestingly one of the authors is a foreigner who lives in India and has been living here for decades and the other is an Indian who spent bulk of his career abroad.

The Book and its case

The essential takeaway from the book is that the authors are not ideologically dogmatic or incorrigibly biased and it is stupid to see them as communist economists and hence dismiss their entire argument.

Personally I find a lot of the goals and objectives espoused by Sen and Dreze quite sensible and essential. After all, can you argue with the logic of “expansion of human freedom and capability” as the key goal of a nation’s government? And economic growth as a means to achieve that goal?

One can also hardly find fault with the strong arguments in favor of universal access to basic healthcare, primary education and facilities like water, sewage treatment and toilets. Although the authors cite copious statistics and references to show how backward India is on these (and other) primary amenities, they are somewhat unnecessary to anyone that has even visited India briefly.  One has to barely get on a taxi and move out of the airport to see slums, people urinating (or worse) on the airport compound wall or darkness in the streets and markets because of ‘load shedding’.

Thanks to the statistics and facts highlighted by the authors we also learn that India was relatively prosperous before the British landed and economic growth during the colonial era was close to zero. For example, GDP growth from 1901-1947 was barely 0.9% per year! It will be music to the ears of nationalistic Indians to hear that Adam Smith had, in his 1776 book ‘Wealth of Nations’, described India as prosperous.  Nalanda University which had students from all over Asia, was 600 years older than Europe’s oldest, Bologna. Of course, in the same breath the authors could not help taking a sarcastic swipe at Indians going back to their mythical past to look for golden era. That plus repeated condescending references to people dreaming of India as ‘economic superpower’ make clear the ideological as well as political leanings of the authors.

BJP and its friends who are not great fans of Jawaharlal Nehru will also find it interesting to read that there was no decline in rural poverty after 3 decades of planned growth (1951-81). They also blame him for neglecting universal primary education. They are also open minded enough to acknowledge and appreciate the sensible advise given to Nehru by American economist Milton Friedman (a free market advocate) to invest in human capital, advise which fell on deaf ears. This is where India’s early years of state planning was different from the approach taken by communist states, although people often describe India of 50s and 60s as following the Soviet model.  .

The authors are also not great fans of Indira Gandhi and her years of socialism. They quote Dr. Bimal Jalan – “politics was driving Indira Gandhi’s economics”. They are happy to acknowledge the constructive role that markets can play even as they advocate a strong constructive role by the state something India has failed to do. They also question many subsidies such as fertilizer and electricity where they are poorly targeted or simply wasteful. This again should please readers who are sympathetic to the ‘other’ camp.

In fact folks that see them as commie economists will be shocked to read the authors negative remarks about high teachers salaries that have come in the way of universal primary education. They even argue high salaries turn teaching into a plum position that attracts people who see it as a job, not interested in teaching! The authors lament about wage increases given by successive Pay commissions, which as they rightly point out, are by babus that benefit from their own recommendations, and are also not bothered about financial implications and funding requirements of their recommendations.

Given their well known political leanings, they also defend programs like MNREGA which have attracted a lot of negative publicity recently for being bottomless pits. They also defend amounts spent on food security comparing that with revenue forgone on “gold and diamonds”, repeatedly citing that example to buttress their arguments. The often heard conflict between development and environment is also argued as unnecessary if one were to take a wider view of the meaning of development. The blue eyed boy of all left wing and liberal economists, renewable energy also finds support. In all of these, we find the authors’ sentiments and objectives are hard to fault though one may question some of their examples and conclusions.

Although some right wing commentators and media may see Dr. Sen as a typical left wing liberal biased against Modi & Co, this book itself has remarkably stayed clear of any overt political propaganda. Copious praise is reserved for states like Tamil Nadu, (primary healthcare, mid day meals etc) which was never ruled by Congress or communists for decades. Even BJP ruled states come in for praise when they do things the authors see as positive. Raman Singh’s Chhattisgarh is one. If the communist ruled states like Kerala are praise at all, it is for specific achievements backed up by facts.

This brings us to the next point..

If I were Prime Minister Narendra Modi

If one were to completely ignore the acrimonious debates and entrenched right versus left arguments and look at India’s problems, prospects and potential with an open mind, there are numerous bullet points that one can take away from this excellent book. We would argue this is precisely what PM Modi or anyone in a public position of influence should do.

  1. Investment in primary education and healthcare can have enormous positive implications for long term growth. This is by no means waste of money or populist splurging of tax money.
  2. India has made impressive progress but lacks basic stuff that even other poor countries take for granted – water, electricity, sewage, clean cities etc. Government has to take a lead role in these. This is a huge failing that needs urgent correction.
  3. Environment protection can go hand in hand with development and should not be seen as zero sum game. We are lucky that solar, wind and other renewable sources that are getting cheaper by the day, provide excellent alternatives that can be pursued today.

In many ways, the new NDA government is on the right track although admirers of Dr. Sen invariably would question this.

 

 

 

 

Bottomline on Delhi Elections

The exit polls are out but results are awaited. Despite the vagaries of opinion polls in India and their patchy track record, every bird in every branch of every tree in Delhi seem to sing only one tune, that is of the BJP’s defeat. Let’s take that as correct for now.

