Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Creating a Bofors equivalent to beat Modi!
Arun Shourie, former editor of the Indian Express, and a posterboy of the BJP, author, and a member of the A B Vajpayee cabinet can be assumed to have become totally unhinged due to personal tragedies and frustrations in his life. His son Aditya suffers from cerebral palsy and wheelchair-bound from childhood; and his wife Anita from Parkinson's disease lately. His latest (?) book 'Anita Gets Bail' ("for a house we never built on a plot we did not own" in a case registered against her Haryana State Pollution Control Board during the UPA rule!) is heart-renting! The man who painted such an the ugly picture of India's justice-dispensing system is seen now arguing a case in the Supreme Court with an ugly mind and motive against the Narendra Modi still blames the Judiciary for granting him only a little more than a minute to speak against the “illegalities” and possibly corruption in the Supreme Court.
Many of the points are just fussy and pedantic fault-finding of a deal by its nature cannot be discussed much in detail and delayed for observing niceties, considering the IAF has been under-equipped for considerable length of time. However, since the allegations of the Prime Minister causing a "massive loss" to the exchequer, and also having "jeopardized national security" comes from the likes of Shourie, one has to examine the case truthfully.
First of all, the IAF’s fondness for the Dassault Rafale is acknowledgedly in order to simplify the Indian Air Force’s logistics chain by choosing an aircraft from the maker of the IAF’s Mirage-2000 (Dassault Systemes) which were made and are being upgraded by the same major companies (Thales, Safran etc.) that make the major components for the Rafale was a major consideration. The competition which gave some technical points to an Opposition leader with a notoriety for lack of intelligence and even poor memory only wanted to throw a spanner in the works hoping to delay the procurement of Rafale F3R, Advanced Multirole Combat Aircraft by India to re-enter the scene in case of a controversy of a massive corruption created can effect a change in government!
Secondly, there were indeed talks on the cost of some India specific upgrades between the IAF and Dassault during the UPA regime which had never progressed to conclusive cost negotiations between Dassault and HAL which was supposed to build Rafales in India! The end result is that it is IMPOSSIBLE and ridiculous to compare the per-piece cost of the Rafales being acquired now and the Rafales being negotiated for earlier.
The final price for the whole package was brought down by stringent negotiation to 7.1 billion Euros from the 8.6 billion Euros that France asked for the 36 plane contract. The price works out to 262 million Euros for Qatar as compared to roughly 197 million Euros for the IAF. What Egypt bought at 217 million was the older F3 standard. The 7.1 billion Euros for the Rafale includes the weapons, logistics cost (infrastructure & spares for 5 years-a benchmark is that a fighter consumes five per cent of its worth in consumables and spares each year), performance guarantee, additional 13 India Specific Enhancement (ISE) etc. which all come up to about half the 7.1 billion. It may be noted that the 7.1 billion Euros also includes climate controlled hangars for the 36 jets, setting up of support facilities, and pilot training. The version of the Rafale, F3R, Advanced Multirole Combat Aircraft in fly-away condition India has decided to procure has 14 improvements in its configuration were which are India-specific upgrades, over the previously down selected F3, ordered specifically on the request of the IAF according to Air Chief Marshal Raha. The Meteor air-to-air missile, considered to be the best in the world, is part of the new deal. Other special options include a low band jammer, towed decoy system, upgraded engine, additional modes in the radar and higher resolution in the Front Sector Optronics, the Israeli HMD sight and its integration, Israeli Litening Pod and its integration, radio altimeters, cold start for high altitudes, Doppler radar (all special to India), the nuclear capable Scalp cruise missile, spare parts and engines and the stringent availability requirements. There is a significant upgrade involved in making everything compatible with the Meteor and Scalp missiles being acquired. Targeting and other symbology specific to these weapon systems is being integrated into this helmet mounted sight.
These options, while being great war capability providers, add significantly to the cost of the whole deal. A Meteor missile for instance, is not only the best air-to-air missile, but also one of the most expensive at about a million Euros each.
The Opposition politicians are laying the worst dirty trick possible because of the Catch22 involved. The Government is being arm-twisted details of a defence purchase whose war capacity in a combat cannot be released! The Judiciary knows it, the media knows it, our intelligentsia know it, but it has become a political game which some of the smartest people have decided to play to bring down a Government which has had a corruption-free good governance record to its credit for the first time in India! The mandatory secrecy involved made the government make a few mistakes: it never presented a complete picture even to kill the Opposition political campaign. It was Senior journalist and editor Minhas Merchant who really presented the government’s case comprehensively in a newspaper article! I had personally appealed in several tweets to the PM/MoD that the details may be handed over to the President and the Supreme Commander of our Armed Forces to be passed on to CJI Dipak Misra who had no hostility towards this government) to scrutinize. It wasn’t done till the SC under CJI Gogoi sought details as a follow-up action on petitions before it alleging corruption. Doesn’t a stitch in time save seven?
A huge misinformation used in political campaign against the deal is that the HAL has been replaced by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group in the new deal. ADAG hasn’t replaced HAL. Not a single component of the 36 Rafale fighters ordered by this government is being procured from ADAG. ADAG is presently making components of business jets for Dassault in a JV whose chairman is the chairman of Dassault Aviation! These components go into their global supply chain and those operations have nothing to do with the Rafales coming to India. If India decides to buy any more Rafale fighters, they may be made in India in future, but that will be under a separate agreement. There is another c component in the $2.9 billion contract – the offsets. The UPA had talked about an offset of 30% whereas under the negotiations concluded by Modi Government, 30 per cent offset commitment for military aerospace research and development programmes and 20 per cent for making components of Rafales!
Another allegation is that the HAL was dropped from the local manufacturing of Rafale fighters as if it was a foregone conclusion! Domestic assembly of foreign aircraft is not cost effective, the cost of the Su-30MKI made in India by HAL is known to be more than twice the cost of procuring it direct from Russia. HAL’s manufacturing capability is a joke as they have with difficulty agreed to manufacture 8 Tejas Mark-1 per annum due to pressure from the IAF. Tejas Mark-2 is only on the drawing board yet! No wonder, Dassault Aviation flatly refused to be associated with HAL in any manufacturing operations!
As many as 20 Indian companies, big and small, will get businesses worth over 3.5 billion dollars in the enhanced scheme of offset manufacturing, providing a great opportunity for indigenous manufacturers under Make India project in developing world class technology within the country. Samtel Avionics, Reliance Aerospace (of the ADAG), L&T, Mahindra Group, Kalyani Group, Godrej & Boyce, Tata group etc. are some of the companies listed as participants in the offset manufacture programme. The Opposition insinuates Anil Ambani is a major beneficiary because he is currently weaker of the two Ambani bothers. But he had been associated with the SP, not the BJP! It is a calumny to say that “Anil Ambani owned company has been benefited in the deal” as messrs Arun Shourie, Yaswant Sinha and Prashan Bhushan say! The Defence Research and Development Organisation, is also in the loop to benefit from French know-how in stealth, radar and thrust vectoring for missiles technologies in an ongoing and futuristic cooperation with Dassault.
