Sunday, November 1, 2015

Top Economists Warn Modi's India of Negative Impact of Hindu Intolerance

Top economists have now joined the rapidly growing ranks of Indian writers, historians and other intellectuals warning Modi government of the negative consequences of rising intolerance for the entire nation.

Billboard During Modi's Silicon Valley Visit
The Wall Street Journal reported that India's chief central banker Raghuram Rajan "made an unusual appeal for tolerance in a speech Saturday, triggering a debate about whether he was trying to send a message to the country’s leaders". “The first essential is to foster competition in the market place for ideas,” Gov. Rajan told students at his alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi. “Without this competition for ideas, we have stagnation.”

Arun Shouri, BJP leader who has previously served as a federal minister and worked as World Bank economist, joined the criticism of the Modi government when he said: "there is clearer belief (in the Modi government) that managing the economy means managing the headlines and this is not really going to work.” He said the NDA government was essentially “the Congress plus a cow”, in an apparent reference to the violence against minorities and killings of Muslims accused by the Sangh Parivar activists of consuming beef.

Ratings agency Moody's has also weighed in with its own warnings saying that "in recent times, the government also hasn't helped itself, with controversial comments from various BJP members. While Modi has largely distanced himself from the nationalist jibes, the belligerent provocation of various Indian minorities has raised ethnic tensions.

"Along with a possible increase in violence, the government will face stiffer opposition in the upper house as debate turns away from economic policy. Modi must keep his members in check or risk losing domestic and global credibility," Moody's said.

While the chorus of criticism of Modi's government has been rising in recent weeks, what is different is that the economists' warnings are inspired by practical economic concerns rather than the moral dimensions of the Hindu militancy in Modi's India.

What Mr. Narendra Modi must realize is that it is hard to reverse the real damage to the nation once the forces of bigotry and intolerance are unleashed. The difficulty he faces is the lack of his moral authority with his Hindu Nationalist power base given his own track record as the chief executive of Gujarat for many years that include the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom on his watch.

Related Links:


Rizwan K. said...

Raghu was at Chicago Booth. For our 2007 Investment Opps Conference, he was recommended by Nadeem ul Haque, a Chicago PhD himself. Nadeem was our first choice but he declined b/c he had qualms about the gov't.

Anonymous said...

Since facts are at a premium these days,it has to be pointed out that India's brand value has increased by 32%. Such an intolerant increase.

Also Pak in one month kills more muslims than India in one year or even a decade.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Since facts are at a premium these days,it has to be pointed out that India's brand value has increased by 32%. Such an intolerant increase."

The effects of extremism are never immediate; they are long term. Once such effects become visible, it's extremely difficult to fix the causes and reverse the damage.

Anon: "Also Pak in one month kills more muslims than India in one year or even a decade."

Without disputing the accuracy of your claim, let me just say that Pakistan is dealing with it and has a chance of ending such violence. Read the following by Tom Husain:

Is Pakistan on its way to becoming the first country to defeat a large scale Islamist insurgency?

Anonymous said...

But when it comes to declaring so called in-tolerance of Hindus, the duration of 15 month old Modi govt is irrelevant, eh ?

Number of hindu muslim riots since Modi took over: 0

Congress had a far worse record in riots despite being 'sickular'.

Freedom of expression has never been better in India. The jokers who are returning awards dare not do in Pakistan where they will get Hussain Haqani or Raza Rumi treatment.

In any case, any criticism of so called hindu in-tolerance coming from a Pakistani is quite rich.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: " Number of hindu muslim riots since Modi took over: 0"

India's Hindu Fundamentalists are responsible for 600 attacks on minorities (Christians, Muslims) since Modi took office @AJEnglish

Since Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist and leader of the right-wing BJP party, became prime minister of India in May 2014, groups of radical Hindu nationalists have been terrorising religious minorities across the country.

According to a leading Christian rights group, at least 600 such attacks took place between Modi's election and August of this year. One hundred and forty-nine of these assaults were against Christians; the rest were targeted at the country's Muslim community.

The attacks, say critics, are being orchestrated by radical groups affiliated to Hindu nationalist and political pressure group: the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS.

Prime Minister Modi is a lifelong member of the RSS and the backing of its members was crucial in helping his BJP party win the 2014 election. Since then, emboldened by the result, Modi’s most extreme nationalist supporters have routinely taken to the streets, using violence and intimidation to press their claim for a purely Hindu India.

Muslims have been forced to convert to Hinduism, homes burnt down and people even murdered for allegedly consuming beef; cows having special status in the Hindu faith.

Meanwhile, Hindu nationalists have been rewriting school textbooks in some states and holding training camps for teenage boys and girls in an apparent attempt to inculcate children into their cause.

We asked Indian filmmaker and journalist Mandakini Gahlot, herself a Hindu, to go in search of those who want a purely Hindu nation and find out what their resurgence means for the future of the world’s most populous secular democracy.

Sinak said...

"Prime Minister Modi is a lifelong member of the RSS" therefore he is responsible?


Riaz Haq is a Pakistani therefore responsible for many terror attacks in the world?

Is that your logic? That same logic has been used over and over again for the Gujarat riots for which the Supreme Court found no connection despite vigorous efforts by the Congress Party in power at the time.

nayyer ali said...

The issue is not large scale riots. Modi is in charge and doesnt need or want the headache of communal riots. What he wants is an India that serves the interests of Hindus, and middle and upper caste Hindus at that. The problem is that half of India's population is made up of untouchables, other lower castes, and religious minorities, with 15% Muslms. India's development will be constrained as long as it is only interested in the advancement of the correct castes. The growing atmosphere of intolerance tells minorities and untouchables that they are not really part of Modi's India. The Hindu caste system is in fact a form of racism, and is the most entrenched and oppressive form of racism in the world today. Racism is any system in which groups of people are defined by their ancestry, and are labeled based on that and subject to discrimination. The Nazis were racists, but they were racists against other Europeans, particularly the Jews and the Slavic peoples, who they intended to exterminate. Just because all Hindus are from South Asia, it does not change the fact that the caste system is racist.

Riaz Haq said...

Sinak: "Riaz Haq is a Pakistani therefore responsible for many terror attacks in the world?"

RSS members share a common philosophy of hate inspired by Nazis and Fascists; Vast majority Pakistanis consider such views abhorrent.

You need to get yourself educated about the views of Golwalkar, the ideological fountainhead of Hindu Nationalism.

In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

No Pakistani leader has expressed such abhorrent views.

Recently, a very pro-India American analyst Christine Fair said BJP is India's KKK, the violent post-civil war white supremacist organization made up mainly of former southern confederate supporters in America, and Modi is its grand wizard.

No Pakistan has ever been compared by anyone with KKK and its wizards.

Ramesh Raghavan said...

nayyaer ali,

Modi is himself from a backward caste.

"The problem is that half of India's population is made up of untouchables, other lower castes, and religious minorities, with 15% Muslms. India's development will be constrained as long as it is only interested in the advancement of the correct castes."

Actually backward caste are doing better than muslims in education, may be even untouchables. Why? Because they want to progress. Muslims of India, like their counterparts in pak and Bdesh, are interested in only life after death. What else can explain the reason of Pak and BD being so poor in education?

Riaz Haq said...

RR: "Actually backward caste are doing better than muslims in education, may be even untouchables. "

Yes, they are. Indian Muslims are now worse off than the lowest-caste Hindus, or Dalits, in terms of education and employment.

It's the result of systemic discrimination against Indian Muslims in housing, employment and education, as laid out in Sachar Commission report of 2006 and its more recent updates. Muslims make up 13% of India's population but 28% of Indian prisoners. Similarly, Christians make up 2.8% of India's population but 6% of India's prison population? Meanwhile, the newly elected parliament has just 4% Muslim representation.

RR: " Muslims of India, like their counterparts in pak and Bdesh, are interested in only life after death. What else can explain the reason of Pak and BD being so poor in education?"

This is total nonsense. Indian students, mostly Hindus, rank at the bottom on international tests like PISA and TIMSS.

