Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Silicon Valley

"The 21st century belongs to India', declared Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to thousands of his adoring fans at SAP Center in San Jose, California. As he spoke inside the Arena, protestors carrying anti-Modi posters condemned the presence in Silicon Valley of the person they choose to describe as the "Butcher of Gujarat".

My Invitation and Ticket:

I had received an invitation and a ticket to attend Prime Minister Modi's reception at SAP Center. I thought about attending it long and hard. I was really conflicted about attending and, in the end, I chose not to.

Modi's Soaring Rhetoric:

As Prime Minister Modi wowed almost exclusively Indian-American techie audience in Silicon Valley, there were many who compared his rhetoric to US President Barack Obama's 2008 soaring speeches promising "Change" in America which, for many, have led to a huge letdown in the last 6 years. Modi led his audience with chants of "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and "Jai Baghat Singh" and the they responded by cheering the Prime Minster on with screams of "Modi! Modi".

“[India] has moved on from scriptures to satellites,” Modi said. “The world has started to believe that the 21st century belongs to India.”

"Unwelcome Modi" Rally:

As the Indian Prime Minister spoke to thousands of his adoring supporters inside San Jose Arena, a group estimated by some at 3000 staged a rally against him.

"Prime Minister Modi's 'Rock Star' visit to Silicon Valley can't make up for his rock bottom performance in human and civil rights," Virali Modi-Parekh of Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA) told NBC News. "Since Modi's been in office, violence against religious minorities has spiked. But Modi turns a blind eye while churches are burned and Muslims and Christians are being forcibly converted. There is a culture of fear and victimization, especially against minorities in India, which undermines Modi's standing as a business partner."

Campaign against Modi's presence in Silicon Valley included billboards across Silicon Valley focusing attention on Modi's human rights record; hundreds of bottles of Purell hand sanitizer sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, each with a name of a person killed in the Gujarat riots; challenges from South Asian LGBTQ employees of high-tech companies of India's Penal Code 377; a "faculty statement" from 125 academics on Modi's history; a "die-in" dramatizing continuing attacks against minority groups; and social media campaigns using the hashtags #ModiFail, #ChallengeModi, #ModiLiestoUS, #ZuckWashYourHands, according to NBC News.

Academics Letter:

Over 100 US academics wrote an open letter to Silicon Valley tech executives warning them against doing business with Prime Minister who came to push his "Digital India" initiative. The US professors reminded the technology executive that Modi and his Hindu allies are using their power to censor dissident voices in India.

Hindtuva activists allied with Modi have been attacking dissidents with impunity since the Prime Minister's elevation to power in Delhi. M.M. Kalburgi, a 78-year-old professor, was assassinated by the Sangh activists recently. Hours after Kalburgi's murder, Bhuvith Shetty, a member of the Hindu militant group Bajrang Dal, tweeted in celebration: "Mock Hinduism and die a dog's death. And dear K.S. Bhagwan you are next."

Two other high-profile rationalists, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, were shot point-blank 18 months apart in the western state of Maharashtra. Dabholkar, a 68-year-old activist who worked on behalf of villagers exploited by local gurus and so-called godmen, campaigned for the state government to pass an anti-superstition bill. It's been two years since he was killed in the city of Pune, and no one has been charged, according to a report in Los Angeles Times.

Digital Censorship:

Facebook has published data indicating that India leads the world in censoring Facebook posts.  Indian government demanded Facebook blocks 4,765 times in a six month period.India’s approach to Internet speech has been a flash point for years, with the government saying it wants to regulate content that is offensive to religious or ethnic groups, and companies such as Facebook and Google (GOOG) bristling at the restrictions, according to Bloomberg News.

Source: Bloomberg


There's no question that Mr. Narendra Modi is wildly popular with Indians at home and abroad. The Prime Minister has made a lot of promises to the Indian people. And the more he speaks, the higher the expectations. Meanwhile, India's exports have declined every month for the last 9 months and the corporate profits of Indian companies continue to be weak. At the same time, Mr. Modi's allies in the Sangh Parivar are stepping their activities challenging the "Secular" foundations of the Indian Constitution. So the question is:  Is the Modi phenomenon beginning to unravel already?


Riaz Haq said…
#SiliconValley’s #Indian-#Americans and #Modi’s digital delusions - #India #BJP #ModiInUSA

In public relations terms, Narendra Modi’s “Digital India” campaign is a world beater. Few national leaders can pull crowds of 20,000 or more at home, let alone overseas. On Monday India’s prime minister attracted 18,000 at San José’s SAP arena in Silicon Valley.

The executive suite gap was on full view last week at the White House state dinner for Mr Xi. No fewer than three Indian chief executives were on the guest list — Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, Mr Nadella and Ajay Banga, chief executive of MasterCard.
In contrast, there were no Chinese-born S&P 500 leaders. Mr Xi was feted last week in Seattle by US business leaders, such as Apple’s Tim Cook and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, en route to his summit with President Barack Obama. Yet it is hard to imagine him receiving the adulation that greeted Mr Modi at Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters this week. The Indian prime minister’s town hall conversation with Mark Zuckerberg began with chants of “Modi, Modi” from the company’s Indian-born employees.
Here, however, Mr Modi’s “Make in India” drive hits a ceiling. Impressive portions of the US economy are led by people who were made in India. But they show few signs of wanting to go home.

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, Asian-Americans will overtake Hispanics to make up the largest share of US immigrants by 2065. A growing number will be Indian.
Can Mr Modi leverage their US success in India? He may have it back-to-front. Companies led by Indian-born executives are no fonder of India’s bureaucratic minefields than any other.
At the US-India strategic and commercial dialogue last week — the counterpart to the US-China annual meetings — US investors read out a depressingly familiar list of complaints.
Foreign businesses must still navigate a Kafkaesque maze of permissions to receive project approvals. Even then, however, they are vulnerable to arbitrary and retrospective tax bills. Amazon, which is putting large sums into its growing India operation, is already mired in a dispute with New Delhi. Its travails are hardly an advertisement to do business in India.
The high point of Mr Modi’s US visit was Mr Zuckerberg’s unexpected confession of Indophilia. Facebook’s chief executive disclosed he had been planning to sell Facebook in its early days but had been advised by Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, to visit the Hindu temple where he had meditated decades earlier. Mr Zuckerberg returned from his month-long India trip with a sense of renewal.
“If Facebook was a country it would be the third largest in the world — and the most connected,” said a delighted Mr Modi.
True enough. But countries are a little more complex than social media groups. It is not enough for India to be liked, or even loved. To attract Chinese levels of investment, it must generate returns.
Riaz Haq said…
#Indian #Muslim man beaten to death over rumours he had eaten beef in #Modi's #India | via @Telegraph #BeefBan …

Mohammad Akhlaq was attacked by around 100 people and despite being taken to hospital, police said "his life could not be saved"

A 50-year-old Muslim man was beaten to death over rumours he had eaten beef, a taboo in India, a Hindu-majority nation.
Mohammad Akhlaq was dragged from his house on the outskirts of the capital and attacked by around 100 people on Monday night, a police officer told AFP.
"When our team reached the spot a crowd was there outside his house. They (police) managed to rescue him and take him to the hospital, but his life could not be saved," said senior police superintendent Kiran S.
Indian police said on Wednesday they had arrested six people and "deployed additional personnel to contain any further repercussions".
Mr Akhlaq's 22-year-old son was also seriously injured in the attack and was in intensive care at a nearby hospital.
Killing cows is banned in many states of India, a majority-Hindu country that also has sizeable Muslim, Christian and Buddhist minorities.
In March, the state of Maharashtra toughened its ban to make even possessing beef illegal, a move seen by religious minorities as a sign of the growing power of hardline Hindus since nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi came to power.
The rumours that the family had eaten beef began when a calf was reported missing in Dadri village, 22 miles from New Delhi.
"An announcement about the family consuming beef was made at a temple, after which the mob descended on the man's house," said Kiran.
The Indian Express quoted Mr Akhlaq's daughter Sajida as saying the family had mutton in the fridge and not beef.
"They accused us of keeping cow meat, broke down our doors and started beating my father and brother. My father was dragged outside and beaten with bricks," she told the daily.
Riaz Haq said…
Welcome To #Modi's #India: Where Cows Matter More Than Humans (But There Is Wifi In Railway Stations) #BeefBan

NEW DELHI: The shocking incident of a fifty year old man being savagely beaten to death by a mob for allegedly eating beef in UP’s Dadri has once again turned the spotlight to ‘progressive’, ‘shining’, ‘digital’ India.

Mohammad Akhlaq, was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son severely injured on Monday as residents of Balsara village surrounded their home and accused them of eating cow meat. They then dragged the two men out of the house and beat them with bricks. The senior Akhlaq succumbed to his injuries soon after, and his son remains in a critical condition.

To add insult to grievous injury, the investigation seems to be revolving around determining whether the family did or did not eat beef. The daughter who witnessed the incident insists the meat was mutton -- but why does that even matter? Whether the family was or was not consuming beef is immaterial, but somehow, that seems to have figured into the investigation as the meat in question is on its way to a lab for testing.

The fact that this incident took place as our Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived back in India having completed his famed US tour (where he shook hands with Fortune 500 CEOs and celebrated a move toward “Digital India”) -- raises uncomfortable questions about our priorities as a nation.

We are so quick to celebrate superficial victories that we are forgetting the real challenges this country faces. Challenges such as the mindset and culture that caused the death of Mohammad Akhlaq. Challenges relating to education, income inequality, religious extremism, gender violence, abysmal health care, and so on.

We were so busy celebrating PM Modi’s announcement of direct flights from India to San Francisco, that the news that an American tourist was gangraped just a week earlier in Dharamsala ceases to matter. FYI, violence against women is on the rise in India: statistics show that an average of 92 women are raped EVERY DAY in this country, and that’s just the reported incidents.

We were so busy changing our profiles on Facebook to support #DigitalIndia, that we forgot that just earlier this month, a seven year old boy and a nine year old girl succumbed to dengue fever because hospitals refused to admit them.

We were so busy with the excitement of Google’s announcement of wifi in 400 Indian railway stations that we forgot that just ten days ago, a Khap Panchayat in Haryana ordered five shoe slaps to a 23-year-old man as PUNISHMENT for raping a seven year old girl. Lesson learnt?

We were so busy agreeing with Rupert Murdoch's assertion that PM Modi is India’s greatest leader that we didn’t care about communal riots in Ranchi, the fact that a three year old toddler was shot dead in Kashmir -- the latest in a string of mysterious killings that many blame India’s armed forces for, or the death threats issued by right wing groups to Marathi journalist Nikhil Wagle.

We were so busy retweeting a photo of PM Modi shaking hands with Mark Zuckerberg that we forgot that real India is (tragically) an India where a man can be beaten to death for eating (or not eating) a particular type of meat.

So is this our message to the world? I see it loud and clear. “Welcome to India, where cows matter more than human beings, but fret not, we have free Wifi at railway stations (whether it works or not is immaterial.)”
Riaz Haq said…

Now even the pretence of remorse is not there. BJP leaders from Western Uttar Pradesh have supported the brutal murder of Mohammad Akhlaq, “when we hurt people’s sentiments, such clashes take place. This was not a communal riot. The Hindu community worships cows. Whose blood won’t boil if they see cow slaughter.”

This belligerence, demonstrated by no less than the vice president of BJP’s west UP unit Shrichand Sharma has deepened tensions in Dadri district where both communities had lived in relative peace over the years. Terror-struck Muslim families are all preparing to leave the area, some have left, others are packing their bags to go. Where? They don’t know but fear for their lives is making them leave the homes where they lived for decades to face a future that is bleak, to say the least.

A former legislator from Dadri Nawab Singh Nagar spoke in the same aggressive vein maintaining that the family was at fault. He too, has been quoted in media reports stating, “it is obvious that such an incident will lead to anger among people and there will be communal tension. If this was the case, the family is in the wrong. If they have consumed beef, they are also responsible. This is a village of Thakurs and they express their sentiments in a very strong way. If they have done this, they should have kept in mind what the reaction would be.”

