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modi election

Things To Keep In Mind Before Voting In 2019 Elections

As the elections are around the corner and the nation is gearing itself to cast its votes with an unending optimism on its future and incessant faith in democracy, I’m enthused to put across my views on the things we must keep in mind before we head out to vote in 2019.

Being an ardent follower of socio-political and economic happenings in the country, I’m reminded of American theologian and author, James Freeman Clarke, who famously said, “A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman of the next generation.” The problem in India is we have too many politicians, with no statesmen at all. In short, we have many Reagans who enrich their tycoon cronies through their neo-liberal policies, but we don’t have even a single Roosevelt to herald a New Deal.

Policies Have Become Tycoon-Centric:

All the world over a new chilling truth has started dawning on the minds of the poor and the ordinary. The truth is, the advent of disruptive technologies and globalization has empowered the big businesses to accumulate gargantuan wealth, and as a result, the world is fast turning into an oligarchy. Gone are the days when the economic policies used to be people-centric. Now they are overwhelmingly tycoon-centric. This is happening because the governments are using the single and grossly skewed yardstick called ‘growth’, to measure prosperity. As a result, the governments all over the world came to a strong conclusion that it is only the tycoons who can bring about the growth, and as such providing them with “ease of doing business” is paramount.

Due to this shift towards a pro-rich bias, universities all over the world are producing so many Friedmans and Hayeks, who pioneered the neo-liberal economics, and political arena is giving rise to many Reagans who first implemented the trickle-down Reaganomics. And India, which hopped onto this neoliberal bandwagon in 1991, is no exception to this trend. Even we have many “nomics” and currently, the Modinomics is ruling the roost.

Now you may ask why I started my discourse with economic matters. For a common man bread and butter issues are paramount. As one of India’s greatest sages Swami Vivekananda had rightly said, “Man is guided by the stomach. He walks, and the stomach goes first and the head afterwards”. The commoners prioritize fulfilling their basic necessities and leading a life of ‘ease’. Therefore, we should be voting to those who can provide us with that “ease of living”. But who will give it to us?

The Two Parivars Are The Two Sides Of The Same Coin:

We primarily have two alternatives: Gandhi Parivar and Sangh Parivar. We are currently witnessing the rule of the Sangh Parivar, which came to power by making egalitarian and inclusive noises such as “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”. Unfortunately, what we see now is the ‘Vikas’ of crony capitalism in the garb of Hindutva. The man who is at the helm, after failing to deliver on his promises, is back to playing divisive politics and appears to be tacitly unleashing the so-called ‘fringe’ to promote his electoral prospects.

But can the alternative, I mean the other Parivar, be any better than the current dispensation? It is highly unlikely because Indian politics are increasingly becoming homogeneous and the so-called alternative is not actually an alternative. Highlighting the homogeneity in Indian polities, journalist Arun Shourie famously opined that the Modi dispensation is nothing more than Congress plus cow. When the people elect those who are promising an alternative, the only thing they will get is Modi minus cow. As the political environment has become highly polarized, people who like Hindutva are supporting the Sangh Parivar, and those who oppose Hindutva are rallying behind the Gandhi Parivar relegating the bread and butter issues to back-burner. The fact is when we set aside the cow, they both are same. The same corruption, crony capitalism and apathy will keep haunting the people. What the commoners need now is a political dispensation that can bring back people-centric policies.

Unfortunately, the alternative to the two Parivars, over the years, has grown weaker. The democratic left, with its successive defeats in elections, has left a huge vacuum in the Indian politics, and the AAP, which emerged with a big bang on the Indian political scene and raised a lot of expectations among the people, appears to have lost steam thereafter. And the regional political parties, which are no less corrupt and inefficient, will end up supporting either of the two Parivars.

A New Leadership Must Emerge From Mass Movements Based On Livelihood Issues:

In this situation, the people have only one option: bring down the current dispensation and install its rival in the seat. But this is not going to solve the problem. This situation only reminds me what Marx had stated about democracy. “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” But democracy, being the heart and soul of our nation, can’t be discarded. We the commoners must combat tooth and nail the forces that are bent on hijacking democracy to serve their narrow self-interests.

Before 1991, many people would often say if you want to distribute wealth you first have to create it. As the people who said this have managed to amass unimaginable wealth, now is the time for the commoners to assert themselves to better their lives. When the people stay united and assert themselves, the ruling classes will have no option but to obey.

People all over the world are turning against the tycoon-centric neo-liberal policies and building mass movements to assert themselves. The Occupy Wall Street protests in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis was a slap in the face of the pro-rich ruling classes. The recent Yellow Vests protests in France demonstrated to the world how a staunchly united working class can force the leaders to retreat on their anti-people actions.

Even in India, there is a hope. The recent protests by farmers, who fell victim to the widespread agrarian distress, grabbed the attention of everyone and exposed the empty rhetoric of the ruling dispensation. The Dalit protests and the anti-Sterlite protests highlighted that fact that the fight against discrimination and profiteering at the expense of people’s health will be a never-ending struggle. And we, the commoners, especially the working class, need to build more united and powerful movements to educate and mobilize the masses. The hope is, from these mass movements new leaders will emerge, who may be able to fulfill the aspirations of the poor and the ordinary, who seek livelihood opportunities, good education and quality healthcare. The new leadership must emerge from the grassroots level, that too from the mass movements built on bread and butter issues, not from the ruling clans or religious and caste movements.

