Tuesday 31 January 2017

India's elites can't stop the masses learning English (The Conservative)

Hillary Clinton, Anne Applebaum and others of the East Coast establishment of the United States are wannabe Europeans, unselfconsciously adopting strategic stances which seek to dovetail the US with the requirements not of the world’s most powerful Anglospheric nation but with a continent increasingly out of step with the future. For them, it is still Moscow that is the primary rival to Washington, not Beijing. 

Their counterparts in India are the wannabe British who lowered the Union flag from the Viceregal Palace in the final seconds of August 14 1947. India’s civil service and its presumed political overlords have seamlessly moved into the colonial practices and mindset vacated by the British. They have retained the administrative powers of the Raj as well as perpetuated (sometimes literally) the walls separating them from the multitudes they rule over. 

India is a democracy, all of whose political parties belong either to individuals or to families, much in the manner of a grocery store. It is a “free” country where the government has several hundred paths which can lead to taking away the property and freedom of a citizen. Indeed, such colonial-style laws and regulations have proliferated during each of the years when India has been independent, barring 1991-92, when then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao took an axe to some of them. From then on, he faced and ultimately lost a continuous battle against those whose powers (chiefly to collect bribes) were reduced by such a limitation of government.


Those who quaff the elixir of colonial absolutism through entry into positions of governmental responsibility very soon consider – indeed, know – that they are as different from the natives they administer as their British predecessors were. Among the ways such distance between rulers and ruled was maintained was to ensure that their own progeny were given the benefits of being educated entirely or very largely in the English language, while at the same time blocking as many other citizens as possible from learning the language. 

This was achieved through the simple expedient of banning its use in state-run educational institutions, and by making life difficult for those private entities that sought to impart education in the international language. An example was Bengal, which had been the hub of intellectual expression before 1947. Its longest-serving (1977-2001) chief minister, Jyoti Basu, was a Communist who spent his annual vacations in London and who, under his impeccable local garb, was an Anglophile. 

It was as obvious to Basu as it had been to the Old Harrovian Jawaharlal Nehru that it would simply not do to give the natives access to the English language. Why, they might even get a trifle uppity and expect politicians to deliver benefits other than sermons. He therefore followed the example of Nehru in practically outlawing the teaching of English in Bengal, in the process reducing the state to an intellectual backwater and a laggard in the Information Technology revolution that swept through India in the 1990s. 


As for Prime Minister Nehru, a statue of him, more than the Mahatma, ought to be erected in London, for he made the procuring of a passport by the ordinary citizen (and every other procedure associated with government) so cumbersome that few succeeded in getting that document, a situation that got altered only during the 1990s. The consequence was that, relative to population, far fewer citizens of India than Pakistan migrated to Britain during the years when the door was kept open for citizens of the Commonwealth. Prime Minister May, with her aversion to immigration from outside the EU, would have approved of such a policy, had she been around to advise Nehru during the period (1947-64) he was in office. 

While they themselves sent their children off to study in the UK or, later, in the US or Australia and Canada, India’s wannabe British overlords incessantly warned the people about the toxic effects of the English language. Fluency, they said, would result in the fading away of Indian culture and in the taking hold of an alien import that would enervate the citizen. 

It took the spread of cable television in the 1980s to reveal to the overwhelming majority of India’s citizens that those warning against the language were themselves more than conversant with it. Sitcoms gave a view into the homes of the governing class, and to the ubiquity of English in their lives. Simultaneously, private television channels (and later radio stations), free of the government-mandated need to demonize the language of India’s former colonial masters, began to be permitted. 

This created a desire to learn the language that was strong enough to ensure the proliferation of institutes teaching it, as well as its spread in schools. Finally, governments gave way and permitted its teaching in state schools. 

By the mid-1990s, the wave of interest in the English language had become unstoppable. So much so that even after a government which had an allergy to English imprinted within its DNA took office in 2014, very little could be done to slow down the pace at which the language was spreading in the general population – although exact figures are impossible to come by, given the biases and complexities of the Census of India. 

The present writer, for example, is not classified in its records as someone who knows English, which, given his atrocious grammar, may be correct. However, some surveys, through use of sampling, have put the number of those speaking English within the population of India as being between 220 million and 240 million, with about the same number having at least a rudimentary knowledge of the language.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to banish English from the portals of his administration, preferring to conduct work in Gujarati and Hindi through officials fluent in either or both languages. However, outside the stone edifices of what were once the haunts of British civil servants, the language of global commerce and which dominates the internet is still spreading, so much so that even Modi some days lapses into English during one of his frequent public appearances, even within India. 

I hope that the day will dawn when those who have replaced the British in the dovecotes of high office will accept that there is nothing contradictory in being a good citizen of the Republic of India and knowing the English language, and remove the many barriers to access so far as the hundreds of millions of less fortunate Indians are concerned.

In 1965, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri backtracked from his earlier move sharply to reduce the incidence of English in administration, even though he himself came from a Hindi-speaking state. Indeed, India is fortunate that the Hindi-speaking population of the country never sought to force their exquisite language down the gullets of those unwilling to learn it. Of course, governments were different, and even now the learning of Hindi is compulsory, and in examinations for the Civil Service, it is possible to get selected even if the candidate’s knowledge of English is sub-basic.

Interestingly, it has been leaders from Gujarat state that have been most insistent on making Hindi the dominant language of administration, beginning with Mahatma Gandhi. The anointed “Father of the Nation” knew the language of global interaction well and indeed got much of his education in the UK, always retaining a cohort of close friends from that country. However, he was insistent on doing away with English and replacing it with Hindi, as was the first Gujarati Prime Minister of India, Morarji Desai (1977-79). 

The present Prime Minister, Modi, presides over a Cabinet that contains almost no member not conversant in Hindi, and in which the overwhelming majority comes from the Hindi-speaking states, as does the core of his official family. However, this has not stopped Prime Minister Modi from accepting that India’s strategic interests mandate a close relationship with the other countries where substantial populations speak the English language. In other words, the Anglosphere, especially in a context where there will be more English-language speakers in India than in any other country, including the United States.

Even the wannabe British involved in the governance of the country (which in its essentials and outlook is not very different from what it was during the British Raj) are beginning to acknowledge that the desire to learn English is too widespread for them to halt, especially now that arguments inversely linking knowledge of the language to Indian tradition and culture or to the country’s interests more generally have been shown false. It is proving difficult even to a political class adept in contortions to claim that a language that forms the basis of modern commerce, especially in the knowledge industries, is toxic. 

I hope that a time will come when the bureaucratic brakes on the development of the language get removed, so that the country itself may be enabled to move faster. In the meantime, providing a tailwind to the expansion of English within the population is the reality that India and the US in particular share almost identical security interests. 


Now that a President of the United States has been elected who is not in thrall to the Eurosphere, but has given indications of his affinity to the Anglosphere, Washington and Delhi are likely to act in concert, both to extinguish the fires lit by Wahabism and to ensure that China does not regard its rise as licence to overawe smaller powers and take control of vast additional stretches of the earth’s surface.

I hope Prime Minister May will lessen her silent pining after Europe and accept that Britain is as much a separate and autonomous national and cultural entity as is Russia, and that these two powers form the bookends defining the limits of the Eurosphere. Given common sense and a modicum of luck, the odds are high that within a decade over a billion people across the globe will form part of the English-speaking world. May the tribe multiply!

