Britain On Verge Of A Revolution

Whichever way the forthcoming election in United Kingdom goes, Britain is going to change fundamentally and so might quite a few countries around the world. Even possibly India. Brexit is now a sideshow. One way or the other it will be decided after the election. The real choice before Britain is between reviving a hard socialist future or revival of an extreme right wing capitalist economy. The British election is important because what happens in UK may start to become a trend elsewhere. Besides its fading power and its slide in the economic hierarchy, Britain still influences the intellectual political discourse in the world.

Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a socialist revolution is in the Labour manifesto and for all to see. It is open to criticism, to critique and to support. Voters know exactly what they will get whether they vote to stay in Europe or come out. Boris Johnson’s Conservative manifesto on the other hand is a hall of mirrors giving away little but bouncing a number of reflections without revealing where reality lies. Behind this is suspected to be a lurch towards American capitalist model, even more than Thatcherism

Corbyn’s socialist dream is coming under tremendous media attack. Apart from the tax threat being felt by millionaires and billionaires, many media people also fear their take home pay will be down since their earnings are a lot higher than the £80000 threshold at which high taxation will come in.

Ever since Thatcher started the low taxation drive in UK reaching a current low corporation tax of around 20% and maximum 45% income tax for millionaires, capitalism has dominated economic policies not only in United Kingdom but most of the world. Before the Thatcher revolution, taxation had gone up to 83% in 1974 for high earners and 45% for corporations in UK.  In India, highest tax rates were an eye watering 97.5% at one time (1973) but remained around 85% for a long time.

Corbyn is attempting a sort of root and branch overhaul of Thatcherism. Higher taxation to pay for more social welfare, better NHS and elderly care have become part of the public debate. Corbyn’s Labour is promising to reverse another Thatcherite policy that started a trend around the world, of privatisation of public utilities. Labour will renationalize the Railways, water and even start a State provided free fast internet service.

Privatisation of public utilities and other major State services  became the economic model of late twentieth century around the world. Even India adopted it under Dr Manmohan Singh’s stewardship of economic policy. If Labour wins, it will be interesting if Thatcherism will begin to be dismantled in other parts of the world as Labour’s main message is ‘Austerity does not work, Privatisation does not work’.

On the other hand if Conservatives win with Boris at the helm, most pundits predict that Britain will swing even further to the right than it is at the moment. This will begin the Americanisation of Britain’s public policy and economy.

Any remaining public utilities and services will probably see further private ownership and left to the market to determine their success or failure. The two big areas that are likely to see significant departure from the past will be the National Health Service (NHS), a flag ship of Britain’s soft power around the world and a pride of Britain’s socialist history. The second will be the standards on agriculture produce and food. Currently Britain has very high standards imposed by its membership of the European Union. After Brexit, a Boris Britain is likely to seek greater trade with United States, which in turn is asking waiving of these standards.

It is the further privatization of the NHS which is worrying a lot of people. Boris Johnson has made promises that the NHS will not only be safe under him but will get further cash. However the majority of British people do not trust him. He has gained a reputation for being a politician who rarely keeps his word. Yet Boris Johnson’s remarkable feat is that he has continued to mesmerize the same public that does not trust any of his promises to be kept!

The Trump administration has already had meetings with the Johnson Government on letting American Health giants to gain ownership of NHS sectors. Further the Drug companies in USA will also likely be given freedom to increase charges for medicines sold by them. The NHS is an institution that continues to attract awe around the world for its free from cradle to grave free health care. There are serious attempts in India to attract NHS expertise to introduce similar models. However many fear that under Boris Johnson government, the NHS will start to crumble, a loss to Britain and to the world.

Food and agriculture produce standards will be lowered under a future Conservative Government. This effectively means that UK will become like many developing countries with poor food and agriculture quality. The items that alarm most British are steroid fed meat and other agriculture products from USA that will become common, whereas currently they are banned.

Social welfare will most likely be further cut. Many elderly and poor people will suffer even more. An environment similar to USA is being prophesised by many a political commentator. This means people hungry on the streets, increase in poverty and poor health. The rich are likely to become richer.

Britain under conservatives will become a land with little of its manufacturing or financial sector in indigenous ownership. Many of current British manufacturing is owned by international companies, including from China. This is likely to increase. Britain will effectively be owned by the non British, oligarchs and State enterprises from countries such as china, France and Germany even more than currently. It is likely to become the world’s market State. At one time Britain only had market towns, now the entire country could become a market hub.

The third major party in Britain is the Lib Dems. Their single agenda seems to be to reverse Brexit.  If they become the King makers, they will insist on a referendum which in turn may put an end to Brexit Britain with UK remaining in Europe. A number of opinion polls predict that another referendum will produce a majority in favour of remaining in EU.

Whether Labour forms the next Government or Conservatives do, the most likely tectonic shift after this elections will be unravelling of Great Britain or United Kingdom. The Scottish National party (SNP) is widely predicted to win in Scotland. SNP will insist on another Scottish referendum. Again polls predict that this time Scotland will vote to leave the Union, first formed in 1707, having been treated as an irrelevancy in the Brexit talks with Europe. This has angered a number of the Scottish.

The other land likely to drift away from United Kingdom is Northern Ireland. In a Boris Brexit Britain, the Northern Irish are likely to call for a referendum of their own. Boris Johnson has negotiated a deal with EU that requires a border between Norther Ireland (a British territory) and the rest of Britain to avoid goods being smuggled into Europe through Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland). Polls are showing that a majority of Northern Irish feel betrayed by Conservatives and see no reason not to join Southern Ireland and become one country.

The 2019 election, called in a hurry, will not be insignificant. Instead it will have profound ramifications, changing the history, politics and economics of United Kingdom and to some extent rest of the world. Britain will have a revolution of either the left or the right which will influence public policies around the world. And regardless of which side it starts sailing, Britain is likely to start breaking up, bringing an end to the once mighty British Empire. Finally 300 years of British Empire will shrink back to start, into a small territorial land called England with Wales attached for a while.

Choking India’s Future

With seven of the world’s ten worst polluted cities in India, the country has set an example as how not to handle climate change

When PM Narendra Modi said India will lead the world in climate change, someone from Ministry of External Affairs should have told him that the nations of the world were trying to reverse climate change, not make it worse. With seven of the world’s ten worst polluted cities in India, the country has certainly become a leader. It is the wrong leadership. Modi should declare a climate emergency and set up a special committee to propose urgent and long term measures at reducing the high rates of pollution. Otherwise India is fast becoming a sick nation with the children of today facing a lifetime of diseases. Even the Supreme Court has expressed concerns in strong and emotive words.

Air pollution is no small thing. Even small particles get into the lungs and then into the blood stream. But with air pollution levels reaching AQI of 999 micrograms in some areas of Delhi, the lungs of young India are in danger. So is the future of India.

The Air Quality Index, AQI, uses five major air pollutants. They are Sulphur di Oxide, Nitrogen di Oxide, Carbon mono oxide, Ozone and particulate matter. Levels above 300 are hazardous. Imagine levels of 999! That is the highest level AQI can measure! It is nearly 50 times the normal acceptable.