In every democracy, each major or minor party has a certain number of core, die-hard voters. This percentage varies with time, but the core nevertheless exists. These are the sort of voters, who would vote for a donkey (to quote MG Ramachandran or was it NTR?) if their party fields one.

But then there are also voters that shift their allegiances depending on a variety of factors, some of which may make sense to us, some don’t. Charismatic leadership, anti-incumbency, fatigue, non performance, sympathy for underdog, populist promises, caste or religion and a whole host of other factors can swing the choice of these transient voters. Needless to say, parties go after these voters as they make a difference.

Although one cannot agree with voters switching loyalties lured by populist promises and other such ‘negative’ factors, we have to respect these ‘neutral’ voters. Because in their own way, they don’t care for a particular party or ideology, but care for themselves and their families and indirectly and effectively for the country.  It is voters like this that build an effective and powerful democracy, even if they make a few wrong moves along the way. Voters that mechanically vote for one party or leader, come what may, do not add value to the system.  They encourage corruption, inefficiency and non performance. And we have had lots of that.

Coming back to Delhi, it is clear that the voters of the sort mentioned here are the ones that are going to make or destroy BJP’s fortunes. If BJP lost (and/or AAP gained) 10% or more voters in barely 7 months, it is because these voters are not hardcore Sanghis or Hindutva fans. They simply felt Narendra Modi was a better choice for leading the country out of the mess UPA2 had landed it in.  They were hoping for a better future for themselves, and as we mentioned earlier, indirectly for the country.

Similarly, now they feel Kejriwal is the best bet for Delhi. Firstly he is seen as better than anything BJP was able to throw at him, Bedi included. Secondly, some of them also perhaps feel it is ‘fair’ to give Delhi to AAP since Modi already has won a  much bigger prize.

The “Bhagoda” factor exploited by Congress and BJP clearly did not matter even in May 2014 since AAP managed to improve its vote tally even as it lost all seats. It would matter even less now.

It is also these transient voters that hold out the best hope for BJP going forward. Obviously, being a new party, AAP does not have a dedicated committed voter base. Every single vote it gets is because of Kejriwal, his image of being ‘different’ and his promise of improving their daily lives. If he fails to do much, these voters will simply walk away.

AAP will encounter entrenched forces that will resist its push to end corruption and improve public services. A lot of petty corruption is by lower ranks of civil services that can easily hold up the red flag and cause chaos, as other greenhorn Chief Ministers have found to their dismay. Many a new CM cracks down on small crimes like late coming or absenteeism, only to give up after a while because it is much easier to immediately pander to a group of well organized employees than chase the mirage of being rewarded in the distant future by disparate groups of people affected by corruption and sloth.

Lessons for BJP to learn

It is stupid for it to conclude that May 2014 was about voters suddenly becoming Hindutva fans or hardcore nationalists. Just as it is crazy for the professional seculars to conclude voters ‘reject divisive politics’ because BJP lost or were swayed by ‘communal polarisation’ if it wins. A vast majority of voters are simply insulted by such conclusions.

Endemic corruption has been tolerated by too many for too long. Same is the case with pathetic, insensitive, arrogant public servants and services including electricity, water, hospitals, schools etc. It is a problem everywhere in India. Delhi seems to show the way in terms of letting the widely held sense of revulsion with state of affairs become the No. 1 factor overriding all other factors such as religion, caste, region, language, film star appeal etc. Obviously BJP, while seen better than Congress for now, but is still seen as part of the problem and not the solution when a clean new alternative crops up. This has to be fixed ASAP.  As mentioned earlier, this is not going to be easy, but this has to be done.

Public services in India are so under funded, badly run and are in most cases simply non existent that there are several low hanging fruits for any sensitive and sensible CM or PM to pick. To take a simple example, state run primary schools or hospitals that provide basic healthcare. Narendra Modi may have to launch, at Central level as well as in states ruled by BJP a program on war footing to improve them visibly and quickly.

Above all, BJP should learn to take it easy and not come across as “My way or highway, take no prisoners” sort of political player. This has to be obviously done carefully without giving up the competitive spirit and the killer instinct that has served it well. This will help defuse tense situations and take the sting out of defeats that are bound to come along its path, given India’s divisive politics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AAP Funding scam

It’s interesting to see yet another instance of ex-AAP folks turning against it. There is sure something wrong with Kejriwal and his leadership style or agenda for so many to shun him after getting close. The ones that don’t know him seem to be the ones admiring him!

Coming to the ‘scam’ itself, the matter is straightforward. Donations of Rs.2 cr (at least) – huge amount for any party, particularly for AAP, were received from front companies that have no business or profit. And a party that claims anything over Rs.10 lakhs require special approval by its boss, now claims they didn’t know who it was and don’t care!

Whole bunch of media friends of AAP have jumped to their rescue, raising all sort of silly questions and focusing on semantics (can it be ‘hawala’ if paid by cheque?).  Leftist media ‘intellectuals’ like Nikhil Wagle and S. Varadarajan have been tweeting their way to carpel tunnel syndrome in support of AAP. The argument goes like this – How is BJP entitled to question AAP? Why should AAP care who is funding them if it is received by cheque?

