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

18 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
  11. Naren­dra Modi recent­ly ‘dropped the masked’ some­what regard­ing his ties to the RSS dur­ing a recent meet­ing between Modi and his cab­i­net and the RSS boss­es where his gov­ern­ment was ‘reviewed’. As far as mask-drop­ping goes, it was­n’t exact­ly a rev­e­la­tion to find out that the RSS calls the shots in the Modi gov­ern­ment. What was rather sur­pris­ing, how­ev­er, was the par­tic­u­lar shot the RSS appeared to be hint­ing at dur­ing media appear­ances fol­low­ing the meet­ing: Uni­fy­ing India and Pak­istan. And this is all hap­pen­ing at a time when India’s army chief tout­ed the Indi­an armed force’s readi­ness for a ‘swift, short war’ with Pak­istan.:

    Asia Times
    Modi blows his cov­er – and the loss is India’s

    By M.K. Bhadraku­mar on Sep­tem­ber 10, 2015

    India recent­ly wit­nessed a strange spec­ta­cle of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and his cab­i­net col­leagues sub­ject­ing them­selves to an intense scruti­ny by the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh or RSS, the Hin­du nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tion, regard­ing their ‘per­for­mance’ in office.

    Modi him­self used to be an activist of the RSS. But an elab­o­rate cha­rade was kept so far that Modi was in com­mand of the gov­ern­ment.

    The Indi­an media has since report­ed that the RSS even­tu­al­ly gave ‘thumbs up’ to the gov­ern­ment after Modi and his cab­i­net col­leagues trooped in to meet the RSS boss­es and tes­ti­fied at the hear­ing on their ‘schemes and achieve­ments’ in the gov­ern­ment.

    No Indi­an gov­ern­ment has ever been made to look so fool­ish and dif­fi­dent.

    Why the RSS decid­ed to sub­ject Modi and his cab­i­net to such a dress­ing down pub­licly is anybody’s guess. Per­haps, it was to project the RSS itself as god almighty in the Modi era. But then, it is an open secret that the Hin­du fun­da­men­tal­ist groups are call­ing the shots in the gov­ern­ment, pen­e­trat­ing all walks of nation­al life sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly and impos­ing their agen­da.

    The upshot of the RSS hear­ing is that Modi has blown his ‘cov­er’, which helped him so far as prime min­is­ter to cre­ate an impres­sion that he is a human­ist and a devout fol­low­er of Bud­dhism who viewed with dis­taste the excess­es com­mit­ted by the Hin­du zealots on the minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties in India such as the attacks on Chris­t­ian church­es.

    Under the Modi gov­ern­ment, inci­dents of com­mu­nal ten­sion involv­ing Hin­dus and Mus­lims have sharply increased, accord­ing to offi­cial sta­tis­tics. How­ev­er, observers have gen­er­ous­ly absolved the prime min­is­ter him­self of any respon­si­bil­i­ty in this regard, and are will­ing to sus­pend dis­be­lief. The ‘cov­er’ has now been blown.

    The fall­out of this on the India-Pak­istan rela­tion­ship can be seri­ous. Obvi­ous­ly, Modi can no longer main­tain with cred­i­bil­i­ty his stance that he seeks friend­ly rela­tions between India and Pak­istan.

    In fact, fol­low­ing the cross-exam­i­na­tion of the gov­ern­ment min­is­ters, the RSS spokes­men in their media brief­in­gs inter alia brought up the explo­sive doc­trine of ‘Akhand Bharat’ as the guid­ing prin­ci­ple for the Modi gov­ern­ment as regards the India-Pak­istan rela­tion­ship.

    Broad­ly, the RSS’s doc­trine is that the great Par­ti­tion of the sub­con­ti­nent in 1947, which led to the cre­ation of Pak­istan, was an aber­ra­tion that can still be got undone if only India worked toward such an objec­tive.

    Pak­istan has always had a lurk­ing sus­pi­cion that there is real­ly no day­light pos­si­ble between Modi and the RSS. What used to be a dark sus­pi­cion is now like­ly to become an arti­cle of faith. Pakistan’s advi­sor to the prime min­is­ter on nation­al secu­ri­ty Sar­taj Aziz (who is the de fac­to for­eign min­is­ter) has been quot­ed as say­ing Wednes­day that in Islamabad’s esti­ma­tion, the Modi gov­ern­ment won the 2014 par­lia­men­tary poll on the basis of ‘anti-Pak­istan plat­form’ and has been pur­su­ing the same pol­i­cy from ‘day one’.

    Aziz said, “They (Modi gov­ern­ment) want bet­ter ties, but on their own terms”.

    To be sure, the mutu­al rhetoric makes the prospect of a resump­tion of India-Pak­istan dia­logue a remote pos­si­bil­i­ty. And it should be a safe con­clu­sion that the India-Pak­istan nor­mal­iza­tion will remain elu­sive as long as the Modi gov­ern­ment remains in pow­er.

    Do the RSS big­wigs and their wards in the gov­ern­ment real­ize what colos­sal dam­age they are caus­ing to India’s nation­al inter­ests? The 31 per­cent vote share Modi man­aged to gar­ner in the poll last year to cre­ate India’s first ever RSS-run gov­ern­ment does not give these peo­ple the right to super­im­pose their sec­tar­i­an agen­da on the entire nation.

    India’s nation­al inter­est lies in cre­at­ing a peace­ful exter­nal envi­ron­ment in the imme­di­ate neigh­bor­hood that enables the coun­try to focus on the devel­op­ment chal­lenge through the nar­row cor­ri­dor of time of the next 15–20 years.

    Yet, what India is wit­ness­ing is a ratch­et­ing up of ten­sions in the rela­tions with Pak­istan. The past week alone began with India’s army chief Gen­er­al Dal­bir Singh shed­ding his fab­u­lous rep­u­ta­tion for being a strong silent sol­dier of dis­cre­tion and reserve – pre­sum­ably, on instruc­tions from the polit­i­cal lead­er­ship – to under­score the readi­ness of the armed forces to wage a ‘swift, short’ war with Pak­istan.

    It was an incred­i­bly tact­less state­ment to have been made in the present tense cli­mate of bilat­er­al ties with Pak­istan. Besides, the bril­liant gen­er­al should cer­tain­ly know that the only way he could ensure that a war with Pak­istan remained ‘swift’ and ‘short’ would be by nuk­ing that coun­try in the dead of the night.

    You don’t need a Clause­witz to explain that the ‘kinet­ics’ of war with Pak­istan (nuclear pow­er with big­ger arse­nal than India’s and with sec­ond-strike capa­bil­i­ty) will ulti­mate­ly depend on a vari­ety of fac­tors that are way beyond the con­trol of any­one in New Del­hi, civil­ian or mil­i­tary.

    Now, it is into this com­bustible mix of rhetoric that the RSS boss­es pre­sent­ed their stark reminder to Pak­istan that India has nev­er real­ly rec­on­ciled with the cre­ation of that coun­try in 1947.

    ...

    As for his Indi­an counterpart’s dire warn­ing, Gen. Sharif was plain­ly dis­mis­sive: “Armed forces of Pak­istan are ful­ly capa­ble to deal all types of inter­nal and exter­nal threats, may it be con­ven­tion­al or sub-con­ven­tion­al; whether it is cold start or hot start. We are ready!!”

    Are we hear­ing the beat­ing of drum pre­sag­ing the begin­ning of anoth­er bloody round of ‘low inten­si­ty war’ (read vicious cycle of cross-bor­der ter­ror­ism), which cost India heav­i­ly in human and mate­r­i­al trea­sure? Or, could it be that India and Pak­istan are inch­ing toward anoth­er full-fledged war? Time only can tell.

    Most cer­tain­ly, peo­ple in respon­si­ble posi­tion should be care­ful about what they say in pub­lic. What Gen. Dal­bir Singh said about ‘short, swift’ war was prob­a­bly fit for a closed-door meet­ing with the Direc­tor-Gen­er­al of Mil­i­tary Oper­a­tions at the Army Com­man­ders Con­fer­ence but not as the stuff of grand­stand­ing.

    Equal­ly, while the RSS boss­es may not be pub­lic offi­cials, they hap­pen to be extra-con­sti­tu­tion­al author­i­ties wield­ing more pow­er than many erst­while emper­ors in India’s medieval his­to­ry – and they tend to be tak­en seri­ous­ly. Sim­ply put, they should know that the notion of ‘Akhand Bharat’ has no place in the 21st cen­tu­ry world order.

    India is not pre­sent­ing a con­vinc­ing pic­ture as a respon­si­ble mem­ber of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty when the so-called movers and shak­ers in the coun­try behave like hol­low men.

    The point is, India is keen to secure a seat in the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil as a per­ma­nent mem­ber on the plea that it wants to con­tribute to inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty and world peace and devel­op­ment. Fun­ni­ly, yoga, which Modi has begun prop­a­gat­ing under the UN aus­pices for the good of the soul and body of mankind, is itself all about self-con­trol.

    And, yet, in its own region, India choos­es to pre­oc­cu­py itself with sly thoughts about wag­ing a ‘swift short’ war with its unfriend­ly neigh­bor and har­bors delu­sion­ary notions of doing away with a sov­er­eign inde­pen­dent nation that came into being 68 years ago.

    The Jekyll-and-Hyde split per­son­al­i­ty does not do good to India’s image. The coun­try would have been far bet­ter off if Modi hadn’t blown his ‘cov­er’ as a human­ist and a mod­ern­iz­er.

    And this is why the Dooms­day Clock is prob­a­bly run­ning a lit­tle behind at the moment:

    ...
    India’s nation­al inter­est lies in cre­at­ing a peace­ful exter­nal envi­ron­ment in the imme­di­ate neigh­bor­hood that enables the coun­try to focus on the devel­op­ment chal­lenge through the nar­row cor­ri­dor of time of the next 15–20 years.

    Yet, what India is wit­ness­ing is a ratch­et­ing up of ten­sions in the rela­tions with Pak­istan. The past week alone began with India’s army chief Gen­er­al Dal­bir Singh shed­ding his fab­u­lous rep­u­ta­tion for being a strong silent sol­dier of dis­cre­tion and reserve – pre­sum­ably, on instruc­tions from the polit­i­cal lead­er­ship – to under­score the readi­ness of the armed forces to wage a ‘swift, short’ war with Pak­istan.

    It was an incred­i­bly tact­less state­ment to have been made in the present tense cli­mate of bilat­er­al ties with Pak­istan. Besides, the bril­liant gen­er­al should cer­tain­ly know that the only way he could ensure that a war with Pak­istan remained ‘swift’ and ‘short’ would be by nuk­ing that coun­try in the dead of the night.

    You don’t need a Clause­witz to explain that the ‘kinet­ics’ of war with Pak­istan (nuclear pow­er with big­ger arse­nal than India’s and with sec­ond-strike capa­bil­i­ty) will ulti­mate­ly depend on a vari­ety of fac­tors that are way beyond the con­trol of any­one in New Del­hi, civil­ian or mil­i­tary.
    ...

    Tick...tick...tick...tick...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 17, 2015, 8:31 pm
  12. Check out out: Mod­i’s gov­ern­ment is set­ting up a new insti­tu­tion that will be tasked with round-the-clock mon­i­tor­ing of blogs, web por­tals of TV chan­nels and news­pa­pers, and social media plat­forms such as Face­book, Twit­ter, Insta­gram and YouTube, among oth­ers. All com­ments and threads will be ana­lyzed and his­to­ry, along with a psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­file, of each poster will be assessed for pos­si­ble sub­ver­sive­ness and rad­i­cal­ism. And when deemed nec­es­sary, counter-mes­sages will be insert­ed into the threads to quell a pos­si­ble snow­balling of neg­a­tive pub­lic opin­ion.

    How exact­ly this ini­tia­tive is sup­posed to quell the neg­a­tive opin­ions gen­er­at­ed by overt in-your-face Big Broth­er-tac­tics is unclear, but one thing is for sure: Thanks to the exis­tence of this pro­gram and the fact that it’s being done in a high­ly pub­lic man­ner, there’s going to be no short­age of online neg­a­tive opin­ion to quell:

    The Indi­an Express
    Now, govt cyber cell to counter ‘neg­a­tive’ news
    Every time a neg­a­tive nar­ra­tive sur­faces, a pos­si­ble counter would be ini­ti­at­ed — through press releas­es, brief­in­gs or press con­fer­ences, depend­ing on the inten­si­ty or stand­ing of the post,” said sources.

    Writ­ten by Ami­tav Ran­jan | New Del­hi | Updat­ed: Feb­ru­ary 23, 2016 6:43 am

    THE GOVERNMENT plans to set up a spe­cial media cell to track con­tent online, and counter news and com­ments that it decides are neg­a­tive or provoca­tive.

    Last month, the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil Sec­re­tari­at (NSCS) pro­posed that a Nation­al Media Ana­lyt­ics Cen­tre (NMAC) be cre­at­ed to keep mon­i­tor and analyse round-the-clock blogs, web por­tals of TV chan­nels and news­pa­pers, and social media plat­forms such as Face­book, Twit­ter, Insta­gram and YouTube, among oth­ers.

    “The gov­ern­ment will keep a watch on the nar­ra­tive in all such threads. Every time a neg­a­tive nar­ra­tive sur­faces, a pos­si­ble counter would be ini­ti­at­ed — through press releas­es, brief­in­gs or press con­fer­ences, depend­ing on the inten­si­ty or stand­ing of the post,” said sources.

    Last August, the gov­ern­ment had direct­ed all min­istries to set up quick response teams — com­pris­ing senior min­istry offi­cials, nodal offi­cers from the Press Infor­ma­tion Bureau and inde­pen­dent experts — to defend its case in the face of neg­a­tive news.

    Sources said that the NMAC pro­pos­al is based on track­ing soft­ware designed by Pon­nu­rangam Kumaragu­ru, an Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor at Del­hi-based Indraprastha Insti­tute of Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­o­gy.

    The soft­ware will gen­er­ate rel­e­vant tags to high­light “bel­liger­ent” com­ments or social media chats, they added.
    At a deep­er lev­el, the soft­ware would comb posts and com­ments to clas­si­fy them into neg­a­tive, neu­tral and pos­i­tive cat­e­gories while high­light­ing rel­e­vant text, sources said. It will also show up if the neg­a­tive post­ing was fac­tu­al­ly cor­rect or “an inten­tion­al canard”, they said.

    “The soft­ware would also help recall the past pat­tern of the writer to check the num­ber of times he took a neg­a­tive or pos­i­tive stand, his back­ground, and pref­er­ences of web­sites and areas of inter­est to judge whether they were aimed at foment­ing trou­ble or rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion,” said sources.

    They said the objec­tive is to come up with “instant coun­ters” on social media to plug resent­ment trig­gered by news items so that per­son­al opin­ions do not snow­ball into pub­lic protests and threat­en law and order.

    The feed­back on covert or overt posts would be passed on to secu­ri­ty agen­cies or high­er author­i­ties for pos­si­ble inter­ven­tion, they said.

    The NMAC pro­pos­al sug­gests an inter-min­is­te­r­i­al com­mit­tee of offi­cials from NSCS and the Home, I&B and Exter­nal Affairs min­istries for analy­sis, coor­di­na­tion, infor­ma­tion dis­sem­i­na­tion and feed­back on pub­lic per­cep­tion and nation­al secu­ri­ty.