Pakistan's grade 5 and 8 students outperform their counterparts in India. While 72% of Pakistan's 8th graders can do simple division, the comparable figure for Indian 8th graders is just 57%. Among 5th graders, 63% of Pakistanis and 73% of Indians CAN NOT divide a 3 digit number by a single digit number, according to the World Bank report titled "Student Learning in South Asia: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Priorities". The performance edge of Pakistani kids over their Indian counterparts is particularly noticeable in rural areas. The report also shows that Pakistani children do better than Indian children in reading ability.

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

Ratings agency Moody's has also weighed in with its own warnings

And within a week of doing that, Moodys changes outlook of India's banks from negative to stable!


Riaz Haq said...

Majumdar: "And within a week of doing that, Moodys changes outlook of India's banks from negative to stable!"

The effects of policies of hate and bigotry deepening societal divides are long term and even longer lasting.

In Pakistan, Zia's regressive policies started in 1980s but their devastating consequences became apparent after he was long gone.

r_sundar said...

The effects of "hate and bigotry" and comparing Modi with Zia makes me laugh!!!

Nothing in India is different in that regard since Modi has come to power. The fringe elements that make the noise have always been making the noise; even when congress was in power. It is just that most of India's media is controlled by Congress directly or in-directly, and Sonia Gandhi is leaving no stone unturned in magnifying the incidents and attempting to blame it on Modi, and in the process paint India in bad light. But guess what, people are not so low-informed as they used to be before.
On the other hand, the Muslim/Christian are getting for more privileges than ever before under the veil of minority appeasing. One muslim killed in Dadri in a clash, it was a headline news for one month. Two hindus were killed in a similar clash in Maharashtra, but almost muted media response. It almost as if Hindus life don't matter anymore. I wish I was born as a Muslim in India.

Anonymous said...


Plus this is election time in India (Bihar). Lot at stake. If BJP wins this election, they can control upper house (Rajya Sabha). So Cong has everything to gain for to prevent a BJP win.

Riaz Haq said...

r_sundar: "The effects of "hate and bigotry" and comparing Modi with Zia makes me laugh!!!''

Laugh as hard as you like while you still can.

But remember this: Modi in power is far more dangerous for India than Zia was for Pakistan.

Here's why:

Zia was a general who seized power in Pakistan without people's consent while Modi, like Hitler and Mussolini before him, has been elected by the people.

And Modi and his Sangh Parivar share the Nazi and Fascist philosophy of exclusion, hate, bigotry and violence against those who are different from them.

You need to get yourself educated about the views of Golwalkar, the ideological fountainhead of Hindu Nationalism.

In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

No Pakistani leader has expressed such abhorrent views.

Recently, a very pro-India American analyst Christine Fair said BJP is India's KKK, the violent post-civil war white supremacist organization made up mainly of former southern confederate supporters in America, and Modi is its grand wizard.

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

In Pakistan, Zia's regressive policies started in 1980s but their devastating consequences became apparent after he was long gone.

It has been your theory since we first crossed swords during chowk days that fauji rule is good for developing countries, esp Pakistan. Now given the long-term evil consequences of Zia's regime would be willing to modify your older stance.


Riaz Haq said...

Majumdar: "Now given the long-term evil consequences of Zia's regime would be willing to modify your older stance."

I see Zia as an exception, not the norm. Others such Ayub Khan and Pervez Musharraf are the norm.

Riaz Haq said...

#Moody’s Analytics stands by its report on #India losing credibility.Denies it is personal opinion of an employee …

Moody’s Analytics has denied that its report expressing concern over what it called the belligerent provocation of various Indian minorities, was the personal opinion of an analyst employed with it.

The report warning Prime Minister Narendra Modi that unless he steps in to rein in the members of the BJP, India runs the risk of losing domestic and global credibility, was dismissed by the PMO as opinion of a Junior Associate Economist employed with Moody’s Analytics.

"The report was published by and is the view of Moody’s Analytics as part of its economic outlook series. The report included a section observing political developments in the context of their potential economic impact, and did not advocate any political agenda or perspective,” a spokesperson from Moody’s Analytics said in an email response to The Hindu.

The clarification from Moody’s Analytics, which provides economic research and analysis and is a separate company from Moody’s Investors Service, the ratings agency, is in response to the Wednesday’s statement from Prime Minister Modi’s Office on Wednesday that called the Moody’s Analytics report the “personal opinion of a Junior Associate Economist” employed with it.

“Opinion of a Junior Associate Economist employed with Moody’s Analytics has been splashed all across implying it as the opinion of Moody’s Analytics,” the PMO said. The PMO’s statement also sought to blame the media for passing off as commentary on India the personal opinion of a junior analyst “to buttress the narrative it wants to portray”.

Sources confirmed that the PMO issued the statement without consulting Moody’s Analytics.

Moody’s Shared Services India had shared the report titled, India Outlook: Searching for Potential, with reporters on Friday through email as it does all notes from Moody’s Analytics and Moody’s Investors Service Inc. The email stated that the publication was produced by Moody’s Analytics and “if sourcing or referencing any contents from this publication please quote Moody's Analytics.”

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

Pakiland has had 4 dictators. One of them (Zia) we have already discussed. Then we had Yahya who lost half a nation in his 2 year tenure as the ruler. Then we had Mushy under whose watch jihad became a cottage industry. It is only Ayub who can be said to be an unqualified success. 1/4- that is hardly a great validation of your theory, sir.


Riaz Haq said...

Working to saffronize education in entire #India: #RSS ideologue Dina Nath Batra #Modi #BJP via @timesofindia

RSS ideologue and Haryana government's school and higher education consultant Dina Nath Batra says he not only wants to 'saffronize' education in the state but in the entire country. He was in Chandigarh on Friday to co-chair the first state-level consultative meeting on the new education policy for Haryana.

Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar chaired the meeting which was attended by a range of people, from vice-chancellors of universities to teachers. Founder of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti also indicated that the Bhagwad Gita would be introduced as a moral education subject in schools from class VI to XII from next session. He also clarified that the existing school teachers will teach the Hindu scripture.

"The students will be taught a compilation of two shlokas from every chapter of the Bhagwat Gita,'' he said. The government had announced in December 2014, that it planned to introduce the Gita in schools with many accusing it of trying to saffronize school education in the state. Since then, however, the subject had been in cold storage.

Speaking to TOI later, he said that his own definition of saffornization was not related to any community or religion, but to a set of ideas which give an independent identity to a person. "Saffron is made of a mixture of red and yellow," he said. "Red is symbolic of bravery while yellow symbolizes patience and prosperity. Hence, we need this kind of education."

Batra insisted that he was not working just in Haryana. "I am working for saffronization of education in the whole country, and I want to complete it at the earliest," he said, adding, "let us teach the world about contribution of our experts and expertise towards the global growth." Batra, however, dismissed the allegation that his strategy was part of a larger agenda of the Sangh.

Batra also gave some insight into his vision of education in Haryana. Terming the running of colleges offering Bachelor of Education (BEd) courses as a wasteful exercise, he advocated for an integrated university for training of teachers and certifying the colleges.

"When teachers don't even go to school, how can you expect students to go to the classroom," He asked. "I know many such people are there who have got BEd degrees while sitting at home. Such a system has to be done away with. Education of a teacher needs to be as rigorous as that of a student. We don't favour any dedicated stream. Let the child be groomed in all the streams of arts, medical, non-medical and commerce and core education standards be maintained,'' he said.

Batra had sparked off a major controversy in when he had filed case against Amrican scholar Wendy Doniger's book 'The Hindus: An Alternative History'. The publisher, Penguin India, had decided to destroy all copies of the book.

Riaz Haq said...

In #India, tolerance debate shifts focus from #Modi’s economic growth plans. #BeefMurder #BJP via @WSJ

A year and a half since Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power on a promise of rapid economic growth, public debate in India has shifted from development to religious and social intolerance issues that his critics say are unraveling India’s secular fabric.

Prominent Indians, from politicians and scholars to tech entrepreneurs and movie stars, have taken to the airwaves and returned prestigious awards in recent weeks to protest what they see as growing Hindu chauvinism, and to castigate Mr. Modi for not doing more to stamp out prejudice.

