India-Russia-China Ties Endanger US Superpower Status

More people voted in India’s election than there are in all of Europe, and the astounding results spell a change and major shift in global political scene. After five weeks, and more than 800 million ballots cast, the largest election in the history of mankind ended with a landslide win—announced on Sunday—for India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP is now set to form a new government under Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi. Modi’s mammoth victory means he has something no ruler of India has had for over 30 years: an absolute majority in the lower house of Parliament. This gives him powers his predecessors could only have dreamed of—and the indications are that he will use it.“Good days are coming,” Modi said in a victory speech. “The journey has started.”
This “journey” holds great geopolitical significance because Modi’s history indicates that it will be one that steers India away from the United States and nearer to Russia, China and other Asian states.
In 2005, the United States government revoked Modi’s visa on the grounds that he had played a role in one of India’s bloodiest episodes of religious violence. The violence had taken place in the state of Gujarat, where Modi worked at the time as chief minister. Hindu rioters there killed more than 1,200 Muslims and forced another 150,000 to flee their homes. Modi was accused both of encouraging the violence and failing to stop it. His involvement was never proven, but the U.S. slapped sanctions on him, and the European Union quickly followed suit.
Modi responded to the Western snub by looking east. Ever since, he has been making friends and forging alliances with China, Russia, Japan and other Asian countries. The South China Morning Post explains that his win represents a bane to the U.S. and a boon for Eastern powers. Over the years, China and Modi have invested heavily in each other and forged a bond that could have far-reaching ramifications not only for Sino-Indian relations, but also for the U.S. ‘Asia pivot’ strategy at a time when territorial disputes in the South China Sea are taking a violent turn. … Modi is also known to have an Eastern bias, with Asian nationalism forming the core of his world view. Apart from China, that also draws him closer to Japan and Singapore, with whose leaders he has struck up a similar rapport. … Modi’s unimpeachable conservative background and open admiration for China has in the past raised hopes of him becoming a sort of Indian Richard Nixon.”
India’s Putin?
Nixon is not the only world leader Modi has been compared to. The Diplomat called him “India’s Shinzo Abe” because some of his nationalistic leanings mirror those of the Japanese prime minister. India’s Economic Times reported that, “Many Chinese officials who have dealt with Modi compare him to their present boss Xi Jinping.” OneIndia News skipped right to the chase, likening Modi to Asia’s big man himself. He is “India’s Putin,” the publication wrote. His heavy handed leadership “may revive India as Putin did in Russia [because] Modi has similar Putin-like capability to metamorphose India into an economic and military powerhouse through a series of tough measures and steps which would help India leverage and unleash its real potential,” it said.
Hopeful Neighbors.
Modi joins a group of Asian strongman leaders who have been rising to power or consolidating power as U.S. influence in the region fades. Most of Modi’s fellow strongmen seem to welcome him as the newest participant in their shared quest to shift global power from Occident to Orient. The Chinese could not be more delighted that Modi was elected. “This has caused worries from the West,” China’s state-run Global Times wrote. “Western countries like the U.S. hope to use India to counterbalance China, but they don’t support India on issues of the country’s core interests.” The Times went on to explain that Washington’s Trans-Pacific Partnership excludes India, which has prompted the Indians to strengthen “coordination with emerging countries such as China and Russia over a spectrum of global issues. … The U.S. is particularly upset with the enhanced strategic cooperation among China, Russia and India.”
China and India continue to bicker over such issues as border disputes, bilateral trade imbalance and Beijing’s alliance with India’s nemesis, Pakistan. But under Modi, these tensions could well abate. This fall, Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit Modi in India, which could hasten this abatement.
Russia, too, welcomes its longtime ally’s ascension to power. Vladimir Putin said Monday that he hopes that he and Modi can push Russia-India ties to new heights, just as the two nations did last time the BJP was in power. India has long been the world’s largest importer of Russian weapons, and recently signed a deal with Moscow to significantly boost India’s consumption of Russian gas and oil. Under Modi, such initiative will multiply.
Moscow’s state-funded RT said that in Modi’s view, Russia and Japan will be the main players: “These two countries will be the most important in the entire world from the perspective of the Modi government. The Modi administration will deepen ties with both: Russia to counterbalance the United States and Japan to counterbalance China. The Modi-led India should also see a huge fillip in trade and economic ties with these two countries.” Modi took to Twitter to publicly thank Putin and to echo his hopes of ushering in a new age of Russo-Indian cooperation.
2014 has been tumultuous. And perhaps the most significant occurrence was the decision by both India and China to support Russia’s bullying of Ukraine and takeover of Crimea. In Vladimir Putin’s March 18 address to the Duma, he singled out these two nations to thank them for their support. “We are grateful to all those who understood our actions in Crimea; we are grateful to the people of China, whose leaders have always considered the situation in Ukraine and Crimea taking into account the full historical and political context, and greatly appreciate India’s reserve and objectivity.” These Asian powerhouses have made clear that they support Putin. … When these Asia nations—extremely powerful nuclear-armed countries—begin to show solidarity with each other regarding moves like that, what does that portend for the world? I tell you it is WOE to the world.
With Modi now in power, India’s support of Russian aggression could greatly increase, and the same may be true of India’s stance on the increasingly belligerent behavior China is displaying toward many of its neighbors. The rising cooperation between these nations represents a deep geopolitical shift.
If the U.S. vanished from Asia, consider the heavy-handed rulers who would fill the power void. Washington is a warmonger, say a multiplying number of voices from weaker Asian nations that are joining in the chorus from China and Russia. They say the US behaves imperialistically in their region so they want the Americans to pack up and leave the Eastern Hemisphere. “The United States … is an empire in all but name, and … American ‘national security’ interests have an inevitably imperial cast,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s most powerful newspaper, wrote on Nov. 3, 2013. A few years ago, Uzbek President Islam Karimov accused America of trying to “hijack stability” from Central Asia. A little before that, a Taiwanese senior official criticized an economic deal Washington struck with Taipei by saying, “This is U.S. imperialism.” Such statements are not uncommon. These voices are about to get their wish.
Despite the modern rhetoric, the United States is not warmongering. But if America were to vanish from the Asian dynamic, those who would fill the power vacuum would jolt the region’s collective memory into remembrance of what warmongering really means.
In The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote about the other holocaust of the 20th century: The imprisonment, debasement and usually murder of tens of millions of innocent Soviets by their own government during the reigns of Stalin and other leaders.
Beyond just documenting the savagery of the Russians in power during this dark era, Solzhenitsyn also pointed out how unrepentant his nation had been for its atrocities. ” By 1966, eighty-six thousand Nazi criminals had been convicted in West Germany. … During the same period, in our own country … about ten men have been convicted. … Why is Germany allowed to punish its evildoers and Russia is not? What kind of disastrous path lies ahead of us if we do not have the chance to purge ourselves of the putrification rotting inside our body?”
Solzhenitsyn rejected the notion that this savagery resulted from an anomalously dark chapter in Russian history that was the product of Stalin’s rule. He showed instead that the barbarism began before and ended after Stalin, and that the diseased spirit lived on among many Russians.
One of those in whom it remains is President Vladimir Putin. Today Putin sits at the helm of Russia’s FSB security agency, which the Guardian recently called an “immensely powerful modern-day KGB.” The KGB was the direct successor of the Cheka security agency—the system under which all those millions were brutalized and murdered. Putin joined the KGB in 1975 and rose quickly through its ranks by becoming a master of its power culture. Putin’s FSB was spawned from the same corrosive Cheka/KGB system. The FSB even continues to operate from the same Lubyanka building in central Moscow, the basement of which was home to countless violent Soviet-era detainments and interrogations.