Meanwhile a side-story has surfaced revealing part of the animosity towards Reliance Aerospace: there was one application which was not considered worth being included in the offset manufacture – that of “Offset India Solutions (OIS) Group” (owned by Sanjay Bhandari, alleged to be an associate of Robert Vadra) set up in 20018 as a defence consultancy and liaison services business for execution of offsets obligations for foreign armament companies! Bhandari’s main business is said to be importing somehow duty-free BMW, Mercedes Benzes and high end Maseratis and Lamborghinis and selling naturally, cheap to rich people! OIS-Advanced Technology Private Ltd, which ventured into manufacturing military radars! Sanjay Bhandari manages to swing a jet trainer deal for Swiss company Pilatus thereafter! This is no secret now, with TV News channels Times Now, Zee News and others publishing a mail trail our investigating agencies have unearthed. It was in the news lately that Sanjay Bhandari funded purchase of a property worth Rs.19 cores in London for his patron Vadra!
Tuesday, December 25, 2018
Who’s afraid of the Statue of Unity?
It is not difficult to know why the prestigious Unity Statue built by Gujarat Government as a befitting memorial for Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is reviled by political foes of the BJP. The man who made the Union of India possible merging 565 princely states together into a single political entity, and also was the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India has few friends in the ecosystem created by the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru was not happy even after usurping the Prime Ministership of the country. He continued to be wary of Sardar’s mass appeal and political clout, probably because he had ideas of a dynastic succession to him, and feared Sardar’s opposition.
The world’s tallest statue standing a 182-metre tall on a bend of the river Narmada in Gujarat was inaugurated on October 31 by the Prime Minister of India is therefore attacked by politicians of all hues opposed to the Narendra Modi government, and their acolytes in the media and even academia. Some call it an “irony cast in stone” perhaps alluding to the Sardar ordering a ban on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Congress party suddenly claims Patel was a Congress leader. Both these realities were not rebutted by the BJP or Prime Minister Modi, it may be noted. But Congress party forgot that Patel had to withdraw the ban on RSS following the Justice Kapur report absolving RSS of any role in the assassination of Gandhiji. This had also resulted in Patel being ironically described as a pro-RSS man by the butter-boys of the Nehrus (who had by then assumed the surname Gandhi) and the Muslim fundamentalists!
The third type of opposition to the Sardar Patel statue is for squandering on his image “an estimated at Rs 5,000 crore” which “could have been invested more profitably!” These people forget that the Congress installed statues of the Nehru-Gandhi’s all over the country as a vulgar and cheap way to remember the Nehru clan governments! What is the cost of the prime real estate in New Delhi where imposing mousoleums for their dead leaders have been built and maintained over past six decades? If the statue of Congress leader Vallabh Bhai Patel who banned the RSS is installed by the BJP government, it wasn’t obviously to claim he was their man; it was an apolitical tribute to the man who was a great Indian patriot.
It may be remembered that Statue of Unity project was first announced on 7 October 2010. A Statue of Unity Movement started to drive support for the construction of the statue, organising a Suraaj ("good governance") petition signed by around 20 million people which is considered as the world's largest petition! A marathon ‘Run for Unity’ was held on 15 December 2013 in places throughout India, and the statue’s Foundation stone was laid by Sri. Narendra Modi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat on 31 October 2013, the 138th Birth Anniversary of Sardar Patel. It was not a political gimmick for the people of Gujarat to remember the great son of Gujarat. The statue was built on a Public Private Partnership model. Most of the money was raised by the Government of Gujarat. The Government of India had allotted 3 billion for the project in the budget from 2012 to 2016.
The world’s highest, the Statue of Unity is not only a tribute to the Iron Man of India, but also is the first such tourist attraction located in India and is termed ‘Pride of Nation’. A sense of patriotism and unity of India will be infused in the hearts and minds of the people who visit the Statue of Unity, estimated to remain as it is for a thousand years. According to media reports 2.79 lakh visitors went to see the statue in a month and its ticket sale generated Rs 6.38 crore in revenue. It implies that it will continue contributing to the national income of India through tourism for the next ten centuries.
Now let us examine a peculiar hostile reaction from overseas. Tory MP Peter Bone had recently made a bone-headed comment about the Statue of Unity. He said the project was “total nonsense”. “To take 1.1billion pounds in aid from us and then at the same time spend 330 million pounds on a statue is a total nonsense and it is the sort of thing that drives people mad!" he said. The man’s unhinged crudity should not be ignored.
According to the admission of UK’s Department for International Development it had ended ‘traditional aid’ to India in 2015, though Britain continues to fund projects in India – it was £92.6million in 2017. These projects are their choice – for example, £14,000 (Rs 13.27 lakh) used to increase ‘religious tolerance among young people’ was obviously sought or suggested by the “Hindu Nationalist” government headed by Mr.Narendra Modi! Former President Pranab Mukherjee when he was the Finance Minister of India had stated in the Rajya Sabha that India did not want British any aid. "We do not require the aid. It is a peanut in our total development exercises (expenditure)." That was way back in 2012; today, India is the world’s fastest-growing economy, has sent a mission to Mars, boasts more billionaires than the UK and itself a net aid-giver.
I can’t figure out why the British are sulking over the Statue of Unity and what irks the British MP in particular. Are the progeny of people who came here and conquered us to make us civilised Christians envious of the former colony’s symbols of power? They couldn’t contain the anger and dismay when on November 14, 2008, the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1’s Moon Impact Probe analysed the subsurface debris and reported the presence of water ice! They were envious of our nuclear submarine as well!
If the boorish British MP looked back at the history of his country, he would realise his country wasn’t any “Great Britain” when India was doing much better economically. Their “greatness” came about from plundering the world. What ails Britain when they see their former colonies regaining in power and stature is that Britain understands its weak position in the comity of nations and psychologically unable to handle the situation thanks to the meaningless “Super Power” status and an unreasonable veto power in the UN! When they had the 159-feet tower clock Big Ben was built their capital was full of hideous slums and one part of the city with a tidal ditch running through it as the only source of drinking water! The world of poverty and poor houses novelist Dickens drew up in his several novels are unforgettable. The wealth came from employing slave labour and sucking colonies dry!
Economist Professor Utsa Patnaik (who taught at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning in the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, from 1973 until her retirement in 2010) has recently written a detailed analysis shows how India was reduced to penury by 190 years of the malign British Raj! According to her, the total drain from 1765 to 1938, compounded up to 2016, comes to £9.2 trillion; since $4.86 exchanged for £1 those days, this sum equals about $45 trillion- an amount to be larger than the cumulative 200-year GDP of Britain! Britain colonized India, a country geographically 20 times larger, and 20 times the population, was dominated by Britain with just about 40000 British officers and men. It was not without some truth that Gandhiji, in a moment of anger-induced humour said that if Indians spat in unison, we could drown the British occupying forces!