Two particle pollutants are generally used as indicators. PM10 are particles less than 10 micron in size. PM2.5 are particles less than 2.5 microns in size. 10 microns is 0.01 mm, about a hundredth size of a hair! The windpipe, or trachea and then bronchus, have small hair cells (not like real hair) that act as sieve and clean the air. But many of the particles get through. Particles smaller than 2.5 microns go into the end portions of the lungs, clogging them up. Some go into the cells and some even into the blood stream. Carbondioxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide can all go through the cells.

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If the lungs are full of a coat of this dust, it is not difficult to understand the immediate effects. Less Oxygen gets inhaled. Transfer of gases is affected. Headaches, nausea and above all lung disease such as Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease eventually hit the poor lung. Above 900 AQI is the equivalent of smoking 25 cigarettes a day! What is the point of anti-smoking drives, if the Government then permits effects of smoking through pollution!

Cancer of the lungs is another major effect of high polluted air. Asthma is the most common disease that children develop in polluted air. Some studies have shown that a shocking one in three children in Delhi have lung disease!

Lung disease is not the only consequences of air pollution. Cardiovascular disease, that is heart attacks, clogged up arteries, poor circulation, slow minds and blood pressure are some of the illnesses resulting from poor air. What is the point of all those national ‘yoga days’ with politicians pointing their legs in the air and expanding chests, if the government’s lack of policy is killing people even when they do the best of yoga exercises?

Pollution affects lymph systems that is the defence mechanism of the body against infections and early cancer etc. In fact lymph cancers are also high in highly pollutant areas as is a propensity to infections.

In ten years’ time as the children of today grow up, they will have poor lungs, poor health and more prone to heart disease. In later life many may develop lung cancer and generally lack energy. What exactly is India growing into. India is slowly asphyxiating itself. Lack of proper policies is choking the India of tomorrow.

The normal levels of AQI should be around 25. Below 50 is still considered to be good. AQI of 50-100 is moderate. Some countries take this very seriously as the population can start to develop some of the symptoms.

Levels of 101 -200 are unhealthy. They effect everyone exposed to it. 201 to 300 is very unhealthy. Above 300 is hazardous, likely to trigger a state emergency action as everyone exposed is likely to develop some disease or other.

Taken as average through the year Delhi has an AQI of around 195. This is still very high. The costs of ill health are very high. Medical costs, a nation full of sick adults, inefficiency are only some of the effects pollution will have on the national development. 

The Government must set up an emergency task force to explore all methods of reducing the Air Quality Index from the high 900 to below 50 maximum.  It must bring in experts from around the world. It needs to set targets. Otherwise all that talk of 5 trillion economy and the greatness of India will be a dream shattered by low life spans and high medical costs.

The cities of India are where they are due to poor planning, poor grasp of the consequences of polluting vehicles and burning farm stubs. There is no excuse not to reverse this and undo the damage as well as contain the pollutants.

For Prime Minister Modi to lead the world in climate change, his government will first have to take the lead in reversing the damage that has been done so far first.

Kartarpur ‘Langah’ – The Road To Peace

At a time where India and Pakistan have not only nuclear weapons aimed at each other but also cultural and media cannons firing constantly, the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor is just short of a miracle. It was on the 550 year anniversary of Guru Nanak the founder of Sikh worldview and faith. PM Modi called it the Berlin wall moment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Imran Khan for understanding the sentiments of people of Bharat. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan praised Modi for enabling the corridor, called langah in Punjabi. A rare few minutes of mutual respect in an otherwise hostile no handshakes diplomatic relations.

On crossing the corridor from one side to the other the warmth and friendly atmosphere on both sides gives the impression of being in a fairyland, far removed from the reality of everyday aggression and abuse that populates social and electronic media. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs have worked together to make this corridor a success in almost every way.

Yet distrust, conspiracy theories, accusations have not been in short supply before the corridor was opened. All were forgotten on 9th November and will probably continue to be forgotten in this oasis of peace in an otherwise 3,323 kilometre long electrified, barbed wired hostile border across which skirmishes and casualties continue elsewhere.

Kartarpur Sahib is where Guru Nanak settled and gathered his congregation after travelling some 28,000 miles around South Asia, Middle East and Tibet meeting people of great learning. Some five kilometres away, his descendants built a town, Dera Baba Nanak, where he frequently held his talks and which was built as the River Ravi swept away the original mausoleums that marked his last rites.

The Ravi, one of the five rivers that gave Punjab (five rivers) its name, cuts across the two, with Kartarpur Sahib on the west bank and Dera Baba Nanak on the east side.

On Kartarpur Sahib side, when Guru Nanak passed away, the narrative passed down generations is that Muslims and Hindus fought over whether to bury him or cremate him. His body is said to have disappeared overnight. Both communities were left with a sheet of cloth which they cut in half. Muslims buried it and Hindus cremated it. Ironically, the India Pakistan border now runs through this area, with Muslim dominated Pakistan on one side and Hindu dominated India on the other!

The corridor says a lot about the dysfunctional hostility between India and Pakistan. Governments almost feel compelled to hate each other. Armies poised to attack but holding back, in the knowledge that the end result will be catastrophic. Nuclear weapons will make inhabitable for generations the land both seem to be coveting in their rhetoric.

It is a colonial manufactured war being played at low level with insurgencies, cross border firing and wasteful expenditure on weapons aimed at each other.

The corridor opened a window into another side, the real world affected by the division of British India. When ordinary Indians and Pakistanis meet, they talk, joke and reminisce as if they are the best of neighbours. Even the security personnel on both sides have but smiles, politeness and courtesy. Where is the anger! Where is the fire that permeates the social media waves and blurts on the megaphones?

When the people from the two sides meet, they fail to understand why the two countries cannot sort out the differences. Yet a few hundred yards from this oasis of peace, starts one of the most hostile terrains in the subcontinent.  A barbed and electric fence runs across it with a 100 meter no man’s land lit by flood lights visible from space at night. The war is evident in the make-up of the border. People meet, hug, exchange small talk, then have to go back to their own borders carrying warm but confused memories.

The British created communal representation in early 1900s pitching Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims against each other in electoral camps. British India was partitioned with Muslim dominated Pakistan on one side and Hindu dominated India on the other. The majority of Sikhs went to India. Leaders of Indian Congress and Muslim League were not big enough or bright enough to outwit the British who, as papers from the period reveal, designed the partition to create a permanent state of tension.

Clearly thousands of years of Indian wisdom collapsed in the face of British ingenuity. To date the two countries face each other like fighting cocks with the master elsewhere. They are sold weapons, given training and shown how to fire their anger.

The Sikhs went over to India. The Radcliffe line, an incredibly insensitive division of land runs through without much thought given to history, populations, cultures etc. Some of the most important historic shrines of Sikhs are in Pakistan. Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak is in Pakistan. Kartarpur Sahib and Dera Baba Nanak, are on opposite sides of the border. Sikhs saying prayers on one side can hear from the other side at times.

