Skip to content

Excitotoxins and MSG. (Or, the Modi Style of Governance)

May 18, 2014

download

Prime Minister Elect of the world’s largest democracy arrives at the airport in New Delhi

Image Ravi Kanojia, Indian Express May 18, 2014

Circulating on Facebook for two days, and still unreported in mainstream media, is the story of overjoyed BJP workers attacking two mosques in Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency. Inebriated saffron activists, raising Hara-Hara Modi slogans, attacked two Masjids in separate places of the district on May 16th, after the poll results were announced.

The BJP activists also tried to harm the Imam of Muhiyuddin Juma Masjid, but he managed to escape from the hands of the miscreants.

Meanwhile, another group of miscreants, believed to be BJP activists, reportedly pelted stones at a Masjid in Suralpady near Kaikamba under the limits of Bajpe police station.

Today’s Hindu reports that a Muslim chicken stall owner was beaten up by a gang at Hoode village.

Mr. Ais told The Hindu that he was cooking food, for nearly 400 students at a nearby school, when seven persons came on four motorcycles asked for him with his daughter Ayesha at around 4.30 p.m. They later pushed her and came to him and asked if he was present when a victory procession [of the Bharatiya Janata Party] was taken out on May 16, to which he replied in the negative. They then beat him up.

But none of this muck sticks to the Teflon visage of Modi, ever. These are mere goons, Modi should rein them in, in the interests of his own fair name. Eminent political scientists and op-ed writing intellectuals will all distance themselves with distaste from such lumpen behaviour, urging Mr Modi – Modiji, Narendrabhai – to show that he does not support such violence by misguided working class thugs.

But this thuggishness is intrinsically and essentially a part of the Modi Style of Governance. Get used to it.

The Modi Style of Governance. Oh, MSG?

MSG is also of course, the acronym for Monosodium Glutamate, a food additive commonly found in flavour enhancers like ajinomoto, considered to be dangerous and therefore widely limited or banned outright globally.

What is it about MSG that is dangerous?

[T]he effects of MSG are cumulative. Just because you don’t react to MSG now, doesn’t mean you won’t later. Sensitivity to MSG builds up in our bodies until we reach our “threshold of sensitivity.”

That’s because MSG overstimulates our nervous system — exciting our nerves and causing an inflammatory response. 

Watching the collective orgasmic responses of the media to Narendra Modi’s victory, the inflammatory response is clearly evident.  (Was I experiencing an out of body experience in sheer despair or did Arnab Goswami really organize a standing ovation in his studio to the ‘Tsunamo’ as results were being declared? And when you adoringly name your idol after a devastatingly destructive force that leaves mass annihilation in its wake, what exactly are you expecting from him?)

Meanwhile, long ago, MSG, it was thought, could repair human cells, since glutamate is a naturally existing amino acid.  So in 1957, a team of researchers decided to see if glutamate could help repair a diseased retina. The researchers fed rats MSG and were shocked by their results. Rather than repairing the disease, the MSG destroyed the retinal cells that allow vision.

So – MSG, proposed as a cure, could kill. Hm.

A decade later, the neuroscientist Dr. John Olney found that MSG not only destroyed retinal vision cells, but also parts of the brain. This brain damage was done as neurons became over excited, virtually exciting themselves to death. He called this “excitotoxicity,” and that has led subsequent researchers to describe MSG as an “excitotoxin.”

As these other MSG excitotoxins circulate through our body politic, it becomes more and more difficult to think straight.

For Modi’s urbane, sophisticated supporters like Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Modi has scripted the “most gloriously spectacular political triumphs in the history of independent India”, and the BJP has now

“become a genuinely national party and transformed India’s political landscape, perhaps forever.”

This last may well be true, as we “virtually excite ourselves to death.”

Whom does the BJP represent? The First Past The Post Syndrome

The common sense of the dominant upper classes has shifted rightward so radically. The very Pratap Bhanu Mehta who in 2002 referred to the “maniacal ranting of Narendra Modi”, and in 2005, described the Gujarat violence of 2002 as a “state-supported pogrom against minorities” (1), now writes with complete sanguinity that the BJP “has been able to create a broad-based support, across social classes, across rural and urban areas, across different castes.” Even for form’s sake Mehta cannot pretend that different religious identities are included in that broad based support – the BJP appears to have consolidated the Hindu vote, and that’s good enough for Mehta.