In this context, with respect to Mr.Peter Bone, I must say Aneurin Bevan was right about describing at least some of the Conservatives as “lower than vermin”. The last comment I wish to make on the subject is quoting what Anthony King in his book “Who Governs Britain?” writes about British Government: “since they cannot punch above their weight,..talk above it instead!” Let us shout to the goras “we don't, we don't, we don't care!”
Friday, November 30, 2018
The politics of Constitutional secularism
One of the “millionaire Marxists” from the South has sent to his friends and fellow-travellers a video-clip of his appeal to save the Constitution of India. I think it is the Left’s idea of using their “opinion leaders” to reach out to the public. Though he knows me, and we used to have regular WhatsApp wars on our conflicting views on socio-political and economic issues, he avoided directly mailing it to me; but sent it through a common friend.
Let us call him Qumar, as one of our North American friends would. In the beginning of the 2 minutes video Mr.Qumar quoting the Indian Constitution’s Pre-amble “We the people of India having solemnly resolved to constitute ourselves into a sovereign secular, socialist, democratic Republic” proclaims that “we cannot allow anyone to rob us of these basic rights!”
I was amused by our Communist friend’s new-found love for Indian Constitution and the “constitutional patriotism” (German: Verfassungspatriotismus) - the idea that political attachment ought to centre indirectly on certain politically correct norms, and certain select “values” and, or rather the procedural aspects of a liberal democratic constitution, dissimilar to nationalism which acquired horrible connotations following the Nazi variety in Germany! In its original German context of a forlorn hope for uniting the East and West Germanys, it meant that a people divided culturally and politically could perhaps re-unite only espousing the cause of common nationalism by saluting the constitution rather than an ideology or a cultural construct. It is an absurd concept in the Indian context unless you take seriously the rootless Indians who spent decades gazing at the USSR and since its collapse and are fervently gazing at China seeking inspiration for liberation!
Constitutional patriotism was a mechanism created in the absence of a shared history or culture, an alternative concept to create a sense of political belonging which India didn’t need! It is a cruel joke on the people of India that liberals are grappling to their souls with hoops of steel a couple of expressions inserted into the pre-amble of the Constitution during the Emergency as a ploy to hoodwink the minorities as though it was a special privilege for them! Remember, the Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution were suspended during the period when this hoax of “secularism” and “socialism” was introduced into the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976. The Preamble asserting that India is a secular nation was rather strange since, neither India's constitution nor its laws defined the relationship between religion and state! Indira Gandhi and our Leftists never realised that the Indian Constitution flowed from the Indian nationalism, and not the other way around. So much for their sense of history, and sense of justice.
Till recently Indian Communists used to oppose the Constitution of India as an “Imperialist” one! They had in principle also forsaken nationalism since the Communism celebrated “internationalism” in its quest to conquer the whole world. Like pan-Islamic ideology, Communists hated borders of non-Communist nations they hoped to vanquish. Let us, for example, see how Jawaharlal Nehru, a Communist fellow-traveller had to say about them in 1957: “The whole communist creed, apart from economic contexts, seems to be based on hatred and violence”! T T Krishnamachari, Nehru’s finance minister addressing Communist members in the LS in August 29, 1957 said: “Every action you take, every meeting that you address, every crowd that you gather, you only want to divert not only the economy of the government, but the Constitution of the Country...” The Communists attacked the Gandhian Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodaan movement aimed at solving India’s land problem by inducing landlords to make charitable gifts of land to the poor because they thought it was a sop to smother the revolutionary ardour of the landless masses! How did their revolutionary ardour morph into “Constitutional patriotism”?
When did Indian Communists start respecting and loving the Constitution of India? I believe it is much like the Islamic Taquiyya, dissimulation of original intent by silence or omission to suit temporary needs. Their accommodation to work within the framework of the Indian Constitution is only tactical, like supporting Congress candidates to beat BJP in elections or putting up hard-core Muslim communalists and members of Christian bodies as own candidates to garner minority votes!
Did Indian Constitution become dear to the Leftists since it was amended to include “Secularism” and “socialism” in it? Do they think people don’t know how those words came in? The Constitution of India which the people of India gave themselves to, through the august body that drafted it – the Constituent Assembly didn’t mention in the Pre-amble or anywhere that India will be “secular”, or “socialist” though there was a general consensus that while the members agreed on the nature of the Indian state adhering to secular principles and socialist economic policy. But the Communists opposed it because Socialism as it was described by Karl Marx - dictatorship of the proletariat - cannot co-exist with parliamentary democracy which according to the Master was only bourgeois democracy! So the two words introduced into the Pre-amble made the Constitution of India sacrosanct for some people when the basic feature of the Constitution, namely, the Fundamental Rights was suspended? If this isn’t hypocritical and sanctimonious humbug, what is it?
Matters get out of hand when Comrade Qumar expands his idea of the sanctity of the Constitution they had all along reviled. “When Gauri Lankesh, Dhabolkar, Kalburgi and Pansare, are murdered, they are stabs on the Constitution...” (The 3 dozen or more murders of political opponents belonging to the RSS during Pinarayi Vijayan’s rule in Kerala are Constitutionally consecrated human sacrifices, I suppose!) Do we understand that there were exactly 4 murders since the Constitution of India came into effect, signifying that the Constitution of India was under attack? This assertion comes from people for whom violence becomes its own argument; for whom political change can’t come from debate or democracy, but only from physical force! The whole country knows that the Marxian left intellectual stream, deluded by its hegemonic status in the cultural map of their pocket-boroughs, panchayats or any local self-government bodies, or a State like Kerala they rule, forcibly deny space to diverse thoughts and icons. Fascists-style Leftist violence on those who disagree are on the rise on campuses and in the streets of towns and villages. In Universities like JNU or Jadavpur under Marxist student bodies, “there is no room for other voices” while they consider it their “democratic right” to allow incremental creep of their views into the liberal system! Marxist violence against their political opponents seems to have this imprimatur (licence) of what they consider to be politically right!
Apart from the words secularism and socialism, the entire text of the Indian Constitution is what Communists had Mr.Qumar’s love for and the eloquence about the Constitution of India reminds me of what George Orwell said about the political language of Communists – that it is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind...Their willing capitulation to Islamic mores, that too in the name of tolerance, multiculturalism, political correctness is an example!