In a clear sign of his long-term goals, Putin said in 2005 that the demise of the Soviet Union—the system responsible for the deaths of those innocent millions—“was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” Another clear sign came in 2008 when Putin invaded the former Soviet nation of Georgia to yank its Russia-friendly states back into Moscow’s power.
Putin isn’t the only Russian who looks back on Soviet history through that rosy lens. Pravda, one of Russia’s most influential news sources, wrote in November that the Russian Revolution 70 years earlier “was for the first time bringing backward societies into the front line of industrial development, guaranteeing housing for free, free public utilities, free or heavily subsidized communications, subsidized public transportation, free primary and secondary education, free higher education, free health care, free dental treatment, zero unemployment, safety on the streets, security of the state, social mobility, indexed pensions, guaranteed basic foodstuffs, leisure time activities, free sports facilities, free cultural facilities.” The publication makes no mention of the fact that the state turning its citizens into its wards came at the cost of murdering millions of them.
If the U.S. exited the global stage, we could expect Putin to rapidly accelerate and intensify his efforts to undo that unequalled “geopolitical catastrophe.” We could expect Pravda readers and the bulk of Russians to rally behind him. Russia would immediately announce sovereignty over the wayward satellite states that were once in the Soviet fold (those at least that haven’t been assimilated into the European Union). In such a scenario, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia and pretty much any “-stan” nation to the north of Iran would be smart to go ahead and hoist the Russian flag over their capital buildings if they wanted to minimize the casualties.
And now let’s take up China. Which tyrant is responsible for the murder of the most people in the 20th century? It was not Hitler, Tojo or Stalin. It was Mao Tse-tung. The Chinese Communist dictator summarized his leadership philosophy with a phrase that sounds like it’s lifted straight out of a mafia movie: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” And Chairman Mao lived by that creed. Under his reign, between 65 and 75 million Chinese were murdered—starved, tortured, bullied to suicide, or executed as traitors.
Yet here is the most remarkable fact: For China’s ruling Communist Party, Mao remains the most honored figure today. His face is on every single bill in the Chinese currency; his portrait hangs on the gate of the Forbidden City on Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing; and, as NPR reported in 2011, the official verdict among modern Chinese is that Mao was 70 percent right and 30 percent wrong in his rule.
In March of 2013, Xi Jinping—the son of one of Chairman Mao’s high-ranking officers—achieved his lifelong goal of becoming president of the People’s Republic of China. Early in his presidency, Xi paid his respects at Mao’s old residences, and said, “The color of our red country will never change.” By emphasizing political continuity and by tapping into his father’s revolutionary legacy, Xi is boosting the Communist Party’s legitimacy—and thus his own.
The leitmotif of his presidency so far has been to restore Communist Party control over all aspects of society. A key aspect of this drive has been suppressing dissent. Mr. Xi “has sprouted rhetoric reminiscent of Mao Tse-tung,” the Christian Science Monitor reported. “State Security officers round up human rights lawyers and social activists in an unusually harsh crackdown, and propaganda moguls squelch public debate of awkward issues” (July 26, 2013).
Consider this suppression of dissent alongside China’s ongoing iron-fisted rule of Tibet, the “Great Firewall of China,” and Xi’s recent signal of his intent to exert total control over China’s mammoth state-owned companies. Clearly, the Maoist spirit is very much alive in Beijing. Despite his shameless barbarity against the Chinese people, Chairman Mao is the patron saint of Xi Jinping’s China.
Xi’s evocation of Mao and his ideological assault on democratic values has disappointed some of China’s liberal intellectuals who fear an intensification of the Communist Party’s authoritarianism. But the dissenting voices are growing quieter.
The mantra of modern Chinese leaders, media and educators is that China’s history makes it special, and that its people are heirs to a civilization nobler and more ancient than any other in the world. The lion’s share of Chinese people believe it; they see their nation’s place in the world as superior to all others. In Mao’s China and the Cold War, Cornell University Prof. Jian Chen discusses China’s self-given nickname: “The term ‘Central Kingdom’ … implies that China is superior to any other people and nation ‘under the heaven’ and that it thus occupies a ‘central’ position in the known universe.” A growing number of Chinese openly acknowledge that their “Central Kingdom” is working to realize its ancient dreams of global hegemony. If circumstances were right, most would be willing to throw their support behind Xi to achieve this goal.
With the U.S. out of Asia, China would throw its weight—and its 1.35 billion people—even more firmly behind efforts to establish regional and then global dominance. It would immediately announce its sovereignty over the Southeast Asian states and its island neighbors. The charade of Taiwan’s independence would come to an abrupt halt. And China would push into India and the rest of Middle Asia.
And then the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’. Japan is notorious not only for wartime savagery, but also for failing to express much remorse for pitilessly invading its neighbors and for rewriting history to downplay the crimes. In the Massacre of Nanking, China, for example, Japanese troops murdered over 200,000 Chinese civilians. The cruelty was known among the military’s highest officers, including the chief commander of the invasion, Emperor Hirohito’s uncle. These atrocities were committed with the royal stamp of approval for the purpose of burning fear into the hearts of those living in the cities and nations Japan planned to invade next.
Postwar Tokyo has apologized for instigating aggressive wars, but the apologies have been regularly undercut by revisionist statements from top politicians, especially Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. And Abe and those other politicians are wildly popular among the Japanese people. As America says sayonara to Asia, expect Tokyo to quickly complete its return to full-fledged militarism with an added nuclear component, and to work aggressively toward establishing a new global order in the image of Japan.
Putin, Xi and Abe each harbor deep-rooted nationalism. And now Modi shall jopin this group. All seem to gaze back on violent chapters in their nations’ history in a way that suggests a dark component in their leadership ambitions. In America’s absence, it wouldn’t take long for the peoples of Asia to see a widespread return to authoritarianism, and to see powerful countries dominating weaker ones with unrestrained force because they can. And these nations are immensely more powerful today than they were during the 20th century. Just as with previous generations, the current leaders of Russia, China and Japan understand that this is how wars must be fought if they are to be of any lasting benefit for a powerful nation.
The scenario of an America-free Asia will not remain hypothetical for much longer. We can already see tectonic geopolitical shifts that are rapidly turning it into a reality. The time will soon be here when the U.S. will be removed from the picture and Asian nations will rise up powerfully. Rather than go it alone, several Asian juggernauts will pool their resources, consolidate their power and form a military force of proportions the world has never seen. Analysts occasionally make mention of the biblical word Armageddon found in Revelation 16:16, but it is rare to hear talk of the kings of the East. And, though the details of how these Eastern superpower will form in the end time are still unknown, it is unmistakably clear about the fact that it will happen.
Maybe Tokyo would be able to persuade nations like South Korea, Taiwan or India to form an alliance with Japan to counter the China-Russia axis. An alliance between Japan and nations like Korea or Taiwan is difficult to imagine, though, given the intense loathing those countries still harbor toward Tokyo because of the savagery they suffered at its hands during times of invasion. It is also possible that Russia and Japan could band together in an effort to counter China. Even if some kind of Japan-led counter-alliance were formed, it would not be long before it joined China and Russia. Back in World War II, Japan was the only industrialized nation in Asia, so it was able to chart its own course. This time around, that advantage is removed.
The powerful Eastern nations will retain their individual identity and sovereignty. They will be cooperating tightly with one another militarily and economically, and this Asian Axis Frightens Europe. The combined armies of these “kings of the east” will number a jaw-dropping 200 million soldiers. And therein lies the rub- the eclipse of US and West.