(Shankar Raghuraman points out the “minor problem” in calling BJP a national party, despite the quantum and spread of its vote share – the fact that its rise has happened with a near total exclusion of minorities.)

But while the BJP has consolidated Hindu votes behind it, it has not got even a simple majority of votes of Hindus in general. As has been pointed out many times by now, the BJP has won with 31 percent of the votes cast, that is, less than one third of the votes cast, not even of the total electorate. There is no doubt that the First Past The Post system heavily distorts the actual preferences of voters. As Siddharth Varadarajan points out, the FPTP system ensured that the 12 point difference in vote share between Congress (19.3%) and BJP (31%) translates into a 600 point difference in seats (BJP 282, Congress 44).

It is time to revive the debate on whether the FPTP represents even somewhat accurately, an electorate’s preferences. On Shuddhabrata’s post here on Kafila, a debate is going on in the comments section, on the FPTP, but I think that debate has to be restructured completely. Critiques of the FPTP can be found as long ago as 1975 in the Tarkunde Committee report, and in the 1998 Law Commission Report. In election studies this is a factor that is addressed routinely, with scholars making the important argument that radical agendas and smaller parties stand little chance under FPTP. The former Chief Election Commissioner T. S. Krishnamurthy, on completing his stint in 2005, called for a national debate on replacing the first-past-the-post system since people with barely 20% of the vote become representatives when 80% have voted against them. B R Ambedkar himself had come to the realization that “parliamentary democracy under the first-past-the-post system would not enable minorities in India to achieve genuine political representation”. There has been considerable debate for decades on the FPTP, and periodically other electoral systems, such as Proportional Representation (PR), have been considered seriously in public debate. If the system has not changed, it’s partly because of the stakes that the major political parties, especially the Congress, have in retaining the system, and partly because PR has several problems, not least of which is the control it leaves in the hands of party bosses.

What kinds of transformations of democratic institutions and practices would ensure genuine responsiveness to interests of different sections of people at different points in time? A serious debate on radical alternatives is necessary. But to conceptualise PR in the context only of currently existing parties that would get seats in proportion to their votes, is not sufficient. We would have to think of a re-visioned PR system that would have room (and continue to make room) for newer kinds of political configurations – the anti-big dam movements, anti-nuclear energy movements, sexuality rights movements, to name but a few.

A public debate on the potential and limitations of proportional representation is certainly worthwhile, although that too would only be a beginning. We would also need to keep in mind the fact that in a globalised world, as Canadian feminist Maude Barlowe puts it, “Power has shifted elsewhere. It has been sucked away by an elite group of global capitalists who dictate to national governments…” Almost every political party in Canada has affirmative action programmes to ensure women candidates. But like Barlowe, many feminists in Canada feel that when they finally got there – “the cupboard was bare” – the national government is under the control of global capital.

Similarly, a recent study by professors at Northwestern and Princeton Universities in the USA, found that the USA is more an oligarchy than a democracy.

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

In other words, policies supported by economic elites and business interest groups were far more likely to become law than those they opposed, while the preferences of the middle class made essentially no difference to a bill’s fate. 

In India, the control by corporate capital over these elections in particular, has been well established by now. An Economic and Political Weekly editorial calls it the “biggest corporate heist in history (2).

So if we are to reconsider FPTP as an electoral mechanism, we need to be open to radically rethinking the idea of how democracy is to be achieved. Democracy is not an actually existing phenomenon, it is a possibility that is continually to be developed. Democracy is a horizon – you never reach it, but its presence on the horizon orients you.

In the meanwhile it is worthwhile reiterating that the BJP has not been endorsed by even a simple majority of Hindus in this country.

The New Third front – NOTA?

The biggest indicator that a rethink on FPTP is long overdue is the NOTA factor. Fully 18,053 brave folk got out of their homes in – yes – Vadodara, on voting day to press the button for NOTA – None of the Above. Statistically negligible – but politically, how significant. In that constituency, tightly wrapped up and controlled by the BJP and state machinery, the safe seat of choice for Modi – eighteen thousand people said NO to every single candidate, including Narendrabhai Modiji Himself. In all of India, 59.7 lakh people pressed NOTA, and in Gujarat alone, 4.4 lakh NOTA votes were cast. In fact in Gujarat, NOTA was the third most preferred option, leaving AAP in fourth place. In Chottaudepur constituency adjacent to Vadodara which includes villages where farmers are fighting against contamination of ground water, and also includes villages protesting the Garudeshwar weir dam, the NOTA votes were 28,815. Tribal dominated areas used it the most. In Dahod, reserved for ST, 3.6 percent of votes cast were NOTA, that is, 32,268 people voted NOTA! (3)