Qumar is frothing at his mouth as he defends the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Sabarimala case, referring to the popular protests and the review petition accepted on file by the Apex Court as acts of affront to the judicial system! It may be observed that a review petition is presented before the S.C Justice in his chambers, usually during a lunch break, and more often than not decided within 5 minutes if there is no substantial basis for review in the petition. In the late 60s and 70s they were lashing out at the judiciary. Coming to the sanctity of the Supreme Court or other judicial orders, the Communists’ record while in Government at the States has been consistently viewing them as an obstruction to popular justice! There are several Supreme Court rulings ignored long after they have been made, the most glaring one being in Kerala by both Communist-led and Congress-led State governments in Kerala doing nothing to implement the Supreme Court order in the Tribal Land Alienation issue decades after it was made, and had also tried to introduce Ordinances and State laws to defeat the said order unsuccessfully, Why are the Commies anxious to implement an order post haste in the current pilgrim season when the devotees have en masse protested in the streets and contested it in the Court itself? It smacks disregard of Hindu religious sentiments, which is displayed by bringing to Sabarimala activist atheists belonging to religious beliefs that question Hindu belief system, and plain arrogance of sate power,
Communists claim that they are fighting for equality of male and female Swami Ayyappa devotees. What they have constantly fought for is a one-party society where the notion of individual freedom or human rights for all citizens is as alien as it is in North Korea, Cuba, or China, where democracy means no democratic election and where the despotism of one-party rule invariably ends in terror and death! Like all factions of radical Islam deny the concept of nationalism, and believe in reviving the Islamic nation as a single political entity governed by Islamic law, Communists of all hues deny the concept of nationalism in the hope of bringing all “states” together as a single political entity governed by Class War and the “Dictatorship of Proletariat”! People, popular will or popular sentiments have never had any place in Communist political system.
The world over, it is a feature of the Communists to bask in the comfort and security provided by the countries they live in and even as their sappers and miners plant explosives under their foundations. When England granted India freedom in 1947, the undivided Communist party (CPI) denounced the whole thing as a false freedom “yeh azadi jhooti hai” (B T Randive) and actually tried to instigate armed resurrections in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. But in 1950, after India became a Republic, Stalin decided that India under Nehru could be a potential ally in the Cold War where the Soviet Union and the US led two ideologically opposed camps that sought global domination. The CPI promptly discarded the idea of an armed overthrow of the Indian State and participated in the first Lok Sabha elections of 1951-52. Please note once again: the Marxists who accused others of being stooges of Imperial powers were in the habit of taking orders from Moscow. Now they look towards China for inspiration!
Communists consistently seek to undermine free speech by painting it as bullying or hate speech! (Why, you can’t get a “Letter to the Editor” published in The Hindu if it is against Communists or it supports the Modi Government! A Non-Communist cannot give a lecture in JNU or Jadavpur University!) Perhaps the biggest hate speeches or bullying had come from within their party, starting with the talk of class war! So Communist intolerance has to be accepted as a legitimate political platform! They have long shown that they have no scruples, no shame, when it comes to letting their platforms use anti-Indian/pro-Pakistani/pro-terrorist propaganda.
Is Hindu “majoritarianism” aggravating our religious differences making the rest of Indians less national/nationalist? Is there any majoritarian intimidation in the country, any signs of a breakdown in our national fabric to the extent sensationalised by our Comrade Qumar that the only way to survive as a sovereign secular, socialist, democratic country is for all of us to tangentially respect our Constitution as a sign of our patriotism? Are we to follow the example of the remaining Communist countries in the worlds that are obviously pathological societies, cesspools of hate, mediocrity and misogyny? Public policies in India have been based on “integration,” not on “assimilation,” and hammered into a “composite” culture as the Commies would like to have. Communists and their Leftist fellow-travellers look at the world through their ideological monocles and blame every imagined injustice in India on communalism. Then enters the Hindu terror construct. That propaganda is used to whip minority communities into a frenzy of anger and resentment against "Hindutva forces". The Congress and Communists under the grip of existential crisis from the onslaught of BJP are exploiting every opportunity to fan the flames of this resentment is made a political currency during elections. In fact it as clear as day light that the primary communalists in India now are Communists and other "minorities" and a minuscule number of Hindus like Qumar, either out of guilt or for ulterior motives believe that they benefit somehow by separating Indians in groups including caste and communal. They attack Hindu Nationalism as if it is a Fascist movement when it is just an ideology based on the premise that the individual’s loyalty and devotion to the nation surpasses other individual or group interests, giving more importance to cultural unity including language and heritage. It is a universally recognized sentiment moulding public and private life and one of the great, if not the greatest, single determining factors of modern history. What holds together China now is its nationalism, not Communism/Socialism which is irrelevant as an ideology in modern China. What holds together Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam too are fierce nationalism! But then, the Indian Communists, Left’s standards, like its vision, are all double....
Next time Mr.Qumar goes to the US he must spend some time at The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, an organization that does valuable work documenting the crimes of communism, interestingly funded by Hungary, a former Communist country! It will help him get rid of the crude left-wing populism and identity politics which seek to play into the divisions within the Indian society.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
In defence of Sushma Swaraj
I read with great admiration, and gratefulness an article written by BJP General Secretary Ram Madhavji in a recent issue of the Indian Express. It was a powerful and profound reaction to the trolling of Minister for External Affairs Ms.Sushma Swaraj by people who profess themselves as Prime Minister Mody’s supporters, part of the BJP’s “core” voters, etc. The trolling against Ministry of External Affairs and the Minister gave the impression, perhaps inadvertently, that since Tanvi Seth and Mohammad Anas Siddiqui were an “inter-faith" (read Hindu-Muslim) couple they had to be personae non grata under this government! That is sacrilegious! The language of obscenity, hate and worse, violence that was employed in our social media, against Sushmaji, a rspectable individual with a long record of service as a political worker, parliamentarian, Chief Minister and Union Minister was crass and condemnable. Some of the comments on social media were cruel and sexist. One last point is that the spurt of spontaneous reactions against her were mostly from women who profess to be from Prime Minister Modi’s support group, and the simultaneous and sudden appearance of some supporters to her from the Opposition camps looked like a multi-pronged campaign to bring her down, eventually making fissures in the BJP camp drawing her to the likes of the disgruntled Sinhas and Shourie!
A pro-Modi news website published an article saying Sushmaji was “played by the Left”, and she probably fell for the support from unexpected quarters! Mybe she was played by the Liberal-Left, in the context of the “secular” politicians and their friends in the media continuing to make the Prime Minister of India someone to hate, vesting him with a bogus and negative political identity as anti-minority, a crazed xenophobic bigot who will eventually drive away Muslims, Sushma Swaraj was under pressure to walk on egg-shells while performing her job! Modiji and his colleagues are damned if they act, and damned if they don't. In this context Sushmaji had taken decisions to dispel this pathological prognostics, even bending over backwards to be nice to the individuals from the minority communities having problems where her Ministry could help. This was considered by “hard-core Hindus” as the hated "secularism" and "appeasement", and opposed tooth and nail in the social media, without knowing that these were essentially self-gaols, which also negate the good intentions behind her deeds! In the case of the Passport of the inter-faith couple, as high an authority in the BJP (and RSS) as Shri.Ram Madavji had made the matters clear in an Indian Express op-Ed piece. Shushmaji was sinned against, not sinning!
