Friday, September 3, 2010

India Can't Master Great Game By Playing The Same Game

Communist Chinese apparently rejected a visa to an Indian General, who happened to command forces in J&K fighting Islamic terrorists sponsored by Chinese all-weather-friend Pakistan, to visit China to continue the bonhomie between PLA and BR. While this is not the first time Chinese played their usual visa games, Indian establishment expressed sharp indignation that no one knew they had when it came to China. And after expressing their new found indignation, the establishment went back to what it always does - pretend that it is the mature party of the two and, of course, looking for validation of the pretense.

Rory Medcalf, Australian India watcher, offers such validation in Wall Street Journal. Indian establishment probably passed on the column amongst themselves and are patting themselves on their backs by now. We have seen the movie before.

Although Sri Medcalf says all the right things, they don't add up to much more than what India is doing currently. So it's a hard case to make that India would somehow master the great game with China by making the same bidding.

First, how it is that, if India broke off defense relations with China, India would end up losing on other areas on cooperation - such as man-made-up man-made climate change issue to serious issues such as global financial reform or world trade negotiations? Why is that it never hurts China when it plays its games?

On making new allies, India has shown no capability, since its inception in the current form, to form and lead alliances when key strategic and national security issues are at stake. This non-capability is the direct result of Nehru's foreign policy shadow on Indian establishment, which still persists. Beyond the utterly useless talk shops like Non-Alignment movement, India formed key alliance with Soviet Union to counter US, British, and Pakistan alliance during cold war, but only as a junior partner of the Soviets, with nothing to contribute to the alliance. The only strategic alliance India formed with other nations was an quasi-alliance to support the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan pre-9/11. But India won't lead its allies to complete the mission even as Pakistan, and its ally, Taliban, took over most of the nation to rule over Afghanistan for several years. Post-9/11, US scooped up the existing Northern Alliance to meet its own objectives while bringing erstwhile anti-Northern Alliance Pakistan into the mix, sidelining the former quasi-alliance that India was part of! India is mulling again to re-form the same Northern Alliance with Iran and Russia. Expect the same result. Beyond bragging rights for Indian establishment, it means nothing on the ground.

So this notion that India will form a strong, or, for that matter, loose, alliance with nations impacted by Chinese actions in South China is just not viable. It simply does not exist in Indian establishment's DNA. Again, with a few exception, the current Congress I establishment is still under the shadow of the left wing liberal Nehru foreign policy contours. (With few exceptions, most BJP leadership also follow under that dark shadow.) So it is comfortable with appropriating and pursing silly ideas, that originate mostly in the Washington, such as narrowing trust-deficit with terror sponsoring Pakistan.

The other suggestion that India should act as a grown up by simply following the current maritime strategy of not competing, but by remaining second tier defense force to China, is more puzzling. How exactly does a weaker power act as though it is the more mature one in a great game?  Chinese leadership may be communists, but they are not stupid to see the pretense of maturity as anything but just that. If India aggressively becomes, or takes a trajectory to become, more powerful than China then, and only then, can it act as a mature power. One can't be both a guerrilla and be a mature party in the game.

Until Indian establishment comes out of Nehru's shadow of abstract, and frankly pompous, foreign policy, with little substance to back it up, China will continue to play the game on its own terms and get away with it.

Beyond taking shot at liberal Indian media for its silliness on serious issues, which is not the most difficult thing to do, at least Sri Medcalf doesn't suggest that India should use Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM, as mediator to improve relations between India and China because, well, Sri Rudd can speak impeccable Mandarin.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hitchens on Danger to Freedom From Islamists

Christopher Hitchens lecture on the dangers to freedom from Islamists at 2010 PEN in New York City. What's interesting about the lecture, and the conservation, following the lecture, with Salman Rushdie, which was about self-censorship, at times without any threat, of western media when it came to Islamic issues - regarding Danish cartoons of prophet Mohammad or regarding recent Comedy Central, a US TV Channel, ban of use of the word Mohammad in its South Park episode - the opposite happened in India when it came to nasty paintings of Hindu Gods by apparent great painter M. F. Husain, who ran away to Qatar instead of standing up for freedom of speech he apparently believes in. In the case of M. F. Husain's paintings, while the illiberal India media wrote silly columns and interviews supporting M. F. Husain's artistic freedom to paint nasty paintings of Hindu Gods, even as they themselves condemned Danish cartoons on prophet Mohammad, they never published the nasty cartoons!! In this case, most Hindus, who thought M. F. Husain was gratuitously offensive to Hindus, wanted the media to publish the cartoons so ordinary Hindus can see the joker the artist M. F. Husain really was. But self-proclaimed liberal Indian media is selective in its outrage and selective in its censorship.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ramachandra Guha's Comical Defense of Congress I

Firstly, a minor quibble with Dr. Ramachandra Guha in that he assumes Congress I is INC. In case Guha hasn't noticed, INC died in 1969.

Dr. Ramachandra Guha talking to Rediff about the state of Congress I while a bit realistic then his earlier stance, still defends the corrupt and deprived party.

Guha's defense of the worst decision, that which castes a long shadow of economic and political degradation of the nation, by Gandhi, to appoint Nehru, a socialist, is flimsy at best; self serving at worst. When Guha himself says he compares Nehru on par with Sardar Patil and B. R. Ambedkar, the defense of Nehru's appointment by Gandhi falls flat right there. Is Guha's, and Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Gandhi, explanation of Gandhi's autocracy believable when Gandhi himself offered the post of prime ministership to Muhammad Ali Jinnah during partition turmoil? Even if one were to ignore Nehru's absolute derision towards Hinduism, the same derision that current leaders of Congress I show, if Gandhi was so interested in nation building, what did he think the nation was going to do after Nehru's term? (This is the core of the problem with India since 1947 - it is not laws and institutions driven, but is driven by personalities and these personalities make up things as they go along.) The damage Gandhi did to political democracy in India, by overruling INC party democratic election, is huge and we still are living with it's severe consequences. Indira, Rajiv, and Sonia can always point to what Gandhi did for their own autocratic ways in the party.

And is to say nothing of what Nehru himself did to the country, its economy, its politics, its borders, its nationhood, and its foreign policy. While we are slowly emerging from Nehru's long and dark shadow on economy; we are still stuck with his politics of vilification of RSS and Hinduism, promoting his brand of disgusting JNU secularism; stuck with his definition of borders – on of the most key pieces of land of Indian nation, not controlled by India, that would connect India to Afghanistan and central Asia, and to Russia, is treated with such nonchalance with so little understanding of international security and politics or strategic thinking (we are told Nehru regretted taking J&K issue to UN. Fine. What exactly did he do after that to change the situation to our advantage? Not much); stuck with his flimsiness of nationhood with no participation of northeastern states in development, even if it was the socialist kind, suffering the consequences of Chinese intrusiveness and with growing, not diminishing, anti-state insurgencies; stuck with his foreign policy on Tibet, on UN, on power dynamics and the submissive culture of our babus – even now foreign minister S. M. Krishna begs the Chinese for consideration for permanent UNSC seat for India which China predictably rebuffs with delight.

It's nice Guha wants to defend what he says is the current vilification of Nehru. That Nehru is being maligned now means people are actually paying attention to the deprecate legacy of Nehru, that JNU secularists like Guha continue to defend. What normal people need to consider is what the state of India would have been if Nehru was a capitalist, as any thinking sane person would be, and did not consider profit to be "evil"; if Nehru understood the international power dynamics – how Tibet and foreign occupied J&K would impact Indian security in the long run; how cutting off Northeast from the rest of country increased the threat to nationhood. Just consider one issue that Nehru is praised for by secularists. Instead of depending on western nations to build the few IITs, if Nehru initiated the process internally – asked the best and brightest administrators and professors in India to start and develop 30, 40, or 50 IITs across the nation and provide access to young and adult to join those IITs (and not just in technical but legal, history, and other non-technical fields). It would have done wonders to the psyche of Indians that they can manage their own affairs at a national and global scale. In reality, any chance that Nehru got, he would look to the west help even as he disparaged them as Coca-Cola capitalists. Just as we would have showered praise on Nehru if his ideas succeeded, we, as Indians, looking at his actual record, are unimpressed. We acknowledge Nehru's contribution to Bharatiya freedom struggle, but post-independence Nehru is not an impressive figure. We wished he studied actual history rather than Fabian history during his formative years.