One of the unintended outcomes of the Punjab insurgency has been that the Sikh leaders who took refuge in Pakistan, pushed the Pakistan Government to open the Gurdwaras to wider Sikh public. As a result Sikh pilgrims have been going to Nankana Sahib, some 70 kilometre inside the border, for over twenty years. ‘Jathas’ from India go regularly on Guru Nanak’s birthday and on Vaisakhi as well as select other holy days. Sikhs from around the world also visit the shrines in ‘religious tourism packages’.  The result is that there is little appetite within Sikhs to treat Pakistan as enemy and fight for no other reason other than the two countries have an attitude.

The Kartarpur Sahib corridor has softened the Sikhs of Punjab even further. They see a splendid building, a friendly arrangement and a Pakistani side as warm as any neighbour. 

It provides both a dilemma and an opportunity for India. The Sikhs of Punjab are at best indifferent to the India Pakistan tension and more likely to be unenthusiastic for any war.

Kashmir, a hostile terrain at the best of time for Indian security officers, will likely to become an even more hostile environment in the instance of a land war with Pakistan.

With two of the most important theatres of war between any conflict between India and Pakistan neutralised to some extent, the options for a land war unsupported by the local population seem to pose logistic issues. Armies fight best when the local population is with them.

The theatre of war can always move to Gujrat where there is a high decibel rhetoric for war but no history of martyrs. A conflict could finally test the Gujratis who seem to be at the forefront of hate Pakistan rhetoric around the world. However reconciling the shrill with the physical is unlikely.

It is not surprising then that PM Modi made a subtle offer to Pakistan. He said at the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor that it is like the fall of the Berlin wall. He knows the hearts of the Sikhs are going to be won over by Pakistan. The most powerful arsenal in Indian armoury is being softened.

Calmly, Modi went on to say that Kartarpur Sahib corridor may be the beginning of peace between the two countries. He is hoping the oases will start to dissolve the wall all around.

Brexit Britain, The Boris Touch

Brexit seems to be one of those long Broadway plays that the Brits like, with pointless intrigues, family feuds and an ending that could be predicted at the beginning. A confined theatre is a British temple, Brexit is now being played in the boundaries of Britain with the whole world as spectator and Europe in the demonic role.  A new twist has been introduced to what was becoming the Brexit writer’s block. It has been spiced up with an unexpected Eastern flavour, the Boris touch, with the ending become ever more exciting, dramatic and cliff hanger. Boris has brought a new dimension into British politics, so far missing.

The West and particularly the English, like to be seen to be playing fair by the rules. Rule of law is the official religion of the United Kingdom. Like all religions, it is a fairy tale idealism which works for most things with some degree of hypocrisy but gets stuck when real life gets tough. When the ‘rule of law’ is not working for the English or comes to a dead end, the English scuttle around to find a loophole in the small print, divide the opposition, and transfer the blame. Usually it moves on with a deviant combination of creative energising of the almost hidden small print, confounding the opposition and aided by the lack of a constitution which enables flexibility in interpretation of ‘convention’. The history of the Empire is full of this tactic.

Unfortunately for the English, the Europeans are also immersed in this skewed game of rule of law and are familiar with the British tactic. Hence attempts at dividing the EU, at making the Europeans the scapegoat for refusing to accept a ‘messy and fantasy solution’, and failing to treat the Brits on par with the gods, has all failed. Remember, ‘gods’ are usually above the everyday laws of mortals. Along comes Boris Johnson to save a play repeating scenes under Theresa May. The public attention was waning.

Boris has a Turkish ancestry, on the great grandfather, so a percentage of him brings an Eastern approach now to the Brexit game. The East generally sees rule of law as a utilitarian tool used by the politically powerful while they remain above it. It is no wonder ‘rule of law’ does not appear to work as ‘equitably’ in most countries east of Greece as it seems in the west. Perhaps the difference is that in the west there is craft, pretence and play when rule of law is bent, whereas in the East, power dispenses with the drama and gets to the desired outcome unashamedly.

The UK has now brought in the ‘curry’ option. With the Brexit stasis becoming deeply sclerotic as Parliament could not find any road, lane or even a rope to pull itself through the self-imposed barriers, in came Boris with his eastern temperament woken.

He first warned the Brits of the great Turkish migrant invasion for which only Brexit was a defence. In April 2016, Mr Johnson warned: “I am very pro-Turkish but what I certainly can’t imagine is a situation in which 77 million of my fellow Turks and those of Turkish origin can come here without any checks at all. That is mad – that won’t work.” Now with his Turkish roots he is Prime Minister. Talk about ironic prophecy.

He has dismissed the sacrament of every convention and unwritten rule that has prevented the Crown to institute a proper Constitution and which defined the mystery of Britain. He found the greatest loophole. There is no written constitution so why not open the gaping hole that had so far been covered with customised verbal straw, that is convention. He has driven a bulldozer through propriety of office and government.

Extraordinarily, he is the leader of Britain that every politician and commentator who can say so does say so without embarrassment that he cannot be trusted! Imagine, a country being asked to live by rule of law, have integrity but its leader unashamedly is considered a pathological liar in office! Brexit has brought politics to this level. A new for the office of Her Majesty’s Prime Minister.

Boris prorogued Parliament (suspended now) for long period against convention until courts reversed it: and then against ‘traditional wisdom’ threw out the most staunch members of the Conservative Party who were considered its pillars if not foundation, including grandees and Churchill’s son; has says anything to anyone as they want to hear and then denies he said it; exploited the Queen in his machinations and even called Parliament to sit on an emergency war footing on a Saturday. The unwritten constitution has been exposed by him as the infamous Emperor’s non-existent clothes.

Like leaders in some eastern countries, Boris is pushing as far as is possible, breaking convention as far is possible and ignoring etiquette as far is possible until people go to the courts to stop him. If he carries on, sooner or later the courts will be in a knot.

Brexit has not been done yet but it has taken its toll. It is a war come home and grown into a multidimensional civil war. It is almost the Middle East without the violence. The different camps range from no Brexit, to a Brexit with no Deal to a Brexit with any Deal to a Brexit with a Deal with Customs Union with Europe (meaning obeying EU regulations) and a Brexit with labour laws aligned with Europe and so on.

The British parliament itself is a spectacle. No party can command complete loyalty, (except perhaps Scottish Nationalists). Parties dominating England and Wales all have conspirators galore now.

Britain, or at least England has changed and will change for ever after this. This is a tectonic phase in modern Britain. Calls for a proper written constitution are growing. Some are even predicting the end of the Monarchy on whom convention depended. Some are predicting a move away from the simple majority democracy that UK has and some are predicting a new phase in which smaller parties will reign, perhaps a proportional representation model of some European countries.

The end of United Kingdom is prophesised by many a pundit and politician now. Few think that the country can be united after three years of bitter differences. Scotland is gearing up for another referendum. Northern Ireland’s nationalists are muting a referendum to separate from Britain in near future. That leaves Wales and England.

