Monday, September 28, 2015

Modi's Soaring Rhetoric Amid Controversial Silicon Valley Visit

"The 21st century belongs to India', declared Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to thousands of his adoring fans at SAP Center in San Jose, California. As he spoke inside the Arena, protestors carrying anti-Modi posters condemned the presence in Silicon Valley of the person they choose to describe as the "Butcher of Gujarat".

My Invitation and Ticket:

I had received an invitation and a ticket to attend Prime Minister Modi's reception at SAP Center. I thought about attending it long and hard. I was really conflicted about attending and, in the end, I chose not to.

Modi's Soaring Rhetoric:

As Prime Minister Modi wowed almost exclusively Indian-American techie audience in Silicon Valley, there were many who compared his rhetoric to US President Barack Obama's 2008 soaring speeches promising "Change" in America which, for many, have led to a huge letdown in the last 6 years. Modi led his audience with chants of "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and "Jai Baghat Singh" and the they responded by cheering the Prime Minster on with screams of "Modi! Modi".

“[India] has moved on from scriptures to satellites,” Modi said. “The world has started to believe that the 21st century belongs to India.”

"Unwelcome Modi" Rally:

As the Indian Prime Minister spoke to thousands of his adoring supporters inside San Jose Arena, a group estimated by some at 3000 staged a rally against him.

"Prime Minister Modi's 'Rock Star' visit to Silicon Valley can't make up for his rock bottom performance in human and civil rights," Virali Modi-Parekh of Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA) told NBC News. "Since Modi's been in office, violence against religious minorities has spiked. But Modi turns a blind eye while churches are burned and Muslims and Christians are being forcibly converted. There is a culture of fear and victimization, especially against minorities in India, which undermines Modi's standing as a business partner."

Campaign against Modi's presence in Silicon Valley included billboards across Silicon Valley focusing attention on Modi's human rights record; hundreds of bottles of Purell hand sanitizer sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, each with a name of a person killed in the Gujarat riots; challenges from South Asian LGBTQ employees of high-tech companies of India's Penal Code 377; a "faculty statement" from 125 academics on Modi's history; a "die-in" dramatizing continuing attacks against minority groups; and social media campaigns using the hashtags #ModiFail, #ChallengeModi, #ModiLiestoUS, #ZuckWashYourHands, according to NBC News.

Academics Letter:

Over 100 US academics wrote an open letter to Silicon Valley tech executives warning them against doing business with Prime Minister who came to push his "Digital India" initiative. The US professors reminded the technology executive that Modi and his Hindu allies are using their power to censor dissident voices in India.

Hindtuva activists allied with Modi have been attacking dissidents with impunity since the Prime Minister's elevation to power in Delhi. M.M. Kalburgi, a 78-year-old professor, was assassinated by the Sangh activists recently. Hours after Kalburgi's murder, Bhuvith Shetty, a member of the Hindu militant group Bajrang Dal, tweeted in celebration: "Mock Hinduism and die a dog's death. And dear K.S. Bhagwan you are next."

Two other high-profile rationalists, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, were shot point-blank 18 months apart in the western state of Maharashtra. Dabholkar, a 68-year-old activist who worked on behalf of villagers exploited by local gurus and so-called godmen, campaigned for the state government to pass an anti-superstition bill. It's been two years since he was killed in the city of Pune, and no one has been charged, according to a report in Los Angeles Times.

Digital Censorship:

Facebook has published data indicating that India leads the world in censoring Facebook posts.  Indian government demanded Facebook blocks 4,765 times in a six month period.India’s approach to Internet speech has been a flash point for years, with the government saying it wants to regulate content that is offensive to religious or ethnic groups, and companies such as Facebook and Google (GOOG) bristling at the restrictions, according to Bloomberg News.

Source: Bloomberg


There's no question that Mr. Narendra Modi is wildly popular with Indians at home and abroad. The Prime Minister has made a lot of promises to the Indian people. And the more he speaks, the higher the expectations. Meanwhile, India's exports have declined every month for the last 9 months and the corporate profits of Indian companies continue to be weak. At the same time, Mr. Modi's allies in the Sangh Parivar are stepping their activities challenging the "Secular" foundations of the Indian Constitution. So the question is:  Is the Modi phenomenon beginning to unravel already?


Ravi Krishna said...

"Meanwhile, India's exports have declined every month for the last 9 months and the corporate profits of Indian companies continue to be weak."

And so of CHina. It didn't occur to you that world wide every country is seeing weak demand for exports.

India's forex reserves went up from 275B USD to nearly 360 BUSD. I can live with that.

Riaz Haq said...

RK: "India's forex reserves went up from 275B USD to nearly 360 BUSD. I can live with that."

RBI data shows India's forex reserves are up from $315 billion in Sept 2014 to $352 billion in Sept 2015.

Here's India's commerce dept report on trade:

It means India's 9-moth straight decline in exports makes India even more dependent on foreign investments given its huge trade deficits.

So far, the FDI and FII inflows are based on high expectations which are not being met by Modi's govt.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian PM #Modi faces disillusioned supporters on US visit. #ModiInUSA #India via @AJAM

Modi’s big challenge is that he can’t seem to pass a law without stepping on the toes of at least some of his supporters, let alone his vocal critics. His attempts at economic reform have alarmed his rural base, while his party’s overtures to the Hindutva or Hindu nationalist faction have stung his pro-business image. A recent proposal to give security agencies access to encrypted data like personal emails alienated many young Modi fans, and small reforms to governance in Delhi ruffled businessmen who found their former access to power had been closed off. And some of Modi’s most ardent supporters have turned impatient, if not outright critical.

Kataria says he supports what Modi is doing, but wonders why there hasn’t been any progress on the Hindu right’s more concrete goals. “There’s a provision in the constitution for the uniform civil code. I don’t know why he isn’t doing it,” he says. “A lot of extreme Hindus have been very upset with him.”

This could be a strategy to allow Modi to project himself as a progressive reformer without alienating his hard-right base, suggests Rohit Chopra, a communications professor at Santa Clara University and author of “Technology and Nationalism in India.” “The BJP says, ‘We’re inclusive, we’re only concerned with development,’ and every now and then someone in the BJP proper will throw a bone to these extremist organizations just to pay the dues, and the minister of culture will say something inflammatory about Islam or Christianity.”

A business-friendly image

The problem is, bigotry is bad for business, and Modi’s silence at these outbursts has miffed industrialists who have largely supported him. In April, for instance, Adi Godrej, chairman of one of India’s largest conglomerates (and a member of the Zoroastrian religious minority), warned that if left unchecked, “overt Hindutva elements” would drive away foreign investors.

BJP officials insist their government’s main priority is the economy. “We recognize these individuals, that they have their opinions and demands,” says Seshadri Chary, a member of the party’s National Executive Committee. “The government’s priority now is to concentrate on economic development and give fillip to the economy, bring down prices and take all those measures which will help integrate the economy with opportunities around the world.”

Those economic reforms have been hard to enact. The prime minister has traveled around the world to encourage investment, and successfully raised foreign direct investment by 48 percent. But his government has moved slowly on its plan to sell $10 billion worth of shares in state-owned companies this year, and was unable to get its biggest economic reform bill passed, which would have overhauled land regulations in India and made it much easier for companies to acquire farmland for major industrial projects. The land bill ran into stiff resistance from the opposition and rights groups who said the law would allow corporations to forcibly take away land from farmers — and incidentally, from affiliates of Modi’s own RSS, who labeled the bill anti-poor and anti-farmer. And the government’s attempt to overhaul labor laws prompted a strike by labor unions including the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the nation’s largest.

Meanwhile, business leaders, who were optimistic about the economic reforms promised by the prime minister, have grown increasingly critical of the slow pace at which they are being enacted, high interest rates and continued retrospective taxation on capital gains made in previous years. A Moody’s survey of Mumbai businesses from July cited “policy stagnation” and “sluggish reform momentum” as the biggest danger to economic growth, while only half the respondents from a July survey by the Assocham, or The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India, said they were confident of an economic recovery, compared to 82.6 percent in March.