Therein lies the rub! The whole point is AAP was supposed to bring a new style, a new set of ethics,  a code of conduct to Indian politics.  It has been shouting from roof tops about this, calling all and sundry as corrupt and projecting themselves as angels. Now it appears they have nothing better to say than ‘You are no better!’

That is a big problem that no amount of crazy conspiracy theories, helpful media commentators is going to solve.

 

Coal Mining and Reforms

The recent strike by coal miners which was called off within a couple of days brought into focus key issues facing Indian economy and its energy sector.

India is energy deficient, with rampant power cuts for domestic as well as industrial consumers. In fact this is something unusual, even by the standards of the third world. Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and many other countries do not face such debilitating and image destroying power cut that Indians have been living with for decades.

This affects production, economic growth, employment and contributes to poverty. We are not even talking about vast areas that don’t even have electricity connection, let alone supply!

But it also presents a huge opportunity. While other countries have to desperately look for new economic models and sectors to drive economic growth, like Malaysia or Taiwan, India can find growth simply by meeting the scarcity for energy, transport and so many other products and services. The demand is there, just produce it and it will sell! It will have obvious multiplier effect on overall economy as well. An employee working for power producer will buy TVs and fridges and so on.

Coal is destined to be the most widely used energy source for power generation for years to come, whether we like it or not. Even China has not been able to get away from this reality. Nor Germany for that matter although they can bear much higher costs imposed by renewable energy. Over time, solar can replace coal for peak consumption in particular, but base load has to be carried by coal or similarly polluting or ‘dangerous’ technology such as nuclear or hydro.

That makes coal sector highly critical to India’s  economic growth as well as the basic needs of its people.

Every player in this sector – Government, private players, labor unions have a key role to play to ensure its growth, survival, viability and success. It is obviously the government’s responsibility to lead the way but that doesn’t mean other players can be irresponsible or careless.

Unions have the most critical role because they have the capacity in their hands to wreck the sector and their own futures, on top of damage done to the Indian economy, if they allow politicians to sell them dubious ideological goals and use them as canon fodder to pursue them.

There is more than enough scope for private coal miners, be they captive or not, to replace the huge amount of coal we are importing from overseas while it is practically lying under our very feet untapped. To wait for CIL to mine them is unrealistic given its pathetic track record. Even if by some magic wand, CIL were to be turned into an efficient producer, the sheer magnitude of the task and the urgent needs of the power hungry economy and the future of jobless youth calls for increased involvement of private players.

If the unions have apprehensions about CIL going ‘private’ or their jobs threatened that is a valid concern. As citizens and workers, they have rights to demand good working conditions, safety standards, decent wages for private coal miners. They can of course, insist that mines should be auctioned at proper prices set through transparent method and not allotted using dubious and corrupt UPA style tactics. These and other such legitimate demands can be pursued and discussed.

With good cooperation and right investment CIL can become a jewel in the Indian state’s crown, mining a lot more coal a lot more efficiently, paying its workers a lot better if only it is run well. Nothing should stop it from doing so even if other private players mine coal elsewhere.

But the ideological direction for the economy should not be forced through strikes and sabotage. That battle should be left for the democratic battleground through elections that take place every five years. If the Indian voter is convinced that the CPM with Stalinist policies of 1930s represents the best bet for India, so be it, they can be elected. And re-nationalize all mines like Hugo Chavez did. Until then it is better to allow elected government to set policy.

It would be ridiculous to argue that Gautam Adani can invest tens of billions of dollars in Australia to mine coal there and import, paying foreign exchange, but not be allowed to do that in Bihar or Jharkhand! This is the same dubious argument used to stall domestic defense production. That only benefited corrupt middlemen.

And those that argue that Mr. Modi is beholden to the Adanis because they funded his election campaign should stop to ponder – the easiest option for the Government is to kill CIL through benign neglect, turn it into another BSNL or Air India, let Adani import coal from Australia for huge profits. He can even turn down the SBI loan because global banks would be happy to fund him, knowing India’s coal needs can never be met by domestic mining through CIL!

It is time to shed ideological blinkers and work for the larger needs of the economy. Miners’ children are not going to be all miners. They have to find jobs in the real economy, in businesses that require power at reasonable cost to survive competition from China and elsewhere.

Coal workers should think carefully about the sort of economy they want their kids to seek jobs in, before destroying it though reckless strikes. They should look at sectors that have benefited hugely from competition such as Airlines, Telecoms, Automobiles, the list is endless.

 

 

 

Three (Media) men and a boat

Collateral damage!

Whoever sent the boat laden with explosives or, if you choose to believe our liberal, secular media elite, flowers and mangoes never had one collateral damage in mind – the credibility of our media elite. That stock has never traded above par anyway but then it always shows there are more depths to plumb.

Rabid bias and visceral hatred for the present dispensation at the Center was out in full flow even before the ink on the Defense ministry press release had dried.

Firstly let us accept the fact that media exists to question. This is a fundamental right and no one is talking about taking it away. Although the news traders often play victim and pretend they are under some sort of grave threat. But it also places tremendous responsibility on the part of media. The underlying assumption behind that right is that journalists seek and speak the truth and are not political propaganda mouthpieces or biased shills using their press pass as a camouflage.

