I do understand that many readers may complain again about the length of this diary.. But I’d ask you to consider what Modi’s victory means not only geopolitically in his search to become a Major Nuclear Power World Leader via Nationalism and militarism, as the West cheers him on. Further consider India having the second highest population on the planet, but ruled by a handful of Modi’s cronies who desire nothing less than ruling Southeast Asia while tied to the US. You might consider as well what it means for the majority Muslim people of Kashmir, caught between Pakistan and India two nations, while Modi intends to use nuclear Pakistan for his own ends.
Now this was written a week before the election, but contains an interesting theory: ‘Explaining Narendra Modi’s Global Image Victory’; Modi’s biggest image-building weapon is neither in his control nor in his consciousness’, Arjun Appadurai, May 22, 2019
“If Modi wins this time, some of his followers have said that India will no longer need a constitution, or even its electoral democracy. How did Modi achieve this global image, in spite of his disturbing record on human rights, tolerance and dissent? Is this some magic Teflon coating that is woven into his tailor-made waistcoats and kurtas, or is something else involved?
Modi’s years as chief minister of Gujarat (2001-2014) were inaugurated with India’s worst state-endorsed pogrom against Muslims, sparked by the killing of a group of Hindu pilgrims on a train in Godhra in February 2002.
After the Godhra attack, Gujarat saw the worst organised violence against Muslims since Partition, in which over a thousand Muslims were butchered – many were raped, tens of thousands were dispossessed – all with the full knowledge and collusion of the police and the state bureaucracy. Though the Special Investigation Team set up by the Supreme Court decided there were no grounds to charge Modi with direct involvement in this pogrom, numerous independent commissions, inquiries and reports have demonstrated his full support of it.
Not only did Modi escape with no major stain on his reputation for the post-Godhra brutality against Muslims in Gujarat, he went on to build a formidable following in his state, strengthen his reputation and power in the BJP, and rode both these horses to victory in 2014, when he became prime minister. Since 2014, Modi has made many claims about his contributions to India’s economic growth, its military might and its global standing. Most of these claims have been credibly contested.
What is most important about the Modi regime is its systematic destruction of Indian secular ideals, its freedoms of speech, assembly and expression, and the guarantee of the lives and safety of journalists. In addition, the boards of universities, museums, foundations and non-governmental organisations have been packed with doctrinaire BJP members and personal devotees of Modi. The army has been systematically pulled into political debates and scandals, and planning and economic policy at the highest levels have been handed over to BJP party hacks.”
India has a standing military of 1,500,000.
“On the streets, Hindu nationalist thugs have been involved in the destruction of statues, rapes, the killing of activists, Dalits [untouchables], Muslims, journalists and other political opponents – with impunity, and frequently with police protection or collusion. The Election Commission of India, its proudest agency for guaranteeing free and fair elections, has been cowed into compliance, the police forces have become tied to the whims of the ruling party, and every form of dissent from Modi and his party is labeled anti-patriotic, anti-national and treasonous. Modi and his followers have captured both the symbolism of the nation and the organs of the state.”
And for her sins of speaking out against Modi, Arundhati Roy was told she was about to be arrested for ‘sedition’ against the government in 2010, although it didn’t come to that.
“This is the largest democratic coup in history. It is also the clearest sign of the global erosion of democracy by electoral majority.
The big puzzle is why Modi still enjoys such a positive reputation worldwide, and most notably in the United States and Europe.”
“How is this possible, given that information – verifiable information – about his active destruction of democratic values and institutions in India is easily available in newspapers, magazines, websites, social media and reports and documents of every type? How can we account for his high standing even among otherwise liberal politicians, diplomats, journalists, policy-makers and public intellectuals in the West?”
“Why is Modi’s global image still so clean?”
He offers the plausible reasons such as India as Modi’s media savviness, as a counterweight to China, large participation in global trade including as major buyer and seller of the weapons of war, as well as the white-washing of Modi by the Indian diaspora promoting ‘pro-India’, and so on.
What is Modi’s secret?
“Modi’s biggest image-building weapon is neither in his control nor in his consciousness. It is the persistent, prominent and hard-wired image of India as “the world’s largest democracy”, as a land of peace, tolerance and spirituality, of hard-won successes in science, industry and entrepreneurship, and above all of a working, mass democracy. Not even a compromised judiciary, an embattled free press, a corrupt and criminalised legislative sphere, terrorised minorities and the biggest networks of crony capitalism anywhere can shake this image. And Modi is the biggest beneficiary of this obsolete image.
It is not just that Modi is a major beneficiary of fake news of his achievements and fake denials of his crimes, but he is the beneficiary of a fake image of India – one that is so precious to many Western observers, perhaps especially the liberal ones, that they cannot let it go. This image of India has been built over decades, equally by Jawaharlal Nehru’s quasi-socialist planners, Western politicians and development agencies, neoliberal globalisers, Indian corporate image-makers and nationalist technocrats. It is the one broad image on which right and left, Western boosters and Indian nationalists, all find common cause, and thus it has had time to evolve, grow deep roots and become impervious to the evidence.”