Going beyond Nehru, while his shadow is long and dark for India, Guha defense of existing Congress I is laughable. Being a typical secularist, he gives an example of rise of Angela Merkel of Germany, ignoring the example of rise of Sushma Swaraj, from a middle class girl to leader of the opposition in current parliament, in the BJP, that Congress I leadership should emulate. The apparent sin of BJP was that L.K Advani consulted with Mohan Bhagwat, which Guha rightly recognizes as social-culture organization. But why won't Advani consult with RSS leadership when it provided so much foundation for BJP's existence. If Arun Shourie begged RSS to give some direction to BJP when BJP was in crisis, we can understand the extent of crisis that BJP was in. We always thought RSS is a net negative weight on BJP's neck – mostly useless weight that contributes little beyond feet on the ground - but that itself does not take away from what BJP stands for.

Guha, quite unamazingly, dodges the pointed questions on Congress I increasing anti-Hindu and anti-Bharatiya narrative to appease Muslims. In fact, Guha would have been the right person ask about current Congress I anti-Hindu stance – he could have easily pointed to Nehru's anti-Hinduism. The meek “corruption is human weakness” response shows the extent of degradation of liberal and secularists value in India, much like it is around world now. While they see non-existing anti-Muslims demons in Karnataka (and in Gujarat) of BJP, they ignore, or worst justify, the malaise and rot that permeates Congress I under the leadership of Nehru's family for three generations.

We do agree with one idea that Guha has caught on to now which he did not see when he wrote his book post-independence history of India. That precedence. especially at the create of something as important as a newly defined nation, is everything. The precedence of Gandhi dictating nomination of Nehru even has INC office bearers voted for Sardar Patil (we would have been more than happy if Gandhi played Kautilya's political intrigue to twist others arms to get Nehru elected directly – at least then we won't have to put up with the notion what a great saint Gandhi was. In fact, we hazard to guess that if Gandhi was a normal political strategist acting in the long term interest of the nation, he would understood what havoc Nehru would have played on the new nation and would have stuck with Sardar. We agree, again, with Guha, that Gandhi and Nehru are one of kind who were completely out of touch with corrupt way of men and nations, meaning the real world, much to the later misery of the newly defined nation); the precedence of Nehru's economic, foreign policy, and amending constitution, beyond recognition, at his whim; the precedence of Nehru not stepping down after serving two terms as prime minister; the precedence of Nehru dying in office; the precedence of Indira's and Rajiv's corrupt ways; and the precedence of Nehru's family take over of leadership of Congress I.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Power to Buruma Liberals? - Think Not

One of core self-belief of secular liberals is that they are sophisticated people. Even if their hypocrisy is oozing out from their own writing, speech, and action, they seems to be blind to why thinking people consider secular liberals as nothing but the self-serving people the liberals denounce others apparently are.

The newest syndicate column of Ian Buruma makes the hypocrisy of secular liberals incredibly self evident to those on the right. His conclusion following the analysis of why elites are under siege, while baffling, is laughable.

To take two of the trends identified by Buruma – small government Tea Party activists in US and anti-Islamist stand of Geert Wilders in Euroland. Apparently culture and race are important in US - that Tea Party activities are uncomfortable to Obama being a black man!! This is the sophistication of secular liberals! How exactly does Buruma explain Obama being the president of US then? Small detail! Of course, Buruma also appoints his own kind to provide unbiased analysis of issues ignoring the incredibly biased US media against the candidate opposing Obama. Apparently those on the right cannot “sift nonsense from truth, or demagoguery from rational political debate.”

Tea Party is so popular in US is precisely because people are able sift through liberal nonsense from truth and silly demagoguery of liberal socialists from rational political debate. During campaign, Obama posed as though he could speak no nonsense or pursue no demagoguery. That's precisely why he was elected – most, even the right, weren't bothered by his blackness or his apparent high-culture. It soon became apparent, after Obama became president, that he really is a run-of-the-mill secular liberal who won't think anything about making 16% of US economy, health care sector, a ward of the state or read rights to Islamic terrorist caught in the act of blowing an airplane full of ordinary people.

Geert Wilders sins are even more pedestrian. He stands against runaway secular liberalism that has taken over Europe – talk about liberals not having enough power or not using it!! Geert Wilders defends freedom taking for granted in Europe that are constantly under assault by Islamists from within and without Europe. When was the last time Ian Buruma took a stand against Islamists and defended the freedom the Europe accrued for centuries since west's apparent“enlightenment?” If Salman Rusdie, mostly because he himself came under Islamists threat, and, more importantly, Christopher Hitchens aren't in the forefront forcefully denouncing Islamists, secular liberals in Europe would have folded their tent decades ago. The degradation of secular liberals in Europe is such that apparent human rights group Amnesty International thinks a Talibanian is someone to coddled with!!

Ian Buruma nonsensical defense of secular liberalism would mean nothing to us if not for the fact the tribe of self-proclaimed secular liberals are growing in India too. The same corrupt media, with it extremely biased news coverage and opinion, available to the highest bidder, and the same elites, who speak and behave like the secular liberals of Euroland and US, with the same nonsensical social analysis along with similar policy prescriptions are becoming a norm in India too. Few decades ago, it was mostly communists who wore the patina of secular liberalism. Now it is the entrenching elites who are the secular liberalists. See the opinion makers of the new opinion pages on Yahoo – hand picked by liberals to provide secular liberalism to be consumed by unsuspecting Indians. Talk of secular liberals not having power or not using it!

One just has to look at the books that secular liberals like Ian Buruma write: “Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents”, to understand why the right knows secular liberalism is a basket case “ism” that is ill equipped and will not confront Islamists (or continued socialist tendencies of the left).

Let the popular Tea Parties, those opposed to Obama's intrusion of government into the last baston of capitalism, in US reign, and let there be several Geert Wilders, those opposed to absolute genuflection of Europeans to Islamists, in Europe appear, because we, in the right, can sift through secular liberal narrative – there are no useful kernels of grains left after sifting through the fluffy liberal narrative.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Strange Debate on India-China 1962 Secret War Report

That the only Henderson Brooks-Bhagat report in existence, on the cause (and lose) of China-India war of 1962, is secret is well know. There have been numerous calls over the past five decades to declassify the report with the governments at the time whether Congress I or NDA - NDA's Fernandes, as rakshak mantri, seems to have tried hardest - ending up not declassifying the report.

Usual interpretation on why the political and defense establishments refuse to declassify the report is that they do not want to embarrass Nehru, star of Congress I and most left wing historians, or Indian armed forces. But a more bizarre narrative is being developed by analysts who are calling for the report's declassification, including Neville Maxwell who actually saw the report, apparently unauthorized, that somehow the document would enable India and China to their settle border dispute with India agreeing to China's claims that India is at fault on the border dispute. It is the most stunning argument we have heard on the declassification argument!

In his view, India’s unwillingness in the 1950s and 1960s to negotiate a border settlement with China — which [Neville] Maxwell [who wrote India’s China War, a book critical of Nehru] cites as the root cause of the war — can be traced to a failure of post-colonial India to “rethink how the legacy of British India had distorted strategic thinking and the national interest.” Freed from “nationalistic myth-making”, the definition of “national interest” could be tweaked, he reasons. “National interest can be redefined as ‘making territorial concessions (of claims, rather than of de facto control) for the sake of international goodwill and friendship with neighbours so long as the people directly affected (on the borderlands) are consulted’.”

But will such a ‘concession’ — even if it’s only of Indian claims — be received by the Indian public, without accusing its leaders of “selling out to China”? In [Prof Dibyesh] Anand’s estimation, the public can be “persuaded either way if the political leadership shows signs of moving beyond unhelpful nationalist myth-making.”
These analysts seem to disdain "nationalist myth-making" of India as if China does none of that and as if nationalist myth-making is wrong. It is a worrisome turn of the debate on India-China border dispute.

