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.

Food Inflation - Distored Case of Permanent Subsidies

Unintended consequence of permanent subsidies which was supposed increase yield of food production actually decreased it. Wall Street Journal has an excellent story on the perverseness of industrial lobby, farm vote bank politics, and the ultimate devastation of farming yields - the devastation of which always shows up years later than the perversion of lobby.

What should have been a subsidy that was targeted and for limited in duration became a socialist model of profit making for fertilizer companies - licenses for which were probably obtained by corruption.
In 1967, then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imported 18,000 tons of hybrid wheat seeds from Mexico. The effect was miraculous. The wheat harvest that year was so bountiful that grain overflowed storage facilities.

Those seeds required chemical fertilizers to maximize yield. The challenge was to make fertilizers affordable to farmers who lacked the cash to pay for even the basics—food, clothing and shelter.

Back then, giving cash or vouchers to millions of farmers living all over India seemed like an impossible task fraught with the potential for corruption. So the government paid subsidies to fertilizer companies, who agreed to sell for less than the cost of production, at prices set by the government.

The subsidies were designed to make up the difference between the production price and sale price—and to give the producers a 12% after-tax return on any equity investment.

Fertilizer manufacturing companies sprang up around the country. Nagarjuna Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd. became one of the most profitable publicly listed companies in India.

By the time subsidies based deficits became crippling on the national budget and tax burden, industry lobby was fat and powerful.
In 1991, with the cost of the subsidy weighing heavily on India's finances, Manmohan Singh, then finance minister and now prime minister, pushed to eliminate it. Most fertilizer companies lobbied fiercely to retain the program. Many legislators also resisted ending the subsidy, fearing a backlash from farmers.

Then the perverseness of lobbying and vote bank politics distorted the cost curve of fertilizer with producers of Urea, essential but not only needed nutrient, continuing to get subsidies, probably because urea margins were high, while subsides on other fertilizers, such as potassium and phosphates, were eliminated. The outcome was predicable by basic economic theory - uninformed farmers started using mostly the cheap Urea, and more and more of it, degrading the soil. Over 15 years, yields actually declined. Now the yields in green-revolutionary India are actually lowered than neigbouring countries and about 50% less than China, which is ironic because the country's agriculture economy was destroyed overnight by Mao's cultural revolution in the 60s.

The story doesn't stop with lower yields, reduced food supply, and increased food prices. The fertilizer industry lobby that created the distortion to perpetuate rent seeking from the state also lost.
The subsidy theoretically gives companies a 12% profit margin. Today, in part because of the way the government calculates the subsidy, it offers the average company a 3% margin, according to K. Rahul Raju, joint managing director of Nagarjuna Fertilizers & Chemicals, and Mr. Awasti, the fertilizer cooperative head.

No one - farmers, industry, tax payers, and food consumers - came ahead in this massive subsidy and economic distortion story, perhaps not even the politicians - because political power from patronage is short lived.

If there is a case for helping the needy, that help has to be short term, targeted and with an end date, with no extensions, announced prior to starting the program. Only then will farmers, industry, and other impacted groups will adjust to the non-permanence of the subsides and prepare for normal undistorted economic activity.

More than subsidies and entitlements, the permanence of those programs create distortions in economic activities just as non-permanence of tax cut does not generate economic activity intended. The latest rage in entitlement program is the so-called "right to work" NREGA program and newest avatar of it is direct cash transfers to apparent guaranteed employees. What exactly are the unintended consequences of this permanent entitlement, beyond extensive corruption throughout rural India, is anyone's guess.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We Can Misuse It; It's Just They Can't

Whispers on why NATGRID, combined complex databases to mine and monitor presumably Islamic terrorists, but really everyone's, spending and traveling habits to gather intelligence to prevent or help prosecute terrorists, is stuck in Cabinet meeting:
Highly placed sources said the main objections raised at the meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, revolved around the need to put in place a more elaborate safety mechanism for upholding the privacy of citizens. But discussions veered around to the political scenario in which a United Progressive Alliance regime might no longer be in power and in which the informational opportunities provided by Natgrid could possibly be misused by another ruling party.

Come to think of it, it's almost impossible to mine and monitor transactions of several tens of crore people to track a few unknown Islamic terrorists, but it's easy to monitor bank transactions of a few hundred known MPs and ministers, both at center and state level. No wonder the most corrupt party in Indian politics is so worried about NATGRID coming alive.

Definition of Insanity

John Kerry, an American liberal politician, who after serving in US war with Vietnam Communists, blamed US of war crimes, offers this advise to India while in New Delhi, three days after Pune German Bakery Islamic terror attack which killed 9 people and wounded about 60 people:
If India finds a Pakistani link to the Pune attack, "I hope India will have that conversation with Pakistan and, if they have evidence to that effect, that should be the first thing on the table and Pakistan has to deal with it," he added.

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Need we say more.

Other People's Dissent

Convoluted Petition to Overturn Obvious Left-wing Human Rights Hypocrisy

The ever present Amnesty International, a global left-wing human rights group, fired, without any irony of shutting out dissent that Amnesty International apparently opposes, Gita Sahgal for expressing her views about Amnesty International working hand in glove with Islamic fundamental organizations. While we have noticed the global liberals and progressives support for non-liberal Islamic organizations for years, apparently some in the human rights community itself haven't noticed.

Three brave souls from the subcontinent, Messes Dr. Amrita Chhachhi, Sara Hossain, and Sunila Abeysekera, wrote a bafflingly muddled petition to Amnesty International to reconsider their anti-dissent act:
As organisations and individuals who stand for and support the universality of human rights, we have noted with concern the suspension of Gita Sahgal, Head of the Gender Unit at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International in London, for questioning Amnesty International’s partnership with individuals whose politics towards the Taliban are ambiguous.

That is just the first paragraph. It's downhill from there! Beyond the customary bashing of US/NATO's war on terror in Afghanistan (no mention of Iraq means Iraqis are finally free of Saddam's tyranny, no thanks to human rights groups), they don't really say why Amnesty International is wrong. Even worst, they do not even provide a defense of right to dissent without retaliation, which Amnesty International takes it upon itself to publish reports on, nor do they even mention the word “dissent” in their petition. Apparently the non-fighting words didn't bother the more than 300 people who already signed the petition.