In short: if you eat beef you deserve to die. And you will be killed.

There has not been a word on this from Prime Minister Narendra Modi or BJP president Amit Shah. Not a restraining word, that feeds into the perception that the violence and the murder, clearly supported (if not instigated) by the BJP and its affiliates. Instead the local BJP unit has demanded the release of the six persons arrested from a mob of over 100 persons, threatening to hold a mahapanchayat to release the killers, and instead take action against the victims for “cow slaughter.” Another local BJP leader Vichitra Tomar has been quoted in the Indian Express that is the only mainstream newspaper to have covered the ghastly crime in some detail, demanding, “the release of all the people who have been arrested in connection with the Bisada incident, who are all innocent. We also demand legal action against those who are engaged in cow slaughter, as it is meant to incite sentiments of Hindus.” This mahapanchayat, clearly projected as a threat to break law and order by the BJP, is scheduled for October 11 with the party already campaigning aggressively in the area for a large attendance.

Fear has gripped the area, with all residents reminded now of similar mahapanchayats that led to brutal attack on the Muslims in Muzaffarnagar last year during the Lok Sabha campaign.
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's #India's Manufacturing Activity at 7-Month Low - …

A gauge of manufacturing activity in India fell to a seven-month low in September, providing fresh evidence that a recovery in the South Asian economy remains sluggish.

The seasonally adjusted India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, prepared by Markit, fell to 51.2 from 52.3 in August, according to Nikkei research released Thursday. A figure above 50 indicates an expansion while a reading below that signals contraction.

"Growth of Indian manufacturing production was weighed down by a difficult economic climate," Pollyanna De Lima, an economist at Markit, said.

New orders rose at the weakest pace since June, with export-order growth slumping to the slowest in two years. As a result, manufacturers cut jobs to keep costs in check.

"This bodes ill for the economy in the near-term and suggests that manufacturers' expectations for future output growth are clouded with uncertainty," Ms. De Lima said.

Input prices fell for the second straight month—the first back-to-back decline since the financial crisis—benefiting from a sharp fall in global commodity prices. However, weak demand pressured manufacturers to lower prices.

India's economy grew 7% last quarter, much weaker than the 8%-plus growth the government had predicted in the federal budget presented in February.

Earlier this week, the Reserve Bank of India slashed its main lending rate by a bigger-than-expected 0.50 percentage point, highlighting growth remains weak despite high optimism in the economy.

Nevertheless, an improvement in the manufacturing sector, which has been at the center of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's economic agenda, is taking place gradually.

Ms. De Lima said India's growth prospects for the July-September quarter are encouraging, with the manufacturing sector looking set to provide a stronger contribution to gross domestic product than it did in the April-June quarter.

Read more:
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's #India’s growth faces more domestic than global obstacles, Crisil says

Domestic factors are a bigger constraint for India's shift to a faster growth trajectory than the global factors, Crisil's chief economist has said.

"Indian authorities' efforts to contain its high fiscal deficit and inflation limit its ability to generously use countercyclical policy tools to boost the economy," said Crisil's chief economist Dharmakirti Joshi in an article published by Standard & Poor's.

Crisil is a subsidiary of Standard & Poor's.

"Weak demand, low capacity utilization and high leverage are impediments to reviving the private corporate investment cycle," he added.

The report notes that global developments since 2014 have had mixed impact on India.

While lower crude oil and commodity prices have helped to rein in fiscal and current account deficits and inflation, slack global growth has hurt India's exports.

Reforms aimed at enhancing financial sector access to the unserved and under-served, improving transparency in government decision-making and making it easier to do business will play an important role in pushing growth up over the next two to three years, according to the report.

The transition to a sustainable high growth path over the next decade will also require additional reforms such as goods and services tax, along with land and labour reforms.
Riaz Haq said…
Godse's and #Modi's #India: Not My Idea of #India. #BeefMurder #BJP … via @ndtv

Last month, I was reading Nathuram Godse's statement to the court in his defence of murdering Mahatma Gandhi. The statement published in the form of a book titled 'Why I killed Gandhi' had me in a state of shock with Godse's justification of his intolerance. I was convinced that men like him were a minority, that Godse was a lunatic and the thought that killed Gandhi would not be tolerated by a civilized India.

In one of the paragraphs, Godse goes on to say, "I firmly believed that the teachings of absolute 'ahimsa' as advocated by Gandhiji would ultimately result in the emasculation of the Hindu community, and thus make the community incapable of resisting the aggression or inroads of other communities, especially the Muslims. To counteract this evil, I resolved to enter public life and form a group of persons who held similar views". This was the thought that killed Gandhi and deepened the roots of religious polarization and communalism in Indiasix decades ago.

On 28th September, the brutal murder of 50-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq in Dadri, in Greater Noida, by a lynch mob of 200 people on the suspicion that he consumed beef has proved once again that the thought that killed Gandhi is gaining momentum.

Ikhlaq, who worked as a carpenter barely 50 kms from Delhi, lived with his ageing mother, wife, younger son and daughter. His elder son, Sartaj, an Indian Air Force personnel is posted in Chennai. The idea of India that Ikhlaq's son Sartaj was trying to protect as an engineer in the Air Force betrayed him and his family earlier this week.

By killing his father, and leaving his brother in a critical condition, Sartaj's nationalism was rewarded in the most ghastly, unthinkable manner. The modus operandi used in the murder was no different than those used by radicals in the past. An announcement was made on a loudspeaker that a cow had been slaughtered and its carcass had been found near a transformer. The rumor later spread in the village with WhatsApp and other messaging tools, something that reminds us of the method used by extremists and bigots triggering the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013. Within minutes of the announcement, the mob had killed Ikhlaque and severely injured his family. As if this act was not savage enough, government officials sent the meat found in the house to ascertain whether it was indeed beef - the suggestion being that if it indeed was beef, then the murder of two sons of India was justified.

Yes, this is the new India we are referring to where we talk of a revolution in technology, where our Prime Minister visits the Facebook headquarters and we get encouraging photo-ops from Silicon Valley.

This is the new India where the Prime Minister a day after the murder congratulates his Minister for Culture, Dr Mahesh Sharma, on his birthday on Twitter, the same minister who just this month famously pledged to cleanse Indian culture of Western influence. While the PM has every right to congratulate his ministers on their birthdays (birthday celebrations being a Western concept according to the Sangh Parivar), it was shocking that he had no word of condolence for the family of Sartaj, a patriot serving the country. He had no word of condemnation for those savages and murderers who had brought cultural cleansing into action.


The kind of thought we would mock our neighbouring country for on most occasions. As I write this, I am nauseous, pained, ashamed of being a part of this alleged India growth story. This is not the idea I grew up with and the new idea of India has shaken me to the core today.

India, my country, my motherland, why am I unable to recognize you anymore?
Riaz Haq said…
Dadri’s dire warning: If Modi fails to give India change, it’s because of enemies within his house
Akhlaq’s death was foretold from the moment Bharatiya Janata Party chief ministers started banning meat on the excuse of festivals during which it has never been banned before.

Akhlaq’s murder reminds us of how superficial India’s modernity is. The men who killed him and tried to kill his son would have all had cellphones in their pockets and colour television sets in their homes. Some may even have had access to computers and the Internet, and still all it took was a rumour for them to turn into savages. It is only savages who can turn so quickly into a killer mob. And in recent months a very ugly atmosphere has been created across the country by BJP chief ministers and Modi’s own ministers, and he has done nothing to stop them. Nor has he made the smallest effort to call a halt to the misguided ‘ghar wapasi’ (homecoming) campaign launched by his former comrades in the RSS. If the RSS is truly interested in serving India, and if they are true believers in the Sanatan Dharma, then they must concentrate their activities on more useful things like cleaning the Ganga and helping the Swachh Bharat campaign. Ghar wapasi is the antithesis of the idea of the Sanatan Dharma.
Meanwhile the Prime Minister must realise that the investors he woos on his travels in foreign lands halt in their tracks every time they see signs that beneath its new highways and shining malls, India remains a primitive country. Akhlaq was stoned to death in a village less than 50 kilometres away from Delhi and his young son, if he lives, could live with serious head injuries. Do we require more proof that we are going to need more than digital technology to make India into a country that truly belongs in the 21st century, instead of in some hideous, primordial time warp?
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's grand delusion of Digital #India - The Hindu. #ModiInSiliconValley #SiliconValley #DigitalIndia …

The idea of attacking poverty by increasing mobile connectivity in a country that ranks 55 in the Global Hunger Index is just fantasy

Interviewer: What would you regard as the most outstanding and significant event of the last decade?

Siddhartha: The… war in Vietnam, sir.

Interviewer: More significant than landing on the moon?

Siddhartha: I think so, sir.

— “Pratidwandi” (The Adversary), 1970

The most fundamental debate for our youth is the choice between Android, iOS or Windows. — Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A glib modernity has perpetrated the belief that technology can bring about the liberation of human beings. Therefore, it is not surprising that the post-colonial history of colonised nations is also largely a history of this unrealisable fantasy. Digital India is the latest enchantment. The irony is that what goes missing in the search of a “technological fix” is human beings themselves. What should worry us is not the digital divide, but the fundamental divide between a rapidly growing technological capability and a snail-like growth in eliminating human deprivation.

Mr. Modi’s Digital India speech at Silicon Valley showed his remarkable continuity with the policies of post-independence governments, which grievously ignored the fundamental bases of development, health and education, leading to colossal failures in eliminating deprivation. Is it of any surprise that in 2011, 50 per cent of rural India was illiterate or semiliterate? Or that dengue overwhelms New Delhi now? All this is the result of an impoverished understanding of development as merely economic growth and progress in science and technology, rather than ensuring basic human capacities and dignity. Hence, we are in a conjuncture in which 71 per cent of rural India owns mobile phones while 75 per cent of it lives on Rs. 33 per day.
Riaz Haq said…
Retired General Hoon of #India reveals Brasstacks was prep for invasion of #Pakistan by #Indian Army Chief in 1987 …

Operation Brasstacks was the army’s preparations for a war against Pakistan and not a military exercise, says Lieutenant General PN Hoon (retired), who was the then commander-in-chief of the Western Command. The revelation was made by the veteran during the launch of his book, “The Untold Truth”, on Saturday evening.
In the book, Lt Gen Hoon has revealed behind-the-scene politics of major operations and events that took place during his 40-year service in the army. While in one chapter, the author has called the Operation Blue Star a “botched-up operation”, in another chapter he has revealed that Operation Brasstacks was a “war against Pakistan”.
“I have written about operations I have been part of and no one else knows about till today,” said the author.
The chapter 9 of the book reveals the inside story of Operation Brasstacks. It was in peacetime in January 1987 that the Indian Army began moving to the western border carrying live ammunition. The citizens were told that it was an exercise. The book suggests that “it could only be a preparation for a war”
Talking about the operation, Lt Gen PN Hoon said, “Brasstacks was no military exercise, it was a plan to build up a situation for a fourth war with Pakistan. And what is even more shocking is that the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was not aware of these plans of a war.”
The author said that it was General Sundarji’s (the then chief of army staff) and minister of state for defence Arun Singh’s plan to provoke Pakistan “into launching an offensive in Kashmir”.
“... an attack on Kashmir would be an attack on India and in the garb of the exercise that India was already conducting, India would go into a full-fledged war with Pakistan,” reads the chapter.
Lt Gen Hoon said that it was during a dinner party on January 15, 1987, (Army Day) that the PM came to know about the exercise.
“Rajiv Gandhi asked me, ‘How is the western front?’ To this I replied, “Mr Prime Minister, sir. The western army is in fine fettle and very soon I shall be past our battle stations and will give you Sind on one side and Lahore (Pakistan) on the other,”said the author.
“Rajiv was totally aghast and visibly angered. He left the party immediately. The PM did not want to go into a war. Hence, on January 20, Sundarji, pleaded me to stop moving forward,”he added.
When asked as to why Arun Singh and Sundarji would want a war while keeping the PM in the dark, Lt Gen Hoon said: “It was a power game. Sundarji wanted to become a Field Marshal and Arun Singh wanted to become the Prime Minister.”
Apart from these issues, the book reveals behind-the-scene politics when India was forced to take over Sikkim. The author has tried to expose the true nature of political mindset, which should have been protecting the economic, political and strategic interests of the country.
The author also reveals that how President Giani Zail Singh was planning to take the help of the army in dismissing Rajiv Gandhi. “The army had a role to play in the plans to dismiss Rajiv Gandhi. The conflict between the former President Giani Zail Singh and then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was well known by all. But what is still not known is the real politics that continued during the period and how army was involved in all this,” mentions the book.
Riaz Haq said…
Exports ↓
Manufacturing ↓
Services ↓

: Exports from India are still not out of the woods, with 23 key sectors, including petroleum, engineering and leather, declining in August mainly due to a fall in global prices and demand downturn. In all, 23 out of 30 sectors monitored by the commerce ministry were in the negative zone last month, data showed.