Marginal Is Everything - 2009 Indian Elections

We happened to read Ashok Malik new Yahoo politics column. We saw a repeat of the analysis of 2009 election during which Malik quotes from Amit Verma's column which was attributed to analysis in Business Standard by Devangshu Datt. While Amit himself agrees with Datt analysis - which seems to take a wrong conclusion from marginal shift in electoral alliance of population towards Congress I and away from BJP. (While Malik disagrees with Amit's agreement with Datt, he himself had to nothing say about actual number of electoral shift to the two national political parties.) Here is what Amit says, from Malik's quote, quoting Datt's analysis:

...the vote share of the Congress went from 26.5% to 28.6%; the BJP dipped from 22.2 to 18.8: not a seismic shift at all. That the UPA gained so many seats is because of a number of diverse reasons, such as the changing pattern of local alliances that split the opposition vote in many places, such as in Maharashtra.

We are sure the reason for UPA seats gain may have been due to diverse reasons, but the way to look at marginal change is not to look at absolute change. It's always useful to look at marginal change in terms of the change itself.

An increase of Congress I vote from 26.5% to 28.6% is not an increase of 2.1% but an increase of 7.9%! Similarly a decrease of BJP vote from 22.2% to 18.8% is not a decrease of 3.4%, although itself significant, but a decrease of 15.3% - a significant loss of marginal electoral! When one looks at the difference between the electoral gains of Congress I and electoral loses of BJP, it is a swing of 23.2% of marginal electoral vote. Now that's significant number for Congress I and BJP.

Whether it was the media, choice of alliances, coherence of Congress I and incoherence of BJP, faces of Manmohan Singh and Sonia verses face of Advani (may be it was the bread of Singh and white skin of Sonia vs the wrinkle, still white, face of Advani that won the election for them), or simply silliness of Bharatiya voters (after all Congress I won the seat of the worst terrorist attack on 26/11, in South Mumbai, despite display of utter incompetence by Congress I state and central leaders), the win was a decisive win for Congress I and decisive lose for BJP.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Making The Case for Vedic Harrappans

It's unfortunate how a name sticks. So is the name Harrappa - which was part of the original name, Harrappa and Mohenjo-daro, give to ruins that were known, but systemically studied by Imperial British and later Indian (and world) archeologists since 1920s. The extent of the ruins of that ancient civilization are vast, which while is now called Indus civilization, is really Saraswati Civilization because the ancients did not refer to Indus but to the now-dried up mighty Sarawati river.

The debate between pre-Islamic historians is whether the Saraswati civilization was different from our Vedic civilization or a whether the Saraswati civilization continuation of the Vedic civilization. Here Dr. N. S. Rajaram makes the case for Saraswati civilization being a continuation of our Vedic civilization. The speech was given at MIT in US to Samkruta Bharthi audience. While the videos on youtube themselves is of amateur quality, the talk gives an excellent overview of Dr. Rajaram's thesis.

Why China Will Be Great Power and Bharat Not

Atanu Dey, on his blog Deesha, while writing about his admiration of Sri Lee Kuan Yew, former ruler and current chief mentor of world's most significant city-state Singapore, declares him Confucius genius. Atanu's has link to the transcript of Sri Lee's speech in US few months ago. We have seen Sri Lee interviews (link to our old blog site) and his speech itself is not so remarkable for those who follow global geopolitics. But we did find one sentence that was remarkable that could help explain the future trajectory of China and India.

Unlike other emergent countries, China wants to be China and accepted as such, not as an honorary member of the West.

This to us is the most significant statement of his speech. Bharatiya elites and self-proclaimed liberals whose understanding of India comes from the west's interpretation of this country - not a new intellectual phenomena by any means - need to chew on this statement.

Note: Sri Lee talks of developing East Asia, presumably including India, as restoring a global balance to pre-European-imperialism globe, significantly ignores largely Islamic west Asia. It is perhaps time to create a separate continent splitting continental Asia near the west of Pakistan along with western border of China and southern border of Russia and give the west Asian Islamic world a new name and leave them to themselves.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Revival of Sanskritum

It's paradoxical, but not really, that even as the elites of the country focus on English as their only language of communication, in country that only about 7-8% can speak and read decent English, that Sanskrit as a language is being revived too. It's not really paradoxical because that's the end result of free and open economy - more and more people can afford and have time to pursue their interests whether it's arts, languages, or sports, along with entrepreneurial ventures and make a career out of their interest.

Pallavi Singh describes the revival of Sanskrit in Uttarakhand from two sources - Uttaranchal Sanskrit Academy and Uttaranchal Sanskrit University.

Since then, both institutions have consulted historians and linguists on the language to arrive at a vast compendium of subjects Sanskrit can address: botany in the Vrikshayurveda texts, Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita for scientific theories on earthquakes and ecology and the calculation of planetary movements and preparing perfumes, Panini’s Ashtadhyayi for mathematics and Kautilya’s Arthshashtra for political and economic organization.

Then there are plays in the language by various local theatre groups. Sudha Rani Pandey, vice-chancellor of Uttaranchal Sanskrit University, argues that the cultural history of the language runs deep. “The 18th century play Sabha Bhushanam, and Navya Bharat Natakam, Naranarayanabhyudaya Natakam, Ajeya Bharatam developed in the 20th century speak well of the richness of Sanskrit,” she says.

But the task is slow and arduous.
With difficult grammar rules, verb and noun formations, and many more tenses in Sanskrit, the learning curve itself is pretty steep and intimidating for most. From 49,736 speakers in 1991, the number of speakers of Sanskrit dwindled to 14,135 in 2001.

"Good View of Torry Pines"

Stuart Hart who focuses on Sustainable Enterprises at Cornell University writes about his professional interaction with C.K. Prahalad.

CK remained true to his nature to the very end.  My colleague Ted London and I are working on a new book focused on the future of BoP business and CK was one of the key contributors to the effort.  Knowing that he was in a fragile state, we gently inquired as to the status of his chapter for the book.  One week prior to his passing he emailed: "You have probably given me up for dead. Yes, I was there... I am in ICU in Scripps for the last 16 days and I am now stable but not recovering fully yet...Good view of the Torrey Pines golf course and ocean from my room.  I do not know whether you still want my piece.  If you go forward without it, I will understand.  But if you change your mind, I need the help of a scribe.  Let me know.  Warm regards, CK."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

C. K. Prahalad, Dead At Age 68

C. K. Prahalad, a great management guru died at 68 in San Diego, US - too soon, I think.
Hailing from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, Prahalad did his graduation in Science from the Loyola College in Madras (now Chennai) and did his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

After his doctorate from Harvard Business School, the well-known corporate thinker had been associated with the University of Michigan.

C. K. Prahalad coined the phrase "core competency", a standard in business operations around the globe now, which allowed lot of business revival in India (and in the west prior to that), when it opened up from its staleness of socialism and statism. In fact, one can trace the entire outsourcing based industry, IT and BPO, that India benefits from, from that management concept of focusing resources on core competency. Prahalad provided a management concept around that principle.

Prahalad also encouraged entrepreneurs to not just focus on the rich and raising middle class in poor countries, like India, but to build symbiotic businesses that provides goods and services "profitably" to the poor around the world, so that poor also have access to goods and services that they normally don't have.

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Revised and Updated 5th Anniversary Edition: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits by C. K. Prahalad (Hardcover - Sept. 3, 2009)

This is, of course, different from the cacophony of self-serving NGOs, not all of them but many, the charity model, and only government can provide model that continues to be in vogue to help the poor live a decent life.

And he contributed plenty more to the study of management and he for good business management and governance.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Humour: We Learn, They Fall

A popular joke in China making the rounds right now is:
"We learned from the Soviet Union, and it collapsed. We learned from Japan, and it collapsed. We learned from the United States, and it collapsed"

Confucius and Freedom in China

JK at Varnam wrote about the current debate going on China regarding its future direction from the recent past communism. Maoist variety of communism, after taking its brutal toll of about 60-million Chinese, is fairly dead in China. Is the future western democracy, some mix of British or American or European democratic mishmash, that we have in India, amended to death from a 60-year old decent constitution of Dr. Ambadkar, or is it back to Confucius future in China? As JK, Sebastian Mallaby writes in Washington Post that Confucius seems to be winning for the moment:
[Yan Xuetong] quotes the ancient scholar Xun Zi, who taught that great powers must respect others if they aspire to be "as secure as a boulder." Moreover, Yan says, the Chinese tradition requires powerful states to help weak ones. If pirates menace citizens of countries that lack the seapower necessary to fight back, a country with a strong navy has a duty to enforce order on the oceans. If this means that a powerful China will be a benign global cop, its rise may turn out to be welcome.

