Monday, September 21, 2015

Modi as PM World View“ The Future of India as a democratic country is at risk”

Modi as PM World View“  The Future of India as a democratic country is at risk”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Silicon Valley later this month. But over 137 US-based academics and intellectuals have already filed a petition to the Silicon Valley Enterprises expressing concern about Modi and his ‘Digital India’ campaign. It is not surprising that Richard A. Falk is one of the petitioners. The professor emeritus of law at Princeton University, a highly respected academic, has always been an outspoken critic of governments and policies that violate human rights and civil liberties. 

I and others have questions about Narendra Modi’s record on religious tolerance, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression. Digital India as an initiative has enormous potential to affect positive social change, but it simultaneously poses dangers for abuse. The Modi administration can make use of digitalization to target members of minority communities or those who are critical of its policies.

The fact that a policy or program is popular does not make it right or suggest the in appropriateness of constructive criticism. We have witnessed this tension between what is popular and what is right numerous times in recent history, perhaps most vividly with respect to the implementation of US foreign policy. Modi’s support appears to rest on several factors, but he and his administration have at times disturbingly invoked Hindu nationalist rhetoric to gain the enthusiastic backing of the Hindu majority, raising insecurities among minority, raising insecurities among minorities.

I will not comment too much on internal dynamics. I have come to believe that democratic institutions have been weakened under Modi’s administration. It’s true that some of these anti-democratic tendencies were evident in the behaviour of prior Indian governments, but it is also the case that the last administration brought out the Right to Information package of reforms that has greatly increased government transparency. The background of his record as Gujart CM and the experience of his first year as PM gives rise to a legitimate concern that the future of India as a democratic country is at sufficient risk. Yes, they are relevant even legally: there is currently an undecided appeal in the Gujarat judicial system that raises serious questions about whether Modi took adequate steps to control the Gujarat violence in 2002, and whether he was actively implicated in its unfolding.

Silicon Valley Enterprises has a great deal of influence and wealth, perhaps in some respect greater than that possessed by any government. Outsourcing labour is very convenient for many corporations, and not just for Silicon Valley Enterprises. So some questions we have about the Digital India initiative involve anticipated impacts on basic labour conditions in India that are presently poor and often abusive. It is important that digital India evolves in tandem with the protection and advancement of fundamental rights of all workers. On the one side, given the current agenda of security threats, all governments engage in espionage. On the other side, all states criminalize activities that target state secrets. This creates ethical and political confusion, making it difficult to distinguish heroes from villains. The US has the most extensive, sophisticated, and intrusive systems of surveillance in all of history. One of the reasons to be concerned about Digital India or digital America is that the borderline between the pursuit of reasonable levels of state security has become almost indistinguishable from the Orwellian nightmare state of permanent war and total control over people.

An extract of an interview published in outlook Sept.2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

AsI Saw It: Boycott, Not Sehwag

Boycott, Not Sehwag                                                                                                       14 Sept 2015