I’d agree with his ‘Modi’s Secret’, but add that after the Obomba administration gave Modi a Visa is Sept. 2014, after being blocked from entry from the US since 2005 under Section 214 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. This section states that anyone may be denied a visa on the grounds that he/she “directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religions freedom“.
Now Modi was first elected PM of India in May 2014 and first came on a charm offensive on Sept. 26, 2014, a second one on Sept. 2015, the highlight being long visits with Silicon Valley Tech Lords, Modi’s third visit to Obomba’s White House, and according to Forbes:
“The tour also represents an effort by Prime Minister Modi to leverage the rapidly growing influence of the Indian diaspora community in the region. Ultimately, he hopes to raise India’s profile on the global stage and attract greater foreign capital to the country at a time when the Indian economy is outperforming virtually every other major economy in the world.”
Arjun Appadurai and others would contest that final sentence, but no matter: out-performing for the oligarchs, not the working class and lower castes. Workers strikes and protests, including massive ones by farmers have been rampant.
But think what a trade partner India, population 1.4 billion would be for the US! And with Obomba’s ‘pivot to Asia’, small wonder that the US is using India’s military bases for its ships and warplanes, and that India has taken part in war games in the South China Sea. So giving Modi the stamp of Amerikan Seal of Approval© would have directly burnished Modi’s earlier dirty, genocidal image.
I’ve forgotten exactly how the Obomba administration had managed to resurrect genocidaire Paul Kagame as well, but as I remember it, it had to do with Rice, Power, and Clinton, some called the three harpies.
Next: Arundhati Roy on India’s Elections: “A Mockery of What Democracy Is Supposed to Be”; The author and activist talks to The New Republic about Narendra Modi, the decimation of India’s opposition, and the way forward’, Samuel Earle, newrepublic.com, May 28, 2019
“Following India’s latest elections, which Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won with a landslide on a brazen message of Hindu supremacy, he is set for a second term as prime minister—and is more powerful than ever.
As Roy puts it, the “world’s largest democracy”—a proud national epithet Roy places within scare quotes—exists in several centuries at once, caught between tradition, the caste system, and the chaos of turbo-charged capitalism. Modi embodies these contradictions more than most: a figure at once authentic and aspirational, promising both the glorious resurrection of Hindustan and neoliberal reforms; the mythical child chaiwala who now wears $16,000 suits.”
“Modi’s first term played out in ways I expected as well as in ways that I did not. I did expect him to behave like a dedicated worker of the proto-fascist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the mothership of the BJP, dedicated to formally declaring India a Hindu nation. So, I expected the attack on the Muslim community, the demonization of Christians and communists, the drive to attack as well as co-opt and “Hinduize” Dalits. That went to script. I even expected (and anticipated in writing) a terrorist strike/war just before elections. I expected the embrace of big corporations, the privatization drive, but did not expect his policy of demonetization which he announced one night on TV, declaring that 90 percent of Indian currency was no longer legal tender. It dealt a hard blow to people—but it has not prevented them from coming out in numbers to vote for him again.
“Modi is back once again, even bigger than before, worshipped like a deity. It’s fascinating psychology—pain turned into pleasure for the sake of the “nation.” It is a formidable victory—enabled by voters across castes, classes, regions, and ethnicity.
In his victory speech to the thousands chanting his name he said two very frightening things—first, that the 2019 election marked the official death of secularism in India. Not a single political party dared to campaign under the banner of being secular, he said. He was more than right—the main opposition party, the Congress Party, did not have the nerve to mention the word “Muslim” for fear of being labelled “Muslim-lovers.” So, the lynching, the massacres of Muslims were all airbrushed out of the story. Majoritarianism—Hindu nationalism won the day.”
“Second, Modi declared that this election proved that by soundly defeating parties that claimed to represent the “lower” castes, the BJP had defeated caste. The only two castes he recognized, he said, were the poor and those who work to end poverty. So, while socially, the BJP thrives on portraying The Enemy, in economic terms, apparently, there are no enemies. In a country where nine people own the combined wealth of the bottom 500 million—the rich are missionaries. This is a terrifying view. And having been re-elected and achieving God-status by throwing crumbs to the poor, a gas cylinder to rural families stalked by hunger, a gift of 2000 rupees (30 dollars) to farmers deep in debt and committing suicide in their hundreds of thousands, by arming millions of jobless youth with nothing but vicious rhetoric, Modi has earned himself the right to continue with the economic policies that created this problem.
By claiming that there are no more castes except the poor and those who want to alleviate poverty, he is claiming that he and the RSS have done what Dr B.R Ambedkar, a pioneering advocate for Dalits, could not—they have annihilated caste. This is an extremely disturbing statement. Because, as Ambedkar said—Hindusim is caste. What the RSS-BJP has done in this election is to reinforce caste—to work with caste divisions, exploit the material contradictions between castes and sub-castes, and pit them against each other with mathematical precision.”
