Modi's Hypocrisy on Full Display at Davos 2018

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in support of globalization and talked of his commitment to diversity in his country.

Modi's Rhetoric:

Prime Minister Modi warned that "forces of protectionism are raising their heads" against international trade and commerce. "Bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations have come to a kind of standstill," he said.

He also praised his country's commitment to democracy and diversity. "For a society with diverse religions, cultures, languages, attires and cuisines, democracy is not just a political system but a way of living," he said, adding that inclusion is the "main principle" of his government.

Is Modi living up to the ideals of globalization and diversity that he spoke of in his Davos speech? Let's compare these words to his government's actions.


In December 2017, Modi's government imposed stiff tariffs on imports of cellphones, video cameras and televisions, according to a report in New York Times.

The Indian government is also seriously considering a recommendation by Indian Directorate General of Safeguards, Customs and Central Excise that the country impose 70 percent tariffs on imported solar panels.


Mr. Modi has pursued Hindutva politics and policies in spite of warnings by leading economists, including Ragu Rajan, Arun Shourie and analysts at Moody's. These have created a lot of fear among religious minorities and Dalits.

But Mr. Modi has built his entire political career on the intense hatred of  Muslims. US President Donald Trump built his successful presidential campaign on Islamophobia and xenophobia. That's what the two men have in common.

 India's largest state of Uttar Pradesh elected rabidly anti-Muslim chief minister Yogi Adiyanath who was hand-picked by Muslim-hating Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017.

Just as white racists form the core of Trump's support base in America, the Modi phenomenon in India has been fueled by Hindu Nationalists whose leaders have praised Adolph Hitler for his hatred of Jews.

M.S. Golwalkar, a Hindu Nationalist who Mr. Modi has described as "worthy of worship" wrote the following about Muslims in his book "We":

 "Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”

"To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's actions do not match his rhetoric on globalization and commitment to diversity.  His government's protectionist trade policies and treatment of minorities speak far louder than his words at the World Economic Forum  Davos, Switzerland.

  Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Hindu Nationalists Love Nazis

A Conversation With White Nationalist Jared Taylor on Race in America

Lynchistan: India is the Lynching Capital of the World

Modi and Trump

Anders Breivik: Islamophobia in Europe and India

Hindu Nationalism Goes Global

Hindutva: The Legacy of the British Raj


Riaz Haq said…
#India's #GDP "Growth (under #Modi) has dipped below the 30-year average" Economist Kaushik Basu. #ModiAtDavos

The former Chief Economic Adviser on India’s current slowdown in economic growth and the mix of policies needed to reignite it
In a career spanning more than four decades, economist Kaushik Basu has donned many hats. He was Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India (2009-2012) and Chief Economist of the World Bank (2012-2016). At present, he is Professor of Economics and the C. Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, U.S. He is also President of the International Economic Association for a three-year term (2017-2020). A prolific author, Mr. Basu explains why demonetisation was a bad idea and the need for the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

You have been a vocal critic of demonetisation and its intended purpose. Do you think its immediate effects are behind us? And, conversely, if there are increased digital transactions and tax scrutiny, as claimed, will that eventually lead to more growth?
I believe that demonetisation’s worst effects on the economy are behind us now. I do not think it will confer any long-run benefits in terms of digitalisation because that is a slow, natural process. There is no way that an emerging economy like India, with more than half the population still living in the informal sector, can leapfrog advanced economies and get there by a simple policy intervention. The main damage of demonetisation is to India’s reputation as a professionally run economy, since it was an uncalled-for jolt to the market.

You have been a consistent supporter of the other major reform, the GST. Is the current multi-tiered GST design optimal, considering that much of the voiced distress comes from small businesses? The textile sector, for example.
The GST was needed and I am glad that the government managed the political process to get it through. But it has been poorly implemented. For such a large policy shift, the planning and implementation design should have been much better. Also, it should not be too multi-tiered, which is both inconvenient and makes one wonder if this is a sign of sector-specific cronyism. Once we go past these teething troubles, the GST should aid efficiency and growth.