 

Indian Elections 2014: Need to Bust Myths & Reveal Facts

The recent Lok Sabha election was a structural break for India as its voters comprehensively rejected their Nehru-Gandhi past. Essentially, the Indian polity has called off the Congress’s bluff, having seen it for the calculating set of politicians they have been. The pleas being dished out to explain this win are mostly specious and miss the reality.
Just what happened on May 16? In a word, Modi. Of course, there are several other factors that determined the contours of Election 2014, but the defining characteristic was the PM-designate, Narendra Modi. Can one individual define an election? Possible, if that individual rightly senses the mood of the country, and its changing sense of direction. Recall what happened in that other defining election, albeit of a lower seismic magnitude — Barack Obama in 2008. The parallels are close — a black man winning the presidency in a country where the blacks obtained civil rights just 50 years ago; a lower caste OBC winning in a country where caste matters a lot. Post the 2008 election in the US, one found out that maybe white Americans are not that racist after all; post-May 16, India has found out that caste has ceased to occupy an important place in the minds of voters.
So what did happen in India? Several myths abound as to what explains Modi’s record-breaking win — 336 seats for the NDA, and the highest ever seat per vote recorded for any alliance or party in India, that is, nine seats for every 1 per cent of the vote. In the record-setting 1984 election, the Congress obtained 8.5 seats for each per cent vote. A partial listing of the myths:
Myth 1: The Congress lost because it operated a corruption and scam infested regime: Commonwealth Games, Coalgate, 2G, etc. As if UPA 1, and all governments before, have not been corrupt. Corruption is one of the factors affecting voters’ choice, but not a very important factor. Else, why would all opinion and exit polls suggest that corruption was one of the least important determinants of voters’ choice? And just look at the results for the Aam Aadmi Party, which ran exclusively against crony capitalism and corruption — and managed to win only four of the 432 seats it contested, and lost its deposit in 413, another record.
Myth 2: The Congress lost because of a weak economy — high inflation and low growth. I am a card-carrying member of the club that believes that economic performance determines voting behaviour. But this election was not an average election, to which average explanations are applicable. By itself, the weak economy and corruption would mean that the Congress and UPA would lose seats. But to lose 200 seats is a black swan event. In 2009, with the best economy ever, the UPA gained “only” 54 seats, and the NDA lost “only” 26 seats. So, with the worst economy ever, one might have expected the NDA and UPA to go back to approximately their 2004 levels, that is, around 200 for both the UPA and NDA. Indeed, according to the CNN-IBN tracker poll, both alliances were in a near neck-to-neck battle as late as August 2013.
Myth 3: Anti-incumbency, voter fatigue after 10 years of UPA rule resulted in the Modi win. When all else fails, indulge in an anti-incumbency explanation. Too many counter examples exist. Remember 2009, when the incumbent UPA got elected. Or Madhya Pradesh 2003, when Digvijaya Singh, and the Congress, got unceremoniously voted out after 10 years in power. Or Modi’s Gujarat, or Chouhan’s MP, returned for a third and second consecutive term, respectively.
Myth 4: The weak leadership of Rahul Gandhi affected the Congress’s performance. Imagine that any individual but Modi was the leader of the BJP — say, L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj or Shivraj Chouhan. No one was betting that any of these individuals would offer a large difference with respect to the UPA leadership. The common refrain of many, including myself, has been that there isn’t a naya paisa’s worth of difference between the UPA and NDA. And there hasn’t been — till Modi came along.
So what explains the Modi win? The UPA campaign offered two all important “reasons” to vote for the UPA. Vote for us because we do so much for you, and don’t vote for Modi because he is evil.
Look what the Congress guaranteed to the Indian citizen, especially the poor. A jobs guarantee programme, so that the poor had jobs. A food security bill, so that two-thirds of the population was guaranteed food at throwaway prices. A land acquisition bill, so that the poor got a fair price. A right to information act, and a Lokpal bill, so that corrupt government officials could be caught red-handed. And yet, the Congress managed to win only 44 out of 543 seats, about half of what the BJP got in only its second election in 1989.
Why Congress fell to such absurd depths?
If Narendra Modi has vaulted to unexpected heights, the Congress party has plummeted to unimaginable depths. Its decimation calls for an explanation beyond the ineptitude of a Rahul Gandhi and his rootless mentors. The Congress’ vote share has fallen a steep 10 percentage points to an all-time low of 19%, and for the first time, it has got fewer votes than the BJP. Even in 1998 and 1999, when its tally was significantly lower than the BJP’s number of seats, the Congress had polled a higher share of the popular vote. Now it stands reduced to 44 seats, not making it to double digits even in a single state. How did this absurdity happen?
Revulsion against corruption is a ready explanation, and it has merit. Unrelenting price rise had alienated all town dwellers, undoubtedly. Rahul Gandhi’s failure to impress as a leader, leave alone measure up to an articulate, artful and forceful Narendra Modi, is another valid explanation.The enormous corporate backing Modi got and the far more expensive and sustained media campaign he ran certainly made a difference.
Forgot the Feats: Congress leaders’ failure to articulate the government’s not-inconsiderable achievements has now become a favourite whipping boy. The boy certainly deserves to be whipped. But the depth of Congress’ fall cannot be explained by these alone. There are deeper structural issues, to ignore which is to forgo any corrective. Let us look at some facts. The UPA government’s social policy was derived from a National Advisory Council.
Why does a political party need to outsource policy making creativity? The UPA government put in place a rights-based development model. Education, employment and food are now guaranteed. The right to information allows people to prise information out of the bureaucracy, sniff out misgovernance and corruption.
Enforcing New Laws: The Forest Rights Act undid the enormous injustice done to India’s tribal people by colonial rule, which nationalised forests and made trespassers and criminals out of the tribes that lived in and off forests. Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders never tire of listing these benign gifts of the Congress.
But rights make sense only when they are enforced. As a contract between the state and the people, a right can be enforced either through the courts or through democratic mobilisation of empowered citizenry. The courts are burdened with cases that keep accumulating, instead of getting resolved. So, any prospect of rights helping people via court-mediated enforcement is remote.
That leaves popular mobilisation to enforce rights. Have you heard of any party, leave alone the Congress, mobilising a single soul to enforce any rights? The Right to Information Act has produced several martyrs, not one is from the Congress.
It is indeed true that the record of the UPA government in terms of social development and poverty removal has been nothing short of remarkable.
Now, the sharp fall in infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) since 2004 — from 58 to 42 for IMR and from 280 to 178 for MMR — might be explained more by the rise in incomes and availability of good roads in rural areas that allow a patient to be moved fast to a nearby healthcare facility than by specific schemes meant for women’s and children’s welfare.
But such schemes were well-funded under the UPA, and rural prosperity, sustained rise in real rural wages and large-scale rural road-building too were part of the UPA’s redistributive programmes. Yet, no Congress candidate has taken credit for any of these achievements. But the question is, why not?
The share of the workforce trapped in low-productivity farm work, a sink for underemployment, has dropped below 50% for the first time, thanks to the demand for labour from construction and related activities such as brickmaking. This is part of the reason for a rise in real wages across rural India, for which the employment guarantee scheme set a floor. Yet, not a chirp on the subject out of a single Congress candidate touring rural areas, even as they coo over little urchins and woo castes and communities.
In 2011, seminars were held in Delhi to celebrate the 20th anniversary of India’s economic reforms. The Congress party did not join the celebrations, it did not claim ownership of this transformative paradigm shift in the nation’s development strategy.
No Congressman explained why the party was indifferent, if not looked askance at the reforms. There is one and only one explanation. Complete political bankruptcy. For the average Congressman, politics has come to mean power, patronage and pelf. Mediating the people’s concerns to the state and empowering and leading people to get the state to deliver on their entitlements just do not figure in their scheme of things.
Such understanding of politics as power-broking for self-enrichment is the root failing of Indian politics. And no party exemplifies this failure as well as the Congress does. This failure explains all the previously listed failures. Thus, reductio ad absurdum.
Modi is evil, we are not: An important fact about the recent election, and possibly related to the overwhelming beyond-expectations majority that Narendra Modi obtained, is that, to the best of my knowledge, no individual in Indian or world history has been unjustly vilified as much as Modi has been. This vilification continues even to this day, especially by the “sickular” parties and their left-intellectual storm troopers. I am choosing my words wisely, because the condemnation campaign has almost universally invoked images of the Nazi and Fascist European regimes of the 1930s.
What is most informative, and disturbing, about these storm troopers (among whom are many domestic and foreign journalists), is that they invariably belong to the Congress party and/or have been its sympathisers until recently. Let me make my position clear, possibly for the umpteenth time. Narendra Modi was chief minister at the time the Gujarat riots happened just as Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister of India at the time the Delhi pogrom against Sikhs occurred. Both have to assume responsibility for what happened under their watch. All I am asking is whether the Congress storm-troopers, or Modi-baiters, have ever condemned Rajiv Gandhi and/ or the Congress party with the same language and allusions to Hitler as they have done, and continue to do, about Modi?
Morality and philosophy aside, an election is not an absolute choice but rather a choice between individuals. So, especially in the case of the Congress versus Modi, the issue of 2002 versus 1984 is irrelevant, that is, individuals who are upset by Modi should be equally (if not more) upset by the Congress.
Strategic Voting by Muslims — backfired: In the Muslim and Yadav states of UP and Bihar, the turnout was higher by about 12 percentage points. Did the UPA whiz kids consider that their strategy of concentrated Muslim and Yadav voting against Modi might engineer a counter-strategy — for every one Muslim and Yadav (MY) that indulged in strategic voting, there were probably four non-MY voters ensuring that the negative strategy (sic) did not succeed.
Essentially, the Indian polity has called the Congress’s bluff, seen it for the calculating set of politicians they have been. Their governance demanded not only change, but wholesale rejection. The Indian polity has elected a leader. The “historical low” losers contend that all Modi has done is package a dream, a dream that will not last, a dream that will soon become a nightmare. The losers, and Congress apologists, believe that Modi will soon crash to earth. I have no doubt that the expectations of the Modi government are sky high, and that it is impossible for the transformed reality to be an equal match to the expectations. Equally, I have no doubt that the Modi-led government will make a strong effort to match a large fraction of these expectations — and that they will largely succeed.