But Yan's conclusions can also unnerve. He explains, for example, that the Chinese tradition rejects the idea that human life has an intrinsic value. "Not everyone's life is equal," he maintains. "[A]n uncivilized person -- a barbarian -- his life is less meaningful." It follows, Yan says, that a powerful China would see no strong argument for combating a global health crisis such as AIDS. Barbarians are not worth saving.

Might a powerful China want to help barbarians attain a state of civility? Yan says no: In the Christian tradition, missionaries strive to make converts, but in the Confucian tradition, teachers are not supposed to recruit pupils. In the Chinese view, barbarians are welcome to learn from China's example, but if they don't, that's their concern. China will do business with barbarians -- think Zimbabwe, Burma or Sudan -- but it will not try to change them.
There is also a freedom debate going on in China: how dead is communism really in China. With Google deciding to leave China, its co-founder Sergey Brin, who escaped Soviet communism in 1979, says he did it because the current censorship crackdown reminds him of Soviet Union. Yasheng Huang argues, asking Google to reconsider leaving China, comparison with Soviet Union may be a bit of stretch and that Google's presence in China does promote better lives and freedom for Chinese:
Anyone who has spent time online in China can testify that the Internet community there is easily one of the most dynamic and vibrant on Earth. On any issue, there are passionate debates and opinions across the ideological spectrum. Maoists, Hayekians and Confucians trade barbs with insults and zealotry. Blogs by serious intellectuals attract audiences unimaginable in the West. China's market for ideas is enormous. Last month, the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, went online and personally answered netizens' questions, even some that, by Chinese standards, were rather blunt. (One answer Wen gave on the real estate market prompted a blogger in China to post all the past statements Wen had made on controlling real estate prices -- alongside an index of rising prices.)

Western observers are fixated on dramas such as the Tiananmen protests and the condition of human rights dissidents. They forget that bread-and-butter issues, such as high housing prices and polluted rivers, now animate citizens as much as ideas of freedom and democracy did two decades ago.

Another point that Indian peddlers of western ideas ignore that the means of communication in China is Chinese, mostly Mandarin.  That itself will ensure that what ever future Chinese decide for themselves, with a strong involvement of state, of course, will be based on Chinese ideas, not borrowed and hoisted ideas that we get from Indian elites who crawl at any idea that emanates from western English world with no indigenous cultural mooring.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

US Behaviour On David Headley

Trying to explain US-India relationship, Pragmatic at Indian National Interest, unfortunately falls for some old markers of the relationship and gives the notion that US has everything to give and India has nothing to offer in the apparent disparate relationship.

We are not so sure. We'll come to what India offers US in the relationship in a little bit. First, we like to remind ourselves that we proposed fairly early on, when the relationship were in the heady phase of nuclear deal and strategic upswing, that US-India relationship was predicated on George W. Bush being president of US. Most commentators thought otherwise - they convinced themselves that it was generational relationship that is independent of US presidency.

Obama's presidency, despite having Hillary Clinton, who has close ties to India community in US, as Secretary of State, is proving to be otherwise in more than one way. To be fair, the trend of Obama's presidency seems to be that US antagonizes its friends and be submissive to its enemies and competitors.

The issue with Headley is more than transactional. If US covers up the one single clearest lead to the deadliest terror attacks of Mumbai 26/11, on Indian soil, what kind of relationship is it - strategic or otherwise? US is behaving like Pakistan lite when it comes Islamic terror emanating from Pakistan region - on LeT, on Headley, on the whole Islamic terror apparatus that is targeting India.

Assume, for a moment, the opposite; that India is in possession of a terrorist who killed 166 Americans. And the terrorist has linkages to Indian security apparatus. Won't US immediately use all available avenues such as diplomatic, military, trade, western media (and ever obliging Indian media) to browbeat India into submission. We would venture further that US would impose economic and military sanctions if India doesn't comply.

The dismay of Indian strategic establishment, and few commentators, even as Indian ruling government dithers on the confusion emanating from Washington, is a non-response compared what Washington would have done if India responded similarly.

By the way, despite what Robert Blackwell, a close Indian friend and voice in Washington circles, had to say about what India wants and India can give, India also reciprocates to US pursuit of strategic relationship with open markets, open visa policy, open trade, nuclear power deals, weapons purchases, and, the latest, very generous nuclear liability bill targeted specifically at US companies

It's incredible to think that India has nothing to offer to US. With US in the economic dumps, and China pushing back on US on trade and currency manipulation, India is the only other large growing market that US companies can look to for future growth.

We don't think we need to undersell ourselves. India should use all avenues to push to get Headley talking, understand global reach of LeT and other Pakistan sponsored Islamic terror apparatus, and, more importantly, take actions to thwart and beat back those terror forces.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bharatiya Common Currency - In 6th Century BCE

There is a small wing of left wingers who say India is a country by force; that if imperial British did subdue the various kingdoms, we won't have the country we have now and all the states will go their own way. Well, here some proof that subcontinent had common heritage, or at least was a common economic entity, sort of like current Euroland, wait for this, six centuries prior to common era:
...16 princely states in ancient India had a common currency in the sixth century BC, historians say.

Displaying 373 silver punch-marked coins from Vaigainallur, a village in Karur district in Tamil Nadu at the Government Museum here, historians said the coins — found in regions spanning from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin in the Indian sub-continent — could have served as a uniform currency of ancient India.

Most of the coins unearthed from different sites of the sub-continent had similar marks on them, making it probable that they were the earliest common currency in India, the historians said.

Dr T S Sridhar, commissioner of museums, and N Sundarajan, curator, numismatics division, said the coins — unearthed from land belonging to a man, Jayaraman, in 2008 — revealed trade ties between Sangam-age Tamils and the Mauryan empire.

Sundarajan said the coins were circulated throughout the Indian sub-continent before the commencement of the Common Era.

Silver coins were used for large but common transactions, and as a unit of account for taxes, dues, contracts and fealty in ancient India, since the time of the Mahajanapadas.

Five symbols including the sun and the six-armed wheel have been identified on the coins, and it is inferred they were issued by the Magadha dynasty.

“Several Sanskrit writers such as Manu, Panini and the Buddhist Jataka tales have mentioned these coins,” Sundarajan said.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Interpreting A Secular Apologist - M. F. Husain

See our earlier post on this subject including some offending painting of M. F. Husain here.

Here we interpret a secular apologist of M.F. Husain painting. As with most left wing ideological narrative, the core issue is dealt with only tangentially and that too to prove that their role model actually knows more about the subject than the experts on the right side of the debate (the whole Bt Cotton and Bt Brinjal debate was such a debate). The narrative then finds a boogie/straw man, usually RSS or its cohorts - those apparent right wing fascists or fundamentalists - if it's a cultural, historic, or scientific issue , or BJP if it's a political issue, and then the narrative trashes the straw man. Never mind that RSS/BJP usually are exhibit aggressive-passive behaviour - first aggressiveness issuing wild statements and then passivity when questioned by left wing media with selective facts, meaning RSS/BJP rarely have their facts, and thoughts, straight before speaking up for the right.

While the left wing media never consults/interviews/quotes anyone who can think coherently on right wing ideological narrative, they offer plenty of space to left wing ideological narrative and secular apologists. In the recent barrage of news stories and interviews boosting M. F. Husain apparent talent and our apparent lose when he voluntary accepted Qatari citizenship, amidst the cover up of what really offends Hindus, is an interview with one friend of M. F. Husain, Ram Rahman, himself a photographer and designer. We are told Rahman is an activist (is there another kind?) for freedom to speak(!!) and a founding member of the artists body Sahmat and that he laments India's shrinking space for creative freedom (I like to see his defense of Taslima Nasreen - but she's a Bangla!). Here is our interpretation of the interview published in Times of India on Sunday February 28, 2010.

TOI Question:

Left wing ideological narrative (LWIN): What is it about M F Husains clutch of paintings that keeps him away from his country?
Right wing interpretation ( RWI): An opened question by media asking an apologist for tangential answers and beating up the straw man.