But this is possible only when the people steadfastly stay united and don’t get swayed by the feelings that erect narrow domestic walls that divide them along the lines of caste, religion, region, or language. If they get swayed by them they will get nothing more than cows, shrines, statues and hegemony. And taking advantage of the situation the politicos and plutocrats will have a cakewalk in the garb of attractive slogans and colorful events.

Be Wary Of Misleading Narratives:

As elections are fast approaching, the common people must be wary of misleading narratives that are getting ready to hoodwink them. As the nation will start heading to the polling booths, there will be concerted attempts by the politicos and plutocrats to mislead the people by forcing the objective reality and rational enquiry to go on a holiday and press their colossal PR machinery into service. They will do this to spruce up their images as the messiahs of the masses to either come to power or retain power. Some tycoons have already started pitching in for incumbent regime showering praise it and talking about ‘continuity’. What the poor and the ordinary need is not ‘continuity’ but an enduring ‘change’. These false narratives are what exactly the people must guard themselves against and not get swayed by patently trivial matters.

Conclusion

People, instead of voting the Parivars, had better support grassroots leaders who have the ability to build mass movements on people-centric issues. Finally, if the people, especially poor and the ordinary, want a better quality of life they will get it. If they pay even the slightest attention to cow, they will get only cow.

Nirav Modi

The Tale of Modi Regime: Two Modis and a Mallya.

Now it has completely been proven beyond any iota of doubt that the entire nation is infested with robbers and the public money is being syphoned off with virtual impunity. When the UPA was in power, the crony capitalism reigned supreme. The then dispensation allowed their corporate cronies to borrow lakhs of crores of public money from nationalized banks and default, which pushed the banks deep into the NPA crisis. Now, the Modi regime, by granting safe passage to the financial crooks, pushed the cronyism to new heights. The laissez-faire capitalism turned to ‘nationalized’ banks to avail loans and subsequently get a loan waiver. Through this bank fraud both the political dispensations – the UPA and the NDA – implemented “socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor”.

Recently the NDA government, headed by Modi, who became notorious for its own brand of crony capitalism, gave the extremely obnoxious and sinful bailout to the corporate defaulters in the name of ‘bank recapitalization’. Even while the nation’s banking system is trying hard to pull out of the NPA quagmire, the country’s second largest state-run lender, the Punjab National Bank (PNB) has plunged into another crisis after a scam to the extent of 11, 500 crores were unearthed in the bank. Another Modi, a ‘fat cat’ diamond trader, who was photographed at Davos with ‘neta’ Modi along with the other ‘fat cats in the snow’, is the kingpin of the fraud.

If the UPA has gained notoriety for taking corruption to the dizzying heights, the NDA has mastered the art of giving safe passage to all the fraudulent crooks out the country and thereafter indulge in empty rhetoric with the avowed intention of hoodwinking the people.

The fact of the matter is the two political dispensations in the country – whether it is the UPA or the NDA – they both are nominated by their ultra-rich cronies and it does not make any difference to them who is in power. The entire political exercise called the election, where people get an opportunity to cast their votes for every five years, has been reduced into a trivial ritual, and as a result, the ultra-wealthy oligarchs are able to reign supreme establishing themselves as the crown-less kings.

When Rahul, the Gandhi scion tweeted by stating, “Guide to Looting India by Nirav MODI 1.  Hug PM Modi 2.  Be seen with him in DAVOS Use that clout to: A. Steal 12,000 Cr B. Slip out of the country like Mallya, while the Govt looks the other way. #From1MODI2another”, he had done a marvellous job. But I’m sure he hadn’t glanced at his face in a mirror while sending that tweet.

Even while the search and seizure drama was unfolding in Nirav Modi case, another oligarch by name Vikram Kothari, the promoter of Rotomac brand of pens, defaulted to the extent of Rs. 3,700 Crores. The common thing among all these bank frauds is the close connivance of the bank officials with the fraudsters. The role played by the politicos is yet to come to the light.

When a fraud of gargantuan proportions strikes the nation, both the political dispensations engage in a blame game and ultimately work towards saving and protecting the interests of their fat cat cronies who indulged in the fraud. After all, they are the ones who finance their political campaigns and it is their way of paying back. Modi government, which hitherto bragged about being a corruption-free regime, is slowly proving to be much more corrupt than the UPA dispensation. The scams that came to light during the UPA regime appear to be notional but these bank scams are real and the sums that are involved are mind-numbingly large. The entire banking system appears to have plunged into a crisis.

The neta Modi, who came to power claiming himself as the messiah of the masses, is fast proving himself a patron saint of the fat cats. His government’s policies are aimed at channelizing more wealth towards the ultra-rich and delivering empty promises and slogans to the poor. According to Oxfam report, India’s richest 1% garnered as much as 73% of the total wealth generated in the country in 2017. The way the successive governments are pushing the neoliberal policies will only result in the further deterioration in income inequalities and push scores of families into further squalor.