This has prompted exporters' body FIEO to seek immediate intervention of the government to arrest the decline.

A gauge of manufacturing activity in India fell to a seven-month low in September, providing fresh evidence that a recovery in the South Asian economy remains sluggish.

The seasonally adjusted India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, prepared by Markit, fell to 51.2 from 52.3 in August, according to Nikkei research released Thursday. A figure above 50 indicates an expansion while a reading below that signals contraction.

"Growth of Indian manufacturing production was weighed down by a difficult economic climate," Pollyanna De Lima, an economist at Markit, said.

New orders rose at the weakest pace since June, with export-order growth slumping to the slowest in two years. As a result, manufacturers cut jobs to keep costs in check.

"This bodes ill for the economy in the near-term and suggests that manufacturers' expectations for future output growth are clouded with uncertainty," Ms. De Lima said.

Bengaluru: India’s pivotal services industry lost some momentum in September as demand weakened despite firms cutting prices for the first time this year, a business survey showed on Tuesday.
Riaz Haq said…
If #India economy is really growing 7.4%, why is consumer sentiment at 3-year low? Is #Modi fudging GDP? #BJP …
The survey shows that not only are consumers worried about current conditions, they also don’t expect any improvement in the medium term. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Indian consumers are turning increasingly pessimistic about the economic recovery. The MNI India Consumer Sentiment Indicator, from Deutsche Borse, fell to a three-year low in September, suggesting that demand continues to be lacklustre. That sentiment is completely out of sync with the rosy estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) growth. The survey shows that not only are consumers worried about current conditions, they also don’t expect any improvement in the medium term.

“Seen through the eyes of our survey respondents… the short- to medium-term outlook looks less compelling, with consumer confidence at a record low and little sign of a quick turnaround, ” said MNI chief economist Philip Uglow.

Simply put, the 75 basis points rate cut that happened from January to September wasn’t good enough to boost demand and convince consumers that things will improve. One basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

It’s not just consumer sentiment that is pessimistic. Expectations for business conditions improving one year from now fell to their lowest since September 2013, when India was battling a sharply depreciating rupee. Besides, consumers were the least optimistic about their household finances, with both current and future measures of personal finances falling to record lows.

This level of pessimism ties in with other indicators as well. For instance, the Nikkei Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for India shows there has been no improvement in manufacturing employment since the Narendra Modi government took charge at the Centre.

In September-end, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut rates by another 50 basis points to boost demand. It remains to be seen whether it will boost the much-needed confidence.

“So far the rate cuts have had little impact, with consumers particularly concerned about their finances. The recent cut in the policy rate by RBI should help, although for now our survey suggests that household spending will remain capped,” said Uglow.
Riaz Haq said…
#India-#Pakistan border is so closely guarded that it can be seen lit up from space in night's darkness via @qzindia

The border between India and Pakistan is one of the few international boundaries that can be easily identified from space.
Late last month, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Earth Observatory shared a nighttime image of the international border that divides India and Pakistan.
Amid countless dots and some larger blobs of yellow, the border between the two countries can be seen as a distinct, brightly-lit orange line—thanks to the security lights that run the length of the boundary.
Nearly 2,000 kilometres, out of about 3,300 kilometres, of the India-Pakistan border is floodlit, according to Indian government officials, which racks up massive electricity and diesel bills.

One of the most heavily militarised international borders, the Radcliffe Line—the boundary demarcation line established during Partition in 1947—divides the two nuclear-armed nations. Both countries have thousands of troops stationed all along its length, especially in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. These troops are served by hundreds of kilometres of roads that run alongside the boundary.
The photograph was taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, using a Nikon D4 digital camera and a 28-millimetre lens. “For scale, the distance from Karachi to the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains is 1,160 kilometers (720 miles),” NASA’s Earth Observatory said.
But this is not NASA’s first photo of the international border.

Another night view of the border zone, “looking southeast from the Himalaya,” was taken four years ago, on Aug. 21, 2011. Again, the borderline appears as an orange line, flanked by a number of cities on both sides.

The top left cluster is New Delhi. The cluster next to the border on the other side is Lahore, while the cluster right at bottom centre is Islamabad. The photograph was taken with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 16-milimetre lens.
“Clusters of yellow lights on the Indo-Gangetic Plain reveal numerous cities large and small in this astronaut photograph of northern India and northern Pakistan,” NASA said. “The lines of major highways connecting the cities also stand out. More subtle, but still visible at night, are the general outlines of the towering and partly cloud-covered Himalayas to the north.”
In comparison, daytime images of the region are less revealing. The following photograph of the region was clicked on June 14, 2014.
Riaz Haq said…
Why doesn’t #India have its own #SiliconValley?

The question Modi should ask himself is this: why hasn’t India been able to replicate, even in some small measure, Silicon Valley’s top-end technology ecosystem? Why haven’t Indians been able to create a Google or Facebook in Bangalore?

The question may sound counter-intuitive. If there’s one thing India is known for abroad, besides poverty, it’s the country’s prowess in information technology. How often have you heard the assertion that if China is the factory of the world, India is its back office? Modi has repeated the boast; so has China’s President Xi Jinping.

In that claim, though, lies a partial explanation for why India’s technology scene remains underdeveloped. Beginning in the 1980s, Indian tech companies focused on providing relatively low value-added IT services to overseas clients, rather than developing high value-added products. The choice made sense. Companies faced a tough climate for doing business in then-socialist India and a small domestic market. Red tape strangled the hardware sector, as so many others in India; archaic labour laws and a lack of power discouraged new factories. Given India’s nationalised banking system, financing for risky start-ups was slim-to-non-existent.

..the hype over the Bangalore boom obscured the fact that India hadn’t really created a true start-up ecosystem. Silicon Valley, for instance, benefits greatly from the presence of several top-notch universities; academic research is translated quickly into the real world, while feedback travels in the other direction. Yet despite setting up 14 new Indian Institutes of Technology since the 1990s, successive Indian governments haven’t seen fit to locate one in Bangalore itself. (Modi’s proposed putting one in Dharwad, a town more than 400 kilometres away.) Meanwhile, India spends only 0.8 per cent of its GDP on research and development, compared to 2.8 per cent in the U.S. and 1.8 per cent in China, both of which have much higher GDPs than India. Until relatively recently, Indian start-ups attracted limited venture capital and private equity funding compared to their Chinese counterparts. Intellectual property protections were weak.

Modi intends to showcase this new start-up culture while in Silicon Valley. If he really wants India to produce an Apple or Amazon, though, he needs to focus on improving the environment for innovation at home — cutting regulations, investing in research and education, and boosting growth in order to expand the domestic market. Indians abroad are obviously talented and nimble enough to innovate. The question is whether India is, too.

—By arrangement with Bloomberg-The Washington Post
Riaz Haq said…
#India's #Hindu Fundamentalists.600 attacks on minorities (#Christians, #Muslims) since #Modi took office @AJEnglish

Since Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist and leader of the right-wing BJP party, became prime minister of India in May 2014, groups of radical Hindu nationalists have been terrorising religious minorities across the country.

According to a leading Christian rights group, at least 600 such attacks took place between Modi's election and August of this year. One hundred and forty-nine of these assaults were against Christians; the rest were targeted at the country's Muslim community.

The attacks, say critics, are being orchestrated by radical groups affiliated to Hindu nationalist and political pressure group: the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS.

Prime Minister Modi is a lifelong member of the RSS and the backing of its members was crucial in helping his BJP party win the 2014 election. Since then, emboldened by the result, Modi’s most extreme nationalist supporters have routinely taken to the streets, using violence and intimidation to press their claim for a purely Hindu India.

Muslims have been forced to convert to Hinduism, homes burnt down and people even murdered for allegedly consuming beef; cows having special status in the Hindu faith.

Meanwhile, Hindu nationalists have been rewriting school textbooks in some states and holding training camps for teenage boys and girls in an apparent attempt to inculcate children into their cause.

We asked Indian filmmaker and journalist Mandakini Gahlot, herself a Hindu, to go in search of those who want a purely Hindu nation and find out what their resurgence means for the future of the world’s most populous secular democracy.
Riaz Haq said…
Moody's angers #India: Says it is among top 4 countries (#iraq, #Afghanistan, #Pakistan) with most terror incidents. …

"Now, in a report dated 6 October 2015 Moody's says “more than 60% of all (terrorist) incidents in 2013 were concentrated in just four countries. Iraq (24% of terrorist incidents, Pakistan 19%, Afghanistan 12% and India 5.8%.”
The report concedes that at 690 attacks, it translates into less than half attack per million of Indian population as opposed to the global average of 2.4 attacks per million but nevertheless has chosen to caution the world against India.
That the events of 2013 have been reported in 2015 speaks volumes about the rating agency’s efficiency and motives especially given the fact that it has deemed it fit to make India an unsafe investment destination in the eyes of foreign investors.
That India has been bracketed with terrorist hotbeds — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq — would rankle every patriotic Indian when the facts are to the contrary. Unlike these three nations, India does not harbor and nurture terrorists but like Israel is a victim of hostile neighbors’ designs. By Moody’s syllogism, even the US and the UK are terror states whereas the truth is they too are victims, actual or potential, of terrorist attacks.
The report sounds hollow, dubious and contrived coming as it does at a time when India has attracted the highest FDI and FIIs are still the movers and shakers of its bourses.
Terrorism indeed slows down growth and increases the cost of sovereign debts besides leaving its impact for a long time as the report says but these dire warnings apply to terrorists infested states and not to India whose new government at the center has been fairly successful in halting terrorists in their tracks.
True, India growth is slackening and as a direct fallout unemployment is increasing but these by no means are due to the fanciful perception that India is an unsafe destination. On the contrary, India shines as a beacon of hope and development with China running out of steam and a large part of Europe still in tatters due to a variety of reasons including the ill-conceived economic union it forged 15 years ago.
If the FDI is not pouring into India at a torrential pace, it is because the US and European companies have to first set their own houses in order.
Moody’s knew all these but blithely chose to release a report that is a non sequitur — its own statistics do not support its conclusions. The report is just plain mischievous."
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's (and his cabinet's) poor education, #India's great educational divide fueling anti-#Muslim bigotry, hate?

Aatish Taseer Op Ed in NY Times:

In India, the Congress Party was liberal, left-leaning and secular; but it was also the party of the colonized elite. That meant that practically everyone who was rich, and educated, and grew up speaking English, was also invariably a supporter of Congress.


The cabinet, save for the rare exception, is made up of too many crude, bigoted provincials, united far more by a lack of education than anything so grand as ideology. At the time of writing — and here the one will have to speak for the many — Mr. Modi’s minister of culture had just said of a former Muslim president: “Despite being a Muslim, he was a great nationalist and humanist.”

Some 10 days later, there was the hideous incident in which a Muslim man was lynched by a Hindu mob in a village outside Delhi, on the suspicion of slaughtering a cow and eating beef. It was a defining moment, the culmination of 16 months of cultural chauvinism and hysteria under Mr. Modi, the scarcely veiled target of which are India’s roughly 170 million Muslims. This ugliness is eclipsing Mr. Modi’s development agenda, and just this week, there was yet another incident in which a Kashmiri politician was attacked in Srinagar for hosting “a beef party.”