First Part:
Rahman's narrative is in two parts: first is to say that M. F Husain is a traditionalist, ie a conservative himself, he's not out of the ordinary and there is nothing new about his painting. But he's special!

LWIN: Husain is one of the few artists who has a popular connect because he comes from a different background. He has crossed every tradition...
RWI: Meaning, he's a conservative or a traditionalist himself.

One of the key standard defense of LWIN is that left wingers themselves are traditionalist or that they are not radical. If they can't find the conservatism in India they usually point to the west, there is always something to find and emulate from the west, and that works perfectly.

LWIN:...worked on every religion,...
RWI: meaning, he painted similar painting of Islam and Christianity as he does of Hinduism, so it's no big deal. We have shown how similar Husain's paintings and interpretations are of Hinduism and Abrahamic religions.

LWIN: ...and mined all iconographic traditions.
RWI: meaning, he studies icons, pictures in depth. The guy knows what he's doing!

LWIN: The irony is that he is not a revolutionary painter: Conceptually, Husain has never transgressed...
RWI: meaning, again, he's a conservative or traditionalist painter. There is nothing out of the ordinary in Husain's paintings, every painter does it.

LWIN: He has reinterpreted existing icongraphy in his own style. That's all.
RWI: meaning, it's just a matter of interpretation, which is his own style. It's no big deal. They don't know what the fuss is about. 

LWIN: But he has a connect. 
RWI: meaning, despite his ordinariness, he's special!

Second Part:
Rahman's second part of the narrative is setting up the straw man - usually that tiny, ignorant, illiterate, facist, and fundamentalist - and then connecting the straw man to a known straw man, an apparent Hindu organization, would make the narrative perfect.

LWIN: There are two issues here. First, the titles of the paintings. Second, the politics of protest. 
RWI: Here the secular apologist is framing the narrative – it's nothing out of ordinary but Husain is special, and here's why he's being maligned unfairly.  Look for Rahman blame others for what Husain painted.

LWIN: Husain named his Durga sketch just that, 'Durga'. 'Durga in union with Lion' is the interpretation on the website of the Janajagruti samiti which run their main campaign against Husain. 
RWI: We hope you got this! Here the secular apologist narrative is into semantic manipulation. Rahman is talking as though Durga is not naked having bestial sex with her ride, the loin. In fact, loin may have been added into the painting by Janajagruti samiti itself – who knows! Surely Husain just painted Durga, because he called his painting that. The fall back is: why does one interpret more than what Husain intended? The narrative says that the core issue now really is about misnomer of the painting, not the painting itself!

LWIN:The title was given by an art critic who didn't have the guts to come out in the open. 
RWI: Again, the fault lies with the title and title giver who interpreted it differently than Husain, not the painting or painter. Also the narrative is such that an art critic, some unknown boogie man, is the frightened man, not Husain who left the India and became a citizen of a professed Islamic country, instead of fighting for what he believes in, which is hatred of Hinduism, in Indian courts, which we think would have obliged him.

LWIN: Husain is not stupid. He knows his Ramayana better than many pundits. He was making a flying Hanuman. The title is incorrect. Did Hanuman rescue Sita. No....
RWI: This is title of the interview in the newspaper, meaning, for people who glanced the title and move on, Husain paintings are real interpretation of Hinduism!!  This classic defense of all secularists and communists – who just simply make up stuff from thin air - that they actually know more about a subject than the analysts who base their information on facts. We see this defense of left wing ideology repeatedly on free markets, open trade, defense issues, and, of course, on culture and religion issues. This is exactly why we, the right wing narrative has to be based on facts because liberal secularists talking points are based on fiction. 

Painting in this case is the naked Sita Devi sitting on naked Ravana's thigh with Hanuman watching. The issue that this secular apologist brings up is: Did Hanuman rescue Sita? Obviously, according to Ramayana, Hanuman came in search of Sita and he was ready to take Sita back to Rama. Sita declined to go with Hanuman and wanted Rama to come rescue her from Ravana. The point is that Sita Devi is immensely respected in Hinduism for her piousness, for her fidelity to her marriage to Rama, and she would never do anything to shed her modesty. Not only that, Ramayana itself makes clear that Ravana himself, a Shiva bhakti, is a man of character. Although the enraged Ravana abducted Sita and wanted her to marry him, he was perfectly willing to wait until Sita changed her mind about him. He did not go naked in front of Sita, dangling his penis, and Sita, enamored by his naked body, did not get close to him. But we are told by Times of India and their secular apologist that Husain knows his Ramayana better than Hindu pundits themselves. 

In this secular apologist view of the painting, pictures of which they could have easily published along with the interview, available on our blog, the painting didn't even have Sita and Ravana, both of them naked, on it. It was just flying Hanuman and nothing else was on the painting! The lies that secularists speak and media that publish are amazing!

LWIN: The reaction is the work of powerful rumour propaganda machinery, the RSS's...
RWI:  And then comes the pitsy (intellectually) little RSS as the fall guy - that powerful rumour propaganda machine!! So the narrative went from Janajagruti samiti to RSS – that apparent famous Hindu fundamentalist organization that organizes for the sake of organizing and that which has done nothing for Hindus or fundamental since its inception some 85 years ago.

LWIN: ...The Saraswati drawing was 20 years old when it was picked up ..., several years ago...Only when commual politics was allowed to grow was the furore allowed to grow...Husain is the perfect target for communal politics.
RWI: The earlier nonsense is followed by irrelevant information – that a rich Hindu actually first commissioned Husain Ramayana paintings – there is no way to verify this information.  Then it is followed by turning the tables: while Husain's work has no expiration date the people who are offended shouldn't be beyond a certain time.  Meaning, it's Hindus fault that Husain painted what he did. In fact, his paintings don't represent hatred of Hindus until Hindus, who were offended, pointed them out for their own religious gains. As in the left wing standard narrative, the hater becomes the victim and the object of hate becomes the perpetrator.

This part of the narrative is the most important part. It turns the entire issue upside down - this is, again, a classic strategy of the left wing ideological narrative: after setting the narrative background that the left wingers are not radical, that they know more about the subject than knowledgeable right wingers, that right wingers themselves liked the offending material, and finally the offended party becomes the guilty party!!

One can go on about the nonsensical interview of the secular apologist in Times of India (which gave no space give to the opposing view). It is one illustration of the classic secular and liberal media narrative. This is exactly what we have fight. And we can't do that by being centrist. We have to offer an alternative fact, analysis, and commentary based right wing narrative to herds the cattle and bulls to our side. The politics will take care of it by itself.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Saudi's Historic Islamic Terror Connections And Our Engagement

We proposed India should try and enroll Saudi Arabia for quite go-between for India during India- Pakistan negotiations. B. Raman provides a historic context to Saudi's support of Islamic jihad since the 80s.

Like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has been following a dual policy on terrorism. It has taken ruthless action against Al Qaeda elements posing a threat to its internal security. At the same time, it has avoided taking action against Wahabi organizations which have been supporting terrorism in other countries. Many of the so-called charity organizations, which have been funding terrorist organizations in other countries including India and Bangladesh, are of Saudi origin. Despite international pressure on Saudi Arabia to act against such charity organizations and stop the flow of funds to global jihadi terrorism, the action taken by the Saudi authorities has been unsatisfactory.

While Saudi officially did support jihad extensively for decades, we are not sure they still do, especially after some terrorist groups tried to take over the main mosque in a siege. But there are plenty of Saudis individuals who engage in and fund Islamic terror. And, of course, Saudi funded Wahhabi centers in India, and across the globe, are fountain heads for funding and supporting Islamic terror.

We are still inclined to think Saudi quite involvement would be a non-negative for negotiations and sustained peace between India and Pakistan. Our arguments made earlier still stands. Indian government has to be vigilant if such a path is invoked and not get complacent about Saudi's involvement. But the path is less riddled by pot holes than using US has the current presumed mediator. Engagement with US is a well worn path and we understand how they think and act. With Saudi Arabia, we have to be mindful of the many unintended consequences of this engagement and quite mediation and pull back if things are going bad from our vantage.