[This article was also published in THE CONSERVATIVE, A QUARTERLY JOURNAL | January 2017 | Vol.2 Issue 2]

Saturday 28 January 2017

ISI, ISIS join hands to launch strikes against India (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

Organisations controlled by the ISI, such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba are encouraged to send hardened operatives to Afghanistan. There, they join the ISIS-linked Wilayat Khorasan. 

According to those tasked with responsibilities involving security, the high number of “accidents” involving the Air Force, the Navy, Indian Railways and other institutions vital to national existence have pointed to the need for a comprehensive examination of every individual involved in sensitive tasks, rather than just a few. Also, in practice, the few who get scanned usually come within the radar after they have indulged in activity of a suspicious nature. However, while processes are being improved after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge in 2014, officials are hesitant to accept the premise of an increasing number of sympathisers of ISIS and other ultra-Wahhabi terror groups biding their time within the governmental machinery, readying themselves to strike when commanded to do so from controllers in Dubai, Karachi and other locations, where a substantial number of ISIS supporters function. Even in the 26/11 carnage of 2008, domestic auxiliaries of the ISI-backed terrorists were not touched, possibly for fear of a political or other backlash. This was despite evidence that individuals within India gave information to ISI handlers about the internal floor plan of the two hotels in Mumbai that were targeted and also revealed details of the floor plan and work habits of volunteers at Chabad House, a location in which members of the Jewish community were specifically targeted. Exhaustive follow up was not done of suspicious individuals who had established contact with the Chabad volunteers weeks before the terror attack in order to get operationally useful information from them and about them. 
Even nine years later, several officials are reluctant to accept the view of diligent police officers in Bihar that the ISI is behind the spike in railway accidents, since Prime Minister Narendra Modi began in 2015 to implement a much tougher line towards GHQ Rawalpindi than his predecessor. The reason is that such a finding would necessitate a scan of the thousands of railway and other staff concerned with maintenance and other functions relating to passenger safety. For much the same reason, evidence has been brushed aside that at least a few of the “pilot error” crashes in the Indian Air Force and the “accidents” occurring in naval vessels were due to planned acts of sabotage, sometimes carried out in-house by individuals who had been indoctrinated or otherwise motivated to obey instructions emanating from GHQ Rawalpindi. Security experts warn that there needs to be an assessment of not just online patterns and contact lists, but any spike in spending or travel of all those associated with maintenance and other sensitive functions in cases where naval vessels or military aircraft have been lost as a consequence of “accidental malfunction”.
In the US, over the past two years, there has been an undeclared but comprehensive examination of the online habits, friend lists, travel done, spending patterns and outside contacts profile of all—repeat, all—those within the military seen as being susceptible to recruitment by the ISIS and other ultra-Wahhabi groups. In India, security experts point to the need for a comprehensive and systematic trawl of the internet surfing, travel, spending and social contact patterns of those within both military as well as civilian organisations, who are involved in tasks essential to security. In the absence of such a secret but 360-degree examination, information will remain sketchy on their private travel patterns, internet surfing and the list of friends outside their parent service. Instead of focusing on a few core groups, the tradition has been to cast a much wider surveillance net. Such an expanded base involves even the painstaking examination of individuals unrelated to security, with the consequence that those posing an actual danger to the state often slip under the radar. 
For reasons of tactical advantage and keeping open funding channels, Al Qaeda units and ISIS often claim to have a hostile relationship with each other, when the reality is that practically all such ultra-Wahhabi terror groups are linked in a Unified Field of Terror (UFT). An example is the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), a terror group openly backed by GHQ Rawalpindi, which set up the Batrasi camp specially to train fighters to conduct terror operations across India, with a special focus on Kashmir. The camp is also known to provide motivational training to intending suicide bombers, who are thereafter exfiltrated to locations in Kashmir, Xinjiang and parts of the Middle East. AQIS (Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent) chief Asim Umar has been in constant (and monitorable) contact with the ISI since 1995, when he left his home district of Moradabad in UP and joined the Jamia Uloom in Karachi, whose mentor is Masood Azhar, who is under the protection of China in the UN Security Council. Subsequently, Umar was transferred to Daul Uloom Haqqani in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, an institution that boasts terrorists of the notoriety of Sirajudden Haqqani and Mansour Akhtar. On the instructions of the ISI, Umar has trained and inducted nearly three dozen Indian nationals into AQIS. The organic link between AQIS and the ISI was most recently outed in 2015, when US investigators filed a proceeding against HuM founder Fazlur Rahman Khalil, revealing details of his contacts with senior officers in the ISI, all of whom remain unsanctioned by Washington under the Bush-Obama doctrine of giving a free pass to GHQ Rawalpindi in its terror operations, a doctrine that is likely to be re-examined, now that Donald John Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States. 
In 2016, on the instructions of the self-declared “ISIS Caliph” Abubakr al Baghdadi, Asim Umar called on Wahhabi groups in India to launch “lone wolf” attacks on officials in India. According to security experts, AQIS is the preferred platform of choice of the ISI in its drive to recruit hundreds of volunteers in India. These could be trained, incentivised and made to carry out acts of sabotage and violence across India, such as causing railway accidents and fomenting communal violence through actions that infuriate specific communities against another. It needs to be reiterated that induction into ISI-linked modules is not restricted only to Muslims, but include Hindus and Christians as well. In Nepal for example, almost all key ISI modules are manned by members of the Hindu community. Hence, such provocative acts may also get carried out by ISI-linked Hindus in order to poison communal relations in the manner of the 1930s. GHQ Rawalpindi has made no secret of its objective to avenge the creation of Bangladesh by ensuring that bits and pieces of India gain effective independence from the Union of India, with Kashmir, the Northeast and now Tamil Nadu and Bengal being focal points of attention in furtherance of this strategy. 
Because of the silence of US authorities (at least during the Bush-Obama period), the ISI has been open about its links with ISIS and related groups. Organisations controlled by the ISI, such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) are encouraged to send hardened operatives to Afghanistan. There, they join the ISIS-linked Wilayat Khorasan (WK). There is both an ISI-WK as well as an ISIS-WK in Afghanistan, the former entirely funded and run from GHQ through the ISI, especially its S-Wing. Because of ISI-controlled Safe Zones (for terrorists) in Afghanistan and in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, several Indian nationals have been directed there by the ISI and thereafter sent back to India to await further orders. It may be mentioned that both the narcotics trade and hawala operations in India are run by the ISI, often acting through agents based in Bangkok, Dubai and Cyprus. 
Those involved in security-related tasks are hopeful that the forthcoming meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump will zero in on the links between the ISI and ISIS, so that this partnership gets weakened and finally broken up before more damage can be done to either the US or India. In the meantime, they call for a comprehensive scan of those involved in sensitive tasks such as safety and maintenance of military and core civilian assets, so that further unexplained “accidents” on rail, sea and air may be averted.