Humpty- Dumpty Kejriwal

Way back in 1974, I and my wife saw a Hindi bollywood movie called Roti ( Bread). In this superhit, the hero sang a song ‘Yeh jo public hai yeh sab jaanti hai’ (This public knows everything). It has a lesson just for AAP. Aam Aadmi Party leaders should listen to music. For that they don’t have to rely on NRI funds, or hold dharnas, or point fingers at others. They just need to press the right buttons, this time on their iPods. The moral of the song is still relevant: you cannot fool the people for long; truth eventually surfaces. In the case of Kejriwal and his party, no amount of posturing, agitating or dole politics could veil their rawness for long.
In just five months, from the Delhi assembly elections to the General Elections, AAP and Kejriwal shrank from being a hero to a zero. From declaring less than a month ago that AAP would win a resounding majority in the Lok Sabha polls, with some gorilla-like chest thumping, to now contemplating an alliance with Congress to keep their assembly seats intact, AAP has come a long way down. And fast. So fast that it seems impossible to believe that only in December it was the talk of the town, nay talk of the nation. Verily all the king’s horses and all the king’s are of no use to this humpty-dumpty.
Kejriwal became a giant-slayer of sorts by defeating Congress’ Sheila Dikshit, a major upset that sent the whole Delhi unit of the party packing. It was almost unbelievable that the party that held the reins of power for 15 long years had been reduced to just eight MLAs in the House. AAP gloated over Congress’ defeat, Sheila’s ouster, and began a mad dance of mobocracy, pooh-poohing every bit of wise counsel that came their way. They said Sheila and her party’s arrogance did them in—not a very incorrect assessment, given Sheila’s dismissive view of AAP as a serious challenge till the last moment. Yet it took Sheila 15 years in power to develop that kind of arrogance; it took AAP less than 15 days to reach Sheila’s level. Only if they had tried to emulate the strengths of Sheila, especially her good governance, AAP leaders would be scripting a different success story today. But that as we all know now, was not to happen.
AAP didn’t expect, when it fought the Delhi elections, that it would win so many seats and form a government. The sudden contact with power, a livewire of sorts, was perhaps a bit too much for AAP leaders—it knocked sense out of their heads. In a delirious moment, Kejriwal demitted office, and in another, he decided to contest against Narendra Modi in Varanasi. That was followed by a mad campaign of accusations, disparaging talks and an overall negative agenda, in which Kejriwal somehow convinced himself that Modi was losing. He thought he had figured it out all too well. He thought he was destined to slay giants, the proverbial David with the ability to kill Goliaths every time he stood against one. Everyone except Kejriwal and his party knew that he didn’t have a chance against Modi, for this man was no philistine: he had his ears to the ground, had risen through the ranks, had a proven track record of governance, didn’t have the corruption taint, and had the reputation of being a mass leader. His larger-than-life persona was bolstered by an aggressive publicity campaign put together by an efficient and resourceful machinery.
As a result, from the salt pans of the Rann of Kutch to the tea gardens of Upper Assam, Modi was seen as the only man capable of turning around the country diseased by inflation and corruption.
Naturally, when Kejriwal tried to punch holes into Modi’s carefully woven political and electoral fabric, he himself came to be seen as the nuisance-maker with an evil agenda. Of course, Kejriwal didn’t understand all that, did he? He didn’t understand that it was no Mithun Chakraborty movie where he could outrun a bullet, but a real test of political merit and relevance which he was ill-suited to win.
Just like Hitler, in the last days of his Third Reich, moved fictional armies on the drawing board to defeat the Red Army, Kejriwal assumed that his golden run in Delhi was enough to secure him victory in Varanasi. He said people of Varanasi wanted to vote for a “zameeni aadmi” (a grassroots worker) and were not going to accept “hawai raajneeti” (a reference to Modi’s travelling by a chopper). He made it appear that he knew the people and spoke for them, without, of course, making any effort to find out how people of Varanasi had been reading him. The result was quite expected—a humiliating defeat by a margin of 3,72,000 votes. His party’s candidates elsewhere met the same fate, the worst performers being in Assam where, as one analyst claimed, they polled fewer votes than NOTA.
The people of Varanasi didn’t merely cut Kejriwal down to size, being inhabitants of the world’s oldest city they also taught him an important lesson in life. I’m not sure if he has learnt it, or will learn it eventually, but that lesson is of humility. Not the Uriah Heep kind of false humility that Kejriwal has been exhibiting all throughout, but Lord Ram-like humility which he exhibited before a dying Ravan at the battlefield in Lanka.
Lord Ram showed that you could even learn from the enemy when he and Lakshman knelt at Ravan’s feet and asked for some parting words of wisdom from that great scholar. And Ravana said that things that are bad for you seduce you easily, so much so that you run after them impatiently, while good things appeal less and you find excuses to keep them away—an apt lesson for Kejriwal, who quickly abandoned the same people of Delhi, who had voted him to power, in search of greener pastures nationally. When everyone urged him to stay on in government and consolidate his position, he resigned at the slightest excuse to pursue a more seductive option. Clearly, he didn’t bother to read Ravana’s second lesson to Lakshman: that one should fly only as high as his wings could take him and not try to go farther, or else one would come crashing down to the ground. At least in this election, Kejriwal has had an Icarus-like fall. And it seems funny that only last month, his party’s leader Gopal Rai had equated Modi with Ravan.Kejriwal possibly is even today asking the mirror on the wall who is the best of all, and the mirror echoes back his thoughts. But the reality is clear; it needs to be seen if Kejriwal rises like a phoenix or fades away. But of course, he needs to remember that yeh jo public hai yeh sab jaanti hai. You can’t fool it once again.