The debate flared in late September after a Hindu mob murdered a Muslim man they suspected had slaughtered a cow, an animal revered in Hinduism. At least two other Muslims have since died in similar circumstances, bringing religious enmities to the fore during a pivotal election in the state of Bihar that could shape the rest of Mr. Modi’s term. Official results of the vote are expected Sunday.

“The prime minister is not doing anything, which clearly shows that he approves of these incidents,” said Sonia Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress party, at a demonstration against what she called a “growing atmosphere of fear, intolerance and intimidation.”

Supporters of the prime minister, a politician with Hindu-nationalist roots, say he is being unfairly targeted by the country’s left-leaning elite, who feel threatened by the rise of Mr. Modi’s conservative Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP says the party’s senior leaders have condemned the attacks, adding the criticism is meant to derail Mr. Modi’s economic overhauls.

“While the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to accelerate India’s growth, there are many who have never intellectually accepted the idea of the BJP being in power,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in a Facebook post this week.

Mr. Modi has himself responded to the criticism by pointing to episodes of religious violence during the reign of the opposition Congress party. At a recent rally, Mr. Modi reminded the audience of attacks on Sikhs that killed several thousand across the country in 1984 after Indira Gandhi, then Congress leader and prime minister, was assassinated by Sikh bodyguards.

“That same Congress party is now sermonizing on tolerance?” Mr. Modi asked.

The charged rhetoric has come to dominate national discussion, overshadowing Mr. Modi’s economic program. During last year’s national election, Mr. Modi focused on development and stayed away from issues surrounding India’s culture wars.

Too much focus by Mr. Modi’s party and its right-wing allies on the promotion of a conservative Hindu social and cultural agenda could make it harder for the prime minister to advance his economic plans, said Milan Vaishnav, an India expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is starting to filter into conversations about what the priorities of this government are,” Mr. Vaishnav said.

Some analysts say Mr. Modi’s biggest challenge in office is reining in the Hindu nationalist groups he draws support from—a tightrope walk he appears to be struggling with. Campaigning in Bihar, he accused his opponents of plotting to set aside spots in educational institutions and government jobs for “another religious group,” widely interpreted as a veiled reference to Muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's Narendra #Modi concedes defeat in crucial state #BiharElections #BJP via @TIMEWorld

The BJP's performance in the northern Indian state of Bihar could make it harder for Modi to govern India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was heading for a crushing defeat in critical state-level elections on Nov. 8, with the rout highlighting his rapidly falling stock among voters after just 18 months in office.

In May 2014, Modi came to power in India with a stunning electoral victory that saw the BJP secure the biggest national parliamentary majority in three decades, including a successful run in Bihar, where the Hindu nationalist party steamrolled a divided opposition.

But on Nov. 8, early results after a month-long contest for seats in the state legislature showed a significant reversal in support for Modi’s party in the face of an opposition alliance that, by late afternoon local time, had won or was leading in nearly 180 seats out of the 243 up for grabs in the Bihar assembly. As the results flooded in, Modi conceded defeat in a phone call to the leader of the opposition alliance, the current Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Modi was not a candidate in the Bihar elections but his party projected him as the face of its campaign, effectively turning the contest into a referendum on his leadership, instead of naming a chief ministerial candidate to take on the united opposition’s nominee. As public debate across India shifted from the economic promises that brought Modi to power in 2014 to questions about religious intolerance under his administration, the BJP faced criticism for running a controversial campaign that attempted to divide the electorate along religious lines in a state where Muslims make up around 17% of the population. (Nationally, Muslims account for around 14% of Indians.)

Issues such as the protection of cows — considered sacred by the majority Hindu community — were raked up, while Modi’s top strategist, the BJP president Amit Shah, sought to whip up nationalist sentiment by telling voters at an October rally that, were his party to lose the polls, celebratory crackers would be lit across India’s western border in Muslim majority Pakistan, the country’s arch regional foe.

Tambi Dude said...

So now India is back again tolerant and two nation theory proved wrong :-)

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s #BJP suffers big loss in #BiharElections, thwarting #Modi majority in Upper House -

...the BJP’s defeat will make it harder for Mr Modi to gain control of India’s Rajya Sabha, or upper house of parliament, because the house’s make-up depends on party weights in state assemblies. Mr Modi’s opponents have used the Rajya Sabha successfully to block legislation, including a long-awaited law to introduce a nationwide goods and services tax that would make the country into a single market and simplify commerce.
Rahul Gandhi of Congress, a junior partner in the winning Bihar alliance, said the election result was “a message against pitting Hindus against Muslims and making them fight to win elections”.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become arrogant,” Mr Gandhi said. “Modi should stop campaigning and start working. He should also stop foreign tours and instead go and meet farmers, labourers and youth to whom he promised jobs.”


The loss in Bihar will be a blow to the confidence of Mr Modi and fellow leaders of the Hindu nationalist BJP only 18 months after they triumphed in the 2014 general election. In the Bihar campaign, they sought in vain to galvanise Hindu voters by focusing as much on caste and religion as on development, but appear to have ended up alienating moderate Hindus as well as members of the Muslim minority.
As in the Delhi state election, where the BJP was crushed by the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi (Common People) party in February, the BJP won a substantial share of the vote but was unable to translate that into assembly seats in the face of a united opposition in the first-past-the-post constituency system.
Mr Kumar and Mr Yadav — who together defeated Mr Modi with the help of Congress by pooling their resources and sharing out constituencies before the election — make an unlikely couple and their government may prove unstable. Mr Kumar, once a BJP ally, has been credited with restoring order and investing in roads and education over the past decade, after a period of violence, criminality and extreme corruption known as the “jungle raj” when the state was run by Mr Yadav and his wife.

Anonymous said...

Owasi's party lost deposit in all 6 constituencies they contested. Please take note of that.

Anonymous said...

Indians got off very lightly.anything other than full democracy and bjp extreme faction would irreparably damage the social fabric.let's see two wipeouts Delhi and now Bihar...

Riaz Haq said...

70% #Indians who voted against #Modi's #BJP are #Pakistanis, #Delhi Minister Kapil Mishra pokes fun. #BiharElections

In a sarcastic attack made at the Baharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra said that '70% of the Indians who did not vote for BJP are Pakistanis.'

"SRK is Hafeez Saeed, Badal is Mandela, Modi is biggest thing happened to India & 70% Indians are Pakis for not voting BJP," Mishra tweeted.

BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya had on Tuesday triggered a controversy when he tweeted that Shah Rukh's "soul" is in Pakistan though he lives in India. His remarks came a day after the 50-year-old actor said there is "extreme intolerance" in the country.

Controversial BJP MP Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday compared Shah Rukh Khan to Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai carnage and suggested he go to Pakistan. However, later the BJP strongly disapproved of the comments, saying there cannot be any comparison between a law-abiding Indian citizen and a Pakistani terrorist, more so Khan, who is loved and respected.

Riaz Haq said...

Soul searching for #India's #Modi after crushing #BiharElections defeat via @Reuters

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met leaders of his party on Monday to discuss whether to overhaul policies and priorities in the wake of a humiliating defeat in elections in the eastern state of Bihar.

Modi and a dozen senior colleagues of his Hindu nationalist party, including its president Amit Shah, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, gathered at the party's offices to analyze the reasons for the defeat."There are lessons to be learnt," Jaitley told reporters after the meeting, without outlining specifics. "In elections you win some and lose some."

Sunday's loss in Bihar, India's third most populous and poorest state, is the most significant setback for Modi since he won a crushing victory in a general election last year.

For the first time since he came to power, party leaders are openly starting to question the direction of the government.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office in New Delhi was virtually deserted on Monday, with only a few workers compiling newspaper clippings on the election defeat.

Indian shares, bonds and the rupee opened at six-week lows as investors who had backed Modi worried he would struggle to push economic reforms through parliament against an emboldened opposition. They later regained their footing.

PARLIAMENTARY SETBACKThe Bihar loss may hamper Modi's reform agenda because he needs to win most state elections in the next three years to gain full control of parliament. India's states are represented in the upper house, where the BJP lacks a majority.The government announced on Monday that parliament will resume for the winter session on Nov. 26. Over the last year, Modi has struggled to pass laws, including tax and labor reforms, and now faces an opposition with political momentum.