Minorities, women, homos in their proper place

The excitotoxin meanwhile, continues its path of destruction. Apart from religious minorities, other anti/non-Indians are next on the agenda. Arjun Ram Meghwal, a BJP MP from Bikaner, has said that he will present a private member bill in Lok Sabha to criminalize homosexuality. The bill, titled Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2012, had been introduced by Mr. Meghawal last year, but was not discussed by the Lok Sabha. He hopes the new House will be more amenable, and why not. The BJP was the only party to strongly oppose decriminalization of homosexuality at the time of the Supreme Court judgement.

After these elections, BJP has also promised to promote Indian tradition in Bollywood, and we know how strongly they and their parivar defend Indian tradition as regards women and how they dress. And if it can be a combination of controlling both minorities and women, what could be better. In August 2012:

The Vivekananda Vidyavardhaka Sangha group of institutions (VVS Puttur, Dakshin Kannada) issued instructions to its students and staff to wear tilaks, earrings and bangles while attending classes. The diktat issued by the management extends to minority students and college staff. While wearing the tilak and bangles is encouraged by the management under the garb of promoting ‘Indian’ values, any display of hijab (headscarf ) or burqa is banned in the 41 institutions (from preschool to engineering) run by VVS, on the grounds that it is not part of its prescribed ‘uniform’.

Uma Bharati claimed that Muslims would be very safe under BJP rule, and sure, why will they not be. The riot-manufacturing industry itself is in power, and it is in its own interest to maintain law and order on the surface, because who wants to risk investment amidst mayhem. But the MSG has a special style of minority management, which has been perfected in Gujarat. Ghettoization, daily intimidation, routine humiliation – shut the eff up and we may not kill you. Actual violence may only be necessary on a small scale and infrequently, just to show who’s boss.

The Gujarat Model. Oohh…

But what about development? Ah, that Development into which heaven of the Sensex, oh Tsunamo, let my country awake.

The Gujarat Model of Development is driven by corporate interests, is callous with regard to sustainability and ecological consequences, is unhindered by any ethical concern in land grab from peasants for corporates and exponentially enhances inequality. All of this information is available, among other places, on Kafila. See:

Petromax Light in Modi’s Gujarat? 

Gujarat and the Illusion of Development (A review a volume of essays edited by Atul Sood Poverty Amidst Prosperity: Essays on the Trajectory of Development in Gujarat)

We remember Gujarat 2002. And we know you’re lying about development

So – how different from the UPA 2 regime? Not very different at all, in fact. And that is the reason Congress is OUT, decimated, finished. Because it decided to ignore all democratic pressures and go full steam ahead to fulfil the corporate agenda. But still, there was a small difference – UPA 2 was still fettered by elements that took democracy seriously, and listened to social movements. This democratic constraint was what India Inc. called Policy Paralysis.

Fortunately for those high on excitotoxins, there are no democratic constraints at all any more. Ram Madhav of the RSS which is the life blood of the BJP, stated quite unambiguously:

India needs a strong economy that caters to the last man by invoking the mantra of development and growth. It should strengthen the hands of the poor by facilitating more employment. It shouldn’t turn them into perpetual beggars, surviving at the mercy of the government-offered doles.

Yes, of course, anybody would prefer the dignity of starving to death over “government-offered doles”. NREGA is clearly on the way out, as is the National Food Security Act, and no doubt the Right to Information Act.

Hail to the Chief (Presidential Anthem of the United States)

In a blog post on at the end of polling, “Narendra Modi” said :

Lets place people over politics, hope over despair, healing over hurting, inclusion over exclusion and development over divisiveness. It is natural for the spirit of bipartisanship to get temporarily lost in the midst of an election campaign but now is the time to resurrect it.

Why have I put the PM-Elect’s name in quotation marks? Because I’m certain the blog is maintained by loving minions, and this post in particular, I will wager my pseudo-secular soul, was written by a US-based minion. Bipartisanship? In India? This is what bipartisan means:

representing, characterized by, or including members from two parties or factions

That’s in the US, my friend. For example, Reagan is said to have had a “bipartisan spirit”, reaching across the aisle to Democrats. In India it would have to be multipartisan, for there are not just two parties. And there never has been a “spirit of multipartisanship” in Indian politics, where there are still real differences between parties, unlike the US, where the Republicans and the Democrats pretty much mirror each other.