    The NMAC would be the third obser­va­tion post for the NDA gov­ern­ment after the New Media Wing, the online eyes and ears pro­vid­ing dai­ly reports on the world of social media, and the Elec­tron­ic Media Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­tre (EMMC) that mon­i­tor 600-plus chan­nels round the clock.

    As report­ed by The Indi­an Express on August 29, the 200 con­tent audi­tors at EMMC sends hourly reports and text mes­sages of news break­ing on any chan­nel to top bureau­crats includ­ing the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary to the Prime Min­is­ter, the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor and the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary.

    The New Media Wing trawls web­sites, includ­ing micro blogs, as well as traf­fic relat­ing to news breaks on the social media sites to pick up gov­ern­ment rel­e­vant trends. It then under­takes a “sen­ti­ment analy­sis” to gauge pub­lic opin­ion.

    The pro­pos­al for NMAC was sent to PIB direc­tor-gen­er­al Frank Noron­ha by Deputy Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor Arvind Gup­ta for set­ting it up at the Nation­al Media Cen­tre, said sources. How­ev­er, they added, a four-mem­ber com­mit­tee formed to exam­ine the pro­pos­al has opposed locat­ing it at NMAC due to “lack of space”.

    ...

    “They said the objec­tive is to come up with “instant coun­ters” on social media to plug resent­ment trig­gered by news items so that per­son­al opin­ions do not snow­ball into pub­lic protests and threat­en law and order.”
    You have to won­der how effec­tive an agency ded­i­cat­ed to ‘plug­ging resent­ment trig­gered by news items’ is going to be at reduc­ing resent­ment when the very exis­tence of the agency is bound to gen­er­ate even more resent­ment and all pro-gov­ern­ment com­ments are just going to be assumed to be gov­ern­ment-paid trolls.

    Oh well...it appears the beat­ings pub­lic opin­ion man­age­ment will con­tin­ue until morale improves. The beat­ings will also pre­sum­ably con­tin­ue.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 23, 2016, 3:12 pm
  13. @Pterrafractyl–

    I don’t imag­ine we’ll be hear­ing any com­plaints about this from Cit­i­zen Omid­yar, our Sil­i­con Val­ley lib­er­tar­i­an mogul who funds fas­cism and coups d’e­tat in his spare time.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 24, 2016, 1:55 pm
  14. It looks like the man who went on a shoot­ing spree in Hous­ton was a half-Indi­an neo-Nazi lawyer. While, sad­ly, far-right extrem­ist attacks aren’t near­ly as rare as they should be these days, a half-Indi­an neo-Nazi lawyer going on a shoot­ing spree for­tu­nate­ly isn’t very typ­i­cal:

    Click2Houston

    Gun­man who wound­ed 9 was wear­ing Nazi para­pher­na­lia, sources say
    Sev­er­al weapons found inside gun­man’s vehi­cle, police say

    By Aaron Bark­er — Sr. Web Edi­tor , Lea Wil­son — Dig­i­tal News Edi­tor
    Post­ed: 7:01 AM, Sep­tem­ber 26, 2016
    Updat­ed: 6:52 PM, Sep­tem­ber 26, 2016

    HOUSTON — The lawyer who car­ried out Mon­day morn­ing’s shoot­ing that wound­ed nine peo­ple was wear­ing what appeared to be Nazi para­pher­na­lia, two law enforce­ment sources told Chan­nel 2 Inves­ti­gates’ Robert Arnold.

    Reports of a man shoot­ing ran­dom­ly on Law Street, near a shop­ping cen­ter on the north­west cor­ner of Wes­layan and Bis­son­net streets, first came in around 6:30 a.m.

    Inter­im Hous­ton police Chief Martha Mon­tal­vo said offi­cers who went to the scene were able to quick­ly locate the gun­man in the 4400 block of Law Street. Police said he was using a tree as cov­er.

    She said the shoot­er imme­di­ate­ly began fir­ing at the offi­cers. Nine offi­cers exchanged gun­fire with the sus­pect.

    The gun­man was found dead short­ly after, she said. Near­ly 75 shell cas­ings were found at the scene, police said. No offi­cers were injured.

    “It’s my under­stand­ing that he was neu­tral­ized by police,” Mon­tal­vo said.

    Police said the sus­pect had two weapons, a .45 semi-auto­mat­ic hand­gun and a .45 semi-auto­mat­ic Thomp­son Car­bine, while stand­ing near his car. Both guns were pur­chased legal­ly in 2009 and 2011.

    Police esti­mate around 2,500 rounds of live ammu­ni­tion were found inside his vehi­cle.

    Law enforce­ment sources said the shoot­er was wear­ing what appeared to be an antique Ger­man uni­form with swastikas on it.

    Mon­tal­vo said the gunman’s car was also found on Law Street, and that at least one weapon was found inside. Police spent hours search­ing the vehi­cle.

    Inves­ti­ga­tors also combed through the shooter’s con­do­mini­um, where they found what appeared to be Nazi para­pher­na­lia inside, accord­ing to a law enforce­ment source. Sev­er­al oth­er weapons were found inside the shooter’s res­i­dence, police said.

    Police said there is no known motive. When asked if she believes the shoot­ing was relat­ed to ter­ror­ism, Mon­tal­vo said that she is not ready to say that yet.

    Nine peo­ple injured

    Mon­tal­vo said six peo­ple were ini­tial­ly hos­pi­tal­ized because of the shoot­ing.

    A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Memo­r­i­al Her­mann Hos­pi­tal South­west said one of the injured was in crit­i­cal con­di­tion and anoth­er was in good con­di­tion. Three oth­ers were dis­charged in good con­di­tion.

    Anoth­er vic­tim was list­ed in seri­ous con­di­tion at Ben Taub Hos­pi­tal, Mon­tal­vo said.

    Three oth­ers were treat­ed and released.

    Own­er of car that was searched iden­ti­fied

    KPRC2 has con­firmed the own­er of that vehi­cle is 46-year-old attor­ney Nathan DeSai.

    Ken McDaniel, DeSai’s for­mer law part­ner, said that they decid­ed to go their sep­a­rate ways in Feb­ru­ary because of eco­nom­ic rea­sons. He said he has­n’t spo­ken to DeSai since then.

    DeSai’s father, Prakash, said his son was in his own prac­tice, but it was not doing well.

    DeSai owns a con­do at the Oaks of Wes­layan on Law Street, KPRC2 has con­firmed.

    Accord­ing to the Texas State Bar, DeSai spe­cial­izes in busi­ness, fam­i­ly and crim­i­nal law.

    ...

    “Law enforce­ment sources said the shoot­er was wear­ing what appeared to be an antique Ger­man uni­form with swastikas on it.”

    It sounds like the guy was clos­et Nazi sym­pa­thiz­er depressed over his fail­ing law prac­tice and decid­ed to com­mit sui­cide by killing a bunch of strangers while wear­ing his Nazi uni­form and wait­ing for the police to show up and kill him. So while he appar­ent­ly was­n’t the great­est lawyer, he cer­tain­ly embraced the mur­der­ous nihilism of the Nazi phi­los­o­phy quite effec­tive­ly. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for every­one else.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 26, 2016, 5:21 pm
  15. Modi Ele­vates Mob Vio­lence Prova­ca­teur as Like­ly Suc­ces­sor. Of Course.

    If you thought Naren­dra Modi is a scary far-right nut job with a propen­si­ty to unleash sec­tar­i­an vio­lence for polit­i­cal gain, check out the guy he just ele­vat­ed to the sta­tus of ‘front-run­ner to replace Modi’: Yogi Adityanath, a mem­ber of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh (RSS) from Uttar Prad­desh who is best known for encour­ag­ing vig­i­lante death squads against Mus­lims. He hails from the Gorakhnath Tem­ple, whose head priest was arrest­ed for encour­age Hin­du mil­i­tants to kill Mahat­ma Gand­hi only days before he was shot. And his suc­ces­sor helped spark one of the worst reli­gious riots in Indi­a’s recent his­to­ry after encour­ag­ing Hin­du mobs to tear down a 16th-cen­tu­ry mosque and build a tem­ple there in 1992. Oh, and it appears that Indi­a’s cable news sta­tions just can’t get enough of the guy.

    So it’s like the worst char­ac­ter­is­tics of Modi, ampli­fied, meshed with the worst char­ac­ter­is­tics of Don­ald Trump. That’s the pedi­gree of the one of front-run­ners to replace Modi...thanks to Modi giv­ing this guy his polit­i­cal bless­ings:

    The New York Times

    Fire­brand Hin­du Cler­ic Ascends India’s Polit­i­cal Lad­der

    By ELLEN BARRY and SUHASINI RAJ
    JULY 12, 2017

    LUCKNOW, India — A Hin­du war­rior-priest has been cho­sen to rule India’s most pop­u­lous state, and the cable news chan­nels can­not get enough of him. Yogi, as every­one calls him, is so ascetic and incor­rupt­ible that he doesn’t use air-con­di­tion­ers, they say. Yogi sleeps on a hard mat­tress on the floor. Yogi some­times eats only an apple for din­ner.

    But the tap­root of Yogi Adityanath’s pop­u­lar­i­ty is in a more omi­nous place. As leader of a tem­ple known for its mil­i­tant Hin­du suprema­cist tra­di­tion, he built an army of youths intent on aveng­ing his­toric wrongs by Mus­lims, whom he has called “a crop of two-legged ani­mals that has to be stopped.” At one ral­ly he cried out, “We are all prepar­ing for reli­gious war!”

    Adityanath (pro­nounced Ah-DIT-ya-nath) was an aston­ish­ing choice by Naren­dra Modi, India’s prime min­is­ter, who came into office three years ago promis­ing to ush­er India into a new age of devel­op­ment and eco­nom­ic growth, and play­ing down any far-right Hin­du agen­da. But a pop­ulist dri­ve to trans­form India into a “Hin­du nation” has drowned out Mr. Modi’s devel­op­ment agen­da, shrink­ing the eco­nom­ic and social space for the country’s 170 mil­lion Mus­lims.

    Few deci­sions in Indi­an pol­i­tics mat­ter more than the selec­tion of the chief min­is­ter of Uttar Pradesh, because the post is seen as a spring­board for future prime min­is­ters. At the age of 45, the diminu­tive, baby-faced Adityanath is receiv­ing the kind of career-mak­ing atten­tion that projects an Indi­an politi­cian toward high­er office.

    “He is auto­mat­i­cal­ly on anybody’s list as a poten­tial con­tender to suc­ceed Modi,” said Sadanand Dhume, an India spe­cial­ist at the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute. “They have nor­mal­ized some­one who, three years ago, was con­sid­ered too extreme to be min­is­ter of state for tex­tiles. Every­thing has been nor­mal­ized so quick­ly.”

    ...

    In March, when the Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty won a land­slide elec­toral vic­to­ry in Uttar Pradesh, polit­i­cal prog­nos­ti­ca­tors expect­ed Mr. Modi to make a safe choice — Manoj Sin­ha, a cab­i­net min­is­ter known for his dili­gence and loy­al­ty to the par­ty. On the morn­ing of the announce­ment, an hon­or guard had been arranged out­side his vil­lage.

    But by mid­morn­ing, it was clear that some­thing unusu­al was going on. A char­tered flight had been sent to pick up Adityanath and take him to Del­hi for a meet­ing with Amit Shah, the par­ty pres­i­dent. At 6 p.m. the par­ty announced it had appoint­ed him as min­is­ter, send­ing a rip­ple of shock through India’s polit­i­cal class.

    They were shocked because Adityanath is a rad­i­cal, but also because he is ambi­tious, even rebel­lious. As recent­ly as Jan­u­ary, he walked out of the party’s exec­u­tive meet­ing, report­ed­ly because he was not allowed to speak. Mr. Modi is not known to have much tol­er­ance for rivals.

    The appoint­ment “invests a cer­tain amount of pow­er in Yogi Adityanath that can­not be eas­i­ly tak­en away,” said Ashutosh Varsh­ney, a pro­fes­sor of polit­i­cal sci­ence and inter­na­tion­al stud­ies at Brown Uni­ver­si­ty.

    “Modi has been either unwill­ing to stop his rise, or unable to stop his rise,” he said.

    As a young man, Adityanath’s pas­sion was pol­i­tics, not reli­gion. One of sev­en chil­dren born to a for­est ranger, Adityanath, born Ajay Singh Bisht, found his voca­tion in col­lege as an activist in the stu­dent wing of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh, a right-wing Hin­du orga­ni­za­tion.

    He was so engrossed in the group’s work that the first two or three times he was sum­moned by a dis­tant rel­a­tive, the head priest of the Gorakhnath Tem­ple, he “could not find the time,” he has said.

    But reli­gion and pol­i­tics were fast con­verg­ing. Gorakhnath Tem­ple had a tra­di­tion of mil­i­tan­cy: Digvi­jay Nath, the head priest until 1969, was arrest­ed for exhort­ing Hin­du mil­i­tants to kill Mahat­ma Gand­hi days before he was shot. His suc­ces­sor, Mahant Avaidyanath, urged Hin­du mobs in 1992 to tear down a 16th-cen­tu­ry mosque and build a tem­ple there, set­ting off some of the blood­i­est reli­gious riots in India’s recent his­to­ry.

    ...

    Adityanath won a seat in Par­lia­ment, the first of five con­sec­u­tive terms. Among his advan­tages was a new group he had formed: the Hin­du Yuva Vahi­ni, or Hin­du Youth Brigade, a vig­i­lante orga­ni­za­tion. The vol­un­teers, now orga­nized to the vil­lage lev­el and said by lead­ers to num­ber 250,000, show up in force where Mus­lims are rumored to be both­er­ing Hin­dus.

    Vijay Yadav, 21, a vol­un­teer loung­ing at Gorakhnath Tem­ple in Gorakh­pur on a recent day, said he had recent­ly mobi­lized 60 or 70 young men to beat a Mus­lim accused of cow slaugh­ter. They stopped, he said, only because the police inter­vened.

    “All the Hin­dus got togeth­er and the first slap was giv­en by me,” he said proud­ly. “If they do some­thing wrong, fear is what works best. If you do some­thing wrong, we will stop you. If you talk too much, we will kill you. This is our say­ing for Mus­lims.”

    Dur­ing the first five years after the vig­i­lante group was formed, 22 reli­gious clash­es broke out in the dis­tricts sur­round­ing Gorakh­pur, a city in Uttar Pradesh, in many cas­es with Adityanath’s encour­age­ment, said Manoj Singh, a jour­nal­ist. In 2007, Adityanath was arrest­ed as he led a pro­ces­sion toward neigh­bor­hoods seething with reli­gious ten­sion.

    Even then, Mr. Singh recalled, the offi­cer who arrest­ed Adityanath stopped first to touch his feet as a ges­ture of rev­er­ence.

    Adityanath was released after 11 days, but the arrest seemed to jolt him. He became more cau­tious, no longer direct­ly lead­ing fol­low­ers into reli­gious con­fronta­tions, Mr. Singh said.

    For India’s fre­net­ic 24-hour cable tele­vi­sion world, Adityanath’s first months as chief min­is­ter of Uttar Pradesh were a wind­fall. Arriv­ing in Luc­know, a city weary of a cor­rupt bureau­cra­cy, he pro­ject­ed a refresh­ing tough­ness and aus­ter­i­ty. He warned offi­cials that they would be expect­ed to work 18 to 20 hours a day if they were to keep their jobs, and inspec­tors and bureau­crats were said to be too afraid to ask for bribes.

    His first orders were unabashed­ly pop­ulist. The police were dis­patched in “anti-Romeo squads” to detain youths sus­pect­ed of harass­ing women. Inspec­tors shut down dozens of meat-pro­cess­ing plants, a major source of rev­enue for area Mus­lims, for reg­u­la­to­ry prob­lems.