The election came against a backdrop of concerns in India over incidents in which Muslims have been targeted by Hindu zealots. There have been protests by prominent intellectuals at what they call a climate of rising intolerance.Some BJP lawmakers called for the party to promote a more unifying agenda focusing on economic development, after a campaign in Bihar that sought to polarize voters along caste and religious lines."We have to be single mindedly focused on development, development, development," said Chandan Mitra, a BJP member of parliament. "We can't afford to be distracted by anything else."

In contrast, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who led the anti-Modi alliance in Bihar, was able to trade on his record of turning around a state that was once widely considered to be among India's most corrupt and lawless.

Arun Shourie, a minister in the last BJP government, called for a change in course."We should be grateful to the people of Bihar because the direction has been halted," he told NDTV news. Asked what went wrong with the party's Bihar campaign, he said: "Everything".

Read more at Reuters

Riaz Haq said...

Jitan Manjhi blames #beef, RSS chief's #Dalit quota opposition, #Pakistan remarks 4 #Modi's loss in #BiharElections

A day after the NDA’s defeat, BJP ally and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi identified the beef controversy and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks on reservation as the “turning point” in the Bihar Assembly elections. He also blamed BJP chief Amit Shah’s firecrackers-in-Pakistan remark.
“The beef controversy and remarks about it from various quarters alienated the NDA’s vote base… Amit Shah’s unintended and casual reference to Pakistan bursting crackers in case of the NDA’s defeat was misinterpreted and blown out of proportion by rivals,” said Manjhi. His Hindustani Awami Morcha (Secular) managed to win only one of the 21 seats that it contested.
“What Mohan Bhagwat said about the need for a review of the reservation policy was right. I would agree to his suggestion, but he chose the wrong time to make this remark. Our opponents spread the word that the RSS was preparing to appoint an upper caste chief minister who would scrap reservation benefits,” said Manjhi.

“By the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarified the stand on reservation, it was too late,” he said, adding that the Grand Alliance had “succeeded in making it a vital electoral plank” against the NDA.
“After the reservation controversy, it was made out to be a fight between backward and forward castes, and opponents gave BJP the tag of an upper caste party. The EBCs and Dalits were misguided by Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar, who are masters of such campaigns. The Grand Alliance had no electoral plank till they latched on to Bhagwat’s reservation remarks,” said Manjhi.
He added that Nitish also cashed in on the “Bihari versus Bahari” row.
Manjhi said he would remain in the NDA and work as an MLA, inside and outside the assembly. “I am heading a party. I will start campaigning from the panchayat level to spread the message about empowerment of Dalits. Losses and wins are part of the game. I am with the NDA and will speak up against Nitish when needed,” said Manjhi.

Kiran said...

There is no extremism in India. It doesnt matter what western media outlets say. They dont say much about your country as well Mr haq. Just look how they portray your country in TV shows.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's Holy Cow Vigilantes. #Beefmurder #BJP #Modi …

Arun Shourie, once one of the BJP's most respected leaders but now marginalized under Modi, believes the prime minister’s silence was deliberate—and it was interpreted as a green light by rowdier sections of the movement. After an incident of inter-religious violence occurs, other members of the BJP and affiliated organizations keep it alive by making provocative statements, Shourie said in a televised interview with a national channel. Only after weeks pass does Modi comment, and then it is to say something cryptic. “It almost comes out as if it is by design,” said Shourie.

Supporters reject such criticism. “To defame Modi, a negative campaign is coming from the so-called secularists,” said Surendra Kumar Jain, All India Secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Hindu nationalist group leading the push for a national ban on cow slaughter. Vigilante action has to be understood in the context of the failure of law enforcement, he says. “Suppose a woman is being raped? Will you stand by and wait for the police?”

It's not only the beef and leather industry that is at stake. India has climbed in the World Bank's ease of doing business rankings and has replaced China as the most popular destination for foreign direct investment since Modi came to power in 2014. But both the devastating loss in Bihar and the flirting with sectarian strife could further derail his plans for the economy.

The vituperative atmosphere will make it more difficult to reach a consensus with the opposition. And the election loss itself means Modi is drifting further away from a majority in parliament, where several proposals for big bang economic reforms have already withered and died.

“Along with a possible increase in violence, the government will face stiffer opposition in the Upper House as the debate turns away from economic policy,” Moody's Analytics said in a November report. “Modi must keep his members in check or risk losing domestic and global credibility.”

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Modi's #India downplays Dalai Lama remarks on 'intolerance' after #BJP loss in #Bihar …

India's ruling BJP has downplayed remarks by the Dalai Lama that are seen as criticising the government.
The Tibetan spiritual leader said recent elections in Bihar state - which the BJP lost - showed a "majority of Hindus believed in religious harmony".
He was answering a question on "intolerance" in India - an issue that has seen filmmakers, writers and actors return national awards.
The BJP has said the Dalai Lama's remarks should not be "misinterpreted".
The Dalai Lama did not name any political party, but his remarks are being seen as a veiled attack on the government.
The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after Chinese troops crushed an attempted uprising in Tibet. Since then, he has been living in exile in India.
In recent months, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP government has come under pressure to act after outrage over the murders of rationalists MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare, as well as the lynching of a Muslim man over suspicions he consumed beef.
More than 50 historians have returned national and state awards, joining almost 40 writers who have done the same to protest at what they refer to as growing intolerance in India.
Scientists and filmmakers have also joined the protest, while some people in the business community have expressed concerns.
A number of writers, including Salman Rushdie, also wrote to UK Prime minister David Cameron, telling him to ask Mr Modi to act against intolerance.
The Janata Dal United party, which was a part of the "Grand Alliance" that won the Bihar elections, said that the Dalai Lama's statement was an attack on "extremist elements" in the country.
"The statement made by him has given a strong and befitting reply to the extremist groups in India. The results of the Bihar polls show that forces of tolerance are not only active but are in a majority," a party spokesman told the Press Trust of India news agency.
The BJP, however, has warned against "misinterpretation" of the Dalai Lama's remarks, and said that they were no cause of concern for the party.

Riaz Haq said...

Emerging market fund managers bearish on #Modi's #India, Favor #China - The Hindu …

Nation’s rating has fallen to neutral from most overweight

For the first time since October 2014, India has fallen out of favour among emerging market and Asian fund managers with its rating falling to neutral from being the most overweight. China has replaced India as the economy on which fund managers are most bullish on, as per the fund manager survey released by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA ML).

“Based on our Asia-Pacific ex-Japan investor panellists, India has fallen out of favour from being most overweight to neutral, something not seen since October 2014. China moved up to the most overweight as investors probably anticipate more easing from the authorities to combat the sharp slowdown and deflationary pressure,” said the survey released on Tuesday. The change in view towards India is already being witnessed in the form of an overall slowdown in foreign fund flows into the domestic equity market.

Lower inflows

The current calendar year saw a net inflow of Rs. 23,409 crore ($3.55 billion) in the equity market, which is significantly lower than the annual flows witnessed in the past few years. For instance, in 2014, Indian equity markets saw net foreign flows pegged at Rs. 97,054 crore ($14.73 billion), as per data provided by the National Securities Depository Ltd. (NSDL). The benchmark 30-share Sensex has lost nearly 6 per cent in the current calendar year.

Market fund managers bearish on India

As per the BofA ML survey, which saw participation of over 90 fund managers managing $213 billion, a recession in China and a debt crisis in emerging markets remain the biggest concerns even as the overall confidence in emerging markets remain near record lows.

“According to our survey, global fund managers’ positioning in emerging markets remain near record lows, even with improving China growth prospects at the margin and massive undervaluation, as investors worry about weak earnings outlook, collapsing commodity prices, stronger U.S. dollar and higher global yields,” said the survey report.

Even as a recession in China remains the biggest concern, fund managers have expressed confidence in the monetary and fiscal easing steps taken by China in the last one year that has led them to believe that the Chinese economy will see some improvement in the next 12 months.

Interestingly, a growing number of fund managers are expecting a rate hike in December by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which would again impact the foreign flows in emerging markets, including India.