Our media, particularly sections of the shrill secular/liberal media has, time and again, through Tejpal affair, Radia tapes saga and various other episodes., shown clearly it has no credibility, integrity, financial probity or intellectual honesty. Today Indian media is riddled with rapists, criminals, shady funding and nepotism as much as, if not more than the political class who they seemingly protect us against with their fearless reporting.

MOD Release

Let us first be clear on what the press release says, and more importantly, what it does not say. It should be obvious to anyone reading it, that it has been drafted using remarkably restrained language.

  1. It does NOT say the boat was sent by Pakistani military establishment, let alone its civilian regime.
  2. It does NOT mention the word terror or terrorists anywhere.
  3. It talks about explosion and major fire.
  4. It does NOT try to score any propaganda brownie points against Pakistan at all. Nor did any senior defense ministry official or even the minister attempt that.
  5. It stresses that operations are ongoing.

A couple of grainy photos were attached to that release.

Nitpicking, semantic jugglery and convenient interpretations

Pakistan had no time to react but our secular liberal media elite immediately jumped to attention. They started posting ‘doubts’ and retweeted other comrades that expressed their ‘doubts’ without once giving benefit of doubt to the government officials. It was as if anything they uttered is, by default, a lie.

When solid facts were not available, there was nitpicking and meaningless semantic pseudo issues to rake up. Comrade S. Varadarajan known for his proximity to the Congress camp and anti-Modi stand, questioned the word ‘maritime boundary’, even seeking legal opinion on the term, as if this were some patent lawsuit in the Supreme Court! This despite the fact that the Coast Guard chief called it ‘notional boundary’. After all, there is no fence in the sea.

Tw1
Need lawyers?!

 

 

 

And of course, he promptly retweeted tweets questioning the GOI version.

Even as they stressed that there was ‘no evidence’ for the Government to say anything, our media friends did not let that stop them from jumping to conclusions and questioning the GOI version, which should ordinarily be taken as correct unless clear proof is available to counter that!

Mihir Sharma, yet another media elite known for his anti-Modi rants and blatant partisanship, retweeted many such posts dismissing the entire story as a ‘smuggling’ one.

And some called for ‘investigation’ over the affair. By who? By the same media gang that were unable to unearth a single scam or scandal for the last ten years (that’s like digging all over Kuwait and claiming there’s no oil!) and were simply parroting UPAs propaganda as gospel?

 

Investigation!
Investigation!

 

 

When they do ‘investigate’ our secular comrades are not going to jump into the deep sea and retrieve the sunk boat or its remnants but simply quote mysterious ‘anonymous’ sources to justify their ‘story’!

Inconvenient truths

None of the ‘journalists’ that were issuing certificates of innocence to the occupants of the boat cared (dared?) to explain one simple fact – Why did the ‘smugglers’ blow themselves up? The usual trick is to offload the cargo and surrender, leaving no proof to prosecute. Certainly not a life or death issue, unless you are a jihadi on a suicide mission.

Moreover, if the Coat Guard simply wanted to destroy a boat carrying ‘poor people making a living’ as Praveen Swami puts it in Indian Express, to score brownie points with the media, why chase the boat for one hour? They could have simply picked up any random boat, blown it out of the sea and made exact same claim any day of the month!

In fact Praveen Swami’s piece not only was making absurd claims simply to score points against the Narendra Modi regime, it also contained inaccuracies which is understandable given the ‘urgent’ need to put a anti-Government spin on the facts.

Oh my Swami!
Oh my Swami!

 

 

 

 

In a subsequent interview, Mr. Swami also talks about Coast Guard vessels being ‘faster’ (thereby discounting the one hour chase version) without providing any basis for this assumption! Are there no small boats that are capable of going faster than larger boats? Is ISI scrapping the bottom of the dollar barrel?!

It should also be mentioned that NONE of the defense analysts on TV panel discussions most of whom were not by any stretch of imagination BJP sympathisers, were as hostile towards the GOI version as these secular warriors were.

Not all are black sheep

Let us not leave you with the impression that every journalist in India is a paid or unpaid yellow journalist, Congress stooge or a Marxist fake ‘liberal’ out to create anarchy and stop the Government from doing its job.  Some reports, such as this one by Nikhil Gokhale for Rediff did a fairly thorough and objective job. Hindu too has been uncharacteristically restrained in its coverage, by and large giving credence to the “official” version. It even came out with an article that seemed to debunk Mr. Swami’s fast boat theory which clearly a journalist not known for his sailing or boating exploits is unqualified to pass judgement on.

People know who to believe

Even a simple, casual perusal of the the readers’ comments in various newspapers and tweets show clearly  the aam aadmi chooses to believe the Government version, knowing Pakistan’s nature and more importantly, knowing the capacity of our media to obfuscate, suppress and spin anything to suit their political agendas.

Therein lies the solution. The media, by raising silly doubts and reckless point scoring over a critical national security issue, has further eroded its credibility and is widely seen as incapable of speaking the truth.

 

Tarek Fatah’s interview for Rawal TV

A golden Interview

Tarek Fath is a Canadian Pakistani journalist, commentator and author who is famous for his articles and strong opinions on Pakistan and its military establishment. His twitter handle is @tarekfatah.