Low tax rates mean higher collections (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

Tax slabs should begin at Rs 6 lakh a year; income up to Rs 50 lakh should have 10% tax.
The 8 November 2016 demonetisation of 86% of India’s currency is a measure not duplicated before on the same scale in any democratic state. This has given rise to expectations that the 2016-17 Union Budget will be similarly path-breaking, in that it will slash tax rates and simplify regulations so that hundreds of crores of rupees of the monthly takings of lawyers and chartered accountants remain in the pockets of other taxpayers. What needs to be considered is the fact that demonetisation was strongly supported by key elements of the bureaucracy, including the Reserve Bank of India, the Ministry of Finance and agencies tasked with battling terrorism. Given that our official machinery is the natural-born successor to the British raj, and indeed has the same DNA as its parent, the demonetisation was almost unanimously backed because of its ripping away the veil of secrecy from financial transactions. Whether an individual bought alcohol or indulged himself in other ways, payment by card meant not only a tithe to the exchequer (and to the companies owning such alternatives to cash) but transparency in what each citizen was doing. Of course, our bureaucracy resists revealing the inner processes of its own working, something unexplainable if the assumption be made that all executive actions are driven by public interest. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to be finding it a steep uphill climb to actualise his 2014 promise of transparency, with even the Subhas Bose papers remaining largely hidden together with such relics as the Henderson-Brooks report. The Right to Information committees remain the preserve of those with a record of thirty years and more of denying information to any individual outside the bureaucracy and its relatively few political overlords, while even the courts often trust the bureaucracy’s word that enhanced transparency would—horror of horrors—only work to fulfil the objectives of the ISI and other foes of India. In fact, the more transparency there is, the cleaner and more efficiently will government function, thereby leading to the double digit growth that is essential if India is to avoid the fate of Pakistan in the coming years.
For the British, all that mattered was to squeeze out revenue from the people of India so as to feed the gargantuan colonial machine. That approach does not seem to have changed over the past seven decades. Almost all budgets have been almost wholly designed to meet the expanding costs of governance during the year in question, rather than to boost growth so that future tax revenues would go up. An example of such regression is that Chidambaram innovation, the Service Tax, which has ensured that a once fast-growing sector has since slowed down considerably. Had this tax been abolished or sharply reduced, the services sector would by now have expanded its employment and income creating capacities sufficient to more than compensate (through indirect and other taxes) for the revenue loss experienced in abolishing or sharply reducing the Service Tax. Instead, this impost has steadily been increased, and looks to be in the future as well, thereby slowing down job creation further in an economy already burdened by high imposts and vexatious regulation. It does not seem to bother North Block that, for example, the reason why companies with substantial businesses in India declare more profits (and therefore pay more taxes) in foreign countries rather than in India (through juggling of accounts) is because each rupee of declared profit gets taxed much higher in this country than in most other corners of the globe.
Hopefully, the boldness shown by Narendra Modi in the demonetisation exercise will get repeated in the next Union Budget. Tax slabs should begin only at Rs 6 lakh a year, and there should be just  a 10% tax on income up to Rs 50 lakh annually, rising to a 20% rate on income up to Rs 5 crore a year, and 30% on income above that figure. In order to ensure that wealth does not remain skewed in coming years, an inheritance tax of 10% should be levied up to for any inheritance above Rs 10crore, with this rising to 20% from Rs 10 crore to Rs 25 crore, and 30% for all assets above that value. As for Wealth Tax, this should be levied only on wealth above Rs 10 crore and should be in the form of contributions to listed NGOs active in societal uplift. In other words, Wealth Tax should fall on the truly well-off to institute a scheme of Individual Social Responsibility (ISR) on the lines of CSR. A moderate overall tax regime that promotes both a social conscience as well as greater equality over time would ensure a far better climate for growth than the convoluted and high tax regime that the country has been witness to for much too long.
Populists who indulge in Maoist rhetoric directed against the rich need to understand that most of the rich as well as the bulk of the poor are the consequence of a colonial governance system that rewards dishonesty and penalises the honest. Those carrying out a populist campaign against the wealthy will only ensure such a dampening of the investment climate that the annual growth rate will return to the 3% level that was the norm during the Fabian Socialist decades of “Amiron ko Hatao”. All that such measures did was to reduce growth and increase the number of those remaining in poverty. Rather, what is needed is to ensure a post-colonial governance system, where the deserving of any income group are given the educational and other tools needed to grow the country by growing themselves in a facilitatory environment. The millions of citizens who have backed Narendra Modi long before he took charge on 26 May 2014 expect the PM to ensure that the low taxes, low regulation and high transparency inherent in his historic call for “Minimum Government” become a reality at least before the next Lok Sabha elections, if not in 2017 itself.

Sunday 22 January 2017

Shadow men work to remove President Trump (Sunday Guardian)

By M. D. Nalapat

A plan has been activated to ensure that the 45th President of the United States, Donald John Trump does not last more than a thousand days in office.

If the plans activated since 8 November 2016 by the “Shadow Men” succeed, the 45th President of the United States will not last in office beyond a thousand days from his swearing-in on 20 January 2017. The term “Shadow Men” refers to officials and policymakers operating in a stealthily coordinated manner to ensure the furtherance of specific agendas unrelated to the public interest. These have, since the declaration of the result of the 8 November 2016 US Presidential elections, activated a plan designed to ensure that the 45th President of the United States, Donald John Trump does not last more than a thousand days in office. They represent the hitherto ubiquitous and dominant Wall Street-Atlanticist alliance that has devised and implemented policy in Washington for several decades. These “Shadow Men” form an informal club of intelligence operatives, businesspersons, officials and politicians, whose relevance to policymaking and whose monetary wealth depend on the continuation of policies helpful to the interests they support, even though these may be harmful to the country they belong to. 

Individuals with direct knowledge of the “1000-day plan” and who are based in Chicago, Washington, New York and London, warn that 20 January 2017 marked not just Donald J. Trump’s first day in office as the 45th US President, but the acceleration of an ongoing campaign that has been designed to ensure that President Trump “does not continue in the world’s most powerful job for more than a thousand days”. According to individuals revealing details of the 1,000-day ouster plan, “the preferred route is a steady increase in public pressure, which would lead to the 45th President’s impeachment by the US Congress on the basis of presumed misdemeanours. These would be played up by media persons, who regularly get briefed by officials active in the shadow network.” These sources claim that no fewer than three US Senators and 18 members of the House of Representatives belonging to the Republican Party, “have already signed on to the ‘Dump Trump’ plan through prodding by members of their staff”, who are part of the project to ensure a premature and unpleasant finish to the billionaire’s first four-year term in office. The sources claim that “in the case of Speaker Paul Ryan, it is his spouse who has been instrumental in ensuring that he continues on a path designed to trip up the newly elected President, whatever be his public stance on the matter”. Others have been converted to the Dump Trump move by friends and colleagues, “and recruitment is continuing and will go on until a critical mass is reached, hopefully by the end of the year”. It was explained that the “Shadow Men” are apprehensive that the strong-willed billionaire may refuse to get house-trained in the manner that Hillary Clinton so transparently was. In their view, the role of an elected head of state is in many aspects ceremonial, and on matters of national security and strategy, he or she should, in essence, follow the agenda set for him by the interests represented and protected by the “Shadow Men”.


A source based in New York claimed that the focus of the “Shadow Men” until the final months of the US Presidential campaign was to “disable the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, as their calculation was that Hillary would easily beat Trump in the 8 November polls”. The sources point to President Trump’s signature for decision-making method of securing inputs from an unusually large variety of sources (mostly outside the government), rather than relying on the guidance proffered by a small coterie of officials the way almost all Trump’s post-World War II predecessors have. They say that the self-confidence and independence of mind of the 45th US President are factors that have made him the target of the powerful groups used to getting their own way in Washington. A few of the individuals giving information about the 1,000-day plan are still in significant positions, and with whom details of the “Dump Trump in 1,000 days” operation have been shared by the perpetrators. These sources have decided to only nominally follow the instructions given to them with reference to the 1,000-day operation. This way, they remain au courant of the tactics and the activities of the “Shadow Men” active in the 1,000-day project, and have decided to give information on the subject on the strict condition of anonymity, as “careers and in some cases even lives would be at risk by those we expose”, a source warned.