And of course, “placing people over politics” was seen as Obama’s message, and “Hope over Despair” was the centre piece of his 2008 campaign.

So big deal. The minion plagiarized tired cliches from American politics to represent the voice of  the “first Prime Minister of India born after Independence”.  I agree – this is the least of our worries.

The direction in which we seem to be going, though, that is worrying – towards that proud oligarchy that our freedom fighters gave their lives for.

What about AAP?

“It’s not done badly for a new party” – these are not the anodyne words I expected to write about Aam Aadmi Party. Of course not. Like thousands of supporters of this new movement-that was-not-quite-a-party, I had hoped against hope that an ethical, principled politics would triumph over the politics-as-usual of money and muscle power, and the ancient rot of corruption. Perhaps it stretched itself too thin. Perhaps mistakes were made, and introspection is necessary. But I still believe AAP can provide a genuinely ethical space in Indian politics that prioritizes democracy above all else.

But I do know what was not a mistake – the decision to sacrifice a sure seat in Delhi by fielding Kejriwal in Banaras against Modi. That decision showed courage and integrity, that decision showed that AAP sees itself primarily as providing an actual alternative to the behind-the-back camaraderie of the two principal players in the field – the BJP and the Congress. It is this steadfast integrity that AAP should nurture, and let the cleansing begin, as those who flocked to it seeing an easy route to power, fall away.

After I spent two days with AAP in its Banaras campaign, I had realized that

For AAP, this is not a battle that will end with the elections. Even the booth managers are meant to be the AAP representatives in their localities after the elections, to play an important role in the swaraj through mohalla sabhas that will emerge, regardless of victory or defeat in the election.

I still have hope.

Democracy? Jaaye bhaad mein

AAP prioritizes democracy, a value-less commodity in the new regime. It is attacked by its Left critics for not having an ideology, but I have begun to see democracy as its ideology. Kejriwal, asked once why the party was opposed to FDI in retail, said simply, “log nahin chaahte”. The people dont want it. AAP’s position is not against FDI as such, or against nuclear energy or big dams. It seems to be against any policy or decision that holds in contempt what the people concerned feel about it, the people who are actually affected by a decision, not an abstract category such as “Hindus” or “The People”.

Not a bad place to start at all.

Meanwhile, Modi’s fervid little followers urge him to forget about democracy now that he has been voted to power. Swapan Dasgupta is very clear about this. He begs Modi not to “shed his combativeness”, to remember that this is “not a mandate for consensus but for audacity.”

A democratic mandate for combativeness against whom? Not for consensus but for audacity – to do what? Clearly whatever it is, is not going to be liked by many.

But oh well – we tried democracy. Time for a change? Got those excitotoxins flowing? Cheers!

———————————————————————————————————-

(1) Raghu Karnad unearthed these earlier writings of PBM and put them out on Facebook.

(2) “Anger, Aspiration, Apprehension” EPW Vol – XLIX No. 21, May 24, 2014

(3) Thanks to Trupti Shah for a very useful discussion on this in FeministsIndia e-list. and here are some newspaper reports on NOTA in this election:

NOTA forms the Third Front in state

Lok Sabha poll results: 4.4 lakh Gujaratis press NOTA button

Vadodara votes 10 times more NOTA than Varanasi

Election 2014 results: NOTA garners 1.1% of country’s total vote share 

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Ron permalink
    May 18, 2014 5:30 PM

    So Modi’s economic policy only means abolition of government-offered doles??? Then what about the following;

    ending red tapism
    growth of manufacturing sector for new job creation
    attracting foreign investors
    rupee appreciation against dollar
    linking MNREGA with asset creation
    setting up new gas grids
    creating solar parks for clean energy generation
    high speed bullet trains
    new industrial corridors
    100 new smart cities

    Modi detailed his economic vision months before the election. Have you refused to concede them or Were you so busy criticizing him that couldn’t get time to know about them???