The interview can be watched on Youtube here.

Once in a while you come across words described as ‘golden words’. But rarely do you come across an entire 45 minute conversation and hundreds, thousands of words spoken that can be described as ‘golden’. Each and every one of them. If I had enough money to spare, I would get them carved on sheets of gold and display them somewhere for all to read. But then I don’t 😉

Instead what I am trying to present is a transcription. At the outset, let me clarify, my Urdu is not that good and a lot of words went over my head. Quite a few I can make out based on context but some were lost in translation. But I have tried to preserve accuracy as much as possible.  I am leaving out the interviewers’ words as the focus is on what Tarek says.

My words/comments etc are in italics.

Corrections and additional comments are welcome!

On Good and Bad Taliban

They are twins. Their faces look identical. Only the mother can tell them apart, that mother is Pakistan! (I think he is referring to an excellent cartoon by Ponnappa for Times of India). This game you are playing, from 1947..a game of blood!

On Pakistan’s ideology

The context of this question is the Peshwar massacre of 150 odd children of military officers in the recent December 16th incident.

The ideology is one of hate. That One community (groh?) is better than other.   That Muslims cannot live in country where they are in minority (Dar-al-harb) unless they are in conflict with the majority or be a fifth column. In the name of religion, Hindustan, a civilisation of more than 5000 years was split. That is being harvested now, that is normal.

The Pakistani army, after slaughtering 3 laksh Bangladeshis, threw up their arms in the face of Mukti Bahini on this day in 1971. (Dec 16). If they are not ashamed of this, would they be of the mere death of 140 kids?

On Zaki ur Rahman Lakhvi affair

There is no one command here. There is civilian intelligence, there is military intelligence, then there is ISI that is different. There are officers that drink whiskey in the evenings, then there are others that recite Quran. The country itself has no ideology, it is artificial!  You can never say anything good about this country (my interpretation of his ‘tareef mein zikr’ words)

This country was created by UK/US by force, joining together provinces like Balochistan, Sindh to stop communism. Now that purpose has been served. So like fish out of water, it is gasping, no one can predict when it will breath its last!

Why are people crying now? On December 16th 1971, Pakistan was finished. Pakistanis were told Bangladesh was good riddance, a country that suffers from annual floods. They, not knowing death in their own homes, are playing death games. Killed mother earlier, now killing father (accurate?)

Earlier poor kids were being killed. Now kids that wear suit and tie are. These are officers’ kids. When 100+ Christians were killed, no one bothered because they were, well, Christians.

Pakistan can exist or its army, not both.

On Pakistan’s post war history

He talks about dissolution of assembly, Liyaqat Ali Khan becoming PM etc. The words below are a bit rambling because I am skipping some and not literally translating.

Until 1956, it was Republic of Pakistan. Then the provinces were made into one. Balochistan was captured, killing many. Bengal was 60% of Pakistan. To keep Bengali language out, Sindhi, Pashto and even Punjabi was suppressed. Because the Mohajirs and Punjabis could not tolerate the thought of this inferior language becoming a state language.  They took military help to do all this.

In 1953 martial law was imposed for the first time over the Ahmedi massacre affair. Then in 1958, when National Party was certain to win. They had two demands. Pakistan should get out of SEATO/CENTO and the provinces should be made separate again. Even Sheikh Mujib (of Bangladesh) was with them at that time. Ayub Khan instead made himself Field Marshal, abrogated the constitution.

Within a few months, Pakistan’s history changed. This army..they took oath to serve the British. In 1947, they had a choice. They could join Netaji Subhash Bose and fight the British or serve them. There were Pakistanis like Col. Durrani that did do that. But the ones that served the British became Pakistan’s masters. The others (like Ghaffar Khan, Shaukat Hayat) went to jail.

Today the Pakistani army makes cornflakes, cement, coffee, trucking, does business, smuggles, makes bombs, sells bombs to the Taliban, kills them and takes money from Americans for doing so. How long can this go on?!

On Pan-Islamism and Arab wet dreams of Pakistanis

Pan Islamism is a Indian Muslim disease. Arabs always consider themselves Arab and Muslim. Not as separate. That is why the ones that go from sub continent to join ISIS become cooks, washerman, polish shoes etc. there. The Arab girls sold to the ISIS – these Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis cannot have any relationship with (sex with). Only Arabs can do. Shariah prohibits that. Look at the racism! These Arabs believe Islam is their brand and their superiority. Can you imagine Iran without Nowroz?  Their identify is not with Hindustan. These inferior Muslims (Wahid Duniya ke Musalmaan?)  even their names are in Arabic so they consider themselves slaves of Arabs and embraced pan-islamism. This became a fourth formula like Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Islamic Republic of Iran

When the interviewer asks if Pakistani women will be sold for $300 to Arabs when Islamic state happens there..

Why not? You prostituted 1 lakh Bengali Muslim women. In 1971 so many Muslim Bengali women were left pregnant by the Pakistani army, UN had to open special abortion clinics! There was a major crisis in mid 72. These have been done with Muslim women. Shariah has been implemented already! It is written there – a POW or non-Muslim woman can be a sex slave. There is no need for debate. It is clear.