The whistleblowers claim that the first time a US President was subjected to a secret thousand-day limit on his term was John F. Kennedy, “who by June 1963 had become so wary of the advice he was getting from agencies” in which the Shadow Men held key positions, that he was therefore “increasingly showing an independence of mind and action that was anathema to this invisible pillar of the decision-making establishment in the US”. In Kennedy’s case, it was the 22 November 1963 assassination that caused his exit from the White House. However, the jury is still out on whether the apparent success of this particular “1,000-day Operation” was due to the assassination being masterminded by the “Shadow Men”, or because of circumstances unplanned by them and independently carried out by a single killer, as claimed by the Chief Justice Earl Warren Commission on the murder. “What was obvious to intimates during Kennedy’s last months of life is that the 35th President of the United States had fully understood by then the games being played by the leadership of the intelligence community and other agencies of government in promoting narrow agendas that went against the core interests of the United States”, a New York based source said. 
A London-based source claimed that “President Kennedy was moving towards an overhaul of US policy, not only in Vietnam, but elsewhere in Asia and Africa”, towards the visionary equalitarian trajectory first suggested by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his wartime conversations with UK Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill about the imperative of a speedy declaration by Whitehall that India would be given its freedom, an undertaking Churchill declined to give. According to a Washington-based individual contacted for this report, “Kennedy’s confidants were, by mid-March 1963, in contact with some of Ho Chi Minh’s old associates in Paris, and their input had led the US President to come to the conclusion that greater involvement in that particular theatre (as demanded by the military and the foreign policy establishment) would be a quagmire negative to US interests. They claim that Kennedy would have begun the process of withdrawing US forces from Vietnam by early 1964. However, such a move would have been contrary to the plans of the Europhile lobby in Washington and New York, who saw any defiance of their former colonial masters by underdeveloped countries to be a trend needing to be opposed and reversed. The “Shadow Men” of that period came up with the superficial but politically potent “Domino Theory”, which posited that withdrawal from Vietnam would lead to the collapse of US-friendly governments in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and other locations. In fact, it was increased US intervention in Vietnam that led to the takeover of power in Laos and Cambodia by elements of the communist movement hostile to Washington. 

Subsequently, by end-1967, both President Lyndon B. Johnson as well as the Democratic Party candidate for the US Presidency, Hubert H. Humphrey had reached the same conclusion as Kennedy earlier had, that increased military involvement in Vietnam was counter-productive to the overall national interest, even though this served the purposes of the Europhile lobby, which sought to place the US in lockstep with European capitals working to retain their traditional dominance over most parts of Asia. The same “Shadow Men”, who handed over concocted and defamatory material on Donald Trump to his Republican Party detractors (who immediately ensured that they were released into the public domain), warned Republican Party Presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon in 1968 that President Johnson was about to announce a peace agreement with Vietnam that would be certain to put Vice-President Humphrey (who agreed with such a policy) into the White House. According to an individual who gave details of the clandestine machinations, Henry A. Kissinger assured the “Shadow Men” that Nixon was committed to pursuing the Vietnam War for “at least five more years” (beginning 1969) , no matter what his public statements were. The source revealed that subsequently, through “Shadow Men” working within the agencies of the US government, “misleading information was fed to the Hanoi channel that President Johnson was not sincere about his peace overture”. Such reports served to bring to zero the credibility of the US and other intermediaries working on a 1968 ceasefire and consequent stalemate concerning commitments from Hanoi. At the same time, the Saigon government was encouraged to resort to refuse any peace agreement, thereby dooming the Johnson-Humphrey initiative. Nixon kept the promise made of carrying on the war for five more years at the cost of substantial Vietnamese and US lives and treasure. 

A blizzard of misleading reports and disinformation has thus far prevented full disclosure of the longstanding (and successful) efforts of the “Shadow Men” to twist US policy in this and other instances into directions adverse to the overall interests of the people of the world’s most consequential country. In most such instances, a cover candidate was publicised by the “Shadow Men” as the perpetrator, so as to cover up their own involvement. In Vietnam during the 1960s, that role was cast on Claire Chennault, who “at no stage was a significant player in the secret diplomacy surrounding the war and the aborted peace overture during that period”. She was, according to these sources, “seen with amusement rather than with respect by the Saigon government”. Interestingly, in the final year of his truncated term in office, President Richard M. Nixon himself became wary of those at the top of the investigative and intelligence agencies supposedly working under his direction, but who, in fact, followed a separate agenda that he was increasingly coming to regard as negative to US national interest. 


During the 2016 US Presidential campaign, the “Shadow Men” accepted the view of the Clinton campaign headquarters (with whom they were in constant contact) that Donald Trump would be a relatively weak candidate against Hillary. Even after Trump secured the Republican Party nomination without the anticipated large-scale revolt by party seniors, the perception within the Clinton campaign was that his personality would deter enough voters from supporting the Republican nominee to give the Democratic candidate control of the White House during 2017-2021. Through contacts in the media and within the Republican Party, there was a steady flow of negative comments and reports about Trump, mainly focused on his personal and business dealings, and it was a shock when he nevertheless bested Hillary Clinton on 8 November. From then onwards, the emphasis shifted to, (a) ensuring that he would not be in office longer than a thousand days; (b) would daily face fire-fights designed to distract his attention from consequential issues; (c) would face opposition from within the Republican Party; and (d) would within a year lose effective control over his Administration to select Cabinet picks through a preoccupation with (political) survival. Between 11 November and 17 December last year, material seen as damaging to Trump was collated and scheduled for release every week thereafter till his Inauguration, so that he would take office already diminished. “The plan was to ensure that his key Cabinet picks saw him as a liability and distanced themselves from him both personally and in policy formulation”, a source claimed, adding that the “steady release into the public space of toxic information about President Trump would continue until this objective was achieved”, and by which time the billionaire who won the 8 November 2016 Presidential race, would be “too weakened politically to carry forward his own agenda” and would therefore have no recourse but to fall back on the policy basket favoured by the “Shadow Men”.


The sources spoken to claimed that the recently outed fake dossier concerning a visit by Donald Trump to St Petersburg and allegations of unsavoury activities in his hotel room there were incorporated into the “1,000-day plan” by the “Shadow Men”. They used a London-based Russian oligarch to both “produce and procure the contrived evidence” through a private security agency in St Petersburg. “The funding for ensuring that Russian prostitutes gave false depositions implicating (President) Trump came from a Russian oligarch based in London, who passes off as pro-Putin, but who, in fact, has had from the 1990s an active relationship with MI6”. They added that such operations—which involve seeking to compromise a VIP through real or morphed images—often involve large sums of money, “as in some cases, a body double may get used to make the prostitute believe that the meeting was with the VIP in question”. In the case of the dossier handed over to the former MI6 contact, “it was never used in business blackmail, as the Trump organisation refused to do a deal with the Moscow-based businesswoman who was a rival of the businessman who funded the making of the dodgy dossier. Hence there was never any cause to sabotage a deal that never took place” through production of the dossier and thereby poisoning relations between the Trump organisaton and its proposed Russian partner. Through a “Shadow Man”, member of a US Senator’s staff, the cleverly-crafted dossier was handed over to the Senator, “who read it for two hours at a stretch”, before making several phone calls and thereafter taking the material to Washington to be given to an investigative agency, as suggested by a “Shadow Man” staff member of his. There are “Shadow Men” on the staffs of several US lawmakers, and often they have control over much of the agenda of the Senator or Representative in question. “Don’t forget that a primary task of the ‘Shadow Men’ will be to ensure that enough Republican Party lawmakers join with those of the Democratic Party to impeach and remove (President) Trump from office before the 1,000-day deadline passes”, the source repeated. 