It is also interesting that this country which ran a racist Empire once, now has its four most important positions in Government run by children of migrant families. The PM has Turkish roots, born in New York. The Foreign Minister is son of a Czechoslovakian Jewish father, The Home Minister is daughter of East African Gujratis and the Chancellor is a son of Pakistani immigrants. It shows how far Britain has come in being a real multicultural and multiracial country. With Brexit, a new Britain is rising as Imperial Britain is dying.

As for Brexit, Boris Johnson is likely to favour a Brexit Deal where Northern Ireland is ditched. The majority of English see Norther Ireland as a burden. He may even stitch up with Scottish nationalists and offer them a referendum. He is likely to get support from some Labour MPs so he can ignore the Northern Irish Unionists (those who want to remain within UK, DUP) who have been a major obstacle to any agreement on Brexit.

After all this real life and often humorous grand Brexit theatre which has made Comic halls irrelevant in London at the moment, and which has made West End plays appear as Children’s entertainment, the end game may still be another referendum and back into EU after a short Brexit. But Brexit Britain will have undergone fundamental change in these three years of internal trauma. It is already being seen very differently by the rest of the world but will be even more after the Boris touch at the heart of an Imperial power that made ceremony, pomp, convention and tradition the sacred unwritten constitution of Great Britain. All that is being blown away by Boris the Turk.

Independence Day For A 5,000-Yr-Old Civilisation!

British rule in India was just a blip in the long history of the subcontinent. It is best to fold it away in the archaeology of power and reclaim the present as a continuum of many millennia

For a 5,000-year old civilisation to be celebrating ‘Independence’ Day is not only ‘naff’ but an admission that a superior culture has mastered and nurtured it into some sort of maturity. It gives too much respect for a 200-period of rule by the British, neglecting a thousand years of colonisation by other invading forces, including the Mughals, and a 5000 year of indigenous civilisation that was more advanced than the invading British.

Wouldn’t it be more dignified to drop ‘independence’ day and rename it with a new name signifying reaffirmation and continuity of an ancient civilisation that has seen much, experienced much and absorbed much.

The Mughals lasted nearly seven hundred years. Prior to them there were others who had been lords at Delhi, including Sikandar Lodhi. Why so much obsession with a mere 200 years of the British?

There is no doubt that the British were the first invaders who had brought the whole region under one ruler, the British Crown. It is also true that they introduced much of the infrastructure, institutions, constitutional and legal instruments and administrative systems that sustain both India and Pakistan in the modern era.

But much has changed in United Kingdom. It is no longer the Britain, the colonising power that had once thought of itself as a superior culture and power. Britain has learnt a lot from its experience during the colonial period and from the immigrant populations that have settled in its territory. It has metamorphosed. It now seeks partners rather than subordinates around the world.

But India hangs on to the memory of British colonisation more than seventy years after they left. It seems there are still wounds of history, of being brow beaten into modernity, of being oppressed for resources and of being nurtured to become ‘civilised’ as the British called it. It is release from this long period of misery, of being a student, of being shaped and finally matured that 15th august commemorates. Why else celebrate independence.

Every year India gives an update on its stage in development on this day as the Prime Minister stands at Lal Qila to read from the progress card. The PM also expresses aspirations for further improvements. The British delegation is also sat in the enclosure of diplomats, perhaps feeling bored, perhaps feeling a sense of satisfaction that they have started the country on a right path, or perhaps wondering what has all this got to do with them after decades.

With a history of 5000 years, a civilisation with tremendous depth and wisdom, why give the impression as if it only came of age on 15th August 1947? Isn’t it humiliating?

In fact the civilisations of India have always been free. That is why India did not end up with mass conversions either into Islam or Christianity. The civilisations have resisted enslavement through the ages. It is the State that was colonised, first by Islamic invaders, then by European (British, French and Portuguese) invaders. It is the State which seems to be celebrating its independence. But then why just from British. Why not from the Mughals?

Delhi feels like a spook town on this day of State celebration. There does not seem to be great enthusiasm on the part of masses to celebrate Independence Day with any popular cultural functions. There isn’t the razzmatazz, the family reunions, the fireworks, the town parades etc that the American Independence day is known for. It is not difficult to understand this difference. The USA is a new-born country, a recent community and one without a lineage. It was full of migrants who sought to forge their own country and way of life free from the British Crown.

India is different. The region had distinctive cultures and civilisations before the British and they have continued after the British left. The people have merely succeeded in throwing out the invaders who didn’t integrate with the indigenous. Nothing much changed in the everyday culture and the long history of the region in terms of its practices, or its people, or its belief systems. In fact there were some distortions introduced during the Raj, which are being corrected now.  The cultures of the region were there before 1947 and have continued since. Those who ruled the State have changed.

Perhaps rather than continue with a historical timewarp, why not call this day a regeneration day and name it ‘Bharat Divas’ giving its different regions a day to celebrate their distinctive cultures, customs, dances, etc. It will be a day of diversity and unity, a day of common celebration but with distinctive flavours and a day when people across the country can put their passions into being part of a whole yet with their own languages and ways.

It could be a very participatory day, as colourful as Diwali, but with a difference. Whereas Diwali is a religious festival of one religion, albeit the majority, the Hindus, a common Bharat divas will be secular, encouraging everyone irrespective of their background to celebrate a day of unity.

Imagine a day like this where parades take place with floats from different sections of society, with different cultural dances and different national dresses all celebrating their common nationality. It will be a tremendous reflection of the diversity of the region, its long surviving plurality and its colourful cultures.

The British period was but a blip in the long history of the region. It is best to fold it away in the archelogy of power and reclaim the present as a continuum of many millennia without giving importance to any one period. A Bharat Divas has more pride and more indigenous flavour to it. This day can be a celebration that Bharat finally started to revive itself.

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Donald Trump, What Is There Not To Like?

Contrary to what is projected, the US President has found a way to dismiss the US war machine with ease and creativity. In fact, Donald Trump has made the world safer from US hawks. Read the facts

It is probably verging on blasphemy in some circles to say anything positive about American President Donald Trump. Portrayed as narcissist, misogynist, racist, climate change denier and unpredictable on international relations, Trump continues to walk the tight rope on a possible impeachment by the Democratic led Congress.

Trump may not be to the liking of many liberals and social democrats but some facts cannot be ignored. He is an American president who has not started a war on hapless people somewhere around the world for American ‘machismo’. He has also used a tool of weapon that hits the decision makers and the rich more than the ordinary people.

And importantly, his actions have led to real debates on equality, immigration, climate change etc which have usually been camouflaged under a veneer of ‘liberal’ policies.

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Most of the attacks on him are domestic to USA. They are of little relevance to people around the world. Whether he is a racist, misogynist or even nepotistic does not affect the average person in Syria, Iran, North Korea or anywhere around the world. In fact, it has stopped irrelevant moral lectures from US officials to the world. He has not drained the swamp but he has blocked its hypocrisy for now.