Facts of the case of the “inter-faith couple” show that Sushma Swaraj was deliberately brought under a cloud of largely invented omissions and misdeeds. I think Shushmaji is also a victim of the power paradox that generally affects her party - a situation where political dominance can, paradoxically, reduce the ruling party’s actual power to shape and guide society, among other things. Like the neo-cons in the US opposing Trump policies, a section of “Modi-Bhakts” are opposing the Modi Gvt. They would do well not to fetter Narendra Modi and colleagues by “ideological handcuffs” in their own interest! Remember, Modiji campaigned and came to power not promising Hindu Raj, while many issues close to the "core" support group was in his agenda. I wish his so-called support group didn't give the forces in the Opposition camp grist for their propaganda mill alleging communal fanaticism against the Modi Government to deprive BJP of political legitimacy, and to undermine the PM’s authority, making even right decision appear devices to trick the minority voters, fiercely opposed by the voters on the other side of the political spectrum.
None of the hysteria and condemnation of Sushma Swaraj that has gone on these past couple of weeks wasn’t necessary. If there was goodwill and respect for the Prime Minister, the "Sushma Swaraj hatao" crowd could have sat down to analyse the situation as Sri.Ram Madhav did. But people deliberately chose to demonize Sushmaji as if denying everything she did for the country in the past, they were doing a service to Narendra Modi! You don’t measure government decisions by hysteria. Their hysteria does not reflect a higher understanding, morality, or sense of responsibility, rather certain ongoing project of malice and low ethics, astonishingly against own side!
Friday, November 24, 2017
An Indian Roorback
There is an American political phenomenon called a “roorback” which is a false and damaging report circulated for political effect during an election campaign. In the American context it has been always about a certain candidate. In India, a larger democracy, it’s scope has been widened to hurt a political party, a false report about some alleged corruption based on no evidence and contrived statistics circulated in the final days of Gujarat election campaign, timed for climactic effect when in the heat of the campaign the victim will not be able to expose the fraud before the voters go to the polls. The current controversy cropped up suddenly from the “emergency purchase” of 36 French Rafale Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft. The Indian Air Force requires 42 fighter squadrons to achieve optimal capability, and was falling short of this. The proposal to buy 126 fighter aircraft was mooted during Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. During 2000-2012 the fleet had declined to 34 squadrons due to obsolescence. The RFP for procurement of 126 MMRCA was issued in 2007, but the final decision to order got delayed for another 10 years till the recent decision to buy 36 of them in a fly-away condition,
The Modi government insists that it got significantly better terms than those quoted in the original bid under UPA, with a total reported saving of more than 1600 million Euros (350 million Euros on the cost of aircraft with a further reported saving on weapons, allied maintenance and training package amounting to a around 1300 million Euros or Rs 12,600 crores). According to the Government, the present IGA was signed purely between two sovereign governments and no private individual, firm or entity was involved in the process from the Indian side. Under the current agreement, the 36 Rafale jets procurement offset proposal supports the 'Make In India' initiative of the Indian Government through Article 12 of the IGA. The Offset proposal also includes provisions for transfer of sophisticated design technology which is meaningfully superior to the licence manufacturing on offer in the earlier discussions by the UPA government. Dassault states that they will facilitate the implementation of 'Make In India' by the industrial supplier notably through offsets for 50% value of the supply protocol.
It is not financially prudent to negotiate for “transfer of technology” when the “emergency procurement” deal is only for 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition, and when the capability of the PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is highly suspect in the manufacture of sophisticated jets according to such a technology transfer. Technology transfer has been so far a mirage, resulting only in a huge fee for an agreement which so far has not initiated any serious manufacturing activity, except some “modification” for the MIG fighters, and none for the Dassault Mirage2000, the original deal for which when signed, the “intention to proceed” contract was for an initial order of 40 aircraft for outright purchase in fly-away condition and an option to produce another 110 aircraft in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited with total technology transfer. We dropped that MoU and proceeded to contract MIG 29, at the cost of Rs.91Cr per piece, much less than the Mirage 2000’s. In 2011,the UPA government had signed a Rs 10,947-crore contract to upgrade its entire fleet of 51 Mirage 2000 fighters to extend the life of ageing fighters - acquired in the late '70s and early '80s by another 15 years – nearly 215Cr a piece! Remember, the Cost of the new aircraft to IAF was about Rs.130Cr.
Those who sat on the Dassault Rafale deal for 13 long years and have also a record of kick-backs in every possible defence deal have no right to pick holes in the Raffale deal! The HDW submarines deal, the Bofors Howitzers deal, the Scorpene-class submarines deal worth US$ 6 billion with Thales, France, Choppergate involving purchase of AgustaWestland “VIP helicopters”(bribes to be paid out, divided as "AF" €6 million, "BUR" €8.4 million, "Pol" €6 million and "AP" €3 million”), and so on. Take the single largest procurement of an aircraft carrier for Indian Navy, considered also the biggest “military industrial nightmare”: Originally built as Baku and commissioned in 1987, the carrier served with the Soviet Navy and later with the Russian Navy as Admiral Gorshkov and was decommissioned in 1996, and was bought in 2004 by the NDA government, for free, but the refit to cost Rs 4,881.67Cr (USD 974). After several hikes under threat from Russia, the price was increased to USD 2.35 in 2010. The CAG criticised the fact that the ship rechristened as INS Vikramaditya was a second-hand warship with a limited life-span, 60% costlier than a new one! Retired Admiral Nadkarni noted that a Spanish yard could build such a ship for about Rs 3,000 crore, and the Koreans would modify a merchant ship to a utility carrier with a flattop for Rs 500 crore and deliver it in 18 months! As with all our defence contracts with Russia which had consistently suffered delays and cost overruns, the ship completed sea trials in July 2013 and aviation trials in September 2013 and joined the Indian Navy on 16 Nov 2013 at a total cost of Rs.19141Cr (USD3 billion) almost 4 times the original price at which it was contracted! Meanwhile, Commodore Sukhjinder Singh, a Naval Officer supervising the refit of the carrier as the principal director for the project was discharged from service for his “moments of indiscretion” on job!
A “national” newspaper with a Leftist agenda had published a report a couple of weeks back, in which it quotes “sources” telling it that India has already informed the French that “not a single” Rafale will be bought in flyaway mode they will be built in the Dhirubhai Ambani Aerospace Park, run by Reliance Aerospace Ltd and Dassault Aviation in the Mihan Special Economic Zone in Nagpur! If Dassault Aviation in their commercial wisdom sets up a joint venture with Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence, the Government of India has no business to mind it, because it is not a part of any offset contract which incidentally, is yet to be negotiated!