    • Nivedita Menon permalink*
      May 20, 2014 3:08 PM

      Ron, those excitotoxins are really going there! This “detailed economic vision” can be broken down as follows:
      1. Linking MNREGA with asset creation – the BJP has for a while, through Arun Jaitley and Arvind Pangariya, been talking about “asset creation” in the context of the NREGA as if something new and original is being suggested. But in fact, the twin objectives of the NREGA (2005) were precisely a) to provide livelihood security to the households in rural areas and b) Creation of durable assets and strengthening the livelihood resource base of rural poor. There are numerous studies looking at how well states have fared in both aspects, and results vary, especially on the latter, i.e. asset creation. A study published in Journal of Global Economy showed the following:
      A total of 3791510 assets were created during (2001-2010). The list of assets state-wise of the states with a major share in total assets created: Andhra Pradesh(19.7%), Uttar Pradesh(14.7%), Madhya Pradesh(13%), Gujarat(8%) and West Bengal(6.4%). So why didn’t Modi just start with Gujarat? After 15 years of the man, its share is lower than 3 other states ( a good 5 points lower than the closest state).
      So much for that.
      2. The much hyped solar energy park in Gujarat is an Adani project. The Modi-Adani combo is deadly, and of course, they will use all opportunities to generate profits. it is well known Adani’s empire has benefited from Modi’s emphasis on economic ‘development.’ Solar energy is fine, but handed over to private interests focused only on profit? That precisely is MSG.
      AS for conventional energy, not only was most of Gujarat’s electricity capacity installed before Narendra Modi came to power in 2001, but during his term very little has been added.
      3. All the other projects (bullet trains and industrial corridors, smart cities etc) are precisely illustrative of the Gujarat Model of Development that I described as “driven by corporate interests, is callous with regard to sustainability and ecological consequences, is unhindered by any ethical concern in land grab from peasants for corporates and exponentially enhances inequality.”
      4. ‘Ending re tapism’ is short hand for riding rough shod over environmental clearances and pushing through shady deals for crony capitalists.
      And yes, UPA was on the same track, as I said in my post, but it had some constraints placed on it due to democratic pressures. Fortunately for Adani and Co., there is no democratic constraint on Modi at all. Especially if his supporters are all as gullible as you, as intoxicated by the excitotoxins, and will learn too late what the long term consequences of such ‘development’ are.

  2. May 18, 2014 5:34 PM

    I wish this article was little more objective and unbiased [the links are awesome though]
    Not a Modi Fan, but for what it’s worth the same “people” who don’t want FDI in retail, flock together with pitchforks asking for criminalizing homosexuality. While it is imperative to listen to the people who voted for you, it’s also important to remember that most of India is illiterate and idiotic.

  3. May 18, 2014 6:28 PM

    I have some questions.
    1) Why is it that the moment your preferred side lost , Kafila writers started questioning FPTP stystem ? Not until then. Not after 2009 elections. I am a long time reader of kafila.
    2) Why only PR system is being talked as an alternative. How about the 2 party system where one party is guaranteed more than 50% vote ?
    3) Why no questions are ever asked about the “system” when muslim/dalit votes get consolidated behind some party or the other ?

    • Nivedita Menon permalink*
      May 20, 2014 1:30 PM

      Dipayan Liang Ghosh – Kafila has had at least two posts criticizing the FPTP system:

      1. A Flawed Democracy – The Case for Proportional Representation in India – Srinivasan Ramani (2012)

      2. 51% = legitimacy By Zainab Bawa (2009)

      In my post here, I have shown how old the debate is in India, and I too have written elsewhere on this issue. One was in Economic and Political Weekly, October 21, 2000, titled “Elusive ‘Woman': Feminism and Women’s Reservation Bill.”

      Your second point – Are you advocating a two party system? You mean, restrict political agendas by law so that only two parties can operate? Do you even think before you shoot off your mouth?

      Your third question is “Why no questions are ever asked about the “system” when muslim/dalit votes get consolidated behind some party or the other ?”

      There are two points I wish to make here:
      a) Just to remind you – BJP has got 31% of VOTES CAST. This has consolidated the Hindu vote behind it. But it has NOT got all the Hindu votes cast, or even a majority of the Hindu votes cast. Had this been so, no other party would have got a single vote. Hindus have voted for BSP (which increased its vote share in Western UP without winning a single seat), for AAP (ditto in Delhi), for SP, for AIADMK, for TMC and so on and on.
      b) When Dalits/Muslim vote gets consolidated, there is no claim to BE INDIA or to represent India as a whole. When Hindu vote, however small, proportionately, gets consolidated, from that position, claims are made to represent India as a Hindu nation. That is the difference, and that is the problem with the notion that BJP’s Hindutva agenda is backed by a predominantly “Hindu” India. In fact the “Hindu vote” is even more split than minority votes!