But even in these domestic matters, is Trump the demagogue – as he is presented to be – when compared to his predecessors? These are aspects of America that have always been covered under the gloss of liberalism and pretentious progressive policies.

Take immigration, for instance. If anything, it is Obama who holds the prize for ‘Deporter in Chief’.  In 2012, Obama administration kicked out a whopping 419,384 illegal immigrants in comparison to Trump’s 256,000, a record no one has beaten. Even the family units and the children’s detention centres were started under Obama. The policy of empowering ICE, immigration and Customs Enforcement, to snoop and arrest people without warrants, or even giving them time to get their clothes let alone lawyers or say goodbye to family, was started under Bush and reached an ugly peak under Obama.

It was President Obama who proudly boasted, ‘We have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible.’ And it was also during Obama that one of his chief immigration advisors callously declared, “At the end of the day, when you have a community of 10 million, 11 million people living and working in the United States illegally, some of these things are going to happen. Even if the law is executed with perfection, there will be parents separated from their children. They don’t have to like it, but it is a result of having a broken system of laws.” 

Racism too remained unchanged, if not increased, during Obama. Many a black American has been scathing of his approach. Paniel Joseph writing in Washingtonpost (2 April 2016) says, ‘Blacks have, critics suggested, traded away substantive policy demands for the largely symbolic psychological and emotional victory of having a Black president and first family in the White House for eight years’.

Obama has been accused of skirting around issues of racism during his presidency because he wanted to be seen as ‘one of them’.  Towards the end of his presidency when racism became uglier with blatant police killings of blacks, he could only bring himself to make a statement. The same white Middle America that voted him in probably abandoned Democrats for being impotent on realistic change.

Racism and anti-immigration are ugly facts of America no one wanted to talk about at the highest level, except in superlatives. What Trump has done is taken away the mirage and the pretence. He has spoken aloud what white America talks behind locked doors.

Now both issues are there in the public glare as they really are for America to debate in earnest on these camouflaged fissures. That Democratic hopeful, Joe Biden, was taken to task for his racial hypocrisy in a recent debate shows that America is ready to talk the untalked as an electoral issue.

As for misogyny, one would be forgiven to believe from the media attacks that Trump is the first philanderer at the Oval office. Wasn’t there someone called JFK and more recently Bill Clinton? In fact why not look at the difference!

The #metoo campaign that shook the male western world was not about ‘affairs’ or philandering. It was about abuse of power when powerful men exploited their office to force women (in some cases men) into sex or sexual abuse making the workplace uncomfortable.

So far, as we know, Trump has not cornered any woman in the white house and lured her or forced her into a compromising situation or used his new power to sleep around with other men’s wives. We can’t tell, skeletons may come out later, but to date no one has gone public. He exploited his business and seems to have indulged in philandering and prostitutes rather than exploit staff.  He has not exploited the most powerful State office of trust to intimidate women into sexual favours as both Clinton and JFK did.  No #metoo campaigns against them?

However, it is the international sphere that concerns us lesser mortals around the world. It was considered almost a certainty that had Hilary Clinton become President, the USA would have gone to war with Syria, as Obama had already set the atmosphere. Another half a million people would have been killed in the madness that liberals call, maintaining ‘rule based world order’ a convenient term for hegemony or new evangelism.

Clinton’s victory would also have raised tensions in South China Sea and with North Korea. More importantly, the possibility of war with China as a result would have been high.

Trump has a unique approach to international relations, probably defying every international relations theory. Generally the State machinery or rather bureaucracy along with the political leadership, works as a unidirectional slow train with allegedly clear aims in international policy. Not with Trump. It works at tweet speed.

In US foreign policy, maintaining superpower status has been prominent in international relations and a sort of etiquette had developed on how US dealt with both challengers and friends. Commercial interests have also been instrumental as well as idealism of sustaining and promoting democracy around the world, sometimes used as a PR slogan to conceal commercial interests such as the Iraq war.

But asserting its might and a gung ho readiness to go to war when challenged or overthrow unfriendly governments has been key aspects of US foreign policy approach that can explain many of the US international actions in the last four decades if not more.

Here Trump has simply thrown the ‘instructions’ book out. Meeting North Korea in the middle, a piddling small poverty ridden country, and making it a major international event is something that would have been unheard of. Pride would not have allowed that. But pride is not something Trump bothers about. He has avoided war.

This single action has diffused tensions and there is the possibility that by wooing Kim Jong-Un, North Korea may start to reverse the nuclear programme. More importantly the shrill paranoia of US ‘pundit’ community has been silenced and they can put their pens to some other mythical danger facing US hegemony.

In Syria, Trump ignored close friends, the Sunni Gulf States, and allowed Russia to deal with the situation, albeit with some cosmetic help from US forces. Assad remains in power to the horror of many liberals who wanted to see his downfall, introduction of democracy and another country in the image of western democratic state regardless of the cost to human life. Crusades do not bother with headcounts.

Trump’s control of US foreign policy is extraordinary as shown in the recent U turn to possible attacks on Iran. Cleverly he has placed the hawks, like John Bolton, at the centre of foreign policy, letting them pump up the rhetoric, then frustrate them with his famous tweets.

Using a Fox news host to outwit Bolton and others, including ‘best friend’ Israel, was a move only Trump could have deployed. The war machine that is used to killing hundreds of thousands as necessary collateral damage must have been gob smacked when he said, ‘I don’t want to kill 150 innocent people’. It warrants a sketch. The comedians are focusing on the wrong bits of Trump’s world.

No other US president has had so much control over US wars and foreign policy than Trump. Almost every President became victim to the echoes and war drums that beat around him. George Bush was hopelessly pushed around by the hawks into needless, expensive and destructive wars. Obama, the one person who never deserved a Noble Prize for peace, went to more wars than even his predecessor. According to a LA times 2017 article, U.S. military forces had been at war for all eight years of Obama’s tenure, the first two-term president with that distinction. In fact he started a number of covert operations around the world including the Syria war where US financed the uprising along with its friends in the first place, which Russia had to clean up.

Trump has not been a push over at all. He has found a way of dismissing the US war machine with ease and creativity. Trump has made the world safer from US hawks, at least for now. People around the world, especially in vulnerable countries, can go to sleep without fear of US missiles blowing their children in the name of peace and democracy.

As for his trade wars, they hit the decisions makers and the middle classes more than ordinary people. The poor will not miss items they can hardly buy in the first place. The manufacturers, the businesses and Middle class luxury is hit by these sanctions. They are usually the ones berating for ‘thump them’ wars around the world. They might start thinking twice before bellowing for ‘conflicts’ as Trump instead starts ‘trade wars’.

It is climate change where Trump is a problem. It is quite possible that sooner or later, Trump is going to become the greatest Climate campaigner. Wait for this space. For the world outside America, Trump is yet the first US president to let the world be in peace.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi At PUblic Meeting

Modi Still India’s Best Hope Despite Liberal Hostility

The divisions in India did not start with Modi’s BJP, nor were created by him. These were crafted, nurtured and cynically exploited by the Congress

A number of western liberal media have been promoting the eyecatching headline in TIME magazine, ‘Modi Divider in Chief’. It would be convincing if the phenomenon of India’s vote bank, castism, divisions and communalism was a new problem that germinated in the BJP years.