Has the Narendra Modi government leveraged the historic mandate it received, in terms of economic policy? Is there scope for further reform, which could possibly be seen in the Union Budget to be presented soon?
The broad policy continuity that we have seen in India — the GST, the effort to manage fiscal policy in ways similar to what happened before 2014 — is India’s strength. Yes, as always, a lot depends on the Budget, and we are all waiting to see what new initiatives are announced. But in fairness to the Ministry of Finance, India’s challenge is not a matter of fiscal policy alone. India’s economy is doing poorly on several fronts. Consider exports — they have dragged, with India’s trade deficit with China growing rapidly. Exports did seem to grow well from April to November last year, with an annual growth of 12.3%. But it was a time when several emerging economies did well and India’s performance fell short of many other nations, like Indonesia and Vietnam whose exports grew by 16% and 24%, respectively. I believe that India’s long-term prospects are very good, but to get out of the current morass, it needs a professionally designed combination of fiscal, monetary and international trade policy initiatives.
Riaz Haq said…
The #India that #Modi sold at #Davos isn’t quite the India we live in. #ModiAtDavos via @qzindia

Silence and violence
So is the case with the fractures in Indian society.

One of the key issues the Indian prime minister sought to highlight was that of terrorism. “As dangerous as terrorism is, the artificial distinction being made between good terrorist and bad terrorist is more dangerous,” Modi said.

This assertion, perhaps pointing at Pakistan’s dilly-dallying with sections of the Taliban and Kashmir-focused militant groups, seems a little off in the Indian context, not the least under Modi’s watch.

India, of course, is no stranger to religious or caste-based strife.

However, since he took power in 2014, incidents of Hindu right-wing aggression, both online and offline, have gained momentum. Yet, the prime minister and senior leaders of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have mostly turned a blind eye towards those indulging in such violence—sometimes even tacitly backing them.

The argument could also be extended to Modi’s claim of “inclusiveness” followed by his government.

“In 2014 after 30 years, Indian voters provided complete majority to any political party to form a government at the centre. We took the resolution for the development of everyone and not just a specific group. Our motto is sabka saath sabka vikas,” Modi said at Davos, referring to his campaign motto that roughly translates to “Support for everyone, development for everyone.”

However, many would counter him on this front, too, not just on the basis of his government’s and colleagues’ public stances but also his own personal approach.

In the Gujarat legislative elections late last year, for instance, his party used outright toxic rhetoric against non-Hindus and Dalits. And Modi, as prime minister, spearheaded such bigotry. In campaign mode, he hasn’t shied away from gaining electoral dividends by sharpening religious divides.

At other times, when serious crimes were committed against non-Hindus, he chose a piercing silence.

Speaking at Davos, Modi quoted Rabindranath Tagore, the venerated poet who espoused universalism and striving for an India that was “a heaven of freedom where the world is not divided by narrow domestic walls.”

It is ironic then that the Nobel laureate himself would likely be branded an anti-national today—not the least by Modi’s own partymen.

Riaz Haq said…
At the other end of town in #Davos, a senior #Chinese diplomat helped introduce the prime minister of #Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at a breakfast meeting. #WEF18

DAVOS, Switzerland (NYTIMES) - US President Donald Trump used the World Economic Forum meeting to woo investors and business leaders by reassuring them that "America first does not mean America alone".

But it was clear in Davos, Switzerland, this past week that geopolitical momentum lay with Beijing, not Washington.

At one end of town, President Michel Temer of Brazil welcomed an unexpected offer from Beijing for Latin American nations to work closely with a Chinese initiative, known as the Belt and Road, intended to spread its economic and diplomatic influence abroad.

At the other end of town, a senior Chinese diplomat helped introduce the prime minister of Pakistan at a breakfast meeting. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi used his talk to praise the rapidly expanding Chinese investments in his country, including to build power stations and a large port.

One of the best-attended speeches at the forum was that of Liu He, a member of China's ruling Politburo, who promoted the Belt and Road initiative, also known as One Belt, One Road. Participants here said the Chinese initiative was already rivaling more established, traditionally American-led, international institutions.

"The China One Belt, One Road is going to be the new WTO - like it or not," said Joe Kaeser, chief executive of Siemens, the German industrial giant, referring to the World Trade Organisation.