Now that Nirav Modi got the much needed safe passage and joined his fellow fat cats Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi, he will continue to freely move around in a foreign land. As we move ahead as a nation the tribe of financial crooks continue to thrive ceaselessly putting the entire nation to ignominy.

Modi’s Davos Speech is Laden with Contradictions

The town of Davos in Swiss Alps hosts the annual World Economic Forum (WEF), which has, over the years, emerged as the favorite destination of the politicos and plutocrats, accompanied by high profile journalists and economists, to deliberate and come up with ideas on how to transform this mother earth into their fiefdom. This year, our Prime Minister, setting aside his self-proclaimed common man status for a while, became a ‘Davos Man’ and freely mingled with “fatcats in the snow” who lord over the globalized neoliberal world. He spoke exaltedly about Indian culture in Hindi in compliance with the ideas his party advocates – Hindi-High Caste Hindu-Hindustan.

Our Prime Minister, who came to power claiming himself to be the messiah of the masses, has always been a 100% politician. When he addresses the masses on the eve of elections he repeatedly reminds the electorate, who mostly constitute the poor and the vulnerable, of his self-proclaimed ‘Chaiwala’ background, and when he addresses the CEOs he quickly changes his stance to state “ease of doing business is ease of living” implying that only tycoons are entitled to ease of living and others are doomed to lead their lives laboriously by struggling to earn their livelihoods. He says common man does not want sops but conceals the fact that his fat cat industrialist cronies want so many sops in the form of deregulation, tax cuts, incentives and bailouts, which he has either been giving them or promised to give them for the last three and half years on the pretext of ‘reforms’.

At Davos he spoke eloquently about a borderless world conveniently forgetting about the divisive fences his government has erected through the tacit approval of the communal activities carried out by Hindutva forces back home. He even mentioned “Vasudhiva Kutumbakam” meaning ‘the world is one family’, ignoring the fact that a silent majority which is part of the family called ‘bharatvarsh’ are leading squalid lives suffering abject poverty paving way for an unending accumulation of wealth for the super-rich. Any efforts to extend a helping hand to them by improving the social infrastructure through public funding of hospitals and schools are spurned by branding them as “reckless populism”. His advisers repeatedly announce that their boss is not a populist. So it would be better if the PM implements “Vasudhiva Kutumbakam” first at home before pitching for its universal implementation.

Our PM is pushing the neoliberalism with a missionary zeal at a time when the people all over the world are increasingly getting exasperated with the same and there is an intense backlash against it. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ and the emergence of right-wing politics are the testimony to the fact that jobless growth and ever widening economic inequalities are emerging as the most potent sources of discontent.

The modus operandi of neoliberalism is the wealthy west, represented by the institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), extend credit to third world countries taking advantage of the widespread poverty prevailing in them to impose Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs). To meet their external debt service obligations these third world countries have to export more to earn the much needed foreign exchange. When the third world tries to export, the wealthy west, especially the United States, erects protectionist barriers forcing them to get entrapped in perpetual debt. They also force them to throw the doors of their economies wide open to the western multinational corporations so that they can freely exploit the natural resources and cheap labor present in them. That is how exactly this neoliberal borderless world works.

The obsession of policy makers with private investment, fiscal deficit and exports is working against the interests the commoners and have become a golden goose for the rich. In the name of fiscal prudence the role of the government is reduced paving way for privatization of everything. In the name of encouraging private investment the entire governance is revolving around catering to the demands of the corporates through pushing the ‘ease of doing businesses’. And in the name of export promotion they are encouraging sweatshops and dilution of labour laws, which have resulted in widespread exploitation of the working class. The neoliberalism is actually a neo-imperialism, which thrives on the sweat and blood of the third world and the PM wants to push India deep into this quagmire.

The pursuit of GDP growth has become an obsession of our politicos. When the GDP growth slows down they say they need to reform more. Then they further deregulate offering more tax cuts, more bailouts and more incentives. This reform process is never ending and it appears that it will end only after the last chunk of natural resources and the last rupee falls into the hands of the plutocrats and this nation is turned into a perfect oligarchy. The signs of this are becoming increasingly perceptible and the latest Oxfam report, which stated that India’s richest 1% garnered as much as 73% of the total wealth generated in the country in 2017, proves beyond doubt that oligarchy has already been established in India. Modi’s botched up implementation of the regressive GST is also contributing to the deterioration in the economic condition of the masses.

Modi, while showing great enthusiasm to push the so-called reforms to fully embrace neoliberalism, also quoted Gandhiji’s words, “this world has enough to satisfy our needs but does not have enough to satisfy our greed”. The US, which is the epicenter of neoliberalism stands as a living testimony of how over consumption, especially credit fueled consumption, forms the very backbone of the highly unsustainable neoliberal culture.

The neoliberal economic system advocates more production and more consumption. The moment one of them slowdown the GDP numbers fall and the casinos called stock markets slump. When the economy does not perform well the only thing politicos, plutocrats and their advisors say is the current dose of reforms is highly inadequate and they need to introduce more reforms. In an essence it is a self-defeating rat race which will end up a disaster one day. And it is surprising to see that PM Modi talks about frugality and sustainability even while pushing India into the neoliberal quagmire, which is the very anathema of the Gandhian ideals.