The preferred Indian political party of many western liberal media and in fact ‘intellectuals and academics’ with left leaning, is the Congress party as it appears to talk the talk. It does not walk the talk, but facts are ignored when idealism blinds analysis as is common in any evangelists approach.

The congress understood the score quite early on. It labels itself ‘secular’, claims to give minorities equal rights and boasts of working to improve the lot of ‘lower castes’ and the down trodden.  If ever there was a PR genius that could make Satchi and Satchi look amateurs, the Congress propaganda machine is one.

ALSO READ: India’s Fissiparous Politics, An Essay

The divisions in India did not start with Modi’s BJP nor created by him. They have been birthed, nurtured, cynically exploited and entrenched by Congress over the 54 years of rule it enjoyed as a ‘dynastic’ party since 1947. Calling itself democratic, inclusive and party of the people, the Congress is in fact an autocratic political machine run by one family and its sycophantic courtiers.

Congress ruled India uninterrupted for 31 years and brought democracy down on its knees with dictatorial rule in the infamous ‘emergency’. Then after 1978, with brief interlude by other parties, it has ruled almost continuously until 2014 when it rightly became a marginalised party, so much that there was talk of extinction. But like characters in Zombie films, it keeps on rising again.    

In all those years, communalism increased manifold, caste became institutionalised like never before in history and drafted as a vote bank, poverty failed to improve, corruption became an acceptable form of transaction patronisingly labelled ‘rent’ money by economists, internal violent conflicts for secession increased from one (Kashmir) to seventeen, the police lost its soul, freely engaging in extrajudicial executions with impunity and in fact introduced new methods of torture that came to be adopted by countries elsewhere; and the Indian Army continued in its role of being an army of a colonising occupation power killing more of its own citizens than any other army in the world.

But while Congress learnt how to master and then fine tune the British colonial strategy of divide and rule, it also deftly handled western liberal countries with words such as secular, unity, championing the underprivileged. Its record in office is anything but exploitative.

Its approach to Indians has been exactly like British colonialists, one of despising the population, its culture, its values and manipulating Indian diversity to hold on to power. The Gandhi family son in law betrayed it when in 2012 said ‘Mango People in a Banana Republic’!

Through its years Congress developed a subtle approach of blaming Indian civilisations, its cultures, its belief systems and its people for the ills of the Indian State, while piously acting as  the ‘reformist campaigner’ desperately trying hard and asking for western patience while it brought its people from the dark ages into European enlightenment! Doesn’t say much for a civilisation that goes back 5000 years, invented arithmetic, metallurgy, astronomy, pluralism and much more. In the Congress party’s depiction of Indians, all that Indians have done for 5000 years is managed to weave ‘saris’, cook ‘curries’, create hippy music and build some monuments. 

ALSO READ: Can Rahul Pull It Off As PM?

It is no wonder that the western liberal media found a companion in soul in Congress. Nothing pleases it more than to know that somewhere across the world there is an evangelic liberal trying hard to introduce secular liberal democracy into the alleged dark and primitive culture of its people.

Western academics flocked to promote this and cloned legions of orientalist Indian academics now populating western and Indian universities without critical faculty of their own in their intellectual approach. Like medieval Christian crusades, western liberalism blinds itself or mitigates the excesses of the converts.  Some facts that liberals don’t like to face or hear let alone say are:

There was one caste listed on the schedule caste register in 1947. It was a mischief invented on a  national scale by British missionaries. By 1980’s the number of people with caste consciousness had increased to the entire Indian population and the schedule list had grown to over 3000 with privileges, disadvantages and vote banks. Congress nurtured and promoted it to harvest it as a toxic political capital! Never before in Indian history have so many community groups been so aware of ‘caste’ or their apparent caste.

[caption id="attachment_38721" align="alignnone" width="300"] Jagjiwan Ram in tears after realising that he wouldn’t be made prime minister because of his caste despite working body and soul for the Congress.[/caption]

Ironically when the one time Congress and its break away Janata Dal had the opportunity to have a leader from ‘lower caste’, Jagjivan Ram, it quickly pushed him sideways! His famous words ring “Iss kambakht mulk mein chamar kabhie prime minister nahin ho sakta hai.” (In this wretched country a cobbler can never become the prime minister). The BJP on the other hand made the son of a tea seller as leader of the country!

Poverty in India was around 80% at end of colonialism, thanks to British exploitation. Sixty years of Congress rule did nothing for the poor except slogans. It managed to reduce it by 10%!  Unashamedly, Congress prime minister Manmohan Singh and his Chief Planning Commissioner, economist Montek Singh, used economic jiggery pokery to claim India’s poverty had fallen to 30%. If there ever was a bigger spin to hide a party’s total failure. Poverty by the two ‘Crafty Singhs’ was counted in calories eaten every day, not in terms of shelter, decent meal and clothes, let alone education and standard of living. Neither the UN nor the Noble Committee took their creative economic models of re-categorising poverty as a serious contribution to intellectual ideas.

Human Rights took on a new meaning in the Congress years. Mrs Gandhi, unleashed police brutality unknown before. Mass forced sterilisation, executions of political activists in ‘fake encounters’ and sending the army at a drop of a hat against Indians campaigning for greater rights was a norm. She politicised the army, dismissing Generals who did not agree to kill their own citizens. Under her the Army was used exactly as the colonialists did, against Indians to keep the family in power.

Congress fostered over 80 detention laws in India. And it even suspended the State’s fundamental duty of protecting life and liberty, enshrined in Article 21, by enacting the 59th Amendment of the Constitution in 1987, which was later brought to an end by international pressure.

No less an institution than Oxford University honoured her blood thirsty democracy with a Indira Gandhi Centre for Sustainable Development. Under pressure the name has changed but scholarships continue. Perhaps it should be named Indira Gandhi scholarship for Sustainable Dynasties by Oxford’s liberal dons. Oxbridge, it must not be forgotten, are essentially missionary colleges created at one time to crusade for Christianity but now western liberal hegemony.

Congress cynically manipulated minorities. It created a fear psychosis among Muslims about Hindus. It took the Hindu vote for granted. It managed to make the majority of Indians (Hindus) feel ashamed of their success and freedom! That has backfired as the hapless Hindu, fed up with guilt, has flocked to the BJP. Unfortunately the BJP has fallen into a Congress created narrative of inverse victimhood.

Congress then used the Sikhs as a scapegoat in 1984, portraying them as unpatriotic and galvanised Hindu vote to rally around a national crises that it had manufactured in the first place. Over 60000 Sikhs have been killed under Congress rule.

Congress attacked one of the most sacred places of India, the Harimandir Sahib, revered by Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and even Muslims through history. Yet in 1984 Congress managed to turn a majority of North Indian Hindus against this deeply revered institution!