Poisonous as these attitudes are, they have much more to do with class than politics. They are so obviously part of the vulgarity that accompanies violent social change. If the great drama of our grandparents’ generation was independence, and our parents’ that post-colonial period, ours represents the twilight of the (admittedly flawed) English-speaking classes, and an unraveling of the social and moral order they held in place. A new country is seething with life, but not all vitality is pretty, and there now exists a glaring cultural and intellectual gap between India’s old, entrenched elite and the emerging electorate.

In other places, education would have helped close the gap; it would have helped the country make a whole of the social change it was witnessing. No society is so equitable that men as economically far apart as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — or as Ed Miliband and David Cameron, for that matter — would have attended the same schools. But, in England and America, there is Oxford and Yale to level the field, to give both men the means to speak to each other.

This is not true of India. In India, one class has had access to the best private schools and foreign universities, where all the instruction is in English; the other has had to make do with the state schools and universities Indian socialism bequeathed them. The two classes almost never meet; they don’t even speak the same language. It has left India divided between an isolated superelite (and if you’re an Indian reading this, you’re probably part of it!) and an emerging middle class that may well lack the intellectual tools needed to channel its vitality.


In another society, with the benefit of a real education, Mr. Modi might have been something more than he was. Then it would be possible to imagine a place with real political differences, and not one in which left and right were divided along the blade of a knife by differences in class, language and education. But just as that other society does not yet exist, neither does that other Modi. Indians will have to make do with the Modi they have; and, as things stand, perhaps the cynics are right: Perhaps this great hope of Indian democracy, with his limited reading and education, is not equal to the enormous task before him.
Riaz Haq said…
#India's Top #BJP campaigner against #beef owns halal meat processing and beef export business Al-Dua. #BeefPolitics …

MLA Sangeet Singh Som admits he was director of Al-Dua, a company that processes halal meat

Sangeet Singh Som, the fiery BJP MLA at the forefront of the frenzied anti-beef protests and an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots, founded one of India’s leading halal meat export companies, according to documents available with The Hindu.

The company, Al-Dua Food Processing Private Ltd, was founded by Mr. Som, along with Moinuddin Qureshi and a third partner, to deal in meat and meat products in 2005. According to Al-Dua’s website, the company is now a “leading producer and exporter of halal meat from India.”

Mr. Som’s role in promoting the company is at variance with the BJP’s campaign, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who during the Lok Sabha polls, called the growing meat exports the “pink revolution.” Mr. Modi and others have said that the growing meat exports were a cover for slaughter of cows.

When The Hindu confronted Mr. Som with the evidence, he flatly denied having anything to do with meat business.

“There was nothing about meat. I am a pure Hindu and would do nothing to hurt Hindu sentiment. You would be surprised to know that despite being a Thakur I don’t eat even egg and start my day with a havan,” he said.

According to the Memorandum of Association of Al-Dua Food Processing, filed on December 19, 2005, the company, which exports halal meat to Arab countries, was started “to carry on the business of (sic) manufacturers, producers, processors, buyers, sellers of and dealers in meat, meat products…”

Unsecured loans

Official documents show that in 2005-06, all three promoters of Al-Dua, one of India’s leading halal meat exporting companies Mr. Som co-founded, also advanced unsecured loans to the company. Mr. Som gave Rs. 4 lakh, Moinuddin Qureshi Rs. 7.60 lakh and Yogesh Rawat Rs. 4 lakh. The company also received unsecured loans from two other companies totalling Rs. 10 lakh.

Official filings with the Registrar of Company Affairs show that the company purchased a piece of land for Rs. 30,78,000 in 2005-06.

On March 27, 2008, Mr. Som ceased to be a director in the company. He transferred his 20,000 shares in the company to Nasira Begum at Rs. 10 a share. There is no evidence of Mr. Som receiving back the unsecured loan he gave the company, or of him charging any premium for the shares in the company.

Al-Dua was not the only business dealing between Mr. Som and Mr. Qureshi, one of India’s leading meat exporters. Mr. Som has also been involved as an additional director in Al-Anam Agro Foods Pvt. Ltd. with Mr. Qureshi.
Riaz Haq said…
How educated are Modi's cabinet ministers?

Just days after the Narendra Modi government took charge, a major controversy erupted over the educational qualification of Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani. In the wake of the same, we look at the academic prowess of other ministers in the Modi cabinet.

Narendra Modi (Prime Minister): India’s 15th Prime Minister holds an extramural degree in Political Science, which was achieved through distance education from the Delhi University in the year 1978. -

Arun Jaitley (Finance and Defence Minister): Jaitley, former law minister during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s NDA regime, holds a degree in law from the University of Delhi and has also been a senior advocate of the Supreme Court. -

Sushma Swaraj (Minister for Foreign Affairs): India’s second woman foreign minister and first woman chief minister of Delhi has her LL.B degree from the Punjab University in Chandigarh and has also practiced as a Supreme Court lawyer.

Harshvardhan (Health Minister): One of the most qualified ministers in the cabinet, India’s health minister holds an M.B.B.S as well as an M.S in otolaryngology.

Maneka Gandhi (Women and Child Development): The women and child development minister and a staunch animal rights activist, Maneka Gandhi has complete her education upto the 12th grade.

Anant Geete (Heavy Industry and Public Enterprise): Geete, the leader of the Shiv Sena Parliamentary Party and a six time MP is currently the Union Minister for Heavy Industry and Public Enterprise. He has completed his matriculation.

Uma Bharti (Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvination): The current water resource and ‘Ganga Rejuvination’ minister is the least qualified minister in the Modi cabinet, having completed formal education only till class six.

DV Sadanand Gowda (Railways): The Union Minister for Railways has a degree in law from the Udupi Vaikunta Baliga College of Law.

Nitin Gadkari (Transport): Known as ‘Flyover Man’ during the Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra, Gadkari currently holds the transport portfolio in the Modi Cabinet. He holds a degree in Law from the Nagpur University.

Smriti Irani (Human Resource Development): The minister under fire has completed her H.S.C while her earlier affidavit states that she has completed her B.Com through correspondence from Delhi University.

Najma Heptulla (Minority Affairs): The first-time cabinet minister is now incharge of the ministry of Minority Affairs. The 74 year old has a Ph.D in Cardiac Anatomy from the University of Denver.

M Venkaiah Naidu (Parliamentary Affairs): The union minister for parliamentary affairs has his bachelor’s degree in Politics and Diplomatic studies as well as a degree in Law with a specialization in International law from the Andhra University.

Gopinath Munde (Rural Development Minister, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation): The union minister for Union Development has a BA degree in commerce.

Ramvilas Paswan (Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution): The minister of Consumer Affairs; Food and Public Distribution is an M.A, LL.B from the University of Patna.

Kalraj Mishra (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises): The union minister of the Narendra Modi cabinet has an M.A from the Kashi Vidyapeeth in Varanasi.

Ananth Kumar (Chemicals and Fertilizers): The Union Minister for Chemical and Fertilizers and a six time MP from Bangalore is a B.A from the University of Karnataka.

Ravi Shankar Prasad (Law and Justice, Communications & Information Technology): The union minister for Communications and I.T. has a B.A, M.A in Political Science and a degree in Law from the Patna University.
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's (and his cabinet's) poor education, #India's great educational divide fueling anti-#Muslim bigotry, hate?

Aatish Taseer Op Ed in NY Times:

In India, the Congress Party was liberal, left-leaning and secular; but it was also the party of the colonized elite. That meant that practically everyone who was rich, and educated, and grew up speaking English, was also invariably a supporter of Congress.


The cabinet, save for the rare exception, is made up of too many crude, bigoted provincials, united far more by a lack of education than anything so grand as ideology. At the time of writing — and here the one will have to speak for the many — Mr. Modi’s minister of culture had just said of a former Muslim president: “Despite being a Muslim, he was a great nationalist and humanist.”

Some 10 days later, there was the hideous incident in which a Muslim man was lynched by a Hindu mob in a village outside Delhi, on the suspicion of slaughtering a cow and eating beef. It was a defining moment, the culmination of 16 months of cultural chauvinism and hysteria under Mr. Modi, the scarcely veiled target of which are India’s roughly 170 million Muslims. This ugliness is eclipsing Mr. Modi’s development agenda, and just this week, there was yet another incident in which a Kashmiri politician was attacked in Srinagar for hosting “a beef party.”

Poisonous as these attitudes are, they have much more to do with class than politics. They are so obviously part of the vulgarity that accompanies violent social change. If the great drama of our grandparents’ generation was independence, and our parents’ that post-colonial period, ours represents the twilight of the (admittedly flawed) English-speaking classes, and an unraveling of the social and moral order they held in place. A new country is seething with life, but not all vitality is pretty, and there now exists a glaring cultural and intellectual gap between India’s old, entrenched elite and the emerging electorate.

In other places, education would have helped close the gap; it would have helped the country make a whole of the social change it was witnessing. No society is so equitable that men as economically far apart as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — or as Ed Miliband and David Cameron, for that matter — would have attended the same schools. But, in England and America, there is Oxford and Yale to level the field, to give both men the means to speak to each other.

This is not true of India. In India, one class has had access to the best private schools and foreign universities, where all the instruction is in English; the other has had to make do with the state schools and universities Indian socialism bequeathed them. The two classes almost never meet; they don’t even speak the same language. It has left India divided between an isolated superelite (and if you’re an Indian reading this, you’re probably part of it!) and an emerging middle class that may well lack the intellectual tools needed to channel its vitality.


In another society, with the benefit of a real education, Mr. Modi might have been something more than he was. Then it would be possible to imagine a place with real political differences, and not one in which left and right were divided along the blade of a knife by differences in class, language and education. But just as that other society does not yet exist, neither does that other Modi. Indians will have to make do with the Modi they have; and, as things stand, perhaps the cynics are right: Perhaps this great hope of Indian democracy, with his limited reading and education, is not equal to the enormous task before him.
Riaz Haq said…
India leaving China behind? Not so fast

The ‘bright spot’ of emerging markets promises much but has yet to deliver

The truth may finally be wearing off the old saying that India only ever compares itself with itself. As the Indian economy has proved to be one of the least dim spots in a gloomy emerging market landscape, boasts are multiplying that it is overtaking China as the engine of world expansion. Jayant Sinha, India’s junior finance minister, recently laid down the bold prediction that “in coming days, India will leave China behind as far as growth and development matter”.
Not, as it were, so fast. While India’s short-term macroeconomic performance has put it at a better place in the cycle than most big emerging markets, the longer-term structural problems that have kept it in a lower growth class than China unfortunately persist, as do the political elephant traps awaiting intrepid reformers.

On the face of it, the Indian economy is performing well, and the popularity of Narendra Modi, the prime minister elected on the promise of liberalising reform last year, is holding up. Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, has referred to India as a “bright spot” in the slowing global economy. Growth equalled China’s last year at 7.3 per cent, and the IMF predicts India will be the fastest-growing large economy in the world this year.
The reality is less encouraging. For one, the statistics may quite simply be wrong. A new data series for GDP introduced in February did much of the work in raising India’s growth rate near China’s, and the numbers, with a short history and without detailed data to underpin them, sit at odds with other indicators such as industrial production and imports.
Second, the current conjuncture has been delivered by a number of one-off factors. The falling global oil price since late 2014 has benefited India both in holding down inflation and in helping Mr Modi reform public finances by cutting expensive government fuel subsidies without raising the price to consumers.
Third, substantial impediments remain to the challenge of increasing investment, particularly in infrastructure, to unlock India’s potential for competing with east Asian countries for the manufacturing industry currently being priced out of China by rising wages and costs. Growth in manufacturing came to a halt between 2012 and 2014 after several years of expansion, casting severe doubts on its underlying momentum.