The Congress party tried to make a case against the Modi Government’s deal saying that there is no mention of “transfer of technology "USSR allowed India the manufacture of the MiG-21 under licence, but since 1963, all told, 205 MiG-21FL were built in India, of which only 196 were built entirely in India before obsolescence caught up with it! It was the delay in signing an agreement for the Rafale fighters during A K Antony’s tenure as MoD that forced the Indian Air Force to use its MiG-21 Bison with a high rate of crashes. (More than 170 IAF pilots were killed in MIG-21 crashes for which the Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin blamed use of spare parts bought from unauthorised sources!) Having realised the fallacy of local manufacture, the IAF opted for the expensive modifications and refitting of the old Russian fighter jets. The 1980s decision to purchase the French Mirage-2000 “state-of-the-art” 110-150 jets was done by IndiraG, who was also MoD then, under wraps reduced to just 50 units on account of its high cost. What happened to the deal involving “transfer of technology” clause under which the French would assist in setting up the props for the eventual, manufacture of 70 of the aircraft in HAL's Bangalore set-up could be easily guessed! One of the most virulent critics of Modi administration has pointed out that “A.K. Antony, our most risk-averse, most anti-US defence minister since 1991, ended up buying more from the US, and directly, on government-to-government basis and off-the-shelf (C-130s, C-17s, P-8Is) than in our entire independent history.” He blames the former rulers for painting the country into such a corner, weakening its strategic posture, and eventually leading the present government to make possibly a $5 billion purchase off-the-shelf in a wartime-like haste, while paying kind of backhanded compliment to Narendra Modi for his decision to order Rafale jets off-the-shelf as wise and brave, like a senior doctor risking immediate surgery to save a deteriorating patient.
Since the historic 2014 elections that made the BJP the largest party capable of forming the Central Government on its own, shrank the Congress party to less than 50 seats in the Lok Sabha, and took away the CP(I)M’s status as a “national party”, decimated the once powerful caste combination in the north India, the Opposition parties have been running like headless chicken. Narendra Modi had won elections by removing the issues of religious and caste distinctions as well as the regional politics and replacing them an agenda of development, and corruption-free governance. In the last three and a half years, neither the Opposition nor a controversy-driven and hostile media were able to raise serious questions about any corruption by either the Union Government or the BJP-run State Governments. So they have been left with silly and concocted stories of a “hate speech” by a Sangh Parivar leader here, a skirmish involving Gourakshaks there, and generally about Fascist “intolerance” in the country without any substantial issue that concerned common people! In Kerala it was accusing the Prime Minister of defaming the people of Kerala; the last campaigns were closed with ineffectual propaganda full of wild allegations against the palpably transparent ant-corruption policy, the Demonetisation.
The Congress Vice President RahulG, who is yet to find something sensible to speak about anything or against the BJP and Modi government now alleges that he had information about "personal corruption" involving Modi! He had threatened earlier that he will present the “explosive” stuff in the Parliament, but didn’t speak about the Demonetisation about which he now finds corruption, ignoring that when Prashant Bushan went to the Supreme Court with the request for a probe, the Apex court threw it out of the window, saying it was all unsubstantiated allegations. The latest trick employed by the Congress and other Opposition parties is to plant kick-back stories in web magazines and insignificant players in the media about the purchase of Rafale fighter jets from France. The Wire, a Leftist magazine is in the forefront of the calumny against Narendra Modi and his government. It is already in a defamation case for spreading false news about BJP President Amit Shah’s son Jay. These people are trying to turn the table against BJP in the Gujarat election, trying to sabotage the Party’s and it’s leaders’ reputation as corruption-free. I am sure they will draw a blank again, and suspect this time around, it will be a very costly gambit for them!
Sunday, November 19, 2017
MOODY's HELPS MODI?An article in a web magazine called COUNTERVIEW today has an article that says the higher Sovereign rating given to India by the international credit rating agency Moody’s and the earlier good reports by the World Bank and IMF are as a result of Modi's top Gujarat babus in PMO lobbying with Washington institutes, quoting an un-namd “ Insider”. the ‘Counterview’ article is yet more proof that left-wingers who struggle with economics and basic analytics have to now rely on low-grade gossips and that facts are never an obstacle when they still try to advance a certain “required” narrative.
A credit rating is a measure of the credit worthiness of a borrowing entity, whether a sovereign or a company. It is a tag that tells a potential lender how likely it is that the borrower will default on payments. I am no financial expert but I suppose India’s credit rating going up by one notch to Baa2 from the earlier Baa3, simply indicates that the rating agency believes India’s credit worthiness has improved since it last conducted a review. (China’s rating was also downgraded earlier this year to A1 from Aa3, citing risks from soaring debts. Russia is at Ba1 among BRICS countries) It will mean a lowering of the risk premium that India will have to pay; and that means India can now command a lower interest rate for the debt that it issues. If you had watched the investment climate in the country during the last year, you would have seen FIIs making more investments in debts than equities thanks to the better interest rates following lower inflation. This trend will possibly be reversed now. That is no earth-shaking news, for the Opposition politicians to cry foul! When people are upset about someone says something nice about our country, it shows up the protestor’s complete alienation!
It is known that international monetary and financial systems like the World Bank and the IMF routinely monitor the economic and financial policies of member countries. This activity is known as surveillance and facilitates international co-operation. The responsibilities of IMF and World Bank had changed for many years from those of guardian to those of overseer of members’ policies. Their reports and the ratings help capital markets and credit risk management professionals worldwide to respond to an evolving global marketplace with confidence. There may be lobbying of sorts to project the policy perspectives of the countries to encourage better understanding by their Boards of Directors so that the image of the countries is not tarnished if not enhance. Indian (Modi) government too has the right to be heard with respect and minus the usual intellectual condescension. The writer thinks that some top bureaucrats from the Gujarat cadre, currently in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) must have lobbied with World Bank, Moody's and Pew, for ensuring a sharp image makeover of Modi ahead of the Gujarat elections because last year these bodies didn’t show India under Modi in good light is being irresponsible to the level of an unthinking rage and hatred for the Modi Government. Has the author heard Keynes’ comment “When facts change I change my opinions. What do you do?”
“An insider in Gujarat government told me” seems to be the ultimate political kryptonite this author could produce! It will be another damp squib, I assure you! Since the run-up to the general election of 2014, we are witnessing a growing gulf between what the electorate thinks and how a small intellectual elite in India as well as abroad perceive happenings in India! We saw how little the coloured reports by a small coterie of agenda-driven journalists influenced the outcome in UP or in the various municipal and local bodies elections in different States! I will not be surprised if the outcome of the Himachal and Gujarat elections aren’t different! Perhaps it is that fear which makes some Opposition leaders and journalists make a hue and cry about Moody’s higher Sovereign rating for India. Next in line will be better ratings for Indian Companies. Moody's have revised outlook for three Indian public sector banks to stable from negative, and appreciated the capital infusion plan for the PSU banks is a significant credit positive for them public Moody's. Outlook for Indian banking system was stable in August 2017.
