Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #795 Fascism, Hindu Nationalism and Narendra Modi

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books avail­able on this site.)

Lis­ten: MP3

Side 1  Side 2

Intro­duc­tion: Prime Minister-elect Naren­dra Modi, with a polit­i­cal back­ground in a Hindu nation­al­ist party with strong fas­cist roots, is now in charge of the world’s sec­ond largest coun­try and the world’s largest democracy.

Naren­dra Modi  belonged to the RSS, an orga­ni­za­tion with an his­tor­i­cal affin­ity for Nazism and fas­cism.  Cap­i­tal­iz­ing on anti-Muslim fer­vor in India, RSS has gen­er­ated much gravitas.

Modi has been impli­cated in com­plic­ity in lethal anti-Muslim riot­ing in India.

In addi­tion to anti-colonial sen­ti­ment that pit­ted Indian nation­al­ists against the British Raj prior to World War II, Nazism and Hindu phi­los­o­phy also found com­mon ground in ele­ments of “Aryan” mys­ti­cism. Many ele­ments of the Brah­min caste also found affin­ity with the elit­ist and anti-democratic phi­los­o­phy of Mussolini’s fas­cism as well.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • Karl Haushofer (a key influ­ence on a num­ber of impor­tant Hitler aides) devel­oped the con­cept of Ger­man alle­giance with “the Col­ored Peo­ples” of the colo­nial world as a fur­ther vehi­cle for secur­ing Ger­man eco­nomic and polit­i­cal control. Haushofer’s the­o­ries under­lie, in part, the fas­cist her­itage of key ele­ments of the Hindhu Nation­al­ist move­ment cur­rently gain­ing increas­ing influ­ence in Indian politics.
  • An asso­ciate of RSS assas­si­nated Mahatma Gandhi.
  • The BJP itself evolved from the RSS.
  • In 2012, Digvi­jaya Singh dis­cussed Modi’s cam­paign tac­tics, com­par­ing his RSS train­ing with the method­ol­ogy of Nazi pro­pa­ganda min­is­ter Joseph Goebbels.
  • The Indian sit­u­a­tion has some sim­i­lar­i­ties with regard to Islam with the rise of fas­cist groups in Europe. The cen­ter par­ties sim­ply ignore the prob­lems of jihadism and do noth­ing, cre­at­ing a vac­uum for the fas­cist groups to fill. No coun­try on the planet suf­fers more from jihad ter­ror­ism than India... but nobody calls it ter­ror­ism, they use euphemisms like “com­mu­nal vio­lence” as if both par­ties are guilty.   Some­times hun­dreds are slaugh­tered and it barely makes the West­ern press, because, let’s face it, Indian lives are cheap in the eyes of multi­na­tional finance and corporatism.
  •  Cur­rently, Modi isn’t even allowed to come to the US due to his sup­port of anti-Muslim riots (note: if the U.S. applied this con­cept to those who sup­port PRO-Muslim riots, we would have a lot less vis­i­tors from sev­eral parts of the world, so this double-standard plays right into the right-wing Hindu wheelhouse).
  •  Modi’s talk­ing all the right “free trade” talk­ing points with the West right now, and the EU has lifted his visa ban–the US will surely fol­low suit.
  • Modi’s elec­tion was assisted by the for­mer head of Omid­yar Net­works, founded by Glenn Greenwald’s finan­cial angel Pierre Omid­yar. Omid­yar also helped finance the coup in the Ukraine.
  • Dis­cus­sion of Sav­itri Devi, a European-born Hindu/Nazi mys­tic, who gained con­sid­er­able influ­ence in post­war Nazi and fas­cist circles.

1. Naren­dra Modi’s affin­ity for the neo-liberal, cor­po­ratist philoso­phies cur­rently in ascen­dance was cov­ered in a recent New Yorker arti­cle.

“Modi’s Role Model: Mar­garet Thatcher or Lee Kuan Yew” by John Cas­sidy; The New Yorker; 5/19/2014.

. . .  As sev­eral com­men­ta­tors have noted in recent days, Naren­dra Modi, India’s Prime Minister-elect, shares sev­eral char­ac­ter­is­tics with Mar­garet Thatcher, the late British Prime Minister.

Like Mrs. T., Modi is a prod­uct of the provin­cial petite bour­geoisie. Thatcher’s father ran a cor­ner store in Grantham, Lin­colnshire. Modi, too, came from a fam­ily of gro­cers: his father ran a num­ber of tea stalls in the Gujarat city of Vad­na­gar. Thatcher was a strong believer in enter­prise and the self-help ethos that often goes with it, and she dis­dained the met­ro­pol­i­tan élites, whom she accused of bring­ing Britain to its knees. In seek­ing to put the “Great” back into “Great Britain”—that was how she saw her mission—she sur­rounded her­self with right-wing odd­balls and entre­pre­neurs, ignored the advice of her col­leagues, and fre­quently acted dictatorially. . . .

2. Set­ting forth some of the his­tor­i­cal gen­e­sis of the Nazi/Hindu nation­al­ist link, Kevin Coogan notes the phi­los­o­phy of Karl Haushofer, an early influ­ence on Hitler and Third Reich geo-politics.

Dreamer of the Day: Fran­cis Parker Yockey and the Post­war Fas­cist Inter­na­tional by Kevin Coogan; Autono­me­dia Inc.; Copy­right 1999 [SC]; ISBN 1–57027-039–2; pp. 68–69.

. . . . In its strug­gle to break British dom­i­nance, Ger­man mil­i­tary intel­li­gence also looked to nation­al­ist inde­pen­dence move­ments in the Mid­dle East, Asia, and Ire­land. After World War I, Haushofer con­tin­ued to sup­port these anti-British groups. In the 1930’s, Indian nation­al­ist leader Sub­has Chan­dra Bose [whose Indian national Army later received mil­i­tary sup­port in World War II from both Ger­many and Japan] was a cor­re­spon­dent for the Zeitschrift fur Geopoli­tik. [Haushofer’s pub­li­ca­tion.] . . . In July 1942, for­eign pol­icy expert Hans Weigert pro­filed Haushofer’s ‘Eurasian lib­er­a­tion front’ poli­cies in For­eign Affairs. Weigert pointed that Haushofer actu­ally wel­comed ‘the rise of the col­ored world,’ even writ­ing that ‘the strug­gle of India and China for lib­er­a­tion from for­eign dom­i­na­tion and cap­i­tal­ist pres­sure agrees with the secret dreams of Cen­tral Europe.’ . . . .

3. A story from the British Search­light mag­a­zine syn­op­sized the Hindu nationalist/Nazi link, not­ing that a for­mer mem­ber of the RSS assas­si­nated Gandhi in 1948. The arti­cle also notes the evo­lu­tion of the BJP–Modi’s party–from the RSS.

 “Hindu Fun­da­men­tal­ism: Why We Are Con­cerned” by Paul Crofts and Anjona Roy; Search­light Mag­a­zine; January/2003 [#331]; p. 20.

. . . . Dur­ing the 1940’s the RSS’s new leader, Mad­hev Gol­walkar, fol­low­ing the death of [RSS founder Keshav Bali­ram] Hedge­war, sym­pa­thized both with Ger­man Nazism and Ital­ian fas­cism. In 1939, Gol­walkar said: ‘Ger­man race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the Race and its cul­ture, Ger­many shocked the world by her purg­ing the coun­try of the Semitic races-the Jews. Race pride at its high­est has been man­i­fest here. Ger­many has shown how well nigh impos­si­ble it is for Races and cul­tures, hav­ing dif­fer­ences going to the root, to be assim­i­lated into one united whole, a good les­son for in Hin­dusthan to learn and profit by.’ (Gol­walker [1939] in We, or Our Nation­hood, Defined.’ . . .

. . . . There has been no explicit and uncon­di­tional dis­avowal of nazi-like doc­trines by the RSS/HSS or a repu­di­a­tion of Golwalker’s ideas. Indeed, Gol­walkar is held up as an exam­ple and spir­i­tual leader for young RSS/HSS Swayam­se­vaks (mem­bers) and affec­tion­ately referred to as ‘Guruji.’ . . . .

. . . . Fol­low­ing Mahatma Gahdhi’s assas­si­na­tion by a for­mer RSS mem­ber, Nathu­ram Godse, the RSS was banned by the Indian gov­ern­ment from 1948 to 1949. After the ban was reversed the RSS, while claim­ing to devote itself solely to cul­tural activ­i­ties, cre­ated sev­eral off­shoot orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), or World Hindu Coun­cil, in 1964, the Jana Sangh polit­i­cal party in 1951, which was the pre­cur­sor to the cur­rent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and numer­ous other organizations. . . . .

4. Palash R. Ghosh presents a more detailed analy­sis of the evo­lu­tion of the fascist/Hindu nation­al­ist link. Note the affin­ity of RSS thinkers for the eth­nic chau­vin­ism man­i­fested by Hitler.

“Hindu Nationalist’s His­tor­i­cal Links to Fas­cism and Nazism” by Palash R. Ghosh; Inter­na­tional Busi­ness Times; 3/6/2012.

. . . . The BJP has a very inter­est­ing his­tory — offi­cially formed in 1980, its his­tory can be traced much fur­ther back to the pre-1947 era when Hindu nation­al­ists not only demanded an inde­pen­dent India, but one com­pletely dom­i­nated by Hindus.

The cur­rent BJP is the suc­ces­sor of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) party, which itself was the polit­i­cal arm of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh, a group that espoused openly mil­i­tant Hindu activism and the sup­pres­sion of minori­ties in India.

The RSS was founded in 1925 by Keshav Bali­ram Hedge­war, a doc­tor from the cen­tral Indian town of Nag­pur in Maha­rash­tra, who agi­tated for both inde­pen­dence from the British crown and the strict seg­re­ga­tion of Hin­dus and Muslims.

What may sur­prise many in the West is that some of the most promi­nent fig­ures of RSS deeply admired Fas­cism and Nazism, the two total­i­tar­ian move­ments that swept through Europe at the time.

As such, RSS was out­lawed by the British (and was even peri­od­i­cally banned by the Indian gov­ern­ment after inde­pen­dence). Indeed, Nat­u­ram Godse, the man who assas­si­nated Gandhi in 1948, was him­self a for­mer RSS mem­ber who felt that the Mahatma made too many gen­er­ous con­ces­sions to the Muslims.

In the decades prior to that momen­tous event, senior RSS mem­bers had direct links to both Ben­ito Mus­solini in Italy and Adolf Hitler in Ger­many. Part of the RSS’ fas­ci­na­tion with these total­i­tar­ian regimes was their shared oppo­si­tion to the British Empire — how­ever, it went far beyond that. The RSS (as well as mul­ti­tudes of other Hindu nation­al­ists) admired the way Mus­solini and Hitler reor­ga­nized their respec­tive nations so quickly from the wreck­age of war to build a pow­er­ful econ­omy and mil­i­tary under the ban­ner of patri­o­tism and nationalism.

With respect to Hitler and Nazism, the links to India and Hin­duism were deeper and more profound.

Much of Nazi ide­ol­ogy and imagery came from the sym­bols and his­tory of ancient India – indeed, the infa­mous Nazi swastika was based on a Hindu sym­bol of strength and good for­tune. More­over, the leg­endary his­tory (some would say, myth) of the inva­sion of pre­his­toric India by the mys­te­ri­ous “Aryan” tribes would (cen­turies later) pro­vide Hitler with his notion of a “super mas­ter race” that was des­tined to dom­i­nate the world.

Dur­ing World War II, some Indian nation­al­ists received explicit sup­port from Ger­man Nazis — in fact, some Indian sol­diers even served in Hitler’s armies and in the noto­ri­ous SS.

Marzia Caso­lari, an Ital­ian scholar who stud­ied Indian pol­i­tics, once wrote of RSS’ con­nec­tions with Euro­pean fas­cism: The exis­tence of direct con­tacts between the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the [Ital­ian] Fas­cist regime, includ­ing Mus­solini, and Hindu nation­al­ists demon­strates that Hindu nation­al­ism had much more than an abstract inter­est in the ide­ol­ogy and prac­tice of fas­cism. The inter­est of Indian Hindu nation­al­ists in fas­cism and Mus­solini must not be con­sid­ered as dic­tated by an occa­sional curios­ity, con­fined to a few indi­vid­u­als; rather, it should be con­sid­ered as the cul­mi­nat­ing result of the atten­tion that Hindu nation­al­ists… focused on Ital­ian dic­ta­tor­ship and its leader. To them, fas­cism appeared to be an exam­ple of con­ser­v­a­tive revolution.

Per­haps there was no greater admirer of Hitler and Mus­solini in India than Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, another lead­ing mem­ber of RSS.

In a speech deliv­ered in 1940 (after the Sec­ond World War had com­menced), Savarkar said: There is no rea­son to sup­pose that Hitler must be a human mon­ster because he passes off as a Nazi or Churchill is a demigod because he calls him­self a Demo­c­rat. Nazism proved unde­ni­ably the sav­ior of Ger­many under the set of cir­cum­stances Ger­many was placed in.

Savarkar crit­i­cized Nehru for his staunch oppo­si­tion to fascism.

Who are we to dic­tate to Ger­many… or Italy to choose a par­tic­u­lar form of pol­icy of gov­ern­ment sim­ply?” Savarkar rhetor­i­cally asked.

“Surely Hitler knows bet­ter than Pan­dit Nehru does what suits Ger­many best. The very fact that Ger­many or Italy has so won­der­fully recov­ered and grown so pow­er­ful as never before at the touch of Nazi or Fas­cist mag­i­cal wand is enough to prove that those polit­i­cal ‘isms’ were the most con­ge­nial ton­ics their health demanded.”

Indeed, many Hindu nation­al­ists also derided Gandhi for oppos­ing Nazism and fas­cism. In 1939, a spokesman for the Hindu Mahasabha (Hindu Party) inti­mately con­nected Ger­many with Indian cul­ture and people.

Germany’s solemn idea of the revival of the Aryan cul­ture, the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of the Swastika, her patron­age of Vedic learn­ing and the ardent cham­pi­onship of the tra­di­tion of Indo-Germanic civ­i­liza­tion are wel­comed by the reli­gious and sen­si­ble Hin­dus of India with a jubi­lant hope,” the spokesman blustered.