All in all the speech delivered by PM Modi is laden with contradictions and his enthusiasm to appease both commoners and super rich is not going to succeed. Neoliberalism and stock market-centric economic policies only aggravate the suffering of the commoners.

A Victory for Corporate Hindutva.

As the Gujarat election results unfold, it appears that the Corporate Hindutva represented by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, once again prevails albeit with a largely reduced majority.

For a short while, for those who were watching live results, it appeared that the Congress, led by the scion of the Gandhi dynasty, may pull off a surprise victory. And the seemingly astounding turnaround for Congress, albeit short-lived, sent chills down the spines of our casino capitalists, as the benchmark in‘dice’ in the Bombay ‘casino’, which of late has been mirroring the Corporate Hindutva sentiment, was understandably down by over 700 points in the morning trade before rebounding as the clearer picture started emerging. And the dynasty loyalists, who were present in the television studios, started indulging in a premature celebration blissfully ignoring the fact that the initial trend may not be sustainable.

I, being a common man, am concerned about the plight of my fellow commoners. For them, neither the BJP nor the Congress is good because one represents Corporate Hindutva, which only makes the lives of the poor and marginalized more miserable, and the other represents corruption and casteism, which eat into the vitals of the society. Then what is the alternative? The third front? It is only a delusion and in all probability may not materialize. So these elections only made me uninterested and unexcited.

Now, what will happen? The dynasty scion, who became the president of the congressCongressnly days ago may face some heat from the disgruntled party men for not being able to capitalize on the vulnerabilities of the BJP, especially after it botched up demonetization and the implementation of the GST. And Modi, emboldened by this victory, will definitely pursue his neo-liberal policies with increased vigor and intensify his efforts to deregulate with an avowed intention to make the lives of his corporate cronies easy as part of his ‘ease of doing business’ mission. If he doesn’t do that he may not be able to mobilize enough ‘anonymous’ corporate donations for his 2019 campaign. Therefore, this result will only pave way for the institutionalization of the crony capitalism and its further entrenchment.

The reduced majority in Gujarat, in spite of it being a Hindutva laboratory and the inspiration for an economic model called ‘Gujarat model’ which is now being implemented all across the country, is truly ominous for Modi and his party. The BJP, though managed to score impressive wins in urban centers appeared to have faltered in the rural areas, where the agrarian distress is running rampant.

As far as the congress party is concerned it had better get rid of the dynasty and bring an able leader to the forefront who can compete with Modi. As long as Rahul Gandhi leads the party the binary between Rahul and Modi will always work to the advantage of Modi. The problem with the congressmen is though many of them are able leaders they deliberately disable themselves and prostrate before the dynasty in the belief that only they have the capability to bring the party to power.

These elections, in a way, deliver an important message. That is, the people, in the absence of a credible alternative that has the capability and willingness to take care of the interests of the poor and the marginalized, opted for a seemingly lesser evil. They also appeared to have swayed by the Prime Minister’s scare tactics, which he executed with a poll rhetoric that is laced with communal overtones.

In an essence elections in India are increasingly making the words of Karl Marx a reality. He once stated, “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” People don’t have any other way except choosing between Modi and Rahul and they have to put up with them till an alternative emerges.

Shallow talk that signifies nothing to a commoner

Being a common man, I’m always on the lookout for bread and butter related news items in the newspapers. If you have closely been following the newspapers for some time, the most important items that pertain to the bread and butter issues of the common man are – ease of doing business index, global hunger index, Care Ratings report on employment generation, and the paradise papers. The politicians and big business tycoons are euphoric on the improvement in India’s ease of doing business ranking. At the same time, the global hunger index released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which placed India at 100th position among the 119 countries, had thoroughly exposed the shallowness of the so-called development and had placed India even behind North Korea and Iraq. Worse still, a starvation death of a child in Jharkhand had put the entire nation to a discomfiture. These two incidents are a slap in the face of the rulers who are trying to hard sell the neo liberal agenda by diverting the attention of the people from the pressing bread and butter and societal problems onto the useless issues such as cows, temples, statues and patriotism just to garner some votes.
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The eggheaded economists, through their esoteric and jargon-laden talks and statements, make us believe that the ease of doing business attracts more investment that leads to more growth, which in turn results in trickle-down effect that will ultimately drive away poverty. They also say that economic growth, invariably generates more employment opportunities to the aspiring youth. As if to debunk all their myth-laden talk, a domestic rating agency called Care Ratings has brought out a report, in which it stated that employment growth has not kept pace with the GDP growth, junking the claim that there is a positive correlation between growth and employment. So the hunger index and Care Ratings report have not only conclusively invalidated the false claims that investment and growth generate opportunities and lead to a trickle-down. They also firmly established the truth that capitalist greed does not allow anything to trickle down. Trickle-down does not work because a rich man’s cup, instead of overflowing, keeps ever growing in size negating any possibility of the said effect. Therefore, growth led employment is a pure myth. Our politicians are very well aware of the fact that in a land that is full of mythology peddling myths is very easy.