      • May 20, 2014 3:16 PM

        Thanks for your reply. I hope you will be kind enough to publish this.
        1. Question is of timing. Neither the articles you linked to were published immediately after a general election verdict . The debate may be old , but raising this issue just after an emphatic verdict in favour of your opponents is in bad taste. Its like saying the “stage” is bad just after you failed to dance when others could.
        2. The focus of the analysis is based on percentages of votes obtained by parties. I merely pointed out a system where winning parties get more than 50% votes. Thats not a recommendation.
        3. Thank God hindu votes are not consolidated behind BJP like the left want us to believe. BJP got votes from all sections ,including muslims and dalits. Shia muslims in many parts voted for BJP as did the Buddhists and Sikhs.
        Are they not minorities ?
        4. It would be beneficial to make an honest assessment as to why “aspirational” youth chose to vote for BJP . Its because , when the youth (like myself) looks at the left ,they only see permanent outrage. Left and secular forces lacks a positive agenda.They dont see how they can earn a better living from ideas presented in blogs like kafila and others.

    • Kaustav permalink*
      May 20, 2014 8:48 PM

      Dear Mr. Dipayan,

      1. Your issue of timing of discussion of FPTP is surely due to the fact that after 30 years a political party has got a majority of seats with only 31% of votes. In the past 66 years of our history, no political party has got an absolute majority of seats with less than one-third of popular mandate ( Please correct me if I am wrong). And that too after so much hue and cry about a tsunami in favour of Mr. Modi.

      2. For Point #3, Buddhists and Sikhs are definite minorities but are they perceived in the same manner as Muslims by the RSS ? What I mean to say is that does the RSS differentiate beween religions born on foreign soil and of Indian origin?

      3. To be very honest I also belong to your class of “aspirational youth”. But I simply fail to understand how the objective of a state can be only to cater to the better living of aspirational youth rather than catering to the wlefare of the majority of its population.

      Regards

      Kaustav

    • Ramaa permalink*
      May 20, 2014 8:51 PM

      Dipayan Liang Ghosh:
      1. 2009 was fairly close to elections and 2012 was fairly close to assembly elections. . Besides i’m sick of this logic that things cannot be pointed out and discussed at any point of time because they havent been raised earlier ! How does that invalidate the logic of the criticism itself ? So what if people who are more immediately concerned about the rise and total control a party with an avowedly communal , divisive and majoritarian agenda and hence are thinking even more urgently of electoral reforms which would provide some protection to minorities?Where the hell is the question of bad taste here ? when people have made no bones about the fact that they oppose the politics of the party which has won? Is this a football team that in some display of sportsman spirit we have to dismiss all anxieties and material concerns about people’s lives which become more urgent at a time like this !
      There is also another reason behind the timing – never before has there been such chest thumping about how India has spoken all around ! . It then becomes even more imperative to point out that even this kind of a spectacular result, not only need not have representation of minorities , but might still not reflect absolute majority .
      2. I would turn your statement around to say Thank God all Hindus have not voted for BJP ! And here is a analysis which dispels the myth that muslims and other minorities voted for BJP in any substantive way http://www.firstpost.com/politics/bjps-31-percent-vote-share-heres-who-didnt-vote-for-narendra-modi-1531813.html?utm_source=ref_article.
      3. Yes , many assessments of why aspirational youth voted for BJp have been made . To begin with , how is it that modi’s sauve urban followers are all eager to mark out everything wrong that congress or others did , but willing to ignore all uncomfortable questions and far darker zones in a man like him backed by a systematically, organizationally and ideologically communal party ? with a liberal dose of anti social elements like VHP/bajrang dal/shiv Sena and a past full of far blacker marks than any other party in fray ? All of which they could have found out if they wanted to – but they chose not to ….the answer does not only lie in the high powered corporate backed media blitzkering and pr compaigns, not even just in disenchantment with the congress perse ( how does that explain supporting a bigger evil in all respects ? ), it lies in what they oppose in congress and others who had to deal with the mess of democracy . As has been pointed out elsewhere, “Any opposition to Modi needs to address the root of these old and persistent escapist fantasies of Hitler: the disenchantment with the slow-moving messiness of democracy…the fantasy of an authoritarian leader who “cleans up” India becomes very attractive.” .http://qz.com/210699/stop-comparing-modi-to-hitler-india-is-hardly-weimar-germany/#/h/69745,3/
      And its not rue that many in the left and among secular forces have not pointed out solutions and many different alternatives – but the point is , the ‘aspirational youth’ does not want to go down that lane – it does not want to deal with the messiness of the long hard road to a democratic development path which takes everyone along – because it involves being participant to far more difficult decisions and also being able to forego some amount of self interest !