When asked about India’s increasing nationalization, militarization and Modi’s penchant for aligning himself with the military and stoking fears of ‘enemies of the nation, Roy answered in part:
“Because we have been reduced to a situation in which even those opposed to Hindu nationalism are weakly offering up various brands of “better” Hinduism and better nationalism. Our brains are being shrink-wrapped in the national flag. The attack, not on intellectuals, but on any form of intelligence is going to be ferocious. While politicians, corporate CEOs, and their service-partners in the media are millionaires and billionaires—wealthy beyond the realm of imagination—students, professors, writers, independent journalists are being targeted as elitist “anti-nationals.”
But I’d wondered in the interviewer might have meant Modi’s picking several fights with Islamabad based on ‘terrorists threats by JeM’, later ‘Imran Khan’s threats’ to use nuked against India, then bombing the hell out of alleged ‘Pakistani-supported’ Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps, and refusing to open a dialogue with Khan. Israel will sell New Delhi more of those ‘spent’ bunker-buster bombs. But given the Modi’s ever-burgeoning nationalism, and his landline victory even among the lower caste, I wonder if bombing Pakistan may not have been by way of a nationalistic election ploy. Or did many simply not vote at all?
‘What does Modi’s re-election mean for Kashmir?; The more Modi tries to choke Kashmir, the greater the possibility for the emergence of more radical forms of response.’ Basharat Ali, dawn.com, May 29, 2019
“Many in Kashmir are of the opinion that it makes no difference whether India is ruled by a secular Congress or a communal BJP. For them, the two are no different.
They argue that, historically, the worst forms of abuse and oppression of Kashmiris were carried out under secular regimes. Most massacres in Kashmir occurred under the Congress: the ones in Bijbehara and Sopore in 1993, for example.”
He offers other examples, then writes:
“Democratically-elected governments in Kashmir were dismissed by the Congress: the Farooq Abdullah-led government was removed in 1984. Draconian laws like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts were extended to Kashmir by the [Indian Congress [short for Indian Congress Party].
“The past five years saw a second full-time National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in India, and during this period, Modi only tried to perfect these practices in Kashmir for which Congress laid the base. “
[One of the most draconian laws applicable in Jammu and Kashmir, Public Safety Act (PSA), that is being liberally used as a repressive measure to scuttle any dissent, often also for victimising innocent youth, ironically finds its roots in the Defence of India Act (DIA) during the British rule. In fact, the PSA happens to be a more punitive form of the DIA that was described by various National leaders including Mahatma Gandhi as draconian and a black law enacted by Britishers to suppress Indian freedom struggle.”
“A legal expert on the condition of anonymity said that the Act was promulgated in 1978 (amended in 1987 and 1990) in Jammu and Kashmir empowering the state government to detain a person without trial for two years under the pretext of maintenance of public order. He added that even the provisions of the Act, though already unsatisfactory, have been consistently violated.] My apologies for having lost my link for this at Counter Currents.
“Counterinsurgency and crackdown
The last five years also witnessed an increase in counterinsurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2014, the number of conflict-related casualties — of militants, civilians and armed forces — stood at 235. By 2018, the figure rose up to 586.
In 2017, the Modi government’s security establishment formulated Operation All-Out to “flush out” militants from Kashmir. This phase also saw a spike in the number of youth joining the ranks of different militant organisations.
However, this trend among the youth is not a direct result of the BJP government and its policies, but a continuation of a pattern that emerged after 2008, when the then-Indian government miserably failed to respond to massive civilian protests for self-determination in Kashmir.”
…i.e., the long-promised Kashmiri Plebiscite of self-determination: join India, join Pakistan, or become an Independent nation? Kashmir has long been the Elephant in the Room between two nuclear powers that few Westerners discuss, and has so far has no solution because: no plebiscite. What is Modi afraid of?
“These years saw a tightening of the grip on the resistance leadership in Kashmir. The National Investigation Agency was allowed to raid, interrogate, arrest and charge Hurriyat leaders. Many of them continue to remain in jail.
The media was a target and journalists were not spared. The Jama’at-e-Islami Jammu & Kashmir, suspected of providing support to militancy, was banned and its leaders arrested.
The coming years under the Modi regime are likely to witness the same as far as counterinsurgency is concerned. Coincidentally, on the day the Indian election results were announced, the most wanted militant in Kashmir, Zakir Musa, was killed in Tral.
Not that this is happening for the first time, but the present campaign of persecution appears to be more concerted and aimed at cornering resistance organisations in Kashmir into silence and submission.”
It’s a small wonder that Kashmir is the most-militarized zone on the planet, with a half million police and military forces, iirc.
Kashmiris are not exactly right in saying that the Modi regime is no different than those that came before. Keeping in view these four points, the resistance politics in Kashmir will require a new strategy to negotiate with the coming challenges posed by a more powerful BJP government.
The road ahead is difficult given that many leaders are incarcerated. When we take a deeper look into the specifics, cutting through the grand narratives, it’s clear that the space for politics at a local, street level is under threat.
This is equally challenging for the Indian state, too. The more it tries to choke resistance politics in Kashmir into submission through violence, the greater the possibility for the emergence of more radical forms of response.”
For further reading: ‘John Bolton Greenlights Indian Military Attack on Pakistan’, Feb. 17, 2019
‘Arundhati Roy on Reckless Modi & Kashmir’, April 20, 2019
(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)