“Only a few Social­ists headed by… Nehru have cre­ated a bub­ble of resent­ment against the present gov­ern­ment of Ger­many, but their activ­i­ties are far from hav­ing any sig­nif­i­cance in India.”

He added: “Germany’s cru­sade against the ene­mies of Aryan cul­ture will bring all the Aryan nations of the world to their senses and awaken the Indian Hin­dus for the restora­tion of their lost glory.

While the RSS was not explic­itly anti-Semitic (largely because India never had a large Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion), Savarkar even praised Hitler’s treat­ment of the Jews (at least before the death camps and ovens became known to the pub­lic at large).

In 1938, dur­ing the time of accel­er­at­ing anti-Jewish leg­is­la­tion in Ger­many, Savarkar sug­gested a sim­i­lar fate for India’s Muslims.

A nation is formed by a major­ity liv­ing therein,” he declared. “What did the Jews do in Ger­many? They being in minor­ity were dri­ven out from Germany.”

Another senior RSS mem­ber, Mad­hav Sadashiv Gol­walkar, also praised Nazism and believed the ide­ol­ogy should be applied to India.

Ger­man race pride has now become the topic of the day,” he wrote.

“To keep up the purity of the race and its cul­ture, Ger­many shocked the world by her purg­ing the coun­try of the Semitic Races — the Jews. Race pride at its high­est has been man­i­fested here. Ger­many has also shown how well-nigh impos­si­ble it is for races and cul­tures, hav­ing dif­fer­ences going to the root, to be assim­i­lated into one united whole, a good les­son for us in Hin­dus­tan [India] to learn and profit by.

Gol­walkar enthu­si­as­ti­cally advo­cated for an India dom­i­nated by Hindus.

“There are only two courses open to the for­eign ele­ments, either to merge them­selves in the national race and adopt its cul­ture, or to live at its mercy so long as the national race may allow them to do so and to quit the coun­try at the sweet will of the national race,” he wrote.

“That is the only sound view on the minori­ties prob­lem. That is the only log­i­cal and cor­rect solu­tion. That alone keeps the national life healthy and undis­turbed… The for­eign races in Hin­dus­tan must either adopt the Hindu cul­ture and lan­guage, must learn to respect and hold in rev­er­ence Hindu reli­gion, must enter­tain no idea but those of the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of the Hindu race and cul­ture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their sep­a­rate exis­tence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the coun­try, wholly sub­or­di­nated to the Hindu Nation, claim­ing noth­ing, deserv­ing no priv­i­leges, far less any pref­er­en­tial treat­ment not even citizen’s rights.”

If one were to replace “Hindu” with “Ger­man,” Golwalkar’s words would match Hitler’s rhetoric almost exactly.

Savarkar also spelled out why Hin­dus should rule India and oth­ers should either be expelled or merged into the Hindu majority.

The Aryans who set­tled in India at the dawn of his­tory already formed a nation, now embod­ied in the Hin­dus,” he wrote.“Hindus are bound together not only by the love they bear to a com­mon father­land and by the com­mon blood that courses through their veins and keeps our hearts throb­bing and our affec­tion warm but also by the of the com­mon homage we pay to our great civ­i­liza­tion, our Hindu culture.

Dur­ing a speech given to Indian mil­i­tary offi­cers and Indian nation­al­ist Sub­hash Chan­dra Bose in Dres­den, Ger­many, in 1943, Hitler him­self report­edly said: You are for­tu­nate hav­ing been born in a coun­try of glo­ri­ous cul­tural tra­di­tions and a colos­sal man­power. I am impressed by the burn­ing pas­sion with which you and your Netaji [Bose] seek to lib­er­ate your coun­try from for­eign dom­i­na­tion. Your Netaji’s sta­tus is even greater than mine. While I am the leader of 80 mil­lion Ger­mans, he is the leader of 400 mil­lion Indi­ans. In all respects he is a greater leader and a greater gen­eral than myself. I salute him, and Ger­many salutes him. It is the duty of all Indi­ans to accept him as their führer and obey him implic­itly. I have no doubt that if you do this, his guid­ance will lead India very soon to freedom.”

After the defeat of Fas­cist Italy and Nazi Ger­many in World War II, Hindu nation­al­ists dis­tanced them­selves from the total­i­tar­ian regimes of Europe.

How­ever, their calls for a “Hindu India have only strength­ened over the years. In the present cli­mate, the RSS and BJP are both gen­er­ally opposed to the Mus­lim pres­ence and express extreme hos­til­ity toward India’s prin­ci­pal Mus­lim rival, Pakistan.

More­over, Nazism, and the mys­ti­cism of Adolf Hitler’s warped philoso­phies, remain an obses­sion with many Indi­ans, almost 80 years after Der Führer came to power in Germany.

5. In the run-up to the recent Indian cam­paign, a polit­i­cal oppo­nent com­pared Modi’s rhetor­i­cal attacks to those of Joseph Goebbels, a pro­po­nent of the Big Lie. Modi attacked Sonia Gandhi for using pub­lic funds to travel abroad.

The trips were to seek treat­ment for seri­ous health prob­lems and, as such, were not scan­dalous at all.

“Naren­dra Modi Trained by RSS in ‘Nazi Tra­di­tion’: Digvi­jayah Singh”; Times of India; 10/2/2012. 

Digvi­jaya Singh on Tues­day slammed Naren­dra Modi over his alle­ga­tion on Sonia Gandhi’s for­eign trips, say­ing he has been trained well by RSS in the “Nazi tra­di­tion” of false pro­pa­ganda and BJP’s “cheap inten­tions” have been proved by try­ing to politi­cise a health issue.

Com­par­ing the Gujarat chief min­is­ter with Joseph Goebbels, the pro­pa­ganda min­is­ter of Nazi gov­ern­ment in Ger­many, the Con­gress leader picked on his favourite tar­get RSS alleg­ing it trains its cadres in “dis­in­for­ma­tion campaign”.

In his posts on the microblog­ging site Twit­ter, Singh said, “Sangh trains it’s cadre in dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign. Obvi­ously Modi has been trained well! Sangh has mod­elled itself in the Nazi tradition.

“Sangh train­ing to it’s cadre. Jhoot bolo zor se bolo aur baar baar bolo (Tell a lie, tell it loudly and tell it hun­dred times)Doesn’t it remind you of Hitler’s Goebbels?”

Singh’s attack againt Modi and RSS came a day after Modi alleged that Rs 1,880 crore was spent from state exche­quer for Con­gress pres­i­dent Sonia Gandhi’s for­eign trips cit­ing a media report.

In the night, he offered to pub­licly accept his mis­take if the claim turned out to be false.

“I had said this thing based on the report of a news­pa­per. If my infor­ma­tion is wrong, today I say that I will pub­licly accept this mis­take”, Modi said address­ing another rally in Junagadh.

Digvi­jaya Singh said the inci­dent “estab­lishes the motive of BJP and Naren­dra Modi, their malafide cheap inten­tions. They want to politi­cise even an issue like health”.

The Con­gress pres­i­dent had gone thrice to an undis­closed des­ti­na­tion abroad in last more than a year for a surgery.

Sav­itri Devi

6a. Modi’s elec­tion was aided by the head of Pierre Omidyar’s “char­i­ta­ble” orga­ni­za­tion Omid­yar Net­works. In FTR #763, we noted that Omid­yar is the finan­cial angel back­ing Nazi fellow-traveler Glenn Greenwald’s new jour­nal­is­tic ven­ture. Omid­yar has also backed some grind­ingly oppres­sive, cruel projects in the Third World. His Indian micro-finance ven­tures were par­tic­u­larly horrible.

Omid­yar also helped to finance the covert oper­a­tion that brought the OUN/B suc­ces­sors to power in Ukraine.

“REVEALED: The Head of Omid­yar Net­works in India Had a Secret Sec­ond Job… Help­ing Elect Naren­dra Modi” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 5/26/2014.

Last week­end, India’s elec­tions swept into power a hard­line Hindu suprema­cist named Naren­dra Modi. And with that White House spokesman Jay Car­ney said the Obama admin­is­tra­tion “look[s] for­ward to work­ing closely” with a man who has been on a US State Dept “visa black­list” since 2005 for his role in the grue­some mass-killings and per­se­cu­tion of minor­ity Mus­lims (and minor­ity Christians).

Modi leads India’s ultra­na­tion­al­ist BJP party, which won a land­slide major­ity of seats (though only 31% of the votes), mean­ing Modi will have the lux­ury of lead­ing India’s first one-party gov­ern­ment in 30 years. This is mak­ing a lot of peo­ple ner­vous: The last time the BJP party was in power, in 1998, they launched series of nuclear bomb test explo­sions, spark­ing a nuclear cri­sis with Pak­istan and fears of all-out nuclear war. And that was when the BJP was led by a “mod­er­ate” ultra­na­tion­al­ist — and tied down with med­dling coali­tion partners.

Modi is dif­fer­ent. Not only will he rule alone, he’s promised to run India the way he ran the west­ern state of Gujarat since 2001, which Booker Prize-winning author Arand­huti Roy described as “the petri dish in which Hindu fas­cism has been foment­ing an elab­o­rate polit­i­cal exper­i­ment.” Under Modi’s watch, an orgy of anti-Muslim vio­lence led to up to 2000 killed and 250,000 inter­nally dis­placed, and a lin­ger­ing cli­mate of fear, ghet­toiza­tion, and extra­ju­di­cial exe­cu­tions by Gujarat death squads oper­at­ing under Modi’s watch. . . .

. . . Omid­yar Net­work, as Pando read­ers know, is the phil­an­thropy arm of eBay bil­lion­aire Pierre Omid­yar. Since 2009, Omid­yar Net­work has made more invest­ments in India than in any other coun­try in its port­fo­lio. These invest­ments were largely thanks to Jayant Sinha, a for­mer McK­in­sey part­ner and Har­vard MBA, who was hired in Octo­ber 2009 to estab­lish and run Omid­yar Net­work India Advisors.

Dur­ing Sinha’s tenure, Omid­yar Net­work steered a large por­tion of its invest­ments into India, so that by 2013, India invest­ments made up 18% of Omid­yar Network’s com­mit­ted funds of well over $600 mil­lion, and 36% of the total num­ber of com­pa­nies in its portfolio.

In Feb­ru­ary of this year, Sinha stepped down from Omid­yar Net­work in order to advise Modi’s elec­tion cam­paign, and to run for a BJP par­lia­men­tary seat of his own. Sinha’s father, Yash­want Sinha, served as finance min­is­ter in the last BJP gov­ern­ment from 1998 (when his gov­ern­ment set off the nukes) through 2002. This year, Sinha’s father gave up his seat in par­lia­ment to allow Jayant Sinha to take his place.

Dur­ing the cam­paign, Sinha’s father pub­licly backed Modi’s refusal to apol­o­gize over the deadly riots under his watch: “Modi is right…why should he apol­o­gize?” His ex-Omidyar staffer son, Jayant, boasted a few weeks ago that his father’s BJP gov­ern­ment ignored inter­na­tional out­rage in 1998 when det­o­nat­ing its nukes, known as “Pokhran” . . . .

6b. Omid­yar Network’s SKS under­tak­ing in India–a micro-finance company–was a bru­tal, cruel effort.

“The Extra­or­di­nary Pierre Omid­yar” by Mark Ames and Yasha Levine; NSFW­Corp; 11/15/2013.

. . . . In 2012, it emerged that while the SKS IPO was mak­ing mil­lions for its wealthy investors, hun­dreds of heav­ily indebted res­i­dents of India’s Andhra Pradesh state were dri­ven to despair and sui­cide by the company’s cruel and aggres­sive debt-collection prac­tices. The rash of sui­cides soared right at the peak of a large micro-lending bub­ble in Andhra Pradesh, in which many of the poor were tak­ing out mul­ti­ple micro-loans to cover pre­vi­ous loans that they could no longer pay. It was sub­prime lend­ing fraud taken to the poor­est regions of the world, strip­ping them of what lit­tle they had to live on. It got to the point where the Chief Min­is­ter of Andrah Pradesh pub­licly appealed to the state’s youth and young women not to com­mit sui­cide, telling them, “Your lives are valuable.”

The AP con­ducted a stun­ning in-depth inves­ti­ga­tion of the SKS sui­cides, and their report­ing needs to be quoted at length to under­stand just how evil this pro­gram is. The arti­cle begins:

“First they were stripped of their uten­sils, fur­ni­ture, mobile phones, tele­vi­sions, ration cards and heir­loom gold jew­elry. Then, some of them drank pes­ti­cide. One woman threw her­self in a pond. Another jumped into a well with her chil­dren. 

“Some­times, the debt col­lec­tors watched nearby.”

What prompted the AP inves­ti­ga­tion was the gulf between the reported rash of sui­cides linked to SKS debt col­lec­tors, and SKS’s pub­lic state­ments deny­ing it had knowl­edge of or any role in the preda­tory lend­ing abuses. How­ever, the AP got a hold of inter­nal SKS doc­u­ments that con­tra­dicted their pub­lic denials:

“More than 200 poor, debt-ridden res­i­dents of Andhra Pradesh killed them­selves in late 2010, accord­ing to media reports com­piled by the gov­ern­ment of the south Indian state. The state blamed micro­fi­nance com­pa­nies — which give small loans intended to lift up the very poor — for fuel­ing a frenzy of overindebt­ed­ness and then pres­sur­ing bor­row­ers so relent­lessly that some took their own lives. 

“The com­pa­nies, includ­ing mar­ket leader SKS Micro­fi­nance, denied it.

“How­ever, inter­nal doc­u­ments obtained by The Asso­ci­ated Press, as well as inter­views with more than a dozen cur­rent and for­mer employ­ees, inde­pen­dent researchers and video­taped tes­ti­mony from the fam­i­lies of the dead, show top SKS offi­cials had infor­ma­tion impli­cat­ing com­pany employ­ees in some of the suicides.”