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

I have had many differences with you over many things, including Mr. Modi. But I appreciate the fact that you have struck to your beliefs and declined the invite. Unlike Mark Zuckerberg and his likes, you did not sell your belief for a few dollars. Take a bow, Prof!


Anonymous said...

Why is it people are so cynical? It seems that some people cannot understand that people evolve over time. every person changes over time. Even if Modi had a different view of Muslims earlier, is he barred for understanding that muslims are humans too. Why does this agenda of hate have to be kept boiling. I can understand that in so far as India is concerned, religion has become a basis of politics. The Congress Party even wrote to the US to ban Modi from US even when there was not proof against him.

Why cant the so called intellectuals understand that people change and should be allowed to change and evolve, because change is the only constant.

It seems that even if Indians want to move beyond the ideas of hate based religious order, the US academics are hell bent of keeping the tensions between religions going. Is it because they will become irrelevant if it is not?

May peace be upon all.

Riaz Haq said...

The Power of Social Media: Emboldened Right-Wing Trolls Who are Attempting an Internet purge -

Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in a “town hall” meeting at the headquarters of Facebook in Menlo Park, California. At the event, Modi answered pre-screened queries from the audience and Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive officer of Facebook. During this conversation, the prime minister heralded the power of social media as a vehicle for democracy and good governence, before adding that it “allows for accountability instantly.” Modi declared, “I ask all world leaders not to avoid social media and to connect to it.” However, in his eulogy to the power of the internet, the prime minister appeared to have forgotten about an aspect of social media that doesn’t lend itself to either a functional democracy or accountability. It is a spectre that has been haunting journalists in India: that of internet trolls.

The internet is no stranger to trolls—users who post inflammatory, threatening or disruptive messages—with Twitter itself having admitted to not having proper policies in place to protect its users from harassment. The Indian Twitter troll, however, is an oddly specific creature. This troll belongs to a motley digital mob comprised of Hindutva converts, misogynists, minorities, Congress baiters and “sickular”—a pejorative portmanteau coined for those percieved as having a secular point of view—haters, all united by their atavistic chest-thumping bhakti—devotion—for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The use of social networking platforms by the BJP demonstrates their agility in using technology for the cause of “Hindu Rashtra.” Behind the apparently toxic rants of the Hindutva troll, there is a method and design. It is interesting to note that Modi hosted the 150 social networkers at his official residence on the occasion of the launch of the Digital India Campaign in Delhi. The prime minister could have easily taken up a digitally-enabled education or health project to kick-start his campaign; instead, he chose to meet people who have become a byword in online terror, hate and misogyny—a symbolism ignored by most, the press and the victims included. With Modi pushing for deepening of digitisation, the size and virtual power of his abusive online army will only increase in the days ahead in its political-ideological battle for a “Congress-mukt” Bharat, cold comfort for the likes of Ravish Kumar, Sagarika Ghose and the rest. -

Gourish said...

Remember this...there is always this other side to every narrative...start living with it...however you try to deny it...

Riaz Haq said...

2.3 million Indians, including hundreds with PhDs, applied for the 368 jobs with the government of Uttar Pradesh. Hundreds of candidates with doctorates and other advanced degrees applied for the jobs that pay about 16,000 rupees ($240) a month and require a fifth-grade education.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

India true science achievement s
Decimal number system
Wootz steel
Aryabata's Sun is a star postulation which included accurate calculation of earth's diameter and tilt.

These idiots are doing our ancestors a great disservice by discrediting true ancient science achievement s.

Riaz Haq said...

Is #India's #Modi's "Neighborhood First" Policy collapsing? #Nepal #Pakistan #Maldives … via @dailyo_

Ajit Doval, said to be “handling” Nepal, took his eye off the game. Presumably, he was busy with Pakistan and the NSA talks-that-were-never-held. Doval is also the PM’s special representative with China, which means he is fully updated with developments in that country. The episodic attention to Nepal was a readymade recipe for disaster.

Third, by the time a furious PM asked his foreign secretary to travel to Kathmandu to make amends, it was already too late. Jaishankar’s tough and unforgiving attitude made things worse, at least in the eyes of the Nepali leadership, whom he told in no certain terms that a Constitution that marginalises the Madhesis was a bad idea. As to the 117 Madhesi MPs from parties like the Nepali Congress who voted in favour of the Constitution — evidently, there was a party whip and they couldn’t refuse — he wanted to know why they had betrayed the cause.


The real problem with the PM’s Neighbourhood First policy is that it is excitable and episodic. The Pakistan story is too old to recount. Even the success in Bangladesh almost didn’t happen when the Assam BJP wanted to keep the state out of the land boundary agreement. Now rumour is that India is about to execute yet another about-turn with the Maldives —Sushma Swaraj is expected to visit soon — and make nice with its proto-dictator Abdulla Yameen.

Remember that PM Modi had cancelled his visit to Male when Yameen threw the democratically elected former president Mohamed Nasheed into jail. India is now petrified that Yameen is opening the floodgates to China and believes it must keep the dialogue going to try and prevent that from happening. Delhi remembers well the recent Chinese statement: “The Indian Ocean is not India’s.”

Although Ajit Doval is said to be also “handling” the Maldives, he and Jaishankar clearly agree that a democrat-president can be sacrificed for a pragmatic cause (read China). It is significant that the foreign secretary didn’t bother to visit Nasheed who was under house arrest (he is since back in jail) when he visited Male a few weeks ago. In fact, if pragmatism is the name of the game in Delhi, Nasheed is among the few who can really tell Delhi about the Chinese — and what happened when they tried to woo him.

So as the prime minister charms America, flanked by his two key aides Ajit Doval and S Jaishankar, the thought surfaces: Let him also spare a thought for India’s crisis-ridden neighbourhood.

Riaz Haq said...

#SiliconValley’s #Indian-#Americans and #Modi’s digital delusions - #India #BJP #ModiInUSA

In public relations terms, Narendra Modi’s “Digital India” campaign is a world beater. Few national leaders can pull crowds of 20,000 or more at home, let alone overseas. On Monday India’s prime minister attracted 18,000 at San José’s SAP arena in Silicon Valley.

The executive suite gap was on full view last week at the White House state dinner for Mr Xi. No fewer than three Indian chief executives were on the guest list — Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, Mr Nadella and Ajay Banga, chief executive of MasterCard.
In contrast, there were no Chinese-born S&P 500 leaders. Mr Xi was feted last week in Seattle by US business leaders, such as Apple’s Tim Cook and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, en route to his summit with President Barack Obama. Yet it is hard to imagine him receiving the adulation that greeted Mr Modi at Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters this week. The Indian prime minister’s town hall conversation with Mark Zuckerberg began with chants of “Modi, Modi” from the company’s Indian-born employees.
Here, however, Mr Modi’s “Make in India” drive hits a ceiling. Impressive portions of the US economy are led by people who were made in India. But they show few signs of wanting to go home.

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, Asian-Americans will overtake Hispanics to make up the largest share of US immigrants by 2065. A growing number will be Indian.
Can Mr Modi leverage their US success in India? He may have it back-to-front. Companies led by Indian-born executives are no fonder of India’s bureaucratic minefields than any other.
At the US-India strategic and commercial dialogue last week — the counterpart to the US-China annual meetings — US investors read out a depressingly familiar list of complaints.
Foreign businesses must still navigate a Kafkaesque maze of permissions to receive project approvals. Even then, however, they are vulnerable to arbitrary and retrospective tax bills. Amazon, which is putting large sums into its growing India operation, is already mired in a dispute with New Delhi. Its travails are hardly an advertisement to do business in India.
The high point of Mr Modi’s US visit was Mr Zuckerberg’s unexpected confession of Indophilia. Facebook’s chief executive disclosed he had been planning to sell Facebook in its early days but had been advised by Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, to visit the Hindu temple where he had meditated decades earlier. Mr Zuckerberg returned from his month-long India trip with a sense of renewal.
“If Facebook was a country it would be the third largest in the world — and the most connected,” said a delighted Mr Modi.
True enough. But countries are a little more complex than social media groups. It is not enough for India to be liked, or even loved. To attract Chinese levels of investment, it must generate returns.