I think the higher rating puts Modi Government in a “watched-pot situation” for making calculated and calibrated steps forward to implement fiscal, financial, land and labour market reforms in the days ahead. Moody’s one-notch rating upgrade is a bet that India will contain public debt. The upgrade is a recognition of the fact that India continues to follow a path of fiscal prudence. Moody’s acknowledge that many a Modi reform remain at the design phase, while believing that those implemented to date will advance the government’s objective of improving the business climate, enhancing productivity, stimulating foreign and domestic investment, and ultimately fostering strong and sustainable growth. Government alone cannot achieve much. The people, including those in the Opposition camps too have a role in development efforts of the regime. It is here that the expression “power paradox” comes to my mind: a situation where political dominance can, paradoxically, reduce the ruling party’s actual power to shape and guide society and economy! It is sad because here is a PM who inaugurated a great unburdening on issues of religious and caste differences and regional politics with an agenda for development of all, treated as an enemy of the people! There appears to be a new thought process and propagation of it in the Opposition ranks in which reason dies, ideas go unchallenged and become axiomatic and eventually beliefs!
The sure sign of the death of reason and even discretion and intelligence is the flood of obscenities flowing into the Facebook page of the hapless Australian Cricketer Tom Moody, for helping Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a higher credit rating for India!
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Intolerance debate: Reply to Soli Sorabji
Reading Mr.Sol Sorabji’s article “A duty to be tolerant”(The Indian Express, Nov.1, 2017) I was reminded of the “9 LEGAL METHODS LAWYERS COULD USE TO DEFEND DISNEY VILLAINS” on MTV website. Sorabji indeed is surrounded by a “mysterious halo” of supreme confidence as a former chief law officer of the Government of India and an eminently successful lawyer. For a while I suspected he was engaging in a repugnant, dishonourable scare tactic with an eye on the coming elections in Gujarat and HP, or rather engaged to do that; not worth our respect! No! He is not like any of the Chancery legal professionals in Bleak House, sinister villains, shysters, or “narrow, mean, ignorant pettifoggers.” Soli Sorabji is a Parsi, and a thorough gentleman, and a man of great erudition. He can’t be looked at as a avocat des crapules (“villain’s lawyer”) defending indefensible positions! I have always thought that like Dickens’ Tulkinghorn Soli has no life outside of the law; and “never converses when not professionally consulted”; and not politically allied!
Then what’s his case? Sorabji postulates that in contemporary India, the rise of intolerance is alarming. Dissent is smothered and self-censorship takes its place, endangering democracy itself. He pontificates on the duties of Indian citizens and connects immediately to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR) that recognises a vital link between human rights and duties in its Article 29. (I must point out that the majority of the UNHRC member-states do not represent democracies!) From there it is a straight jump to the “the painful reality that one cannot effectively exercise fundamental rights nor perform fundamental duties unless tolerance is prevalent in society.” So his premise is the threat or practice of intolerance in India that is Bharat.
I am a seventy-year old living in India till date, a reasonably educated, “tolerant” citizen of India. I read newspapers and watch news and panel discussions on TV channels routinely. And my own, and also that of a group senior citizens like me who sit and discuss everything under the sun during the evenings, thought that while some atrocities are taking place in this vast country, and are mainly dissected and discussed for the benefit of television rating points for survival of the respective Channels in their business. At times we have felt that the Opposition parties, in their “existential crisis” in the “Modified” politics, economics and governance of the country since 2014, are creating a scare and "defaming" the country, deliberately creating a propaganda of intolerance. In this vast country, how many incidents of “intolerance” have been reported in the mainstream media which is largely hostile to the present regime? I would say they are statistically negligent considering the population as well.
The strange argument by the Opposition parties and the “intellectuals” backing them is that if a case is filed against an author for writing a book with views unacceptable to a majority of Indians, that is “intolerance” of “freedom of expression”! The judiciary or the police are approached when there are statutes that support the issue opposed; right? Although the right to peacefully protest is enshrined in the Constitution, there is no constitutional or other legal right to commit criminal acts to make a point.
The law imposes on government (through police) an affirmative obligation to take all reasonable steps to protect the speaker’s right to speak, the audience’s right to hear and the protesters’ right to protest. Has this “due process” ceased to exist in India or is it thriving?
COW PROTECTION comes from the Directive in the Article 48, Soli! If you go by the principles of democracy, if the tradition, the rituals, the faith and the religion of the majority (Hindus, 80% still!) should settle matters strongly! How come Islam, that came from Arabia, has cow-killing as a "religious" injunction? Xian/Muslim invaders-cum-proselytizers to killing and eating cow obviously to spite the Hindus who were conquered in their own land. Being a lawyer Mr.Sorabji is aware that there were anti-Cow slaughter laws in as many States before Modi government came. Congress spokesperson Digvijay Singh was heard labouring hard during Bihar Assembly elections to remind people that it was mostly Congress governments that had banned cow slaughter in about 24 states, including Bihar, way back in 1955 when the BJP was not even formed! So cow protection statutes are fine; but implementation is communal, and a mark of “intolerance”?
Hate Speech: The “liberal-Left” institutes speech codes to prevent what is generally called “hate speech” which is a perverse tactic to marginalize, and exclude, the speech and ideology of those with whom liberals and Leftists do not agree, those individuals who express ideas that offend their peculiar world-view and sensibility. I must remind Mr.Sorabji that the opposite of everything is truly not hate; but indifference; and it could be worse!
Do you remember Jyoti Basu, banning the exhibition of the movie Taurus in a Kolkatta film festival saying "such movies should not even be made"? That was PC to comrades! So was use of a bit of a Tagore poem in an ad, crying out sacrilege! Can you publish anything against Communist icons, living or long-dead, in Kerala? So the elite progressives give respectable cover to the worst prejudices of the era, not that they believed in them, but to rabble-rouse!
Do you think demonetisation was an example of Modi’s intolerance; intolerance towards the rich, Soli? Many cried that it was “looting” people’s money! Even a Supreme Court judge predicted “riots’ in the wake of demonetisation, but nothing happened even when a third of the currencies in circulation evaporated and cash for daily transaction was not available. People did experience some pain for a few months. Wasn’t it unbelievable the way people had extended support to the government? That showed Indians “tolerate” anything reasonable!
Didn’t we “tolerate” 10-15000 participating in the funeral prayers for Yakub Memon, supporters of certain ‘cause’, a belief that Yakub was a holy warrior of sorts, who was unjustly hanged by Hindu India? Don’t we tolerate who burst crackers and distribute sweets to celebrate Pakistan’s victory over India in Cricket, amid chanting of “Pakistan Zindabad”? Haven’t we tolerated the Maoists, Naxalites, Jamaat-e-Islami, various militant and violence prone Muslim fundamental outfits and Communists of all hues misuse of the tools of democracy to destroy democracy?