The AP inves­ti­ga­tion and inter­nal reports showed just how bru­tal the SKS micro­fi­nanc­ing pro­gram was, how women were par­tic­u­larly tar­geted because of their height­ened sense of shame and com­mu­nity responsibility—here is the bru­tal real­ity of finan­cial cap­i­tal­ism com­pared to the utopian blather mouthed at Davos con­fer­ences, or in the slick pam­phlets issued by the Omid­yar Network:

“Both reports said SKS employ­ees had ver­bally harassed over-indebted bor­row­ers, forced them to pawn valu­able items, incited other bor­row­ers to humil­i­ate them and orches­trated sit-ins out­side their homes to pub­licly shame them. In some cases, the SKS staff phys­i­cally harassed default­ers, accord­ing to the report com­mis­sioned by the com­pany. Only in death would the debts be for­given. 

“The videos and reports tell stark sto­ries: 

“One woman drank pes­ti­cide and died a day after an SKS loan agent told her to pros­ti­tute her daugh­ters to pay off her debt. She had been given 150,000 rupees ($3,000) in loans but only made 600 rupees ($12) a week. 

“Another SKS debt col­lec­tor told a delin­quent bor­rower to drown her­self in a pond if she wanted her loan waived. The next day, she did. She left behind four children.

“One agent blocked a woman from bring­ing her young son, weak with diar­rhea, to the hos­pi­tal, demand­ing pay­ment first. Other bor­row­ers, who could not get any new loans until she paid, told her that if she wanted to die, they would bring her pes­ti­cide. An SKS staff mem­ber was there when she drank the poi­son. She sur­vived. 

“An 18-year-old girl, pres­sured until she handed over 150 rupees ($3)—meant for a school exam­i­na­tion fee—also drank pes­ti­cide. She left a sui­cide note: ‘Work hard and earn money. Do not take loans.’”

As a result of the bad press this scan­dal caused, the Omid­yar Net­work deleted its Uni­tus invest­ment from its website—nor does Omid­yar boast of its invest­ments in SKS Micro­fi­nance any longer. Mean­while, Uni­tus mys­te­ri­ously dis­solved itself and laid off all of its employ­ees right around the time of the IPO, under a cloud of sus­pi­cion that Uni­tus insid­ers made huge per­sonal prof­its from the ven­ture, prof­its that in the­ory were sup­posed to be rein­vested into expand­ing micro-lending for the poor.

Thus spoke the profit motive.

Curi­ously, in the after­math of the SKS micro-lending scan­dal, Omid­yar Net­work was dragged into another polit­i­cal scan­dal in India when it was revealed that Omid­yar and the Ford Foun­da­tion were plac­ing their own paid researchers onto the staffs of India’s MPs. The pro­gram, called Leg­isla­tive Assis­tants to MPs (LAMPs), was funded with $1 mil­lion from Omid­yar Net­work and $855,000 from the Ford Foun­da­tion. It was shut down last year after India’s Min­istry of Home Affairs com­plained about for­eign lob­by­ing influ­enc­ing Indian MPs, and promised to inves­ti­gate how Omidyar-funded research for India’s par­lia­ment may have been “col­ored” by an agenda. . . .

7. Exem­pli­fy­ing the oper­a­tional polit­i­cal mythol­ogy of the Aryan/Hindu syn­the­sis, Nazi icon Sav­itri Devi has achieved con­sid­er­ably grav­i­tas in the con­tem­po­rary Nazi and fas­cist milieux. She has also achieved atten­tion and acclaim in cer­tain “New Age” circles.

“The Bizarre Tale of Sav­itri Devi, the Hindu Nazi” by Palash Ghosh; Inter­na­tional Busi­ness Times; 4/30/2011.

Sav­itri Devi is largely an unknown (or for­got­ten) fig­ure from 20th cen­tury his­tory; but she is well worth remem­ber­ing because she lived one of the strangest, most incom­pre­hen­si­ble lives that one could imag­ine. A life that defied and/or con­tra­dicted all con­ven­tion and stereotypes.

Sav­itri Devi was, for lack of a bet­ter descrip­tion, a “Hindu Nazi.”

Her life tra­jec­tory fol­lowed a long and wind­ing path that took her to unex­pected places, to say the least. (Try to imag­ine a tiny female Nazi stormtrooper wear­ing a mod­est, plain Indian sari).

She was born in 1905 in Lyons, France as Max­imi­ani Por­tas, the daugh­ter of a Greek-Italian father and an Eng­lish mother.

At some point in her young wom­an­hood, Max­imi­ani became enam­ored with Adolph Hitler and the Ger­man Nazi move­ment. Per­haps inspired by the Swastika (which was orig­i­nally a Hindu sym­bol, but later co-opted by Hitler), she appar­ently sought to com­bine the National Social­ist ide­ol­ogy with the ancient Hindu tales from the Bhagavad-Gita.

No doubt, Max­imi­ani also devel­oped a vir­u­lent strain of anti-Semitism from an early age, which dove­tailed per­fectly with Hitler’s fanat­i­cal hatred of the Jews.

The “link” between Nazism and Hin­duism is an extremely con­tro­ver­sial sub­ject, but suf­fice it to say, Maximiani’s unlikely syn­the­sis of these two very dis­parate philoso­phies led to her con­vic­tion that Hitler was a heaven-sent avatar, much like Vishnu, the Hindu God.

What com­pli­cates (and con­founds) many peo­ple is the con­cept of the “Aryan” race. Hitler viewed him­self (and the Ger­man peo­ple) as “pure Aryans,” the descen­dants of a mys­te­ri­ous race of “super­hu­mans” who migrated to north­ern Europe from some unknown locale in Cen­tral Asia (or per­haps they moved in the reverse direction).

How­ever, the Aryans, or rather, the Indo-Aryans, the war­rior race that swept into India to sub­ju­gate the native Dra­vid­ian peo­ples of the Indian sub­con­ti­nent thou­sands of years ago, likely had lit­tle con­nec­tion, if any, to the peo­ples of north­ern Europe.

His­to­ri­ans can’t seem to agree on who the Aryans exactly were, where they lived, where they came from, or what became of them. Some schol­ars (par­tic­u­larly in India) debunk the “Aryan inva­sion of India” the­ory entirely.

But it should be noted that some con­sider Iran and the Iran­ian peo­ples as being the “true Aryans.” Indeed, one of the Shah of Iran’s many titles was “Light of the Aryans.”

More­over, the term “Indo-Aryan” is inti­mately tied to “Indo-European” (yet another con­tro­ver­sial topic).

The very idea of an Indo-European lan­guage (and, by exten­sion, race) was pro­posed after Ger­man lin­guists and philol­o­gists, includ­ing August Schle­icher, dis­cov­ered that many words in San­skrit (the lan­guage of ancient India) were star­tlingly sim­i­lar to words in Ger­man, Eng­lish and other “west­ern” languages.

Regard­less of the ten­u­ous link between the ancient Indi­ans and the Ger­mans (and the pseudo-science related to the study of the Aryans), Max­imi­ani bought the dubi­ous the­o­ries whole­heart­edly. She viewed Hin­duism and Nazism as one in the same, with no inher­ent contradictions.

Indeed, like Hitler (and the ancient Hin­dus), she espoused the beauty and val­ues of the nat­ural world, cham­pi­oning ecol­ogy, veg­e­tar­i­an­ism, ani­mal rights and (above all) pagan mysticism.

She was highly learned – hav­ing earned two Mas­ters Degrees and a Ph.D. in phi­los­o­phy from the Uni­ver­sity of Lyon in France. In Greece, among the ancient ruins, she dis­cov­ered the swastika – lead­ing to her belief that the ancient Greeks were Aryans.

Max­imi­ani trav­elled all over Europe and the Near East dur­ing her youth, includ­ing a visit to British Pales­tine in 1929, where she saw first-hand the con­flicts between Pales­tini­ans and Jew­ish set­tlers (an expe­ri­ence that likely deep­ened her anti-Semitism).

But it was not until she went to India (which she regarded as the ori­gin of pure Aryan civ­i­liza­tion) in 1932 that her life changed forever.

Her immer­sion in Indian Hindu cul­ture was total. She stud­ied Ben­gali and Hindi at Rabindranath Tagore’s pres­ti­gious Shanti Nike­tan school.

She changed her name to Sav­itri Devi (which roughly trans­lates to Sun god­dess in San­skrit); and she gave her full sup­port to the Indian Hindu nationalist/independence move­ment against Britain. She also advo­cated vehe­mently against both Chris­tian­ity and Islam.

In 1940, liv­ing in Cal­cutta, she mar­ried Dr. Asit Krishna Mukherji, a Ben­gali Brah­min who edited the pro-German news­pa­per New Mer­cury and fully embraced National Social­ism. (Although Mukherji appar­ently mar­ried her only to pre­vent her from being deported and remained chaste, Sav­itri report­edly was sexually-liberated, hav­ing many affairs with both men and women).

Sav­itri was also in close touch Indian nation­al­ists, most notably Sub­hash Chan­dra Bose (also known as ‘Netaji’) who later received help from Nazi Germany.

Dur­ing the 1930s and 1940s, Hitler was widely admired in India – largely because he was viewed as anti-British – that is, before the full hor­rors of the Holo­caust were revealed.

After World War II. Savitri’s ado­ra­tion of Hitler and Nazism only increased – she con­tin­ued writ­ing essays and books; and trav­elled all over post-Third Reich Europe. In Ger­many, she was arrested and briefly impris­oned for pub­lish­ing pro-Nazi leaflets.

She moved widely across Europe, Mid­dle East, Britain and even the U.S., meet­ing with neo-Nazi adher­ents every­where and becom­ing sort of a ‘grand dame’ for unre­pen­tant Hitler-admirers. She might also have been one of the first Holo­caust deniers – the belief that the Nazi’s exter­mi­na­tion of the Jews was a lie.

She wrote many texts and books (mostly dense, wordy and incom­pre­hen­si­ble tracts) which found an audi­ence with Nazi sym­pa­thiz­ers around the world after the fall of the Third Reich.

Although Sav­itri was clearly eccen­tric (and prob­a­bly a crack­pot) she had legions of admir­ers – includ­ing the Chilean diplo­mat Miguel Ser­rano, Ital­ian far-right winger Clau­dio Mutti; and Revilo Oliver, a noto­ri­ous Amer­i­can neo-Nazi, among others.

In the 1970s, she returned to India to live in New Delhi on her deceased husband’s pen­sion. She died in 1982 in England.

The British author Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke wrote a highly acclaimed book about her enti­tled Hitler’s Priest­ess. Sav­itri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism.

8. The sec­ond side of the pro­gram fur­ther devel­ops the Nazi/Hindu/“Aryan” phi­los­o­phy, excerpt­ing FTR #172, pro­vid­ing more infor­ma­tion about Sav­itri Devi.

A Nazi mys­tic and ide­o­logue named Sav­itri Devi (nee Max­imi­ani Por­tas) is an icon to con­tem­po­rary Nazi ele­ments and her phi­los­o­phy over­laps, and has been accepted by, cer­tain ele­ments of both Green and New Age phi­los­o­phy. This broad­cast sets forth both the his­tory and the phi­los­o­phy of Sav­itri Devi.

Strongly influ­enced by Hindu (and specif­i­cally Brah­min) cul­ture, Sav­itri Devi saw the caste sys­tem of India and the mythol­ogy of the Bha­gavad Gita as con­firm­ing the Nazi occult phi­los­o­phy of the so-called “Aryan” ori­gins of the Ger­man peo­ple. (The pro­gram does not detail her actual phi­los­o­phy which is, past a point, mys­ti­cal and fun­da­men­tally irra­tional­ist in nature. The point of the broad­cast is to illus­trate the poten­tial appeal of Nazi occultism to New Agers and eco-activists.)

Begin­ning with analy­sis of the appeal of Hitler and Nazism for the upper castes of Hindu soci­ety, the pro­gram under­scores the man­ner in which the Third Reich exploited the anti-colonial sen­ti­ment of peo­ple in the Third World in an attempt to con­vert them to the Nazi cause. This anti-colonial sen­ti­ment, the racism of the caste sys­tem and the Nazis’ use of the swastika (a holy Hindu sym­bol) led many Hin­dus to view Hitler as an Avatar (a divine spirit). This Hindu sym­pa­thy for Hitler ulti­mately led to the for­ma­tion of an Indian Legion that fought along­side the Wehrma­cht, as well as the RSS (an Indian fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion). The Indian Legion was the brain­child of a mil­i­tant Indian nation­al­ist turned Axis spy and fas­cist named Sub­has Chan­dra Bose, nick­named “The Duce of Bengal”.

The pro­gram high­lights the Third Reich’s use of anti-colonial sen­ti­ment and anti-Semitism to win Arabs over to the Nazi cause. (It should be noted that Hitler’s racism has engen­dered con­tempt on the part of his fol­low­ers toward both Indi­ans and Arabs, a fact often over­looked by Indian and Arab Nazi apol­o­gists, to their own detri­ment.) Devi’s pro­found con­nec­tions to post-war Nazi lumi­nar­ies Hans Ulrich Rudel and Otto Sko­rzeny led to her enshrine­ment as a major philo­soph­i­cal pil­lar of con­tem­po­rary Nazism. (Both Rudel and Sko­rzeny became lead­ers of what Mr. Emory calls “the Under­ground Reich”.)

Devi was con­nected to both Amer­i­can Nazi Party founder George Lin­coln Rock­well and William Pierce, the leader of the National Alliance and author of The Turner Diaries.

 

 

Discussion

10 comments for “FTR #795 Fascism, Hindu Nationalism and Narendra Modi”

  1. The BJP is pissed about reports of the FISA court giv­ing per­mis­sion to spy on it, along with the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, a Hezbol­lah affil­i­ate, and the Pak­istan Peo­ples Party. And now the BJP wants a no-spy agree­ment of its own:

    India seeks assur­ances from U.S. over spy­ing reports

    By Sruthi Gottipati

    NEW DELHI Thu Jul 3, 2014 1:59am IST

    (Reuters) — India sum­moned a senior U.S. diplo­mat on Wednes­day to explain reports that the U.S. National Secu­rity Agency was autho­rised to spy on Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s party before he took office, and to seek assur­ances this would not hap­pen in future.

    The U.S. State Depart­ment said it would not com­ment “on every spe­cific alleged intel­li­gence activ­ity,” but a spokes­woman said she hoped that rela­tions with the new Indian gov­ern­ment, which Wash­ing­ton is keen to develop, would not be harmed.