The assessment of the “Shadow Men” is that the President’s son Eric is “so fully focused on expanding his business that he may be vulnerable to snares in the future”. The sources say that the other son (Donald Jr) and the daughters (Ivanka and Tiffany) are not as immersed into business” as Eric Trump, while Barron is too young. They add that Ivanka Trump “is now much more concerned about social issues than on making more money and has a strong idealistic, even spiritual bent”, although husband Jared “has up to now been as determined not to let a business opportunity pass” as Eric, and hence may be susceptible to what may be termed “money traps” i.e. ethical and legal traps disguised as business opportunities. Those active in the anti-Trump operation “worry that daughter Ivanka and wife Melania are, in their separate ways, very protective of the tycoon”, and hence that “they may discover traps before they can be sprung shut (on a member of the Trump family)”. Incidentally, the assessment is that “from about Week 4 or 5 of his quest for the Republican Party nomination, Donald Trump himself almost totally shifted his focus from business to politics”. According to a New York-based source, the “Shadow Men calculate that from the time he won his party’s nomination, Donald Trump changed focus from making more money to ensuring a place in history through implementation of an innovative and people-friendly agenda”. This “change in outlook has made his susceptibility to money traps much lower”, a source added, claiming that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Defense Secretary James Mattis “are among Trump appointees who have views almost identical to us”, although both are seen as loyal to the 45th President for the present. The sources say that “the most loyal individual within (President) Trump’s inner circle is Counsellor Kelley Ann Conway, followed by National Security Advisor Michael Flynn”, after of course President Trump’s family, especially First Daughter Ivanka and First Lady Melania. 


Although media reports claim that US intelligence agencies are hostile to the just sworn-in President, “in actual fact most within the middle layers (of these agencies) are supportive of his (Trump’s) views”, with only the politically-connected higher levels signing on to the 1,000-day agenda now in the process of getting implemented. The sources say that the new head of state of the world’s most powerful country “has an astonishing amount of goodwill within the operational levels of the investigative and intelligence agencies”, in contrast to Presidents Kennedy and Nixon. Although they warn that “efforts have begun from day one of the Trump Presidency to portray the Chief Executive as being a divider and a disruptor”. These will move into high gear “only after 200 days of the new administration”. This would “give time for any reserves of goodwill to dissipate, thereby ensuring a better reception within the public for negative depictions” of the new Chief Executive. 


Given the pervasive influence of businesses dependent on China and the Middle East in Washington, a key objective of the “Shadow Men” is to ensure that the Enemy Number One slot remain with Moscow and its allies such as Iran and not migrate to Beijing or to Saudi Arabia. Another is to ensure that the interests of Wall Street and the Atlantic Alliance continue to be given primacy in US policy. The worry of the “Shadow Men” is that a US President “who has yet to be house trained by the bureaucracy the way Barack Obama was in his very first week as President of the United States, and who has over three decades developed strong and consistent views on geopolitics and on economics over decades” of careful cogitation may succeed in shifting US policy away from the Wall Street-Atlanticist embrace that has been the norm since the 1980s. “Trillions of dollars are at stake, so there is nothing to get surprised about that tens of millions have been spent these past months on ensuring that the agenda of the Wall Street-Atlanticist alliance continues to be official US policy”, a source said, adding that President “Trump represents the most potent threat to such interests in two generations”. It may be mentioned that the “Shadow Men” claim credit for “the implosion of the Bernie Sanders bid for the Democratic Party nomination” as the Senator is “in an entirely different way as big a danger (as President Trump) to Business as Usual and Politics as Usual in Washington”. However, the “Shadow Men” could not prevent Donald John Trump from becoming US President, and it is therefore likely that they may similarly fail in their bid to remove him from office within the 1,000-day limit that they have set for themselves. 

Saturday 21 January 2017

Video: PIO Community - Emerging Global Power and it's Future Role (Vishwa Adhyayan Kendra)

11th Lakshmanrao Bhide Memorial Lecture
Sat 21 JAN 2017 6:00PM
Panel Discussion:
PIO Community - Emerging Global Power and it's Future Role
Shri Ravi Iyer -
Global Co-convenor HSS, Organiser of PIO communities, Writer
Prof. M. D. Nalapat
Eminent Journalist, Writer, Academician, Media Consultant
Dr. Satish Modh
Educationist, Writer, Motivational Speaker, Director VESIM
Moderator - Shri Ratan Sharda

Please find M D Nalapat's sections alone by clicking the following link:

[Speech] Prof. MD Nalapat @ 11th Lakshmanrao Bhide Memorial Lecture, Mumbai (21 Jan 2017) on Vimeo -

[Q & A session] Prof. MD Nalapat @ 11th Lakshmanrao Bhide Memorial Lecture, Mumbai (21 Jan 2017) on Vimeo -

Indians need their own 21st century space (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

The hold of government and its agencies over India’s citizens is pervasive.

At the core of colonial thinking is the belief that the people being ruled are immature and are, indeed, almost idiots in their lack of capacity to take independent decisions. Thus the British colonial government passed laws and imposed regulations that covered almost every human activity besides breathing. By this means, individual initiative was steadily reduced and a culture of dependence on the state and its minions was developed, that still thrives today. An example is the “Swachh Bharat” programme. By levying taxes in its name, Government of India has inadvertently created the public premise that this is just another government-led initiative, when the reality is that only wholehearted participation by the people can assure the success of the mission to ensure a cleaner India. Both by levying taxes in the name of Swachh Bharat and by choosing mascots not from among ordinary citizens but from within a list of celebrities, this imaginative campaign is at risk of being ignored by the people. Such indeed has been the fate of almost every government initiative, so deep is the identification of even the post-1947 governments with the colonial past, a fusion that the visible separation of the governors from the governed does little to dilute. Whether it be the separate line at immigration counters at airports, or the red lights flashing atop their vehicles, those claiming to be “public servants” seem to take pride in ensuring a chasm between themselves and the people on whose behalf they are presumed to rule. It was expected of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he would take steps to transform the administrative system from the present 19th century model into a construct in sync with the 21st century, and hopefully this will happen before the end of his term in 2019.
Transformative change means an alteration in the mechanics and processes of governance, including by ensuring that selection to the Central services be carried out through recruitment from the outside at all levels, even while a strict weeding out of deadwood gets carried out as is already routine in the military. Above all, the legal system needs to get cleansed of the thousands of laws that have zero public purpose and only serve to ensure the continued servitude of the citizen to the whims of the state. Even seven decades after Jawaharlal Nehru promised a new dawn of freedom, the space available to the ordinary citizen in India is minuscule as compared to the freedoms enjoyed by citizens of countries such as the UK or the US.
Almost daily, citizens are made aware of just how pervasive the hold of government and its agencies is over them in India, with far too many activities needing official sanction before getting carried out. Of course, each such roadblock means another palm stretched out for a bribe. Small wonder that the roads of Paris and London, not to mention Miami, are choked with family members of senior functionaries of the government spending some of the money “earned” by those in high positions. Although Prime Minister Modi has been seeking to make progress in his “Make in India” initiative, this will become possible only once it is ensured that the ease of doing business in India significantly improves. No other major power has witnessed a situation where 86% of its currency gets demonetised at four hours’ notice, or an entire sector gets drained of key players the way the previously fast-growing telecom sector was during the period in office of Manmohan Singh. All of a sudden, major global players such as Batelco, Swiss Telecom, Etisalat, Telenor and Docomo were made to exit the country, and it is likely that Aircel will follow in their wake very soon. To prevent further economic cost to the country, the Supreme Court needs to devise ways in which those guilty of misfeasance get punished (for example, by having their equity shares frozen unless they turn up at court hearings) without an entire company getting wound up. Which is what would happen if, for example, a telecom company were to be deprived of its spectrum rather than just a few individuals at the top be deprived of the rights adhering to their equity shares. The interests of customers, employees and financial institutions need to be protected by the courts in their decisions, so that the economy does not suffer loss, but instead, there be greater accountability on the part of those managing an enterprise.
Added to the almost impenetrable jungle of laws, regulations and practices extant in India, there is the added danger of a company being forced to exit its business as a consequence of court orders. Both the government as well as the judiciary need to bear in mind that only double digit growth has the capacity to prevent an Arab Spring-style chaos from proliferating in India during the coming years, because of more than two hundred million youths who are in effect unemployed, with tens of millions of them being uneducated as well. The willingness of the people to always be at the receiving end of a stream of commands is coming under strain in a context where the governance system is failing to generate enough jobs and growth. The Jallikattu agitation in Tamil Nadu is indicative of the desire of the citizen to reclaim some of the space for individual freedom and initiative that was lost centuries ago with the coming into power of the Colonial State. The people of India have shown their ability to ensure prosperity if allowed freedom, as they have repeatedly proved in countries where the quantum of individual liberty is far higher than in this country. It is time for the institutions of the state to recognise the imperative of the need for a governance system that respects the imperative of a post-colonial level of freedom. They need to ensure changes in the mechanics of governance which put into effect Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of “Minimum Government”.