Mr Modi’s government insists it will push on with reform but, given the snarl-ups in parliament over the summer, his political space is shrinking. An important test of his government’s political momentum comes next month in the state elections in Bihar. The eastern state has long been one of India’s poorest and, while it has been growing rapidly, it has struggled to expand its manufacturing sector. If Mr Modi’s message of clearing away the impediments to investment does not resonate, it does not bode well for his chances of maintaining momentum into next year.
For the moment, it seems that India will be happy being regarded as a standout in the otherwise disappointing emerging market class. If its cyclical advantage fades and it returns to its familiar sub-China levels of growth, its politicians are unlikely to be so vainglorious.
Riaz Haq said…
Half the Kids in This Part of #India Are Stunted due to malnutrition, open defecation. #DigitalIndia #Modi #BJP

India is a vigorous democracy that has sent an orbiter to Mars. Yet its children are more likely to starve than children in far poorer nations in Africa.

In a remarkable failure of democracy, India is the epicenter of global malnutrition: 39 percent of Indian children are stunted from poor nutrition, according to government figures (other estimates are higher). Stunting is worse in India than in Burkina Faso or Haiti, worse than in Bangladesh or North Korea.

“The average woman in India ends pregnancy weighing less than the average woman in sub-Saharan Africa begins pregnancy,” Coffey writes in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The upshot is that many children are malnourished in the uterus and never recover.

The second new theory is poor sanitation, particularly open defecation. About half of Indians defecate outside without using toilets. The result is that children pick up parasites and chronic infections that impair the ability of the intestines to absorb nutrients — and 117,000 Indian children die each year from diarrhea, according to Unicef.

That may explain an anomaly: Infant mortality is lower for Indian Muslims than for Hindus, even though Muslims are poorer. One reason may be that Muslim villagers are more likely to use outhouses.

This is a life-or-death matter. Governments invest in tanks and fighter aircraft to defend their people, when the greater threat to their citizens comes from their own poop.

Still, few recognize the risk. Worldwide, far more people have access to mobile phones than to toilets. That’s because phones are seen as the higher priority. In the villages that Austin and I visited, villagers routinely had mobile phones, but very few had outhouses. Even fewer used them: It’s easy for aid groups to build latrines, harder to get people to use them.
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's #India saw religiously motivated killings, riots, forced conversion: US #ReligiousFreedom 2014 #beefmurder

India witnessed religiously motivated killings, arrests, riots and coerced religious conversions and the police in some cases failed to respond effectively to communal violence, according to the US State Department report on International Religious Freedom 2014.

In the India section of the Congressional mandated annual report released by Secretary of State John Kerry today, the State Department said that some government officials made discriminatory statements against religious minorities. "There were reports of religiously motivated killings, arrests, coerced religious conversions, religiously motivated riots and actions restricting the right of individuals to change religious beliefs," said the report.

It said that in some cases, local police failed to respond effectively to communal violence, including attacks against religious minorities, although local officials used broad authorities to deploy police and security forces to control outbreaks of religiously motivated violence. The local nongovernmental organisation (NGO) Act Now for Harmony and Democracy reported more than 800 religiously- motivated attacks from May through the end of the year 2014.

Citing Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Niranjan Jyoti's remarks at an election rally in Delhi, it said government officials reportedly made discriminatory statements against members of religious minorities. "After her remarks stirred several days of heated national condemnation and disrupted proceedings of parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in parliament that he 'strongly disapproved of the remarks' and 'we should avoid using such language'. Jyoti subsequently expressed regret for her remark," the report said. The State Department said there is restriction on free expression on basis of religion in India.

Authorities continued to enforce laws designed to protect "religious sentiments" which, according to observers, at times had the effect of limiting free expression related to religion, the report said. The State Department rued that hundreds of legal cases remained pending from violence during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The Nanavati-Mehta Commission on the 2002 riots ultimately released its Final Report on November 18. Some NGOs called into question the impartiality of the findings. Court cases related to the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha continued, resulting in convictions for persons responsible for the public rape of a nun during the riots. Displaced Kashmiri Hindu Pandits continued to seek redress for crimes committed against them and their houses of worship by Kashmiri insurgents in the 1990s, it said.
Riaz Haq said…
Digitally colonised?
But this huge show of support and the increased interest in India has caused some concern within the country.
"Is Digital India going to only make India a consumer of services offered by global tech companies in lieu of data? Personal data is the currency of the digital world. Are we going to give that away simply to become a giant market for a Facebook or a Google? Look at the way the tech world is skewed. Only China has been able to come up with companies that can take on these MNCs" Prabir Purkayasta, chairman of the Society for Knowledge Commons in India, told the BBC.
"The British ruled the world because they controlled the seas," he said. "Is India going to be content to just be a digital consumer? To being colonised once again?"

And in the aftermath of the Facebook townhall in particular, some talk has begun to surface about what Mr Zuckerberg's real India ambitions are.
Soon after the townhall ended, both Mr Modi and Mr Zuckerberg declared their support for digital India by using a special Facebook filter to tint their profile pictures in the tri-colour of the Indian flag.
Multitudes of Indians followed suit and timelines were awash with snazzy tinted profile pictures, all in support of "Digital India".
'Innocent mistake'
But then a tech website released what it claimed to be a portion of Facebook's source code, which allegedly "proved" that the "Support Digital India" filter was actually a "Support Internet.Org" filter.
Facebook quickly issued a denial, blaming the text in the code on an "engineer mistake" in choosing a shorthand name he used for part of the code.
But the "mistake" which has been coupled with a huge advertising blitz for Internet.Org across television channels and newspapers has raised suspicion about Facebook's motives. A Facebook poll on Internet.Org that frequently appears on Indian user timelines has also been ridiculed for not giving users an option to say no.
Instead the answer options to the poll question "Do you want India to have free basic services?" are "Yes" and "Not now". (now called free basics), aims to extend internet services to the developing world by offering a selection of apps and websites free to consumers.
Facebook's vice-president of infrastructure engineering, Jay Parikh has described the initiative as an "attempt to connect the two-thirds of the world who do not have access to the Internet" by trying to solve issues pertaining to affordability, infrastructure and access.
When Facebook launched the initiative in India in February, it was criticised by Indian activists who expressed concerns that the project threatened freedom of expression, privacy and the principle of net neutrality.
On the other end of the debate, Indian columnist Manu Joseph wrote in the Hindustan Times newspaper, hitting out at the "selfish" stand on net neutrality. He said concerns over the issue should be "subordinate to the fact that the poor have a right to some Internet".
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s economic recovery much slower than expected: BofA Meryl Lynch Trims GDP growth from 6% to 5.5% for 2015-16 …

Global financial services major Bank of America Merrill Lynch on Monday said Indian economy is recovering at a much slower-than-expected pace, but faster enough to overtake Brazil and Russia to become the second largest emerging market after China.

The firm on Monday also trimmed its growth forecast for India to 5.5% from 6% for the current fiscal, as per the old GDP series. As per the old series, the base year for calculation of national accounts was 2004-05.

“Is recovery happening? Yes, but even more slowly than we expected. At the same time, India’s relatively faster growth is allowing it to overtake Brazil and Russia in GDP to emerge as the second largest emerging market after China,” BofA-ML said in a note.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has now adopted the new series of National Accounts with 2011-12 as base year and subsequently revised the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate to 6.9% in 2013-14 from 4.7% and 5.1% in 2012-13 from 4.5%.

The RBI has also lowered its economic growth forecast for the current fiscal to 7.4% from its previous projection of 7.6%. The April-June quarter GDP slipped to 7% from 7.5% in the preceding quarter. “We have cut our GDP forecasts to 5.5% from 6% for 2015-16 and to 6.5% from 7% for 2016-17 (in the old GDP series) on poor rains as well as delays in global recovery and domestic lending rate cuts,” it added.

The global brokerage firm said that the coming months could see a consumption recovery largely driven by four factors -- softer lending rates, public sector salary hikes after the 7th Pay Commission, household savings on lower oil prices and a possible hike in wheat MSP before the early-2017 Punjab/UP polls.

On RBI rate cut, BofA-ML said, “We expect the RBI to cut another 25 bps in February after it meets its under-6% January 2016 inflation mandate.” Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan, on 29 September, effected a more-than-expected interest rate cut of half a per cent to boost the economy.
Riaz Haq said…
Ex #India Navy Chief "Forced to hang my head in shame": Letter Mukherjee, #Modi. #beefmurder #DalitKillings

Former Navy chief Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas has written an open letter to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemning the attacks on minorities and Dalits under the rule of the current government.

"The Hinduism I knew and experienced was gentle, inclusive, and filled with extraordinary diversity," writes Ramdas in the letter. "Today, as a veteran in my eighties, I am forced to hang my head in shame."

Ramdas, who won the Magsaysay award for peace, also emphasized how certain communities are being "singled out for special attention".

"Today, a Muslim has to prove his or her loyalty, and they are being repeatedly put in a situation where their places of worship are under attack, as indeed their eating habits, and other basic freedoms," writes Ramdas.
Riaz Haq said…
Fertility and Fate of Nations. #Modi, #BJP benefit from high birth rates in North #India The American Conservative …

India offers a startling example of this change, and its explosive political consequences. Half of that country’s component states now have sub-replacement fertility rates comparable to Denmark, or even lower. Meanwhile, some very populous states (like vast Uttar Pradesh or Bihar) retain the old Third World model. That stark schism is the essential basis for any understanding of modern Indian politics. As we might have predicted, the high fertility states are firmly and traditionally religious, and provide the base for reactionary and even fascist Hindu supremacist movements. Those currents are quite alien to the “European” low fertility states, located chiefly in the south, which tend to be secular-minded, progressive, and tolerant. Balancing those different regions would pose a nightmarish choice for any government, but the current Hindu nationalist BJP regime aligns decisively with the high fertility regions that provide its electoral bastions. The lesson is grim, but obvious: when you have to choose between two such distinct demographic regions, it is overwhelmingly tempting to turn to the one with all the voters, and all the young party militants. Invest in growth!


High-fertility eastern Turkey is of course much more religious than the secular west, and this is where we find the Qur’an Belt that so regularly supports Islamic and even fundamentalist causes. It simply makes electoral sense for the government to respond to the interests of that populous growing area, and to drift ever more steadily in Islamist directions.

But there is a complicating fact. Those fast-breeding eastern regions are also home to what the Turkish government euphemistically calls the “Mountain Turks,” but which everyone else on the planet calls “Kurds.” Turkey’s Kurdish minority, usually estimated at around 15-20 percent of the population, is expanding very rapidly—to the point that, within a generation or two, it will actually be a majority within the Turkish state. This nightmare prospect is front and center in the mind of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who a couple of years ago issued an apocalyptic warning of a national Kurdish majority no later than 2038. That date is a little implausibly soon, but the principle stands.

In the face of seemingly imminent demographic catastrophe, what can Turkey do? One solution is for the government to plead with citizens to start breeding again—even those western secularists—and to get the national fertility rate closer to 3 than 2. But since that outcome is highly unlikely, the government must resort to short term solutions, and to extol religious, Islamic identities over ethnicity. Ideally, a return to Islam might even provide an incentive for families to reassert traditional values, and to have more children. Alongside that policy, the government has an absolute need to suppress stirrings of Kurdish nationhood or separatism on Turkish soil.

From a demographic perspective, the Turkish government is going to find any manifestations of Kurdish identity terrifying, far more than even the hardest-edged Islamism. ISIS is an irritant; the Kurds pose an existential demographic threat.

And in large measure, that explains why Turkish jets are targeting the Kurdish PKK militias, rather than ISIS.
Riaz Haq said…
#China to End One-Child Policy, Allowing Families Two Children

Driven by fears that an aging population could jeopardize China’s economic ascent, the Communist Party leadership ended its decades-old “one child” policy on Thursday, announcing that all married couples would be allowed to have two children

The decision was a dramatic step away from a core Communist Party position that Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader who imposed the policy in the late 1970s, once said was needed to ensure that “the fruits of economic growth are not devoured by population growth.”