Modi’s record on economic reforms contrasts unfavourably to NDA under Vajpayee
It Prime Minister Narendra failing the India right? On the face of it, the very notion appears preposterous . For the true believer it verges on heresy.
After all, no other BJP leader can claim credit for dramatically catapulting his party from the margins to the heart of national power. No other right wing politician-neither Atal Bihar Vajpayee as prime minister, nor Lal Krishna Advani in his heyday-ever enjoyed such nationwide popularity. On social media cultural and economic conservatives don’t always see eye to eye, but both tend to agree that the prime minister is India’s tallest leader by a distance.
On foreign policy-recent flip-flops on Pakistan notwithstanding- Modi has given the right little cause for complaint. His successes include boosting ties with the US and Japan, publicly embracing the special relationship with Israel, and building a bridge to the vast Indian diaspora. On social issues the prime minister has done little, either for good or for ill, belying exaggerated fears of the threat he posed to secularism. The disappointment stems, ironically, from what was supposed to be Modi’s great strength-his stewardship of the economy.
Thus far, Modi’s approach to the economy has been timid and lacing in any obvious conviction. His over reliance on the bureaucracy suggests a prime minister who has yet to outgrow a chief ministerial style of administration.
Despite being constrained by coalition politics, Vajpayee set out to curb the over bearing role of the state in India’s economy. He opened up telecommunications and quickly transformed a perpetual shortage into one of the developing world’s great success stories.
Both of Vajpayee’s finance ministers-Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh-will be remembered for pushing the envelope on reforms. Perhaps most importantly, the Vajpaee years ended BJP’s old reputation as a party of Luddites reflexively opposed to all change. This brought the party in line with a middle class that had little time for economic theory but could nonetheless see how liberalization had improved their lives.
What economic legacy will Modi leave his successors? Even his most vocal supporters don’t claim that he has lived up to expectations by blazing a bold reformist trail. Borrowing from cricket, they liken Modi to an opening batsman playing a cautious knock-more Geoffrey Boycott than Virender Sehwag. Alternatively, Modi the architect is credited with carefully laying a foundation from which the shimmering skyscraper of reform will inevitably rise.
Well, by any reasonable yardstick 15 month is long enough to wait for a sign. Unless he changes course, Modi will be remembered as neither a solid opening batsman nor a great architect. Rather, he will be footnoted as the general who famously won the battle of 2014 but somehow managed to lost the war.

A  simly on cricket –by Sadanand Dhume-From Washington

As I Saw It : Make-or-break Indian century

Make-or-break Indian century                                                                                 09 Sept 2015

Choosing the right option will determine if India can encash its human dividend. Failure to do so would result in disaster. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his supporters are fond of saying that the last 60 years of Congress rule has been disastrous for India. They are right about the time period. Except for the eight years of Janata and BJP rule, the Congress has held sway since the first post constitution general election in 1951. They are also right, in many senses, to lay India’s third-world conditions at the congress’ doorstep.
So how should we assess India’s journey over these six decades? That question cannot-should not-be answered without walking over a foreground of perspective, some of which is hidden adidst the call charges in my mobile-phone bill.

I pay 50 paise per minute-as many of you do-for local or long distance calls on my mobile network. Indian mobile-phone tariffs are among the lowest in the world. It is hard to imagine that in 1950, a long-distance call was 10 times costlier at Rs 5 per minute, a small fortune at a time when an officer entering the civil service earned no more than Rs 350 per month. The Indian economy has just emerged from the effect of a world war and a bloody partition. Its gross domestic product (GDP) was about one-sixth the cost of building a metro for Mumbai and about as much as the Supreme Court wants Sahara chief Subroto Roy to pony up as bail. The government’s revenue: Rs 332 crore.

But telling the story in the manner the BJP and its supporters do is plainly unfair. India has clearly grown richer and more educated, and Indians live sustainably longer and healthier lives. It is this human capital, generated over the years of congress rule, that Modi intends to use to vault India into the ‘good days’ he promises.  The 2000s and 2010s, first under Atal Bihari Vajpaee and for the most part Manmohan Singh, were a period of unprecedented growth-with more people raised out of poverty than ever-regardless of what Modi and his supporters say. But the congress also delivered crony capitalism, corruption and offered no vision to match soaring expectations in this age of instantaneity.

Modi knows those decisions are his to make. The past indicates that incremental or selective change never works in India, yet he is in danger of following just that path. Like the congress, Modi’s track record is mixed. His supporters talks of the Gujarat model, but the latest data clearly show that while his state’s economy flourished (as did a few others, such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), social and health indicators floundered. At the national level, ignoring these issues is no longer an option. There is currently a vacuum with respect to institutions and policies to address these challenges (health, education and training needs) in India, “Harvard economist David Bloom wrote with prescience in a 2011 paper. Choosing the right option will determine if India can encash its human dividend. Failure, said Bloom, could result in disaster.

As briefly noted by Samar Halarnkar-HT


07 Sept. 2015

India will overtake Chins as the world’s most populous country by 2022, six years earlier than previously predicted.