What I see at work in these situations is the long established “secular” narrative in which endemic Hindu communalism accounts for all the ills that afflicts religious minorities in India. Let me ask you, Soli, does the miniscule community of Parsis, with their disproportionate wealth, positions, and glory in comparison with others, feel “intolerance” too? Success being a sin against fellow beings, Parsis should have certainly faced persecution from less successful and poor Hindus!
After promoting "secularism" for over six decades why do we have more frictions in the Indian society than even before Independence? If credit must go to the Congress governments for keeping Muslims an unsuccessful and inassimilable minority and almost automatic electoral fodder for 6 decades, remember they were able to accomplish only with the help of their butterboys/girls in the media. Majority’s voices are marginalized, disregarded, denounced as hate speech, unworthy of being part of an ongoing, vigorous debate in the nation's ‘marketplace of ideas’. Mainstream media, some of them proven “paid media”, defame, demean, and libel “Hindutva forces”. In the midst of the saturation coverage of the intolerant Gowrakshak’s (because it involved Sangh Parivar!) few seem to pay attention to the fact that in Kerala s many as 120 BJP-RSS workers were murdered by CPIM activists for just being Sangh Parivar members, and that Kerala is ruled by LDF!
There is no “Islamophobic” political culture in India and except a lunatic fringe everybody feels embarrassed and ashamed to blame Muslim community for terror! Some of us are ‘sorry-for-being Hindu’ apologists to be “secular”! India is not just Babari Masjid .It was a Shia Mosque, and Sunnis who burn Holy Koran in Shia mosques are at the forefront of war on Hindutva vaadis who want to have Ram Temple restored where they believe, with concrete evidence backing that belief, a Ram Temple existed! Heaven is not going to fall if the vast majority of Indians who feel for it are given their temple and have them build a grand mosque nearby! The acid test of secularism that Muslims and Christians have to take in ‘Hindu India’ is just this: will they be tolerant to the extent they accept Hindu religious beliefs on an equal footing with their own! Pundits were J&K’s litmus test concerning religious freedom; and Kashmiri Muslims who have a long history of inciting violence and hate against Hindus and Sikhs failed that! Terrorist groups are tangled up with dubious IUML and Muslim interests in Kerala and elsewhere in the country. Terrorism isn't always about blowing up buildings or killing people. It can also consist of activity intended to frighten, demoralize, or neutralize the nation’s defences, destroy communal harmony—in other words, a variety of psychological warfare against “others”.
Hindus have been happy to live their lives without bothering about Faiths of others. Their scriptures accommodate other faiths are different paths to the God! We are not talking about “monopoly of truth and wisdom”! The erudite Sorabji isn’t ignorant not to know of the Christian “REPLACEMENT THEORY/SUPERCESSIONISM” which has been a significant concern of interfaith relations activists; he is being deliberately naive! Why are Christians, Muslims (and atheists too) waging war on beliefs that mean nothing to them? Life in India showcases the magnanimity and largesse of an Indian (Hindu) society that doesn’t riot every time Jihadis and their local supporters cause terror; or when proselytising pastors and moulvis distribute pamphlets calling Hindu deities demons, or speaking in public conventions to that effect. Please go to Kerala, Soli, the entire stretch of the road to the Hindu pilgrim route to Sabarimala temple are plastered on either side with the terrible punishments in Hell for those who do not believe in Christ! Hindus tolerate it! It is in this context I think the precondition for getting protection under the Freedom of Religion clause of the Constitution should be whether the objectionable order/situations amounted to a substantial burden on the exercise of their faith.
To those who cry hoarse for an “inclusive society”, yes indeed. But remember, the next phase is integration. Let the thieves, thugs, mountebanks, and experts in manipulation, often described as “political technologists” and “social engineers”, understand that integration has to be based on what unites us, rather than what drives us apart; drawing on culturally centripetal national loyalties too. The country can survive policy and personality disputes. It cannot thrive in the corrosive atmosphere of rigid judgment about character and motives of a ruling party or an elected leader, Modi.
Lawyers who defend notorious criminals/terrorists require a mental leap to overcome the near-universal presumption of guilt for the defendant. Does Mr.Sorabji imply that violent activities, call to destroy the country, for its vivisection, dishonouring national symbols, denigrating faith of nearly 80% of the population of the nation, etc. constitute legitimate contributions to public discourse? Brother, I wonder how tolerance becomes a virtue and peace is possible when others are belligerent, also believe that tolerance, justice, diversity etc only apply to positions and people whose views are consistent with their own, or other than Hindus? What are we expected to teach enemies of our system, enemies of our Country? That they can do anything to us and we’ll turn the other cheek?
I am anguished and astonished about Mr.Sorabji’s call to the media to “preach” messages considering the reality that in the current television debates outrage matters more than reason! They are also busy to cultivate a curious kind of identity politics which is deliberately structured and restricted to delegitimize and silence Hindus, Hindutva and the NDA government. If social justice and progress is in the perpetual conflict of identity politics with an intangible, exaggerated Hindu supremacy, then social progress will depend on the minorities decimating Hindus. That would be political condemnable repression, impossible in the free political marketplace of democracy.
Mr.Sorabji is borrowing from the second part of American jurist, SC Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr’ s judgement the sombre view that “the principle of free thought - not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate - was sacred!” I prefer his earlier judgement that defined in 1919 the limits of free speech by noting that the law did not protect someone “falsely shouting fire in a theatre” because Soli is doing precisely that for reasons best known to him. Soli could have eschewed the thinly disguised polarizing vernacular of a political opponent of the present government and taken the role of a transcendent representative of Indian intellectuals whose case he seems to be arguing. Mr.Sorabji’s article in the Indian Express, for me shows the perils of intellectual arrogance in dealing with explosive social issues. The heap of jargon-filled abuse of people on the “other side” who happen to be in the majority now is unfortunately trite and untrue, though written by one of the powerful judicial minds in the country. As a lawyer, Soli must be aware that "misrepresentation of facts is an ingredient in the constitution of cheating" according to an Indian High Court! So he is cheating a whole people and Mother India, besides cheating those who choose to read what you wrote!
Though I personally feel, under the current Indian conditions, Aristotle was right to say that “tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society” and we Hindus may have to conduct an “agonizing reappraisal” about the kind of secularism Mr.Soli Sorabji supports. However, whatever intolerant ‘secularists’, sanctimonious leftists and self-righteous liberals think of Modi-led India, freedom of thought, expression and speech, though circumscribed by restrictive laws, cannot be and shall not be removed from public domain in India: mainly because they are consistent or aligned to the values in our cultural template which is essentially Hindu!