For China’s leaders, the controls were a triumphant demonstration of the party’s capacity to reshape even the most intimate dimensions of citizens’ lives. But they bred intense resentment over the brutal intrusions involved, including forced abortions and crippling fines, especially in the countryside.

Parents gathered at a “marriage market” at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing to seek spouses for their children. Xie Zuoshi, an economics professor, supports more flexible marital arrangements to address the surplus of bachelors.Sinosphere Blog: A Chinese Economist Responds to Critics of His Proposal to Let Men Share a WifeOCT. 27, 2015

The Chinese limit of one child for most families, which was enacted to slow population growth, has led to criticism.China to Ease
The efforts to limit family size also led to a skewed sex ratio of males to females, because traditional rural families favor boys over girls, sometimes even resorting to infanticide to ensure they have a son.

Thursday’s announcement was the highlight of a party meeting at which President Xi Jinping sought to display his control over a flagging economy after a jittery summer of tepid indicators, deepening skepticism about official data and a tumultuous slide in the stock market.

Yet while the decision surprised many experts and ordinary Chinese, some said it was unlikely to ignite either a baby boom or an economic one.

“Anything demographic, we always have to think in terms of decades in terms of long-term impact,” said Tao Wang, the chief China economist at UBS.

“It’s not about stimulating growth or consumption of baby powder next quarter or next year,” she said. “Will the birthrate go up? Yes. Will it somehow increase significantly? We don’t know.”

China eased some restrictions in the one-child policy in 2013, allowing couples to have two children if one of the spouses was an only child. But many eligible couples declined to have a second child, citing the expense and pressures of raising children in a highly competitive society.

The initial public reaction to the party leaders’ decision was restrained, and many citizens in Beijing who were asked whether they would grasp the chance to have two children expressed reluctance or outright indifference. Some, however, were pleased.

“Really, can you show me the news on your phone?” said Sun Bing, 34, the owner of a small technology store in Beijing, who had his 2-year-old son by his side.

“This is a good thing, and I’m very supportive,” he said. “I want to have a second kid in two years. But, of course, it’s not cheap to raise children.”


Liang Zhongtang, a retired demographer who has advised Chinese officials on population policy since the 1980s and has long argued that they should relax the one-child policy, said the change had come too late to make a big difference in the country’s population trajectory. He said he had pushed for such a change since the 1980s.

“It’s not just a problem of whether you permit ordinary people to have one or two kids. It’s about returning their reproductive rights to them,” Mr. Liang said in a telephone interview from Shanghai. “In over 200 countries and regions around the world, which of them nowadays controls people’s reproduction like this?”

Michael Forsythe contributed reporting from Hong Kong. Owen Guo, Vanessa Piao and Kiki Zhao contributed research.
Riaz Haq said…
Not all the #Hindus are Hindus! #India #Dalit #Adivasi #Jain #Caste #BJP #Modi

...The Rig-Veda says that the self-destruction of Purush, the primal man, brought human society into existence. The whole society was divided into four Varnas; the Brahmins, the Kashatrias, the Vaishias and Shudras. The Brahmins came out of Purusha’s head, the Kashatrias from his arms, the Vaishias from his thighs and Shudras from his feet. Different organs of Purush determined the metaphysically sanctioned social status of different Varnas in an inflexible hierarchy. Thus the Brahmins were declared the religious/intellectual leaders, the Kashtrias the warriors/rulers, the Vaishias the farmers/artisans/craftsmen, and Shudras the labourers/menial workers. This stratification initially was an outcome of racial and ethnic discrimination that ensued from the fair-skinned Aryans’ victory over the dark-skinned Harappa people, the ancient inhabitants of the Indus valley. Varna (Varn) means colour. The social division was colour-based imposed by the victorious fair-skinned to their advantage. The victors became the masters and the vanquished the slaves. In the Punjabi language we still use ‘Van’ with letter R dropped for colour. ‘Vano Van’ means of different colours. ‘Van Savann’ means colour diversity, and ‘kanak Vanna’ means the one whose skin colour is like that of wheat.

Historical evidence suggests that not all the locals were branded as Shudras. Class factor also played a role in determining the status of local persons as to which Varna they would belong. The wealthy and powerful Dravidians could join the club of upper Varnas on certain conditions by offering high value presents and a share of their wealth. At the other end of spectrum Aryans who happened to live at socio-economic fringes were pushed into Shudras’ enclosure. It surprises you when you come across the dark-skinned Brahmins and Kashtrias (some of the Rajputs for example), and the fair-skinned sweepers among the descendants of Shudras. The myth of racial purity proves hollow if examined empirically and critically.

Then there were large groups which remained outside the Aryan fold. They were the wretched of the earth, lower than Shudras in status and were generally known as untouchables. Since the Brahmins had pathologically been obsessed with the idea of ritual cleanliness, they declared all those who did supposedly polluting jobs, untouchables. The untouchables of today are descendants of Shudras and pre-Aryan indigenous communities who after being subjugated were forced to adopt the so-called polluting professions. This was in fact a politico-religious ploy to retain the power of the dominant Varnas. Varna system was based on the distinctions of colour. But later on the Aryan elite, religious and secular, evolved caste system which stemmed from Varna division of society. Caste system (Jati Dharma) within the loose framework of Varnas gradually re-aligned different social groups along the lines of their supposed descent and professions. And most menial professions were assigned to the untouchables who were not allowed to touch the higher castes. They in fact were required to stand at a distance while talking to their upper caste overlords. Dalits and Adivasi, the perennial flotsam of Indian society, form the bulk of the untouchables in the present-day India. Though culturally Indians, they are not Hindus if viewed from the perspective of upper castes. Their ways of eating, dressing and worshiping are different from those of upper castes which set them apart as people with a distinct identity, older than Brahminic hocus-pocus flaunted as a marker of Indian identity.
Riaz Haq said…
A Rebuke to #India’s Prime Minister Narendra #Modi. #BiharElections #BJP

In the months leading up to the Bihar election, hard-liners in the B.J.P. and organizations affiliated with the party stoked India’s long-simmering sectarian tensions. The party’s lawmakers pushed for beef bans around the country ostensibly to protect the cow, which many Hindus consider holy, but really as a ploy to divide Hindus and Muslims, some of whom eat beef.

Mobs riled by the anti-beef crusade have killed four Muslims suspected of slaughtering, stealing or smuggling cows in the last seven weeks. And in August, unidentified attackers shot and killed Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, a scholar and vocal critic of Hindu idolatry. Hundreds of writers, filmmakers and academics have protested the growing intolerance by returning awards they received from the government-supported bodies.

Mr. Modi has not forcefully condemned the beef-related killings, despite pleas by Muslims and other minorities. He has tolerated hateful and insensitive remarks by his ministers and by B.J.P. officials.

During a campaign stop in Bihar, Mr. Modi tried to exploit sectarian divisions by telling voters that the secular alliance would reduce affirmative action benefits for lower-caste Hindus and tribes in favor of “a particular community” — an apparent reference to Muslims. And the president of the B.J.P., Amit Shah, one of Mr. Modi’s closest advisers, told voters that a victory for the alliance would be celebrated in Pakistan, the Muslim-majority neighbor that has fought several wars with India since 1947.

Voters in Bihar saw through the B.J.P.’s attempts to divide them. They, like most Indians, are looking for leaders who will improve their standard of living. Bihar is one of the poorest states in India but has grown fast in the last 10 years under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is credited for cracking down on crime, building roads and increasing the enrollment of girls in schools.

Mr. Modi and the B.J.P. secured a majority in the lower house of Parliament last year with promises of economic reforms. Now, to push through those reforms, the party needs to win the control of the upper house, which is elected by state assemblies. It won’t win those elections unless Mr. Modi gets rid of the officials in his government and party who are fueling sectarian culture wars.

Meanwhile, there are things Mr. Modi could do administratively to improve the economy, like investing in education and health care and building infrastructure. Voters in Bihar have sent the B.J.P. a clear message. Mr. Modi should heed it.
Riaz Haq said…
#India #Censors: #Facebook Restricts More Content in #India Than Anywhere Else. #Democracy #FreeSpeech via @WSJIndia

Facebook blocked more items of content from its platforms in India than any other country in the first six months of this year, following requests from the South Asian nation’s government.

The world’s largest social network said Wednesday in its latest report on government data requests that from January to June this year, it granted requests from authorities in India for some 15,155 pieces of content to be blocked on the platform, its WhatsApp and Messenger apps and its photo-sharing app, Instagram.

That was more than triple the 4,960 items that were restricted in India during the same period last year, and accounted for some 73.7% of the more than 20,000 pieces of content restricted worldwide at the behest of 92 countries.

The requests to block the material in India were made “under local laws prohibiting criticism of a religion or the state,” Facebook said in the report. “We are not in a position to speculate on the reason for any increases or decreases in a particular country,” a Facebook spokeswoman said when asked about the increase.

An official at India’s Information Technology Ministry couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Turkey had the second-highest number of content restrictions, up 58% to 4,496 from a year earlier. France was in third, with 295 requests, up from 22 last year.

Meanwhile, Facebook said the U.S. topped the list of nations requesting user data. It logged 17,577 requests in the first half of 2015, up from 15,433 a year earlier. India was second with 5,115, up from 4,559 last year.

India is a key market for Facebook, the social network has 130 million monthly users there, second only to the U.S. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company is also eager to tap the country as a source for future growth.

Shut out of China, Facebook wants to connect more people in developing countries as Internet access and low-cost smartphones proliferate.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke at a town hall meeting in India last month, his second visit to the country in the past 12 months. “If you have a mission of connecting everyone in the world, you can’t do that without connecting India,” he said.

The social-networking site is popular among celebrities and politicians in India, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who regularly posts material to his page, which is “liked” by more than 30 million people.
Riaz Haq said…
Rs 1.14 lakh crore of bad debts in #India: The great government bank write-off by #Modi #BJP via @sharethis

Twenty-nine state-owned banks wrote off a total of Rs 1.14 lakh crore of bad debts between financial years 2013 and 2015, much more than they had done in the preceding nine years.
In response to an RTI application filed by The Indian Express, the RBI disclosed that while bad debts stood at Rs 15,551 crore for the financial year ending March 2012, they had shot up by over three times to Rs 52,542 crore by the end of March 2015.
Asked about the details of the biggest defaulters, whether individuals or business entities, whose bad debts to the tune of Rs 100 crore or more had been written off, the RBI said: “The required information is not available with us.” Banks are required to report the bad debts on a consolidated basis, it said.

Even as the government has been trying to shore up public sector banks through equity capital and other measures, bad loans written off by them between 2004 and 2015 amount to more than Rs 2.11 lakh crore. More than half such loans (Rs 1,14,182 crore) have been waived off between 2013 and 2015. Only two banks, State Bank of Saurashtra and State Bank of Indore, have shown zero bad debts in the past five years. In other words, while bad loans of public-sector banks grew at a rate of 4 per cent between 2004 and 2012, in financial years 2013 to 2015, they rose at almost 60 per cent. The bad debts written off in financial year ending March 2015 make up 85 per cent of such loans since 2013. -

The RTI reply also disclosed that bad debts have declined only four times since 2004. The last time was in 2011. An analysis of the information available with the RBI till 2012-13 also shows that between 2009 and 2013, both the advances by public sector banks to individuals and business entities as well as their amount of bad debts written off doubled. From 0.33 per cent of total advances in 2009, bad debts rose to 0.61 per cent in 2013. Bank-wise break-up shows State Bank of India, India’s largest bank, is way ahead of others in declaring loans as unrecoverable, with its bad debts shooting up almost four times since 2013 — from Rs 5,594 crore in 2013 to Rs 21,313 crore in 2015. In fact, SBI’s bad debts made up 40 per cent of the total amount written off by all other banks in 2015 and were more than what 20 other banks wrote off. In 2014 too, the bank’s bad debts alone comprised 38 per cent of the total of all banks. The figure of bad loans for 2014 and ‘15 combined, Rs 34,490 crore, was Rs 10,000 crore more than that for between 2004 and 2013, Rs 23,992 crore. The country’s second-largest public sector bank, Punjab National Bank, has also witnessed a consistent rise in bad debts since 2013. These grew by 95 per cent between 2013 and 2014 but climbed by 238 per cent between 2014 and 2015 — from Rs 1,947 crore in 2014 to Rs 6,587 crore in 2015. Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan has repeatedly expressed concern over the health of public-sector banks, and pushed for steps to ensure that banks classify certain stressed assets as non-performing assets (NPAs) and make adequate provisions to “strengthen their balance sheets”, besides working out schemes of merger. With public sector banks sitting on over Rs 7 lakh crore stressed assets, including NPAs and restructured loans, Rajan recently said the estimates of NPAs being 17-18 per cent are bit on the high side and that entities should be careful not to treat NPAs as total write-offs but see if they can change promoters and repay as the economy recovers. He also said that some banks would have to merge to optimise their use of resources. Gross NPAs of public-sector banks rose to 6.03 per cent as of June 2015, from 5.20 per cent in March 2015. RBI has asked banks to review certain loan accounts and their classification over the two quarters ending December 31, 2015, and March 31, 2016.
Riaz Haq said…
#Indian #Muslims in West Bengal poorer, less literate and less healthy than #Hindus …

Muslims, who form 27.01 per cent of West Bengal’s population, “constitute a very large proportion of the poor” in the State, Professor Amartya Sen said.