Then came the explosive leak of tax documents: the paradise papers, which revealed that India is in 19th position in terms of the number of names appeared in the papers. Nineteenth rank is a very good rank indeed in a seemingly rank obsessed country, but unfortunately there is nothing great to feel proud of. Most of the people who featured in these papers are politicians, business tycoons and other celebrities, including Neira Radia, the notorious corporate lobbyist who came into the limelight with the infamous ‘Radia tapes’, which exposed the unholy corporate-media-politician nexus. The Paradise and Panama papers are significant as they unearth some vital information, which the crony-capitalism infested governments are highly reluctant to unveil in the apprehension that they may lose corporate funding to their political campaigns. They throw stoplight on the magnitude of tax evasion that is prevalent in our society and the propensity of the rich to stash their wealth in offshore tax havens.

The enormous wealth that is being created by using the societal resources is being stashed away abroad to avoid taxes. When the wealth gets stashed away abroad how will the much touted ‘trickle down’ become a reality?

All these indexes and revelations point to something ominous. During the demonetization drive the commoners had gone through the untold misery standing in serpentine queues, where some even breathed their last, even while the rich continued to bask in their aura unmindful of the cash crunch. Many opinion makers expected large scale violence and chaos all over the country. But nothing of that sort happened just because the commoners were optimistic that the black money would be unearthed and their lives would be better off. Things, however did not happen as expected. If we assume that the demonetization is a kind of trial by fire (Agnipareeksha) for the tax evaders, they all emerged pure out of it. All the politicians, business tycoons, bureaucrats and celebs got the gold standard ratings and nothing came out of the gargantuan exercise. In the end the only beneficiaries of this exercise appear to be the Visa, MasterCard, and Amex, which are the offspring of the Uncle Sam, with whom our rulers are trying to forge a strong ‘strategic’ alliance. Of course, our own Paytm also derived benefit.

When netas do something for the sake of self-promotion with an intention to garner votes thereby win one more term, this is what exactly happens. Their real intention is only to create an impression that they are fighting against black money thereby play to the gallery of the poor and the lower middle class. They revealed their true colors when they relaxed conditions to facilitate unlimited and anonymous corporate funding to the political parties, which will surely provide mind and muscle to the Corporate Hindutva. In the end, all the black money talk proved to be a mere rhetoric and it took an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to unearth the subterranean dealings of the ultra-rich tax evaders.

Now what? No one speaks out now. They only constitute probes which are a mere eye wash. In an essence this is an effort to hijack democracy and replace it with an oligarchy constituting corporates and Hindutva leaders in an insidious manner. And the worst sufferers or all these misdeeds are the commoners, who, oblivious to the devious deals that are happening around them, stand in queues in front of the polling booths to cast their votes in the expectation that their lives will improve for good.

Yogi and cows

Yogi Puts ‘Gaus’ and Statues First and Humans Last.

Ancient wisdom says when a person’s ruin is impending he thinks in a foolish manner (Vinashakaale Vipareeta Buddhi). Some of the moves the BJP has been making for some time now give an impression that they are well on their way to commit a ‘hara-kiri’. Many political pundits say that the road to Delhi passes through Lucknow. Uttar Pradesh, being the most populous state, sends the maximum number of members to the parliament. In such a crucial state they installed a so-called ‘Yogi’, who is known for his loud-mouthed ravings, as the Chief Minister.

Ever since he took over the reins, the state has been constantly in the news mostly for the wrong reasons. In his excessive preoccupation with ‘Gauraksha’, he ignored the human lives in ‘Gaurakh’pur government hospital, and as a result, scores of children of poor parents (who are incidentally non-Gaus, and therefore, humans) suffocated to death due to lack of oxygen. He appears to have forgotten the fact that as a CM his first and foremost responsibility is towards the people, especially the poor and the downtrodden, who need the assistance of the government. He failed to protect the Dalits who have been under seize from the cow vigilantes run by the caste Hindus. He failed to provide succor to the poor when they needed medical help. This is the worst kind of failure on the part of the Yogi’s government.
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Now the far worse thing he and his cronies are planning to do is to construct a large statue of Lord Ram on the banks of river Sarayu, in the name of tourism promotion. They are gearing themselves up to splurge crores of rupees of tax payer’s money on the futile exercise of constructing a giant statue of Lord Ram. And they want to do this in the name of promoting tourism. If they are really interested in promoting tourism they would not have ignored the iconic Taj Mahal and removed it from a tourism booklet they published recently. Putting ‘Gaus’ and idols first and humans last appear to be the strategy adopted by the Yogi. This, however, is not surprising at all. When saffron clad clerics become rulers this is what exactly happens. They don’t have human welfare on their priority list. As they are obsessed with ‘Gaus’ and idols they are instinctively drawn towards them. Now, what will the deceived humans do to the ‘Yogi’ in the next elections? If they also put ‘Gaus’ and statues first and their bread and butter issues last, the Yogi will be able to successfully pave the way for Modi’s second term. Otherwise, he will definitely end up upsetting BJP’s applecart in the next general elections.

Violence in Kerala must cease.

The unceasing violence between CPM and RSS workers in Kerala is taking a dangerous turn. It is the ordinary workers from both sides who are sacrificing their lives and the leaders, who are surrounded by police, are relatively safe.