Video: Can Rahul Lead? (NewsX)

Published on 21 Jan 2017
Recently, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on demonetisation, which even put his critics to appreciate the level of maturity and calibre that he showed. But the bigger question is will this work for Rahul Gandhi? Can he finally deliver? Can Rahul Gandhi Lead his own party? When will Rahul choose his own team?

Well to answer all these questions, joining us on the panel, we have Dr Sanjaya Baru, Author and Political Analyst; Arati Jerath, Columnist and Political Analyst, Madhav Nalapat, Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian in conversation with our Senior Executive Editor, Priya Sahgal.

For More information on this news visit:
Connect with us on Social platform at:
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel:

Friday 20 January 2017

XI emerges as globalisation champion (Pakistan Observer)

by M D Nalapat | Geopolitical Notes From India

ALTHOUGH the Democratic Party in the United States as well as the higher (ie politically connected) echelons ascribe the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential polls to Vladimir Putin, even they know that such an explanation makes no sense. Indeed, by making it, the elite establishment of both the east and west coasts of the US are insulting the wisdom of tens of millions of voters in their own country, by claiming that they can be swayed by Moscow in the manner that is being claimed by the continuing cacophony of anti-Trump voices throughout both sides of the Atlantic.
The fact is that Hillary Clinton lost because she was regarded as the candidate of Wall Street. She was regarded as being in the pocket of financial and other vested interests contributing millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation and to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, who often earned $ 500 and more for every word that was spoken at the meetings convened for them by large corporations in order to legally put money into the pockets and purses of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Wall Street has gobbled up thousands of companies across the globe and broken them up so as to sell the component parts at a substantial profit. All that Wall Street cares about is moneyman that too money for the few at the top of the financial conglomerates.
Fortunately for the Republican Party, the Democratic Party establishment (including the newly inducted Barack Obama) ensured that the will of the grassroots was thwarted and Hillary Clinton was made the nominee. From that moment onwards, unless an individual with zero appeal to mainstream US voters such as John McCain had been chosen, the Republican Party was on track to win the White House. Donald Trump came across as the most authentic anti-Politics As Usual voice, and in the primaries, he was chosen as the Republican Party nominee. Although it had been the US and the EU that had been pushing for “globalisation” since the 1980s, by the time the 21st century rolled by, it was clear that Asia and not Europe or the US was walking away with the prize. Over the past fifteen years, there has been a rise of anti-globalisation sentiment across the US and the EU, especially because of the rise of China and other Asian countries in the growth sweepstakes. Globalisation was supposed to carry forward the domination of the US and the EU for at least a generation more.
Instead, it saw even the US being challenged for the top spot by China, a country that had been derided as a “coolie power” not long ago. India too was improving its economic position, as also other Asian countries. East Asia was proving to be tough competition to the US and the EU. Even the market for modern industries such as telecom and its derivatives was being captured by companies headquartered in China, Japan or South Korea. In computer hardware manufacture, Taiwan set up a sizeable lead. Asian brainpower was proving itself the equal of brainpower from within even the most advanced members of the NATO alliance. It was not Asia or its companies that were responsible for the steady lowering of living standards of the lower and middle classes in the US and in large parts of Europe. Rather, it was because of the distortions in domestic policy that gave undue benefit to a few vested interests over the welfare of the people as a whole.
However, because of manipulation of the “free” media in the US and the EU, a perception was created that it was globalisation and Asia that was responsible for economic distress rather than domestic vested interests who were accumulating huge fortunes at the expense of the poor and the middle classes. President Donald Trump is going to have to face the fact that an anti-globalisation, anti-Asian manufactures and services stance will harm rather than help the US economy. However, the shrewd business baron has sought to solve this puzzle by focussing on Mexico and China rather than making a generalised attack on globalisation or on Asian economies. Indeed, Trump has welcomed better cooperation with some Asian countries. Now that the US has turned away publicly from globalisation, into the leadership vacuum created by such a shift has entered President XI Jinping of China.
At Davos, Xi surprised his audience by calling for a renewed emphasis on globalisation. This was in contrast to the anti-globalisation views expressed by several politicians in the EU and the US. Under Xi Jinping, China has been taking steps towards global leadership, most notably in the One Belt One Road (OBOR) plan. Once this becomes operational, there is expected to be seamless land connectivity between Asia and Europe, thereby serving as a boost mechanism for overland trade, both by rail and road. Indeed, OBOR would place China at the core of the global trading system. However, it would not be the only factor. The primary cause of a potential shift in the keystone role in the matter of global trade from Washington to Beijing would be the faster growth rate of China. Should Xi ensure that an average rate of growth of 6% be maintained over the next decade, it would follow naturally that China would emerge as the key driver of global trade.
Indeed, exports to China already account for a critical share of exports of key trading powers, including Germany and Japan. However, what would be of still greater significance to President Xi would be continued smooth access to major global markets for Chinese products. Given that there seems an increasing likelihood of a trade war between Washington and Beijing, progress in OBOR would have the effect of nudging several European economies into China’s corner, while coming down in favour of globalisation would appeal to several Asian countries. At Davos, President Xi was clearly looking at building useful alliances in Asia and Europe in the event of a trade war with a Trump administration. That was the significance of his unprecedented embrace of what till now has been seen as a US-EU concept, globalisation.

Saturday 14 January 2017

The rupee stops at Urjit Patel’s door (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

There is a possibility that the demonetisation announced on 8 November had been discussed threadbare within the RBI much before that date.