    Vishal Prat­ap Singh, a Luc­know-based tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist, not­ed that Adityanath was a “total­ly changed man on cam­era,” care­ful to avoid com­ments offen­sive to Mus­lims.

    Still, Mr. Singh said, his rat­ings are sky-high, and the rea­son is obvi­ous.

    “Like Modi, he speaks for the Hin­dus,” he said. “With­in his heart, he is a total­ly anti-Mus­lim per­son. That is the rea­son he is so lik­able.”

    Polit­i­cal observers in Del­hi are watch­ing him as one might watch an audi­tion. Jour­nal­ists filed reports of his first 100 days last week, and some were luke­warm, not­ing his fail­ure to con­tain vio­lent crime.

    Neer­ja Chowd­hury, an ana­lyst, said Adityanath has two years to estab­lish him­self as an effec­tive admin­is­tra­tor.

    “Remem­ber, he is 20 years younger than Modi, and he is a known doer, so if he man­ages to deliv­er on some fronts, he would then become a pos­si­ble can­di­date” in 2024, she said.

    “India is mov­ing right,” she added. “Whether India moves fur­ther right, and Modi begins to be looked upon as a mod­er­ate, I think that only time will tell.”

    Adityanath may be inter­est­ed in rebrand­ing him­self a main­stream politi­cian, but his fol­low­ers in the vig­i­lante group do not all agree.

    Dur­ing the days after the elec­tion, some 5,000 men came for­ward to join the orga­ni­za­tion every day, prompt­ing orga­niz­ers to stop accept­ing appli­cants, said P. K. Mall, the group’s gen­er­al sec­re­tary.

    Sonu Yadav, 24, of Gorakh­pur, who has served in the group for five years, said he had been dis­ap­point­ed by Mr. Modi’s tenure.

    “We vot­ed for Modi because Yogi endorsed him, but we are dis­il­lu­sioned,” he said. He went on to refer to the 2002 riots in the state Mr. Modi led, which his crit­ics say he allowed to rage for sev­er­al days, lead­ing to more than 1,000 deaths.

    “All of us in our colony felt that Modi would allow us to kill Mus­lims,” he said. “Mus­lims were scared. But noth­ing hap­pened. When Yogi became chief min­is­ter, they were scared again.”

    Mr. Modi has denied any wrong­do­ing, and Supreme Court pan­els have reject­ed peti­tions to pros­e­cute Mr. Modi in the riots for lack of evi­dence.

    For now, as Adityanath estab­lish­es a more main­stream rep­u­ta­tion, Mr. Yadav and his friends have been told by their group’s lead­er­ship to cease all vio­lent activ­i­ties and instead per­form com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice. Vijay Yadav, Sonu’s friend, open­ly chafed at the new orders.

    “This thing is going on in Yogi’s head that my shirt should not get a stain,” he said. “I couldn’t care less for his stained shirt. I can’t do good work and avoid get­ting a stain.”

    He not­ed, by way of exam­ple, the recent beat­ing death of a 62-year-old Mus­lim man whom vig­i­lantes abduct­ed and inter­ro­gat­ed about a neighbor’s alleged love affair with a Hin­du girl.

    Vijay Yadav’s com­ment on the man’s death was a local proverb: “Along with the wheat,” he said, “small insects will get crushed.”

    ———-

    “Fire­brand Hin­du Cler­ic Ascends India’s Polit­i­cal Lad­der” by ELLEN BARRY and SUHASINI RAJ; The New York Times; 07/12/2017

    Few deci­sions in Indi­an pol­i­tics mat­ter more than the selec­tion of the chief min­is­ter of Uttar Pradesh, because the post is seen as a spring­board for future prime min­is­ters. At the age of 45, the diminu­tive, baby-faced Adityanath is receiv­ing the kind of career-mak­ing atten­tion that projects an Indi­an politi­cian toward high­er office.”

    Yep, Modi just put a vio­lent theo­crat­ic fas­cist on a “spring for future prime min­is­ters”. And now Adityanath is poised to ful­fill his call­ing: merg­ing pol­i­tics and reli­gion for the pur­pose of insti­gat­ing mil­i­tant Hin­du mob vio­lence and ter­ror­iz­ing Indi­a’s Mus­lims:

    ...
    “As a young man, Adityanath’s pas­sion was pol­i­tics, not reli­gion. One of sev­en chil­dren born to a for­est ranger, Adityanath, born Ajay Singh Bisht, found his voca­tion in col­lege as an activist in the stu­dent wing of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh, a right-wing Hin­du orga­ni­za­tion

    He was so engrossed in the group’s work that the first two or three times he was sum­moned by a dis­tant rel­a­tive, the head priest of the Gorakhnath Tem­ple, he “could not find the time,” he has said.

    But reli­gion and pol­i­tics were fast con­verg­ing. Gorakhnath Tem­ple had a tra­di­tion of mil­i­tan­cy: Digvi­jay Nath, the head priest until 1969, was arrest­ed for exhort­ing Hin­du mil­i­tants to kill Mahat­ma Gand­hi days before he was shot. His suc­ces­sor, Mahant Avaidyanath, urged Hin­du mobs in 1992 to tear down a 16th-cen­tu­ry mosque and build a tem­ple there, set­ting off some of the blood­i­est reli­gious riots in India’s recent his­to­ry.
    ...

    Adityanath won a seat in Par­lia­ment, the first of five con­sec­u­tive terms. Among his advan­tages was a new group he had formed: the Hin­du Yuva Vahi­ni, or Hin­du Youth Brigade, a vig­i­lante orga­ni­za­tion. The vol­un­teers, now orga­nized to the vil­lage lev­el and said by lead­ers to num­ber 250,000, show up in force where Mus­lims are rumored to be both­er­ing Hin­dus
    ...

    And now he’s on the polit­i­cal fast track to replace Modi...as long as he’s not too mil­i­tant and does­n’t unleash too much vio­lence from his fol­low­ers, appar­ent­ly. Will they be able to ‘behave’ them­selves long enough for Adityanath to actu­al­ly replace Modi in the 2024 elec­tions? It’s not going to be easy...because his fol­low­ers real­ly, real­ly, real­ly want to kill Mus­lims:

    ...
    For now, as Adityanath estab­lish­es a more main­stream rep­u­ta­tion, Mr. Yadav and his friends have been told by their group’s lead­er­ship to cease all vio­lent activ­i­ties and instead per­form com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice. Vijay Yadav, Sonu’s friend, open­ly chafed at the new orders.

    “This thing is going on in Yogi’s head that my shirt should not get a stain,” he said. “I couldn’t care less for his stained shirt. I can’t do good work and avoid get­ting a stain.”

    He not­ed, by way of exam­ple, the recent beat­ing death of a 62-year-old Mus­lim man whom vig­i­lantes abduct­ed and inter­ro­gat­ed about a neighbor’s alleged love affair with a Hin­du girl.

    Vijay Yadav’s com­ment on the man’s death was a local proverb: “Along with the wheat,” he said, “small insects will get crushed.”

    “Along with the wheat, small insects will get crushed.” And those “small insects” are Indi­a’s Mus­lims in the minds of Adityanath hard­core fol­low­ers. And Modi just did one of the biggest thing he could to main­stream the guy. Of course.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 14, 2017, 6:50 pm
  16. Here’s some­thing to keep in mind as Naren­dra Modi, the BJP, and Mod­i’s fas­cist RSS allies con­tin­ue to con­sol­i­date their grip on pow­er: Con­sol­i­dat­ing that grip on pow­er is going to require the Hind Nation­al­ist BJP par­ty to do some­thing that does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly come nat­u­ral­ly to a right-wing con­ser­v­a­tive par­ty in a tra­di­tion­al­ly caste-based soci­ety: appeal­ing to the very poor. In this case the “untouch­ables” the Dal­its, who under­stand­ably aren’t tra­di­tion­al­ly in the BJP tar­get audi­ence. And as the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, if Modi wants to not only get reelect­ed but also lead the BJP to a take over of the con­gress so he to ful­ly imple­ment his far-right agen­da he’s going to have to fig­ure out how to get that Dalit vote. Some­thing the BJP is unfor­tu­nate­ly get­ting bet­ter at:

    Slate

    India’s Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tion Proves the Val­ue of Exploit­ing Caste Pol­i­tics

    By Meer­an Karim
    July 18 2017 11:38 AM

    Ram Nath Kovind, a mem­ber of India’s low­er-caste Dalit com­mu­ni­ty, is like­ly to become the country’s next pres­i­dent after the results of par­lia­men­tary polls are announced Thurs­day. Kovind’s can­di­da­cy as part of the rul­ing Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty is wide­ly per­ceived to be part of a strat­e­gy of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and his Hin­du nation­al­ist cohort to con­sol­i­date the party’s sup­port among the country’s low­er-caste vot­ers.

    ...

    Even though it has cam­paigned on pre­serv­ing con­ser­v­a­tive Hin­du tra­di­tions, includ­ing sanc­ti­ty of upper-caste Brah­mins, the BJP is depen­dent on the votes of Dal­its and oth­er low­er castes to win cru­cial states. In the state of Bihar, the third most pop­u­lous state, Modi and the BJP suf­fered a demor­al­iz­ing defeat to the rival Rashtriya Jana­ta Dal par­ty in 2015 State Assem­bly elec­tions. Bihar’s low-caste com­mu­ni­ties vot­ed heav­i­ly in sup­port of RJD and its leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was able to strike a fruit­ful elec­toral alliance between Bihar’s Mus­lims and the state’s mar­gin­al­ized, cow-herd­ing Yadav caste.

    Dal­its, accord­ing to Hin­du tra­di­tion, are believed to lie out­side the four castes that deter­mine the lives of Hin­dus, includ­ing their occu­pa­tions and sta­tus­es in soci­ety. For much of the country’s his­to­ry, they have been con­sid­ered “impure,” suf­fer­ing decades of exclu­sion and pover­ty that affir­ma­tive action pro­grams in India have attempt­ed to redress.

    Learn­ing from past mis­takes, the BJP under Modi has soft­ened its stance on caste issues. In March, the right-wing Hin­du par­ty secured a major vic­to­ry in India’s most pop­u­lous state of Uttar Pradesh, win­ning over the state’s low­er-caste votes. Modi steered clear of poten­tial­ly divi­sive lan­guage in his speech­es, and the par­ty was report­ed to have induct­ed mem­bers of the low­er caste in lead­er­ship posi­tions. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Modi and the BJP are con­tin­u­ing this trend with the lat­est nom­i­na­tion of Ram Nath Kovind for pres­i­dent.

    This thin­ly veiled attempt to secure Dalit sup­port for future elec­tions hasn’t slipped the atten­tion of Indi­ans. Indi­an aca­d­e­m­ic Har­ish Wankhede remarked on the shrewd­ness of BJP and Modi for the Wire last month:

    While the BJP has been try­ing to get the sup­port of Dal­its, many among the Dal­its believed that the top posts after it wins would go to the party’s upper caste cadre. Yogi Adityanath, Deven­dra Fad­navis or Manohar Khat­tar all came from the Sangh or Hin­dut­va fold and were upper caste saf­fron lead­ers. They most­ly resort­ed to polit­i­cal tokenism when it came to reward­ing Dal­its. Kovind’s can­di­da­ture is a big step for­ward.

    And while the impact of Kovind’s nom­i­na­tion on low­er castes is still unclear, Modi’s gov­ern­ment still faces road­blocks in these com­mu­ni­ties. The BJP’s sup­port of cow pro­tec­tion mea­sures and Hin­du nation­al­ist cam­paigns to ban the con­sump­tion of cow meat has been indi­rect­ly linked to a recent spate of mob lynch­ings. In the Indi­an state of Gujarat, a mob of vig­i­lantes was filmed flog­ging sev­en men belong­ing to the Dalit caste after being accused of skin­ning a dead cow. This led to a a wave of protests across India con­demn­ing BJP and Modi’s silence over the vio­lence. Bans of meat insti­tut­ed by BJP-led state gov­ern­ments have also hit India’s low castes the hard­est, as thou­sands are employed in unskilled jobs in the meat and leather goods indus­tries.

    Kovind’s rival for pres­i­dent also hails from India’s Dalit com­mu­ni­ty, fur­ther empha­siz­ing the impor­tance of caste in Indi­an pol­i­tics right now. Meira Kumar, a long­time mem­ber of the Indi­an Par­lia­ment, is the nom­i­nee of the Indi­an Nation­al Congress–backed Unit­ed Pro­gres­sive Alliance. Although its lead­ers have exploit­ed caste con­cerns to win votes, the Congress—in an inter­est­ing case of the pot call­ing the ket­tle black—has rou­tine­ly blamed rival­ing BJP and Modi for divid­ing the coun­try along caste and reli­gious lines. “The BJP mis­lead peo­ple and try trap­ping them,” Con­gress leader Sonia Gand­hi said at 2014 ral­ly. “They are doing caste-based pol­i­tics. They want to divide peo­ple. They have a cheap men­tal­i­ty, and their ide­ol­o­gy tries to harm the diver­si­ty of this nation.”

    Caste, in short, remains per­haps the sin­gle most influ­en­tial fac­tor in Indi­an pol­i­tics despite rapid mod­ern­iza­tion of the world’s largest democ­ra­cy, as proven in the lat­est pres­i­den­tial con­test. And Naren­dra Modi, who won a land­slide vic­to­ry by widen­ing the party’s appeal beyond the ortho­dox Hin­du class, is sure to milk it for all it’s worth.

    ———-

    “India’s Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tion Proves the Val­ue of Exploit­ing Caste Pol­i­tics” by Meer­an Karim; Slate; 07/18/2017

    Caste, in short, remains per­haps the sin­gle most influ­en­tial fac­tor in Indi­an pol­i­tics despite rapid mod­ern­iza­tion of the world’s largest democ­ra­cy, as proven in the lat­est pres­i­den­tial con­test. And Naren­dra Modi, who won a land­slide vic­to­ry by widen­ing the party’s appeal beyond the ortho­dox Hin­du class, is sure to milk it for all it’s worth.”

    Yes, deal­ing with tra­di­tion­al caste-based inequal­i­ties remains a top issue for India, so even the far-right, which tends to exalt in inequal­i­ty and rigid hier­ar­chies, is going to have to effec­tive­ly appeal to the Dal­its and oth­er tra­di­tion­al­ly dis­em­pow­ered minori­ties, which the BJP appears to be fig­ur­ing out how to do:

    ...
    Even though it has cam­paigned on pre­serv­ing con­ser­v­a­tive Hin­du tra­di­tions, includ­ing sanc­ti­ty of upper-caste Brah­mins, the BJP is depen­dent on the votes of Dal­its and oth­er low­er castes to win cru­cial states. In the state of Bihar, the third most pop­u­lous state, Modi and the BJP suf­fered a demor­al­iz­ing defeat to the rival Rashtriya Jana­ta Dal par­ty in 2015 State Assem­bly elec­tions. Bihar’s low-caste com­mu­ni­ties vot­ed heav­i­ly in sup­port of RJD and its leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was able to strike a fruit­ful elec­toral alliance between Bihar’s Mus­lims and the state’s mar­gin­al­ized, cow-herd­ing Yadav caste.

    ...