    Accord­ing to a 2010 clas­si­fied doc­u­ment leaked by for­mer U.S. secu­rity con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den and pub­lished this week by the Wash­ing­ton Post, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was among a hand­ful of polit­i­cal organ­i­sa­tions a U.S. court allowed the intel­li­gence agency to spy on.

    The oth­ers included Lebanon’s Hezbollah-allied group Amal, Egypt’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, and the Pak­istan Peo­ples Party, the leaked legal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion approved by U.S. For­eign Intel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Court showed.

    For­eign min­istry spokesman Syed Akbarud­din said that if the snoop­ing reports were true, it would be “highly objec­tion­able”. The min­istry said it sum­moned a senior U.S. diplo­mat to seek assur­ances that any such sur­veil­lance would not occur in future.

    “India has sought an expla­na­tion of the infor­ma­tion con­tained in the press reports, and an assur­ance that such autho­ri­sa­tions will not be acted upon by U.S. gov­ern­ment enti­ties,” it said in a statement.

    State Depart­ment spokes­woman Jen Psaki declined to give details of what she called a “pri­vate” discussion.

    “We have a deep and broad part­ner­ship with India,” she told a reg­u­lar news brief­ing. “We will dis­cuss any con­cerns we need to dis­cuss though pri­vate diplo­matic channels.”

    Asked if the issue could have an impact on rela­tions, she said: “We cer­tainly hope not. We look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing dis­cus­sions on a full range of bilat­eral and regional issues.”

    OBAMA’S INVITATION

    Psaki referred to an invi­ta­tion by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama for Modi to visit the United States and added: “We’re look­ing for­ward to that, hope­fully, in the fall.”

    Psaki also cited a Jan. 17 speech in which Obama said he was ban­ning eaves­drop­ping on the lead­ers of close friends and allies and had instructed U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies “to work with for­eign coun­ter­parts to deepen our coor­di­na­tion and coop­er­a­tion in ways that rebuild trust.”

    The lat­est affair comes at a tricky time for Indo-U.S. rela­tions, which have been del­i­cate for months fol­low­ing a major spat over the treat­ment of an Indian diplo­mat who was arrested in New York in Decem­ber, an inci­dent that was widely blamed for the res­ig­na­tion of the U.S. ambas­sador to New Delhi.

    The Obama admin­is­tra­tion has been seek­ing to revive ties since Modi’s elec­tion in May, see­ing India as a key strate­gic counter-balance in Asia to an increas­ingly assertive China. It is keen to ramp up bilat­eral trade and espe­cially defence deals.

    Modi was for years denied a visa for travel to the United States fol­low­ing reli­gious riots in 2002 while he was a state chief min­is­ter. Even so, he has responded pos­i­tively to the U.S. advances and shown no resent­ment publicly.

    Modi has not pub­licly com­mented on the spy­ing alle­ga­tion. BJP lead­ers offered cau­tious remarks that the gov­ern­ment would take appro­pri­ate action.

    The for­eign min­istry had voiced con­cerns a year ago about alle­ga­tions that U.S. agen­cies spied on the Indian embassy in Wash­ing­ton, but crit­ics say the issue has largely been brushed under the carpet.

    The new row has over­shad­owed a visit to India by Repub­li­can U.S. Sen­a­tor John McCain, whose Ari­zona con­stituency is host to some of Boe­ing and Raytheon’s most impor­tant defence businesses.

    McCain, who told the Sen­ate last week that Wash­ing­ton should seek to help India’s eco­nomic and mil­i­tary devel­op­ment, can­celled a news con­fer­ence due to be held out­side India’s for­eign min­istry after India sum­moned the U.S. diplo­mat to explain the spy­ing report.

    U.S. and Indian offi­cials gave dif­fer­ing expla­na­tions for the can­cel­la­tion, but said it was not linked to the row.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 2, 2014, 2:40 pm
  2. Modi just announced that for­eign firms will be allowed to own up to 49% of India’s defense firms, although Indi­ans will still be required to main­tain man­age­ment con­trol over the firms. It’s part of a bid to cut down on India’s defense imports while also being part of Modi’s gen­eral man­date to get India in synch with the new nor­mal of sell­ing off one’s nation to the global loan shark-opoly as a means of estab­lish­ing eco­nomic resilience. It’s a very counter-intuitive strat­egy, and if the ini­tial responses are any indi­ca­tion of how suc­cess­ful India’s new plan will be at attract­ing for­eign invest­ments, it’s also “dis­ap­point­ing” and just “a first tiny step in the right direc­tion”:

    The Wall Street Jour­nal
    India Seeks More For­eign Invest­ment in Defense and Insur­ance
    Pro­posal Stops Short of Allow­ing Con­trol­ling Stakes

    By San­tanu Choud­hury And
    Anant Vijay Kala

    July 10, 2014 9:59 a.m. ET

    NEW DELHI—India on Thurs­day pro­posed allow­ing more for­eign own­er­ship of mil­i­tary hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers and insur­ance com­pa­nies, but stopped short of allow­ing con­trol­ling stakes in the key industries.

    As part of the country’s national bud­get, India’s new finance min­is­ter, Arun Jait­ley, pro­posed allow­ing up to 49% for­eign own­er­ship in local defense ven­tures and insur­ance com­pa­nies. Cur­rently, for­eign firms can own up to 26% stakes in com­pa­nies in those two industries.

    Open­ing the sec­tors to more for­eign own­er­ship is aimed at help­ing the indus­tries attract inter­na­tional cap­i­tal, tech­nol­ogy and knowl­edge. Both the pro­pos­als need to be accepted by the cab­i­net, and the insur­ance plan needs approval from the Parliament.

    India, the world’s largest importer of arms, needs help mod­ern­iz­ing its mil­i­tary and wants to build most of the equip­ment locally so it can save on for­eign exchange.

    “Our domes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ing capac­i­ties are still at a nascent stage,” Mr. Jait­ley said. “We are buy­ing a sub­stan­tial part of our defense require­ments directly from for­eign play­ers,” which is lead­ing to a “con­sid­er­able out­flow of for­eign exchange.”

    If the pro­pos­als are accepted, Indi­ans would con­tinue to have con­trol­ling stakes in both defense and insur­ance ven­tures, and would also be required to retain man­age­ment control.

    The change in the for­eign own­er­ship lim­its comes after cam­paign pledges by India’s new prime min­is­ter, Naren­dra Modi, to relax some rules to attract more for­eign direct investment.

    ...

    Investors and exec­u­tives are hop­ing Mr. Modi will be able to use the rare major­ity in Par­lia­ment his party won after a land­slide vic­tory in May to push through long-delayed spend­ing and reg­u­la­tory changes.

    The country’s defense indus­try has attracted only $4.1 mil­lion in for­eign invest­ment since it was first opened to for­eign par­tic­i­pa­tion in 2001, accord­ing to gov­ern­ment fig­ures. Other indus­tries, includ­ing ser­vices, tele­com, and com­puter soft­ware and hard­ware, have each attracted at least $10 bil­lion in for­eign invest­ment from April 2000 to March 2014.

    Ana­lysts said the new ceil­ings are unlikely to trig­ger a flood of for­eign invest­ment because most big for­eign com­pa­nies want major­ity stakes before they are will­ing to com­mit large amounts of money to a new market.

    The finance minister’s pro­posal is “dis­ap­point­ing,” said Amber Dubey, head of the aero­space and defense prac­tice at KPMG in India. “We have just pushed away invest­ments in defense man­u­fac­tur­ing by another year.”

    Girish Kulka­rni, man­ag­ing direc­tor and chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of Star Union Dai-ichi Life Insur­ance Co., said while increas­ing the invest­ment cap was a wel­come move, the Indian man­age­ment require­ment could be a con­cern for for­eign com­pa­nies look­ing to enter Indian insur­ance sector.

    “What ails India is not the lack of for­eign invest­ment, it’s really the invest­ment envi­ron­ment,” said Fred­eric Neu­mann, HSBC’s joint head of Asian eco­nomic research. “This is a first tiny step in the right direc­tion.“

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 10, 2014, 7:44 am
  3. John Kerry’s visit to India as most of the world was focused on the slaugh­ter in Gaza.
    http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/world/2014/08/05/Is-India-becoming-the-next-U-S-outpost-.html

    Posted by Atlanta Bill | August 5, 2014, 2:19 am
  4. “Another Indian NGO that Sinha and Omid­yar Net­work funded was caught in 2012 ille­gally influ­enc­ing mem­bers of India’s par­lia­ment on the country’s tight e-commerce laws. India’s top secu­rity agency at the time denounced the NGO as “detri­men­tal to national secu­rity,” accused it of pro­vid­ing cover for “for­eign” intel­li­gence agen­cies to infil­trate India’s gov­ern­ment — and stripped it of its registration.

    After that scan­dal, the co-founder of the belea­guered NGO, CV Mud­hakar, was hired by Omid­yar Net­work India’s direc­tor of invest­ments in…“government trans­parency.”“
    Yep:

    Pando Daily
    Pierre Omidyar’s man in India is named to Modi’s cabinet

    By Mark Ames
    On Novem­ber 9, 2014

    A long­time senior exec­u­tive in eBay bil­lion­aire Pierre Omidyar’s global impact fund, Jayant Sinha, has been appointed to Indian ultra­na­tion­al­ist leader Naren­dra Modi’s coun­cil of ministers.

    In 2009, Sinha estab­lished Omid­yar Net­work India Advi­sors and served as part­ner and man­ag­ing direc­tor in the First Look Media publisher’s impact fund. Sinha also served onOmid­yar Network’s five-member global Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee, and steered well over $100 mil­lion of Omid­yar Net­work funds into India, mak­ing it the most active single-country invest­ment for the $700 mil­lion impact fund, the world’s largest impact fund. Ear­lier this year, Sinha stepped down as part­ner and man­ag­ing direc­tor at Omid­yar Net­work to run for his father’s seat in India’s par­lia­ment on the far-right BJP Party ticket.

    ...

    Sinha’s appoint­ment to Modi’s cab­i­net makes him the sec­ond high-profile Omid­yar fig­ure to rise to power in a right-wing, pro-business gov­ern­ment in the last two weeks. In late Octo­ber, Pan­do­Daily reported that Svit­lana Zal­ishchuk — whose Ukrain­ian NGO “New Cit­i­zen” received hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars from Omid­yar and USAID, and took credit for orga­niz­ing the Maidan rev­o­lu­tion — took a seat in Ukraine’s new par­lia­ment, on the party ticket of bil­lion­aire pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko. Since com­ing to power after the Feb­ru­ary “rev­o­lu­tion,” Poroshenko led Ukraine into a bloody and dis­as­trous offen­sive cam­paign against Russia-backed sep­a­ratists in the east of the coun­try, leav­ing thou­sands dead. Human Rights Watch has accused Poroshenko of com­mit­ting poten­tial war crimes by using clus­ter bombs “indis­crim­i­nately in pop­u­lated areas.”

    As Pan­do­Daily has been report­ing all year, Jayant Sinha—and his boss, Omidyar—have been play­ing an unusual dual role in Indian pol­i­tics over the past few years, con­flat­ing sup­pos­edly phil­an­thropic activ­i­ties with decid­edly polit­i­cal invest­ments that dove­tailed with Sinha’s party’s polit­i­cal cam­paign when it was out of power.

    Some of those Omid­yar grants went to for-profit invest­ments, such as Omid­yar invest­ments in micro­fi­nance firms like SKS Micro­fi­nance, which ended dis­as­trously when SKS’s aggres­sive debt col­lec­tors were impli­cated in push­ing hun­dreds of poor vil­lagers into grue­some sui­cides, by drink­ing bot­tles of pes­ti­cide, drown­ing them­selves, and other means.

    Other Omidyar-Sinha invest­ments went into NGOs whose cam­paigns dove­tailed per­fectly with the far-right BJP Party’s cam­paigns when they were in the oppo­si­tion, par­tic­u­larly by focus­ing atten­tion on cor­rup­tion under the pre­vi­ous center-left gov­ern­ment that ruled from 2005 through this year. The BJP won this year’s elec­tion on an anti-corruption back­lash; and Omid­yar Net­work bankrolled one of India’s most promi­nent anti-corruption NGO cam­paigns, “I Paid A Bribe.” In 2010, Sinha and Omid­yar Net­work awarded $3 mil­lion to an Indian NGO, Janaa­graha, to run the “I Paid A Bribe” cam­paign. A top USAID offi­cial, Sarah Mendelsen, described as “spell-binding” a speech about anti-corruption cam­paigns by Janaagraha’s co-founder at a Google event in 2011. Janaa­graha had pre­vi­ously worked with the World Bank to pri­va­tize Bangalore’s water.

    At the same time that Omid­yar Network’s Sinha invested in anti-corruption cam­paigns that under­mined India’s rul­ing center-left party, Sinha secretly worked on Modi’s team to pre­pare for the 2014 elec­tions. Accord­ing to two senior BJP Party mem­bers, Sinha also “worked in Modi’s team” in 2012 and 2013, undis­closed at the time, while simul­ta­ne­ously head­ing Omid­yar Net­work and guid­ing the fund’s global strat­egy. Sinha also served as a direc­tor in the BJP Party’s pow­er­ful think-tank, the India Foun­da­tion, set up by Ajit Doval, who now heads India’s national intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus under Modi.

    Another Indian NGO that Sinha and Omid­yar Net­work funded was caught in 2012 ille­gally influ­enc­ing mem­bers of India’s par­lia­ment on the country’s tight e-commerce laws. India’s top secu­rity agency at the time denounced the NGO as “detri­men­tal to national secu­rity,” accused it of pro­vid­ing cover for “for­eign” intel­li­gence agen­cies to infil­trate India’s gov­ern­ment — and stripped it of its registration.

    After that scan­dal, the co-founder of the belea­guered NGO, CV Mud­hakar, was hired by Omid­yar Net­work India’s direc­tor of invest­ments in…“government transparency.”