Monday, March 1, 2010

How Lord Venkateswara Helped Fight Indira's Tyranny in 1974

Remembering Nanaji Deshmukh, RSS and Jan Sangh leader, and founder of mostly defunct Deendayal Research Institute, a think tank, on the eve of his death, at age 94, S. Gurumurthy recalled a remarkable story that Nanaji narrated to him about what lead Jay Prakash Narayan to lead the fight against the absolutely corrupt and tyrannical Indira Gandhi's rule in early 1970, when she rolled out her socialist programs, destroying the already dying Nehru's command economy, and destroyed the constitutional separation of judiciary and executive branch. (Does communism and socialism exist in another kind?)

An incredible incident made Jayaprakash Narayan to agree to the plea of Nanaji and Ramnathji to lead the movement against Indira Gandhi. I came to know of this in the late 1980s when at a dinner in the Express Towers in Bombay I asked Nanaji and Ramnathji how they brought JP into the movement. Nanaji described the thrilling and unbelievable episode. A historic meeting of Ramnathji, Nanaji, Achyut Patwardhan, the hero of the 1942 underground movement and Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, a great Hindi poet, took place sometime in 1973 in the Indian Express Guest House in Bangalore. Ramnathji, Nanaji, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar and Achyut Patwardhan, began insisting that JP should lead the movement as Indira Gandhi had become highly autocratic and had begun destroying the institutional framework of democracy including the judiciary and bureaucracy. Incidentally, Dinkar was one of the greatest friends of the Nehru family and particularly of Indira Gandhi herself. But that did not detract him from doing what he thought was his duty to the nation. JP was hesitant mainly because of his health. He was a diabetic and had acute prostrate gland issues. He said that he would not be able to live for long and his health did not permit him to undertake such an arduous task. Ramnathji assured him that he would have his prostrate operation done in Vellore, which he eventually got done later. But JP could still not make up his mind. At that point, Ramnathji suggested that all of them should go to Tirupati, have darshan and prayers and from there, go to Madras as it was known then, and continue the discussions. And they all left for Tirupati.

During the darshan at Tirupati, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar openly prayed to Lord Balaji, to the hearing of JP and the others, that whatever remaining years of life Dinkar had the Lord should give them to JP to help him serve the cause of the motherland. And they all returned to Madras and to Ramnathji’s house in the Express Estates in Mount Road. Within hours Ramdhari Singh Dinkar fell on the lap of Ramnath Goenka and died — yes he died when JP, Nanaji and Achyut Patwardhan were around. It was clear that Lord Balaji had answered Dinkar’s prayers. JP’s decision to lead the movement came in no time. Despite my several requests Nanaji had refused to write about it in the Indian Express. When I asked him how will the people of India know about it, he said that he had written in his diary and he would like it to be known after his death. Now that he is no more I felt free to write about it.

Bring Saudi Arabia into IBSA Before Making it a Mediator in Indo-Pak Dialogue

Getting Saudi Arabia to Play a Fair and Quite Role is Key

Despite Sashi Tharoor pronouncements and retractions, we are sure India has sought Saudi Arabia's help in reining in various Islamic terrorists groups supported by Pakistan that create death and destruction in Indian cities with regular frequency. Saudi is the main financier of increasingly bankrupt and strife-ridden Pakistan. Being an Islamic country that doesn't think that it's the greatest gift to mankind, with immense oil and energy resources, and influence in Pakistan, unlike the erratic US, Saudi may actually be a asset to India during it's long winding and ever changing negotiations with Pakistan.

Saudi would surely be better than China in the role of quite mediator - for example, India could have talked to Pakistan via Saudi, quietly, instead of via US, which ends up using the situation for its own advantage, on what Pakistan was willing to do, soon after Mumbai Islamic terror attacks on 26/11. May be Pakistan will not play so many double games if it gives its word to Muslim Saudi instead of to Christian US - when Pakistan follows Islamic practice of lying to non-Muslims to win a battle/war (we forget the exact Quranic word that convey the meaning of this war/negotiation strategy of Islamic groups/countries). In fact, assurances made to Pakistan to Saudi may be more binding then those made to US or India.

Of course Saudi, being an Islamic country itself, may also practice the art of lying to non-Muslim India. But we would like to think Saudi, if it does so, has more to lose strategically and financially unlike morally bankrupt Pakistan. To bring Saudi into that strategic and financial reliance on India, we must first open up to Saudi Arabia.

While the current visit by Manmohan Singh, first visit by Indian PM since Indira in 1982, has been well received, despite Tharoor tamasha, we have to go a step further.

"We deeply value Saudi Arabia's role as a reliable partner in meeting our energy needs. We believe that conditions are ripe for moving beyond a traditional buyer-seller relationship to a comprehensive energy partnership," he [PM] said.

"India sees Saudi Arabia as a strategic partner for promoting peace, stability and economic development. Such a partnership will bring benefits not only to our two countries but to the region we both belong to, and to the world at large," the PM said.

The Saudi industry captains said India should grant multi-entry visa to ease movement of businessmen and clear hurdles in investment funds. They said there was tremendous scope for cooperation in the oil, power and IT sectors.
Singh said Indian companies are well-equipped to participate in upstream and downstream oil and gas sector projects in Saudi Arabia. "We should also establish new partnerships in the area of new and renewable energy through sharing of clean technologies and joint collaborations," he said.

Saudi Arabia is India's fourth largest trading partner with two-way commerce being to the tune of about $ 25 billion.

We should have, after consulting with South Africa and Brazil, brought Saudi Arabia into the IBSA strategic initiative as Saudi is also a major littoral state. IBSA has been one Indian initiative that has been a success and has potential to be substantive if we play it right. Bringing in Saudi into a strategic framework of a global group would make Saudi a responsible and viable country. Saudi would then, one would hope, play a fair and quite mediator role between the troubled Pakistan with its negotiations with India.

We see little downside to Saudi being a quite go in-between between India and Pakistan. Surely Saudi would play the role much better than US or China. But in order for Saudi Arabia to play its role fairly, we should bring Saudi along to the global stage and take the relationship beyond an economic one.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Those Law Suit Filing Hindu Fundamentalists - M. F. Husain

Times of India News Digest on front page first article on Friday had this recap of M. F. Husain's troubles in India when declaring that he became a Qatar citizen:
News of Husain's new nationality created ripples in the art world and triggered anger of the government's failure to bring home the artist who was forced to flee India in 2006 and flit between Dubai and Londan as criminal cases filed by fringe Hindu extremist groups alleging he had defiled deities by depicting them obscenely piled up in Indian courts. Last year, the Supreme Court clubbed all nine cases against Husain and transferred it to a Delhi magistrate's court in a bid to clear the mess. But no hearing was held and no clear order absolving him came. He felt he was still liable for arrest on Indian soil and never came back.

So let's get this straight, some Hindus filed court cases instead of murdering or beheading him as Islamic groups would do for apparent slander of Islam and these Hindus are "fundamentalists!" And the guy who fled the country after the cases were filed, instead of fighting for what he believes in, has artists around the "world" in anger. No wonder our judicial system is in shambles with all the lakhs of "fundamentalists" filing cases for criminal and civil dispute cases. In our opposite world, Indian secularists would say those Islamic groups that behead, instead of file court cases, are following the law.

Let us present the reason why thinking Hindus are offended by "great artist" M. F. Husain's painting of Hindu Gods. Has anyone noticed that none of Indian secularists and their media apologists ever tell us what the painting are about or perhaps publish them. While looking at the pictures (obtained from here) of Husain's painting, see the caption of first painting to see why Husain expresses his Hindu hatred in naked figures of Hindu Gods.

Einstein, Gandhi, Mao, and Hilter (Apparently Husain hates Hilter and paints him naked. Notice Das Kapital of Mao - no wonder left wingers love him so much)
Painting of Muslims - Women and Men

Husain's Mother

 Husain's Daugther

A Muslim woman

Fatima (Islam's founder Mohammad's daughter)

Teresa (although she's not known for playing with children, perhaps the naked brown boy means something)

Muslim Poets - Faiz and Galib

Paintings of Hindu Deities and Hindu men

Durga Devi (with, perhaps in bestial act, her loin, naked)

Parvati Devi (naked with Ganesha)

Lakshmi Devi (sitting on elephant naked)  

Saraswati Devi (with her Veena, naked in water holding a lotus, perhaps drowning)
Sita Devi, Ravana, and Hanuman (not only is Sita naked, she's sitting on Ravana's lap, with his penis hanging, when Hanuman arrives!)