The following sections may have inaccuracies in names, and his exact words

Read Sirah by Ibn Ishaq, its there.  Over 1000, 1200 pages. It is decided you are inferior to Arab. Taimi clearly says it is sin to consider non-Arab as equal to Arab. The prophet said all are equal but then the Shariah was written 200 years later.

I will skip some of the words on Shariah, Arab history, conquest by Mongols/Tartars etc as they are somewhat irrelevant to the main topic

Arabs never had sovereignty after 13th century. The only way they felt superior was by using Shariah. No one in Pakistan reads these shariah hadeez etc.

Indian Muslims are not like this, they are far more advanced.

This is the effect..we become client state. Till 1973, Pakistan had some respectability. Because KSA was not ascendant. Oil prices then shot up to $20-$30 from $3. KSA never had the money to purchase people like they do now. When the Emir of UAE visits, he was received by Deputy commissioner of Karachi! Iran, Turkey and Pakistan were the front states against communism. Then we sold ourselves to KSA. Started playing with Iran too. When they became a republic and Shias started ascending. Pakistani Shias changed themselves .Rizvi became Ridwi, bizarre identity complex and declared themselves Irani!

Pakistan’s main problem is that they have no identity. When they say they are not Hindustani, where are you from? Any Arab will never deny his identity, same with Turki. In this inferior country, a Punjabi says he is not a Punjabi! Even a guy that moved from Bhopal, Bihar or Hyderabad, a born Hindustani, claims he is not! Which world are you talking about? Peshawar was Hindu city! Lahore was Ram’s sons’ city! You can say I am Indian Muslim, that is fine. Once you say you are not Indian, you are nothing!

In this vacuum, anyone that could pay $2, $10, $1000 can fill their identity. The emir of Saudi, Khoemeni of Iran..

On conspiracy theories surrounding Peshawar attack

We are sending our kids to ‘top’ schools, they dont even know how Arabic is spoken! They are in Peshawar, they dont even know Pastho! Because they are Punjabi, Mohajir kids. Which Patan kid is there? Some say the attackers are Indian, some say Arab?! You brew this poision in your garden now you are fated to receive it.

Why talk of ISI? Your own army, killed Balochi kids. using Mengal (?) Schools were destroyed. When bodies were exhumed, they had nothing in the stomach! They had been buried alive. More than 500 balochi kids! Yet no one shed a tear.

You are keeping Asia Beebi (Christian blasphemy accused) in jail for 6+ years, isn’t there a God up in the heaven listening to her curses?

On Nawaz Shari

He was made to be and he is clerk. It is all business. Laughs..

Escaping from dictatorship, he took refuge in KSA, not England, India. Where you are not allowed to breathe, Pakistanis are treated worse than dog, you took refuge here! At least Bhutto went to UK!

In a country where educated praise the army, which has done nothing! Shocked to hear Dawn senior correspondent tweeting how proud he is of Gen Sharif!  Now they want to kill 600 prisoners! Educated women, Imran fan club members dancing, that now there will be final war?! Which law? Which judge?

On Imran Khan

Mediocre guy! Has never read a book in his life or written any! What a country to make a cricketer a political leader! No thinking, no idea of how railway works,  taxation system etc. All his campaign is about injustice to himself. A Patan says he is Punjabi (accurate?). Musharraf a mohajir claims to be Punjabi. A country full of people with no identity! When they see their own faces in the mirror they are afraid!

Then only ending is dismembering into constituent units will help. Punjab will know fate of land locked country – they commit attrocities vs Afghanistan, deny it water, then they will know when Sindh becomes independent. After all there is Karma. You helped British break India.

On Indian conspiracy over Peshawar

Cursed nation! They lift your dress, look at penis and say the terrorists are Hindu! In India thousands of  kids prayed for the dead. Yet a TV anchor threatened India with words full of sexual inuendo. And women in Hijab aunties cheered and clapped! Moral decadence.! Don’t know what’s truth! 30 lakhs Bengalis killed, and yet they call the killing of 180 as black day! When the two nation theory died that is black Day. If (truth) came by horse bullock cart, message should have reached by now

On transformation in Pakistan after Peshawar

No terrorist will get killed. The ones that kisses Qadri’s face now has been made judge of Islamabad court! (this is the guy that killed Salman Taseer) He’s not hanged till now, will not be hanged.

There must be a way to judge like you say someone is Muslim if he recites the Kalima. I am against death sentence, but Just like that, the day they hang him (Qadri) that is the day of turning point. No 2. Release the Dr. Afridi who risked life identify Usama Bin Laden (who is in jail).. Now you say your’re against Taliban. now who are you fooling

On Jinnah, bribe culture etc

JInah wrote to US, if you don’t give this much money, he will go with Russia. Milayat (?) Ali khan was dispatched. Hyderabad  was free at that time. . $50,000 cheque was sent back to Jinnah. They have been using blackmail since then! Time Life interview is there with Jinnah. If a Pakistani does not want to know that’s different. Mirza demanded bribe to accept donation of jewels given to army! Ayub Khan, Yahya, Zia Ul Haq …they all ate American money! Even Mullah Maududi went to US not to KSA, Iran for treatment.