Belt and Road takes its name from the idea that Beijing is spreading its influence along the ancient Silk Road that once linked imperial China to the Roman Empire and to the medieval Europe of Marco Polo. But that was not the only push to extend its presence abroad that Beijing was trying to showcase.

On Friday, the Chinese government used a policy document issued in Beijing to call for a "Polar Silk Road" that would link China to Europe and the Atlantic via a shipping route past the melting Arctic ice cap.

Belt and Road has been a centrepiece of the foreign policy of President Xi Jinping, and his promises of a "China Dream" of restoring his nation to past greatness. Unveiled in Kazakhstan in 2013, Belt and Road started as a plan to revive economic, investment and diplomatic links across Central Asia.

The plan gradually extended to include the Mideast, Europe and eastern Africa, with Beijing promising hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in highways, rail lines, ports, power stations and other infrastructure, much of it through loans from Chinese state-owned banks.

Critics have been sceptical that projects bankrolled through the initiative will bury the recipients in debt and cause considerable environmental damage. It has also been criticised as an easy line of financing for authoritarian regimes. China says its projects will be environmentally and financially sound, and that it does not seek a say in how other countries are governed.

While Davos was underway, China was making other efforts to stretch the geographical ambitions of its Belt and Road initiative even further.

At a summit meeting for Latin American and Caribbean foreign ministers in Santiago, Chile, Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China called for close cooperation and participation by the region's countries, although he stopped short of formally including them in the initiative.

In Davos, Temer of Brazil said that he was not concerned about the rising influence in South America of China, which has increased investments in his country and extended enormous loans to Venezuela and Ecuador.
Riaz Haq said…
Why has the Reserve Bank of #India Killed the #Indian #Economy? #Modi #India #Achhedin #BJP … via @thewire_in

The RBI’s relentless high interest rates are killing the new entrepreneurial class and has forced India’s growth rate to fall below the average of the past 30 years.

In an interview Kaushik Basu gave to The Hindu on January 24, the former chief economic adviser to the government of India pointed out that when all the recent massaging of India’s growth statistics is filtered out, India’s growth rate has now fallen below the average of the past 30 years. Quite obviously far from bringing back ‘achhe din’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken the Indian economy back to something that is beginning to look dangerously like the “Hindu rate of growth” in a new saffron avatar.

What is responsible for this? The short, blunt answer is the exorbitantly high interest rate regime imposed by the Reserve Bank of India almost eight years ago to curb a short spasm of inflation, which was then maintained relentlessly by a succession of its governors in the face of a pusillanimous finance minister irrespective of how much inflation has fallen.

This has killed Indian industry.

Today, the sum total of non-performing loans has reached the terrifying figure of Rs 9,50,000 crore, or $1.4 trillion. Worse still, Rs 1,140,000 crore of capital has been wasted on what the government euphemistically calls ’stalled’, but which are in reality abandoned projects. And worst of all, no fewer than 500 companies that had invested this money are now facing bankruptcy proceedings, and will have their remaining assets sold off at a fraction of their value in the next few years.

Indian industry is dead. Demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) have killed off a large part of the unorganised sector. This will gradually revive, but the RBI’s relentless high interest rates are killing the new entrepreneurial class that had come into being economic liberalisation in the 1990s and 2000s.

Why is the RBI doing this? What model of banking is it aspiring to emulate? To understand this, it is necessary to understand the history of the RBI. A recent, racily written, book by well-known economic journalist TCA Srinivasaraghavan gives insights that help understand its motivation. TCA points out that banking grew out of the need of the rulers to finance war. This gave bankers an early ascendancy over the State that they misused for two centuries before the Wall Street crash of 1929. That, and the Great Recession that followed, forced the United States and European governments to create a lender of the last resort, i.e a central bank that would not only backstop, but also control, all other banks but itself be controlled by the government.