AAP: The Hype that Vaporized

Those blessed, unfortunately, with slightly long memories may recall the front page of a pink paper in the last week of December 2013 announcing the entry of Adarsh Shastri, a grandson of Lal Bahadur Shastri, into the Aam Aadmi Party. Shastri, it was said, had left a Rs. one crore salaried post to join Arvind Kejriwal’s crusade against corruption and for “alternative politics”. It appeared that AAP- the new political kid on Indian political scene had arrived and was going to be game changer. But it was not to be.AAP came, blitzed and  boom.. just vaporised. Its leaders forfeited their security deposits , came fifth at places, and won four seats from Punjab. The irony is  four winning AAP guys in Punjab won not because of AAP, but despite it. They won because of their own persona. Bhagwant Mann is a well beloved comedian and Dr Dharamvir has won people by his social work. In case these candidates had won because of AAP, then Gul Panag, the charming dimpled girl whizzing about on motorcycle in Chandigarh would have been a sure winner; but that was not to be.
The news about Shastri was important because it was the starting point of a media blitz that suggested that after its staggeringly impressive debut in the Delhi Assembly election, AAP was going national in a big way and would field candidates all over the country for the 2014 general election. The easily excitable TV channels went into a tizzy and till the beginning of February this year every other panel discussion centred on the AAP phenomenon. From top-notch Infosys executives such as V Balakrishnan and banker Meera Sanyal to long-time activists such as Medha Patkar, every notable it seemed was climbing on to the jhadu bandwagon.
Particularly impressed was the editorial class that felt AAP was the best vehicle to stop the BJP and Narendra Modi capitalising on the shortcomings of the Congress-led UPA Government. AAP, claimed its cheerleaders, would make a grand entry into the 16th Lok Sabha with as much as 100 MPs.
It is worthwhile to now see how Adarsh Shastri, the gentleman who set the ball rolling and who claimed to be the political heir of his grandfather, fared. He contested as an AAP candidate from the Allahabad constituency and polled exactly 6,439 votes. In terms of ranking he was sixth.
Shastri was hardly the only person who got more media traction than votes. Infosys alumni V Balakrishnan contesting Bangalore Central received 39,869 votes, Meera Sanyal contesting Mumbai South for the second time secured 40,388 votes. Anjali Damania, who shot to fame levelling charges against Nitin Gadkari did a little better in Nagpur, receiving 69,081 votes.
More instructive was the performance of those who are regarded as activist icons in the world inhabited by NGOs. Their most iconic figure was undoubtedly Medha Patkar who contested Mumbai North-East. In the AAP scale of things she did rather well securing 76,451 votes.
The other celebrities from the ‘activist’ world whose mere mention makes a section of the media go starry-eyed demonstrated the reach of their influence. In Kanyakumari, anti-nuke activist SP Udaykumar received 15,314 votes; in Khandwa, Narmada Bachao Andolan star Alok Agarwal got 16,799 votes; in Khunti, Dayamani Barla notched up 11,822 votes; and in Bastar, the celebrity Soni Sori got the endorsement of 16,903 voters.
In Haryana, billed as the AAP’s next big conquest after Delhi, its celebrity candidate secured a respectable 79,452 votes, notwithstanding an opinion poll released by him suggesting he was clearly in the lead. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough for even a bronze medal. In the state as a whole, AAP secured only 4.2 per cent of the popular vote-hardly a potentially government-forming performance.
Indeed, had it not been for the remarkably good showing in Punjab-four seats and 24.4 per cent of the popular vote-and a respectable maintenance job in Delhi, AAP may well have been history. As it is, it may have to answer those critics who feel that there was a disproportionate diversion of scarce resources for Kejriwal’s purposeless vanity battle in Varanasi.
Arvind Kejriwal, the poster boy of new-age politics who had fired the imagination of the country with a spectacular debut in Delhi assembly elections, will now have to go in for some serious introspection. Drawing a blank in his party’s original karmabhoomi Delhi and a grand total of four seats is not what he had promised in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections 2014. In March, Kejriwal had claimed that the AAP would get 100 seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and the next government would not be formed without AAP’s support.
After this performance, the party’s relevance is in question. So, what went wrong with the arithmetic of Kejriwal and AAP? According to analysts, social scientists, brand consultants, close associates of Kejriwal and last but not the least, the solid supporter of AAP – the autowallahs – it’s the error of judgment and sky-rocketing ambition of the AAP chief that did his party in. They feel that he should not have jumped into the Lok Sabha polls by dishonouring the sentiments of Delhi voters, who had catapulted him from an NGO activist to chief minister.
Arvind Kejriwal during the Varanasi campaign. It was a big mistake on the part of Kejriwal as he hurriedly gave up Delhi’s chief ministership. He should have stayed back. It needs at least two to three years of planning to contest an election, along with a solid organisational structure, which was missing in the case of AAP.
Probably, Delhi would always remain a sore thumb for Kejriwal, as the national capital had given mandate to AAP against the ruling Congress and Sheila Dikshit – a three-term CM. During the last phase of campaigning, Kejriwal himself admitted that quitting Delhi was a mistake. And the same Delhi hit him back with not a single seat in this parliamentary election. The people in the know of the functioning of the AAP say that the selection of candidates proved to be a blunder. “Kejriwal, in one of the core team’s meeting, had said that whosoever contested from AAP ticket in Delhi would win. So, brimming with over-confidence, he fielded strong candidates including himself from other constituencies and not Delhi,” a senior member said. “AAP could have proved to be good opposition, but Kejriwal lost focus after winning seats in the Delhi Assembly elections. The basic tenets on which the party was formed and got overwhelming support from people gradually faded away,” says Rakesh Agarwal, secretary, Nyaya Bhoomi, an NGO, who had been associated with Kejriwal since 2000. He feels that key identifiers like the concept of swaraj, honesty, transparency, democratisation, etc promulgated in the party’s charter were gradually lost in the labyrinth of power and it ceased to exist just for the aam aadmi.
There were a series of bad political judgments and AAP became a victim of its own statements and claims, which were far from realistic. Political analysts opine that confronting BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi in Varanasi was a major blunder. Why Kejriwal chose to challenge Modi and not Rahul Gandhi was the question making rounds for quite some time. Instead of contesting against Rahul Gandhi, who was slated to be the next prime minister in the UPA government that ruled for 10 years, Kejriwal chose to take on Modi – a state CM contesting the Lok Sabha elections. That was a mistake. Moreover, the slanderous remarks Kejriwal made against Modi in public rallies were against the ethics on which AAP was built and it didn’t go down well with the electorate. It damaged the image of Kejriwal, which was due to his own doings.
Against Modi’s development and good governance plank, Kejriwal’s anti-Modi rhetoric failed to cut ice. “This is a mandate for Narendra Modi’s promise of governance and development,” says Rajya Sabha MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar. The gradual revolt within the party much before the Lok Sabha election campaigning also proved deterrent. Initially, it was perceived that AAP’s candidate from Gurgaon, Yogendra Yadav would sail through, but it didn’t come true. Friction began within the core team of Yadav, and many deserted him. This is the reflection of Kejriwal and AAP’s growing arrogance and inaccessibility both to party members and the common man, which is very strange.
Another crucial factor for AAP’s anti-climatic show amid high expectations was the party’s approach towards its own candidates. Barring the high profile ones, AAP failed to provide logistical and moral support to its candidates in large number of places. “Forget financial support, we didn’t even get the basic logistical support, and the absence of Kejriwal during campaigning, unlike Modi who campaigned for the BJP candidates, badly hit us,” said candidates from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Despite losing badly in the elections, many would not like to consider it a failure for AAP in absolute sense. While, the party has polled in Delhi – about 33 percent — despite not winning even one out of seven seats in the national capital; in Punjab, it has managed to get approximately 26 percent votes, which is equal to the share of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)’s, the incumbent party in the state. However, the performance, to say the least has been dismal. For the moment, the new party’s miserable all-India performance demands some explanation of media motives. What was the three month AAP hype based on? Quite literally, AAP has turned out to be a paper tiger