    Sinha has for years been push­ing India to open its e-commerce mar­kets to for­eign invest­ment — which would directly ben­e­fit Omid­yar, who is still chair­man of eBay. After Sinha moved from Omid­yar Net­work to cam­paign­ing for Modi in Feb­ru­ary of this year, Modi sud­denly began to par­rot Sinha’s and Sil­i­con Valley’s wish-list on open­ing up India’s e-commerce to Sil­i­con Val­ley. In early June, weeks after Modi and Sinha’s elec­tion vic­to­ries, the new Modi gov­ern­ment invited rep­re­sen­ta­tives from eBay, as well as Ama­zon and Google, to help rewrite India’s e-commerce laws.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 10, 2014, 7:43 pm
  5. “Aside from autho­riz­ing weapons pur­chases, the gov­ern­ment has loos­ened restric­tions on pro­cure­ment from defense man­u­fac­tur­ers affected by graft alle­ga­tions, and made it eas­ier for pri­vate com­pa­nies to main­tain mil­i­tary equip­ment.” Uh oh:

    Bloomberg
    India Under Modi to Buy First Heavy Weapons Since 1980s
    By N.C Bipin­dra Nov 23, 2014 1:44 AM CT

    India approved a 158 billion-rupee ($2.5 bil­lion) pur­chase of artillery, the first acqui­si­tion of large-caliber guns since the 1980s as Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi seeks to mod­ern­ize the armed forces.

    The Defence Acqui­si­tion Coun­cil autho­rized 229 bil­lion rupees of pro­cure­ments yes­ter­day, includ­ing the artillery, a gov­ern­ment offi­cial told reporters in New Delhi, ask­ing not to be iden­ti­fied cit­ing rules. The meet­ing was the first since Manohar Par­rikar became defense min­is­ter ear­lier in November.

    India has autho­rized $19 bil­lion of weapons pur­chases since Modi swept to power in May and took a firmer line in bor­der dis­putes with Pak­istan and China. Par­rikar has vowed quick and trans­par­ent decision-making to spur the mil­i­tary of the world’s largest importer of major con­ven­tional weapons.

    ...

    The next step will be to seek ten­ders for the man­u­fac­ture of the artillery. If a for­eign man­u­fac­turer wins the ten­der, the first 100 pieces will be imported and the remain­ing 714 will be made in India through tech­nol­ogy transfer.

    Modi is try­ing to encour­age domes­tic pro­duc­tion, a pol­icy dis­cussed at the meet­ing, the offi­cial said. A deci­sion on a pro­posal from the defense units of India’s Tata Sons Ltd. and Europe’s Air­bus Group NV (AIR) to sup­ply trans­port air­craft was deferred, the offi­cial said.

    Mar­itime Intelligence

    Par­rikar com­mis­sioned a mar­itime secu­rity intel­li­gence shar­ing net­work today. Its objec­tive is to mon­i­tor the Indian Ocean region for threats such as the 2008 Mum­bai ter­ror attacks.

    “In energy secu­rity and secu­rity, we can’t be depen­dent on oth­ers,” the defense min­is­ter said at the event, in response to a ques­tion about the goals Modi set for him. Sanc­tions or block­ades can cut off key sup­pli­ers, indi­cat­ing India must work towards self-reliance for energy and mil­i­tary needs, accord­ing to Parrikar.

    Last year, India’s biggest state-run weapons maker tested a locally made piece of artillery pro­duced off 1980s blue­prints in the deserts of Rajasthan — when it fired, the bar­rel cracked. That’s just once exam­ple of the nuclear-armed nation’s strug­gle to intro­duce its first new artillery since 1986.

    Modi faced defense spend­ing near a 50-year low as a per­cent­age of the econ­omy when he took power six months ago. A his­tory of cor­rup­tion scan­dals slowed mil­i­tary purchases.

    Aside from autho­riz­ing weapons pur­chases, the gov­ern­ment has loos­ened restric­tions on pro­cure­ment from defense man­u­fac­tur­ers affected by graft alle­ga­tions, and made it eas­ier for pri­vate com­pa­nies to main­tain mil­i­tary equipment.

    Modi has also allowed higher for­eign invest­ment in the defense indus­try, and his admin­is­tra­tion is said to tar­get the sign­ing of a con­tract for 126 Rafale fighter jets by year’s end.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 23, 2014, 5:36 pm
  6. Modi is unvi­il­ing his new ‘totally not Thatcherite *wink*’ reforms to the Indian econ­omy and safety net. This isn’t going to be a com­plete human dis­as­ter or any­thing. The mar­ket shall pro­vide for all:

    PM Modi puts free-market stamp on new pol­icy panel

    By Frank Jack Daniel and Rajesh Kumar Singh

    NEW DELHI Mon Jan 5, 2015 8:04pm IST

    (Reuters) — Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on Mon­day named right-leaning econ­o­mist Arvind Pana­gariya to run his new Pol­icy Com­mis­sion, ham­mer­ing a final nail into the cof­fin of social­ist plan­ning that defined the first 67 years of inde­pen­dent India.

    Pana­gariya, a pro­fes­sor at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity in New York, will head a bench of thinkers com­pris­ing fel­low free-market ide­o­logue Bibek Debroy and a for­mer top gov­ern­ment sci­en­tist who designed a nuclear-capable bal­lis­tic missile.

    The Indian-born economist’s calls to roll back the state have influ­enced Modi’s out­look and drawn com­par­isons, which he rejects, with Mar­garet Thatcher’s attack on labour reg­u­la­tions and state indus­try in 1980s Britain.

    ...

    India’s growth has hit its longest trough since the 1980s over the past two years, a cycle blamed by pri­vate econ­o­mists on a lack of struc­tural reforms to revive invest­ment and cre­ate jobs and infrastructure.

    “With the appoint­ment of Pana­gariya and Bibek, the break­away from Nehru­vian social­ism is com­plete,” said Rajiv Kumar, a senior fel­low at the Cen­tre for Pol­icy Research, a think-tank in New Delhi.

    “Know­ing both Arvind and Bibek, I am sure they will rapidly push for an open, pri­vate sector-led, more lib­eral order.”

    Pana­gariya told Reuters last year that he did not sup­port a Thatcherite agenda, say­ing India should give mar­kets a freer rein but that it still needed growth in social spend­ing in a coun­try that has about a third of the world’s extremely poor.

    “Here, in India, we are try­ing to give back mar­kets the space that belonged to them in the first place and was usurped by over­ac­tive reg­u­la­tions,” he said in an email inter­view, given in his capac­ity as an adviser to Rajasthan.

    FISCAL LOOSENING?

    Pana­gariya has pre­vi­ously advo­cated a loos­en­ing of fis­cal deficit tar­gets that he said were sti­fling growth to allow for more cap­i­tal spending.

    That view is shared by Arvind Sub­ra­man­ian, another heavy­weight econ­o­mist brought in from the United States last year to advise the finance min­istry. In a Decem­ber eco­nomic report Sub­ra­man­ian advo­cated higher infra­struc­ture spend­ing by the gov­ern­ment to kick-start stag­nant pri­vate investment.

    Their views could be influ­en­tial as Finance Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley pre­pares his first full bud­get, to be pre­sented in par­lia­ment in February.

    Pana­gariya, Sub­ra­man­ian and Debroy were vocal crit­ics of Jaitley’s first bud­get, an interim mea­sure drafted after Modi’s elec­tion vic­tory in May. All three described it as too cau­tious given the government’s resound­ing mandate.

    Their appoint­ment sug­gests that Modi also wants a more rad­i­cal finance bill this year.

    Modi scrapped the 65-year-old Plan­ning Com­mis­sion in the New Year, replac­ing it with a body he said would do more to involve the regions.

    The 64-year-old pre­mier will for­mally chair the new National Insti­tu­tion for Trans­form­ing India (NITI), which is designed to func­tion as both a think-tank and a pol­icy forum. Pana­gariya, as vice chair­man, would hold cab­i­net rank.

    Modi also named V.K. Saraswat, ex-head of the government’s defence research arm, to a full-time post. Seven senior min­is­ters will join the panel, along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from India’s 29 states and seven union territories.

    The writ­ing is on the wall:

    India’s growth has hit its longest trough since the 1980s over the past two years, a cycle blamed by pri­vate econ­o­mists on a lack of struc­tural reforms to revive invest­ment and cre­ate jobs and infra­struc­ture.

    Yep, the writ­ing is on the wall and it was prob­a­bly writ­ten by some­one that simul­ta­ne­ously hates the poor while view­ing them as super-humans that just need a kick in the pants to unleash their super-powers. That’s what to expect when you read that econ­o­mists (who tend to hate the poor) are chat­ter­ing about how “struc­tural reforms” (aus­ter­ity for the poor and tax cuts for the rich) as the only thing that can improve the Indian econ­omy and lives of poor Indi­ans. And with a Modi gov­ern­ment those are exactly the kinds of reforms we should expect.

    But at least you hear com­ments like this:

    Pana­gariya told Reuters last year that he did not sup­port a Thatcherite agenda, say­ing India should give mar­kets a freer rein but that it still needed growth in social spend­ing in a coun­try that has about a third of the world’s extremely poor.

    So it could be worse. Arvind Pana­gariya could be plan­ning a Thatcherite rev­o­lu­tion that guts India’s safety net while sell­ing off state assets to con­nected oli­garchs. Which he says he isn’t plan­ning on doing. At least, not imme­di­ately:

    Advis­ers to India’s Modi dream of a Thatcherite revolution

    By Frank Jack Daniel and Rajesh Kumar Singh

    NEW DELHI Sun Apr 6, 2014 2:19am EDT

    (Reuters) — When Indian oppo­si­tion leader Naren­dra Modi gave a speech on the virtues of smaller gov­ern­ment and pri­va­ti­za­tion on April 8 last year, sup­port­ers called him an ide­o­log­i­cal heir to for­mer British Prime Min­is­ter Mar­garet Thatcher, who died that day.

    Modi, favorite to form India’s next gov­ern­ment after elec­tions start­ing on Mon­day, has yet to unveil any detailed eco­nomic plans but it is clear that some of his clos­est advis­ers and many cam­paign work­ers have a Thatcherite ambi­tion for him.

    These sup­port­ers dis­miss crit­i­cism of Modi for reli­gious riots that killed some 1,000 peo­ple in his home state of Gujarat 12 years ago. For them, Modi stands for eco­nomic freedom.

    “If you define Thatch­erism as less gov­ern­ment, free enter­prise, then there is no dif­fer­ence between Modi-nomics and Thatch­erism,” said Deepak Kanth, a London-based banker now col­lect­ing funds as a vol­un­teer for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    Kanth, who says he is on the eco­nomic right, is one of sev­eral hun­dred vol­un­teers with a sim­i­lar phi­los­o­phy work­ing for Modi in cam­paign war-rooms across the coun­try. Among them are alumni of Gold­man Sachs and JP Mor­gan trad­ing floors.

    “What Thatcher did with finan­cial mar­ket reforms, you can expect a sim­i­lar thing with infra­struc­ture in India under Modi,” he said, refer­ring to Thatcher’s trade­mark “Big Bang” of sud­den finan­cial dereg­u­la­tion in 1986.

    Modi’s inner cir­cle also includes promi­nent econ­o­mists and indus­tri­al­ists who share a desire to see his BJP draw a line under India’s social­ist past, cut wel­fare and reduce the role of gov­ern­ment in business.

    The BJP is due to unveil detailed eco­nomic plans on Mon­day and is expected to make pop­ulist pledges to cre­ate a mas­sive num­ber of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs and to restart India’s stalled $1 tril­lion infra­struc­ture devel­op­ment program.

    But con­ver­sa­tions with top pol­icy advis­ers to Modi sug­gest an agenda that goes fur­ther than the upcom­ing cam­paign man­i­festo, includ­ing plans to over­haul national wel­fare pro­grams. There is also a fierce debate inside his team about pri­va­tiz­ing some flag­ship state-run firms, includ­ing loss-making Air India.

    Bibek Debroy, a promi­nent Indian econ­o­mist speak­ing for the first time about his role advis­ing Modi dur­ing the cam­paign, told Reuters the Hindu nation­al­ist leader shared his market-driven pol­icy plat­form and opposed handouts.

    “It is essen­tially a belief that peo­ple don’t need doles, and don’t need sub­si­dies,” Debroy said. Instead, the gov­ern­ment should focus on build­ing infra­struc­ture to ease poverty, he said.

    ASSET CREATION

    Modi’s office did not respond to requests for com­ment on this arti­cle. Senior BJP leader Arun Jait­ley, the man often tipped to be the finance min­is­ter in a Modi cab­i­net, said the party would not do away with wel­fare pro­grams entirely.

    “I don’t want to imme­di­ately com­ment on what we will do with each one of them,” Jait­ley said. “India will need some poverty alle­vi­a­tion schemes, at least in the imme­di­ate future, but you could link those schemes with some asset creation.”

    How far Modi can go down this road if elected will depend on allies in what is likely to be a coali­tion gov­ern­ment. In the last big poll ahead of the elec­tion, the BJP was fore­cast to end up as the sin­gle largest party but fall short of an out­right majority.

    But merely the pos­si­bil­ity that India may move to the right has brought free-market cham­pi­ons flock­ing home from high-flying careers abroad to join Modi’s campaign.

    Two advis­ers involved in pol­icy dis­cus­sions within the BJP’s top lead­er­ship said par­tial or total pri­va­ti­za­tions of Air India and other fail­ing pub­lic sec­tor enter­prises were being debated.

    ...

    “If you say is it going to hap­pen in 2014–15, is the finance min­is­ter going to stand up and announce pri­va­ti­za­tion, I’m inclined to think no, but will it fig­ure even­tu­ally? The answer is yes,” said Debroy, author of a book on the econ­omy of Gujarat, the west­ern Indian state Modi has gov­erned for more than a decade.

    When asked about the pos­si­ble pri­va­ti­za­tion of Air India, Jait­ley said only that it was a dif­fi­cult issue.

    WELFARE ROLLBACK

    An attack on wel­fare would mark an ide­o­log­i­cal shift.

    Although India adopted free-market reforms 20 years ago, the man respon­si­ble for them, cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh, has refo­cused on redis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth in recent years under the influ­ence of Con­gress party chief Sonia Gandhi.