Draupati (ugly and presumably getting stripped)

Warrior Muslim ready to slay a naked Hindu

Of course, the naked Bharatmata herself

This is also another case of fundamentalist equivalency. M. F. Husain, perhaps being a Muslim, and his liberal left wing artists elk think that Hindus outraged by Husain's salacious paintings depicting Hindu Gods, would behave exactly like Islamic fundamentalists, even if they had already filed "law suits" in court of law.

We are told M. F. Husain has accepted Qatar citizenship out of fear for his arrest in India. Perhaps now Husain will have the freedom to paint naked Qatari gods be appreciated by liberal Qatari people and the art world can celebrate the "art" of the great "artist."

Changing the Current Left Wing Ideological Narrative - 2010 Budget

While our take on the 2010 Congress I budget is largely negative, at least we are happy to report on a data point in the change in ideological narrative. Instead of quoting sundry left wing populist Marxist economists, such as Amartya Sen, Pranab Mukherjee has quoted Kautilya's Artha Shastra three times during the budget presentation on the wisdom of lower taxes and wisdom of reduced government burden, meaning free economy and open trade, on economic life of people.
Kautilya, who was prime minister in the court of King Chandragupta Maurya, a contemporary to Alexander, in fourth century BC, was mentioned in another Budget presented by Yashwant Sinha in 1999-2000 as the then finance minister in the NDA government.

Delivering his budget speech for 2010-11, Mukherjee said, "While formulating them (tax proposals), I have been guided by the principles of sound tax administration as embodied" in the words of Kautilya.

He further quoted Kautilya: "Thus a wise Collector General shall conduct the work of revenue collection. . .  in a manner that production and consumption should not be injuriously affected. . .  financial prosperity depends on public prosperity, abundance of harvest and prosperity of commerce among other things."

We celebrate this data point in the change in ideological narrative towards the right.

Still Tinkering With the Economy in 2010

Annual Indian socialist budget tamasha was yesterday. In the intense debated leading up to and after the budget presentation, no one asked the question, "Will (Is) our economy more free than it was before budget?"

Based on the highlights, while we like the tax cuts on all income groups and dismayed at non-increase in defence spending at this hour of peril, similar to the disastrous Manmohan policies of under spending on defence to control growing deficits in early 1990s, overall government of India still has way too much control over people's economic lives and Congress I is still tinkering with each and every government controlled lever instead of dismantling the entire socialist economic machine.

Why exactly BJP is boycotting the budget and will vote against it? If BJP wants to agitate against food inflation, what are its ideas that were not included in the budget that could have controlled inflation of basic goods? While politically taking on Congress I over the unpopular petrol/diesel price increase is understandable, we are not sure BJP should vote against the bill itself. We agree with BJP that the budget can be better. We hope BJP proposes alternative budget ideas, if only clarify its own economic message.

We have highlighted one reason for food inflation is the reduced yields of food crops because of perverseness of Urea subsidy put in place due to fertilizer industry rent seeking lobby. We were hoping for complete elimination of subsidies for fertilizer industry. It was not to be, but perverseness of Urea subsidy has been replace by subsidies based on nutrient of fertilizer. So socialism and rent seeking of fertilizer industry will continue, but at least impact on food crop yields will be reduced.

There is nothing about complete divestment of public sector firms which are still a huge drag on Indian economy - such as "Rs 16,500 crore to public sector banks to maintain tier-I capital" - although there are plans to divest in tiny increments to "raise Rs 25,000 crore from disinvestment of its stake in state-owned firms." We would wager that funding would be provided to government banks but divestment target money will not raised by this time next year. We are not sure if the "apex-level Financial Stability and Development Council" has mandate to make Mumbai an international financial center on par with Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, and London.

Overall the tinkering of socialist Indian economy by the current government continues.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Swapan's BJP Revival Assessment Follow Current Ideological Template

It's Time We Change the Narrative Template

Swapan Dasgupta wrote an upbeat assessment of BJP revival under the leadership Nitin Gadkari. Although we like current leadership of BJP under Gidkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, all at center level, along with various chief ministers at state level such as Narender Modi, Shivraj Singh, Vasundhara Raje Scindia (hoping that she takes the reins of BJP in Rajasthan soon), and B.S. Yeddyurappa, we think it is premature to talk of revival of BJP until it follows a prescription for conservatism that we propose in our defense of right wing ideology. Even if premature, we don't have issue with Swapan Dasgupta's assessment. What we do have problem with Swapan's inclusion of standard prescriptive mention of the left wing template that (1) whenever Modi's name is brought up, the sentence has to included to mention the 8-year old Godhara riots, and (2) bashing of BJP's so called Hindu nationalism ideology.

While we are dismay at Swapan using template (1) because he, and others like him, need to stop using the standard template of left wing ideologues - it is a first step in changing the current standard ideological narrative, which is entirely herded by left wingers of the country, we are more concerned about Swapan's swipe at the apparent BJP's Hindu nationalist ideology. Where exactly is this ideology? When did BJP, as an political party, propose an agenda to convert India into a Hindu state? If that's not what bothers Swapan, what exactly is Hindu nationalism then? Does BJP's interest in building a Rama temple at Babri Masjid, which was build at the spot by Babar precisely because it was Rama temple at Ayodhya, birth place of Ram. (Secularists may want proof of Ayodhya being the birth place of Ram, but Barbur didn't. Hindus believe itself was enough for him to dismantle the temple and build a masjid on it at Ayodhya.) Even if right wing secularists follow the left wing standard narrative on the issue, how does BJP, with this agenda, convert the state of India into a Hindu state shredding the constitution?

If Rama temple of Ayodhya wasn't Swapan's concern but the recent Shah Rukh Khan flap that Islamic terrorism sponsoring Pakistan was a "great neighbour" was, then surely it would be guilt by association. If anything BJP position was not even to mock Shah Rukh Khan's badge of good neighbour to Pakistan but simple to say that Shah Rukh Khan himself was patriot. How exactly does this represents BJP's Hindu nationalism is a mystery.

This mystery can easily be understood by looking at who creates the ideological narrative template and who follow that template defensively. This current ideological narrative template can't be countered by being a centrist bull. We have to become herders ourselves, stop being defensive, and create our own right wing counter ideological narrative.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Being Centrist Won't Work in India

On Being A Proud Right-winger

One can describe the current Indian ideological model using a simple model of, what else, cattle farm. The herders set the ideological narrative and the cattle follow that ideological narrative. Many follow the standard ideological narrative because they are ignorant of ideology – even if they are going to own their slaughter. A few thinking cattle, let us call them bulls, understand the current destructive ideology but are too muddled to stand up to say, “Stop! Let me out of the farm. Let me be free.”

There is a reason to be centrist – meaning ideologically independent – in India. But those centrists, by their neutral stand, also become part the cattle in the farm herded by one ideology or another. Some of these centrists bulls. The bulls among the cattle, who tend to be few and far between, are those who can think for themselves, but do not take ideological sides, mainly because they are too muddled, meaning unable to clarify and distill their thinking, to take sides. Most of these bulls are economic or religious right-wingers but are muddled in their thoughts about Hinduism (in case of economic free-marketers) or about free-markets (in case of Hindu revivalists). Vast majority of the bulls are in the latter camp.

The primary herders of the cattle, including ideological centrists, the bulls, are those who provide left wing ideological narrative. They includes communists, Marxists, so-called rationalists, NGOs, Naxalites, and any numbers of so-called civil society groups that usually act as apologists to the groups mentioned earlier. They are supported and abetted by news and TV media, historians, columnists, and intellectuals of various kinds.

If our challenge is to take on the left wing of India, we can't be centrist cattle because even the bulls are being herded by the current left wing ideological narrative. Our only option is offer an alternative narrative. We have to become the polar opposite right wing herders of the cattle to order rescue the nation from the tyranny of corrupt left wing ideology that has taken over the nation during the 20th century.