Winds of Change

India, indeed the world , especially Asia Pacific is in for change. Abe in Japan and Modi in India are the hoped agents of change. After much uncertainty, there is one great certainty. There is a profound transition taking place in Indian political life. And this change shall; definitely impact South Asia, Asia-Pacific and world political order. Let us take both the domestic and international change.
Take the BJP. The party is going through a generation change and a well-disguised ideological transformation. Modi may be many things people may like or dislike, but he has sidelined a generation of BJP leaders who were there through the lean days of the Eighties and tended the party through the Nineties. This generation won and then threw away power in 2004. It failed to renew the party in 2009. Now its time is up.
Politics is not a kind business. The rejection of the older generation, albeit clothed in words of respect, will be ruthless. The Congress had this moment of transition in 1969 when Indira Gandhi split the party to throw out the older leaders who thought they could rule from behind the throne. That gruesome episode changed the Congress into a personal and, then in 1984, a dynastic party.
The Congress is now paying the price for that transition as it finds itself saddled with a clueless heir apparent. It can neither get rid of the dynasty, nor can it dare to suggest to Rahul Gandhi that he should take a course in public speaking or work harder than he has done so far. The party faces the prospect of spending five years in opposition with a leader who has an aversion to attending or speaking in Parliament.
Rahul was elected to Parliament and, luckily for him, the Congress won power in 2004. He has had the luxury of being able to come and go as he pleases since the UPA had the numbers. In opposition, the required discipline will be hard. No escaping abroad for two days as he has just recently done. Being in the opposition will test Rahul and show if he has the political stamina to lead his party for five years in the wilderness. One can only hope that he will not listen to the small army of sycophants who will tell him that it was not his fault that the Congress lost. He has to introspect if he wants to be a serious politician.
Narendra Modi has a different problem of managing the transition. He is a complete contrast to Rahul. He has had to do all the hard work himself to get to the top. He used to be the young man everyone patronised and took for granted, the man quietly standing in a corner while the bigwigs met. He observed, made his own list of friends and detractors. He acknowledges L K Advani as a mentor, but Modi is the ultimate self-made leader. Unlike Ekalavya, he would not give his thumb to his guru but he wanted to defeat Arjuna.
For someone like him, the hard task is to acknowledge that he has reached the top. Now he has to help people, listen to them and harness their energy. He will have to include his potential rivals within his Cabinet to show that he is secure in his success. Independent India’s first Cabinet had, besides Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Abul Kalam Azad, with Rajendra Prasad as President. Over time, Nehru became dominant. A Cabinet of near equals has been unusual since then. In US politics, this is often the ideal way of forming a Cabinet. President Barack Obama emulated Abraham Lincoln’s model, which he learnt about from Doris Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals.
It is within possibility that Modi may transform the nature of Indian politics, for the better and not for the worse as liberals fear. He remains marked by the 2002 riots which happened within months of his taking over as Chief Minister of Gujarat. He has tried to shed this image and work on governance. Along the way, he has refashioned the BJP’s vote-winning formula away from its heavy reliance on upper-caste Hindu votes to include OBCs and Dalits. Muslims are yet uncertain whether it is the Modi of 2002, as the Congress insists, or the Modi of governance and ‘One India’ whom they see.
Modi has to leave his hard climb with all the bitter memories behind. He is at the top and can be the statesman India needs and expects. He needs to keep the hardcore of the Parivar firmly in check and forget the time he felt like Ekalavya. He can be Karna of Mahabharata fame., the noblest Kaunteya of them all. After all, Karna was defeated due to unfair tactics used by the ‘good’ guys. Electoral politics enjoin the use of fair methods. Karna can yet win.
MODI-ABE
Modi represents an Asian nationalism sparked by China’s rise, West’s duplicity. At the tail end of a question-answer session following a lecture in Detroit, an East Asian member of the audience asked me if I could enlighten him on what India’s foreign policy was likely to be in a Narendra Modi government. Pressed for time, and not prepared for the question, I offered a telegraphic reply. Modi, I told him, would be the Shinzo Abe of India. Many heads nodded in the audience, as if my reply was crystal clear.
Modi is not an Abe in terms of his inheritance. Abe’s biography reads more like that of Rahul Gandhi. The grandson of a former prime minister, Abe is related to the Japanese emperor. He is the “insider” among Tokyo’s power elite. Modi is the “outsider” in the Delhi darbar. But, Modi would seek to define his foreign policy in more nationalist terms, as Abe has tried to, partly as a way of reviving the national mood in a dispirited country.
Modi represents a brand of Asian nationalism kindled by China’s rise and the West’s part-confused, part-duplicitous response. Asian nations preparing themselves for the new power balances of the 21st century have to chart their own course, dealing with a rising China and a West preoccupied with its economic woes.
It is noteworthy that the three countries that Modi has visited as chief minister have been China, Japan and Singapore. The Asian focus of Modi’s foreign policy has been shaped both by the West’s, especially the United States’, treatment of him and, more importantly, the longstanding admiration of Asian nationalism within the wider Sangh Parivar. It is not often remembered in contemporary discourse that during the 1970s and ’80s, the intellectual leadership of the Jana Sangh greatly admired Japan. As Asia’s first industrial nation, which was also the first Asian power to defeat a European one in over 300 years, Japan was a great source of inspiration for Indian leaders including Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru.
But it is not just history, technology and investible capital that makes Japan a country to draw inspiration from. Modi seems to recognise the value of Abe’s combination of investing in domestic economic capability and external strategic capacity for nation building. Modi’s domestic policy focus, drawing from Gujarat’s experience, has been on building India’s economic capability. His political rhetoric focuses on the need to revitalise a moribund economy, which is exactly how Abe came to power in a depressed and depressing Japan.
Not surprisingly, Modi’s first major foreign policy statement in the run up to the general elections of 2014 has also focused on China’s new assertiveness. However, as journalist Ashok Malik has observed, Modi would understand that India has to, for some time to come, maintain a balanced relationship with China, pushing back in response to its assertiveness but cooperating with it to ensure the continuity of Asia’s rise. In essence, Modi’s policy towards China is unlikely to be very different from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s, as Malik has also noted, though it will be articulated more emphatically than many in the Congress party and government were willing to.
While talking tough, Modi should be expected to do business with China. On his visit to Beijing in 2011, when China received him with the courtesy due to a head of government at a time when Western governments were refusing to even give him a visa, Modi invited Chinese companies to invest in India. He has often urged Indian business leaders to learn from China. He should be expected to pursue a balanced policy of defending India’s national interests at a bilateral level while working with China at the regional and global level.
It is also unlikely that Modi’s approach to the US would be any different from that of Singh. Recall the fact that during the entire debate on the India-US civil nuclear energy cooperation agreement, Modi adopted a more supportive posture than the BJP’s national leadership was willing to. BJP leader L.K. Advani’s trenchant opposition was defined by his desperation to dislodge the Manmohan Singh government and become prime minister. Those close to Modi within the BJP, like Arun Jaitley, adopted a more conciliatory stance on the nuclear deal. Just as the Congress was divided on the subject, so was the BJP.
While Modi should be expected to remain engaged with the US, it is up to the Obama administration to wake up and craft a more consistent and convincing India policy. The recent impasse in the bilateral relationship is a result of policy confusion both in New Delhi and Washington DC. Modi’s election may clear the air in Delhi, but it may further muddy the waters in Washington, unless President Barack Obama pays personal attention and seeks to revive the relationship.
Modi should, however, be expected to be forthright in his outreach to Japan. Not only did the Japanese also receive him as if he were a head of government when he visited Tokyo, but they have also put their money where their mouth is and are investing in Gujarat in a big way.
Modi, like three of his predecessors — Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh — should also be expected to give priority to India’s economic imperatives in crafting his foreign policy. His election campaign has focused on the need to step up economic growth, holding Gujarat as an example for India. His “5 T” focus on “talent, tourism, technology, tradition and trade” would suggest that mutually beneficial relations with countries that can contribute to these Ts, especially trade, technology and tourism, should be a priority. These elements should also define his neighbourhood policy, as well as stance towards other emerging economies.
In keeping with his nationalist posture, Modi should be expected to strengthen the relationship between defence and diplomacy. This would privilege the relationship with Israel and other major defence suppliers. It should also revive India’s engagement with Indian Ocean maritime diplomacy. Taken together, all these elements would suggest that the role model for Modi may well be Japan’s Shinzo Abe, whose singular focus has been on restoring to Japan its lost dynamism. And that shall be the change from staid politics of today. 