    Learn­ing from past mis­takes, the BJP under Modi has soft­ened its stance on caste issues. In March, the right-wing Hin­du par­ty secured a major vic­to­ry in India’s most pop­u­lous state of Uttar Pradesh, win­ning over the state’s low­er-caste votes. Modi steered clear of poten­tial­ly divi­sive lan­guage in his speech­es, and the par­ty was report­ed to have induct­ed mem­bers of the low­er caste in lead­er­ship posi­tions. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Modi and the BJP are con­tin­u­ing this trend with the lat­est nom­i­na­tion of Ram Nath Kovind for pres­i­dent.
    ...

    So it’s going to be inter­est­ing to see if the BJP can con­tin­ue mak­ing inroads into the Dalit elec­torate. As trag­i­cal­ly baf­fling as it is when the very poor vote for far-right strong-men types, it hap­pens. Con­vinc­ing peo­ple to make bad deci­sion is a far-right spe­cial­ty, after all.

    And as the fol­low­ing piece about the recent assas­si­na­tion of Indi­an jour­nal­ist-turned-activist Gau­ri Lankesh sug­gests, the Dalit vote isn’ts just a top prize for a par­ty like the BJP. It’s the kind of prize the far-right will kill for:

    The New York Times

    Why Was Gau­ri Lankesh Killed?

    By SUDIPTO MONDAL
    SEPT. 13, 2017

    BANGALORE, India — On the evening of Sept. 5, I got a call from my wife, a fel­low jour­nal­ist. “Gau­ri Lankesh has been shot out­side her house,” she said. “She is dead.” Ms. Lankesh, 55, was the edi­tor of Gau­ri Lankesh Patrike, a week­ly news­pa­per, which she pub­lished from Ban­ga­lore, India, in the south­ern state of Kar­nata­ka.

    I drove with two jour­nal­ist friends to the morgue of a hos­pi­tal where her body was. At 8 p.m., she had been enter­ing her home in the upper-class area of Ban­ga­lore when an assas­sin on a motor­bike fired at her and fled. Three bul­lets hit her, dam­ag­ing her heart and lungs, accord­ing to the post-mortem report.

    I had known her for 10 years. All I ever did was argue with her. Our argu­ments had acquired an increas­ing inten­si­ty in the three years since Naren­dra Modi came to pow­er and India turned toward majori­tar­i­an­ism and intol­er­ance. An out­spo­ken crit­ic of Prime Min­is­ter Modi’s Hin­du nation­al­ist gov­ern­ment, she said in her last edi­to­r­i­al that spread­ing fake news had con­tributed to the suc­cess of Mr. Modi and his par­ty.

    After Rohith Vem­u­la, a Dalit grad­u­ate stu­dent and activist at a uni­ver­si­ty in the south­ern city of Hyder­abad, killed him­self in Jan­u­ary 2016 because of intense, unceas­ing insti­tu­tion­al­ized caste dis­crim­i­na­tion, a coali­tion of Dalit (low­est caste) and left­ist stu­dent groups sought the pros­e­cu­tion of uni­ver­si­ty offi­cials and the right-wing Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty politi­cians, who had pushed him to the brink. The left­ist groups dom­i­nat­ed by upper-caste Hin­dus were not will­ing to work under the lead­er­ship of Dalit activists.

    I was agi­tat­ed­ly talk­ing to Ms. Lankesh about how the Indi­an left was almost entire­ly led by upper-caste Hin­dus. Ten years of report­ing on caste prej­u­dice and pol­i­tics and my per­son­al his­to­ry of grow­ing up and work­ing as a Dalit writer made me believe that even in strug­gles for civ­il and polit­i­cal rights, the Indi­an left exclud­ed the Dal­its from posi­tions of lead­er­ship. Ms. Lankesh didn’t see lead­er­ship as a big ques­tion when in the con­text of the more press­ing need to fight the rise of Hin­du nation­al­ism, which she described as “fas­cism.”

    ...

    Ms. Lankesh was also an effec­tive polit­i­cal orga­niz­er with the abil­i­ty to bring togeth­er social and polit­i­cal groups — Dal­its, indige­nous trib­als, left­ists, Mus­lims and oth­ers — opposed to the Hin­du nation­al­ist attempts to trans­form India into a coun­try pri­mar­i­ly for the Hin­dus.

    The priests at a tem­ple in Udupi, a south­ern Indi­an town — a strong­hold of the Hin­du nation­al­ist move­ment — were seg­re­gat­ing the low­er castes, espe­cial­ly Dalit devo­tees, from the upper-caste Hin­dus. Last Sep­tem­ber, Ms. Lankesh helped per­suade numer­ous pro­gres­sive, Dalit and left­ist groups, and non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions — who loathe work­ing togeth­er because of polit­i­cal dif­fer­ences — to come togeth­er in a march to protest seg­re­ga­tion at the Udupi tem­ple. The ques­tion of whether Dal­its will get to lead the strug­gle for their rights returned. Ms. Lankesh nego­ti­at­ed with every group to ensure that the upper-caste lead­ers didn’t appro­pri­ate the march.

    A month ear­li­er, in July 2016, hard-line Hin­du activists had stripped and flogged four Dalit men in Gujarat, the home state of Mr. Modi, for skin­ning a cow. Thou­sands of Dal­its earn their mea­ger liveli­hood from skin­ning dead cows and buf­faloes and sell­ing their hides to leather traders. Jig­nesh Mevani, a young Dalit lawyer, orga­nized and led huge protests in Gujarat against the cow vig­i­lantes.

    Ms. Lankesh set­tled the ques­tion of lead­er­ship by get­ting every­body to agree that Mr. Mevani should lead the march against seg­re­ga­tion to Udupi tem­ple. Around 10,000 peo­ple joined the march. The oppo­si­tion uni­ty made an impres­sion.

    Soon after that I saw my social media time­lines filled with pho­tographs of Ms. Lankesh hug­ging Mr. Mevani and Kan­haiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid, left­ist stu­dent lead­ers from a uni­ver­si­ty in New Del­hi. She called them “her chil­dren.” It was her way of cre­at­ing uni­ty among var­i­ous groups opposed to the rise of the majori­tar­i­an pol­i­tics.

    On the night of her mur­der, I stood out­side her house with our com­mon friends and we won­dered why any­one would kill her. She wasn’t the only out­spo­ken crit­ic of the Hin­du right. Her news­pa­per, which was crit­i­cal of Mr. Modi’s gov­ern­ment and the Hin­du nation­al­ists, didn’t sell more than a few thou­sand copies although it was much respect­ed.

    I won­dered if they killed her because she was a mem­ber of the Lin­gay­at com­mu­ni­ty in Kar­nata­ka, which wants to sep­a­rate from Brah­man­i­cal Hin­duism. In the past few months, the Lin­gay­at lead­ers had mobi­lized hun­dreds of thou­sands of sup­port­ers in pub­lic ral­lies. The mobi­liza­tion threat­ens the chances of the Hin­du nation­al­ist B.J.P. in the forth­com­ing state elec­tions in Kar­nata­ka. Although Ms. Lankesh sup­port­ed the call, the Lin­gay­at move­ment had oth­er, enor­mous­ly pow­er­ful lead­ers.

    In August 2013, the activist Naren­dra Dab­holkar, who cam­paigned against reli­gious super­sti­tions, was mur­dered. In August 2015, M. M. Kalbur­gi, a schol­ar and out­spo­ken crit­ic of idol wor­ship among Hin­dus, was gunned down at his own doorstep. In Feb­ru­ary 2015, Govind Pansare, a Com­mu­nist leader, com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er and colum­nist, was killed in a small town near Mum­bai.

    Mr. Dhabolkar, Mr. Kalbur­gi and Mr. Pansare were mur­dered by assas­sins on motor­bikes, who hid their faces with hel­mets and fled after the mur­der. Exact­ly as Ms. Lankesh was killed.

    The mur­dered intel­lec­tu­als also wrote in region­al lan­guages and worked as activists. Each of them shared the qual­i­ty of being accept­able to the left­ist groups and Dalit groups. They could bring togeth­er com­mu­ni­ties opposed to the Hin­du right.

    We don’t know yet who killed Ms. Lankesh, but var­i­ous sup­port­ers of Mr. Modi, the B.J.P. and its par­ent orga­ni­za­tion, the Hin­du nation­al­ist moth­er ship, Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh, cel­e­brat­ed her mur­der on social media.

    ———-

    “Why Was Gau­ri Lankesh Killed?” by SUDIPTO MONDAL; The New York Times;
    SEPT. 13, 2017

    “Ms. Lankesh was also an effec­tive polit­i­cal orga­niz­er with the abil­i­ty to bring togeth­er social and polit­i­cal groups — Dal­its, indige­nous trib­als, left­ists, Mus­lims and oth­ers — opposed to the Hin­du nation­al­ist attempts to trans­form India into a coun­try pri­mar­i­ly for the Hin­dus.”

    An effec­tive polit­i­cal orga­niz­er who appeared to have the abil­i­ty to bridge a key divide between the Dal­its and the rest of the non-Hin­du nation­al­ist seg­ments of Indi­an soci­ety gets gunned down. And she was just lat­est activist who pos­sessed that abil­i­ty to bridge divides to be assas­si­nat­ed in exact­ly the same man­ner in recent years:

    ...
    In August 2013, the activist Naren­dra Dab­holkar, who cam­paigned against reli­gious super­sti­tions, was mur­dered. In August 2015, M. M. Kalbur­gi, a schol­ar and out­spo­ken crit­ic of idol wor­ship among Hin­dus, was gunned down at his own doorstep. In Feb­ru­ary 2015, Govind Pansare, a Com­mu­nist leader, com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er and colum­nist, was killed in a small town near Mum­bai.

    Mr. Dhabolkar, Mr. Kalbur­gi and Mr. Pansare were mur­dered by assas­sins on motor­bikes, who hid their faces with hel­mets and fled after the mur­der. Exact­ly as Ms. Lankesh was killed.

    The mur­dered intel­lec­tu­als also wrote in region­al lan­guages and worked as activists. Each of them shared the qual­i­ty of being accept­able to the left­ist groups and Dalit groups. They could bring togeth­er com­mu­ni­ties opposed to the Hin­du right.
    ...

    Orga­niz­ers against reli­gious super­sti­tions, idol wor­ship among Hin­dus, and a Com­mu­nist com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er and colum­nist were all gunned down in exact­ly the same way: an assas­sin on a motor­bike. Also note that pre­lim­i­nary analy­sis of the bul­lets used to kill Lankesh indi­cate it was the same gun used to kill M M Kalbur­gi two years ago. It’s a reminder that killing rea­son is one of the pri­ma­ry tools of fas­cism, either by spread­ing real­ly bad mis­lead­ing ideas or lit­er­al­ly killing peo­ple like these orga­niz­ers. And a more gen­er­al reminder of the far-right’s will­ing­ness to employ polit­i­cal vio­lence when it can’t get its way via the bal­lot box.

    It’s also pos­si­ble that this assas­si­na­tion will back­fire and cre­ate a cli­mate of fear over Hin­du nation­al­ist vio­lence and actu­al­ly dri­ves Dalit vot­ers away from the BJP. If that hap­pens it’s going to be inter­est­ing to see what the BJP does next to win the those votes. We’ll see.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 13, 2017, 10:56 pm
  17. Fol­low­ing up on the assas­si­na­tion of Gau­ri Lankesh and the larg­er Hin­du nation­al­ist assas­si­na­tion cam­paign tak­ing place in India against left-wing orga­niz­ers who demon­strate a capac­i­ty for bridg­ing the divide between the Dal­its and var­i­ous left-wing move­ments, it’s worth look­ing at one of the oth­er tech­niques the BJP appears to be using to win the votes of the Dal­its and oth­er low-caste vot­ing demo­graph­ics that Naren­dra Modi needs to win reelec­tion and take con­trol of the par­lia­ment: elec­tron­ic vot­ing machine rig­ging. As we’re going to see, the shock vic­to­ries of the BJP in places like Uttar Pradesh and Uttarak­hand includ­ed some rather shock­ing vot­ing pat­terns. Like the BJP, a par­ty led a Modi who has been open­ly flirt­ing with endors­ing Hin­du-on-Mus­lim vio­lence through­out his career, win­ning in major­i­ty Mus­lim dis­tricts in Uttar Pradesh. Or a BJP offi­cial post­ing his vot­ing result pre­dic­tions on Face­book before the elec­tion in Uttarak­hand which shock­ing accu­ra­cy. And then there’s the sub­se­quent “Hackathon chal­lenge” that the Modi gov­ern­ment arrange to quell these con­cerns but mere­ly exac­er­bat­ed them by being a joke.

    But first, let’s take a look a the kind of chal­lenges Mod­i’s BJP was fac­ing in Uttar Pradesh, and the impor­tance of the Dalit vote there for his elec­toral future and the suc­cess of his far-right agen­da

    Reuters

    Modi sees elec­tion dan­ger in Indi­a’s ‘Dalit Queen’

    Tom­my Wilkes, Rupam Jain
    Octo­ber 23, 2016 / 6:10 PM /

    LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) — When Amit Shah, pres­i­dent of Naren­dra Modi’s rul­ing par­ty, meets with the Indi­an prime min­is­ter, he is some­times asked a ques­tion he strug­gles to answer: “What is behen­ji think­ing?”

    By “behen­ji”, or “old­er sis­ter”, Modi means Mayawati, the enig­mat­ic politi­cian and for­mer ruler of India’s most pop­u­lous state, Uttar Pradesh.

    Modi’s keen inter­est in what the 60-year-old is up to reflects con­cern about his polit­i­cal prospects, amid an eco­nom­ic recov­ery that many poor Indi­ans have yet to feel and ris­ing social ten­sions among size­able minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties.

    With a near-devo­tion­al fol­low­ing from tens of mil­lions of peo­ple who, like her, belong to the bot­tom rung of India’s social hier­ar­chy, Mayawati is emerg­ing as Modi’s chief chal­lenger in a key state elec­tion set for ear­ly next year.

    “Mayawati is the biggest threat to our vic­to­ry,” San­jeev Balyan, a fed­er­al min­is­ter in Modi’s gov­ern­ment, told Reuters.

    “The one who becomes the chief min­is­ter of Uttar Pradesh gets to be the most pow­er­ful polit­i­cal leader after the prime min­is­ter.”

    Modi’s Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty (BJP) swept Uttar Pradesh, home to 200 mil­lion peo­ple, in the 2014 gen­er­al elec­tion, hand­ing him the biggest par­lia­men­tary major­i­ty in three decades.

    A repeat of that suc­cess would help Modi, who remains pop­u­lar among most Indi­ans, wrest con­trol of the fed­er­al parliament’s upper house, mak­ing it eas­i­er than it has been to pass key reforms.

    It would also sig­nif­i­cant­ly advance his chances of retain­ing pow­er when India choos­es its next prime min­is­ter in 2019.

    But vio­lent attacks on Dal­its, as those on the low­est social rung are known, are turn­ing the opin­ion of some against the BJP and its Hin­du nation­al­ist sup­port­ers, giv­ing Mayawati a new lease of life as she seeks a polit­i­cal renais­sance.

    (For graph­ic on Indi­a’s elec­toral map, click tmsnrt.rs/1TOkZRF)

    WHERE ARE DALIT JOBS?

    Mayawati is call­ing on minor­i­ty groups to reject the BJP, whose roots are in Hin­du nation­al­ism that many Dal­its and Mus­lims see as a threat to their way of life.

    ...

    Speak­ing on the side­lines of the ral­ly, Mayawati’s Bahu­jan Samaj Par­ty (BSP) gen­er­al sec­re­tary Satish Mishra said Dal­its and Mus­lims “were total­ly unsafe” under Modi, a view that reflects Mayawati’s strat­e­gy to try and con­vince the two groups to vote as one.