Riaz Haq said...

"#Modi can't promote Make in #India abroad, #Hate in India at home": Shashi Tharoor. #BJP via @timesofindia

Congress parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday tore through the Narendra Modi government, saying it cannot promote its ambitious Make in India programme abroad while a 'Hate in India' campaign is on in the country.

Speaking during a charged debate on intolerance in Lok Sabha, Tharoor said the "bomb of communalism" was dividing India. "It's safer to be a cow than a Muslim in India today," the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said, inviting a loud protest by the BJP members.

Tharoor quoted a Bangladeshi friend as telling him that fundamentalists in his country were attacking India after incidents of intolerance and communal polarisation grew in the country. "We are shamed with the reputation we are gaining abroad," he said.

The Congress leader said India was built on the premise of respecting diversity, and it is the responsibility of the government to uphold that promise.

Attacking Modi and reminding of his election promises, Tharoor said, "Has the Prime Minister forgotten that he is a leader and he is supposed to walk with people belonging to all caste, class and religion?"

"Where is the Modi who refused to politicise the bomb blasts that took place while he was addressing an election rally at Patna's Gandhi Maidan?" he asked in Hindi.

Tharoor also demanded the abolition of death penalty, describing it as an "aberration in a healthy democracy". Raising the issue during Zero Hour, he said hanging people does not deter crime and there is a lot of subjectivity in application of death penalty.

"It (death penalty) is an aberration in a healthy democracy," Tharoor said, adding that instead preventive and reformative measures should be strengthened to prevent crimes.

Contending that death penalty has mostly affected the marginalised people, the Congress leader said the state should not become killer. "We should abolish death penalty to uphold the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi," he said.

According to him, around 70 per cent of the United Nations members have abolished death penalty.

Riaz Haq said...

Rising #intolerance in #India . #NarendraModi Is Running Out of Time to Reform the Indian Economy …

Popular Bollywood star Aamir Khan brought the issue to India’s mainstream when last month he criticized the sense of “insecurity and fear” felt even by his own family. The harsh response to him only reinforced Khan’s point.

Sectarian violence does more than harm innocent Indians. It also discourages foreign investment. Religious intolerance provides skittish investors with another reason to put their money elsewhere.

More state elections are pending. To win, the BJP should focus on economics, which is what boosted Modi and his party to last year’s overwhelming victory. With an expanding population, India needs strong economic growth to move people out of poverty. The Minister of State for Finance, Jayant Sinha, said India needs at least eight percent growth annually for decades to provide sufficient jobs.

This kind of progress isn’t easy or common. Yet India’s current growth rate, around seven percent so far this year, suggests that India could take off after sustained, real economic reform.

As I wrote for Forbes: “Despite the recent challenges to his government, Modi retains a rare opportunity to advance his nation. Moreover, given his Hindu nationalist background, Modi also is well-positioned to reinforce tolerance and secularism in government.

“Doing so would promote domestic stability in a nation with tens of millions of people of different religious faiths, strengthen economic growth by encouraging foreign investment, and enhance India’s international influence.”

Will the 21st century be another American Century, the Chinese Century, or something else? If Prime Minister Modi makes tough decisions in leading his country forward, the 21st century might end up being the Indian Century. But if so, he can’t delay much longer in putting his words into action.

Riaz Haq said...

'Cow' named Yahoo #India's 'Personality of the Year' #Beefban #Modi #BJP #Intolerance via @toi_tech

• Yahoo India named 'Cow' the 'Personality of the Year' as it caused discussions on intolerance and even disrupted the Parliament
• The ranking is part of Yahoo India's 2015 Year in Review
• Others in the list include the rise of ISIS, the death of former President APJ Abdul Kalam and the Sheena Bora murder case

e humble 'cow' emerged as Yahoo India's 'Personality of the Year' on the back of online buzz around beef ban and associated discussions on intolerance.
"In an unexpected twist, the humble 'Cow' emerged as 'Personality of the Year', trumping other high-profile contenders for the top spot. It started with the Maharashtra government announcing a ban on sale of beef in the state -- a move which led to massive debates online and offline, spiraling into the 'beef controversy'," Yahoo said in a statement.
It further said: "Fuelled further by the mob lynching at Dadri, the 'cow' became the icon of discussions on 'intolerance', sparking the 'award wapsi' campaign, and even stalling the Parliament proceedings at one point."
The trend is a part of Yahoo's 2015 Year in Review (YIR) for India. It is a look at the year's top trends, happenings and events.

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...

Rs 1.14 lakh crore of bad debts in #India: The great government bank write-off by #Modi #BJP via @sharethis

Twenty-nine state-owned banks wrote off a total of Rs 1.14 lakh crore of bad debts between financial years 2013 and 2015, much more than they had done in the preceding nine years.
In response to an RTI application filed by The Indian Express, the RBI disclosed that while bad debts stood at Rs 15,551 crore for the financial year ending March 2012, they had shot up by over three times to Rs 52,542 crore by the end of March 2015.
Asked about the details of the biggest defaulters, whether individuals or business entities, whose bad debts to the tune of Rs 100 crore or more had been written off, the RBI said: “The required information is not available with us.” Banks are required to report the bad debts on a consolidated basis, it said.

Even as the government has been trying to shore up public sector banks through equity capital and other measures, bad loans written off by them between 2004 and 2015 amount to more than Rs 2.11 lakh crore. More than half such loans (Rs 1,14,182 crore) have been waived off between 2013 and 2015. Only two banks, State Bank of Saurashtra and State Bank of Indore, have shown zero bad debts in the past five years. In other words, while bad loans of public-sector banks grew at a rate of 4 per cent between 2004 and 2012, in financial years 2013 to 2015, they rose at almost 60 per cent. The bad debts written off in financial year ending March 2015 make up 85 per cent of such loans since 2013. -

The RTI reply also disclosed that bad debts have declined only four times since 2004. The last time was in 2011. An analysis of the information available with the RBI till 2012-13 also shows that between 2009 and 2013, both the advances by public sector banks to individuals and business entities as well as their amount of bad debts written off doubled. From 0.33 per cent of total advances in 2009, bad debts rose to 0.61 per cent in 2013. Bank-wise break-up shows State Bank of India, India’s largest bank, is way ahead of others in declaring loans as unrecoverable, with its bad debts shooting up almost four times since 2013 — from Rs 5,594 crore in 2013 to Rs 21,313 crore in 2015. In fact, SBI’s bad debts made up 40 per cent of the total amount written off by all other banks in 2015 and were more than what 20 other banks wrote off. In 2014 too, the bank’s bad debts alone comprised 38 per cent of the total of all banks. The figure of bad loans for 2014 and ‘15 combined, Rs 34,490 crore, was Rs 10,000 crore more than that for between 2004 and 2013, Rs 23,992 crore. The country’s second-largest public sector bank, Punjab National Bank, has also witnessed a consistent rise in bad debts since 2013. These grew by 95 per cent between 2013 and 2014 but climbed by 238 per cent between 2014 and 2015 — from Rs 1,947 crore in 2014 to Rs 6,587 crore in 2015. Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan has repeatedly expressed concern over the health of public-sector banks, and pushed for steps to ensure that banks classify certain stressed assets as non-performing assets (NPAs) and make adequate provisions to “strengthen their balance sheets”, besides working out schemes of merger. With public sector banks sitting on over Rs 7 lakh crore stressed assets, including NPAs and restructured loans, Rajan recently said the estimates of NPAs being 17-18 per cent are bit on the high side and that entities should be careful not to treat NPAs as total write-offs but see if they can change promoters and repay as the economy recovers. He also said that some banks would have to merge to optimise their use of resources. Gross NPAs of public-sector banks rose to 6.03 per cent as of June 2015, from 5.20 per cent in March 2015. RBI has asked banks to review certain loan accounts and their classification over the two quarters ending December 31, 2015, and March 31, 2016.

Riaz Haq said...

Why #India’s Chief Economic Adviser Has #Beef With Talking About #BeefBan? Losing his job!! #Modi via @WSJIndia

India’s chief economic adviser, Arvind Subramanian, on Tuesday declined to answer a question about how bans on cow slaughter affect the country’s rural economy, choosing to avoid an issue that has become a flashpoint for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s conservative government.