Modi – A New Paradigm of Prime Ministerial Power

After Nehru and Indira, India never had a real Prime Minister- a prime minister who could be both charismatic and also decisive. Narsihaman Rao was decisive and capable, but had no chrisma; Atal had a huge follwong , but was living in an ivory tower and Manmohan was a carricature, whose orders and directiopns were flouted with impunity. Dave Gowda and Gujaral- like Charan Singh and Chander Shekhar was non-entities and almost a blot on the prime ministerial fabric.
Narendra Modi has masterminded the biggest election victory seen in India since Rajiv Gandhi swept to power in 1984. The outcome belies even the expectations of his vociferous enthusiasts. The BJP has routed parties like Mayawati’s BSP and Lalu Prasad’s RJD that were expected to blunt Modi factor. Congress’s decimation is complete. Its national tally will be less than what the BJP is expected to get in UP and Bihar. Several Congress heavyweights who are familiar faces to voters and television viewers will be missing in Parliament. A new political elite is in town.
The specifics of this victory are yet unknown. The number crunching will follow. There will be competing arguments about factors behind the outcome. One view is that Modi manoeuvred himself into the imagination and expectations of millions of urbanising Indians, undercut traditional calculus of caste and projected strength and decisiveness in contrast to a Congress’ perceived weakness and ineffectiveness. He ran a brilliant, relentless campaign, helped along by seemingly inexhaustible financial resources, a media that couldn’t ignore him and the party machinery none could match, especially in the Hindi heartland.|
There is a sobering countering view to this. The first-past-the-post Westminster system exaggerates the scale of victory, in that even a 35% vote share (which has a majority voting against it) hands the winner a lopsided share of seats in Parliament. Modi’s victory can largely be attributed to consolidation in BJP-ruled states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and decisive victories in UP, Bihar and Maharashtra, which made all the difference. Modi’s win in the latter three states, where the NDA is expected to get around 135 seats, will in time be attributed to a divided opposition, anti-incumbency against the local governments and implosion of the Congress. There has been no Modi wave in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra, Orissa and Punjab.
But there is no doubt that this is a breakthrough election for BJP’s national reach and prospects. As analysts note, the party is expected to win seats in 21 states and 5 Union territories. It will likely get more seats than the CPM in West Bengal. And Modi is riding the crest of massive support in urban India, cutting across caste divisions.
What does this mean for the near future? We will now have a Prime Minister who has complete dominance over his party and government from the very outset of his reign. Jawaharlal Nehru had to contend with equals like Vallabhai Patel in his first term and Indira Gandhi emerged as a strong figure only after becoming the PM, following consolidation of party control and victory in the 1971 War. Rajiv Gandhi had a strong mandate, but was not a domineering figure at the moment of accession. Modi undoubtedly is.|
It remains to be seen what he does with this degree of political authority. Will he choose to be more collegiate and cobble together an expansive NDA coalition to secure eventual control of the Rajya Sabha that he will need to legislate change? How will he handle the bruised egos within the party and the wider political class, who like millions of Indians, had no way of anticipating this outcome and didn’t kowtow in time? His decisions on Sushma Swaraj and LK Advani will be the most anticipated theatre in the days ahead and will set the tone for his leadership style.
Modi will want to make quick decision-making a hallmark of his government, after gaining a reputation for cutting through red-tape and creating a business-friendly climate. But there are many imponderables. Is revitalising the Indian economy, operating as it under local and global constraints, within the gift of one individual’s decision-making and the expertise he brings in? Are there enough spoils of state to keep all his backers happy? How will he balance interests of loyalists with other competing interests? How will he react to inevitable civil society pressures as he drives through a pro-business agenda?
More importantly, what matters most is how Mr Modi himself processes this victory. Will he see this as proof that a development narrative wedded to hardline Hindutva is a sure-fire winning combination in an urbanising young nation, especially after one has had a chance to wield state power? Or will he be attuned to the limited nature of any mandate in the Westminster system and be alert to the widespread anxiety among minorities and liberals that his victory generates. No Prime Minister (after Mrs Gandhi in the post-Emergency phase) has come to power with a sizeable section of Indian liberals arrayed against him. Modi can savour his moment but India needs strong inclusive rhetoric now as much as the technocratic fixes he believes in.

 

Recommended Agenda For the Next Indian Government

The 1960s, the per capita incomes of India and China were roughly similar. After 1966, under Indira Gandhi, socialist India grew tortoise-like for two decades at an annual GDP growth rate of 3%. With population rising at over 2.4% a year, real per capita income barely rose. China meanwhile galloped ahead, especially after Deng Xiaoping’s 1979 economic reforms. Today China’s per capita income is 400% higher than India’s. Its cities – not just Beijing and Shanghai but several dozen others – are modern marvels of architecture and world-class infrastructure.
Whichever government takes office next month after the Lok Sabha election will have to reverse years of economic stagnation, reform a corrupt, rent-seeking governance system and allow India’s economy to grow at its true potential: 9% a year. The IMF says India can grow at 6.5% a year if the economy is fixed. That may be true of 2014-15. But the growth target for the subsequent four years of the new government must be 9%.
To achieve this, and ensure that growth is inclusive, the new government should focus on 10 key areas. It will have six weeks to present its budget in July 2014 and it must, literally, hit the ground running.

The 10 Key Focus Sectors:
1. Urban centres: Nearly 54% of China’s population lives in cities and towns. In India only 33% does. According to a new survey in The Economist, by 2030 nearly 1 billion Chinese will live in urban areas – around 66% of its population. China has developed from scratch new cities like Foshan near the metropolis Shenzen in the southern province of Guangdon. Foshan now has a population of 7 million and modern infrastructure.
The new government must set up a task force with the objective of establishing new urban centres with high-tech facilities, infrastructure, transport and job opportunities.
If many of these new cities are located within a radius of 50-100 km from town and village clusters, the whole area will become a hub for economic growth and upward social mobility. Not only will people migrate to these cities for better job opportunities but the whole region will be boosted by the spillover effect of new roads, housing, manufacturing, information technology, software hubs and consumer spending.
2. Infrastructure: Projects with investment of nearly Rs. 10 lakh crore remain stuck due to multiple clearances. Manufacturing and industrial production are moribund. The new government must unclog the infrastructure pipeline. India needs not just new urban centres but new highways, bridges, houses, factories, airports and sea ports.
Using e-governance to monitor each infrastructure project, India must write a new paradigm – the India model – which stands for swift decision-making, transparent processes and world-class infrastructure.
3. Railways: Partnerships with Japan and China, which have the best levitated bullet train technology, can lead to a three-way tie-up: government financing through special rail bonds, Japanese bank loans at an annual interest rate of 1-2%, and Indian private sector participation. In this manner, the cost of linking India’s major cities with high-speed trains can be both practical and beneficial to passengers as well as ancillary industries in the manufacturing sector.
Meanwhile, as a parallel project, Indian Railways needs to be restructured with quarterly published audits in four areas: 1. Profitability per route; 2. Hygiene and sanitation upgradation and monitoring; 3. Recruitment transparency; 4. Targeted expenditure to ensure that modern new rakes and railway carriages as well as tracks are upgraded to the highest standards within defined timelines and budgets.
4. Education: Not a single IIT or IIM features in global top 100 rankings. The new government must allocate a higher budget for these institutions, provide more incentives for original research papers and build a deeper industry-institute interface.
The R&D divisions of the IITs could emulate the example of IIT Bombay which proactively seeks out innovative work by students and faculty and uses legal attorneys to swiftly file patent applications. India needs to create the next Google, not just low-level IT services for foreign clients.
5. Healthcare: Chronic malnutrition and hunger require a two-fold solution. The first lies in women’s empowerment. Educate the girl child, give her job opportunities when she grows up and you will empower her entire family.
The second part of the solution lies in inclusive economic growth. Once women become equal partners in a nation’s progress, half the battle is won.
The new government must increase expenditure on health and improving overall sanitation. It should also focus on Primary Health Centres (PHCs) which enable villagers to seek medical help and regular check-ups for their children.
6. Power: The new administration must cut power theft, install new equipment to reduce transmission & distribution (T&D) losses and restructure power distribution companies (discoms).
Individual consumers, farmers and industrial users are prepared to pay a reasonable price for reliable, uninterrupted power. They don’t want unsustainable subsidies. They want electicity at reasonable rates with an assurance of regular supply to ensure that productivity in farms and industries is maximized.
Renewable sources of energy today contribute around 12% to India’s total power output. The new government’s endeavour, through a combination of political will and a facilitating environment, should be to increase this to 20% by 2022.
7. Water: The Sabarmati river begins in the foothills of the Aravalli ranges near Udaipur and flows into the Gulf of Cambay after passing through Ahmedabad.
The 11-km stretch of the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, when complete, with its public promenade and commercial hubs, will be an example of how water-based urban renewal projects can add to the quality of life in a modern city.
8. Defence: The new government can begin by indigenising military equipment. The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) has several decades of experience but India still imports most of its military hardware.
The centre should now involve Indian corporates in public-private partnerships (PPPs) in defence manufacturing. A small beginning has been made with Tatas and Mahindras but the new government should expand the programme significantly.
India has scientific and technical knowhow but the arms lobby has prevented indigenisation of military hardware. This must change. Making the Indian military more self-reliant is an important priority.
9. Internal Security: Naxalism remains India’s greatest internal security threat. The solution lies in a dual approach. First, the centre needs to equip the state and central reserve police with modern weaponry and logistics support through drones to spot Maoist camps.
Second, it must win the trust of local villagers in Naxal-affected areas. This can be done by increasing development activity in the region. Maoists thrive when clusters of villages are neglected.
Economic development with effective policing is the only way to mitigate the scourge of Naxalism and rehabilitate affected villagers and tribals.
10. Agriculture: New technology in farming and mechanization can sharply boost agricultural productivity. This would cut logistical and transport bottlenecks, sideline middlemen and give farmers better, more transparent prices for a wide range of crops.
An agricultural growth rate of 5% a year – nearly double the historical growth rate over the past two decades – is achievable if the new government implements these measures.
This should be the base for blue print of the domestic policies that shall enable India to grow.