    Some low­er caste vot­ers desert­ed her BSP in 2014, allow­ing the BJP to win 71 out of 80 seats. But a series of attacks on Dal­its this year has re-ener­gised Mayawati.

    Self-styled hard­line Hin­du cow pro­tec­tors have tar­get­ed Dal­its and Mus­lims who make mon­ey skin­ning dead cows, accus­ing them of killing ani­mals sacred to Hin­dus.

    In July, footage emerged of four low­er caste men tied to a car, stripped and being flogged in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, trig­ger­ing vio­lent protests.

    Dressed in her trade­mark beige sal­war kameez, Mayawati has sped across the coun­try to appear at the side of vic­tims.

    “Mayawati has her­self a god­send,” said Ramesh Dix­it, a for­mer pro­fes­sor of polit­i­cal sci­ence at Luc­know Uni­ver­si­ty, refer­ring to the attacks.

    “FIRST-RATE EGOMANIAC”

    Born into a fam­i­ly of leather work­ers and raised in a Del­hi slum, Mayawati, unmar­ried and her pri­vate life fierce­ly guard­ed, lives in a win­dow­less room in a pala­tial house with 20-foot bound­ary walls and a tow­er­ing stat­ue of her­self in the gar­den.

    A “Dalit Queen” to the mil­lions des­tined to a life sweep­ing streets or rag-pick­ing under the Hin­du caste sys­tem that defines peo­ple by job, crit­ics have accused her of lav­ish­ing mon­ey on lux­u­ry homes and dia­mond neck­laces while ignor­ing the poor.

    Dur­ing her 2007–2012 term as Uttar Pradesh chief min­is­ter, she spent mil­lions of dol­lars on vast memo­r­i­al parks with life-sized mar­ble and sand­stone stat­ues of ele­phants, her par­ty sym­bol, of Dalit icons and of her­self — echo­ing the region’s 19th cen­tu­ry Mus­lim rulers who built mon­u­ments to pre­serve their lega­cies.

    A U.S. diplo­mat­ic cable released by Wik­iLeaks in 2011 described her as a “first-rate ego­ma­ni­ac” and she remains unapolo­getic about her per­son­al extrav­a­gance, although offi­cials in her par­ty say she has since reduced the lev­el of pub­lic pomp.

    ...

    BJP CHIEF‘S 150 VISITS

    Shah, one of Modi’s most trust­ed con­fi­dants and his chief elec­tion strate­gist, is bet­ting he can expand the BJP’s appeal from its tra­di­tion­al base of pros­per­ous and upper caste vot­ers to less priv­i­leged Indi­ans.

    In the past 24 months, Shah has vis­it­ed Uttar Pradesh more than 150 times.

    Mayawati lost pow­er in 2012 to the incum­bent social­ist region­al par­ty that is also expect­ed to put up a tough fight in state elec­tions pro­vi­sion­al­ly sched­uled for Feb­ru­ary.

    But it is Mayawati whom Modi and Shah fear most, three sources close to the men told Reuters.

    Dal­its account for 22 per­cent of Uttar Pradesh’s pop­u­la­tion, and Mus­lims, many of whom also feel dis­en­fran­chised by Modi, the BJP and their con­ser­v­a­tive Hin­du back­ers, anoth­er 19 per­cent.

    Modi has con­demned the recent attacks, but an influ­en­tial hard­line Hin­du orga­ni­za­tion remind­ed him that open crit­i­cism of cow vig­i­lantes would send the wrong sig­nal to his nat­ur­al sup­port base.

    The effort to win over Dal­its gets to the heart of the dilem­ma fac­ing Modi: he must pla­cate wealth­i­er and mid­dle class Hin­du vot­ers while appeal­ing to the broad­er elec­torate with a vision of a bet­ter future.

    SHARING A MEAL

    Caste remains a defin­ing fea­ture for peo­ple across poor and agrar­i­an Uttar Pradesh, where India’s two-decade eco­nom­ic boom has bare­ly been felt.

    No sin­gle com­mu­ni­ty is numer­ous enough to win an elec­tion, forc­ing par­ties to widen their appeal.

    Start­ing with Shah sit­ting down to share a meal with a Dalit fam­i­ly in May, the BJP has tried to project itself as sid­ing with the poor, even as attacks on mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties cap­ture the head­lines.

    Shah has poached sev­er­al high-pro­file lead­ers from Mayawati and plans to reserve up to half of Uttar Pradesh’s state assem­bly seats for Dal­its, one source close to Shah said.

    Modi has praised the work of Dalit hero B.R. Ambed­kar, and the BJP also wants to mold new icons from that com­mu­ni­ty.

    At this month’s annu­al meet­ing of Hin­du nation­al­ist group Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh, the ide­o­log­i­cal par­ent of the BJP which holds con­sid­er­able sway over the par­ty, the chief guest was a mem­ber of the dirt-poor Dalit street sweep­ing com­mu­ni­ty.

    RISING ASPIRATIONS

    Not every­one from the low­er castes is sure of who will best serve them.

    Fifty kilo­me­tres east of Luc­know, in Bedaru, vil­lager Ramp­yari, illit­er­ate and unsure of her age, is see­ing the seeds of change that the BJP hopes will win votes.

    Upper caste Indi­ans have begun to per­mit her fam­i­ly to attend the same tem­ple, although not at the same time, while a gas can­is­ter will short­ly replace her wood­en stove under a scheme launched by Modi.

    Still, her sup­port of Mayawati is unwa­ver­ing, and upon hear­ing the name, Ramp­yari said: “She has to come back. Dal­its feel empow­ered when she is in pow­er.”

    But in a cen­tral Luc­know slum, Shob­ha Valmi­ki makes $25 a month col­lect­ing waste, and feels let down by her.

    “Noth­ing has changed,” she said, as goats and don­keys wan­dered down her rub­bish-strewn lane. “They address me as scav­enger, not by my own name.”

    ———-

    “Modi sees elec­tion dan­ger in Indi­a’s ‘Dalit Queen’ ” by Tom­my Wilkes, Rupam Jain Reuters; Reuters; 10/23/2016

    “The one who becomes the chief min­is­ter of Uttar Pradesh gets to be the most pow­er­ful polit­i­cal leader after the prime min­is­ter.”

    As we can see, a vic­to­ry in Uttar Pradesh is is a mas­sive polit­i­cal prize. A prize that the BJP won in 2014 when it swept the state in the gen­er­al elec­tion. But a repeat is going to be a lot hard­er giv­en all the anti-Dalit or anti-Mus­lim attacks by Mod­i’s Hin­du nation­al­ist base (in par­tic­u­lar the “cow vig­i­lante” move­ment), so the BJP is respond­ing. With lots of lots of pro-Dalit the­atrics:

    ...
    Modi’s Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty (BJP) swept Uttar Pradesh, home to 200 mil­lion peo­ple, in the 2014 gen­er­al elec­tion, hand­ing him the biggest par­lia­men­tary major­i­ty in three decades.

    A repeat of that suc­cess would help Modi, who remains pop­u­lar among most Indi­ans, wrest con­trol of the fed­er­al parliament’s upper house, mak­ing it eas­i­er than it has been to pass key reforms.

    It would also sig­nif­i­cant­ly advance his chances of retain­ing pow­er when India choos­es its next prime min­is­ter in 2019.

    But vio­lent attacks on Dal­its, as those on the low­est social rung are known, are turn­ing the opin­ion of some against the BJP and its Hin­du nation­al­ist sup­port­ers, giv­ing Mayawati a new lease of life as she seeks a polit­i­cal renais­sance.

    ...

    Caste remains a defin­ing fea­ture for peo­ple across poor and agrar­i­an Uttar Pradesh, where India’s two-decade eco­nom­ic boom has bare­ly been felt.

    No sin­gle com­mu­ni­ty is numer­ous enough to win an elec­tion, forc­ing par­ties to widen their appeal.

    Start­ing with Shah sit­ting down to share a meal with a Dalit fam­i­ly in May, the BJP has tried to project itself as sid­ing with the poor, even as attacks on mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties cap­ture the head­lines.

    Shah has poached sev­er­al high-pro­file lead­ers from Mayawati and plans to reserve up to half of Uttar Pradesh’s state assem­bly seats for Dal­its, one source close to Shah said.

    Modi has praised the work of Dalit hero B.R. Ambed­kar, and the BJP also wants to mold new icons from that com­mu­ni­ty.
    ...

    And even the fas­cist RSS is get­ting in on the Dalit love the­atrics:

    ...
    At this month’s annu­al meet­ing of Hin­du nation­al­ist group Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh, the ide­o­log­i­cal par­ent of the BJP which holds con­sid­er­able sway over the par­ty, the chief guest was a mem­ber of the dirt-poor Dalit street sweep­ing com­mu­ni­ty.
    ...

    But despite that, the BJP was still clear­ly feel­ing quite threat­ened by Mayawati, the “Dalit Queen” head­ing into this year’s state elec­tions in Uttar Pradesh. So how did the BJP do? Shock­ing­ly well, win­ning 69 of the 85 seats. So well that, in addi­tion to win­ning over the Dalit vote, and despite not mak­ing a sim­i­lar pro-Mus­lim out­reach cam­paign like the BJP has done for the Dal­its, the BJP even man­aged to win Mus­lim-dom­i­nat­ed seats too. It was the kind of shock­ing vic­to­ry for the BJP that left many scratch­ing ask­ing if the vote was tam­pered with, which is very pos­si­ble giv­en the use of elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines in that elec­tion:

    IndiaToday.in

    UP elec­tion results: BJP tam­pered with EVMs, could­n’t have won oth­er­wise in Mus­lim bas­tions, says Mayawati

    How come the BJP man­aged to win in Mus­lim bas­tions across the state. Did the EVMs not accept votes cast for oth­er par­ties, Mayawati won­dered.

    | Post­ed by Ankit Mis­ra
    New Del­hi, March 11, 2017 | UPDATED 17:50 IST

    Express­ing shock and dis­be­lief over the Uttar Pradesh Assem­bly elec­tion results, Bahu­jan Samaj Par­ty (BSP) supre­mo Mayawati today accused the Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty (BJP) of tam­per­ing with elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines (EVMs).

    “How come the BJP man­aged to win in Mus­lim bas­tions in the state. The poll results are very sur­pris­ing”, Mayawati said.

    Alleg­ing that there was mas­sive rig­ging of vot­ing machines in the state to favour the BJP, the BSP chief said, “Most votes in Mus­lim major­i­ty con­stituen­cies have gone to the BJP. This makes it clear that the vot­ing machines were manip­u­lat­ed.”

    Is is that the EVMs did not accept the votes cast for oth­er par­ties, Mayawati won­dered. “Mus­lims con­sti­tute 20 per cent votes in the state and the BJP did not give a sin­gle tick­et to Mus­lims. But in Mus­lim-dom­i­nat­ed seats also, the results went in the BJP’s favour and this is unpalat­able to the BSP,” Mayawati said.

    BSP COMPLAINS TO POLL PANEL

    In a let­ter to the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, the BSP said that it had been informed by sev­er­al peo­ple that there had been grave manip­u­la­tion in vot­ing machines by soft­ware and tech­nol­o­gy experts hired by the BJP. Mayawati claimed that a sim­i­lar com­plaint was made by her par­ty­men in the 2014 Lok Sab­ha polls but she had pre­ferred to stay silent, think­ing it was Modi wave and anti-Con­gress sen­ti­ment.

    “They were nowhere close to win­ning at the ground lev­el dur­ing elec­tions. The BJP could not have got so many votes with­out tam­per­ing with EVMs”, a state­ment released by the BSP said.

    Mayawati appealed to the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion to stop count­ing votes, with­hold results and hold fresh polls using tra­di­tion­al paper bal­lots.

    ...

    Issu­ing an open warn­ing to the BJP, Mayawati said they need not be hap­py that they got a major­i­ty as they have “killed democ­ra­cy and this is betray­al of democ­ra­cy”.

    ———-

    “UP elec­tion results: BJP tam­pered with EVMs, could­n’t have won oth­er­wise in Mus­lim bas­tions, says Mayawati” by Ankit Mis­ra; IndiaToday.in; 03/11/2017

    “Alleg­ing that there was mas­sive rig­ging of vot­ing machines in the state to favour the BJP, the BSP chief said, “Most votes in Mus­lim major­i­ty con­stituen­cies have gone to the BJP. This makes it clear that the vot­ing machines were manip­u­lat­ed.””

    Yeah, Modi win­ning in major­i­ty Mus­lim dis­tricts is rather sus­pi­cious. And it’s hard to put it past a far-right to rig the vote if that’s an option and they think they can get away with it. We are talk­ing about a fun­da­men­tal­ly far-right, author­i­tar­i­an move­ment that views poor peo­ple as a resource to be con­trolled and man­aged, after all. Steal­ing the vote should be expect­ed if it’s an option.

    And that was just in Uttar Pradesh. Then there was the state elec­tion in Uttarak­hand, where the BJP got 56 out of 70 seats. Alone that kind of over­whelm­ing result would be rather sur­pris­ing. But when you fac­tor in that the elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines were appar­ent­ly swapped at the last minute, against pro­to­col, and that the aide to the BJP spokesper­son for one of the dis­tricts, Vikas­na­gara, man­aged to guess with stun­ning accu­ra­cy the vil­lage-lev­el results where elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines were used, the BJP’s stun­ning sweep quick­ly went from sur­pris­ing to sus­pi­cious:

    The Indi­an Express

    Uttarak­hand HC orders seizure of EVMs from six con­stituen­cies
    The six Assem­bly con­stituen­cies con­stituen­cies are Mus­soorie, Raipur, Rajpur, Ranipur, Prat­ap­pur and Harid­war Rur­al

    Writ­ten by Ashutosh Bhard­waj | New Del­hi | Updat­ed: May 2, 2017 8:04 am

    Days after the Uttarak­hand High Court ordered seizure of all EVMs used dur­ing the recent assem­bly polls in Vikas­na­gar con­stituen­cy of Dehradun dis­trict, it ordered the seizure of EVMs used in six more con­stituen­cies on Mon­day. Tak­ing cog­nizance of peti­tions filed by Con­gress can­di­dates who lost from these seats where polling was held on Feb­ru­ary 15, a sin­gle-judge bench of Jus­tice Servesh Kumar Gup­ta issued notices to the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of India, State Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and oth­ers, ask­ing them to respond with­in six weeks.

    Alleg­ing tam­per­ing of EVMs, the Con­gress can­di­dates have sub­mit­ted “cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence” to claim that the EVMs allot­ted at many booths were not the ones that were used dur­ing vot­ing. The six con­stituen­cies are Rajpur Road, BHEL Ranipur, Raipur, Mus­soorie, Prat­ap­na­gar and Harid­war Rur­al. Bar­ring Prat­ap­na­gar, all the oth­er seats are in the two dis­tricts of Dehradun and Harid­war. While a vot­er has filed the peti­tion in Harid­war Rur­al — where for­mer Chief Min­is­ter Har­ish Rawat was defeat­ed by a BJP can­di­date — all oth­er peti­tions have been filed by Con­gress can­di­dates.

    “We have filed peti­tions cit­ing cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence to show that the elec­tions were rigged. The HC has tak­en cog­nizance and ordered the seizure of EVMs,” Vikasnagar’s Con­gress can­di­date Navprab­hat told The Indi­an Express.