“You know that if I answer this question, I will lose my job,” Mr. Subramanian said at an event in Mumbai, according to a Press Trust of India report.

The western state of Maharashtra, whose capital is Mumbai, recently expanded a ban on killing cows, which are revered in Hindu culture. Many other states restrict the practice to varying degrees. Last year’s mob murder of a Muslim man accused of killing a cow has kindled concerns that religious intolerance is on the rise in India.

But what might Mr. Subramanian have said on the subject had he chosen to be a little less discreet?

Beef is big business in India. The most recent Livestock Census counted 191 million heads of live cattle and 109 million heads of buffalo in the country in 2012. Not all of those animals were destined for the abattoir: In the 2014 fiscal year, 3.2 million cattle were slaughtered, yielding 333,000 metric tons of meat, and 9.7 million buffalo met the same fate, yielding 1.2 million tons of meat.

Lots of that meat, in turn, got exported: India shipped abroad $4.2 billion worth of frozen bovine meat in the 2014 financial year, more in dollar terms than the country’s exports of T-shirts, motorcycles and car parts that year, and making India one of the world’s biggest beef exporters.

Livestock in aggregate—not just cows but goats, chickens and pigs, and not just meat but eggs, hides, dung and even honey—added 3.2 trillion rupees ($48 billion) to India’s gross domestic product in the year that ended March 31, 2012. That represented nearly a quarter of agriculture’s 18% total contribution to GDP that year.

As for how much bovines contribute to (human) employment, a government survey in 2013 found that 1.75% of rural households, or around 2.7 million of them, derived their primary income in the preceding year from rearing livestock. But that doesn’t capture the extent to which people in the hinterland raise animals to supplement their earnings from cultivation, manual labor or other activities. The same survey found that 682 households out of 1,000 in the countryside owned cattle, and 415 out of 1,000 owned buffalo.

Riaz Haq said...

Intolerance and despotism are undermining #Modi’s reforms in #India. #BJP #Hindu …

This article first appeared on the Riding the Elephant site.

“Misinterpreting nationalism—BJP’s swing to jingoism does not augur well,” said a headline earlier this week in the Business Standard, one of India’s leading newspapers. It reflected concern in India and abroad over what the paper called the governing BJP’s “disturbing drift towards hyper-nationalism.”

The only word slightly wrong there is “drift,” because there is a growing suspicion among observers that this is not some gradual meandering, but a determination to develop divisive politics, driven for vote-catching reasons by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, notably Amit Shah, the party’s hard-line president, Rajnath Singh, the government’s rather stern looking home minister, aided occasionally by Smriti Irani, the voluble minister for human resource development.

The latest example of their drive has come with a strident demand for people to prove their patriotism by declaring “Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” which means “Victory to Mother India” (or the motherland).

Originally triggered a couple of weeks ago when a Muslim member of a regional assembly refused to recite the line, this is really a non-issue because a wide spectrum of the population (including Muslims) have no problem with saying it (nor with others not saying it), though many would prefer the conventional “Jai Hind” which means “Praise be to India.” It is also the slogan used by the Indian army.

Narendra Modi, the prime minister, has led chanting of the Bharat Mata slogan at his big overseas Indians’ rallies in places like London’s Wembley Stadium, and this could have been a harmless debate until Shah and others said that not chanting it was “anti-national.” After a week of growing controversy that dominated the media, a meeting of the BJP’s national executive last weekend passed a resolution that said, “Refusal to chant victory to Bharat is tantamount to disrespect to our Constitution itself.”

The BJP ministers seem to believe that polarizing opinion around such Hindu-driven nationalism, especially the word Bharat (Hindi for India), will be a vote winner for various assembly elections next month, followed by a key election in Uttar Pradesh state next year and then the next general election that is due in 2019. For them, even opposition to the government is anti-national.

Modi presumably agrees, though he and they know that the BJP won the general election almost two years ago because of his image as a leader who would bring development and efficient government, not rampant nationalism. The BJP has lost key state elections in Bihar and Delhi in the past 15 months because Modi and others pushed the nationalist anti-Muslim agenda, but that has not deterred the hard-liners.

Modi and Development

Modi is now stressing development. “Vikas, vikas, vikas [development] is my only focus and it is our country’s solution to all problems,” he said at the party’s executive meeting. He does not, however, seem to have tried to rein in Shah and the others, so maybe he and Shah will each run their own lines so as to broaden the party’s appeal to voters.

That gels with reports that the RSS, the BJP’s ideology-driven parent organization that steers the behavior of the party’s leaders and government ministers, wants development to be included in the message. (The RSS has also recently softened its image by replacing its uniform of khaki shorts with long trousers.) Arun Jaitley, the government chief spokesman and finance minister, said last weekend that both nationalism and development could proceed together—which is, of course, correct if the nationalist angle is not turned into social divisiveness.

Riaz Haq said...

Two years on, Narendra #Modi "hasn't achieved anything yet" as he struggles to realize #India’s dreams. #BJP

Narendra Modi's sweeping victory in the May 2014 Indian general election prompted jubilation among his Hindu supporters in Varanasi, the northern city on the Ganges he had chosen as his parliamentary seat.

The energetic leader of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata party seemed to usher in a radical change from the sclerotic Congress government he had deposed, promising jobs for the young, toilets for the poor and economic reforms for investors and entrepreneurs.

Two years on, and even Mr Modi's supporters in Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state, are beginning to wonder if the prime minister will be able to achieve half of what he has pledged — whether the target is a clean-up of the polluted Gangesor the revival of Indian manufacturing.

"Modi's a realist," says one retired banker in Varanasi, "but he hasn't achieved anything yet. People say he needs more time."

Higher up the Ganges in Kanpur, the industrial city once known as the Manchester of India, business leaders say the erratic supply of electricity has improved slightly. But there are few new jobs for the 1m or so young Indians who enter the workforce each month: lack of power, the difficulty of acquiring land, restrictive labour laws and constant interference by bureaucratic and corrupt government inspectors have made sure of that.

P. Chidambaram, a Congress leader and former finance minister, says the government is "on a dangerous path" of promoting polarisation, while the BJP's Arun Shourie, a disenchanted former confidant of Mr Modi, laments the "intimidation and silencing" of the government's critics.

Yet the principal complaint about Mr Modi is not that he is a domineering Hindu puritan but that he has failed to do much for economic development.

"His concept of development is a few large, shining and conspicuous projects," says Mr Shourie, referring to such Modi-led campaigns as "Make in India" and "Digital India". Or, as Mr Chidambaram puts it: "Where are the jobs?"

Business leaders say it is unfair to suggest that nothing has been achieved, although few of them would agree with Jayant Sinha, minister of state for finance and a former McKinsey partner, when he says "we are fundamentally changing the nature of Indian capitalism" to help entrepreneurs.


Mr Modi also faces intense resistance to change from Indian bureaucrats and is undermined by ineffective cabinet ministers he seems unwilling to sack. He sometimes finds his initiatives blocked by state governments — such as that of Uttar Pradesh — controlled by parties other than the BJP. Banks are constrained from new lending by a mountain of bad loans for infrastructure and industry dating back to previous administrations.

Priyankar Upadhyaya, a political scientist at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, says Mr Modi "desperately" wants economic development and finds himself stuck in a "trap of expectations" set by hopeful voters.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian Economy Like A Car With 3 Tyres Punctured: P Chidambaram
He said that the government is incompetent in addressing the economic issues, which has "worsened" under the current dispensation.

"Private investment, private consumption, exports and government expenditures are four growth engines of an economy. It's like four tyres of a car. If one or two tyres are punctured, it will slow down but in our case, three tyres are punctured," the senior Congress leader said at an event organised by the Maharashtra Congress unit.

Government expenditure is on only in healthcare and in some other amenities, he said.

"To keep this expenditure going on, the government has continued taxing petrol, diesel and even LPG. It is squeezing money from people in such taxes and spending some from it on public amenities," Mr Chidambaram said.

Did you see any investment in the power sector recently, he questioned.