A strange country.. military should not become judge. Farce martial law courts. I have been sentenced twice. Let’s cut it short.

Each Karachi Mohalla has goonda. His dadgairi lasts 4-5 yrs. Beats up people. Then each gets so much beaten, he goes away another one comes. Pakistan also trying the same thing.  (Here the reference to Atom Bomb not clear to me).  Not educated people. No rational reasonable debate with a Pakistani is possible. No possible to engage on facts of matter. They talk of family, perform poojah of Jinnah, Iqbal etc. Even a Pakistani envoy never read UN resolution on Kashmir (1948) they defend!   It is the dearth of education (not the terms Malala uses, that is waste of time),  in understanding how to have reasonable conversation on merits of the matter. There is an absence of it.

Until an unless Pakistan breaks up, we will have major crisis. There will be goondagiri. Continue to blackmail America with bombs. For India we need 200km, Delhi is hardly 200 miles away!  You have missiles 6000 km for what? Blackmail who? Europe? Tel Aviv? Just a way to bribe army guys. Get 10% of anything. Obama now has given $1 billion!  (Refers to spying allegation vs US diplomat, the NY policeman killing by Muslim etc, some words not clear).

We are always in wrong direction and not able to sit back and reflect on wrong I have done. They say we never did wrong.

If Pakistan splits

Pakistani will get independence in his fate . He can speak his language. Learn what his heritage / culture is, he will say he is Hindustani! Till when this Urdustaan will go on?

(Makes some remarks against Altaaf Hussein, talks of old Karachi leaders) Left or right, they were well read educated, pleasure to converse with . In comparison, now what sort of leaders we produce! They have never read a book in their lives! Sitting in London! No engagement with his MPs. Talks of mohajirstan, Jinnapur, why not talk of Karachi as separate country! That’s more viable!

On Pakistani Canadians

Clear cut goal is fraud, lies, fake in every respect! Fake in being Canadian, fake in being Pakistani. Pakistan basis is not to live in non-muslim land. If he comes here he should give that ideology up. Don’t celebrate Pakistan day which is founded on opposite ideology! Then they become Canandian citizen, who are they fooolsing? You can fool a MP for ten days, not more!

I told some Imams I know, why not pray to Allah for this country and its kids?. We are living in dignity in a civilised country. We have own TV channels, may Allah keep these kids happy!. Instead they are praying for their destruction (words not clear to me)

On Jewish conspiracy theories over anything and everything

Here Fatah talks about various murders in Islamic history going back to 7th century, Aurangazeb killing his whole family including mother, were they all Jewish, American conspiracies? 

 

 

 

Protecting secularism or anti-Hindu pogrom?

Recent spate of controversial statements and actions by various ‘Sangh parivar’ outifts have produced a reaction, that is by now becoming all too familiar. Under the guise of protecting ‘secular fabric’ of the society, the loud mouth secular brigade, mostly from the hardcore Marxist/Maoist camp, are turning it into a witch hunt against anyone propagating the Hindu faith.

  1. First, there is no need to make a big fuss because there are enough laws to criminalise ‘forced’ conversions. Hence it should be possible to prosecute the alleged perpetrators of such acts without making a hue and cry and stalling Parliament. Interestingly the alleged event occurred in UP, ruled by ‘secular’ Samajwadi Party not the BJP.
  2. Instead what is being done is to brand every conversion from Hinduism to any other religion as “freedom of choice” and the reverse as “forced conversion”. This clearly is aimed at taking away the right to propagate faith granted to everyone under the constitution.
  3. No one from our liberal secular ranks protested when American evangelists spend millions, plaster the city’s wall with posters, hold huge rallies, promising miracles and cancer cures and instant cure for blindness etc. Instead they are treated as state guests and offered use of public spaces like the Bangalore airfield under Congress regime.
  4. It should also be remembered that Hindus are the target of not just well funded evangelist groups but also the so-called rational propagandists, who mainly if not exclusively target Hindus, often using unprintable and vulgar abuse against Hindu deities and practices. Yet they go around unhindered, even masquerading as progressive.

Pogrom in the name of ‘secularism’

  1. This article by Ms. Kavita Krishnan, a politburo member of CPM(ML) a ultra left fringe group presents the classic leftist arguments often repeated all over mainstream media. That is to assume that anyone converting to Hinduism is doing so out of fear or for inducement.  Strangely she appears to be fine with other religions doing the same thing.
  2. Even if the one recent incident in UP is assumed to be a case of ‘forced’ conversion, it by no means can be extended to every attempts at proselytism by Hindu groups.
  3. Yet we have even non-Marxist commentators like Karan Thapar here, automatically linking targets with forced conversions, that too only for Hindu groups.  Christian evangelists brazenly talk about ‘harvesting souls’ which doesn’t seem to bother our secular warriors too much!
  4. It should be obvious to any neutral observer, the left brigade wants to turn this opportunity into a full fledged anti-Hindu pogrom. Since Narendra Modi is in powr in the center, it is a great chance to incite anti-Hindu hatred, attract global media headlines, and paint every Hindu group as a bunch of wild fanatics. This can hopefully put a complete stop to Hindu religious propagation, even as conversions to other religions funded by billions of dollars of overseas funds continues unhindered.
  5. Having tried and failed repeatedly to capture power through the bullet as well as the ballot, the left fringe has lost hope even on riding the coattails of Congress to “power without responsibility”.
  6. The only route open now is to denigrate, destroy Hindu faith so that in the chaos and destruction that ensures, their own murderous ideologies can be brought to power.

Modi’s balancing act

  1. Narendra Modi has a careful balancing act to follow here. Given the Marxist stranglehold over mainstream media, the shrill anti-Hindu propaganda dressed up as liberal secular outrage can be expected to continue.
  2. However he has to work with the minorities to educate them on the real agenda of the left even as he reins in the rightist fringe and takes strong action whenever the law is broken.
  3. After all, unlike the Marxists the ordinary Muslim or Christian has no hatred for HIndus or their faith and this is the constituency Modi has to court and hopefully satisfy if he can take on the leftist camp.

Way forward

  1. Clearly Hindu groups as well as all other groups have to be, if necessary by force, compelled to spread their faith without demeaning or insulting others’.
  2. Once this is ensured, in an environment free of bias and shrill anti-Hindu hate campaign or anti-minority hysteria, Government can put in place reasonable code of conduct such as do’s and don’t that can be useful in practice instead of vaguely written laws and rules.  Examples of what is allowed and not allowed can be worked out by consulting every religious group.
  3. Hindu groups are somewhat unused to this marketing game perfected into a fine art by others. They are hence often caught making remarks that are self defeating and serve no useful purpose.  Others have used words like ‘pagans’, ‘heathens’ and other derogatory language, even discussing conversion quotas, marketing budgets and talk of “rescuing” Hindus from “darkness”, but that was before Twitter, Facebook and the World Wide Web. Clearly some ‘coaching’ is needed here on what to say and what not to say.

 

Sadhvi “hate speech” row

Hypocrisy and double standard

As if any reconfirmation is required at all, this episode has only provided fresh evidence of hypocrisy and double speak among our political class as well as fake liberal media. It would appear that two different standards apply depending on who you are. If you are from BJP or the Sangh parivar, first world standards of behaviour that would political correctness of USA, UK and other western standards apply. If you are not, then you can use any filthy, abusive, gutter language and join the ‘progressive, secular’ crowd after wiping your mouth with a tissue.

One did not have to wait too long for this to be proved beyond doubt. Within hours, Mamata Banerjee, whose MPs were vociferous in protesting in the RS, provided fresh proof. To quote TOI she “used crass words replete with invectives (sic) and accompanied by gestures that were downright vulgar“. Yet the dalal media was silent and made no mention of this in any of its coverage of the Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti affair.  Her MP Tapas Paul who threatened Marxists with rape, has of course not resigned, a demand made noisily by TMC MPs shamelessly for much milder words by the Sadhvi.

Omar Abdullah, not to be out done, was quoted by Mumbai Mirror with using the ‘b’ word, a charge he denies.  Be that as it may, he, Tapas Paul or Mamata Banerjee would not be the first or the last to use swear words and filthy language in the politics.

Media’s selective outrage

Our ‘progressive, liberal, secular’ media, dominated by the likes of Tejpal and Radia tainted yellow agents and corrupt coolies, was not too far behind its political pay masters in hypocrisy, selective outrage and double standards.  Media mouthpieces derisively labeled “Newstraders” vented out their feigned anger in op-eds, editorials and columns against the Sadhvi while remaining curiously silent on similar incidents involving non-BJP politicians.

In fact some even use language bordering on sycophancy when it comes to covering rude, vulgar abuse by BJP’s opponents, making it abundantly clear where their sympathies lie. More importantly their classification of so-called hate speech depends on who makes it and who it is targeted against. “Gives as good as she gets”, “Never the one to mince words”, “known for his frank opinions”, “forthright” and other positive phrases abound in media coverage of abuses against Modi and BJP. The usual journalist technique of selectively blacking out inconvenient words citing ‘editorial discretion’ is of course, always available.

It would indeed be sad if such biased and hypocritical approach by fake liberal left allows BJP to successfully highlight the built-in bias to the general public, thereby giving itself license to continued use of abusive language.  Any amount of moral posturing by the pseudo secular political class and their media coolies would fall on deaf ears as long it is not backed by proper conduct and decency on their part.

Senseless disruption

The opposition has been disrupting legislative and other business in the Rajya Sabha. One never hears the words “brutal majority” used by ‘independent’ media in this context, but this is precisely what is being used to hold the nation to ransom simply to score political brownie points. This is because these parties know, they will not get too far in the real stage where such ‘abusive’ words need to be taken up – In the streets and courts of public opinion. “What about you?” is the question that would confront them everywhere. Friendly media army is of no use there.

Here again, media has been selective in its outrage. Dailies like Hindu which used to write editorials slamming the BJP for similar disruptive tactics now use opposition friendly language to cover the disruption. TV channels like NDTV that were counting ‘cost’ of disruption appear to have lost their calculator.

One can only hope good sense would prevail and the prospect of being exposed by BJP outside the Parliament in the streets would force them to a workable compromise over this issue.