It is a well-known fact that Swayamsevaks and Comrades are poles apart and they hate each other intensely. BJP, the political affiliate of RSS, is trying hard to expand its influence in Kerala and is on an aggressive expansion spree. It appears that the comrades, as a last ditch effort to save their bastion, are resorting to violence. It is not just the RSS workers who lost their lives in the violence but many of the CPM workers were also killed. The comrades are to a great extent are responsible for this unabated violence. Since they are in power they have a greater responsibility on their shoulders. It is the responsibility of the government to safeguard the lives of all the citizens irrespective of their political affiliations and the ideologies they subscribe to. Just because a person subscribes to a different ideology one can’t physically eliminate him or her.

Even the media and the civil society appear to be biased in their response to Kerala violence. The violence unleashed by the Gaurakshaks in various parts of the country is given a lot of coverage but the political violence unleashed by CPM workers, apparently backed by the state government, is not given much importance by the intellectuals. Arun Jaitley was right when he said: “had it been in any BJP ruled states awards would have been returned”. Therefore, the entire civil society has to condemn these killings unequivocally and the ruling LDF government should take immediate steps to put an end to this mindless violence.

Comrades should understand that the best way to combat the politics of BJP and its ideological mentor RSS is facing them ideologically and defeat their regressive ideology by bringing about awareness among the people. At the same time, these days not even a day passes by without we reading about how Kerala is becoming a Jihadi factory and how the indoctrinated youth are joining the monstrous ISIS and how innocent women are lured in the name of love, converted and sent to join the ranks of ISIS.

All these things are happening in Kerala which is known for its progressive ideas and outlook. Keralites have to introspect and take corrective steps as a society.

Intensifying repression is not ‘SAMADHAN’.

Tribals are the true offspring of the Mother Nature as they live in perfect harmony with her. Unlike their city counterparts, who are entranced by the glittering mirage of consumerism, they lead frugal, self-contented and sustainable lives. As they are the ‘Aadivasis’ they have the true entitlement over the forests.

But these forests and the people who dwell in them could not escape the eyes of the capitalist profit mongers. They are well aware of the fact that the forests, though seemingly frugal, are not only clothed in pristine greenery but also have rich mineral resources in their belly. They have been trying to disrobe the forests of their flora and even disembowel and cart off with the mineral resources, such as iron ore and bauxite to further amass their wealth. History is replete with instances where mining turned out to be a scandalous activity and criminalized the society and politics in addition to resulting in exploitation and rights violations.

It is a fact that the governments rarely bothered about tribal welfare and never intervened to protect them from exploitation except making some legislations such as Forests Rights Acts (FRA) and Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA). However, they don’t appear to be serious about implementing the laws in letter and spirit. The innocent tribals, faced with the prospect of getting displaced from their lands and losing their livelihoods, started resisting the attempts of the greedy capitalists to intrude into their forests. Not able to find support from any quarter, a large number of tribals got attracted towards Maoists to safeguard their rights over land, forest and water (Jal-Jungle-Jameen). As a result of their seeming proximity to Naxals, their lives became precarious and are caught in the crossfire between the Naxalites and the police.

Many state governments such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand are signing MOUs with mining companies unilaterally without involving the tribal communities in the decision making. And it is all happening in the name of development, in which the tribals don’t have any stake at all. It is a well-known fact that in a capitalist society development fills the pockets of only a handful of people and the so-called ‘trickle-down effect’ is sparsely seen. We are all the mute witnesses to the phenomenon where just 57 billionaires in India now own as much wealth as the bottom 70% population of the country. And in the process of satiating their unending lust for wealth, they poisoned all the natural resources which resulted in the overall deterioration in the quality of life.

The union government, after indulging in repression in the name of Operation Green Hunt, is bracing itself for a fresh bout of onslaught against tribals on the pretext of exterminating the Naxals. However, the true intention behind this offensive appears to be forcing the tribals into submission and unleashing the corporate houses into the forests. The new instrument of repression they unveiled this time is ‘SAMADHAN’, an acronym for many things that are smart and cutting edge, and one of those things is ‘Dashboard based KPIs and KRAs’ which we normally hear in corporate boardrooms.

Corporate managers, when they use dashboard based KPIs and KRAs, quantify everything by using some yardsticks. So how the government is going to measure their success in suppressing the resistance put up by the tribals? By counting the number of scalps taken? The usage of dashboards also involves suitably rewarding the best performers. So how the police and paramilitary forces will be rewarded? By giving promotions and offering cash incentives for every scalp taken from a Naxalite or a so-called Naxalite? That will be an extremely dangerous situation. If that is the case, every tribal who refuses to toe their line will be branded as a Naxal and shot dead to claim bravery awards and cash rewards. The government should realize the fact that dashboards and KPIs are not the panacea to all the problems. In spite of using dashboard based KPIs, the big corporations, from time to time, knock at the doors of the governments seeking to be bailed out with tax payer’s money. Recently the union government wrote off 1.14 lakh crores of loans to the wealthy business tycoons enabling them to enjoy the ‘riskless capitalism’.

Before unleashing the paramilitary forces against the tribals the governments have to introspect. It is the crony capitalism and corruption infested unresponsive governance that is mainly responsible for the emergence of Naxalism. The poor governance has inflicted untold misery on tribals, Dalits, minorities and other economically weaker sections and transformed the entire nation into a fiefdom of politicians and industrialists. They are ruling the roost marginalizing all the vulnerable sections. It is exactly this that gave rise to Naxalism.