"For example, out of the 10 major companies that went into insolvency, five were steel companies. How can you expect any investment in such sectors," he wondered.

Mr Chidambaram also criticised the government for introducing a "five-slab" Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.

"Post-demonstration this government has introduced GST with five tax slabs with a cess over it. In other countries, GST is just one tax system but we can have two types of taxation in India. Still, having five slabs is not what we had imagined about GST," he said.

He said that the government is incompetent in addressing the economic issues, which has "worsened" under the current dispensation.

"Industrial utilisation is mere 60 per cent in the country. The export of merchandise, during the UPA was USD 315 billion, which was USD 303 billion last year. Before that, it was not even USD 300 billion. This shows we are not earning from exports too," the former finance minister said.

He mocked the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana under which loans of up to Rs. 10 lakh are provided to non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises.

"The average amount of disbursed Mudra loan is Rs. 43,000 per person. No major investment can be done with such low amount, except one wants to run a Pakoda stall," Mr Chidambaram said in an apparent reference to PM Modi's remarks that selling 'pakodas' is also a form of employment.

Riaz Haq said...

A wave of #religious intolerance is hitting big business in #India. A wave of religious intolerance as India heads toward elections is emerging as a new risk for its top companies. #Hindutva #Islamophobia #Modi #BJP via @bpolitics

Over the past weeks, a telecom giant, the Indian lender led by Asia’s richest banker, and the local rival of Uber Technologies Inc. have been roiled by controversies linked to comments on Facebook and Twitter involving a minority community in the Hindu-dominated nation. All these started as social media posts, then gained a life of their own as people backed or vilified the comments, eventually forcing the companies to react to contain any damage.

Tensions on social media are mounting as the world’s largest democracy approaches elections early next year that will pit the Hindu nationalist beliefs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party against the main opposition, which often spotlights secularism and rising religious intolerance. Risk consultancy Kroll Inc. says it’s seeing an “exponential increase” in questions from corporate clients on how to manage the fallout from incidents on social media.

“It doesn’t just carry reputational and business risk, it can snowball into business continuity risks that can spread faster than a forest fire,” said Tarun Bhatia, a Mumbai-based managing director at Kroll. “Companies can’t choose their customers or control what they say. So it comes down to how companies manage these incidents, how quickly they react.”

Bharti Airtel Ltd., India’s biggest telecommunications provider thanks to its 304 million subscribers, was tested on that recently. This is how it began: Around noon on June 18, Twitter user Pooja Singh complained about an Airtel customer service representative. An Airtel employee replied, promising to get back with more information, and signed off as “Shoaib.”

This is a recognizable Muslim name in a country currently riven by passionate teams of social media trolls, akin to the U.S. experience where political discourse often degenerates into hate-filled accusations.

“Dear Shohaib, as you’re a Muslim and I have no faith in your working ethics... requesting you to assign a Hindu representative for my request. Thanks,” Singh responded. Soon after, another Airtel rep named Gaganjot -- a clearly non-Muslim name -- promised to resolve Singh’s concern.

On the morning of June 20, Airtel published a statement on twitter refuting accusations that it gave in to Singh’s alleged discriminatory demand, something that had already attracted severe criticism of the carrier and threats to discontinue its services, including from opposition lawmakers. The statement said that both Shoaib and Gaganjot were just following established workflow processes that “got read as ‘bowing down to bigotry.”’

“Airtel has been resolute for 23 years” and “our training manuals will never carry instructions to pause and check one’s identity before serving a query,” the statement read. The company didn’t reply to an email from Bloomberg seeking further comment.

Riaz Haq said...

Book Excerpt (Aakar Patel's Price of the Modi Years): The Many Anti-Muslim Laws Brought in By the Modi Government
While the Citizenship Amendment Act rightly was criticised around the world for specifically targeting Muslims along with the NRC pincer, other laws India has passed since 2014 have not received as much notice.

These are those laws the Modi years have given us:

1. The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 2015

Under this law anyone found in possession of beef would be jailed for up to five years. It also banned the slaughter of bulls, bullocks and calves in addition to the existing ban on cow slaughter.

2. The Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015

Possession of beef punishable by up to five years in jail. Sale of cows for slaughter to another state punishable by seven years in jail. Cow slaughter would attract jail of up to 10 years. The burden of proof would be on the accused.

3. The Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2017

This law extended the punishment for cow slaughter from seven years to life. It allows permanent forfeiture of vehicles transporting animals except under prescribed conditions. It also increased the fine from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Minister of state for home Pradipsinh Jadeja said the logic was to equal cow slaughter with murder.

4. The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Ordinance, 2020 repealed the 1964 law which allowed the slaughter of bullocks.

It made cow slaughter punishable by up to seven years. Purchase, sale, disposal or transport of cattle outside the state except in prescribed manner would be punishable by five years in jail. Fines of up to Rs 10 lakh are also imposed.

The Maharashtra law has this clause: “9B. Burden of proof on accused. In any trial … the burden of proving that the slaughter, transport, export outside the State, sale, purchase or possession of flesh of cow, bull or bullock was not in contravention of the provisions of this Act shall be on the accused.”

Meaning that you are guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent. If you are found with a bloody knife next to a corpse, you are presumed innocent. It is the State that has to demonstrate that you committed murder. But if you are found with or found near meat and accused of possessing beef you are presumed guilty of possessing beef till you disprove this to the satisfaction of the State. This is an invitation to violence. Two weeks after Maharashtra, on 17 March 2015, Haryana under the BJP passed its law criminalising possession of beef. The law has this section: ‘No person shall directly or indirectly sell, keep, store, transport or offer for sale or cause to be sold beef or beef products.’ Burden of proof was reversed here also. Punishment is up to five years.

While the Citizenship Amendment Act rightly was criticised around the world for specifically targeting Muslims along with the NRC pincer, other laws India has passed since 2014 have not received as much notice. The judiciary has been supine and allowed a de facto Hindu Rashtra to emerge through legislation. These laws have been written and passed and are being applied across India, targeting Indian Muslims, brutalising them constantly, while a demented media and a bored public have looked away.

Aakar Patel is Chair of Amnesty International India and author of Our Hindu Rashtra. His Price of the Modi Years will be released on November 14.

Riaz Haq said...

Religious Divide in #Bangalore #Karnataka will destroy #India's #tech industry, says #Indian corporate leader Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. She was referring to reports of #Muslim vendors being kept out of temple towns and festivals. #BJP #Hindutva #Islamophobia

Bengaluru: A prominent voice from the corporate sector and executive chairperson of Biocon Ltd, Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, has raised a red flag over the “growing religious divide” in Karnataka and expressed fear that it may affect the IT-BT sector too.

In a series of tweets, she raised a red flag over hardline Hindutva groups to keep out Muslim traders from temple festivals in Karnataka and urged Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to resolve the “growing religious divide” in the state and warned that the country’s “global leadership” in tech and biotech was at stake.

“Karnataka has always forged inclusive economic development and we must not allow such communal exclusion — if IT/BT became communal it would destroy our global leadership,” wrote Shaw, who heads Asia’s leading biopharmaceuticals enterprise,” she tweeted, tagging Bommai and added: “Please resolve this growing religious divide.”

In a subsequent tweet, she posted: “Our CM is a very progressive leader. I am sure he will resolve this issue soon.”

She was referring to reports on how Muslim vendors were being kept out of several temple towns and festivals. Several temple committees organising the festivals, especially in the communally sensitive coastal districts, have been obeying the warning issued by the hardline Hindu groups. Some, however, have expressed dismay over the curbs and say these would hit long-standing social relations. The curbs came after Muslim groups organised a bandh against the hijab ban ruling by the Karnataka High Court.

However, the state government, in an official statement in the state legislature, said the restrictions on non-Hindus conducting business within the premises of temples is as per a rule introduced in 2002 under the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997. This rule, many vendors say, has now been weaponised to keep them out of business.

Riaz Haq said...