Indo-Pak Relationship– An Insider’s View

 My discussions with the Pakistan Army Officers and some politicians made me feel that the  Pakistanis fancy themselves to be the descendants of Central Asian conquerors who repeatedly defeated Indian forces during invasions of India in the medieval period. They have a notion that they have inherited their martial superiority.  And it is this perception that made pakistan adopt adventurist policies.  
For centuries, India’s defence policy was managed exclusively by her rulers and Indians were nowhere in the loop. There was no tradition of strategic thinking in our country.It was only in 1947 that we assumed responsibility for India’s defence. Neither our political nor military leadership had knowledge or experience of managing national strategy. Our military leadership was ill-equipped to do so. For a year-and-a-half after Independence we had British army chiefs, first General Lockhart and then General Bucher. The Navy and the Air Force had British service chiefs for much longer. Lord Mountbatten was the head of state.
The first priority for these top military officers was to serve British national interests. There were not more than one per cent Indian officers in the Army and hardly any in the Navy and the Air Force who had risen above the rank of major or equivalent. Very few Indians had served on staff at formation headquarters and almost none at the national level in Service Headquarters. The first Indian to be promoted major general was Brig. Cariappa on August 15, 1947.
Our political leadership of that time failed to take full cognisance of developments on our borders. The popular slogan during Partition was “Hanske lia Pakistan, Larke lenge Hindustan”. The origin and history of Pakistan has been of relentless hostility towards India. Sir Syed Ahmed, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, asserted, “Is it possible that two nations, the Mohammadan and the Hindu, could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. Our co-religionists from the hills in North will come down like locusts and make blood flow up to Calcutta” (Divide and Quit, by Sir Penderrel Moon).
Pakistan invaded Kashmir within weeks of Independence, unleashing tribesmen led by Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan of the Pakistan Army along with Army personnel in civilian clothes to capture Srinagar and the Kashmir Valley. Timely intervention by the Indian Army rescued the people while the invaders lost two days in plunder and rapine of Baramulla, drenching it in “pools of blood”. Srinagar was saved and the people of the Valley rescued by the timely arrival of Indian soldiers. A decisive victory was won against all odds and the entire Valley was cleared by November 14, 1947. A golden opportunity was lost when the Army was at Uri and not allowed to pursue the fleeing enemy to Muzaffarabad and seal the border. This was a wrong political decision supported by the top military leadership at Delhi which was all British. The dream of “Larke lenge Hindustan” was duly foiled.
In 1948, Syed Kasim Razvi of Hyderabad expressed a desire to hoist the green flag over the Red Fort in Delhi. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed in Pakistan has been frequently leading large demonstrations declaring that Rizwi’s dream of 1948 be made reality now. The government of Pakistan does nothing to restrain his outbursts and even abets it. The ISI frequently unleashes terrorist attacks against India.
The policy makers of Pakistanis seem to have  have misread history. They fancy themselves to be the descendants of Central Asian conquerors who repeatedly defeated Indian forces during invasions of India in the medieval period. They have a notion that they have inherited their martial superiority. Pakistan’s foreign policy has always been India-centric. It joined the Western bloc and obtains modern military hardware from the US for use against India.
The  generous aid and military weapons from US to Pakistan right from the time of independence to the present time,  to promote jihadi terrorism in Afghanistan was intended for use against the Soviet Union was always wilfully used and this misuse was winked at by Uncle sam. . The Taliban were organised for operations in Afghanistan. The US aid for operations against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan has been largely utilised to promote terrorism against India. The US also turned a Nelson’s eye to Pakistan becoming a nuclear weapons power for the sole purpose of using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against India.
Pakistan had state-of-the-art military hardware — tanks, guns, and jet fighters much superior to the vintage weapons of Indian forces. Ayub Khan roared during the 1965 war that he would soon have his tanks rolling across the plains of Panipat to Delhi. This dream was foiled when the Pakistani offensive got stuck at Khem Karan, which became the graveyard of Pakistan’s Patton tanks. Their belief in martial superiority received a big jolt in the 1965 war. In 1971 that belief was totally shattered when, after a 13-day war, 92,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered to India at Dhaka on December 16, 1971.
After the 1971 war, Pakistan realised that it was in no position to defeat India in conventional warfare. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who had threatened a thousand-year war with India, and his chosen Army Chief, Zia-ul-Haq, chose a new strategy for Pakistan against India. This was to develop a very close relationship with China, an all-weather friendship said to be “higher than the mountains and deeper than the oceans”, to neutralise India. This conformed to Chanakya’s Mandala theory of befriending the enemy’s enemy. Even the US during Henry Kissinger’s secret mission to Beijing adopted this policy to neutralise the Soviet threat. It is a pity that India totally neglected to adopt this policy.
I recall that at the time of Independence we had no strategy of our own to counter Pakistan. Our thinking was based on trying to defend our territory when Pakistan invaded. Napoleon had said that a war cannot be won only by defence, it has to be won by offensive action. Our military thinking in 1947 was based on what happened to the British at the beginning of the Second World War. They traded space for time till sufficient military strength was built up with US aid and a decisive victory won at El Alamein in North Africa. We thought of withdrawing to prepared positions on the Beas river before launching a counter-offensive.
In 1965  I had a hand in preparing our first plans for the defence of Punjab. I recall that I had advocated that in accordance with Napoleon’s dictum our plan should be based on offensive action into Pakistan. Also, as per Chanakya’s Mandala theory, we should force a two-front war on Pakistan. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was alive, staying at Jalalabad.
The Durand Line forced by the British was unacceptable to Pashtuns. We should have developed a close relationship with the Pashtuns and supported their claim on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. At the same time our offensive, as per Napoleonic doctrine, should have been directed towards Sukkur, about 60 miles across the desert. Sukkur bridge was a bottleneck for both rail and road communication between Punjab and Sindh. There was also an ongoing Jiyo Sindh movement in Sindh wanting to break away from Punjab. Its loss would have made Pakistan a land-locked country. My seniors had a big laugh, saying that I must learn to command companies and battalions before thinking of commanding armies and planning national strategy. I was also told that India was wedded to promoting international peace and my offensive thinking would be an anathema to our political leadership.
In 1972 when I was on an official visit to Kabul the then Afghan Army Chief, jokingly told me that India and Afghanistan should have collaborated in 1971 and their two armies could have shaken hands across the Indus.
Narasimha Rao initiated the Look East policy which was further developed by Atal Behari Vajpayee, and Manmohan Singh has been reaching out to Korea and Japan to deter Chinese military adventurism and break its string of pearls strategy. Lately the United Progressive Alliance government deserves credit for a Look West (Middle East) policy. Talks have been held between Russia, China and India to deal with Afghanistan when the US quits that country by the end of this year. Indian troops should not get embroiled in military operations in Afghanistan. However, we must help in training of Afghan military personnel as also providing military hardware to the Afghanistan National Army, including funds to purchase war equipment from other countries like Russia. A consensus should be built on preventing another Taliban takeover of Kabul. A friendly secular government in Kabul is in India’s interest.
As regards military preparedness, we should not lose our edge in military strength for conventional war with Pakistan and also maintain a credible multi-pronged nuclear deterrent. As for jihadi terrorism from Pakistan we should be prepared to take offensive action against known terrorist camps, particularly, in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, when we claim that it is an integral part of India. We should welcome the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan and the latter being no longer dependent on Pakistan for surface communication to Afghanistan and thus not obliged to provide generous military aid. The policy of pusillanimity and appeasement has been an unfortunate basis of the policy of the UPA government. This was displayed at Havana, Sharm el-Sheikh and Bhutan. Dialogue should not be considered uninterruptable when there is terrorist action.
India must strive for peace with Pakistan from a position of strength, not weakness. Despite our giving Pakistan Most Favoured Nation, status, Islamabad has found one reason or another not to do so. Reciprocity must be the basis for Indo-Pak relations. May be the new government shall make amends for the failures of post Indira governments.