  4. May 18, 2014 9:44 PM

    FPTP may not be perfect and PR may be an alternative. But the details have to be debated. UPA and Left Front have benefited from FPTP in the past. When BJP wins the polls with majority on its own suddenly the critics wake up and find fault with FPTP. Regarding minorities it does not make sense to expect that the number of MPs in lok sabha should be proportionate to their % in population. In a democracy what is more important is that the constitution protects their rights and they have access to institutions to address their grievances and ensure that their rights are not violated. RTE is not applicable to institutions run by minorities. Even when they are 100% funded by state minority institutions enjoy more autonomy and rights when compared to institutions 100% funded by the state and managed by majority community. The % of minorities in population of post 1947 has not declined nor has there been a mass migration of minorities from India. In terms of social indicators sikhs and christians are ahead of Hindus.
    It was the congress government that opened up the liberalization process in 1991 although its origins could be traced to the reforms initiated by the govt. led by Rajiv Gandhi. The UDF government of 1996 did not reverse the liberalization process, nor did the BJP led NDA government that ruled from 1998-2004. Since 2004 the UPA government liberalized the economy further. So if you want to oppose corporate control over economy get the facts right. Calling the elections as biggest corporate heist is a silly joke. Had UPA won with a simple majority or had there been a government of non-BJP parties EPW would have praised the people and the electoral process and would have celebrated the defeat of the ‘fascist BJP’. Is AAP against FDI in all sectors, does AAP has a clear alternative economic agenda and plan, has AAP categorically rejected globalization, liberalization and opening up the economy further.

  5. May 18, 2014 9:49 PM

    ‘India needs a strong economy that caters to the last man by invoking the mantra of development and growth. It should strengthen the hands of the poor by facilitating more employment. It shouldn’t turn them into perpetual beggars, surviving at the mercy of the government-offered doles.’
    The challenge lies in generating growth that empowers the poor and XII five year plan talked about inclusive growth. Translating all these nice words into durable outcomes is a challenging task. Perhaps critics like Nivedita Menon can offer suggestions on this.

  6. May 18, 2014 10:02 PM

    OK!

  7. Kashyap permalink
    May 18, 2014 10:07 PM

    Dear Sir, I have a simple question. You mention how BJP’s victory is a majoritarian win with the complete exclusion of minorities. Can you please explain why BJP won in Buddhist dominated Arunachal and Ladakh? What about Catholic dominated South Goa? Or, why do the predominantly Christian (of many denominations) Nagas support the BJP and NDA? Let us not even talk about constituencies with a significant Jain presence,which is now an official “minority community”.

    • Kashyap permalink
      May 18, 2014 10:36 PM

      Also, two points on the vote share of the BJP:

      1) Vote share is given as a percentage of the national total. Since BJP was able to form the largest pre-poll coalition, it meant that BJP only contested in 427 seats. Which means that in 116 seats out of 543 that it didn’t contest, statistically speaking, 100% of the electorate voted against the BJP.

      2) FPTP has ensured humongous victories for the Congress in the past (including in the 2009 elections) with a lesser vote count. Beyond all the speculation, if we look only at the hard facts, we see that this was the elections with the highest voter turnout in history of India that led to the highest vote share and number of seats won by a party in the last 30 years.

    • Sajan permalink
      May 19, 2014 7:50 PM

      Kashyap asks, “Can you please explain why BJP won in Buddhist dominated Arunachal and Ladakh? What about Catholic dominated South Goa? Or, why do the predominantly Christian (of many denominations) Nagas support the BJP and NDA?”

      As far as I know, Hindus form the single largest religious group in Arunachal Pradesh (followed by a local faith called Donyi-Polo). It is not surprising that one of the two seats in Arunachal went to the BJP.

      Ladakh isn’t predominantly Buddhist either. Leh has a Buddhist majority, but Kargil is mostly Muslim. I could be wrong, but I think the Buddhist and Muslim populations of Ladakh are nearly equal. The BJP candidate from Ladakh, Thupstan Chhewang (a Buddhist), won his seat by the narrowest of margins — 36 votes — from his Muslim rival.