#India sought probe into ex-RBI gov Raghu Rajan (now Professor at #University of #Chicago) for helping ‘white man’. #Modi government accused its #RBI of setting interest rates to favor developed nations, pushing it to slash the rates. via @AJEnglish

A year after the government led by Narendra Modi’s BJP came to power in 2014, the top finance ministry official accused the Reserve Bank of India of setting interest rates to benefit developed countries and sought a probe into its conduct, a trove of official documents obtained by The Reporters’ Collective reveals.

Finance secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, working under the then-finance minister, the late Arun Jaitley, made the claim after the RBI opted to prioritise controlling rising prices over lowering interest rates, which would have made borrowing cheaper for businesses and citizens.

Although the government and the RBI having different views is not unusual, the revelations mark the first time a top government official has accused the RBI of working to benefit “the white man” in “developed countries” and sought an investigation into the “real purpose” behind the central bank’s decisions.

The documents, which were accessed by The Reporters’ Collective (TRC) under the Right to Information Act, are being made public for the first time as part of a three-part investigative series.

At the time in 2015, the RBI governor was Raghuram Rajan, an appointee of the previous, Congress-led government. The BJP government chose Urjit Patel as Rajan’s successor.

But the RBI didn’t cut the interest as sharply as the government wanted, even under Patel. So the finance ministry called a meeting with the bank’s newly set up monetary policy committee (MPC) to push it to cut interest rates, according to the documents. The unprecedented meeting fell through when committee members declined to attend, a development widely reported in 2017.

The attempt to influence the central bank came despite the Modi government having amended the Reserve Bank of India Act in 2016 to strengthen the firewall between the RBI’s primary function of controlling prices and the government’s political impulse to spur growth even at the cost of rising inflation.

The RBI’s then-governor Patel pushed back, wrote to the government saying it should stop trying to influence the RBI in order to preserve the “integrity and credibility” of the new monetary framework “in the public eye and our parliament”. Otherwise, the government would be in violation of the letter and spirit of the law that protected the RBI’s independence.

As disagreements piled up on this and other issues, Patel resigned on December 10, 2018, citing “personal reasons”. The government replaced him with Shaktikanta Das who, as a top finance ministry bureaucrat, had justified increasing the government’s influence in the RBI’s rate-setting function, official documents reveal.

Riaz Haq said...

The Indian economy is being rewired. The opportunity is immense And so are the stakes

Who deserves the credit? Chance has played a big role: India did not create the Sino-American split or the cloud, but benefits from both. So has the steady accumulation of piecemeal reform over many governments. The digital-identity scheme and new national tax system were dreamed up a decade or more ago.

Mr Modi’s government has also got a lot right. It has backed the tech stack and direct welfare, and persevered with the painful task of shrinking the informal economy. It has found pragmatic fixes. Central-government purchases of solar power have kick-started renewables. Financial reforms have made it easier to float young firms and bankrupt bad ones. Mr Modi’s electoral prowess provides economic continuity. Even the opposition expects him to be in power well after the election in 2024.

The danger is that over the next decade this dominance hardens into autocracy. One risk is the bjp’s abhorrent hostility towards Muslims, which it uses to rally its political base. Companies tend to shrug this off, judging that Mr Modi can keep tensions under control and that capital flight will be limited. Yet violence and deteriorating human rights could lead to stigma that impairs India’s access to Western markets. The bjp’s desire for religious and linguistic conformity in a huge, diverse country could be destabilising. Were the party to impose Hindi as the national language, secessionist pressures would grow in some wealthy states that pay much of the taxes.

The quality of decision-making could also deteriorate. Prickly and vindictive, the government has co-opted the bureaucracy to bully the press and the courts. A botched decision to abolish bank notes in 2016 showed Mr Modi’s impulsive side. A strongman lacking checks and balances can eventually endanger not just demo cracy, but also the economy: think of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, whose bizarre views on inflation have caused a currency crisis. And, given the bjp’s ambivalence towards foreign capital, the campaign for national renewal risks regressing into protectionism. The party loves blank cheques from Silicon Valley but is wary of foreign firms competing in India. Today’s targeted subsidies could degenerate into autarky and cronyism—the tendencies that have long held India back.

Seizing the moment
For India to grow at 7% or 8% for years to come would be momentous. It would lift huge numbers of people out of poverty. It would generate a vast new market and manufacturing base for global business, and it would change the global balance of power by creating a bigger counterweight to China in Asia. Fate, inheritance and pragmatic decisions have created a new opportunity in the next decade. It is India’s and Mr Modi’s to squander. ■

Riaz Haq said...

Ex #RBI Gov R. Rajan: Turning #Muslims Into "2nd Class Citizens" Will Divide #India. Warning against majoritarianism, he cited #SriLanka as an example of what happens when politicians try to deflect a job crisis by targeting minorities. #Modi #Islamophobia

Former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan on Saturday said India's future lies in strengthening liberal democracy and its institutions as it is essential for achieving economic growth.
Warning against majoritarianism, he said Sri Lanka was an example of what happens when a country's politicians try to deflect a job crisis by targeting minorities.

Speaking at the 5th conclave of All India Professionals Congress, a wing of the Congress party, in Raipur, he said any attempt to turn a large minority into "second class citizens" will divide the country.

Mr Rajan was speaking on the topic 'Why liberal democracy is needed for India's economic development'.

".What is happening to liberal democracy in this country and is it really that necessary for Indian development? ... We absolutely must strengthen it. There is a feeling among some quarters in India today that democracy holds back India ... India needs strong, even authoritarian, leadership with few checks and balances on it to grow and we seem to be drifting in this direction," Mr Rajan said.

"I believe this argument is totally wrong. It's based on an outdated model of development that emphasizes goods and capital, not people and ideas," said the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund.

The under-performance of the country in terms of economic growth "seems to indicate the path we are going on needs rethinking," he said.

The former RBI governor further said that "our future lies in strengthening our liberal democracy and its institutions, not weakening them, and this is in fact essential for our growth."

Elaborating on why majoritarian authoritarianism must be defeated, he said any attempt to "make second class citizens of a large minority will divide the country and create internal resentment." It will also make the country vulnerable to foreign meddling, Me Rajan added.

Referring to the ongoing crisis in Sri Lanka, he said the island nation was seeing the "consequences when a country's politicians try to deflect from the inability to create jobs by attacking a minority." This does not lead to any good, he said.

Liberalism was not an entire religion and the essence of every major religion was to seek out that which is good in everyone, which, in many ways, was also the essence of liberal democracy, Mr Rajan said.

Claiming that India's slow growth was not just due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Rajan said the country's underperformance predated it.

"Indeed for about a decade, probably since the onset of the global financial crisis, we haven't been doing as well as we could. The key measure of this underperformance is our inability to create the good jobs that our youth need," the former RBI governor said.

Riaz Haq said...

Ex #RBI Gov R. Rajan: Turning #Muslims Into "2nd Class Citizens" Will Divide #India. Warning against majoritarianism, he cited #SriLanka as an example of what happens when politicians try to deflect a job crisis by targeting minorities. #Modi #Islamophobia

Citing the strident protests against the Centre's 'Agniveer' military recruitment scheme, Mr Rajan said it suggested how hungry the youths were for jobs.

"Just a while ago you saw 12.5 million applicants for 35,000 railway jobs. It is particularly worrisome when India has a scarcity of jobs even when so many women are not working outside their homes. India's female labour force participation is among the lowest in G-20 at 20.3 percent as in 2019," he pointed out.

Talking about the "vision of growth" of the current government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said it centres around the term 'atmanirbhar' or self-reliance.

"Now, to the extent it emphasizes better connectivity, better logistics, better roads and devotes more resources to it, in some way this (atmanirbhar vision) seems the continuation of the past reformed decades. And that's good," he said.

But, the former RBI governor said, in many ways a look at what 'atmanirbhar' is trying to achieve takes one back to an early and failed past where the focus was on physical capital and not human capital, on protection and subsidies and not on liberalization, on choosing favourites to win rather than letting the most capable succeed.

Asserting that there was a misplaced sense of priorities, Mr Rajan said the nation was not spending enough on education, with tragic consequences.

"Many (children) not having been to school for two years are dropping out. Their human capital, which is their and our most important asset in the coming years, is something we are neglecting. We are failing them by not devoting enough resources to remedial education," Mr Rajan said.