It cannot be emphasized enough – we can't offer an alternative narrative to tyranny of left wing ideology that has a firm grip on the nation by being centrists.

The right wing ideology, and it is an ideology, has to offer an alternative to the current intellectual narrative on politics, on economy, on foreign policy, on history, and, equally importantly, on Hindu culture and religion. This ideology has to provide an alternative based on clean life in politics, on economic freedom being pre-requisite for prosperity for all people, on a strong non-defensive (and non-diminutive) foreign and national security policy, on promoting Hinduism revivalism taking a stand against aggressive Christian missionaries and Islamic forces. One can't provide this alternative by being a centrist or by providing half-hearted efforts against firmly established left wing ideological narrative that has dominated public narrative since independence from imperialism from the west. Any centrist ideological narrative will spend mostly defending that it's not a right wing narrative. Any half hearted ideological narrative will be crushed by the left wing establishment that already controls the narrative.

Non-Political Argument

This is not a political argument, meaning this argument is not about converting BJP into a right wing political party or for establishing a new right wing political party, such as reviving the old Swathantra Party. This is an argument for changing the national narrative: (1) where being a free market open trade economy with small government becomes the standard economic narrative; (2) where a strong response to Islamic terrorism and strong stand on national security, when each Indian life is considered precious and important, becomes a standard foreign and security policy narrative; (3) where historic Islamic imperialism, western imperialism, pre-imperialism and pre-Buddha eras become standard historic narrative uncorrupted by political correctness imposed by western Indologists or Marxist historians; and (4) where Hindu revivalists freely referring to Vedas, Upanishads, and Puranas becomes a standard cultural narrative.

The standard narrative has to shift so that the starting point of political arguments are based on right wing ideology, not the other way round as it happens currently. The ideological narrative has to shift so that which ever party stands for elections, it has to follow the right wing ideology narrative - on clean politics, free market open economy, foreign & national security, and cultural issues - else it should face the prospect of defeat from the centrists and ideological independents voters, because they form the largest swing votes that decide the political fate of parties. This shift in standard narrative cannot be achieved by right wingers being on the defensive that they are not ideological right wingers, but that they somehow are ideological centrists.

Making Right wingers Out of Bulls in the Herd

Of the two categories of bulls that could become right wingers, the Hindu revival centrists who have seen the devastating effect of 60 (and more) decades of socialism and communism on national economic well being, prosperity, social inequity, and general cultural decay will be more willing to join the right wing ideological cause.

The second group of bulls, the free market open economy centrists will be less willing to join the right wingers. This centrist group is worried, and troubled by, mostly rightly so, by the Hindu orthodoxy that still controls Hindu narrative to some extent. This group will follow, not lead, the ideological narrative shift that should take place. In order to count these bulls as supporter, we have to banish Hindu orthodoxy on varnam and on various superstitions that. We can achieve that by following the Hindu revivalist movement pathway. Right winger themselves have to banish the Hindu orthodoxy. If not, the right wingers themselves will be labeled orthodox fundamentalists. Banishing Hindu orthodoxy does not mean wholesale embrace of western liberals and progressives, both of which are versions of left wing ideology. Hindu liberalism of right wingers has to be based on the Hindu cultural foundation of Vedas, Upanishads, and Puranas. But from this solid and vast foundation, we should reject that which does not promote human dignity and freedom of thought and embrace those that promote right to seek knowledge, human values, and dharma in public and private lives. Only when right wingers reject Hindu orthodoxy while embracing Hindu liberalism will the second group of bulls become right winger ideological herders to take on left wing ideological herders.

Examples of Centrist Not Working

While at some level both RSS and BJP are cut from the same cloth, they form an excellent examples of why being a centrist does not work in India. In some ways, the problem relate the origin of RSS itself.

When looking at RSS, one has to ask the foundational question, what exactly does RSS stand for? It apparently is a swayam sevak sangha. And if it's purely a swayam sevak sangha, why does it claim to be a Hindutva, as defined by founder of RSS itself, organization? If it is not religious organization, why does it dabble in Hindu religious and cultural issues (we say dabble because it doesn't contribute)? If it is for economic freedom, as an alternative to statist socialism, to create wealth and prosperity of the nation, why does organization itself look like its in perennial poverty. In fact, RSS is neither for promoting Hindu liberalism nor is it for promoting economic freedom. It's an entirely purposeless organization beyond its great relief work during natural calamities. It is an organization for the sake being an organization.

Going back to farm model, RSS is a sub-farm within the cattle farm, with no ideological bulls, meaning no one providing ideological heft to Hindu liberalism or economic freedom. And yet its always on the defensive that it is a centrist organization and not a “Hindu fundamentalist” organization. The left wing herders standard narrative is that RSS is a large herd of mad cattle just stomping around aimlessly, but a dangerous one in that it could stomp the entire cattle farm itself. And RSS, despite being in existence since Vijayadasami of 1925, does nothing to dispel the narrative created by left wing herders, since its inception, beyond protests and polemics.

And then there is BJP. If there is even a better example of left wing ideological herders setting the ideological narrative of an organization, it has be BJP. While it is a vastly better alternative to Congress I and regional parties in so far as it is not inimical to Hindu liberalism and economic freedom, it provides little ideological muscle to right wing ideology. While it has few right wing ideological intellectuals like Arun Shourie, its leadership, and hence its ideological direction, consists (or consisted until recently) entirely of bulls – from A. B. Vajpayee to L. K. Advani to Jaswant Singh. While they occasionally provide ideological heft for Hindu liberalism, economic freedom, and freedom of thought, like the bulls in the cattle farm, their narrative is controlled by left wing ideological herders.

Despite making India into an overt nuclear state, a significant achievement, Vajpayee follows the left wing ideological narrative from foreign policy issues such as accession of Tibet to China, following left wing Nehru's path, and making peace with Islamic terror sponsoring Pakistan, to cultural battles such as canceling Sita Ram Goel series on historic Islamic imperialism in India that was being published in RSS's publication Organizer, by firing the editor of the publication itself. L. K. Advani follows similar ideological narrative when he almost wept to explain why Ayodhya kar sevaks brought down Babri Masjid, symbol of Muslim imperialism in India, to when he claimed that Mohammad Ali Jinnah actually preached and practiced tolerance towards Hindus taking a single quote which Jinnah himself disowned few days later. Jaswant Singh, the apparent liberal in BJP, put Jinnah on even a higher pedestal dismissing M. K. Gandhi, Nehru, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patil defense of Indian nationhood of not balkanizing the nascent post-imperial nation into regional autonomous entities based primarily on religion.

Way Forward

So the notion that centrists, in the mold of BJP or other avatars, can provide an alternative narrative to left wing ideology is false and unworkable. Only a right wing challenge to current left standard narrative on economy, on nation security and foreign policy, on history, and on culture will provide the alternative. And this alternative narrative has to be provided by by-passing traditional media outlets like newspapers, current affairs magazines, and TV news. It has to be through web – blogs, magazines, books, popular novels, news collection portals, and radio talk shows all of which allow for more space, time, and energy to offer a right wing alternative narrative while exposing the hypocrisy of the current standard narrative of the left. Of the alternative media available, only radio has the power to reach mass audience until wide spread internet is available. Hence the first task for proponents of right wing alternative narrative is to identify excellent speaking showmen with great command of English, Hindi, and regional languages and provide them multiple platforms to offer commentary on news, politics, and culture and counter current left wing narrative with facts and common sense and plenty of humour to provide the alternative right wing narrative that would become mainstream in due course.

Because the right wing ideological narrative has a higher bar supported by facts, interpretation, and deductive analysis, reactive polemics of kind that are mostly currently used are of little importance. The irrationality and anti-intellectual narrative of left wing ideology can't be countered by using the same irrational and anti-intellectual narrative. The facts, interpretation, and analysis has to done by serious people individually at home and in universities or in collective enterprises such as think tanks and policy impact groups. These people's and institutional narrative has to be the foundation of the alternative right wing narrative propagated by blogs, magazines, books, talk shows, and other outlets in popular formats. The two institutions – fact-driven intellectual and popular narrative forums – have to coexist and be interlinked to make the change in current standard left wing ideological narrative.

This is only way to dismantle the current popular and destructive ideological narrative. And it's not a centrist way.