Anonymous said...

FDI in India in 2015 so far is #1 in the world surpassing China.

Looks like Modi is finally delivering on the ground!

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "FDI in India in 2015 so far is #1 in the world surpassing China. Looks like Modi is finally delivering on the ground!"

Modi needs more FDI to make up for declining exports and falling corp earnings since he took office.

It just confirms how heavily dependent India is on western money.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian #Muslim man beaten to death over rumours he had eaten beef in #Modi's #India | via @Telegraph #BeefBan …

Mohammad Akhlaq was attacked by around 100 people and despite being taken to hospital, police said "his life could not be saved"

A 50-year-old Muslim man was beaten to death over rumours he had eaten beef, a taboo in India, a Hindu-majority nation.
Mohammad Akhlaq was dragged from his house on the outskirts of the capital and attacked by around 100 people on Monday night, a police officer told AFP.
"When our team reached the spot a crowd was there outside his house. They (police) managed to rescue him and take him to the hospital, but his life could not be saved," said senior police superintendent Kiran S.
Indian police said on Wednesday they had arrested six people and "deployed additional personnel to contain any further repercussions".
Mr Akhlaq's 22-year-old son was also seriously injured in the attack and was in intensive care at a nearby hospital.
Killing cows is banned in many states of India, a majority-Hindu country that also has sizeable Muslim, Christian and Buddhist minorities.
In March, the state of Maharashtra toughened its ban to make even possessing beef illegal, a move seen by religious minorities as a sign of the growing power of hardline Hindus since nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi came to power.
The rumours that the family had eaten beef began when a calf was reported missing in Dadri village, 22 miles from New Delhi.
"An announcement about the family consuming beef was made at a temple, after which the mob descended on the man's house," said Kiran.
The Indian Express quoted Mr Akhlaq's daughter Sajida as saying the family had mutton in the fridge and not beef.
"They accused us of keeping cow meat, broke down our doors and started beating my father and brother. My father was dragged outside and beaten with bricks," she told the daily.

Riaz Haq said...

Welcome To #Modi's #India: Where Cows Matter More Than Humans (But There Is Wifi In Railway Stations) #BeefBan

NEW DELHI: The shocking incident of a fifty year old man being savagely beaten to death by a mob for allegedly eating beef in UP’s Dadri has once again turned the spotlight to ‘progressive’, ‘shining’, ‘digital’ India.

Mohammad Akhlaq, was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son severely injured on Monday as residents of Balsara village surrounded their home and accused them of eating cow meat. They then dragged the two men out of the house and beat them with bricks. The senior Akhlaq succumbed to his injuries soon after, and his son remains in a critical condition.

To add insult to grievous injury, the investigation seems to be revolving around determining whether the family did or did not eat beef. The daughter who witnessed the incident insists the meat was mutton -- but why does that even matter? Whether the family was or was not consuming beef is immaterial, but somehow, that seems to have figured into the investigation as the meat in question is on its way to a lab for testing.

The fact that this incident took place as our Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived back in India having completed his famed US tour (where he shook hands with Fortune 500 CEOs and celebrated a move toward “Digital India”) -- raises uncomfortable questions about our priorities as a nation.

We are so quick to celebrate superficial victories that we are forgetting the real challenges this country faces. Challenges such as the mindset and culture that caused the death of Mohammad Akhlaq. Challenges relating to education, income inequality, religious extremism, gender violence, abysmal health care, and so on.

We were so busy celebrating PM Modi’s announcement of direct flights from India to San Francisco, that the news that an American tourist was gangraped just a week earlier in Dharamsala ceases to matter. FYI, violence against women is on the rise in India: statistics show that an average of 92 women are raped EVERY DAY in this country, and that’s just the reported incidents.

We were so busy changing our profiles on Facebook to support #DigitalIndia, that we forgot that just earlier this month, a seven year old boy and a nine year old girl succumbed to dengue fever because hospitals refused to admit them.

We were so busy with the excitement of Google’s announcement of wifi in 400 Indian railway stations that we forgot that just ten days ago, a Khap Panchayat in Haryana ordered five shoe slaps to a 23-year-old man as PUNISHMENT for raping a seven year old girl. Lesson learnt?

We were so busy agreeing with Rupert Murdoch's assertion that PM Modi is India’s greatest leader that we didn’t care about communal riots in Ranchi, the fact that a three year old toddler was shot dead in Kashmir -- the latest in a string of mysterious killings that many blame India’s armed forces for, or the death threats issued by right wing groups to Marathi journalist Nikhil Wagle.

We were so busy retweeting a photo of PM Modi shaking hands with Mark Zuckerberg that we forgot that real India is (tragically) an India where a man can be beaten to death for eating (or not eating) a particular type of meat.

So is this our message to the world? I see it loud and clear. “Welcome to India, where cows matter more than human beings, but fret not, we have free Wifi at railway stations (whether it works or not is immaterial.)”

Anonymous said...

Please note that this shameful incident happened in UP which is NOT ruled by BJP. The current ruling party is pro muslim and there is no ban on beef.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Please note that this shameful incident happened in UP which is NOT ruled by BJP. The current ruling party is pro muslim and there is no ban on beef."

Hindu radicals all over India have been emboldened to carry out hate crimes since their leader Modi rose to power. As Pakistanis have painfully learned, this path of radicalization is bad for the entire nation, not just the minorities of India.

Ravi Krishna said...

"Hindu radicals all over India have been emboldened to carry out hate crimes since their leader Modi rose to power. As Pakistanis have painfully learned, this path of radicalization is bad for the entire nation, not just the minorities of India."

For once Riaz Haq is right. This is definitely a field I would not like India to compete with Pakistan or for that matter any islamic country.
Hopefully the in-built tolerance and secularism in Hinduism will overcome this phase.

Anonymous said...

Hello Riaz and Ravi: What sort of logic is this? Modi is PM of India so he is responsible for all hate crimes like this one ?? Would he be responsible for Indian muslims bombing a train ? Riaz may agree but Ravi may not :-)

Hate crime thought exist in all parts of the world. The difference is, due to fear of law, it rarely happens in the west.
If law becomes an ass in USA (just like it is in India and Pak), there would be a white on black hate crime almost daily. Plain and simple.

Last night's tragedy at Dadri (UP) could have been avoided if the govt of Samaajwadi party had a writ of the law. Police and law/order is a state subject and not center.

Shameful : Yes
Modi to blame: No

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Last night's tragedy at Dadri (UP) could have been avoided if the govt of Samaajwadi party had a writ of the law. Police and law/order is a state subject and not center."

This is not an isolated incident.

There have many many reports of beef related and other Sangh Parivar violence across India in recent months.

Individuals, transporters, restaurants and slaughter houses have been attacked and people hurt or killed.

Some intellectuals like MM Kalburgi and dissidents like Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare have been shot and killed by RSS thugs. Others have received threats of violence.

Such incidents will only grow unless Modi personally speaks out and tells his fellow Sanghis to stop the violence.

Bottom Line: Bigotry is bad for business. It will scuttle Mdi's entire development agenda unless it is proactively reined in by the govt. Modi needs to tell his ministers to stop adding fuel to the fire by their own bigoted pronouncements.

Riaz Haq said...


Now even the pretence of remorse is not there. BJP leaders from Western Uttar Pradesh have supported the brutal murder of Mohammad Akhlaq, “when we hurt people’s sentiments, such clashes take place. This was not a communal riot. The Hindu community worships cows. Whose blood won’t boil if they see cow slaughter.”

This belligerence, demonstrated by no less than the vice president of BJP’s west UP unit Shrichand Sharma has deepened tensions in Dadri district where both communities had lived in relative peace over the years. Terror-struck Muslim families are all preparing to leave the area, some have left, others are packing their bags to go. Where? They don’t know but fear for their lives is making them leave the homes where they lived for decades to face a future that is bleak, to say the least.