    The bat­tle of ideas between Modi and the rul­ing Con­gress party was mir­rored in a pub­lic spat between two well-known econ­o­mists of Indian ori­gin, Nobel lau­re­ate Amartya Sen and Colum­bia University’s Jagdish Bhagwati.

    Sen’s belief that pub­lic spend­ing on food sub­si­dies and health was needed to end poverty was adopted by Gandhi. The result was a pro­lif­er­a­tion of wel­fare schemes, most notably a rural work pro­gram and a giant sub­si­dized food plan.

    Modi’s eco­nomic think­ing is closer to Bhag­wati, who strongly advo­cates poverty reduc­tion through deregulation-led growth. Bhagwati’s col­league and writ­ing part­ner, Arvind Pana­gariya, a for­mer chief econ­o­mist at the Asian Devel­op­ment Bank, is tipped by some in the BJP for a role in any Modi government.

    The Con­gress party’s rural job scheme is cred­ited with lift­ing rural wages and reduc­ing migra­tion to cities. But crit­ics, includ­ing Pana­gariya, believe the jobs it cre­ated — such as main­tain­ing irri­ga­tion ponds and vil­lage roads — were unproductive.

    These ideas have found trac­tion in Modi’s cir­cle of advis­ers, who pro­pose tying such pro­grams to skills train­ing and putting employ­ees to work on build­ing high­ways or san­i­ta­tion projects.

    Oth­ers in the group pro­pose doing away alto­gether with dozens of cen­trally funded programs.

    ...

    As Arun Jait­ley, now India’s min­is­ter of finance, pledged at the time:

    “I don’t want to imme­di­ately com­ment on what we will do with each one of them,” Jait­ley said. “India will need some poverty alle­vi­a­tion schemes, at least in the imme­di­ate future, but you could link those schemes with some asset creation.“

    And as Arvind Pana­gariya was push­ing for last year:

    Modi’s eco­nomic think­ing is closer to Bhag­wati, who strongly advo­cates poverty reduc­tion through deregulation-led growth. Bhagwati’s col­league and writ­ing part­ner, Arvind Pana­gariya, a for­mer chief econ­o­mist at the Asian Devel­op­ment Bank, is tipped by some in the BJP for a role in any Modi government.

    The Con­gress party’s rural job scheme is cred­ited with lift­ing rural wages and reduc­ing migra­tion to cities. But crit­ics, includ­ing Pana­gariya, believe the jobs it cre­ated — such as main­tain­ing irri­ga­tion ponds and vil­lage roads — were unpro­duc­tive.

    So pre­sum­ably all that “asset cre­ation” from the infra­struc­ture stim­u­lus pro­grams (that likely cen­ter around pri­va­ti­za­tions) is going to per­ma­nently alle­vi­ate Indian poverty in the future. Not imme­di­ate, mind you, but even­tu­ally. Also, screw the poor and their rural roads and irri­ga­tion ponds. Dereg­u­la­tions will pro­vide those ser­vices if they are truly of value. Pray­ing to the free mar­ket gods. That’s the plan for India.

    Although this Thatcherite rev­o­lu­tion does raise the ques­tion of what hap­pens when the stim­u­lus pro­grams end and every­thing is pri­va­tized and the wel­fare and food sub­sidy pro­grams are all gone?

    Oh yeah. That’s right. More “asset cre­ation”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 6, 2015, 10:53 am
  7. “I would like to address the prob­lem frontally in the inter­est of the poor­est of the poor. For him land acqui­si­tion for indus­tries may be the pri­or­ity, for me it is home­steads for the home­less … poli­cies which accrue direct ben­e­fit for the poor rather than in the name of devel­op­ment tak­ing a cir­cuitous route to ben­e­fit the poor. Whether that hap­pens is so ques­tion­able – devel­op­ment for whom and at what cost?”

    Uh uh. It’s sounds like some of Modi’s non-billionaire coali­tion part­ners are hav­ing a long-overdue exis­ten­tial cri­sis:

    The Tele­graph
    Naren­dra Modi set to suf­fer first par­lia­men­tary defeat — and his own sup­port­ers are delighted
    Indian prime minister’s Land Acqui­si­tion bill to make it eas­ier for big com­pa­nies to buy plots from poor farm­ers has angered senior lead­ers of the Hindu nation­al­ist organ­i­sa­tion regarded as the back­bone of Modi’s own Bharatiya Janata Party

    By Dean Nel­son, New Delhi

    11:31AM GMT 14 Mar 2015

    Naren­dra Modi, India’s most pow­er­ful prime min­is­ter in a quar­ter of a cen­tury, is set to suf­fer his first par­lia­men­tary defeat today and some of his own sup­port­ers will be lead­ing the celebrations.

    His Land Acqui­si­tion bill to make it eas­ier for big com­pa­nies to buy plots from poor farm­ers has angered senior lead­ers of the Hindu nation­al­ist organ­i­sa­tion regarded as the back­bone of his own Bharatiya Janata Party, the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh [RSS].

    The RSS, a con­tro­ver­sial group which pro­motes India as a Hindu soci­ety and has been accused of pro­vok­ing anti-Muslim riots and mur­der­ing Chris­tians, played a sig­nif­i­cant cam­paign­ing role in Mr Modi’s land­slide vic­tory in last year’s gen­eral elec­tion and expected it would have great influ­ence on his new government.

    Mr Modi began his polit­i­cal edu­ca­tion with the RSS, also known as Sangh Pari­var, when he was eight. He attended its ral­lies in Gujarat, wore its trade mark baggy khaki shorts and black cap uni­form and even­tu­ally became a full-time organ­iser before he was sec­onded to the BJP in 1985.

    His cre­den­tials as a Hindu nation­al­ist have never been doubted – part of his pop­u­lar­ity was based on his tough rep­u­ta­tion. His fail­ure to stop the 2002 Gujarat riots saw more than a thou­sand, mostly Mus­lims, mas­sa­cred on his watch as chief minister.

    But his close rela­tion­ship with some of India’s rich­est bil­lion­aires has stirred resent­ment within the ranks. RSS mem­bers fear that he is too “pro-corporate” and will “sell out” tra­di­tional nation­al­ist con­stituen­cies, like farm­ers and small shop­keep­ers in favour of for­eign investors. At his swear­ing in cer­e­mony last sum­mer, lead­ing tycoons like Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Gau­tam Adani, and Shashi and Prashant Ruia of the Essar Group were given pride of place..

    The ‘Modi-wave’ which swept the BJP to its land­slide vic­tory last sum­mer was pow­ered by the pop­u­lar belief that he would revive India’s flag­ging econ­omy and put devel­op­ment first. Since then he has launched his ‘Make in India’ cam­paign to per­suade for­eign investors to build fac­to­ries and cre­ate new jobs. Mak­ing it eas­ier for them and other com­pa­nies to acquire land for infra­struc­ture and man­u­fac­tur­ing plants is a key part of his plan.

    But it has tipped many RSS fig­ures into open revolt and pushed them into a pow­er­ful coali­tion of oppo­si­tion figures. These include Anna Haz­are, the Gand­hian leader whose anti-corruption cru­sade shook the pre­vi­ous Con­gress gov­ern­ment, Arvind Kejri­wal, whose Aam Admi (Com­mon Man) Party humil­i­ated Mr Modi’s BJP in the Delhi state elec­tions last month, and the gov­ern­ments of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

    The involve­ment of RSS fig­ures in the anti-bill alliance has alarmed Mr Modi’s gov­ern­ment and forced a series of con­ces­sions. But their crit­i­cism extends beyond his mea­sures to make land acqui­si­tion reforms. Some are begin­ning to ques­tion whether he really was the founder of the impres­sive eco­nomic growth Gujarat enjoyed dur­ing his time as chief min­is­ter of the state, as he has claimed.

    K.N. Govin­dacharya, one of the lead­ing RSS dis­si­dents who has known Mr Modi since 1972, said their dif­fer­ences with the prime min­is­ter run deep: Mr Modi believes in “trickle-down the­ory” in which major cor­po­rates will build infra­struc­ture and the poor will get jobs and bet­ter wages, while his RSS crit­ics oppose any mea­sures which drive farm­ers and small­hold­ers from their land.

    He told the Tele­graph: “I would like to address the prob­lem frontally in the inter­est of the poor­est of the poor. For him land acqui­si­tion for indus­tries may be the pri­or­ity, for me it is home­steads for the home­less … poli­cies which accrue direct ben­e­fit for the poor rather than in the name of devel­op­ment tak­ing a cir­cuitous route to ben­e­fit the poor. Whether that hap­pens is so ques­tion­able – devel­op­ment for whom and at what cost?”

    Pow­er­ful busi­ness fam­i­lies like the Tatas, Amba­nis and Ada­nis had “pro­gressed beyond all pro­por­tions”, he added, but “not those who rear cows and goats. There is dis­par­ity, inequal­ity and the con­sumerism that’s preva­lent, it’s not inclusive.”

    His crit­i­cism reveals a Gand­hian social­ist and envi­ron­men­tal­ist strain within one of Hindu nationalism’s most feared groups. Accord­ing to K.N Govin­dacharya, who was once the BJP’s lead­ing eco­nomic thinker, it reflects the RSS’s duty of care for the “emo­tional wel­fare of the entirety of the Indian population”.

    Their “dis­ap­point­ment and resent­ment” was voiced by the RSS farm­ers group, the Bharati Kisan Sangh, and its trade union group after last month’s bud­get in which the gov­ern­ment claimed India would over­take China next year to become the world’s fastest-growing econ­omy. There was resent­ment too at the government’s focus on attract­ing for­eign direct invest­ment while neglect­ing its envi­ron­ment. “The deple­tion of the cat­tle stock, water lev­els are going deeper and deeper, for­est cover is being erad­i­cated faster”, he said.

    The RSS’s ‘Hin­dutva’ creed of pro­mot­ing Hindu cul­ture is not a sec­tar­ian cause but “a uni­ver­sal­ist mes­sage of human­ity and egal­i­tar­i­an­ism”, he said.

    ...

    After the eupho­ria of his land­slide elec­tion vic­tory, India’s most pow­er­ful prime min­is­ter in decades has dis­cov­ered his strongest oppo­si­tion is among his own Hindu nation­al­ist supporters.

    While it’s never really a great sign to sud­denly real­ize that the guy you elected to fix the econ­omy is really just plan­ning on rig­ging it in favor of the bil­lion­aires, you gotta give credit where credit’s due: at least some of India’s con­ser­v­a­tives are expe­ri­enc­ing an exis­ten­tial cri­sis about Modi at all. Bet­ter late than never. It could be worse!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 16, 2015, 5:23 pm
  8. The ‘bad old days’ are back by demand. Or, rather, will be back after the the Modi gov­ern­ment demands a pro-child labor amend­ment to the Child Labour Pro­hi­bi­tion Act:

    Quartz
    The Modi gov­ern­ment is send­ing mil­lions of kids back into exploita­tive labour

    Writ­ten by
    Rashme Seh­gal, Scroll.in
    May 4, 2015

    An amend­ment to the Child Labour Pro­hi­bi­tion Act pro­posed by the Naren­dra Modi-led gov­ern­ment is about to undo years of hard-won progress in the area of child labour—and con­demn mil­lions of kids to exploita­tive employment.

    The amend­ment will allow chil­dren below the age of 14 to work in “fam­ily enter­prises”—a euphemism for indus­tries such as carpet-weaving, beedi–rolling, gem-polishing, lock-making and matchbox-making. The new norms will also apply to the enter­tain­ment indus­try and sports.

    The amend­ment flies in the face of the Right to Edu­ca­tion Act (RTE), 2009, which guar­an­tees edu­ca­tion to every child. After the RTE came in, child labour dropped from 12.6 mil­lion in 2001 to 4.3 mil­lion in 2014. The amend­ment will undo much of that progress. It will also be a seri­ous set­back to all the work done by activists, such as Swami Agnivesh and Nobel lau­re­ate Kailash Sat­yarthi, to res­cue chil­dren from bonded labour and exploitation.

    Mirzapur-based Shamshad Khan, pres­i­dent of the Cen­tre for Rural Edu­ca­tion and Devel­op­ment Action, calls the move “retrogressive.”

    “All our cam­paigns to end bonded child labour, start­ing from the eight­ies, will go up in smoke,” Khan said. “Schools will be emp­tied out, and poor chil­dren in states like Bihar, Jhark­hand and Uttar Pradesh will be back to work­ing in sheds and makeshift fac­to­ries that will all go by the nomen­cla­ture of ‘fam­ily enter­prises.’ The worst-hit will be the chil­dren of Dal­its, Mus­lims, tribal fam­i­lies and those belong­ing to mar­gin­alised communities.”

    The amend­ment can also be used to deny edu­ca­tion to the girl child, who will be sucked into all forms of house­work. Accord­ing to gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics, male lit­er­acy lev­els in 2014 stood at about 82%, while female lit­er­acy lev­els were as low as 64%. The school drop-out rate for girls is almost dou­ble the rate for boys.

    An uncon­sti­tu­tional change

    Ban­daru Dat­ta­treya, India’s min­is­ter of labour and employ­ment, announced in early April that the gov­ern­ment planned to intro­duce amend­ments to the Child Labour Pro­hi­bi­tion Act in the cur­rent ses­sion of Parliament.

    His min­istry, while seek­ing the amend­ments, said the Act will not apply to chil­dren help­ing fam­i­lies in home-based work, and espe­cially fam­i­lies work­ing in agri­cul­ture and animal-rearing. The objec­tive of these amend­ments, accord­ing to min­istry offi­cials, is to help chil­dren nur­ture a spirit of entre­pre­neur­ship. They will par­tic­u­larly help chil­dren of fam­i­lies cur­rently liv­ing at sub­sis­tence lev­els, the min­istry claims.

    Child rights activists say the move will ben­e­fit fac­tory own­ers in India’s cow belt. Their prof­its will esca­late four­fold as chil­dren could be made to work longer hours and paid less than adults.

    ...

    Enakshi Gan­guly Thukral of HAQ Cen­tre for Child Rights believes this is an attempt by the Modi gov­ern­ment to ensure a size­able chunk of the pop­u­la­tion remains in the infor­mal sec­tor, deprived of min­i­mum wages and social security.