People who ate spicy food, especially fresh chilli peppers, 1-2 times a week had a 10 percent reduced overall risk of death and eating them 3-7 times a week reduced the risk by 14 per cent. Death from cancer, ishaemic heart disease and respiratory diseases were all lower among spicy food eaters. Capsaicin, the main ingredient in chilli peppers, is known to have anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.


Listening to the music of their choice, considerably improved the quality and efficiency of wound closure of plastic surgeons.


Zion Harvey, 8, became the first child in the world to receive a bilateral hand transplant. A team of 40 physicians, nurses and other staff participated in the 10-hour operation which was done at the children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the US.

As I Saw It : Points to Ponder

Points to Ponder                                                                                   03 Sept 2015

SO LONG As the Constitution is not amended beyond recognition, so long as elections are held regularly and fairly and the ethos of secularism broadly prevails, so long as citizens can speak and write in the language of their choosing, so long as there is an integrated market and a moderately efficient civil service and army, and-lest I forget- so long as Hindi films are watched and their songs sung. India will survive.
RAMCANDRA GUHA, historian in India after Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy

A SOCIETY whose dominant tone is snark is ultimately one that is politically disengaged. A culture that is mostly about pointing out how vile, venal, stupid an hypocritical political leaders are, and how ineffective if not downright harmful government is, is a culture in which people will conclude that there is no point in being politically involved, even with as slight a commitment as voting.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, former journalist and current politician, in politics magazine

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

THERE IS a super expensive new drug coming out. It reduces heart disease by 60 percent, cancer by 27 percent, Alzheimer’s by 50 percent, and arthritis by 47 percent. It’s now out best treatment for fatigue and low back pain. It cures a third of erectile dysfunction and cuts anxiety and depression by 48 percent. People even lose weight on this stuff…Okay, it’s not new or expensive or even a pill. It’s walking.

DR MIKE EVANS, associate professor family medicine and public health at the University of Toronto

As I saw it : MILES TO GO-Modi and his DREAMS?

MILES TO GO-Modi and his DREAMS?                                                                     22 Aug 2015

As signature schemes unveiled last I-Day barely get off the blocks, PM Narendra Modi may do well to focus more on implementation.
“I wish to connect the poorest citizens of the country with the facility of bank accounts through this yojana”.
The scheme was launched on August 28, 2014. Till July 29, 172.9 million accounts have been opened, with a deposit of Rs 2.1 lakh crore. Banks are crying “Efforts gone in and the responses.
“Very shortly, we are about to move in a direction when an institute would be functioning in place of planning Commission.”
The Planning Commission was reconstituted as NITI Aayog on January 1, 2015. The name is changed with diluted functional authority.
“I urge upon MPs to select any one of the villages having population of three to five thousand in your constituency.
It was launched on October 11, 2014. Untill now, 498 Lok Sabha MPs have identified villages. Little progress has been achieved.
“The first work I started here is of cleanliness. People may feel that it is a trivial work for a Prime Minister but for me this is big”.
The mission was launched on October 2, 2014, to make India open-defecation-free by 2019. The government claims that more than 12 million toilets have been constructed in rural areas. Reality progress much lower than expectation.
“Have we ever thought what the sex ratio in the country is like/ Nine hundred and forty girls are born per thousand boys. This disparity points to female foeticide.” In some of the states is around 850.
“I want to appeal to people the world over, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, ‘Come, make in India. The programme was launched on September 25, 2014, to promote manufacturing in India. Hardly any investments.
“Millions and millions of Indian youth should go for acquisition of skills and there should be a network across the country for this, not archaic systems. They should acquire the skills which could contribute towards making India a modern country.”
Mission was launched July 15, 2015, to skill 400 million Indians by 2022. Under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, 2.4 million youths are to be trained by next year. A very noble thought, where are the employment opportunities?
When I talk of Digital India, I don’t speak of the elite, it is for the poor people. You can imagine the quality education children in villages will get if all the villages are connected with broadband. This scheme was launched on July 1, 2015. The government proposals worth $75 billion.  Again a dream.
A follow up mechanism, monitory may help in implementation to some extent.

Wake up India