It was during Congress rule that over 4000 Sikhs were massacred in Delhi with tyres around their necks, butchered with long knives and beaten to death with iron bars, a model of institutional led mass violence that began to be copied around the world. The orgy of genocide was conducted by Congress leaders with help of State resources! Can’t see liberal Oxbridge scholarship permitting a paper on the Congress contribution to art of mass violence.

It is only under Modi BJP that the perpetrators are being brought to court. The silence is interesting from the likes of Guardian, Time, New York Times or even the Labour party when Sajjan Kumar, one of the main Congress leaders who directed the violence was finally incarcerated in 2019. Congress leaders like Tharoor who was Assistant Secretary General of UN, never tried hard to get his party to convict the culprits of 1984 genocide of Sikhs. So much for his UN role as champion of human rights!

As for Kashmir, more Kashmiris have died for their rights under Congress period than non Congress rule. No serious effort was ever made to resolve the matter until BJP.

Even in corruption, Congress is a world beater. While British politicians gained notoriety and dismissed for £100 expense scams, politicians of Congress have been charged with corruption deals of over £100 million a time and managed to be acquitted!

India does not just need to marginalise Congress. It needs to free itself of this vile dynastic machine as colonialism’s zombie attack on Indians. It is as democratic a party as family owned Workers Party of Democratic People’s Republic of Korean (North) is.

Modi and BJP inherited a country already divided, already entrenched in caste and grounded by mass poverty and revelling in corruption. Contrary to what the TIME magazine is suggesting, Modi is not divider in Chief. The country was already sustainably and violently fragmented by Congress into vote banks for seventy years. TIME magazine needs more informed writers!

Modi is a populist because he is from the masses, speaking the language and mind of the ordinary person.  Whereas the dynasty Congress has supported is from the super elite, the most upper tier of the upper caste Brahmins of Kashmir who have traditionally been obsessed with their fair colour, and as a caste always avoiding marrying anyone of a dark complexion. What can be more un Indian than the Gandhi family. But then what can be more symbolic of colonialism’s lingering shadow in India than the Gandhi family.

The BJP evolved its politics in a period of angst and desperation under the powerful and oppressive period of Congress raj. Many of its leaders were victims in the infamous emergency. It has not thought out its purpose in the evolution of post-colonial Indian consciousness properly. It is trying to introduce the ‘Indian’ in the Indian State and define it but has gone about the wrong way, translating victimhood into a political ideology.

After the brutal and destructive years of Congress, it is not easy to ignore the BJP membership’s anger. But the BJP needs to do just that. It needs to find and create a narrative that unites the country, respects its civilisation and its peoples and heals the deep divisions, acrimonies, economic dis-equilibriums and State violence. Playing divisions is not a natural path for the average Indian. Besides Congress is a much skilled machine at divide and rule.

The BJP needs to start a serious conversation with the civilisations of India. It needs to rethink the essence and relevance of Hindutva agenda and even words such as Hindu as a national identity. It is right in trying to contest the theologies of both Christianity and Islam in the Indian context. Both these religions are offensive, predatory and as un Indian as can be. It is extremely offensive in the Indian civilisation to call someone else’s prophet, religious leader or Guru as a false prophet and declare someone else’s belief as false or in need of redemption. Both religions carry that as a head banner.  India needs to ‘Indianise’ these religions, but violence, hate and forced reconversions is not the appropriate approach.

Contrary to the reports in the media, BJP under Modi is far more open to listening and engage in serious conversation for a better future and dignity for Indians. It is rightly not interested in Indian liberal academics and voices still nursing a crusade to secularise and Europeanise Indian civilisation.

Modi is seen not only as a threat to the western liberal elite of India, but a challenge to western liberal hegemony in the world, who saw India as their greatest asset. It is not surprising that 70 years of bloody divisions and castism are being blamed on 5 years of Modi rule! Why let facts come in the way of idealism!

Despite the incidents of violence and political rhetoric of BJP stalwarts, the real numbers of hate, divisions and State led communal attacks under any single Congress period is manifold more than under Modi. That does not mitigate Modi’s BJP. But given the political landscape the party inherited and the sincere dreams of BJP, Modi is the best hope for a India that can get on the path to realise true Swaraj and a 5000 year old civilisation can offer something more than a curry and hippy music to the world.

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India’s Fissiparous Politics, An Essay

Politicians have cyclically tried to lure the voter with a ‘supranational’ identity, not realising that the most enduring character of Indian civilisation is its diversity

Are India’s election results that difficult to predict as many pollsters say? After the 2014 general elections, many pundits have become cautious of declaring outcomes one way or the other. However, Indians, like people anywhere in democracies, do not vote just for roti, kapra, makaan (food, clothes and shelter). Other factors such as vision, identity, belonging and peer pressures also influence their choice. In India, it is the pendulum oscillating between a ‘supranational’ identity and a regional ‘national’ identity that seems to be a considerable factor other than economics.

India is a country of many nations, many religions, many ‘Peoples’ and even many cultures and regions. The first identity and belonging of the average Indian, apart from the metropolitan English speaking class, is their community or region.

Every couple of decades, the ‘rooted’ voter is seduced and drawn out by a bigger vision, a ‘supranational idea’, a collective dream or ‘national’ and even a collective threat. It is promoted or exploited by a maverick leader or slick party machine.

ALSO READ: BJP Harps On Hindu Victimhood

Wars were the one factor that brought people in a huddle and start thinking ‘nationally’. It was a nationalism of negativity, of fear of being taken over again and losing ‘independence’. Wars were not necessarily of India’s choosing until Mrs Gandhi came along.

Mrs Gandhi understood that in the simple majoritarian Westminster type democracy, fissiparous votes could not be relied on to deliver working majorities simply on a platform of economics, particularly as regional parties could deliver economic improvement competitively. There had to be a ‘national’ issue or a crises to rally Indians around.

She precipitated a crises within Congress and found an internal ‘enemy’ to rally the troops. Then came the 1971 war which she started. A victory created a ‘national’ upsurge. But soon it waned.

She then targeted the Sikhs and played communal politics. The Sikhs fell into a trap. They were portrayed as the new threat to ‘Hindustan’ as a country although no real movement for Khalistan existed before 1984. The Sikhs were asking for greater regional economic and political autonomy for all Indian states. 1984 changed that and Congress had a few more years of playing the ‘national integrity under threat’. Votes were almost guaranteed.  A paranoia of nation under siege overrode regional identity.

The Sikh factor could not be played for long. Indira Gandhi paid with her life. Although Rajiv Gandhi gained from that after his mother’s assassination wearing saffron clothes among other props to create a national ‘unifying’ vision, he had no ‘national crises’ to speak of after that. Fissiparous politics came back and a coalition of regional parties got into power at the centre as a coalition only to break under their own centrifugality or lack of any ideology keeping them together.

Rajiv was assassinated. Congress cashed on the insecurity and sympathy.  Again the paranoia of ‘threat’ precipitated a national surge.