    “The gov­ern­ment is not in a posi­tion to pro­vide jobs for mil­lions of young peo­ple,” said Thukral. “Such a ret­ro­grade step will help ensure mil­lions of kids remain illit­er­ate and, there­fore, unemployable.”

    Bad old days again

    Major cut­backs in the 2015 bud­get in the areas of health, women and chil­dren, and edu­ca­tion will fur­ther com­pound this prob­lem. Thukral said labour offi­cials are already guilty of under-reporting child labour. “But once child labour is per­mit­ted under one guise or the other, then even a min­i­mum [level] of account­abil­ity will cease to exist,” she said.

    Labour offi­cials at the dis­trict level are empow­ered to file cases against employ­ers hir­ing chil­dren but few employ­ers are ever con­victed. Sta­tis­tics from the labour min­istry for 2004–2014 show that there have been 1,168 con­vic­tions for chil­dren employed in haz­ardous indus­tries with about Rs83 lakh col­lected in fines. This money has been des­ig­nated for the reha­bil­i­ta­tion and wel­fare of child labour. How­ever, in this period, only Rs5 lakh was dis­bursed from this fund.

    Khan recalls the period before the RTE Act, when dalals (touts) openly knocked on the doors of rich seths (mer­chants or busi­ness­men) to sell traf­ficked children.

    “In the eight­ies, kids were being paid a daily wage of as lit­tle as Rs4 per day,” he said. “We kept up pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment, insist­ing that all out-of-school kids be cat­e­gorised as child labour. This open traf­fick­ing of kids declined sharply with the RTE Act. If the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) suc­ceeds in intro­duc­ing such a dan­ger­ous amend­ment, we will be back to those old days.”

    Yes, you read that right:

    ...
    Ban­daru Dat­ta­treya, India’s min­is­ter of labour and employ­ment, announced in early April that the gov­ern­ment planned to intro­duce amend­ments to the Child Labour Pro­hi­bi­tion Act in the cur­rent ses­sion of Parliament.

    His min­istry, while seek­ing the amend­ments, said the Act will not apply to chil­dren help­ing fam­i­lies in home-based work, and espe­cially fam­i­lies work­ing in agri­cul­ture and animal-rearing. The objec­tive of these amend­ments, accord­ing to min­istry offi­cials, is to help chil­dren nur­ture a spirit of entre­pre­neur­ship. They will par­tic­u­larly help chil­dren of fam­i­lies cur­rently liv­ing at sub­sis­tence lev­els, the min­istry claims.
    ...

    Yep, all these child labor­ers are just being nur­tured in “a spirit of entre­pre­neur­ship” in their “fam­ily enter­prises”. Pre­sum­ably, when they grow up they’ll be able to apply all of those invalu­able skills they learn in the fac­to­ries (instead of what­ever they learned in school) and...start their own child-laboring enter­prises! In other words, per­pet­u­at­ing the child-labor pyra­mid scheme is prob­a­bly the best case sce­nario for these kids. Imag­ine that.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 4, 2015, 11:15 am
  9. “The mar­ket” wants the unions busted in India and eas­ier employee fir­ings or it just might take its ball and go home. At least, that’s the Modi government’s sales pitch for the new labor laws that will bust unions and make it eas­ier to fire peo­ple:

    Reuters
    Modi to launch India’s biggest labour over­haul in decades

    NEW DELHI | By Rajesh Kumar Singh
    Tue Jun 9, 2015 7:06am EDT

    Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is prepar­ing to launch India’s biggest over­haul of labour laws since inde­pen­dence in a bid to cre­ate mil­lions of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, at the risk of stir­ring up a polit­i­cal back­lash that could block other crit­i­cal reforms.

    Three offi­cials at the fed­eral labour min­istry told Reuters that the min­istry was draft­ing a bill for the upcom­ing par­lia­men­tary ses­sion that pro­poses to loosen strict hire-and-fire rules and make it tougher for work­ers to form unions.

    The changes, if approved by par­lia­ment, will be the biggest eco­nomic reform since India opened its econ­omy in 1991, but it is likely to meet stiff oppo­si­tion in par­lia­ment and from labour activists.

    The Indian leader enjoys a major­ity in the lower house of par­lia­ment, but not the upper, hob­bling his abil­ity to pass polit­i­cally con­tentious measures.

    That hand­i­cap has stymied his efforts to make it eas­ier for busi­nesses to buy farm­land and con­vert Asia’s third-largest econ­omy into a com­mon market.

    Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief econ­o­mist at IHS Global Insight, said Modi had lit­tle option but to push ahead with the measures.

    “With­out these reforms, the econ­omy would stag­nate, and frus­trated investors would look else­where,” he said.

    “You can­not make polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion an excuse for not tak­ing tough decisions.”

    Since tak­ing office in May last year, Modi has taken a series of incre­men­tal steps to make labour laws less oner­ous for busi­nesses, but fear of a union-led polit­i­cal back­lash made him leave the respon­si­bil­ity for unshack­ling the labour mar­ket with Indian states.

    He let his party’s gov­ern­ments in Rajasthan and Mad­hya Pradesh take the lead in this area.

    Encour­aged by a suc­cess­ful and peace­ful imple­men­ta­tion of the mea­sures in those states, the fed­eral labour min­istry now intends to repli­cate them at the national level, one of the min­istry offi­cials said.

    Man­ish Sab­har­wal, one of the brains behind Rajasthan’s labour reforms and co-founder of recruit­ment firm Team­lease, said the fed­eral admin­is­tra­tion would have been bet­ter off with­out attempt­ing these changes.

    “Let states carry out these changes and save your polit­i­cal energy for other pol­icy reforms,” he said.

    EASIER FIRING

    As part of the pro­posed revamp, a fac­tory employ­ing fewer than 300 work­ers would be allowed to lay off work­ers with­out gov­ern­ment per­mis­sion. Cur­rently, fac­to­ries employ­ing 100 work­ers or more need approval for layoffs.

    But they will have to pay three times the cur­rent sev­er­ance pack­age, the labour min­istry offi­cials said.

    Com­pa­nies have long been demand­ing an increase in the ceil­ing as gov­ern­ments rarely grant such per­mis­sions for lay­offs, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to respond to busi­ness down­turns and encour­ag­ing them to stay small.

    “It will facil­i­tate ease of doing busi­ness while ensur­ing safety, health and social secu­rity of every worker,” a senior labour min­istry offi­cial involved in the delib­er­a­tions said.

    The offi­cial said the bill was expected to be finalised in the next three or four weeks, and would then be sent to cab­i­net for approval.

    The planned changes would also make it tougher for employ­ees to form unions or go on strike, but would make all employ­ees eli­gi­ble for min­i­mum wage.

    The World Bank says India has one of the most rigid labour mar­kets in the world. That in turn has been a drag on man­u­fac­tur­ing, which accounts for only 16 per­cent of India’s $2 tril­lion econ­omy, com­pared with 32 per­cent of China’s.

    Some 84 per­cent of India’s man­u­fac­tur­ers employed fewer than 50 work­ers in 2009, com­pared with 25 per­cent in China, accord­ing to a study pub­lished by con­sul­tancy firm McK­in­sey & Co. last year.

    Econ­o­mists cite cur­rent labour rules as the biggest con­straint on Modi’s “Make in India” ambi­tion to spur a man­u­fac­tur­ing boom cre­at­ing jobs for 200 mil­lion Indi­ans reach­ing work­ing age over the next two decades.

    Just 8 per­cent of man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ers in India are in for­mal employ­ment, the rest are short-term con­trac­tors who enjoy min­i­mal social secu­rity benefits.

    It will take deft polit­i­cal man­age­ment to ensure a speedy pas­sage for the bill.

    Oppo­si­tion par­ties have blocked Modi’s land bill in par­lia­ment, call­ing it “anti-farmer”. The labour reforms, which are being opposed by labour unions, could also end up being labelled as “pro-corporates”.

    ...

    Wow, those cur­rent labor laws sure sound harsh. Or, at least, they would (not really) if they were applied to more than a frac­tion of workers:

    ...
    As part of the pro­posed revamp, a fac­tory employ­ing fewer than 300 work­ers would be allowed to lay off work­ers with­out gov­ern­ment per­mis­sion. Cur­rently, fac­to­ries employ­ing 100 work­ers or more need approval for lay­offs.

    ...

    Some 84 per­cent of India’s man­u­fac­tur­ers employed fewer than 50 work­ers in 2009, com­pared with 25 per­cent in China, accord­ing to a study pub­lished by con­sul­tancy firm McK­in­sey & Co. last year.

    Econ­o­mists cite cur­rent labour rules as the biggest con­straint on Modi’s “Make in India” ambi­tion to spur a man­u­fac­tur­ing boom cre­at­ing jobs for 200 mil­lion Indi­ans reach­ing work­ing age over the next two decades.

    Just 8 per­cent of man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ers in India are in for­mal employ­ment, the rest are short-term con­trac­tors who enjoy min­i­mal social secu­rity benefits.

    ...

    Yes, a whole 8 per­cent of India’s man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ers have a for­mal employ­ment con­tract and 84 per­cent of India’s man­u­fac­tur­ers were already small enough to avoid request­ing the gov­ern­ment per­mis­sion to lay off workers.

    What­ever will India’s man­u­fac­tur­ers do with­out those union-busting reforms? Well, they could try con­sult­ing some dif­fer­ent econ­o­mists about the best types of reforms. That would prob­a­bly be for the best. Espe­cially since the guy that’s appar­ently brains behind this plan, Man­ish Sab­har­wal, owns a com­pany that sup­plies con­tract work­ers for com­pa­nies that want to skirt India’s labor laws:

    The New York Times
    Out­sourc­ing Giant Finds It Must Be Client, Too

    By VIKAS BAJAJ
    NOV. 30, 2011

    NEW DELHI — Every three months, India’s prime min­is­ter, Man­mo­han Singh, meets with a spe­cial panel assigned the ambi­tious task of fig­ur­ing out how to pro­duce 500 mil­lion skilled work­ers over the next two decades.

    The panel is a cross sec­tion of India’s power elite, includ­ing many of the usual fig­ures like the edu­ca­tion min­is­ter, the finance min­is­ter and the for­mer chief exec­u­tive of the country’s biggest soft­ware out­sourc­ing com­pany. Then there is a more curi­ous choice: Man­ish Sabharwal.

    Mr. Sab­har­wal runs Team­Lease, a Bangalore-based agency that has cre­ated thou­sands of jobs by field­ing tem­po­rary work­ers for com­pa­nies in India that want to expand their work force while skirt­ing India’s strin­gent labor laws, which busi­nesses say dis­cour­age the hir­ing of per­ma­nent employ­ees. Many labor lead­ers and left-leaning politi­cians accuse him of run­ning the nation’s largest ille­gal business.

    “We should not exist,” Mr. Sab­har­wal, a 40-year-old grad­u­ate of the Whar­ton School of the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, said about his com­pany, which has 60,000 employ­ees. “The genius of India is to allow us to exist.”

    What Mr. Sab­har­wal calls “genius” oth­ers would call dys­func­tion, or at the very least, an elab­o­rate workaround, or tem­po­rary fix.

    India is known the world over as a prime inno­va­tor of out­sourc­ing for for­eign com­pa­nies, which take advan­tage of its cheap, English-speaking labor force. Less well known is the extent to which Indian com­pa­nies out­source their own jobs within their own country.

    Walk into any of India’s shin­ing new shop­ping malls that sell expen­sive brands, like Gucci and Satya Paul, and many of the store clerks, jan­i­tors and secu­rity guards will be on the pay­rolls of out­sourc­ing com­pa­nies, not those of the own­ers of the mall or stores in it, exec­u­tives say.

    The prac­tice high­lights a fun­da­men­tal ten­sion between India’s social­ist past and a new free­wheel­ing, pri­vate sec­tor that is increas­ingly pow­er­ing the econ­omy while chaf­ing at what many com­pa­nies say are laws so pro­tec­tive of work­ers that they blunt hir­ing and sti­fle growth.

    Mr. Sab­har­wal pro­vides a back­door way around the old sys­tem in a man­ner that is not with­out con­tro­versy. He fills thou­sands of jobs at a cost that allows many com­pa­nies to con­tinue to func­tion, and even helps retrain India’s large pop­u­la­tion of young job seek­ers — half of Indi­ans are 25 or younger — who are under­e­d­u­cated and ill pre­pared to enter the labor force.

    In that highly com­pet­i­tive envi­ron­ment for jobs, Mr. Sab­har­wal sup­plies work­ers who are paid as lit­tle as half of what per­ma­nent employ­ees earn and who usu­ally receive few ben­e­fits. Though tech­ni­cally tem­po­rary, many of them keep their sta­tus at the same com­pa­nies for years. In India’s nascent indus­trial hubs near New Delhi, autowork­ers are increas­ingly protest­ing the use and treat­ment of the kind of con­tract work­ers Mr. Sab­har­wal sup­plies, who lack job security.

    But the rea­son Mr. Sab­har­wal has thrived, he and oth­ers say, is because India needs him. The nation’s com­plex web of fed­eral and state labor laws intended to pro­tect per­ma­nent work­ers are so oner­ous that few employ­ers want to hire them, they say.

    Those laws cover vir­tu­ally every aspect of employ­ment — how work­ers are hired, what they are paid, how many hours they can work and whether they can be fired. Fac­to­ries employ­ing 100 or more work­ers are not allowed to lay off employ­ees with­out the government’s permission.

    The laws are unevenly enforced, but many busi­nesses still con­sider them so cum­ber­some that they find it worth­while to have some­body else man­age the “com­pli­ance issues,” which is why Team­Lease also employs about 60 peo­ple in its reg­u­la­tory divi­sion who do so.

    “India, com­pared to even Euro­pean coun­tries, has more restric­tive labor laws,” said Sean Dougherty, a senior adviser at the Orga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Coop­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment who has stud­ied India’s labor market.

    Mr. Sab­har­wal has pro­vided a way around what many see as those daunt­ing obsta­cles to growth, at least for now. But even he argues that his workaround busi­ness model is not suf­fi­cient for India to bol­ster man­u­fac­tur­ing — still just 16 per­cent of the econ­omy — and to cre­ate new jobs for the 12 mil­lion peo­ple who enter the labor force every year.