Smart weapons and cutting edge technology can’t bully the people who are fighting for their lands and livelihoods. Therefore, India’s ruling class, instead of flexing its muscles against its own people, must do something to alleviate their suffering.

Naxalism must be treated as a socio-economic problem and dealt with accordingly. Any effort to brand it as ‘the greatest internal security threat’ will only aggravate the problem and will invariably have cataclysmic effects on the entire nation. Therefore, the governments, setting aside their plans to suppress the resistance put up by the tribals, should make them a major stake holder in any developmental projects in the forests. Before signing any MOUs they should also think about the environmental impact, as tribals are used to sustainable living. They should also renounce their infatuation to Dalal Street and formulate policies to improve the living standards of the masses. Any attempts to intensify the repression will only transform India into a police state and will ultimately end up strengthening the Naxalism.

RSS and its regressive ideas.

The clout of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), the Hindu nationalist organization, is increasing in India ever since the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) came to power. The organization, being a long-time mentor of the ruling party, appears to be enjoying its heyday.

The RSS, being a Hindu organization, is as regressive as the Hinduism is. I, being a person who was associated with the organization during my college days, am well aware of it’s functioning and ideology. They glorify the three words- Hindi, Hindu and Hindustan and advocate a monolithic culture. They strongly refute the Aryan-Dravidian classification and accuse the Britishers and the left-wing academicians of misleading the people by peddling lies. They say that all the Indians have one soul (ekatma) and strongly advocate unity amount all the Hindus. Though the RSS is known for propagating Muslim hatred, it is not done overtly and most of their efforts are concentrated on bringing about unity among the Hindus. Its main aim is to transform Hindus into a strong community so that they can withstand any potential onslaught from any of the organized Abrahamic religions, especially Islam.

The organization, though aspires to bring about unity among the Hindus, does not appear to be making any efforts to include Dalits and other oppressed castes in its mission. In fact Dalits appear to be not interested in RSS’s mission. How can Dalits, after bearing the brunt of the rigid caste system that dehumanized and stigmatized them for generations, be expected to join the RSS’s mission to unify Hindu community? In fact an overwhelming majority of RSS activists are caste Hindus, especially Brahmins. In the RSS people don’t ask you about your caste. However, I heard many Brahmin members of the RSS speaking highly about their ‘Gotras’ and taking pride in being born into a ‘superior’ Gotra. The Gotras enable Brahmins in the organization identify and connect with their fellow Brahmins easily and effortlessly. This behaviour of Brahmins results in the exclusion of others who either don’t have any Gotras or have inferior Gotras. They say that Gotras signify the fact that we are all the descendants of our ancient sages (Rishis) such as Vishwamitra, Bharadwaja and Agastya. What about the people who don’t have superior Gotras which are named after the supposedly wisest Rishis? What about the Dalits who don’t have any Gotras to spell out? As per my research, only Brahmins have Gotras and other castes, don’t have them. Even if they have them, they are just fake and are adopted by the other castes to assume false social prestige.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,

Gotra originally referred to the seven lineage segments of the Brahmans (priests), who trace their derivation from seven ancient seers: Atri, Bharadvaja, Bhrigu, Gotama, Kashyapa, Vasishtha, and Vishvamitra. An eighth gotra was added early on, the Agastya, named after the seer intimately linked up with the spread of Vedic Hinduism in southern India. In later times the number of gotras proliferated when a need was felt to justify Brahman descent by claiming for one’s line a Vedic seer. In later times, the Kshatriya and the Vaishya (merchant-traders) also adopted the concept of gotra in a fashion, by assuming for their groups the gotra of their adjacent Brahman gotras or those of their gurus (spiritual guides), but this innovation was never very influential.

These Gotras also signify the deep rooted patriarchal mindset of Hinduism as they apply only to the male members of a family. Perhaps that is why in most of the RSS’s formal gatherings women are excluded and they have a separate organization called ‘Rashtra Sevika Samithi’. Even in those gatherings where women get an opportunity to participate, they are addresses as ‘Matas’. The term ‘Mata’, as everyone is aware, connotes a woman’s maternal responsibilities and reduces her to the position of a child-bearing machine. In fact the regressive RSS appears to be reluctant to give women any significant role in nation building except giving birth to children and bringing them up as ‘nationalists’.

When it comes to language, the RSS advocates the revival of the dead language called Sanskrit. I observed some Brahmin members of the RSS taking pride in their ability to speak Sanskrit which was largely unintelligible for others. Most of the Hindu scriptural literature is incomprehensible for the ordinary Hindu folks, just because it is in Sanskrit and even the translations, to a great extent, sound complex to understand. The incoherent chanting of the Vedic hymns by the Brahmin priests in marriage ceremonies is already a but of ridicule among many Hindus and non-Hindus alike. However, there is no effort that is being made by the RSS to bring the Hindu scriptural literature closer to all the classes of the Hindu society by presenting it in a simple and lucid language.