On January 20, Reserve Bank Governor Urjit Patel and others are expected to testify before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament on the 8 November 2016 announcement extinguishing at four hours’ notice, 86% of India’s currency. Because government agencies are—seven decades of “independence” later—still faithful to the colonial practice of not trusting natives with information, all that is available to go by are newspaper reports. These claim that the RBI has written to the committee that it had been “advised on 7 November by the government to recommend the (demonetisation) measure, which it promptly did”. The impression conveyed through this missive is that the RBI has been railroaded into backing the 8 November measure by an omnipotent government. Hopefully, such an impression is incorrect. Else, it will be recorded that the Reserve Bank of India has become a not very significant department of the government, rather than the autonomous institution the Central bank of any major market economy is presumed to be. The lightning response of the RBI and its Board of Directors to the “advice” proffered by the “government” is explainable only in the context of two competing hypotheses. The first is that the RBI Board has become a mere rubber stamp, jumping to attention and approving any policy urged on it by the government. It is clear from the speed of the RBI’s response to the advice it got a day earlier that only a rudimentary examination of the matter would have been carried out at that point in time by the Central bank, which has more than a few excellent economists within its portals. The fact that the recommended policy got approved in such a short time, despite its complex and hugely consequential nature indicates, according to this view, that the RBI has transferred its core responsibilities to the government.
However, there is a second possibility, which is that the demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 November had, in fact, been discussed threadbare within the RBI much before 8 November, so that the Governor and the Board of Directors therefore went through only a pro forma examination and approval of the scheme on 7 November, in view of their having been in favour of the measure well before it was announced. Were RBI Governor Patel to have had any doubts about the 8 November measure, he would have expressed them earlier to the government. Surely the Governor and the Board of Directors of the RBI are not a collection of individuals helpless in the face of any “advice” coming from the government of the day. If the Governor and his colleagues disagreed with the demonetisation decision, and if his views were ignored, surely Patel would have sent in his resignation. However, from the start the RBI Governor has shown no signs of recalcitrance, standing fully behind the policy. Given that monetary policy is, in practice, the responsibility of the Central bank, the widespread perception that he and his institution were railroaded into going along with a measure that they may have had doubts about is doing substantial damage to the global reputation of the RBI. Should the view take hold that the present RBI Governor is but a postman, carrying communications back and forth, but without any actual input in the policy process, Urjit Patel would earn the reputation of being the least impressive Governor in the history of the Reserve Bank of India. Hopefully, on 20 January, Governor Patel will clear his name by confirming that the 8 November policy had been exhaustively researched by him before being approved. That the RBI was, from the start, at the core of planning a policy that was boldly announced by the Prime Minister despite the huge political risk to him. After all, by tradition and longstanding practice, the rupee stops at the door of the RBI Governor and not that of the Prime Minister, which is why the signature on the new currency notes is that of Patel, rather than Modi.
It would be apparent even to those extravagantly praising the 8 November measure that the manner of its implementation—if allowed to continue — may significantly damage confidence in not just the rupee, but the banking system as a whole, specifically the RBI. Pushing through the measure without ensuring liquidity at the level needed for economic expansion was an act of monetary risk-taking on a record-breaking scale. Hence, the importance that the Reserve Bank of India as well as the Finance Ministry officials testify in public as to why they believe such a step was essential, including in its timing and phasing. The multiple amendments to the orders given to the banks, almost all of which went contrary to the promise of the RBI Governor that each rupee note would be honoured in full on presentation, have made the RBI a focus of comments across the globe, few of which is complimentary. The PAC hearings present an opportunity for the RBI Governor and Finance Ministry policymakers to demonstrate that India is not a banana republic, where momentous policies get decided overnight and without adequate study, and whose Central bank lacks any authority or indeed a role in the framing of monetary policy. Governor Patel needs to redeem the RBI’s name by stepping forward and taking responsibility for a measure that he must have been very much in favour of, doubtless for good economic reasons that he needs to elucidate publicly. Patel should also clarify that his backing for the move was no split second decision, but was carefully considered and cleared much before 8 November 2016.

Friday 13 January 2017

March 11: Test for Modi’s anti-currency drive (Pakistan Observer)

M D Nalapat | Geopolitical Notes From India

THE antipathy expressed to the English language of so many within South Asia’s ruling elite has its roots in the McCauley Minute of centuries ago, when the British nobleman sought to encourage the creation of a class of Sub-continentals who would be fluent in McCauley’s native language and thereby serve their British masters. In effect, and almost from the start of the systematic teaching of English in the British-ruled parts of the Indian subcontinent, those who mastered the language immediately sought not a continuation of servitude but equality with the British. It was not accidental that most determined fighters of 19th century against colonial rule were those fluent in the language of conquerors of the subcontinent.
Such an emphasis on “Minimum Government Maximum Governance” is what South Asian politicians object to. They seek the unbridled power of the colonial state on the citizen and reject calls to curtail such powers. They fear that widespread command over the English language would make the citizenry less ready to accept the shoddy, third-rate rule that has been the norm in South Asia since 1947. Although the history taught in schools boasts of gifted rulers administering the land wisely, the fact is that South Asia has had a succession of rulers who deliberately perpetuated policies designed to keep the bulk of the population in ignorance of modern trends and techniques. The less educated the people, the easier it is to grab votes on the basis of sectarian identity.
The less conscious of their rights, the more the public would gloss over the fact that their condition remained awful term after term of the numerous South Asian leaders who enriched themselves from the very first days in which they were in office. The salary of a minister or a high official may be low, but the lifestyle of themselves and their family members is usually opulent. Those who could not afford a bicycle before the first time they were elected to power graduated to cars during their very first term, often to limousines before long, and some even to personal aircraft. They sent their children to study in the most expensive of foreign schools and universities, even while denying the privileges of quality education to the poor at home.
Of course, tax rates are high, even while the benefits are close to zero. It is this combination of high direct tax rates and near zero state-provided amenities that has been the single biggest factor between so many tens of millions of citizens opting to remain outside the tax net. So far as English is concerned, the Modi government is more averse to the use of that language in administration than any of its predecessors, although this did not help the party in Bihar and may not in UP. After all, people all over India wish to learn English even as the government downplays the need to ensure that hundreds of millions become fluent in the international link language. In the matter of taxes, thus far there has not been the reduction in taxes expected of Modi when he came to power in 2014. However, there are more than two years to go before 2019 national polls and there is talk that in two weeks, coming Union Budget will witness a steep decline in tax rates.
The hope of better governance is the issue that ensured the election of Narendra Modi in 2014 and which will decide his next tryst with national power in 2019. Nothing in decades has affected the lives of every citizen of India than Modi’s demonetisations of 86% of the currency of the country. In India on November 8,2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a scheme of criminalization of 86% of the country’s cash, on the grounds that such a move would deal a decisive blow to “black” money ie cash that has not been brought under the tax net. Should the measure succeed the way Modi believes it will, he will reap a political dividend. However, should it result in disaster for the economy, Modi will not only lose power in 2019 but face increasing opposition from within his own party from the time the election results, especially of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Punjab, get known on March 11.
Should the BJP fare badly, losing the top slot to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), that would affect the political standing of the Prime Minister, whose own constituency is from UP. Should even worse occur, and the party tally of state assembly seats fall below not just the BSP but also the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, within the BJP itself there would be immediate rumblings of dissension. Those in the party who are unhappy at the way the party has been managed since May 26,2014 (the date on which Modi was sworn in as PM) may be expected to voice their dissent in public, thereby making the smooth functioning of the government more difficult. Importantly, the civil service would begin to believe (after a UP defeat) that there is no way Modi would return to power in 2019,and they would thereafter go slow on implementing the schemes close to the PM’s heart.
Importantly, officials in the investigating agencies would believe that the Opposition politicians they are investigating may become their political bosses come 2019. The best time for Modi to have taken action against those whom he bested at the polls was during the first nine to fifteen months of his term, but during that time (and subsequently) the Prime Minister did nothing, not even getting a First Information Report (FIR) filed against any central leader of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) that had ruled the country from 2004 to 2014.
At that time, it seemed certain that Modi would win a second term in 2019. Should the BJP lose the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, doubt would spread about such an assumption and have a substantial impact on the effectiveness of the government. For Narendra Modi, it is essential that voters support his demonetization of the rupee by giving his party a majority in UP, the state that ensured his majority, with more than 70 Lower House seats won in that state. Should they do so, his government will remain stable and effective.