      It is news to me that south Goa is “Catholic dominated”. Goa is only 27% Catholic; its population is overwhelmingly Hindu and it has a BJP government. South Goa has generally been a Congress bastion, and I am sure it has more Catholics than north Goa, but except for Salcete, I doubt if any other part of South Goa is predominantly Catholic.

      About Nagaland, their single LS seat went to the Naga People’s Front, which admittedly is one of 29 parties that form the NDA. To infer from this that the “predominantly Christian Nagas support the BJP” is a bit of a stretch.

      Still, I must agree with Kashyap that the BJP’s is not a “majoritarian win with the complete exclusion of minorities”. The BJP’s exclusion of minorities is not quite complete. Among their 282 MPs in Lok Sabha, they do have one Sikh and one Buddhist.

      • Kris permalink
        May 20, 2014 5:47 PM

        Excellent reply Sajan, the last line is a gem.

  8. Ajit permalink
    May 18, 2014 10:12 PM

    >>MSG not only destroyed retinal vision cells, but also parts of the brain. This brain damage was done as neurons became over excited, virtually exciting themselves to death. He called this “excitotoxicity,” and that has led subsequent researchers to describe MSG as an “excitotoxin.”

    As these other MSG excitotoxins circulate through our body politic, it becomes more and more difficult to think straight. >>

    This is the real problem. I don’t think it is that easy to get rid of this right wing party now. It is not a question of voting against them in next election and send them packing.

    They have made a science of stirring up the base passions of the people. They can polarise the Hindus as and when they choose. A People blind with rage is not exactly going to stop them.

    This is where the corruption, misrule, arrogance of the Congress and other secular parties have led this country.

    They will start packing every institution like Supreme Court, CAG, Election Commission with their toadies. Police, they were already taking orders from this gang even before victory.

    • Eric Pinto permalink
      May 19, 2014 1:33 AM

      Ajit says ” They will start packing every institution like Supreme Court, CAG, Election Commission with their toadies. Police, they were already taking orders from this gang even before victory.” This is the real danger to watch out for and point out when it happens. Mainstream media will not do that job, so Kafila and citizen groups will have to keep the lens on that sickening aspect.

  9. Deep permalink
    May 19, 2014 10:25 AM

    Caution well taken… but it’s too early…. when the nation has given the mandate, you need to wait n watch. Give the man a chance to play his cards. As such we are living in a country which is stagnant at North block… at least now we can expect the core to move… for good or bad its for time to say… don’t just drop all your ammunition right away even before he is sworn in… save some for his bad moves… but be prepared to praise the good ones too… And MSG has its good side too…. FYI… “The five studies conducted on Monosodium glutamate found that the amplification of flavor and taste can improve food palatability and acceptance, increase salivary flow and immunity, and reduce oral complaints in both sick and healthy older people… something that India had been becoming day by day with visible policy paralysis and pseudo leadership at the center.

    • Hartman permalink
      May 19, 2014 2:59 PM

      I would say let’s wait and see what he does with the portfolio of the MoEF…

  10. kumarpushp permalink
    May 23, 2014 10:13 PM

    World want to know the qualification of mr Modi. Can he stand and talk in front of Obama and other world leader hopefully Hindu and Hindu led medias will tell tell the world. Ndtv might have discussion of knowledge of mr Modi and sangh parivar

  11. Ramray permalink
    June 17, 2014 6:01 AM

    Dear Nivedita,

    An excellent article. Agree, unsurprisingly, on all things related to Modi. But dear me! Did you have to bring in the beloved MSG? That gastronomic magic that is the life of the IndoChinese cuisine? MSG has admittedly been subjected to intense scrutiny since the last several decades and is now considered to be safe.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20470841

    There might actually be benefits to consuming it.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19571225

    In any case ingested MSG does not seem to cross blood brain or placental barriers rendering it harmless to the nervous system.

    The fight against the right can only get better with a gut that is satisfied with chicken manchurian (or its fascinating gobi variant) spiked to the heavens with MSG!

Trackbacks

  1. NaMo and me: Thoughts on the Indian election | The Olive Ridley Crawl
  2. When Are Foreign Funds Okay? A Guide for the Perplexed | Kafila
  3. When Are Foreign Funds Okay? A Guide for the Perplexed | Caravan Daily

We look forward to your comments. Comments are subject to moderation as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 54,743 other followers

%d bloggers like this: