Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Advantage Modi-Series-IX

Advantage Modi-Series-IX                                                                 26 Nov 2014
Six months of Modi: Achhe sitare more than achhe din

Modi has ensured that government files are moving faster and clearance are rapid. But this has not translated into a boom in orders for machinery or construction.

This is a constipated economy, not a healthy one. Optimists say Modi’s enema will unclog the constipation within a year. That’s possible but not certain.

The stock market has boomed because of over $30 billion of foreign inflows. Modi is seen as a turnaround agent, and investors are giving him time to change matters. He has undoubtedly energized the bureaucracy and investors. Yet he is more showman than reformer. His Jan Dhan and Swacch Bharat schemes are new versions of old Congress Schemes. He funked any major reforms in the railway budget or general budget. In many areas he has taken small steps forward, with lots of publicity but no radical reform.

What’s clear is that Modi is lucky. The dramatic improvements in inflation and related areas owe noting to his initiatives and everything to good lick, arising from crashing global commodity prices. This year’s budget assumed that oil would average $ 110/barrel, but it has actually crashed to $78/barrel. This has enabled fuel prices to be slashed, taming transport costs. Falling oil prices have ensured that the balance of payments is under control, not withstanding a surge in gold imports and the recent slowdown in exports. Finally, the oil price crash has hugely improved the fiscal position. Budgetary subsidies for oil and fertilizers have been slashed, and the finance ministry has been able to raise the excise duty on petrol and diesel, partly making up for the big shortfall in tax revenues.

Extract of an article TOI Nov 23, 2014 by Aiyar –An Economists

Advantage Modi-Series-VIII

Advantage Modi-Series-VIII                                                                                        25 Nov 2014
The world said ‘this was a man’
Jawaharlal Nehru’s great achievement was to hold the ship of state firm amid the turbulent waters of the Partition process

The first great achievement of Nehru after Independence, therefore, was to hold the ship of state firm amid the turbulent waters of the Partition process, despite predictions of the prophets of doom, including Winston Churchill, who said that after the British left India, would Balkanise and break up into a dozen units. The second great task was, after centuries of foreign rule, for India to get itself a new Constitution. Himself an impeccable parliamentarian, Nehru not only took a keen interest in the framing of the Constitution but also attended Parliament for long hours, answered questions and in particular spoke on foreign relations, a portfolio he had kept with himself.

Knitting these separate units into a single State was a massive task, the main credit for which goes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The non-violent integration of so many feudal states into a democracy was surely unprecedented in world history. Although Nehru left this area mainly to Patel, he closely monitored the whole process. Nehru was deeply committed to the development of science and what he called the scientific temper, an attitude devoid of superstition and blind faith. For this purpose he had the foresight to set up the Indian Institutes of Technology in major cities around the country.

A major triumph consisted in his leadership of what came to be known as the Non-Aligned Movement, along with President Nasser of Egypt, President Tito of Yogoslavia and Archbishop makarios of Cyprus. President Sukarno of Indonesia was also involved, although his actions were often erratic. The whole episode caused Nehru immense shock and embarrassment. He was obliged to sack his favourite Krishna Menon. The failure of the whole Panchsheel approach to China was something that shattered Nehru’s psyche. He never really recovered from this setback and passed away within less than two years thereafter.

The people of India held Nehru in special affection which is reflected in his last will and testament, where he says: “If any people choose to think of me, then I should like them to say this was a man who, with all his mind and heart, loved India and the Indian people. And they, in turn were indulgent to him and gave him of their love most abundantly and extravagantly.”

A Tribute to Nehru on his 125th Birth Anniversary
Dr. Karan Singh-TOI-14 Nov 2014

Advantage of Modi- Series VI

Advantage of Modi- Series VI
BJP’s mixing a deadly cocktail                                                          07 Oct. 2014

The central government is pursuing the diabolic agenda of anti-people economic reforms and communal polarization.

This Modi government is showing greater enthusiasm and eagerness in implementing the trajectory of economic reforms designed to provide greater profit maximization opportunities for foreign and domestic capital, while imposing greater economic burden on the people. Despite their claims of having begun an economic turnaround, the ground situation continues to worsen with factories closing down and unemployment growing. Whatever relief that the rural employment guarantee scheme provided is being drastically curtailed. Price rise continues to take its toll. Our farmers continue to commit ‘distress’ suicides. Under these conditions, the large-scale privatization of the public sector, drastic labour reforms and other such measures are, in fact, worsening the live hood quality of the vast majority of our people.

Hence, the RSS and its political arm, the BJP, have returned to their basics-sharpening communal polarization. The latest on this score is the sudden spurt of communal incidents in Delhi in anticipation of assembly elections that are due. In areas like Bhawana, nandnagari, Trilokpuri and Samaypur Badli, former BJP legislators are allegedly creating communal confrontations. In this they see their only way to consolidate the Hindu communal ‘vote banks politics’ of the worst order that is designed to destroy the secular democratic character of the modern Indian Republic by posing serious threats to our social unity and integrity. The pursuit of this diabolic agenda-a deadly cocktail of anti-people economic reforms and communal polarization – cannot be allowed to succeed.

As narrated by Sitaram Yechury (HT Nov 04, 2014)

Advantage Modi Series VII

Advantage Modi- Series-VII                                                                         10 Nov 2014

Flush our biases down the drain
Cleaning India requires dismantling the deadweight of India’s inequalities and the neglect of women and people of disadvantage castes and religions.

As one public policy priority among others, sanitation is a sterling selection. Why then am I so cautious in my optimism and enthusiasm about the prospects of seeing a cleaner India? This is because India’s shameful performance in sanitation is embedded firmly in its enormous social and economic inequalities of caste, gender, religious identity and class, and in its consistently low public investments for a better life for India’s dirt derives mostly from its huge historical inequality, and from neglect of India’s people of disadvantage in public investment.

I find instead the present official public discourse on sanitation strangely sanitized and depoliticized. India’s millennia-old caste system is founded on great social anxieties about pollution, and little is considered as ritually polluting as human excreta. Those at the lowest depths of the caste hierarchy-and even among these mostly girls and women-are assigned the most socially humiliating duty of cleaning excreta.

The result of unchanged beliefs of caste pollution from human waste is that even if schools build toilets, they will be cleaned only by children, often girls, from the lowest castes. Children from these communities in many cities have confided to me that the humiliation of being forced to clean toilets used by their classmates is a major reason why several refuse to return to school. Many tend to blame slum dwellers for their squalor as though they choose to live as they do. Because of the failure of the State to provide affordable housing to the enormous unorganized workforce, they are forced to occupy open public spaces.
The India Exclusion Report 2013 by the Centre for Equity Studies reports Census 2011 data that 63% households in recognized notified slums have either open or no drainage for waste water and 34% slum household have no latrine in the premises, and over half such households defecate in the open.

We desperately need to battle India’s dismal conditions of sanitation of children are to be nourished, and human beings are to live in habitats which are dignified, healthy and sage. But none of these problems can be solved by pious pledges by middle-class people to keep their surroundings clean. Cleanliness is often a luxury of people of relative privilege. Cleaning India requires dismantling the deadweight of India’s inequalities, and of our tolerance of social humiliation and the governmental neglect of women, people of disadvantaged castes and religions, and of working people in slums. Until that happens, we would evoke Gandhi’s name in vain by depoliticizing one of India’s most deeply political problems, perpetuated by powerlessness and neglect of India’s millions of lesser live.

As narrated by Harsh Mander HI 23 Oct 2014.

Advantage Modi Series V

Blending Coercion And consent                                                                               October 17, 2014

A general view of Narendra Modi’s governance style is that it is an impressive more of working: he appears brick, decisive, engaged and demanding. After Manmohan Singh, this is a huge relief to many Indians. The Prime Minister could deeply these qualities to govern effectively; on the other hand, there are other features of his style that could deeply damage India.

First and foremost, Modi is a centralizer. Nothing in the government moves without his assent and nod, and no detail is too small. To centralize decision-making in his person, he has taken almost complete control of his party, marginalizing his elders (Advani, Joshi, Jaswant) and rivals (Sushma and Shivraj Chauhan, who have disappeared politically).Going back to his Gujarat days, he is famous for picking weak cabinets, largely ignoring ministers and paying little heed to the legislature; so too in Delhi. A second feature of Modi’s style is co-opting the senior bureaucracy and police. Essentially, he both scares and empowers high officials, making them his primary instrument of decision-making. Hegemonic command depends on a blend of coercion and consent. Modi engenders fear in his senior commanders. By promising to back them against interfering politicians, he also gives them a sense of empowerment. The result is extraordinary cooperation and loyalty.

Another element of Modi’s governance method is his ambiguous stance on social polarization, especially between Hindus and minorities. Hindus in Gujarat have little doubt where he stands in relation to them. He is the greater Protector. On the other hand, minorities hear him. It is hard to pin anything on him. He promises development and equal treatment for all; yet the worst communal riots occurred under his rule in Gujarat, which Modi astonishingly claims he could not stop. Amit Shah, made was by all accounts flagrantly communal, Sanjeev Baliyan, the BJP leader accused of fomenting the western UP riots, was subsequently made a minister of state. Few doubt the riots helped the party gain massively in UP and reach the magical 282-seats figure in the general elections.

Modi has remained stubbornly silent on communalism, except for his August 15 plea for a 10 year “moratorium” on caste and communal violence. Modi’s is playing the media beautifully-and they still don’t know it! Finally, Modi’s governance approach is based on a cosy relationship with business. He has learned enough economics, finance, and management to impress businessmen, and he has done enough for them in Gujarat to suggest that he is pro-business. They fund him and laud him, and he eases the constraints on them. Will this approach work? It did in Gujarat. But centralization can eventually cause the humiliated to rebel. The best laid plans in Delhi could quickly become mere edicts outside the capital. Allowing communities to be turned against each other could produce a corroding extremism that explodes uncontrollably and tears India’s fabric. Governing well is more than clever speeches and punctual officials in North Block. It is about respect and dignity for those you lead. The PM should remember that.


Read the text of his Independence Day speech carefully. It is inclusive, conciliatory, forward looking and modern. But it is also pure RSS. Modi spoke as an RSS Pracharak would have, stressing family values, morality, cleanliness, discipline and patriotism. Modi’s method is likely to be more in the nature of very soft hindutva but very pronounced nationalism. He will not allow his government to be distracted by Ram temple, article 370 and so on. Modi believes in employing his political capital to further his ideology but will do it very cautiously. It’s early Days yet, but he could be refining an innovative ideology of the right. 

Advantage Modi Series IV

Ignorance, lies posing as truth                                                                               04 Oct, 2014
The RSS, in its effort to convert our modern secular democratic republic into a ‘Hindu rashtra’, is trying to rewrite out history

The latest incident of the dismissal of 11 Dalit students from a BJP state government-run school in Bikaner, Jaipur, on the grounds that they were drinking water from an earthen pot earmarked for an upper caste teacher once again highlights the continuing caste and social oppression in our country. It is indeed the irony of our times that on the same day the RSS chief released three books authored by a BJP spokesperson, carrying forewords by three top RSS leaders attributing the genesis of Dalits, tribal’s and many other oppressed groups to “Muslim invasion in medieval times”. RSS leaders claim that these castes had come into existence due to atrocities by foreign invaders and did not exist in Hindu religion earlier.

 It is the tenacity of such a criminally oppressive social order that continues to perpetuate gross injustices in India today. According to a report published by the ministry of labour. According to a report published by the ministry of labour in 2001, (the last of its kind), 15% of the population constituting the three upper castes (Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas) with no legal reservations occupy 66.5% of political representation, 43% of education, 87% of employment, 97% of business and 94% of landed estates. The rest of the population consisting of the OBCs (Shudras), the share of 85% share the rest in hopeless conditions of inhuman inequality. This social order has to be overthrown to begin the struggle for justice. The RSS/BJPs agenda of rewriting Indian history is designed to perpetuate such unacceptable levels of social oppression along with the denial of basic human rights for anyone they consider as un-Hindu-their blueprint for the future of India.

Stop Hate Crimes
PM Modi must condemn Sadique Shaikh’s murder-and repeal draconian Section 66A

The brutal bludgeoning to death of Pune-based 28-years-old techie Mohsin Mohamed Sadique Shaikh-his alleged killers belonged to the extremist Hindu Rashtra Sena and were apparently incensed over social media messages they found objectionable-is shocking. But not surprising, perhaps. The climate of intolerance in which such hate crimes thrive-Shaikj was picked on simply because he looked Muslim-has been created ironically by the law itself, in the form of the draconian Section 66A of the Information Technology Act which in effect criminalizes free speech over the internet. Previously, this section-which prescribes arrest and punishment for anyone deemed to use communication devices to send messages causing a gamut of possible impacts, from annoyance and inconvenience to intimidation and enmity- has been widely used by the political class for silencing free speech, thus becoming a tool of intimidation itself. On each occasion Section 66A’s use met with vociferous protests pointing out both its absurdities-such as equating annoyance with criminal intimidation-and its gross overreach in a democracy where freedom of speech includes a right to offend.

Finally the venom & hatred In the recently concluded by elections in some of the states, UP was one of them. BJP let loose about half a dozen unbridled rabid “D-ogs” to spread the hatred and create religious enmity. The leading the force was Yogi Adityanath (MP), Swami Sakshi Maharaj (MP) and they were duly supported by Lakshmi Kant Bajpai (BJP President-UP). Even Kalraj Mishra a Cabinet Minister in the Union Cabinet wanted to be part of the team of unbridled & rabid D-ogs. The words spoken by these goons reflected such poor quality of people are not worth repeating the words. Most surprising is none of the senior leaders or others condemned their hate speeches. The “Head Master” has decided to keep mum and let his D-ogs barke.

Advantage Modi Series-III

Advantage Modi-Series III                                                                                     September 25, 2014
High on expectations, low on delivery
All those who expected Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to set the template

Nobody expected Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping to wrap their arms around each other in a bear hug. A Right-wing nationalist BJP-led government in India and a Communist Party of China that relies heavily on nationalism as a crutch for continued legitimacy at home were not expected to have it easy at the first formal summit of their leaders, especially on political and strategic issues. However, expectations were sky-high on the exonomic front. The Chinese commitment of $20 billion is being seen as a big letdown but one must ask how realistic the initial figures were in the first place. Sure, China has the forex reserves but that is not the same as saying they will necessarily find it profitable to invest given the difficult regulatory environment surrounding the entry of Chinese enterprises and people into India.

Modi has been on record calling the states for a greater role in the country’s economic growth and development. There is also then the question of the capability of the states to absorb and handle the massive investments being talked about. Apart from a few states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, very few have the combinations of high-quality governance, physical infrastructure, socioeconomic purpose, including a friendly investment climate, required to attract global capital. It is no wonder then Chinese and Japanese investments remain concentrated in only a few Indian states. To return to the boundary dispute, Chinese incursions along the LAC and other forms of provocation on the eve of an important visit to India should not surprise us anymore, even if the recent incursions at Depsang and Chumar differ from the usual patterns. Policymakers and strategists cannot expect a static environment to deal with in their line of work. And despite what the media might report, there is no doubt that the government and military have been proactive along the Line of Actual Control, including in the previous UPA regime. But perhaps, Modi erred in taking a rather too assertive line on the dispute and discomfiting his visitor who might have been amenable to offering concessions on other fronts.
The ease of access that Tibetan protestors had to the environs of Hyderabad House certainly did not happen without the knowledge of officials of the Modi government. This foolish tactic might have pleased a certain section of Modi’s constituency but it also takes the attention away from more serious moves by the Chinese with respect to Tibet. In his speech in New Delhi, Xi laid heavy stress on the cultural ties between the India and China, including their Buddhist linkages. That said, our policymakers have hopefully also not missed the overtures that the Dalai Lama has been making to Xi since he came to power and the recent rumours in the Chinese blogosphere of the Dalai Lama possibly being invited to Beijing before long. If Xi begins to show a greater degree accommodation on this front, Tibet will soon cease to be a card for India and the world vis-à-vis Chins. And no one should doubt the capabilities or the flexibility of Xi and the Communist Party on this front.

Finally, another agreement that was missing during Xi’s visit was one on information sharing by China on trans-border Rivers. Over the last several years, every, major visit has usually had an agreement that extended the time frame for such sharing by an incremental 15 days. While the agreements on sister-city and sister-province/state relations are an important trend for the future, it is the many agreements that appear not to have been signed that should worry those who expected Xi’s visit to set the template for the future.