He was releasing a voluminous report on the condition of Muslims in West Bengal titled ‘Living Reality of Muslims in West Bengal.’

“The fact that Muslims in West Bengal are disproportionately poorer and more deprived in terms of living conditions is an empirical recognition that gives this report an inescapable immediacy and practical urgency,” Prof. Sen said, releasing the report with long chapters dedicated to education, health, economic conditions and gender of Muslims of Bengal who constitute a majority in 65 of 341 blocks in the State.

The survey — the most extensive one on Bengal’s Muslims — was carried out in 325 villages and 75 urban wards from a sample of 81 community development blocks and 30 municipal bodies. The 368-page report was produced by two Kolkata-based research organisations, Association SNAP and Guidance Guild, in association with Prof. Sen’s trust, Pratichi India.

Low literacy rate
Though the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has claimed to have played a significant role in the uplift of Muslims in Bengal since 2011, the report points to little improvement in areas such as literacy, health or participation in work. For example, Muslims have a literacy rate seven per cent lower than the State’s average.

“Around five per cent of those who discontinued education admitted lack of motivation as the factor behind dropping out of school as they did not see any future benefits from education,” the synopsis said. However, the report has not named any political party or held any government institution responsible.

In the health sector, the condition of, Muslims is no better and the report observes on the basis of State government data and field-level survey that “when Muslim population percentage increases in the blocks, the hospital facilities dwindle down.”

As a result “almost double the number of hospital beds is available in blocks with less than 15 per cent population share of Muslims in comparison with blocks having 50 per cent or above of (Muslim population).” Such discrimination is underscored in nearly every page of the report.

While in the entire report it was never said the ruling party in the State is responsible for the discrimination against the main minority of Bengal, it is expected to take political colour as it has been released only months before the Assembly elections.

Muslim bodies differ
One of the most well-spread cadre-based Islamic political organisation, Jama’at e Islami-Hind (JIH), West Bengal, which does not contest elections or is affiliated to any political party, believe that Muslims of Bengal have “moderately benefited” during the TMC rule. The media and public relations chief of JIH, Masihur Rahman, underscored how the minorities have benefited during TMC’s rule, without referring to the report.

“Firstly, the number of Muslim students clearing West Bengal Civil Services is much higher than in earlier years. It is 24 this year. Secondly, Aliah University, started during the Left’s time, was given a grant of Rs. 300 crore and many hostels for Muslim girls were built in the districts,” said Mr. Rahman.
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's siege on #JNU: #Hindutva's battle for #India's classrooms is out in the open via @qzindia

The clusterfuck that is the current row over Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is not really about Kanhaiya Kumar’s alleged sedition. It is merely one episode in a colossal tussle between the Left and Right over a prize catch: education, the shaping of the future citizen.

And there is apparently no place too low to go in pursuit of that quest.
The Indian state has criminally neglected education for decades. Despite plenty of primary schools, a Right to Education Act, and all the right policy noises, our education system is abysmal. Schools are often just empty rooms; teachers are absent or barely more literate than their students; a lack of infrastructure—from toilets to educational materials—hinders both enrolment and learning outcomes. Kids suffer the same social discrimination inside classrooms as they do outside.
Higher education has gotten more attention, and islands of excellence such as the Indian Institutes of Technology and JNU regularly produce people who do India proud. But in general, the absolutely crucial role of education in nation-building has suffered from an inexplicable lack of political backing.
Today’s central government, for all its dull-witted devotion to Vedic flying machines and cow urine, is sharply cognizant of the power of the classroom. And it will do all it can to capture it and cast it in its image. The Sangh Parivar is very clear about what kind of Indians it wants in India, and much more driven and organised in the pursuit of that aim.

Want a Hindutva nation that purges itself of “westernised”, “socialist” thinking? Catch ’em young and mould them.
Campuses are rich sources of leadership. You just have to take the campus as a place where people are exposed to new ideas and learn to think for themselves, and recast it as a boot camp. And if you can’t corral them into your way of thinking, intimidate them with the threat of violence.
The patriotism bogey

That project of re-educating India along Hindutva lines has been underway for much longer than two years. The RSS shakha is a potent classroom, and there are Hindu groups that enthusiastically train armies of children in the use of weapons and rhetoric to “fight ISIS” (read Muslims). This project has only picked up momentum since May 2014.
Narendra Modi’s right-leaning Hindutva government is deeply anti-intellectual, obscurantist, and regressive. Its ministers are comically incompetent, its public relations tone-deaf, and its instincts stone age.
Smriti Irani, India’s human resources development minister, wasn’t chosen for her progressive educational views. From the cultural chaperoning of Indian cinema-goers by the censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani to the ruckus at the Film and Television Institute of India over the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan to the mess at JNU, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going for the jugular of Indian education.
When, crying sedition, the home ministry waded into what should have been an internal university matter at JNU, it did so with naked strategy, wearing only a bikini of incompetence.
But however stupid and embarrassing this government may be, it is very good at replicating its thinking by stoking rage and hatred.
Riaz Haq said…
#Hindu Nationalist "Scholars" in #India demand that #Harvard U Press drop its well-respected editor. #Modi #BJP #JNU

The Murty Classical Library of India has been praised as an ambitious scholarly effort to make the classics of India available in the highest-quality English translations -- and to promote more study of those classics around the world. In the series, works are presented in their original languages (which include Bangla, Hindi, Panjabi, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu) with English translations on opposite pages. Hundreds of titles may eventually be published. An article in The Hindu in October said that "few intellectual and literary ventures have more transformative potential" for scholarship and understanding of India.

In what some fear is an escalation of demands from Hindu nationalists to control study of their country's history and culture, more than 11,000 scholars in India have in only a few days signed a petition demanding the ouster of the lead editor of the series, Sheldon Pollock, who is the Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies at Columbia University and generally considered a leading expert on the classic works of Indian civilizations.
Academics in the West are concerned not only about the petition but the reasons it gives. Pollock is criticized because he disagrees with some views of Hindu nationalists, because he is leading the project (which involves an international team of scholars) from the United States and because he recently signed a statement of scholars that defended students and faculty members at Jawaharlal Nehru University who are protesting the arrest of the president of the student union on sedition charges.
Effectively, say Western academics, their counterparts in India who are affiliated with the governing Bharatiya Janata Party are sending a message to the United States and elsewhere that professors who criticize the nationalist moves by the government will find themselves facing hostility or other obstacles to working on India. The petition is attracting widespread attention -- much of it positive -- in the Indian press.
Several scholars said they were deeply concerned but also afraid to speak out right now. Harvard University Press declined to comment. So did Pollock.

The debate over the Harvard University Press series comes at a time when some scholars in India whose views clash with nationalists report losing their jobs or their influence. Further, some American universities have been debating grants from Indian nationalist groups that some say go too far in letting those groups influence those who would be hired as scholars and teachers. The University of California at Irvine in February rejected grants for endowed chairs for this reason.
University presses, which both publish about and in India, have been the focus of debate previously.
In 2011, Oxford University Press ended publication in India of some essays that angered nationalists. After many scholars worldwide protested the move, Oxford reversed itself and said that it would publish the works in India. Among the organizers of a letter by scholars that was influential in getting Oxford to resume publication was Pollock, who is now editing the Harvard series.
Riaz Haq said…
In #India One Case Of Anti #Christian #Violence Every Day | Pray | Open Doors USA. #Modi #BJP #Hindu #Bigotry …

Attacks on Christians in India were reported on an almost daily basis in 2015, according to a Christian advocacy group.

“The country saw 355 incidents of violence, including 200 major incidents, during the last year,” Joseph Dias, convener of Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum, told World Watch Monitor. The forum’s report, released on Jan. 18, concluded that it is “not safe” to be a Christian in India.

The group reports that seven pastors were killed, several nuns were raped and hundreds of Christians were arrested under India’s anti-conversions laws. The report was released as 12 people, including a blind couple and their three-year-old son, were arrested in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh, under the state’s anti-conversion law, which forbids conversions through “allurement” or “force.” Seven of those arrested, including the blind couple, were released from custody on January 17, according to local pastor Suresh Mandlo.

Dias blamed the increase in incidents against Christians on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP.

“The rise of the BJP has emboldened the [Hindu nationalist] fringe groups,” he said. “They feel that they can treat the Christians as soft targets under BJP's patronage and protection.”

“Even the government is acting in a partisan manner,” added Dias, relating two recent high-profile cases involving foreign clerics.

In the first case, Sister Bertilla Capra, an Italian Catholic nun who had been working with leprosy victims for four decades, was denied the renewal of her visa. Then, authorities at the Chennai International Airport detained and subsequently deported Hegumen Seraphim, a Russian Orthodox priest.

The Russian embassy said the treatment of the priest, who was detained at the airport for seven hours and denied food, was “unacceptable.” The embassy’s statement added that, “Such disrespect, shown to a priest from a friendly country, goes against the spirit of mutual affinity and cooperation characteristic of Russian-Indian relationships.”

According to Dias, “all these incidents point to an organized targeting of Christians at different levels.” He added that “The hate speech is turning worse and the conversion rhetoric of the saffron family [Hindu fundamentalists] is vitiating the atmosphere and paving the way for atrocities,” he added.

Just days before the Catholic Secular Forum issued its report, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, claimed it had recently undertaken mass re-conversions of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. Praveen Togadia, the VHP’s international working president, reported on Jan. 8 that the VHP had reconverted more than 500,000 Christians and 250,000 Muslims in the last decade with its Ghar Wapsi, or homecoming, initiative. Two days later, VHP national general secretary Y. Raghavulu claimed that 800,000 Hindus were being converted to other faiths every year in India.

“The [VHP] claim to have converted Christians and Muslims to Hinduism is just to enthuse their cadres. Both [statements] are blatantly aggressive instances of hate to provoke violence,” Christian activist John Dayal told World Watch Monitor. “The statistics are products of feverish minds and a bankrupt ideology. Their real purpose is political—to arouse passions, sharpen polarization and target religious minorities, and especially the Christian community.”

Hindu fundamentalists, Dayal added, “want to criminalize Christian presence and social work as a conversion conspiracy by Western powers.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Islamophobic US Rep Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, being considered for job in #Trump admin. #BJP #Modi @alternet

To Gabbard, the fact that Syria and Iraq have been through years of brutal civil war, wrecked economies and massive displacement is irrelevant; the only reason they have an extremism problem is because of Islamic theology.

But the case of Tulsi Gabbard becomes less curious and more expected once you look at her links to a different set of ethnic and religious hardliners: the Hindu nationalist Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Since her election to Congress, Gabbard has tied herself closely to this party, which has a history of condoning hatred and violence against India's Muslim minority. Many of her stateside donors and supporters are also big supporters of this movement, which disdains secularism and promotes religious sectarianism.