    “The HC has issued notices to the Gov­ern­ment of India, Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of India, State Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, Dis­trict Elec­tion Offi­cer, return­ing offi­cer and win­ning can­di­dates to respond with­in six weeks,” he said.

    “Before polling, a return­ing offi­cer sup­plies a list of all the EVM machines to be used in the con­stituen­cy. But the machines which were sup­plied to the booths and final­ly used for polling were not the same as the ones that were assigned for those booths,” alleged Congress’s coun­sel Avtar Singh.

    “In Raipur con­stituen­cy, we found dis­crep­an­cies in over 30 booths. The EVMs that were used here were not the ones that were assigned. This is a seri­ous crime. This pat­tern is record­ed in all the 70 seats,” claimed Navprab­hat. “Dis­crep­an­cy at 30 booths means 30,000 votes. It’s a big num­ber,” he said, adding that they were exam­in­ing EVMs “across the state” now.

    “We do not know how these machines were changed, how they were pro­grammed,” said Singh, adding that while some EVMs are changed at the last minute if there is a prob­lem with the allot­ted machines, there were “largescale dis­crep­an­cies” in the assem­bly polls. He also alleged that some BJP can­di­date were enrolled as vot­ers in two places.

    Dis­miss­ing the charges, BJP spokesper­son and Vikas­na­gar MLA Munna Singh Chauhan said: “We respect the judi­cial process, but these alle­ga­tions are base­less and an insult to the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of India… This is sheer frus­tra­tion of the Con­gress par­ty. They have still not accept­ed that they have been wiped out. EVMs were checked before polling in the pres­ence of elec­tion agents of every par­ty. No dis­crep­an­cy was found dur­ing the tri­al run. If the Con­gress is rais­ing the issue now, what were their elec­tion agents doing then.”

    Giv­ing details of the pur­port­ed evi­dence men­tioned in his peti­tion, Navprab­hat said: “On March 2, Raju Bin­jo­la pre­pared a detailed pre­dic­tion of the elec­tion results and post­ed it on Face­book. It gave vil­lage-wise details of the votes for me, the BJP can­di­date and Inde­pen­dents. He was proved almost cor­rect,” he said. Count­ing of votes was held on March 11.

    Bin­jo­la, a BJP mem­bers, is an aide of Chauhan. Bin­jo­la pre­dict­ed that Navprab­hat would get 32,572 votes and Chauhan would get 37,590 votes. The actu­al vote count was 32,477 and 38,895 respec­tive­ly.

    Bin­jo­la pre­dict­ed the votes for 33 local­i­ties in his Face­book post. Navprab­hat claimed that it was a near-accu­rate pre­dic­tion for every vil­lage. “How could he get such accu­ra­cy? The only minor dif­fer­ence is that Munna Singh got near­ly 1,000 more votes than he had pre­dict­ed,” he said.

    Asked about Binjola’s Face­book post, Chauhan said: “I pre­dict­ed close to 60 seats, and we got 57 seats. Can the elec­tion be quashed on this basis? Many peo­ple spec­u­late about the results. If you raise alle­ga­tions on the basis of such spec­u­la­tion, then no elec­tion can be held in the future. These alle­ga­tions reflect the polit­i­cal bank­rupt­cy of the Con­gress.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Uttarak­hand HC orders seizure of EVMs from six con­stituen­cies” by Ashutosh Bhard­waj; The Indi­an Express; 05/02/2017

    Alleg­ing tam­per­ing of EVMs, the Con­gress can­di­dates have sub­mit­ted “cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence” to claim that the EVMs allot­ted at many booths were not the ones that were used dur­ing vot­ing. The six con­stituen­cies are Rajpur Road, BHEL Ranipur, Raipur, Mus­soorie, Prat­ap­na­gar and Harid­war Rur­al. Bar­ring Prat­ap­na­gar, all the oth­er seats are in the two dis­tricts of Dehradun and Harid­war. While a vot­er has filed the peti­tion in Harid­war Rur­al — where for­mer Chief Min­is­ter Har­ish Rawat was defeat­ed by a BJP can­di­date — all oth­er peti­tions have been filed by Con­gress can­di­dates.”

    Elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines swapped out at the last minute before wave vic­to­ry. Yeah, that’s sus­pi­cious:

    ...
    “Before polling, a return­ing offi­cer sup­plies a list of all the EVM machines to be used in the con­stituen­cy. But the machines which were sup­plied to the booths and final­ly used for polling were not the same as the ones that were assigned for those booths,” alleged Congress’s coun­sel Avtar Singh.

    “In Raipur con­stituen­cy, we found dis­crep­an­cies in over 30 booths. The EVMs that were used here were not the ones that were assigned. This is a seri­ous crime. This pat­tern is record­ed in all the 70 seats,” claimed Navprab­hat. “Dis­crep­an­cy at 30 booths means 30,000 votes. It’s a big num­ber,” he said, adding that they were exam­in­ing EVMs “across the state” now.

    “We do not know how these machines were changed, how they were pro­grammed,” said Singh, adding that while some EVMs are changed at the last minute if there is a prob­lem with the allot­ted machines, there were “largescale dis­crep­an­cies” in the assem­bly polls. He also alleged that some BJP can­di­date were enrolled as vot­ers in two places.
    ...

    And then a BJP man­ages to almost guess the results in advance:

    ...
    Giv­ing details of the pur­port­ed evi­dence men­tioned in his peti­tion, Navprab­hat said: “On March 2, Raju Bin­jo­la pre­pared a detailed pre­dic­tion of the elec­tion results and post­ed it on Face­book. It gave vil­lage-wise details of the votes for me, the BJP can­di­date and Inde­pen­dents. He was proved almost cor­rect,” he said. Count­ing of votes was held on March 11.

    Bin­jo­la, a BJP mem­bers, is an aide of Chauhan. Bin­jo­la pre­dict­ed that Navprab­hat would get 32,572 votes and Chauhan would get 37,590 votes. The actu­al vote count was 32,477 and 38,895 respec­tive­ly.

    Bin­jo­la pre­dict­ed the votes for 33 local­i­ties in his Face­book post. Navprab­hat claimed that it was a near-accu­rate pre­dic­tion for every vil­lage. “How could he get such accu­ra­cy? The only minor dif­fer­ence is that Munna Singh got near­ly 1,000 more votes than he had pre­dict­ed,” he said.
    ...

    And that’s just Uttar Pradesh and Uttarak­hand.

    So how is the gov­ern­ment respond­ing to these charges? Well, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of India (ECI) came up with a inter­est­ing scheme: a “Hackathon”, where 49 par­ties were invit­ed to attempt to hack a selec­tion of vot­ing machines in order to prove their case. It’s not the worst idea to help address the issue, unless, of course, the rules are set up to make the whole thing a farce. Which, of course, is exact­ly what hap­pened:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post India

    Dear Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, Here’s Why Your EVM ‘Hackathon’ Is A Jokeathon
    And vot­ers are the butt of the joke.

    Ankit Lal
    Head, AAP Inno­va­tion and IT Team; Com­mu­ni­ca­tion in-charge, AAP Over­seas and Fundrais­ing
    26/05/2017 8:45 AM IST | Updat­ed 26/05/2017 8:45 AM IST

    On the 20th of May 2017 the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of India (ECI) announced that it would offer its elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines to polit­i­cal par­ties for them to try and prove that EVMs can be tam­pered with. The chal­lenge will begin on June 3.

    The ECI has put forth some con­di­tions for the sup­posed hackathon. It’s a long list but here are the most impor­tant points:

    * The chal­lenge will only be open to up to three mem­bers nom­i­nat­ed by nation­al and state par­ties which con­test­ed assem­bly polls in five states.
    * Each par­tic­i­pat­ing group will be giv­en four hours to hack the machine.
    * For­eign experts have been barred from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the chal­lenge.
    * Par­tic­i­pants can use a com­bi­na­tion of keys on EVMs or com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices such as cell phones and Blue­tooth to tam­per with the machines to change the results.

    Before talk­ing about the above points and dis­sect­ing them one by one I will address some ques­tions being asked by some scep­tics.

    Unpack­ing the EVM con­tro­ver­sy

    Q1. Is AAP against EVMs? Does it want to take India back by a few decades?

    While much of the west­ern world, which hap­pens to be far more tech­no­log­i­cal­ly advanced than India, has shunned the elec­tron­ic vot­ing sys­tem, we insist on stick­ing to it. The Nether­lands and Ger­many have done away with them com­plete­ly, while in the USA indi­vid­ual states can choose whether to use EVM or paper bal­lot. Then there is Japan, the bas­tion of all things high-tech, which start­ed the EVM project but did away with it with­out every using it in an elec­tion.

    The only major advan­tage of EVMs is that the count­ing time is a lot less than in the paper bal­lot sys­tem. The oth­er argu­ment is that it saves paper, but by how much? Let’s take a typ­i­cal sce­nario for one booth with about 15 can­di­dates. So one EVM machine can hold votes for one booth (around 1200 votes) and the life­time of one EVM is 10 years. In 10 years, if a machine is used for five elec­tions, two nation­al and three state, then one machine would save around 6000 news­pa­per-size sheets of paper over a decade.

    But—and it’s a big but—paper is a local­ly avail­able resource and eas­i­ly recy­clable while the elec­tron­ic cir­cuit stor­age, main­te­nance, trans­port and most impor­tant­ly, dis­pos­al is a huge chal­lenge. Also, the peo­ple required to man­age paper bal­lots need no spe­cial train­ing while man­ag­ing EVMs requires train­ing. While paper bal­lot elec­tions can be man­aged eas­i­ly by class 3 and 4 employ­ees, man­ag­ing EVM-based vot­ing requires reg­u­lar inter­ven­tion from class 1 or class 2 offi­cers.

    Despite all that, EVMs are still being used. It is clear that we should look at how to improve the exist­ing sys­tem. The Hon’ble Supreme Court ordered the imple­men­ta­tion of the Vot­er-Ver­i­fi­able Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) and after lan­guish­ing for sev­er­al years, now the Union gov­ern­ment has final­ly released the funds.

    Q2. Won’t VVPAT make the vot­ing process more reli­able?

    The ECI and EVM sup­port­ers have been say­ing that the VVPAT will make the vot­ing process more reli­able. That estab­lish­es one thing for sure—the process is not reli­able right now! The fact that EVMs can be tam­pered (much like any oth­er elec­tron­ic equip­ment) is not under ques­tion. That’s why the Supreme Court asked for imple­men­ta­tion of the VVPAT in the first place—because EVMs are not fool­proof. The ECI claimed the process is secure but the Supreme Court did­n’t buy its argu­ment.

    First of all we need to under­stand how VVPAT fits into the EVM sys­tem.

    Cur­rent­ly, the EVM has a Bal­lot Unit (BU) and a Con­trol Unit (CU). The BU is the part where the votes are polled and the CU is where the votes are stored. The two are con­nect­ed by a long wire. The votes that are in the CU are the ones that are count­ed for the elec­tion results. The apex court said that this is not enough and that the vot­er needs to be assured that his/her vote is going to the per­son they vot­ed for. For this pur­pose the VVPAT was intro­duced.

    Now let’s see what VVPAT does as of now and what it should be doing. Cur­rent­ly, the VVPAT, which is basi­cal­ly a print­er, prints out a slip with the name and elec­tion sym­bol of the can­di­date that the vot­er vot­ed for. The slip is vis­i­ble for sev­en sec­onds to the vot­er post which it falls into a box. The slips only serve the pur­pose of assur­ing the vot­er that their vote went to the right can­di­date. It does­n’t have any ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the ulti­mate elec­toral result.

    What should hap­pen, how­ev­er (and which in India that cur­rent­ly hap­pens in the rarest of rare sce­nar­ios), is that the VVPAT result should be com­pared to the CU result. If the VVPAT does­n’t have any impact on the actu­al result, it’s as good as not hav­ing it. One mod­el that we at AAP have pro­posed is that 25% of VVPAT results should be com­pared with the CU result on a ran­dom basis.

    How­ev­er, while on this quest to dig into EVMs I came across two very inter­est­ing sto­ries around VVPATs. One is around the result com­par­i­son and that is the one I will share first.

    The ECI has a team of experts that gives it sug­ges­tions on EVMs. The pri­ma­ry rea­son for this is that ECI offi­cials are non-tech­ni­cal bureau­crats. One of these experts, rumoured to be a pro­fes­sor in IIT Del­hi, gave a sug­ges­tion around VVPAT recount­ing. His pro­pos­al was that instead of the VVPAT slips get­ting cut and falling into a con­tain­er, the slips can be rolled back using an auto­mat­ed mech­a­nism and when the results come, both VVPAT and CU results can be count­ed in an auto­mat­ed man­ner and all crit­ics could be answered. That way an auto­mat­ed man­ner of count­ing could be main­tained while cross-ver­i­fy­ing the results at all the VVPAT booths. The inter­est­ing part is that instead of being applaud­ed for the idea, the pro­fes­sor was asked to leave the meet­ing. (This sto­ry was told to me by a per­son who was in the meet­ing but has asked to not be named.)

    The sec­ond sto­ry was shared with me by VV Rao, whose peti­tion (civ­il) No 292 of 2009 result­ed in the Supreme Court in 2013 direct­ing the ECI to work along with the peti­tion­ers for the imple­men­ta­tion of the VVPAT. After the release of funds of ?3256 crores by the GOI the peti­tion­er VV Rao tried to get in touch with the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion­er. He made sev­er­al vis­its to the EC office try­ing to get an appoint­ment but fail­ing to do so. He then wrote an email to the CEC Dr Zai­di ask­ing for an appoint­ment. In his reply to Rao, Dr Zai­di redi­rect­ed Mr Rao to an Elec­tron­ics Cor­po­ra­tion of India Lim­it­ed (ECIL) con­sul­tant. (The above email con­ver­sa­tion is avail­able with Mr VV Rao and any­one with any doubts can reach out to him and ver­i­fy).

    So, is the SC order being imple­ment­ed by ECIL or by EC?

    ...

    Why the EC’s hackathon con­di­tions are laugh­able

    Now com­ing back to some of the pri­ma­ry con­di­tions put forth by the EC for the sup­posed hackathon—which I would like to rechris­ten as “jokeathon”—and my rebut­tal to them.

    Con­di­tion 1: The chal­lenge will only be open to up to three mem­bers nom­i­nat­ed by nation­al and state par­ties which con­test­ed assem­bly polls in five states.

    Why can’t inde­pen­dent tech­ni­cal experts, teams from IITs or sim­i­lar insti­tu­tions and peo­ple who work in firms deal­ing specif­i­cal­ly in VLSI and chip man­u­fac­tur­ing try their hand at hack­ing the EVMs? Most such pro­fes­sion­als have no polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tion, so why is the EC not let­ting them demon­strate the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of EVMs?

    Con­di­tion 2: Each par­tic­i­pat­ing group will be giv­en four hours to hack the machine.

    Just to do a “black box test­ing” of five key com­bi­na­tions out of the 16 avail­able on the BU means 10,48,576 com­bi­na­tions. Giv­en that there is a gap of about 15 sec­onds between two but­ton push­es (includes time for reac­ti­va­tion of BU from CU after each but­ton press and the beep dura­tion), the num­ber of sec­onds required is 1,57,28,640, which is 262144 min­utes which is around 4369 hours or rough­ly 182 days. Even if we choose to test only 5% of the pos­si­ble com­bi­na­tions, the num­ber of days of non­stop key­strokes required at every 15 sec­onds would be a bit more than nine days.