    He is among the first to acknowl­edge that many work­ers suf­fer because the workaround model does not itself cre­ate enough good jobs. But it is offer­ing an oppor­tu­nity for growth where the old model does not.

    “For busi­ness, labor laws are a thorn in the side, not a dag­ger in the heart,” Mr. Sab­har­wal said. “Peo­ple who are hurt the most are peo­ple who need to get off farms, labor mar­ket out­siders, peo­ple from small towns, the less edu­cated, the less skilled.”

    ...

    Many employ­ers in India rely on con­tract hir­ing agen­cies like Team­Lease, though many are reluc­tant to say so pub­licly. Indeed, for­eign com­pa­nies that come to India often hire law firms and staffing agen­cies before hir­ing any­one else.

    Nearly one-quarter of India’s indus­trial labor­ers worked on con­tracts in 2007, up from just 16 per­cent in 2000, accord­ing to gov­ern­ment data. The share of tem­po­rary work­ers in India’s large ser­vices sec­tor is believed to be even higher, though the gov­ern­ment does not col­lect that data. Even gov­ern­ment agen­cies increas­ingly rely on tem­po­rary employees.

    Unlike in the United States, where tem­po­rary work­ers are rotated between job sites, in India con­tract work­ers often stay in some jobs for years. Arun Gour, 25, joined Whirlpool’s sales team as a con­tract worker about four years ago in Yamu­nana­gar, a town 120 miles north of New Delhi. After smash­ing sales records, he was pro­moted this year to a job at Whirlpool’s Indian head­quar­ters in Gur­gaon, a boom­ing city just south of New Delhi, where he col­lects and processes sales data from around the country.

    Mr. Gour makes about 18,000 rupees, or $345, a month, a good salary by Indian stan­dards, and he has access to a government-run retirement-savings plan and health insur­ance. He said he hoped one day to be pro­moted onto Whirlpool’s pay­roll so he could earn more money and receive bet­ter benefits.

    “I am very proud that I am pro­vid­ing for my fam­ily,” Mr. Gour said, speak­ing of his wife and mother, who still live in Yamu­nana­gar. “I have friends from col­lege who are look­ing for work. Some of them have master’s degrees and they are earn­ing 6,000 or 7,000 a month,” or about $115 to $134.

    A Flawed System

    Not every­one is as happy. About 30 miles south of New Delhi along the dusty high­way to Jaipur lies Mane­sar, one of India’s new indus­trial boom­towns. There, more than 100,000 work­ers — about 30 per­cent of them on con­tracts — toil in the fac­to­ries of Indian and multi­na­tional com­pa­nies like Maruti Suzuki, Video­con, Mit­subishi and Honda.

    While the fac­to­ries have been prof­itable and have pro­vided new jobs, both labor and man­age­ment are frus­trated. Work­ers com­plain about the expand­ing ranks of con­tract work­ers who are paid a frac­tion of what reg­u­lar employ­ees earn and receive few ben­e­fits, and they say that there are not enough jobs to begin with.

    Cor­po­rate exec­u­tives say that India’s restric­tive labor laws force them to hire and train con­tract work­ers who feel no loy­alty to them, and that find­ing skilled work­ers is difficult.

    ...

    In the mean­time, many econ­o­mists assert that India’s labor laws will con­tinue to restrict the country’s job growth, at least in the for­mal sec­tor. While that is bad news for India, it is a cir­cum­stance that con­tin­ues to allow Mr. Sabharwal’s busi­ness to thrive. Last year it grew by 10,000 employees.

    His com­pany had $160 mil­lion in rev­enue last year and is grow­ing about 20 per­cent a year, exec­u­tives said. Last year, it acquired the Indian Insti­tute of Job Train­ing, which runs 120 cen­ters that pro­vide courses in Eng­lish, book­keep­ing, com­puter appli­ca­tions and other sub­jects. Team­Lease also plans to build 22 com­mu­nity col­leges in the west­ern state of Gujarat.

    Mr. Sab­har­wal said his busi­ness could grow even faster if the gov­ern­ment changed the labor laws because that would cre­ate more jobs and increase demand for job train­ing. But he is not let­ting gov­ern­ment inac­tion hold him back.

    “If you wait for all the lights to be green in India,” he said, “you will never leave home.”

    Well, now that Mr. Sabharwal’s pro­posal is com­ing to fruition, we’ll find out if bust­ing unions and mak­ing it eas­ier to fire peo­ple some­how results in more for­mally employed work­ers. Espe­cially since, as the arti­cle pointed out, the con­tract work­ers his com­pany pro­vides tend to get half the pay of their for­mally employed coun­ter­parts and no ben­e­fits. A race to the bot­tom lift all boats, after all. Really!

    And regard­ing the desire to catch up with China, with an econ­omy that’s 32 per­cent man­u­fac­tur­ing instead of 16 per­cent in India, let’s just say that, in terms of real­is­ti­cally catch­ing up to China in the man­u­fac­tur­ing arena, labor poli­cies prob­a­bly aren’t going to be the major issue.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 9, 2015, 5:53 pm
  10. Related to the pro­posed over­haul of India’s labor laws to fos­ter eas­ier firings/union bust­ing, note the new changes to India’s bank­ruptcy laws: cred­i­tors are going to get to appoint their own man­age­ment teams for a “stressed” com­pany and do what­ever is deemed nec­es­sary to get the com­pany back into prof­itabil­ity:

    Bloomberg Busi­ness
    Rajan Seeks to Deter Indian Default­ers as Fitch Sees Challenges

    June 9, 2015 — 1:29 AM CDT

    As India’s cen­tral bank rewrites rules to help lenders recover loans from default­ing com­pa­nies, the local unit of Fitch Rat­ings Ltd. said the move is fraught with chal­lenges while bankers wel­comed the measure.

    Under new rules released by the Reserve Bank of India late Mon­day, lenders will be allowed to con­vert loans into equity and take a con­trol­ling stake in a stressed com­pany under a so-called strate­gic debt restruc­tur­ing plan. The banks will also be allowed to bring in man­age­ment of their choice to make the com­pany profitable.

    RBI Gov­er­nor Raghu­ram Rajan is seek­ing ways to clean up lenders’ bal­ance sheets as stressed assets, set to surge to the high­est level since 2002, threaten to derail an eco­nomic recov­ery. Four of India’s five biggest banks reported an increase in bad loans for the year ended March as pol­icy mak­ers’ efforts to boost invest­ment and growth have yet to bear fruit.

    “In the cur­rent sce­nario, this may be too lit­tle and a bit late,” said Deep Narayan Mukher­jee, a senior direc­tor at Fitch’s India Rat­ings and Research Pvt. “Even if the lenders take over the entire equity of the stressed com­pa­nies, on aver­age its value will be only about an eighth of the out­stand­ing debt. So recov­ery through con­vert­ing debt into equity may be limited.”

    Credit Growth

    Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is count­ing on a revival in credit to accel­er­ate growth in Asia’s third-largest econ­omy after the RBI cut its bench­mark inter­est rate three times this year. Lend­ing increased 10.2 per­cent in the 12 months through May 15, RBI data show, rebound­ing from February’s 8.88 per­cent, which was the slow­est pace since 1994.

    Bankers said the RBI’s new rules may pro­vide them a bet­ter chance of recov­er­ing debt.

    “These rules will be a deter­rent for errant com­pa­nies con­sid­er­ing default,” said M.S. Ragha­van, chair­man and man­ag­ing direc­tor of state-run IDBI Bank Ltd.

    Prof­itabil­ity, mea­sured by the return on assets in the bank­ing sys­tem, fell to 0.81 per­cent in the year ended March 2014, the low­est since at least 2007, RBI data show. The increase in stressed assets and slow­ing loan growth may fur­ther erode lenders’ earn­ings power, accord­ing to Fitch.

    “This is another avenue for enabling recov­ery of stressed assets,” said Pradeep Kumar, man­ag­ing direc­tor at State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender by assets. “This strength­ens our hands in efforts to recover bad loans.”

    The lender is focused on improv­ing the asset qual­ity in com­ing quar­ters, Kumar said. State Bank of India nar­rowed its gross bad-loans ratio to 4.25 per­cent as of March 31 from 4.9 per­cent reported in Decem­ber, exchange fil­ings showed.

    ...

    “It may not always be prac­ti­cal for the banks to replace man­age­ment of a com­pany and then to over­see the new set of con­sul­tants or turn around spe­cial­ists who may try to run the com­pany,” Mukher­jee said. “There are many oper­a­tional chal­lenges in imple­ment­ing this new debt con­ver­sion scheme.”

    Well, this is prob­a­bly going to be more effec­tive at enabling the recov­ery of bad debts than the cur­rent sys­tem, but it’s not really clear that hand­ing over more cor­po­rate con­trol to the bankers is going to be a good thing given the new laws designed to facil­i­tate mass firings.

    And now that India is has made tak­ing over an Indian com­pany eas­ier than ever it’s going to be very inter­est­ing to see how much for­eign inter­est there is in lend­ing to India. Espe­cially if India’s cen­tral bank allows Indian com­pany to engage in unlim­ited bor­row­ing from for­eign lenders like the gov­ern­ment wants:

    mydigitalfc.com
    Fin­Min, RBI not for lift­ing lim­its on for­eign loans

    By Mukesh Jagota
    Jun 10 2015 , New Delhi

    No taker for Sahoo pro­posal; govt may allow more options

    The rec­om­men­da­tion of a government-appointed panel to remove all lim­its on how much a com­pany can bor­row over­seas. is likely to be junked due to fears that it might lead to bal­loon­ing of exter­nal debt and pose risks to the econ­omy going forward.

    The gov­ern­ment and the Reserve Bank of India are not com­fort­able with any­thing that can lead to a major increase in the over­all vol­ume of exter­nal debt, but some rec­om­men­da­tions of the com­mit­tee on eas­ing the pro­ce­dures could be accepted, a per­son in the know of the devel­op­ments said.

    India’s exter­nal debt at the end of Decem­ber 2014 stood at $461.9 bil­lion, or 23.2 per cent of gross domes­tic prod­uct. Exter­nal com­mer­cial bor­row­ings accounted for 37 per cent of it, at $170 bil­lion. Annu­ally Indian com­pa­nies raise loans of around $30 bil­lion abroad.

    High for­eign cur­rency debt can pose a risk to the econ­omy if at any point enough inter­na­tional cur­rency is not avail­able to meet the oblig­a­tions of inter­est and loan repayment.

    In the report put in the pub­lic domain for com­ments in April, the panel headed by M S Sahoo, sec­re­tary of Insti­tute of Com­pany Sec­re­taries of India, had pro­posed that all restric­tions on for­eign bor­row­ings, includ­ing the lim­its up to which com­pa­nies can bor­row in a year, should be done away with.

    At present com­pa­nies are allowed to raise over­seas loans up to of $750 mil­lion annu­ally through the auto­matic route. For com­pa­nies in the ser­vices sec­tor, the limit is $200 million.

    The Sahoo com­mit­tee has pre­sented many ideas to ease the pro­ce­dures for bor­row­ing that might go through, an offi­cial said. These include allow­ing of loans from more sources than per­mit­ted at present and expand­ing the list of sec­tors eli­gi­ble for such loans.

    While acknowl­edg­ing the sys­tem­atic risk that high bor­row­ing can entail, the com­mit­tee has only offered a way to shield com­pa­nies from adverse cur­rency move­ments by rec­om­mend­ing that all such loans should be hedged.

    How much of the debt should be com­pul­so­rily hedged has been left to RBI and the gov­ern­ment to decide. “Pub­lic com­ments on the report have come. Now dis­cus­sions will start between the Reserve Bank of India and finance min­istry over the next few weeks on how to move ahead on the rec­om­men­da­tions,” an offi­cial said.The limit for vol­un­tary agen­cies in the micro­fi­nance sec­tor and micro­fi­nance insti­tu­tions has been set at $10 million.

    Banks and finan­cial insti­tu­tions are not allowed to raise money through ECB via the auto­matic route. They need per­mis­sion from RBI to do so. Apart from doing away with the lim­its, the Sahoo com­mit­tee had said all com­pa­nies should be allowed to bor­row over­seas and there should be no restric­tion on where they can deploy that money and how much inter­est they can pay on such loans.

    ...

    Oh boy:

    ...
    While acknowl­edg­ing the sys­tem­atic risk that high bor­row­ing can entail, the com­mit­tee has only offered a way to shield com­pa­nies from adverse cur­rency move­ments by rec­om­mend­ing that all such loans should be hedged.

    How much of the debt should be com­pul­so­rily hedged has been left to RBI and the gov­ern­ment to decide. “Pub­lic com­ments on the report have come. Now dis­cus­sions will start between the Reserve Bank of India and finance min­istry over the next few weeks on how to move ahead on the rec­om­men­da­tions,” an offi­cial said.The limit for vol­un­tary agen­cies in the micro­fi­nance sec­tor and micro­fi­nance insti­tu­tions has been set at $10 million.

    Banks and finan­cial insti­tu­tions are not allowed to raise money through ECB via the auto­matic route. They need per­mis­sion from RBI to do so. Apart from doing away with the lim­its, the Sahoo com­mit­tee had said all com­pa­nies should be allowed to bor­row over­seas and there should be no restric­tion on where they can deploy that money and how much inter­est they can pay on such loans.
    ...

    Yes, the Modi gov­ern­ment is rec­om­mend­ing that India com­pa­nies be allowed to bor­row from any­one in the world, at any inter­est rate, for any pur­pose, and appar­ently in any for­eign cur­rency. And if the loan goes bad (or the rupee just drops a lot rel­a­tive to the bor­rowed cur­rency), those for­eign lenders get to take over management!

    So it’s def­i­nitely look­ing like a wave of for­eign takeovers could be in store for India’s econ­omy if the government’s pro­posed for­eign lend­ing changes are even­tu­ally put into place. And since the pro­posed rules would allow India’s com­pa­nies to spend those loans on appar­ently any­thing, it’s going to be very inter­est­ing to see how many of those loans to India’s com­pa­nies end up get­ting spent in India.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 10, 2015, 5:31 pm

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