A former legislator from Dadri Nawab Singh Nagar spoke in the same aggressive vein maintaining that the family was at fault. He too, has been quoted in media reports stating, “it is obvious that such an incident will lead to anger among people and there will be communal tension. If this was the case, the family is in the wrong. If they have consumed beef, they are also responsible. This is a village of Thakurs and they express their sentiments in a very strong way. If they have done this, they should have kept in mind what the reaction would be.”

In short: if you eat beef you deserve to die. And you will be killed.

There has not been a word on this from Prime Minister Narendra Modi or BJP president Amit Shah. Not a restraining word, that feeds into the perception that the violence and the murder, clearly supported (if not instigated) by the BJP and its affiliates. Instead the local BJP unit has demanded the release of the six persons arrested from a mob of over 100 persons, threatening to hold a mahapanchayat to release the killers, and instead take action against the victims for “cow slaughter.” Another local BJP leader Vichitra Tomar has been quoted in the Indian Express that is the only mainstream newspaper to have covered the ghastly crime in some detail, demanding, “the release of all the people who have been arrested in connection with the Bisada incident, who are all innocent. We also demand legal action against those who are engaged in cow slaughter, as it is meant to incite sentiments of Hindus.” This mahapanchayat, clearly projected as a threat to break law and order by the BJP, is scheduled for October 11 with the party already campaigning aggressively in the area for a large attendance.

Fear has gripped the area, with all residents reminded now of similar mahapanchayats that led to brutal attack on the Muslims in Muzaffarnagar last year during the Lok Sabha campaign.

Riaz Haq said...

Ex PM Manmohan Singh: "Strained ties between #India, #Pakistan affecting regional growth of South Asia. #Modi #BJP

Singh also said that "there will be challenges posed by Pakistan's current internal situation and the future situation in Afghanistan. Geo-politics of the Indian Ocean region will also be the fulcrum of India's foreign policy."

"India and Pakistan need sustained engagement to realise the vast potential of benefits of liberalisation of trade and investment in the South Asian region," Singh, a noted economist, asserted.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's #India’s growth faces more domestic than global obstacles, Crisil says

Domestic factors are a bigger constraint for India's shift to a faster growth trajectory than the global factors, Crisil's chief economist has said.

"Indian authorities' efforts to contain its high fiscal deficit and inflation limit its ability to generously use countercyclical policy tools to boost the economy," said Crisil's chief economist Dharmakirti Joshi in an article published by Standard & Poor's.

Crisil is a subsidiary of Standard & Poor's.

"Weak demand, low capacity utilization and high leverage are impediments to reviving the private corporate investment cycle," he added.

The report notes that global developments since 2014 have had mixed impact on India.

While lower crude oil and commodity prices have helped to rein in fiscal and current account deficits and inflation, slack global growth has hurt India's exports.

Reforms aimed at enhancing financial sector access to the unserved and under-served, improving transparency in government decision-making and making it easier to do business will play an important role in pushing growth up over the next two to three years, according to the report.

The transition to a sustainable high growth path over the next decade will also require additional reforms such as goods and services tax, along with land and labour reforms.

Riaz Haq said...

‪#‎India‬'s muscular policy alienates neighbors. ‪#‎Nepal‬ ‪#‎Pakistan‬ ‪#‎SriLanka‬ ‪#‎Bangladesh‬ …

New Delhi’s approach to its neighbours has increasingly been marked by muscularity, evident in its recent attempts to browbeat Nepal into carrying out amendments to its Constitution. What South Asia needs is a friendly India, not a powerful big brotherIndia has been involved in Nepal’s Constitution-making process since the beginning. So, it is unlikely that the passage of the Constitution would have come as a surprise Both in Nepal and Myanmar, the Modi administration seems to have displayed a lack of sensitivity towards the aspirations of smaller, sovereign nations. This could be because the security establishment has started to overshadow the Ministry of External Affairs or because domestic considerations have started to shape foreign policy

Mindless chest-thumping over hitting rebels “deep inside Myanmar” has already cost India. Despite the subsequent damage control that has led to important state visits, Myanmar has refused to hand over the National Socialist Council of Nagalim–Khaplang (NSCN-K)’s leader, S.S. Khaplang, and three of his confidantes, who India wants to put on trial for attacks on its security forces. Myanmar peacemakers have actually held formal negotiations with Khaplang’s representatives on a national ceasefire agreement that the Thein Sein government is planning to sign with its ethnic rebel armies, ahead of the November parliament elections.

The two countries’ forces have, since the mid-60s, forayed into each other’s territories in ‘hot pursuit’ of rebels. So there was nothing new in the Indian cross-border raids. However, they were surely not “deep inside Myanmar” as the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, R.S. Rathore, claimed. The uncalled-for Indian braggadocio is what has upset Myanmar, and the Pakistanis shot back saying, “We are not Myanmar”.

Both in Nepal and Myanmar, the Modi administration seems to have displayed a lack of sensitivity towards the aspirations of people of these smaller sovereign nations. Whether this is because the security establishment has started to overshadow the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), or because domestic considerations have started to shape the Indian response, is a matter of speculation. However, a muscular neighbourhood policy, especially with smaller neighbours, will not work for India. It will not only help drive them into the Chinese fold, but will also provide traction to Pakistan’s sustained campaign against ‘Indian domination’ in the region.

Riaz Haq said...

Shekhar Gupta: Mainstreaming the Lynch-Fringe #india | Business Standard Column. #BeefMurder #BJP #Modi …

Even after taking a close look at rise of the BJP as our pre-eminent national party, I can't say for sure when, and how, the term “fringe elements” emerged. Probably, it did in the run-up to the Ayodhya demolition in the winter of 1992. What we can say for sure is, if the moderate leadership does not challenge the fringe, it continues to morph, expand, and subsume the mainstream. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal were once fringe; today they are “sister” organisations. Sanatan Sanstha, Samadhan Sena and Abhinav Bharat are fringe today.

The Dadri incident is a chilling turning point in our politics. It marks the rise of Hindu supremacist mob militancy that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won’t unequivocally condemn or disown. It will criticise the killing, but qualify it in a half-dozen ways. You want to see how, refer to my friend, BJP MP and RSS intellectual Tarun Vijay’s article in Friday’s Indian Express. He says the lynching was abhorrent to the spirit of Hinduism and India as Mohammad Akhlaq was killed “merely on suspicion”, and that his daughter was so right in asking, what if it were proven that her father had not eaten beef, would someone bring him back?

This implies that if he had indeed eaten beef, and if the mob had clear evidence, retribution would be fair. The point should have been, so what even if he had eaten beef? It isn’t illegal in Uttar Pradesh (cow slaughter is illegal), and where it is, there are stern laws to deal with offenders.

Let’s join the dots. A temple loudspeaker was used for the priest to allegedly rally the (Hindu) faithful to come out seeking retribution. The local MP and Central culture minister was as qualified in his condemnation as Tarun Vijay, as were other BJP leaders. There is a clear, well-thought-out response to such incidents, whether it is the thrashing of dating couples in Mangalore, assassination of rationalists in Maharashtra and Karnataka, or criminally provocative statements, ranging from “Ramzade vs Haramzade” to “in spite of being a Muslim” and “go to Pakistan”. Read this then also with the go-slow on the terror cases allegedly involving radical Hindus. If Abhinav Bharat was indeed a minor rogue fringe group, why is it being protected now as if it were a victim?