    Also, does the EC real­ly think that any­one actu­al­ly try­ing to manip­u­late EVMs would only have four hours and three tech­ni­cal peo­ple at their dis­pos­al?

    Con­di­tion 3: For­eign experts can­not par­tic­i­pate in the chal­lenge.

    Of course! How can we allow for­eign experts? The facts that we still pro­cure the chips used in EVMs from Japan and the USA, and that the code that is flashed in the chips is not a facil­i­ty that is avail­able in India till date, are irrel­e­vant. Also, we export these EVMs to great democ­ra­cies of the world like Nepal, Namib­ia, Botswana and Kenya. Any for­eign expert, if they actu­al­ly want to lay their hands on the machine can get them from there, but it will be blas­phe­my if we allow them to do so on Indi­an soil.

    Con­di­tion 4: Par­tic­i­pants can use a com­bi­na­tion of keys on EVMs or com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices such as cell phones and Blue­tooth to tam­per with the machines to change the results.

    I’ve already explained the illog­i­cal time lim­it giv­en for test­ing using key com­bi­na­tions (known as black box test­ing in tech­ni­cal terms). The sec­ond option giv­en by the EC is using over-the-air com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices. If the EC is will­ing to divulge the hand­shake mech­a­nism and oth­er details between the BU and CU, it would be child’s play for even a 3rd year Elec­tron­ics Engi­neer­ing stu­dent to hack the machine, but fig­ur­ing out the hand­shake details is what will take a lot of time and some high-end equip­ment. Again, the equip­ment con­fig­u­ra­tion will change based on what chip is being used in the EVM and what gen­er­a­tion the machine belongs to.

    ***

    The EC is basi­cal­ly saying—you can test the machine for all pos­si­ble key­strokes but we won’t give you enough time. And you can try and tam­per with it using over-the-air com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices such as cell phones and Blue­tooth but we won’t give you enough time to fig­ure out what the com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­to­col between the two can be.

    Saurabh Bhard­waj has inside the Del­hi Assem­bly shown that how a seem­ing­ly per­fect machine can be manip­u­lat­ed. What he demon­strat­ed is per­fect­ly replic­a­ble with any EVM giv­en enough time and per­mis­sion to tam­per with the hard­ware. By chang­ing the print­ed cir­cuit board (PCB) inside an EVM it is pos­si­ble. And that is just one of sev­er­al ways.

    So, dear EC, we are not try­ing to do a “mann ki baat” with the EVMs. We want to do actu­al tam­per­ing with the machines—for that to be done you need to first of all come up with an actu­al set of guide­lines framed by tech­ni­cal peo­ple whose aim is to improve the exist­ing EVM sys­tem, and not those draft­ed by some bureau­crats whose only aim is to main­tain the sta­tus quo. Because let me assure you, what­ev­er hap­pens, the sta­tus quo is too dan­ger­ous for Indi­an democ­ra­cy and can­not be allowed to con­tin­ue.

    ———-

    “Dear Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, Here’s Why Your EVM ‘Hackathon’ Is A Jokeathon” by Ankit Lal; The Huff­in­g­ton Post India; 05/26/2017

    “The EC is basi­cal­ly saying—you can test the machine for all pos­si­ble key­strokes but we won’t give you enough time. And you can try and tam­per with it using over-the-air com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices such as cell phones and Blue­tooth but we won’t give you enough time to fig­ure out what the com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­to­col between the two can be.”

    Yep, it’s a “Hackathon”, where the par­tic­i­pants aren’t actu­al­ly giv­en the time or tech­ni­cal infor­ma­tion on these machines required to real­is­ti­cal­ly hack them. Instead, a team of three peo­ple from each par­tic­i­pat­ing par­ty gets a few hours to try and hack a machine with­out any of that nec­es­sary info, which is a joke since the con­cern isn’t that peo­ple with­out any tech­ni­cal infor­ma­tion about the machines might hack them. It’s con­cerns that machines are vul­ner­a­ble to hack­ing by offi­cials (or pri­vate sec­tor peo­ple with that peo­ple work­ing with those offi­cials) who do have that tech­ni­cal infor­ma­tion. And no for­eign experts were allowed, anoth­er bizarre restric­tion not reflec­tive of real-world con­di­tions:

    ...
    Con­di­tion 2: Each par­tic­i­pat­ing group will be giv­en four hours to hack the machine.

    Just to do a “black box test­ing” of five key com­bi­na­tions out of the 16 avail­able on the BU means 10,48,576 com­bi­na­tions. Giv­en that there is a gap of about 15 sec­onds between two but­ton push­es (includes time for reac­ti­va­tion of BU from CU after each but­ton press and the beep dura­tion), the num­ber of sec­onds required is 1,57,28,640, which is 262144 min­utes which is around 4369 hours or rough­ly 182 days. Even if we choose to test only 5% of the pos­si­ble com­bi­na­tions, the num­ber of days of non­stop key­strokes required at every 15 sec­onds would be a bit more than nine days.

    Also, does the EC real­ly think that any­one actu­al­ly try­ing to manip­u­late EVMs would only have four hours and three tech­ni­cal peo­ple at their dis­pos­al?

    Con­di­tion 3: For­eign experts can­not par­tic­i­pate in the chal­lenge.

    Of course! How can we allow for­eign experts? The facts that we still pro­cure the chips used in EVMs from Japan and the USA, and that the code that is flashed in the chips is not a facil­i­ty that is avail­able in India till date, are irrel­e­vant. Also, we export these EVMs to great democ­ra­cies of the world like Nepal, Namib­ia, Botswana and Kenya. Any for­eign expert, if they actu­al­ly want to lay their hands on the machine can get them from there, but it will be blas­phe­my if we allow them to do so on Indi­an soil.

    Con­di­tion 4: Par­tic­i­pants can use a com­bi­na­tion of keys on EVMs or com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices such as cell phones and Blue­tooth to tam­per with the machines to change the results.

    I’ve already explained the illog­i­cal time lim­it giv­en for test­ing using key com­bi­na­tions (known as black box test­ing in tech­ni­cal terms). The sec­ond option giv­en by the EC is using over-the-air com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices. If the EC is will­ing to divulge the hand­shake mech­a­nism and oth­er details between the BU and CU, it would be child’s play for even a 3rd year Elec­tron­ics Engi­neer­ing stu­dent to hack the machine, but fig­ur­ing out the hand­shake details is what will take a lot of time and some high-end equip­ment. Again, the equip­ment con­fig­u­ra­tion will change based on what chip is being used in the EVM and what gen­er­a­tion the machine belongs to.
    ...

    “Of course! How can we allow for­eign experts? The facts that we still pro­cure the chips used in EVMs from Japan and the USA, and that the code that is flashed in the chips is not a facil­i­ty that is avail­able in India till date, are irrel­e­vant. Also, we export these EVMs to great democ­ra­cies of the world like Nepal, Namib­ia, Botswana and Kenya. Any for­eign expert, if they actu­al­ly want to lay their hands on the machine can get them from there, but it will be blas­phe­my if we allow them to do so on Indi­an soil.”

    First, it’s worth not­ing thatUS sci­en­tist demon­strat­ed that they could hack into Indi­an elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines back in 2010.

    Also note that when you read about Indi­an EVMs get­ting export­ed to nations like Kenya, Kenya just hap­pens to be mired in an elec­tron­ic vot­ing machine tam­per­ing scan­dal at the moment. It would be inter­est­ing to learn the ori­gins of the machines in ques­tion.

    And note the impor­tant point made above about how India imple­ments the

    ...
    Q2. Won’t VVPAT make the vot­ing process more reli­able?

    The ECI and EVM sup­port­ers have been say­ing that the VVPAT will make the vot­ing process more reli­able. That estab­lish­es one thing for sure—the process is not reli­able right now! The fact that EVMs can be tam­pered (much like any oth­er elec­tron­ic equip­ment) is not under ques­tion. That’s why the Supreme Court asked for imple­men­ta­tion of the VVPAT in the first place—because EVMs are not fool­proof. The ECI claimed the process is secure but the Supreme Court did­n’t buy its argu­ment.

    First of all we need to under­stand how VVPAT fits into the EVM sys­tem.

    Cur­rent­ly, the EVM has a Bal­lot Unit (BU) and a Con­trol Unit (CU). The BU is the part where the votes are polled and the CU is where the votes are stored. The two are con­nect­ed by a long wire. The votes that are in the CU are the ones that are count­ed for the elec­tion results. The apex court said that this is not enough and that the vot­er needs to be assured that his/her vote is going to the per­son they vot­ed for. For this pur­pose the VVPAT was intro­duced.

    Now let’s see what VVPAT does as of now and what it should be doing. Cur­rent­ly, the VVPAT, which is basi­cal­ly a print­er, prints out a slip with the name and elec­tion sym­bol of the can­di­date that the vot­er vot­ed for. The slip is vis­i­ble for sev­en sec­onds to the vot­er post which it falls into a box. The slips only serve the pur­pose of assur­ing the vot­er that their vote went to the right can­di­date. It does­n’t have any ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the ulti­mate elec­toral result.

    What should hap­pen, how­ev­er (and which in India that cur­rent­ly hap­pens in the rarest of rare sce­nar­ios), is that the VVPAT result should be com­pared to the CU result. If the VVPAT does­n’t have any impact on the actu­al result, it’s as good as not hav­ing it. One mod­el that we at AAP have pro­posed is that 25% of VVPAT results should be com­pared with the CU result on a ran­dom basis.
    ...

    “Now let’s see what VVPAT does as of now and what it should be doing. Cur­rent­ly, the VVPAT, which is basi­cal­ly a print­er, prints out a slip with the name and elec­tion sym­bol of the can­di­date that the vot­er vot­ed for. The slip is vis­i­ble for sev­en sec­onds to the vot­er post which it falls into a box. The slips only serve the pur­pose of assur­ing the vot­er that their vote went to the right can­di­date. It does­n’t have any ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the ulti­mate elec­toral result.”

    The vot­er-ver­i­fied paper trail does­n’t actu­al­ly serve any pur­pose in the recount. It’s an impor­tant point to make because, as we’re about to see, after the “Hackathon” farce took place, the head of the Elec­tion Comis­sion declare that the Hackathon results, com­bined with Indi­a’s plans to use VVPAT machines in all future elec­tions, means that this is a “close issue”.

    So how did the “Hackathon” turn out? Well, out of the 49 par­ties invit­ed to attend, only two par­tic­i­pat­ed, the Nation­al Con­gress Par­ty (NCP) and Com­mu­nist Par­ty of India (CPM). But they did­n’t actu­al­ly end up try­ing to hack the machines, cit­ing a num­ber of addi­tion­al irreg­u­lar­i­ties. Includ­ing the fact that the machines they were invit­ed to hack were the same kinds of machines used in the elec­tions they were dis­put­ing:

    The Times of India

    Elec­tion Com­mis­sion’s EVM chal­lenge fiz­zles out as CPM, NCP stay away

    Bhar­ti Jain | Updat­ed: Jun 4, 2017, 01:18 IST

    NEW DELHI: The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion’s ‘EVM chal­lenge’, announced after over a dozen par­ties ques­tioned the infal­li­bil­i­ty of EVMs in the back­drop of recent state poll results , end­ed in an anti-cli­max on Sat­ur­day with nei­ther of the two tak­ers for the ‘dare’, CPM and NCP, com­ing for­ward to demon­strate that the machines could be tam­pered with.

    While AAP and BSP, which were at fore­front of the cam­paign against EVMs, stayed away from the chal­lenge, CPM and NCP backed out at the eleventh hour.

    CPM insist­ed it had nev­er intend­ed to attempt tam­per­ing and only par­tic­i­pat­ed to under­stand the EVM process. NCP, too, said it was inter­est­ed only in par­tic­i­pat­ing in an aca­d­e­m­ic exer­cise and opt­ed out of the chal­lenge after it was told by EC that its EVMs were dif­fer­ent from those used in local polls, which hap­pened to be the source of par­ty’s con­cerns regard­ing EVMs. It, how­ev­er, said a sys­tem should be devel­oped to dis­tin­guish ECI’s EVMs from that of state elec­tion com­mis­sions’.

    Chief elec­tion com­mis­sion­er Nasim Zai­di told reporters lat­er that with the EVM chal­lenge now done and with 100% use of VVPAT machines in all future polls, the issue of tam­per­abil­i­ty “stands closed”. Also men­tion­ing the Uttarak­hand HC order restrain­ing polit­i­cal par­ties and oth­ers from crit­i­cis­ing the use of EVMs in recent state polls till all poll peti­tions are dis­posed of, Zai­di said that in the event of any par­ty vio­lat­ing the order, the “EC will take an appro­pri­ate deci­sion”.

    Dur­ing the EVM chal­lenge at the EC head­quar­ters here on Sat­ur­day, NCP rep­re­sen­ta­tive Van­dana Cha­van first refused to try tam­per­ing the EVMs on the grounds that the par­ty was not pro­vid­ed with the mem­o­ry and bat­tery num­ber of the EVMs in advance, as request­ed. She even hand­ed NCP’s let­ter to EC in this regard. EC offi­cials explained this was not pos­si­ble as the EVMs were in a sealed con­di­tion and could only be opened in the pres­ence of par­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the com­mis­sion.

    When EC offered a sealed EVM of its choice to NCP for open­ing and view­ing the mem­o­ry and bat­tery num­ber, NCP said it could not par­tic­i­pate in the chal­lenge due to non-avail­abil­i­ty of the infor­ma­tion in advance. The NCP rep­re­sen­ta­tive also raised an objec­tion to the last minute change in the EVM selec­tion pro­to­col, which EC lat­er said was in line with frame­work of the EVM chal­lenge announced ear­li­er. The com­mis­sion, how­ev­er told NCP that it could come back lat­er to attempt tam­per­ing.

    Final­ly, when EC clar­i­fied that ECI EVMs were not used in local polls, NCP decid­ed to opt out of the chal­lenge.

    CPM rep­re­sen­ta­tives were giv­en a detailed demon­stra­tion by the EC tech­ni­cal team. “CPM team expressed com­plete sat­is­fac­tion and sug­gest­ed that com­mis­sion hold such demon­stra­tion... to allay doubts regard­ing EVMs,” said Zai­di.

    ———-

    “Elec­tion Com­mis­sion’s EVM chal­lenge fiz­zles out as CPM, NCP stay away” by Bhar­ti Jain; The Times of India; 06/04/2017

    “Chief elec­tion com­mis­sion­er Nasim Zai­di told reporters lat­er that with the EVM chal­lenge now done and with 100% use of VVPAT machines in all future polls, the issue of tam­per­abil­i­ty “stands closed”. Also men­tion­ing the Uttarak­hand HC order restrain­ing polit­i­cal par­ties and oth­ers from crit­i­cis­ing the use of EVMs in recent state polls till all poll peti­tions are dis­posed of, Zai­di said that in the event of any par­ty vio­lat­ing the order, the “EC will take an appro­pri­ate deci­sion”.”

    Case closed! Appar­ent­ly. Despite the fact that the elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines they were asked to hack (while adher­ing to the absurd rules) weren’t the vot­ing machines in ques­tion:

    ...
    CPM insist­ed it had nev­er intend­ed to attempt tam­per­ing and only par­tic­i­pat­ed to under­stand the EVM process. NCP, too, said it was inter­est­ed only in par­tic­i­pat­ing in an aca­d­e­m­ic exer­cise and opt­ed out of the chal­lenge after it was told by EC that its EVMs were dif­fer­ent from those used in local polls, which hap­pened to be the source of par­ty’s con­cerns regard­ing EVMs. It, how­ev­er, said a sys­tem should be devel­oped to dis­tin­guish ECI’s EVMs from that of state elec­tion com­mis­sions’.