ALSO READ: Foreign Policy Is Never A Poll Issue

Congress has relied on the metropolitan class sold on the idea that India needs to be non-religious, hence secular like Europe. It successfully portrayed Hindu Mahasabha parties as threat to national unity neutrality and minorities. Its second large vote bank was the Schedule Castes and the third the Muslims. Schedule Castes hate upper caste Hindus and Muslims fear Hindus of the Mahasabha. Congress played this deftly. However, Congress also subtly played the Hindu identity card.

Playing the ‘Hindu’ card after Mrs Gandhi’s death and after Rajiv’s death, Congress unleashed a new unifying force, a revivalist Hindu nationalism. The Mahasabha cashed in on this. Its message was that the Hindu was treated as second class citizen in his own country and was being betrayed by Congress to appease minorities and ‘lower castes’.

This gradually forged a new national identity, ‘Hindu India’ created on conspiracy theories of Hindu neglect and victimhood. Hindus sense of marginalisation was cleverly played by BJP on the national field with the Bania as its most ardent supporter. This is India’s Brexit wave.

The first BJP Government came to power without any coherent vision. Simply hating fellow countrymen, blaming them for invasions that took place 1,000 years ago and a policy of reversing historic conquests of the past is not a sustainable political theory.  The Ram Mandir issue in Ayodhya may have translated some sense of historic grievance into a vote bank but it does not give people a positive identity or fill their stomachs.

Fissiparous trends pulled back the vote in favour of Congress as the regional parties were too fragmented to come together. Congress has had a clever way of forging federal tendencies and minority insecurity into a national secular campaign fighting off what it deems ‘regional communalism’ and Hindu communalism. But its game plan is cracking up and it is increasingly having to forge coalitions with the real regional parties to form a ‘national government’ still under the plank of the ‘secular’ as anti-Hindu communal slogan. It is not thriving.

ALSO READ: Do Regional Parties Hold The Key

The regional parties of India lack a national political idea that holds their federalist nature in a national coalition for long. People feel comfortable to vote for them only if there is a larger ‘national’ party in the coalition that can lead.

After the first BJP government, politics nevertheless got back to its default mode of being fissiparous and threw up coalitions led by Congress the largest party.

War as a unifying notion is no longer possible. With a nuclear Pakistan, war is a high risk strategy. The neighbours know India’s British templated adversarial political system means the party in Government is tempted to wage a token war to look ‘tough’ and harvest the vote. As insurance they have entered into security arrangements with China or USA.

Along came Modi. He cast himself as the saviour to restore Hindu glory and recover from a thousand years bruise of having been conquered and ruled. He was going to put the Hindu on the world map. Above all he was going to show all Indians that in India it is Hindu first, Hindu most and Hindu top. Hindutva replaced secular. Even Rahul Gandhi has metamorphosed into a Hindutva clone, visiting temples in veneration dhoti.

Many Hindus in India began to wear their identity on their sleeves and express prejudices in the open. Hindus outside India became the new Khalistanis, except in this case Hindustanis, annoying NRIs who don’t chant Bharat Mata ki Jai. They are Modi’s greatest supporters, imagining a revival of the Mahabharat, the Bharat of the legends.

The problem with this grand vision is that it militates against the most enduring character of Indian civilisation, a deep respect and belief in diversity of life, cultures and lifestyles. Hindutva on the other hand is an outdated 1920s theory of ethnic nationalism built on a then common template of anti-western hegemony but cocooned from within western modernism. It veers towards counter liberal tendencies.

Hindutva in the public space has not been a glorious spectacle with lynching of poor Muslims going about their traditional business of dealing with cow carcasses etc. In the new paradigm of India’s national identity, the cow has become more sacred than human life. India is increasingly becoming the land of Hindu and bovine rights.

Anti-Muslim sentiment, a fundamentalist type Hindu revivalism putsch against other Hindus, and the failure to make ‘lower’ castes inclusive have not endeared the Hindu voter whose understanding of a resilient Indian dharma is an ideology of pluralism rather than hate and intimidation. BJP’s reconstructed ‘Hindu identity’ has not only marginalised some minorities with sense of not belonging but challenges the very powerful essence of an enduring civilisation that has survived numerous efforts in history to force a monolithic outlook. It is highly unlikely that RSS-BJP will succeed where Moghuls and British failed.

Consequently, BJP’s attraction has waned as a post-Congress visionary party. Its economic record does not overcome its ideological handicap. Large number of Indians are reverting back to fissiparous politics. The ‘national’ idea is not appealing enough to hold itself.

The BJP will win but not the big majority it gained in 2014. Its asset is a ‘national cadre’ that can still revive some political ‘Hindu nationalism’. But its greater asset now is the ideological vacuity of a disparate opposition who the voter thinks will engage in palace coups as soon as they get into power. As Modi has pointed out several times, the only glue holding the loose coalition is ‘vote Modi out’, hardly basis of a national or economic manifesto.

India’s political issues are complex. Three dimensions stand out and continue to influence the oscillation between a ‘national’ surge and then falling back towards a default fissiparous politics.

Politics is forever engaged between an attempt to create an India wide and even worldwide Hindu identity in relations to others. The problem with this is that it is based on a negative concept. Both the words Hindu and Hinduism are terms of exclusion coined by invaders. Hindu was created as a general term for non-Muslims by Islamic invaders while ‘Hinduism’ as a broad tent term to include all Indian belief systems that lacked a clear indigenous name such as Sikhi or Buddhism, was introduced by British invaders. There is no real indigenous political theory that can merge from these political terms, hence reliance on western political paradigms.

The second is that Indian political thinkers continue to confuse civilisation with nation. The ‘nation’ as a concept is a European development based on meta ethnic community dominant in a State and based on exclusion. The ‘nation’ as a concept is in crises as the European State is becoming multicultural and multi ethnic and there is no mechanism within theory of nation to cope with this. By emulating the European idea of nation, Indian politics falls into similar crises.

Since 1947, Indian political thinkers have been attempting to ‘construct’ the ‘nation’ even though it has no relevance in the Indian State. Politics sees a surge for one party or person every couple of decades as a ‘new national’ identity is attempted either from the basis of external threat (war) or internal threat (fear of disintegration or marginalisation). Neither is sustainable, hence falls apart.

The Third is that the real Bharat is essentially a State of several nations, communities and immense plurality that has resiliently survived a few thousand years. But Indian political thinkers and parties remain in denial of this. Once the seduction of the ‘supra nation’ vision deflates from its own contradiction, the default fissiparous politics takes over. But no one has come up with a grand idea for a   federal and fissiparous politics as a sustainable and constructive force.

The BJP-RSS idea of the mythical ‘nation’ has not found much unifying appeal beyond the cadre, the Indian Brexiter and the Hindu Khalistani abroad. People nevertheless are not enthusiastic about the opposition coalitions either. There is no convincing grand mythical ‘national’ idea dominating the election that can override the economic woes of people this time. Hence Modi is likely to win but not with the margin he got last time.

 

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