The overarching motive behind RSS’s activities appear to be promoting competitive communalism among the Hindus. They are obsessed with the supposedly bad and expansionist behavior of the Abrahamic religions, especially the Islam and the Christianity. They blame Christianity for religious conversions. They feel that the Dalits are being allured with material things to embrace other religions and refuse to accept the fact that the Dalits, who underwent the agony of apartheid-like discrimination, are embracing Christianity mostly willingly. They don’t even make any major attempt to bring about any reform in Hinduism, especially the eradication of caste. They know that the citadel called Hinduism mostly stands on the foundation called caste system, and when they attack the system or try to bring about any reform in the system the entire citadel will collapse within no time. In fact, they can’t even muster up enough courage to do so, because the moment they try to do it they will be repelled by the caste Hindus.

When it comes to science, RSS exaggerates the achievements of our ancient Indians. No doubt there are many Indians such as Patanjali, Aryabhatta, Sushrutha, Charaka, Varahamihira and Bhaskara, whose contributions to science are recognized all across the world. However, they also go to the extent of saying that Vedas are embedded with the state of the art technologies such as aviation and atomic technologies. They also say that the ancient Indian surgeons mastered the art of transplant surgeries including head transplants.

On Oct 25, 2014, speaking on the occasion of inaugurating a hospital in Mumbai, Prime Minister Modi stated, “Mahabharata says Karna was not born out of his mother’s womb. This means people then were aware of genetic science. There must have been a plastic surgeon who fixed an elephant’s head on Ganesha”. One need not feel surprised at the words of Prime Minister Modi. He, being a product of the RSS, grew up hearing such myth-laden things.

The RSS, in-spite of claiming itself as the largest Non Governmental Organisation in the world, does not have any thing to say about livelihood issues. During my college days, when I was a member of the organization, I attended many training classes and was part of many ‘Pathasanchalans’ . But I rarely heard the leaders of the RSS speaking about bread and butter issues. In a country like India, where an overwhelming majority of the people are living in poverty, bread and butter issues must take predominance. In the words of Swami Vivekananada, ‘man is guided by his stomach. When a man walks, his stomach goes first and head afterwards. It takes ages for the head to go first’.  However, RSS does not seem to realize the fact that there is no use in preaching about religion without teaching people how to earn their livelihood.

The very existence of the RSS appears to be the result of the expansionist behavior of the Abrahamic faiths, especially Islam. It is true that Islam is also a very regressive religion which is bent on taking this world back to stone ages. The entire Muslim community is in the tight grip of its clergy and they are obsessed with Mullah, Madrassa and Matam. When someone criticises Islam and points out the need for a reformation in it, the entire Muslim community reacts with rage and many hardcore Muslims even take to streets to indulge in violence. If we look at the Islamic world, it is in utter chaos and infested with unending violence. Now the question arises as to whether the RSS, by promoting competitive communalism among the Hindus, wants even the Hindus to become like Muslims?

Macron-the French President

Emmanuel Macron’s victory gives an extended lease of life to French liberals.

Emmanuel Macron’s victory in French presidential election is very significant. His victory stemmed the tide of right-wing forces, though temporarily, and gave an extended lease of life to the famed French liberalism. Macron’s victory came as a surprise at a time when the situation is very ripe for the emergence of the right-wing and many predicted the victory of Marine Le Pen. His victory came against the backdrop of the ever strengthening anti-globalization movement, the rising Islamorealism (an antonym of Islamophobia), jobless growth and increasing concentration of economic power.

Now the big question is whether this triumph of liberalism, which manifested in the form of Macron’s victory, will sustain in the long run or is it just a temporary phenomenon? Macron, though emerged victorious, has almost insurmountable challenges ahead. His biggest challenge is pre-empting the Islamist terror attacks because each and every terror attack will only further strengthen the far-right. The second major challenge is making sure that the benefits of economic growth reach all the sections of the society. Because the globalization-induced jobless growth and unceasing Islamist terror attacks are the major reasons behind Brexit and the triumph of Trump.

As per the reports in the media, Macron’s three main ideas include

Stability

Pro-Europeanism

Technocratic governance

His ability to provide stability, as it has already been mentioned, depends on his ability to combat Islamists and ensuring job-laden growth.

As far as the pro-Europeanism is concerned it is already on a sticky wicket and there is a likelihood of more countries following the ‘Brexit’ route.

Technocratic governance, most of the time, either ignores or fails to perceive the interests and preferences of the people properly and blindly goes ahead with its so-called scientific and precision administration. However, society and social matters can’t be subjected to precision engineering.

Emile Chabal, a Fellow in History at the University of Edinburgh, writing in The Hindu, states:

Over the past four decades, more and more French people have identified with a specifically French brand of liberalism that emphasizes reform of the state, a greater openness to non-French ideas, a recognition of the plural character of French society, and market-orientated economic reform. Elements of these liberal ideas were taken up by Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Hollande, but Mr. Macron has them all.

Greater openness to non-French ideas is a great thing but at the same time it is extremely dangerous to be ‘open’ to Islamist ideas, which are bent on dehumanizing women and taking the humankind back to stone ages. The market-oriented economy only promotes concentration of economic power in a few hands and leads to obscene flaunting of wealth, which deprives the masses a decent life.  Macron, if he wants to strengthen his position, has to be vary of these two things and tread cautiously. Otherwise, the far-right forces, who remain ever-ready to sneak in, will seize even the slightest opportunity to bounce back.