    ...

    Final­ly, when EC clar­i­fied that ECI EVMs were not used in local polls, NCP decid­ed to opt out of the chal­lenge.
    ...

    So is the issue actu­al­ly resolved at this point, at least in terms of for­mal­ly resolv­ing the legal chal­lenges? Nope, but don’t talk about it any­way. That was the rul­ing of the Uttarak­hand High Court when it ruled that the Hackathon could pro­ceed the day before it took place fol­low­ing a series of chal­lenges say­ing the Hackathon threat­ened their peti­tions to chal­lenge these vote results. Specif­i­cal­ly, the court issued a rul­ing that restrains “all recog­nised nation­al polit­i­cal par­ties, recog­nised state polit­i­cal par­ties, oth­er polit­i­cal par­ties, non-gov­ern­men­tal organ­i­sa­tions (NGOs) and indi­vid­u­als from crit­i­cis­ing the use of EVMs in the recent­ly con­duct­ed elections…even by approach­ing the elec­tron­ic media, press, radio, Face­book, Twit­ter… till deci­sion of the elec­tion peti­tions”. And this gag order was appar­ent­ly issued “in the larg­er pub­lic inter­est”:

    Indi­an Express

    Don’t crit­i­cise EVMs used in recent polls: Uttarak­hand HC
    The court also asked polit­i­cal par­ties, among oth­ers, not to make unsub­stan­ti­at­ed claims in the media on EC, or the func­tion­ing of EVMs (File Pho­to)

    Writ­ten by Kavi­ta Upad­hyay | Dehradun | Published:June 3, 2017 4:30 am

    NOTING THAT a “sys­tem­at­ic cam­paign (was) launched by polit­i­cal par­ties to tar­nish the image” of the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of India (EC), which is a “con­sti­tu­tion­al body”, the Uttarak­hand High Court on Fri­day dis­missed a peti­tion ques­tion­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of the poll panel’s “EVM chal­lenge”. The court observed that the chal­lenge must be left “to the wis­dom of the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion”.

    “In the larg­er pub­lic inter­est,” the divi­sion bench of Jus­tices Rajiv Shar­ma and Sharad Kumar Shar­ma said, “restrain all recog­nised nation­al polit­i­cal par­ties, recog­nised state polit­i­cal par­ties, oth­er polit­i­cal par­ties, non-gov­ern­men­tal organ­i­sa­tions (NGOs) and indi­vid­u­als from crit­i­cis­ing the use of EVMs in the recent­ly con­duct­ed elections…even by approach­ing the elec­tron­ic media, press, radio, Face­book, Twit­ter… till deci­sion of the elec­tion peti­tions.”

    Soon after the judg­ment, the Com­mis­sion said the EVM chal­lenge, sched­uled for Sat­ur­day with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the CPI(M) and NCP tak­ing part in it, is “on”, PTI report­ed from Del­hi. The court also asked polit­i­cal par­ties, among oth­ers, not to make unsub­stan­ti­at­ed claims in the media on EC, or the func­tion­ing of EVMs. The court also stat­ed that if the chal­lenge is held, it “must not” affect the out­come of peti­tions filed in dif­fer­ent courts on the recent Assem­bly elec­tion results.

    “We leave it to the wisdom/discretion of the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of India to hold the demonstration/challenge on June 3, but with a caveat that even after it is held, as sched­uled, it will not affect the out­come of the pend­ing elec­tion peti­tions,” the court observed. The Aam Aad­mi Par­ty (AAP), among the tren­chant crit­ics of EVMs used in the recent round of Assem­bly polls, said that it will organ­ise its own EVM chal­lenge at the par­ty office in Del­hi on Sat­ur­day after the EC reject­ed its “open hackathon” request. The par­ty said it will invite wiz­ards and tech­ni­cal experts from polit­i­cal par­ties, the EC, and also com­pa­nies which pro­vide the vot­ing machines to the poll pan­el for the chal­lenge, PTI report­ed.

    After the EC’s May 20 deci­sion to hold the EVM chal­lenge, Congress’s Uttarak­hand unit vice-pres­i­dent Ramesh Pandey had filed a PIL in High Court on May 31, plead­ing that the chal­lenge be quashed by the court. He told The Indi­an Express, “At least six writ peti­tions chal­leng­ing results of the Uttarak­hand Assem­bly polls are pend­ing in High Court. If the EC, which has no con­sti­tu­tion­al right to intrude in post-result dis­putes, inter­venes by way of an EVM chal­lenge, then results of the pend­ing peti­tions might be affect­ed. So it was impor­tant to move the court against the (EC’s EVM) chal­lenge.

    ...

    ———-

    “Don’t crit­i­cise EVMs used in recent polls: Uttarak­hand HC” by Kavi­ta Upad­hyay; Indi­an Express; 06/03/2017

    ““In the larg­er pub­lic inter­est,” the divi­sion bench of Jus­tices Rajiv Shar­ma and Sharad Kumar Shar­ma said, “restrain all recog­nised nation­al polit­i­cal par­ties, recog­nised state polit­i­cal par­ties, oth­er polit­i­cal par­ties, non-gov­ern­men­tal organ­i­sa­tions (NGOs) and indi­vid­u­als from crit­i­cis­ing the use of EVMs in the recent­ly con­duct­ed elections…even by approach­ing the elec­tron­ic media, press, radio, Face­book, Twit­ter… till deci­sion of the elec­tion peti­tions.””

    Now, that gag order was issued on June 3rd. Is it still in place today, three and a half months lat­er? Yep, after the Indi­an Supreme Court stayed the rul­ing

    The Hin­du

    HC’s blan­ket ban against crit­i­cism of EVMs stayed

    Krish­nadas Rajagopal
    NEW DELHI , Sep­tem­ber 02, 2017 00:37 IST
    Updat­ed: Sep­tem­ber 02, 2017 00:37 IST

    Peti­tion was filed by Naini­tal res­i­dent

    The Supreme Court on Fri­day stayed an Uttarak­hand High Court order issu­ing a blan­ket ban on polit­i­cal par­ties, non-gov­ern­men­tal organ­i­sa­tions and cit­i­zens from crit­i­cis­ing elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines (EVMs) used in elec­tions to five State Assem­blies this year.

    The ban, issued by the High Court on June 2, includ­ed air­ing remarks, sus­pi­cions and crit­i­cism on “elec­tron­ic media, Press, radio, Face­book, Twit­ter, etc” about EVM-tam­per­ing in the elec­tions.

    A Bench led by Chief Jus­tice of India Dipak Mis­ra passed the stay order on a peti­tion by Naini­tal res­i­dent Ramesh Pandey, rep­re­sent­ed by advo­cate Devadutt Kamat.

    “Crit­i­cism which help us secure the most basic require­ment of a vibrant democ­ra­cy, that is, ensur­ing votes are not tam­pered, is absolute­ly nec­es­sary. Courts ought not to cre­ate restric­tions on such crit­i­cism,” the peti­tion argued against the blan­ket ban. The peti­tion also chal­lenged the valid­i­ty of the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion’s first-of-its-kind ‘EVM Chal­lenge’ organ­ised on June 3.

    This open chal­lenge was organ­ised to counter alle­ga­tions by sev­er­al polit­i­cal par­ties about “defunct” EVMs used in the Assem­bly elec­tions.

    The peti­tion con­tend­ed that the EVM Chal­lenge vio­lat­ed both the Con­sti­tu­tion and the Rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Peo­ple Act, 1951.

    It point­ed out that high courts and not the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion are vest­ed with the pow­ers to deal with elec­tion dis­putes, includ­ing alle­ga­tions of EVM-tam­per­ing.

    The 1951 Act was amend­ed in 1966 to include Sec­tion 80A, which took away the EC’s pow­er to set up elec­tion tri­bunals.

    ...

    ———-

    “HC’s blan­ket ban against crit­i­cism of EVMs stayed” by Krish­nadas Rajagopal; The Hin­du; 09/02/2017

    “The Supreme Court on Fri­day stayed an Uttarak­hand High Court order issu­ing a blan­ket ban on polit­i­cal par­ties, non-gov­ern­men­tal organ­i­sa­tions and cit­i­zens from crit­i­cis­ing elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines (EVMs) used in elec­tions to five State Assem­blies this year.

    Yep, the Indi­an Supreme Court upheld the rul­ing that bans pret­ty much any­one from ques­tion­ing all those high­ly ques­tion­able elec­tion results. A ban that appears to include men­tion­ing these sus­pi­cions on pret­ty much any medi­um:

    ...
    The ban, issued by the High Court on June 2, includ­ed air­ing remarks, sus­pi­cions and crit­i­cism on “elec­tron­ic media, Press, radio, Face­book, Twit­ter, etc” about EVM-tam­per­ing in the elec­tions.
    ...

    So that’s all part of how the BJP appears to be win­ning, and win­ning big, in states like Uttar Pradesh and Uttarak­hand: rig­ging the vote and then hav­ing the courts ban any men­tion of it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 16, 2017, 2:12 pm
  18. Here’s the lat­est omi­nous polit­i­cal news com­ing out of India: accord­ing to a new poll out of Indi­an vot­ers, a major­i­ty of Indi­ans sup­port now mil­i­tary rule and even more sup­port a cen­tral author­i­ty who can oper­at­ed with­out checks and bal­ances:

    CNBC

    Most cit­i­zens sup­port mil­i­tary rule in the world’s largest democ­ra­cy

    * A major­i­ty of Indi­ans sup­port mil­i­tary rule, accord­ing to a new Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey
    * Cit­i­zens want a stronger hand on the coun­try’s long-stand­ing prob­lems of cor­rup­tion and eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty, experts explained

    Nysh­ka Chan­dran
    Pub­lished 11/19/2017 Hours Ago Updat­ed

    India, the world’s largest democ­ra­cy, is show­ing an appetite for mil­i­tary rule — a poten­tial indi­ca­tor that the coun­try’s nation­al­ist pol­i­tics are evolv­ing.

    A major­i­ty of Indi­ans, 53 per­cent, sup­port mil­i­tary rule, accord­ing to a Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey released last week. India is one of only four coun­tries that has a major­i­ty in favor of a mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment, the Amer­i­can think tank said. Viet­nam, Indone­sia, and South Africa are the oth­er three.

    At least 55 per­cent of Indi­ans also back a gov­ern­ing sys­tem “in which a strong leader can make deci­sions with­out inter­fer­ence from par­lia­ment or the courts,” the sur­vey added, not­ing that sup­port for auto­crat­ic rule is high­er in India than in any oth­er nation sur­veyed.

    Since its first elec­tion in 1952 fol­low­ing the end of British colo­nial rule, the South Asian nation has become a mul­ti­par­ty gov­ern­ment with a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem and a com­mit­ment to free elec­tions. But like many democ­ra­cies around the world, its cit­i­zens are increas­ing­ly lean­ing toward a leader with author­i­tar­i­an ten­den­cies.

    From Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan to Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Rodri­go Duterte, the revival of the strong­man leader has been a defin­ing trend of glob­al pol­i­tics in recent years. Indi­an Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, who remains immense­ly pop­u­lar at home, is no dif­fer­ent with his hard-line stance on cor­rup­tion and secu­ri­ty.

    Sup­port­ers of Mod­i’s rul­ing Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty (BJP) and urban dwellers “are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more like­ly” to sup­port mil­i­tary rule than back­ers of the oppo­si­tion Con­gress par­ty and rur­al res­i­dents, the Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey showed.

    Giv­en Indi­a’s high lev­els of cor­rup­tion, there’s a per­cep­tion that recent tough mea­sures such as demon­e­ti­za­tion have made sense, so the pub­lic now wants a stronger hand on hot-but­ton issues such as eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty as well as law and order, explained Tony Nash, founder and CEO of data ana­lyt­ics firm Com­plete Intel­li­gence.

    The sur­vey’s results weren’t sur­pris­ing, Nash said. “Now that we’re deep­er into the nation­al­is­tic wave that start­ed with lead­ers such as Japan­ese Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe, peo­ple are see­ing that cen­tral­ized deci­sions make progress so they’re not opposed to some­thing more dra­mat­ic.”

    Mod­i’s crit­ics often accuse his gov­ern­ment of auto­crat­ic rule. West Ben­gal Chief Min­is­ter Mama­ta Baner­jee, who is the founder of the All India Tri­namool Con­gress polit­i­cal par­ty, alleged last month that the BJP was hurt­ing media free­dom by harass­ing news agen­cies crit­i­cal of New Del­hi. Anoth­er com­mon com­plaint direct­ed at the BJP is its use of cen­tral agen­cies to inter­fere in provin­cial gov­ern­ments.

    ...

    ———-

    “Most cit­i­zens sup­port mil­i­tary rule in the world’s largest democ­ra­cy” by Nysh­ka Chan­dran; CNBC; 11/19/2017

    A major­i­ty of Indi­ans, 53 per­cent, sup­port mil­i­tary rule, accord­ing to a Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey released last week. India is one of only four coun­tries that has a major­i­ty in favor of a mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment, the Amer­i­can think tank said. Viet­nam, Indone­sia, and South Africa are the oth­er three.”

    And note how it isn’t just mil­i­tary rule that a major­i­ty of polled Indi­ans were back­ing. They also appeared to back an auto­crat­ic sys­tem in gen­er­al, with a sin­gle indi­vid­ual with unchecked pow­ers:

    ...
    At least 55 per­cent of Indi­ans also back a gov­ern­ing sys­tem “in which a strong leader can make deci­sions with­out inter­fer­ence from par­lia­ment or the courts,” the sur­vey added, not­ing that sup­port for auto­crat­ic rule is high­er in India than in any oth­er nation sur­veyed.
    ...

    So as Modi makes fur­ther moves to con­sol­i­date pow­er, those moves are prob­a­bly going to have strong pub­lic back­ing. Espe­cial­ly with BJP vot­ers:

    ...
    Sup­port­ers of Mod­i’s rul­ing Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty (BJP) and urban dwellers “are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more like­ly” to sup­port mil­i­tary rule than back­ers of the oppo­si­tion Con­gress par­ty and rur­al res­i­dents, the Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey showed.
    ...

    And, of course, one of the fac­tors that appears to be dri­ving this grow­ing embrace of author­i­tar­i­an­ism is a dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the out­comes of demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nance and a feel­ing like a strong-man is need­ed to ‘get things done’:

    ...
    Giv­en Indi­a’s high lev­els of cor­rup­tion, there’s a per­cep­tion that recent tough mea­sures such as demon­e­ti­za­tion have made sense, so the pub­lic now wants a stronger hand on hot-but­ton issues such as eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty as well as law and order, explained Tony Nash, founder and CEO of data ana­lyt­ics firm Com­plete Intel­li­gence.

    The sur­vey’s results weren’t sur­pris­ing, Nash said. “Now that we’re deep­er into the nation­al­is­tic wave that start­ed with lead­ers such as Japan­ese Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe, peo­ple are see­ing that cen­tral­ized deci­sions make progress so they’re not opposed to some­thing more dra­mat­ic.”
    ...

    So the worse Indi­a’s gov­er­nance gets, the more Indi­ans just want a dic­ta­tor to ‘fix’ things. Gee, what lessons are the oli­garchs back­ing the BJP take from polls like this.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 20, 2017, 4:21 pm

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