The reason I call Dadri a landmark turning point in our politics isn’t just because it was probably the first time since the Partition riots that a temple loudspeaker was used to rouse a mob, though this was significant in itself, as temples calling the faithful isn’t even a Hindu tradition. The more important factor is the relatively muted response of the self-styled secular forces. Top leaders of the Congress haven’t even taken a padyatra or fact-finding mission to the village, just a 40-minute drive from Delhi. Lalu, Nitish, Mamata, all claimants to the secular vote, are afraid of messing with an issue involving the cow. Holiness of the cow has now become as multi-partisan an issue as hostility to Pakistan. In March this year, the predominantly Hindu state of Haryana, with no history of cow slaughter and which already had a cow-protection law, passed a new, heavily worded Gauvansh Sanrakshan (cow protection) and Gausamvardhan (cow propagation) Act.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - Has Narendra #Modi's #India's foreign policy bubble burst? #Nepal #Pakistan …

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has returned to India after a high-profile visit to the United States where he rubbed shoulders with global leaders, met industry representatives and also reached out to the large and increasingly influential Indian diaspora.
The highlight of the visit was his trip to Silicon Valley - the first by an Indian premier in decades. It was high on symbolism - the Bay area is where many Indian Americans have built their professional reputation and, of course, a number of them now head some of the world's leading technology firms.
But even as the prime minister wowed the US, there is trouble back home - in India's immediate neighbourhood.
Its relationship with China has never been particularly strong; Maldives and India are straining at the edges and ties with Sri Lanka are only just back on track. And in recent weeks, India's relations with two of its most significant neighbours, Nepal and Pakistan, have turned decidedly rocky.
That's not good news for a prime minister who not long ago appeared to place improved relations with India's immediate neighbourhood at the core of his foreign policy. So what has gone wrong?

A spat with Nepal over the country's new constitution is threatening to break out into a full-fledged diplomatic row.
India is Nepal's powerful neighbour but is the only country that did not wholeheartedly welcome its new constitution after protests by ethnic communities living in the plains bordering India.
The protesters have blocked the main border crossings into Nepal from India, choking off a key supply route through which the landlocked country gets much of its requirements, including fuel.
Nepal has accused India of both fanning the protests and imposing the blockade. Delhi has strongly denied this, saying truckers are refusing to cross the border because of the security situation on the other side.
It's an astonishing turnaround in relations which many Nepalis find inexplicable.
Last year, Nepal was among the first countries that Mr Modi chose to visit after his landslide election victory.

If relations with Nepal are bad, those with Pakistan are back on familiar ground.
There is tension along the border, acrimonious exchanges at the UN and almost no progress on long-delayed peace talks.
But even here, there had been a flicker of hope a year ago.
Mr Modi surprised everyone by inviting Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Delhi for his inauguration. Mr Sharif surprised most by attending, apparently against the wishes of his powerful army chief.
Since then, scheduled foreign office talks and a planned meeting between the national security advisors of the two countries have been called off by India because of differences over Kashmir.
In Islamabad, many believe that Mr Modi has undercut Mr Sharif.
Cancelling the talks "weakened Nawaz's ability to improve relations with India", writes Saira Bano of the Stimson Centre in The Diplomat.

Riaz Haq said...

Dadri’s dire warning: If Modi fails to give India change, it’s because of enemies within his house
Akhlaq’s death was foretold from the moment Bharatiya Janata Party chief ministers started banning meat on the excuse of festivals during which it has never been banned before.

Akhlaq’s murder reminds us of how superficial India’s modernity is. The men who killed him and tried to kill his son would have all had cellphones in their pockets and colour television sets in their homes. Some may even have had access to computers and the Internet, and still all it took was a rumour for them to turn into savages. It is only savages who can turn so quickly into a killer mob. And in recent months a very ugly atmosphere has been created across the country by BJP chief ministers and Modi’s own ministers, and he has done nothing to stop them. Nor has he made the smallest effort to call a halt to the misguided ‘ghar wapasi’ (homecoming) campaign launched by his former comrades in the RSS. If the RSS is truly interested in serving India, and if they are true believers in the Sanatan Dharma, then they must concentrate their activities on more useful things like cleaning the Ganga and helping the Swachh Bharat campaign. Ghar wapasi is the antithesis of the idea of the Sanatan Dharma.
Meanwhile the Prime Minister must realise that the investors he woos on his travels in foreign lands halt in their tracks every time they see signs that beneath its new highways and shining malls, India remains a primitive country. Akhlaq was stoned to death in a village less than 50 kilometres away from Delhi and his young son, if he lives, could live with serious head injuries. Do we require more proof that we are going to need more than digital technology to make India into a country that truly belongs in the 21st century, instead of in some hideous, primordial time warp?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Your reply is factual but does not contradict the primary point that forex reserves have increased not decreased under Modi despite the decline in exports which is a global trend.

Also it is inaccurate to say that it is only Indian Americans who supported Modi. Please check what Mije Bloomberg, Jamie Dimin, Rupert Murdoch have said about Modi after he met finance and media moguls in NYC.

FDI in 6 months of Jan to June 2015 was 2.5 times higher at $31 billion compared to same period a year back. For the first time since independence India has attracted higher FDI than US and infact has emerged as the leading destination for FDI.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's grand delusion of Digital #India - The Hindu. #ModiInSiliconValley #SiliconValley #DigitalIndia …

The idea of attacking poverty by increasing mobile connectivity in a country that ranks 55 in the Global Hunger Index is just fantasy

Interviewer: What would you regard as the most outstanding and significant event of the last decade?

Siddhartha: The… war in Vietnam, sir.

Interviewer: More significant than landing on the moon?

Siddhartha: I think so, sir.

— “Pratidwandi” (The Adversary), 1970

The most fundamental debate for our youth is the choice between Android, iOS or Windows. — Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A glib modernity has perpetrated the belief that technology can bring about the liberation of human beings. Therefore, it is not surprising that the post-colonial history of colonised nations is also largely a history of this unrealisable fantasy. Digital India is the latest enchantment. The irony is that what goes missing in the search of a “technological fix” is human beings themselves. What should worry us is not the digital divide, but the fundamental divide between a rapidly growing technological capability and a snail-like growth in eliminating human deprivation.

Mr. Modi’s Digital India speech at Silicon Valley showed his remarkable continuity with the policies of post-independence governments, which grievously ignored the fundamental bases of development, health and education, leading to colossal failures in eliminating deprivation. Is it of any surprise that in 2011, 50 per cent of rural India was illiterate or semiliterate? Or that dengue overwhelms New Delhi now? All this is the result of an impoverished understanding of development as merely economic growth and progress in science and technology, rather than ensuring basic human capacities and dignity. Hence, we are in a conjuncture in which 71 per cent of rural India owns mobile phones while 75 per cent of it lives on Rs. 33 per day.

Riaz Haq said...

Exports ↓
Manufacturing ↓
Services ↓

: Exports from India are still not out of the woods, with 23 key sectors, including petroleum, engineering and leather, declining in August mainly due to a fall in global prices and demand downturn. In all, 23 out of 30 sectors monitored by the commerce ministry were in the negative zone last month, data showed.

This has prompted exporters' body FIEO to seek immediate intervention of the government to arrest the decline.

A gauge of manufacturing activity in India fell to a seven-month low in September, providing fresh evidence that a recovery in the South Asian economy remains sluggish.

The seasonally adjusted India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, prepared by Markit, fell to 51.2 from 52.3 in August, according to Nikkei research released Thursday. A figure above 50 indicates an expansion while a reading below that signals contraction.

"Growth of Indian manufacturing production was weighed down by a difficult economic climate," Pollyanna De Lima, an economist at Markit, said.

New orders rose at the weakest pace since June, with export-order growth slumping to the slowest in two years. As a result, manufacturers cut jobs to keep costs in check.

"This bodes ill for the economy in the near-term and suggests that manufacturers' expectations for future output growth are clouded with uncertainty," Ms. De Lima said.

Bengaluru: India’s pivotal services industry lost some momentum in September as demand weakened despite firms cutting prices for the first time this year, a business survey showed on Tuesday.

Riaz Haq said...

Why doesn’t #India have its own #SiliconValley?

The question Modi should ask himself is this: why hasn’t India been able to replicate, even in some small measure, Silicon Valley’s top-end technology ecosystem? Why haven’t Indians been able to create a Google or Facebook in Bangalore?

The question may sound counter-intuitive. If there’s one thing India is known for abroad, besides poverty, it’s the country’s prowess in information technology. How often have you heard the assertion that if China is the factory of the world, India is its back office? Modi has repeated the boast; so has China’s President Xi Jinping.

In that claim, though, lies a partial explanation for why India’s technology scene remains underdeveloped. Beginning in the 1980s, Indian tech companies focused on providing relatively low value-added IT services to overseas clients, rather than developing high value-added products. The choice made sense. Companies faced a tough climate for doing business in then-socialist India and a small domestic market. Red tape strangled the hardware sector, as so many others in India; archaic labour laws and a lack of power discouraged new factories. Given India’s nationalised banking system, financing for risky start-ups was slim-to-non-existent.

..the hype over the Bangalore boom obscured the fact that India hadn’t really created a true start-up ecosystem. Silicon Valley, for instance, benefits greatly from the presence of several top-notch universities; academic research is translated quickly into the real world, while feedback travels in the other direction. Yet despite setting up 14 new Indian Institutes of Technology since the 1990s, successive Indian governments haven’t seen fit to locate one in Bangalore itself. (Modi’s proposed putting one in Dharwad, a town more than 400 kilometres away.) Meanwhile, India spends only 0.8 per cent of its GDP on research and development, compared to 2.8 per cent in the U.S. and 1.8 per cent in China, both of which have much higher GDPs than India. Until relatively recently, Indian start-ups attracted limited venture capital and private equity funding compared to their Chinese counterparts. Intellectual property protections were weak.

Modi intends to showcase this new start-up culture while in Silicon Valley. If he really wants India to produce an Apple or Amazon, though, he needs to focus on improving the environment for innovation at home — cutting regulations, investing in research and education, and boosting growth in order to expand the domestic market. Indians abroad are obviously talented and nimble enough to innovate. The question is whether India is, too.

—By arrangement with Bloomberg-The Washington Post

Anonymous said...

taken from dawn.

AHMED WANI Sep 25, 2015 12:38pm
and please dont compare flipkart....flipkart whole valuation as single company =karachi stock exchange...

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "and please dont compare flipkart....flipkart whole valuation as single company =karachi stock exchange..."

This is the kind of falsehood that fuels India's delusions.

Among Indian companies, only the most value TCS approaches KSE market valuation of $75 billon, that too in a bursting bubble that Indian valuations are in today.

Flipkart is just $15 billion.

Riaz Haq said...

Moody's angers #India: Says it is among top 4 countries (#iraq, #Afghanistan, #Pakistan) with most terror incidents. …

"Now, in a report dated 6 October 2015 Moody's says “more than 60% of all (terrorist) incidents in 2013 were concentrated in just four countries. Iraq (24% of terrorist incidents, Pakistan 19%, Afghanistan 12% and India 5.8%.”
The report concedes that at 690 attacks, it translates into less than half attack per million of Indian population as opposed to the global average of 2.4 attacks per million but nevertheless has chosen to caution the world against India.
That the events of 2013 have been reported in 2015 speaks volumes about the rating agency’s efficiency and motives especially given the fact that it has deemed it fit to make India an unsafe investment destination in the eyes of foreign investors.
That India has been bracketed with terrorist hotbeds — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq — would rankle every patriotic Indian when the facts are to the contrary. Unlike these three nations, India does not harbor and nurture terrorists but like Israel is a victim of hostile neighbors’ designs. By Moody’s syllogism, even the US and the UK are terror states whereas the truth is they too are victims, actual or potential, of terrorist attacks.
The report sounds hollow, dubious and contrived coming as it does at a time when India has attracted the highest FDI and FIIs are still the movers and shakers of its bourses.
Terrorism indeed slows down growth and increases the cost of sovereign debts besides leaving its impact for a long time as the report says but these dire warnings apply to terrorists infested states and not to India whose new government at the center has been fairly successful in halting terrorists in their tracks.
True, India growth is slackening and as a direct fallout unemployment is increasing but these by no means are due to the fanciful perception that India is an unsafe destination. On the contrary, India shines as a beacon of hope and development with China running out of steam and a large part of Europe still in tatters due to a variety of reasons including the ill-conceived economic union it forged 15 years ago.
If the FDI is not pouring into India at a torrential pace, it is because the US and European companies have to first set their own houses in order.
Moody’s knew all these but blithely chose to release a report that is a non sequitur — its own statistics do not support its conclusions. The report is just plain mischievous."

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's #India's savage religious zealotry is #SiliconValley's shame. #ModiInUSA … …

All of this is shocking, but not surprising given that Modi himself opened the beef fault line in the country. During his campaign, he accused Congress, then the ruling party, of fomenting a "pink revolution" — subsidizing mass cow slaughter to boost beef exports — to shame Hindus into voting for him. Since he assumed office, many states have pushed new beef bans or started aggressively enforcing defunct existing ones, basically setting up Muslims and other beef-eating minorities for persecution. Millions of Muslim butchers and tanneries have been thrown out of business by the anti-beef jihad.

This is only one of the many attacks on personal freedoms by Hindu nationalists under Modi. If Zuckerberg and his fellow CEOs don't fully understand Modi's agenda, it is because they live in a bubble where they get their cues on India-related matters from the Indian-American IT professionals who dominate Silicon Valley. The vast majority of these folks, despite their outward trappings of Americanization and modernization, are assertive Hindus and true believers in Modi's hype about making India a technological superpower. They come from a class and caste background that inclines them to cover India's warts, even if that means pooh-poohing the plight of poor and persecuted minorities.

This horrible beating ought to have opened Zuckerberg's eyes. There are a number of things he can do to undo the damage done by his glorification of Modi.

Zuckerberg could symbolically join the human rights groups in India that are organizing beef-eating festivals around the country by publicly eating a steak in the honor of Mohammad Akhlaq, the murdered father.

And how about this: To commemorate Modi's Digital India campaign to offer universal internet access in the world's largest democracy, Zuckerberg had created a special app draping his Facebook profile picture in the tricolored Indian flag and allowing other users to do the same. He should now create a similar app with Akhlaq's face in the background.

But, above all, he should sponsor Akhlaq's family for asylum in the United States and pay for every member's travel and settling costs. Offering protection to those fleeing religious persecution is the very essence of America's asylum policies and there is no better candidate for them than this family. This will not only allow the survivors to heal but also powerfully signal that the world is losing confidence in India's ability to protect its minorities under Modi.

One reason Zuckerberg and the Silicon Valley crowd are making nice with Modi is that they want unrestricted access to India's internet market, slated to be twice the size of America's by the end of this decade. But after Akhlaq's lynching, if powerful men like them won't stand up to Modi for fear of retaliation, where does that leave India's powerless minorities? If their plight continues to deteriorate on Modi's watch, no amount of Purell will cleanse Zuckerberg's conscience.

Riaz Haq said...

India leaving China behind? Not so fast

The ‘bright spot’ of emerging markets promises much but has yet to deliver

The truth may finally be wearing off the old saying that India only ever compares itself with itself. As the Indian economy has proved to be one of the least dim spots in a gloomy emerging market landscape, boasts are multiplying that it is overtaking China as the engine of world expansion. Jayant Sinha, India’s junior finance minister, recently laid down the bold prediction that “in coming days, India will leave China behind as far as growth and development matter”.
Not, as it were, so fast. While India’s short-term macroeconomic performance has put it at a better place in the cycle than most big emerging markets, the longer-term structural problems that have kept it in a lower growth class than China unfortunately persist, as do the political elephant traps awaiting intrepid reformers.

On the face of it, the Indian economy is performing well, and the popularity of Narendra Modi, the prime minister elected on the promise of liberalising reform last year, is holding up. Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, has referred to India as a “bright spot” in the slowing global economy. Growth equalled China’s last year at 7.3 per cent, and the IMF predicts India will be the fastest-growing large economy in the world this year.
The reality is less encouraging. For one, the statistics may quite simply be wrong. A new data series for GDP introduced in February did much of the work in raising India’s growth rate near China’s, and the numbers, with a short history and without detailed data to underpin them, sit at odds with other indicators such as industrial production and imports.
Second, the current conjuncture has been delivered by a number of one-off factors. The falling global oil price since late 2014 has benefited India both in holding down inflation and in helping Mr Modi reform public finances by cutting expensive government fuel subsidies without raising the price to consumers.
Third, substantial impediments remain to the challenge of increasing investment, particularly in infrastructure, to unlock India’s potential for competing with east Asian countries for the manufacturing industry currently being priced out of China by rising wages and costs. Growth in manufacturing came to a halt between 2012 and 2014 after several years of expansion, casting severe doubts on its underlying momentum.

Mr Modi’s government insists it will push on with reform but, given the snarl-ups in parliament over the summer, his political space is shrinking. An important test of his government’s political momentum comes next month in the state elections in Bihar. The eastern state has long been one of India’s poorest and, while it has been growing rapidly, it has struggled to expand its manufacturing sector. If Mr Modi’s message of clearing away the impediments to investment does not resonate, it does not bode well for his chances of maintaining momentum into next year.
For the moment, it seems that India will be happy being regarded as a standout in the otherwise disappointing emerging market class. If its cyclical advantage fades and it returns to its familiar sub-China levels of growth, its politicians are unlikely to be so vainglorious.

Riaz Haq said...

Digitally colonised?
But this huge show of support and the increased interest in India has caused some concern within the country.
"Is Digital India going to only make India a consumer of services offered by global tech companies in lieu of data? Personal data is the currency of the digital world. Are we going to give that away simply to become a giant market for a Facebook or a Google? Look at the way the tech world is skewed. Only China has been able to come up with companies that can take on these MNCs" Prabir Purkayasta, chairman of the Society for Knowledge Commons in India, told the BBC.
"The British ruled the world because they controlled the seas," he said. "Is India going to be content to just be a digital consumer? To being colonised once again?"

And in the aftermath of the Facebook townhall in particular, some talk has begun to surface about what Mr Zuckerberg's real India ambitions are.
Soon after the townhall ended, both Mr Modi and Mr Zuckerberg declared their support for digital India by using a special Facebook filter to tint their profile pictures in the tri-colour of the Indian flag.
Multitudes of Indians followed suit and timelines were awash with snazzy tinted profile pictures, all in support of "Digital India".
'Innocent mistake'
But then a tech website released what it claimed to be a portion of Facebook's source code, which allegedly "proved" that the "Support Digital India" filter was actually a "Support Internet.Org" filter.
Facebook quickly issued a denial, blaming the text in the code on an "engineer mistake" in choosing a shorthand name he used for part of the code.
But the "mistake" which has been coupled with a huge advertising blitz for Internet.Org across television channels and newspapers has raised suspicion about Facebook's motives. A Facebook poll on Internet.Org that frequently appears on Indian user timelines has also been ridiculed for not giving users an option to say no.
Instead the answer options to the poll question "Do you want India to have free basic services?" are "Yes" and "Not now". (now called free basics), aims to extend internet services to the developing world by offering a selection of apps and websites free to consumers.
Facebook's vice-president of infrastructure engineering, Jay Parikh has described the initiative as an "attempt to connect the two-thirds of the world who do not have access to the Internet" by trying to solve issues pertaining to affordability, infrastructure and access.
When Facebook launched the initiative in India in February, it was criticised by Indian activists who expressed concerns that the project threatened freedom of expression, privacy and the principle of net neutrality.
On the other end of the debate, Indian columnist Manu Joseph wrote in the Hindustan Times newspaper, hitting out at the "selfish" stand on net neutrality. He said concerns over the issue should be "subordinate to the fact that the poor have a right to some Internet".

Riaz Haq said...

#India #Censors: #Facebook Restricts More Content in #India Than Anywhere Else. #Democracy #FreeSpeech via @WSJIndia

Facebook blocked more items of content from its platforms in India than any other country in the first six months of this year, following requests from the South Asian nation’s government.

The world’s largest social network said Wednesday in its latest report on government data requests that from January to June this year, it granted requests from authorities in India for some 15,155 pieces of content to be blocked on the platform, its WhatsApp and Messenger apps and its photo-sharing app, Instagram.

That was more than triple the 4,960 items that were restricted in India during the same period last year, and accounted for some 73.7% of the more than 20,000 pieces of content restricted worldwide at the behest of 92 countries.

The requests to block the material in India were made “under local laws prohibiting criticism of a religion or the state,” Facebook said in the report. “We are not in a position to speculate on the reason for any increases or decreases in a particular country,” a Facebook spokeswoman said when asked about the increase.

An official at India’s Information Technology Ministry couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Turkey had the second-highest number of content restrictions, up 58% to 4,496 from a year earlier. France was in third, with 295 requests, up from 22 last year.

Meanwhile, Facebook said the U.S. topped the list of nations requesting user data. It logged 17,577 requests in the first half of 2015, up from 15,433 a year earlier. India was second with 5,115, up from 4,559 last year.

India is a key market for Facebook, the social network has 130 million monthly users there, second only to the U.S. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company is also eager to tap the country as a source for future growth.

Shut out of China, Facebook wants to connect more people in developing countries as Internet access and low-cost smartphones proliferate.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke at a town hall meeting in India last month, his second visit to the country in the past 12 months. “If you have a mission of connecting everyone in the world, you can’t do that without connecting India,” he said.

The social-networking site is popular among celebrities and politicians in India, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who regularly posts material to his page, which is “liked” by more than 30 million people.

Riaz Haq said...

Tavleen Singh: "#Davos2016 reminds me of how backward #India remains intellectually and academically" via @sharethis

To tell you the truth, I am not sure exactly what it is except perhaps that every year I attend at least one session that reminds me of how backward India remains intellectually and academically. And of course economically but there is inevitably a connection. As the economist Nouriel Roubini pointed out in the NDTV Davos debate, India needs to invest in human capital. It is not good enough, he said, to have a handful of brilliant engineers and computer programmers if hundreds of millions of Indians continue to lack basic education.
Images of rural government schools came into my head as I listened. It is true that decades of criminal negligence will take time to correct but if correction does not happen India will remain in its time warp.

On the first day of the conference I attended a session called ‘A Brief History of Industrial Revolutions’ moderated by Niall Ferguson that reminded me painfully of how much of an academic laggard India is. This panel included professors of history and politics from Britain and the United States and the exalted level at which they discussed the theme of this year’s conference, ‘Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution’, reminded me painfully that it could never happen in India. I am not going to bore you with details; you can go to the WEF website and watch the whole discussion. You can go to it as well to see what is happening on the frontiers of medicine, science, environment and technology. On account of the reputation that this Davos meeting has gained in its 46 years of existence, it attracts the best minds in the world. Not just “the 1%” as leftist critics of Davos like to believe. And by the way, these same leftist critics come running to Davos when invited to receive awards for social work or achievements in music and the arts.

Riaz Haq said...

Over 80% of #engineering graduates in #India unemployable: Study. #Modi #BJP via @toi_tech

ere seems to be a significant skill gap in the country as 80% of the engineering graduates are "unemployable," says a report, highlighting the need for an upgraded education and training system.
Educational institutions train millions of youngsters but corporates often complain that they do not get the necessary skill and talent required for a job.
According to Aspiring Minds National Employability Report, which is based on a study of more than 1,50,000 engineering students who graduated in 2015 from over 650 colleges, 80% of the them are unemployable.
"Engineering has become the de-facto graduate degree for a large chunk of students today. However, along with improving the education standards, it is quintessential that we evolve our undergraduate programmes to make them more job centric," Aspiring Minds CTO Varun Aggarwal said.
In terms of cities, Delhi continues to produce the highest number of employable engineers, followed by Bengaluru and the western parts of the country, the report said.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's biggest student protests in 25 years spreading fast across campuses #JNUCrackdown via @bi_contributors

India's biggest nationwide student protests in a quarter of a century spread across campuses on Monday after the arrest of a student accused of sedition, in the latest battle with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government over freedom of expression.

Outrage over the arrest of the left-wing student leader, who had organized a rally to mark the anniversary of the execution of a Kashmiri separatist, has led to demonstrations in at least 18 universities.

In the largest protest, thousands of students and academics at New Delhi's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) boycotted classes and erected barricades for a fourth day in an escalating conflict with the authorities.

"The government does not want students to have a say," said Rahila Parween, vice-president of the Delhi unit of the All India Students' Federation, a left-wing student union. "It wants to dictate what students think, understand and say."

The incident marks another flare-up in an ideological confrontation between Modi's nationalist government and left-wing and liberal groups that is prompting critics to compare it with Indira Gandhi's imposition of a state of emergency in the 1970s to crush dissent.

Members of Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the student leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, of "anti-India" sentiment. One BJP lawmaker said the university, which has a tradition of left-wing politics, should be shut down.

"I can assure you that every action we take is to protect our country. Any anti-India activity will not be tolerated," BJP President Amit Shah, one of Modi's closest allies, said at party headquarters.

Protests spread when Kumar was arrested last week for sedition, after giving a speech questioning the hanging in 2013 of Mohammad Afzal Guru over his role in the 2001 attack on parliament.Activists have long questioned Guru's conviction, and India's Supreme Court has described the evidence against him as circumstantial.

Scuffles erupted outside a New Delhi courthouse between lawyers and students where Kumar, 28, was to appear before a judge on Monday.

A leader of the student group that is aligned with the BJP said freedom of expression should not be misused to justify acts that could harm the country.

"You cannot be an Indian if you celebrate the death anniversary of a terrorist," said Saurabh Sharma, joint secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (All India Student Council).

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has, meanwhile, faced ridicule for citing a fake tweet to say that the JNU demonstration had been backed by Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistani militant accused by India of being behind the 2008 attack on Mumbai in which 166 people died.

Delhi police circulated the fake tweet at the weekend in a warning to students "not to get carried away by such seditious and anti-national rhetoric". A spokesman did not answer calls to his mobile phone on Monday seeking comment.

Riaz Haq said...

Almost 1,000 #startups, 40% of all startups, died in #India in the last two years. #BJP via @qzindia

Here’s the bitter truth about entrepreneurship in India: Over 40% of startups set up in the last two years have already shut shop.
Since June 2014, some 2,281 Indian startups had begun operations across a range of sectors, including e-commerce, health technology, robotics, logistics, business intelligence and analytics, food technology, and online recruitment. But, according to data analysed by Delhi-based research firm Xeler8, 997 of these have already failed.

The main reason, it appears, is a lack of funding. “Ones which got an investment lasted a little longer,” said Rishabh Lawania, Xeler8’s founder. For the rest, the end came swiftly, usually within the first 12 months of launching.

The highest number of casualties were in red-hot sectors such as logistics, e-commerce, and food technology, where some of India’s most successful startups operate. Lack of innovation and over-crowding probably led to the closures.
The e-commerce casualties included online lifestyle store Fashionara and fashion marketplace DoneByNone. Dazo, Spoonjoy, and Eatlo failed in the food tech space. Other prominent failures were recruitment marketplace, marketplace for leisure activities, Tushky, and on-demand laundry services Tooler.

But such failure is hardly the end of the road for some entrepreneurs. Although around 75% of the founders of failed startups did not try again, instead finding jobs at other firms or startups, the remainder is likely to attempt again. Time is on their side: the average age of founders of these failed startups was only 27 years.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh shot dead in Bangalore

A prominent Indian journalist critical of Hindu nationalist politics has been shot dead in the south-western state of Karnataka, police say.
Gauri Lankesh, 55, was found lying in a pool of blood outside her home in the city of Bangalore.
She was shot in the head and chest by gunmen who arrived by motorcycle. The motive for the crime was not clear.
India journalists are being increasingly targeted by radical Hindu nationalists, activists say.
Gauri Lankesh, who edited a weekly newspaper, was known as a fearless and outspoken journalist.
She had returned home in her car on Tuesday night and was opening the gate when the attackers shot her, police said. She died on the spot.

Officials said they suspected she had been under surveillance by the gunmen. An investigation has been opened.
Her death has been widely condemned, with Karnataka state's chief minister Siddaramaiah calling it an "assassination on democracy".

Ms Lankesh came from a well-known family, and edited Lankesh Patrike, a newspaper founded by her father P Lankesh, a left-wing poet and writer.
She was the sister of award-winning filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh.
Who was Gauri Lankesh?
Known for her secularist criticism of right-wing and Hindu nationalists, including members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
Sympathetic to the Naxalites, or Maoist rebels, and was involved in the reintegration of former rebels
Worked for The Times of India and later ran the newspaper Lankesh Patrike, which her father founded, with her brother Indrajit for several years
She left to start several publications, including her own newspaper Gauri Lankesh Patrike
Ms Lankesh was convicted of defamation in 2016 for a report she published on local BJP leaders.
She was sentenced to six months in jail, and was out on bail and appealing the conviction at the time of her death.
In an interview with Narada News last year shortly after her conviction, she criticised BJP's "fascist and communal politics" and added: "My Constitution teaches me to be a secular citizen, not communal. It is my right to fight against these communal elements."
"I believe in democracy and freedom of expression, and hence, am open to criticism too. People are welcome to call me anti-BJP or anti-Modi, if they want to. They are free to have their own opinion, just as I am free to have my opinion."
'They come on motorbikes, kill, and vanish'
Her killing follows several assassinations of outspoken secularists or rationalists in recent years, including scholar Malleshappa Kalburgi, anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar, and politician Govind Pansare.

Riaz Haq said...

Global #Hindu Nationalists: Meet The Army Of #BJP's #NRI Supporters From #America, #Europe. In #election season, hundreds of #NRIs descend on #India to push for #Modi’s second term. #Elections2019 #Islamophobia

London-based software professional Santosh Gupta has taken a six-month break from his hectic work schedule—he is on a mission to secure a second term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ramesh Shah, 70, is also in India on the same mission, but separately. Both Gupta and Shah are part of the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), the ruling party’s foreign cell that has 25 chapters across the world. With just weeks to go for the first phase of the general elections, hundreds of such BJP supporters are campaigning in India or from abroad­—overseas warriors of the BJP’s vast army of supporters in the battle of ballots.

Gupta and his 30-member team are in India since November; they are among 300 professionals from the UK chapter in India. Last week, Gupta’s team visited a number of colleges and met with students in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. He is content with the positive feedback they are receiving, except from students of Jawaharlal Nehru University.


The United States chapter of the BJP is also capturing the imagination of the sizeable Indian community. Georgia-based medical professional Dr Vasudev Patel, who is in charge of the ground operations, says Modi made India more prominent in the world map.

Patel, who moved to the US in 1984, shares a personal rapport with Prime Minister Modi. “I have been working with Modi since 1975,” says Patel, who bel­ongs to Mehsana in Gujarat. The campaign is on full swing with ‘chai pe charchas’ being held on a weekly basis in at least 20 cities.

With the elections drawing close, Patel spends at least two hours on a daily basis to coordinate with social media and friends back home. “Every week, a group of at least 150 professionals gather at fam­ous places like World Coca Cola Centre or Times Square, make small videos on the Modi government and post it on social media,” he says. The US chapter, which boasts a membership of 6,000, also has a dedicated team that has been assiduously working to execute plans. Car rallies are also being held in various states to garner support of the Indian community.

Patel says that even senators and governors acknowledge India as a growing power, which wasn’t the case before. “We held a candle march after the Pulwama incident, in which thousands turned up. One senator also took part in the march without any invitation,” says Patel.

Ramesh Shah, who is currently touring villages in India, sums up why the diaspora community passionately bats for the BJP and Modi. Shah, who has been in India since last November, has visited villages in Jharkhand, Gujarat and a few other states. “No other leader connected with the diaspora the way our PM did. He inspires me to do more at this age,” says Shah, who hails from Aravalli in Gujarat. A US-based retired engineer, Shah campaigns along with his wife. “I feel powerful because of the strong leadership.”