Meet the Islamophobic BJP

In May 2014, the BJP swept the Indian election, and the man it made prime minister was then-governor of the state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. To say Modi is a controversial figure would be a considerable understatement. In 2002, huge riots broke out in his state, with primarily Hindu mobs attacking Muslim residents. Over 2,000 men, women, and children were killed, with many more injured; mass rape was also documented. Almost all of the victims were Muslim.

Investigations raised a single prominent question: why didn't Gujarat police intervene sooner to prevent the rapes and killings? Although Modi was never indicted, many including a senior police officer who testified before India's Supreme Court said Modi believed his region's Hindus should be allowed to “vent their anger,” and deliberately allowed the rioting to happen for some time before intervening.

Indeed, Modi's original response was unapologetic. “We have 18,600 villages," he told the New York Times. "Ninety-eight percent of Gujarat was peaceful. Is it not a credit for the administration, the government?" India's National Human Rights Commission listed several BJP figures who were accused of spurring on the violence, and noted they had yet to be arrested.

While he escaped repercussions at home, Modi faced them abroad. In 2005, the Bush administration issued a decision to deny Modi a visa to travel to Madison Square Garden to address a rally of supporters, citing a 1998 law that bars foreign officials guilty of “severe violations of religious freedom” from possessing visas. Modi was the first and only person ever denied a visa under this law.

Yet with all of this in the background, Modi was able to rally enough voters to sweep India's national elections. During his electoral campaign, he played down the events in Gujarat and embarked on outreach to the country's Muslim minority. Yet he failed to distance himself from his party's roots in Hindu nationalism and its opposition to measures such as quotas that are designed to combat India's rampant discrimination against Muslims. A recent New York Times article looks at how the party's ideological wing, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has made conversions of Indian Muslims and others to Hinduism a top priority. “We will bring back those who have lost their way,” said Mohan Bhagway, its leader. “They did not go on their own.” Many who have been part of these mass conversion ceremonies have reported being tricked by BJP offers of economic benefits.

Human rights advocates, including some in the United States, remain concerned about the BJP's governing role in India. Many believe the BJP will discontinue what few programs India has to protect its religious minorities while undermining its secular laws to promote Hindu nationalism. Yet at the same time, there has been a vigorous push-back from BJP allies in the U.S. who want to see such oversight gutted.
Riaz Haq said…
Global #Hindu Nationalists: Meet The Army Of #BJP's #NRI Supporters From #America, #Europe. In #election season, hundreds of #NRIs descend on #India to push for #Modi’s second term. #Elections2019 #Islamophobia

London-based software professional Santosh Gupta has taken a six-month break from his hectic work schedule—he is on a mission to secure a second term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ramesh Shah, 70, is also in India on the same mission, but separately. Both Gupta and Shah are part of the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), the ruling party’s foreign cell that has 25 chapters across the world. With just weeks to go for the first phase of the general elections, hundreds of such BJP supporters are campaigning in India or from abroad­—overseas warriors of the BJP’s vast army of supporters in the battle of ballots.

Gupta and his 30-member team are in India since November; they are among 300 professionals from the UK chapter in India. Last week, Gupta’s team visited a number of colleges and met with students in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. He is content with the positive feedback they are receiving, except from students of Jawaharlal Nehru University.


The United States chapter of the BJP is also capturing the imagination of the sizeable Indian community. Georgia-based medical professional Dr Vasudev Patel, who is in charge of the ground operations, says Modi made India more prominent in the world map.

Patel, who moved to the US in 1984, shares a personal rapport with Prime Minister Modi. “I have been working with Modi since 1975,” says Patel, who bel­ongs to Mehsana in Gujarat. The campaign is on full swing with ‘chai pe charchas’ being held on a weekly basis in at least 20 cities.

With the elections drawing close, Patel spends at least two hours on a daily basis to coordinate with social media and friends back home. “Every week, a group of at least 150 professionals gather at fam­ous places like World Coca Cola Centre or Times Square, make small videos on the Modi government and post it on social media,” he says. The US chapter, which boasts a membership of 6,000, also has a dedicated team that has been assiduously working to execute plans. Car rallies are also being held in various states to garner support of the Indian community.

Patel says that even senators and governors acknowledge India as a growing power, which wasn’t the case before. “We held a candle march after the Pulwama incident, in which thousands turned up. One senator also took part in the march without any invitation,” says Patel.

Ramesh Shah, who is currently touring villages in India, sums up why the diaspora community passionately bats for the BJP and Modi. Shah, who has been in India since last November, has visited villages in Jharkhand, Gujarat and a few other states. “No other leader connected with the diaspora the way our PM did. He inspires me to do more at this age,” says Shah, who hails from Aravalli in Gujarat. A US-based retired engineer, Shah campaigns along with his wife. “I feel powerful because of the strong leadership.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Korean-#American engineer claims discrimination by #Intel managers of #Indian origin. Indian manager “openly favored the hiring and promotion of only employees from #India, stating that ‘Indians work hard’ and ‘Indians are harder workers" #SiliconValley

Hoseong Ryu’s trouble at Intel started even before he began working there, he claimed in a lawsuit filed this week.

Ryu, 45, applied in 2014 for a software engineering job at Intel, and was interviewed by a three-man panel, according to his lawsuit filed in Northern California U.S. District Court. One interviewer at the Santa Clara semiconductor giant was originally from India, and he had a question for Ryu, the suit claimed.

“I see you are from Korea,” the man allegedly said. “I know a Korean man named Sung Won Bin. Do you happen to know him?”

After the meeting, the man told a fellow interviewer that Intel shouldn’t hire Ryu because he was “Korean, married, and had a child,” and added, “It would be easier to hire a younger, unmarried Indian man,” the suit alleged.

Still, Intel hired Ryu onto its system integration team, where he found “the demographics of the worksite and its management have been heavily skewed toward employees from India or people of Indian or south-Asian descent,” the suit claimed.

One manager in his team, of Indian origin, “openly favored the hiring and promotion of only employees from India, stating that ‘Indians work hard’ and ‘Indians are harder workers,'” the suit alleged. That manager also encouraged a supervisor to hire only Indian employees, the suit filed Wednesday claimed.

Intel said it does not comment on pending litigation. But a company spokeswoman said a diverse workforce and inclusive culture are key to the company’s progress. “We believe diverse teams with different perspectives, experiences and ideas are more creative and innovative, resulting in a collaborative and supportive environment,” spokeswoman Patricia Oliverio-Lauderdale said.

In 2018, a new chief of the system integration team was to be appointed, according to the suit. Ryu had been a de facto manager of the team for some 18 months, but the position was awarded to a system debugger originally from India who had “no management experience and had significantly less experience with system integration than Ryu,” the suit alleged.

Ryu’s suit claimed that Intel’s system integration team management also favored Indians in granting vacation.

“Most employees who are not Indian or south-Asian receive only two to three weeks of vacation or leave per year. But employees who are originally from India or of Indian descent typically receive additional leave time and sometimes receive as much as five or six weeks of leave per year,” the suit claimed.

Ryu claims he was the victim of racial discrimination and discrimination on the basis of national origin, and that he suffered emotional distress and damage to his reputation. He is seeking unspecified damages.
Riaz Haq said…
#India's smartphone shipments plummeted 48% YoY in Q2, a big blow to #Modi's #DigitalIndia initiative to attract foreign #tech investments. #COVID19 #Lockdown #coronavirus via @businessinsider

Smartphone shipments in India fell to 17.3 million units in Q2 2020, representing a precipitous 48% year-over-year (YoY) decline, according to Canalys. The Canalys report suggests that the decline was due to lack of supply more than lack of demand: More than 96% of smartphones sold in India had been assembled domestically, but manufacturing facilities suspended operations during the coronavirus lockdown that began in March and lasted through mid-May.

Xiaomi and Oppo — which together accounted for 43% of Q2 2020 shipments in India — began importing smartphones from China to India to bolster the limited supply. Coronavirus cases have soared in India since the lockdown ended, particularly in dense urban areas, according to The New York Times. And the economic impacts of the lockdown will not easily be reversed, considering nearly 10 million migrant workers relocated back to villages during the economic stoppage, and an estimated 500,000 of those individuals traveled by foot or bike, sometimes for hundreds of miles, according to Brookings.

The rapid decline in smartphone shipments will disrupt the Indian government's efforts to grow the digital economy. As outlined in the Digital India initiative, India's economic development is predicated on growing the base of smartphone users to expand internet access, which is intended to attract foreign investment in the tech sector. Only 40% of India's 1.3 billion residents currently have internet access, per eMarketer.

The slowdown in smartphone shipments represents a significant disruption to India's digitization trajectory, and the prospects of a recovery are slim to none through the remainder of 2020. This will hinder Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Self-Reliant India" initiative, which aims to use tariffs and subsidies to encourage companies to employ workers in India if they want access to the massive digital consumer market.

India will now be further reliant on big tech companies to accelerate digitization by subsidizing resources needed for internet access. Tech giants have played a central role in expanding internet access within India, as they are often willing to subsidize internet and devices in a bid to grow market share. For example, Jio, the largest wireless carrier in India by subscribers, made its JioPhone "effectively free" in India as the initial payment of Rs 1,500 ($20) would be refunded after three years of service.

Jio offers data for as cheap as Rs 199 ($2.60) per month — we believe Jio will further subsidize plans, as this can expand the market for the super app it is developing in partnership with Facebook. Facebook even tried to give internet access away for free in India under its Free Basics program, but the government intervened on net neutrality grounds, as the service would have only given users access to 80 websites sanctioned by Facebook.

Just last week, Google agreed to purchase a $4.5 billion stake in Jio, and the companies intend to develop an entry-level 5G smartphone aimed at upgrading 350 million people in India who currently use 2G phones. The Indian government will likely look more favorably towards these sorts of initiatives as the coronavirus has disrupted its digitization timeline, and big tech will be given greater leeway to expand access to its services through subsidies as a result.
Riaz Haq said…
VPN firms are removing servers in India to avoid customer data sharing rule

NordVPN’s decision follows similar directions taken by ExpressVPN and SurfShark, both of which have removed servers in the country. It’s unclear how popular VPN services are in India, but on their sites the aforementioned firms say they are used by millions of users worldwide.


“Our Indian servers will remain until 26 June 2022. In order to ensure that our users are aware of this decision, we will send notifications with the full information via the NordVPN app starting 20 June. As digital privacy and security advocates, we are concerned about the possible effect this regulation may have on people’s data. From what it seems, the amount of stored private information will be drastically increased throughout hundreds or maybe thousands of different companies. It is hard to imagine that all, especially small and medium enterprises, will have the proper means to ensure the security of such data,” she added.

The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, the body appointed by the government to protect India’s information infrastructure, unveiled cybersecurity guidelines in late April that will require “virtual private server (VPS) providers, cloud service providers, VPN service providers, virtual asset service providers, virtual asset exchange providers, custodian wallet providers and government organisations” to store customers’ names, email addresses, IP addresses, know-your-customer records and financial transactions for a period of five years.


Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the junior IT minister of India, said in a press conference last month that VPN providers who wish to conceal who uses their services “will have to pull out” of the country. The government, he said, will not be holding any public consultation on these rules.

The new rules also mandate firms to report incidents of security lapses such as data breaches within six hours of noticing such cases. Following pushback from advocacy groups, Chandrasekhar said last month that India was being “very generous” in giving firms six hours of time to report security incidents, pointing to nations such as Indonesia and Singapore that he said had stricter requirements.

“If you look at precedence all around the world — and understand that cybersecurity is a very complex issue, where situational awareness of multiple incidents allow us to understand the larger force behind it — reporting accurately, on time, and mandatorily is an absolute essential part of the ability of CERT and the government to ensure that the internet is always safe,” he said.

Popular posts from this blog

Pakistani Women's Growing Particpation in Workforce

Olive Revolution: Pakistan Joins International Olive Council

Bill Gates and BMW Back Pakistani-American Mujeeb Ijaz's Battery Startup