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Nation at 9: Jallikattu

Nation at 9: Jallikattu will happen despite SC ban, says Panneerselvam 

Tamil parties are doubling down on the demand to reinstate Jallikattu, the banned bull taming sport. With Sasikala, Panneerselvam and Thambidurai already lobbying the Modi govt it could come down to face off between so called Tamil pride and the law. Athar Khan debates with Ambika Nijjar, Madhav Nalapat, A Sarvannan,C Rajshekharan, Tarun Vijay and Pramila Nesargi.

For More information on this news visit:
Connect with us on Social platform at:
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel:

Sunday 8 January 2017

Note ban core to both BJP and Opposition hopes (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat 

Nripendra Mishra saw ‘cashless’ economy as being a force multiplier for orderly growth, while Doval regarded the measure as having the potential to deal a death blow to counterfeiting. 

The BJP expects to get a demonetisation dividend in the Assembly elections due in the coming months. BJP president Amit Shah has made the 8 November 2016 note ban the key plank of his party for the polls. In contrast, setting aside the question of leadership for the present, Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Sitaram Yechury have gone on the offensive against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They calculate that the 8 November 2016 “note ban” will cause economic distress and therefore will end up as a political disaster for the NDA government. Certainly, the move has been the most consequential step ever taken by a Prime Minister in India since Jawaharlal Nehru embraced the Soviet model of development in the 1950s. However, given the unanimous view within his small circle of official advisors about not simply the desirability, but the essentiality of extinguishing the legality of the (old) Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, it was a given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would heed the counsel of Principal Secretary Nripendra Mishra, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and other key officials and approve the measure announced by him at 8 pm on 8 November 2016.
Mishra saw the “cashless” economy as being a force multiplier for orderly growth, while Doval regarded the measure as having the potential to deal a death blow to counterfeiting and to terror financing. Adhia envisaged a substantial increase in the direct tax base from the currency demonetisation, while the RBI Governor calculated that about Rs 450,000 crore of currency would get extinguished, thereby relieving some of the pressure exerted by NPAs on the banking system.
Prime Minister Modi has, from the time he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, treated official views with considerable respect and has run government with their help, rather than in a “Bureaucracy Lite” manner of depending instead on outside expertise. From 8 November onwards, Modi’s fate, that of the BJP, and that of the Indian economy depends on the success of the manner in which the “note ban” was implemented, especially during the 50-day grace period requested by Modi in his words to the nation. Overall, the assessment of the Opposition is that the results of the past nine weeks bear out their own pessimistic forecasts, rather than the optimism of the BJP about the impact of the record-breaking measure.
The calculation of the Opposition is that there has been a 40%-60% contraction in much of industrial production after the note ban, with consumption, especially in the rural areas, falling by 45%. They point to the closure of textile units and power looms in Gujarat and Punjab as a pointer towards future election results in these states. They calculate that the Services sector has been massively hit, with the consequent loss of millions of jobs. The Opposition claims that Bihar, UP, Jharkhand and West Bengal have seen the biggest reverse migration since the 1970s. If true, such a return of newly unemployed individuals would have repercussions on recruitment to Maoist and underworld groups. However, the BJP leadership says that all such calculations are false and that the economy (including employment) has actually been doing better since 8 November 2016, because of the “cleansing operation” conducted by PM Modi. However, there seems little doubt that the denial of cash in the form of new currency to cooperative banks has affected credit to farmers, few of whom rely on commercial banks for their needs. According to officials connected with the exercise, the daily production of Rs 500 notes stands at below Rs 1,000 crore, which is judged to be too slow.
However, Revenue Secretary Adhia is known to be confident of mopping up large sums of money from new taxpayers, as well as from the existing assessees. The Income-Tax Department has been given a free hand by PM Modi to go after tax evaders, and it is expected that at least six million new income-tax assessees will get added to the roster of direct taxpayers during 2017. Given the additional moneys needed for bank recapitalisation, 7th Pay Commission, defence equipment, infrastructure development and social welfare schemes, the need for additional resources is obvious. However, the Opposition expects that such a crackdown on taxpayers will reduce, rather than increase the popularity of the BJP. Interestingly, most of the large infrastructure segments (rail, road and defence) have not been able to spend the moneys allocated to them over the previous two years. Overall, the expectation of the Opposition is that tax raids and harsh action will dampen investor sentiment and lead to a flow of funds out of the country, a phenomenon that has been on the increase since Finance Minister P. Chidambaram began in earnest a regime of tax terrorism in 2006, giving officers discretion and punitive powers far in excess of those enjoyed by counterparts elsewhere.
The BJP is relying on fissures within the Opposition, and in particular expects Janata Dal United supremo Nitish Kumar to return to the NDA. However, contacts within that party say that the ambitious Bihar leader is awaiting the results of the UP Assembly elections, before deciding on his strategy. They say that he will move into the NDA only if the BJP becomes the single largest party in the new Assembly, and is comfortably ahead of the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party. Otherwise, he will remain in the Opposition corner. The other potential ally is the Biju Janata Dal, as on several issues the NDA and the BJD are having a similar view. In UP, the BJP is relying on a continuation of Opposition disunity, and certainly there seems zero prospect of the BSP and the SP ever joining hands, while in Bengal the CPM and the Trinamool Congress are unlikely to fight the polls together, nor the Janata Dal Secular and the Congress in Karnataka. The BJP is expecting a boost in the Assembly polls next month that would carry over into the Assembly polls of 2018, most crucially in Gujarat, thereby setting the stage for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Anti-BJP elements are working throughout the country to create a perception that the gold in the possession of households will get seized by the Modi government. They have been assisted in this by a few remarks of some officials on the subject, and are aware that the possession of gold is at the core of identity in India, hence the effort to create insecurity regarding the safety of even the family gold in the possession of households for generations, much of which does not have any documents to establish provenance. During the coming weeks, a coordinated effort will be launched that targets Prime Minister Modi on the issue of corruption. Now that the PM has made the war on corruption and on black money the main plank of his appeal to the electorate (in place of jobs and development, which was the rallying cry in 2014), the Opposition is seeking to demolish the reputation for probity and good governance of the Prime Minister, aware that the BJP depends almost completely on the good name of Prime Minister Modi to win votes.
Should the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes prove problematic in the manner forecast by the Opposition, it would be tough going for the BJP, including in the forthcoming Budget Session of Parliament. Charges of misgovernment and corruption against the PM and his government will be a daily occurrence, while ED and CBI raids and charge-sheets of Opposition elements are expected to multiply. Although more than two years away, the frenzy and fury of the coming Lok Sabha campaign is already manifesting itself in the politics of the country, and it will be the after-effects (or, as the Opposition hopes, aftershocks) of Prime Minister Modi’s 8 November 2016 move that will determine the politics of the country from now onwards.