Therein lay the rub. For governments were no less capable of abusing their power to create money than the banks that they set out to tame. This sowed the seeds of a conflict between central banks and governments that ended in Britain, with the Bank of England wresting full control of money supply from the treasury after the ‘Black Monday’ financial crash in 1992, but has still not ended in India.
Riaz Haq said…
Uncovering a ‘humble’ chaiwallah’s billion-dollar lifestyle
It could put every fat cat in Power Delhi and Khan Market to shame even as taxpayers foot Narendra Modi’s astronomical, wasteful bill.

For starters, if the country’s humble prime minister really wants to lead by living a life of humility and austerity—in deference to the millions of poor and impoverished people he constantly refers to with such touching sympathy—he could perhaps exit from his grand, five-house official residence in the intoxicating world of Lutyens’ Delhi, that not only takes up the entire road, but is spread over 12 acres, in the leafy boulevards of the Capital state. While the layout of the five-mansion residence is secret for security reasons, there are private quarters, guest rooms for visitors, and accommodation for family members, apart from salons to entertain. It’s all run efficiently by a staff of over 50 gardeners, chauffeurs, housekeepers, cooks, and electricians. There are barbers, hairdressers and tailors on call, apart from doctors and nurses on duty round the clock with a state-of-the-art fitted ambulance on stand-by. It’s a household expense that runs into crores of rupees.

Imagine if humble Modi had downsized his personal quarters to a functional minimum, not necessarily outside Lutyens’ zone but in a more modest house—hasn’t he tired of telling the world how he works a punishing 20-hour work schedule, barely sleeping for three-four hours? It would have sent a slap to the slothful and entitled Lutyens’-Khan Market gang he so reviles, and would have also revealed the prime minister’s true beginnings of not just being a chaiwallah’s son (the fable flip-flops from Modi being a tea-seller to being the son of one) but as an ascetic RSS pracharak too, brought up on a rigid and rigorous discipline of life.

I suppose it takes a lot of money to keep Modi humble and poor.

If there are five bullet-proof BMW sedans to ferry him around in the city—though he’s reportedly switched to Range Rovers—there’s Air India One, the plush Boeing 747 jumbo jet, which Modi uses whenever he flies on official visits abroad. It made sense to have the jumbo when prime ministers ferried officials, business delegations, and a sizeable media contingent on tours. But a media-averse Modi travels without them, and with only a bare minimum of officials. As RTI queries have revealed, Air India has sent a whopping bill of ₹443.4 crore for the PM’s trips abroad so far, on aircraft maintenance and setting up a secure hotline, though the airline is yet to calculate the expenses for Modi’s trips to five more countries stretching from Argentina to Japan. The Prime Minister’s Office has declined to give any calculation on Modi’s domestic trips, saying it does not keep an account of it.

Now, couldn’t the humble PM opt for a business jet, with less opulence and luxury, and save taxpayer’s money? Instead, the poor and humble PM has splashed out on his trips abroad with an astronomical bill of ₹2,021 crore in the last five years, which amounts to ₹400 crore a year. His fans say that previous prime ministers too blew up similar amounts of money, but aren’t we dealing with a frugal and ascetic RSS pracharak today?

But Modi’s vanity doesn’t end here: it’s in the publicity sweepstakes that expenses have blown through the roof. As RTI queries reveal, Modi spent nearly ₹4,400 crore on publicity alone (footed by the government and taxpayer) in just four years, until 2018, to bolster his image along with the schemes launched by him. Unfortunately, reports on the performance of the schemes fade in the blaze of Modi’s publicity blitzkrieg. In election year now, the mind boggles with the campaign bill, as reports say Modi’s BJP got 94 per cent of election bonds issued (running into ₹210 crore). Its Facebook and other social media is a multi-million dollar industry.

Riaz Haq said…
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took India to task on Thursday for calling Pakistan “the epicentre of terrorism”, saying India “demonises the people of Pakistan” to hide its Hindu-supremacist ideas.

The FM’s comments came minutes after his Indian counterpart had accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists, including Osama bin Laden.

In his speech at the Security Council, the Indian minister had said that “India faced the horrors of cross-border terrorism long before the world took serious note of it” and has “fought terrorism resolutely, bravely and with a zero-tolerance approach".

Bilawal hit back at the comments saying “I am the foreign minister of Pakistan and Pakistan’s foreign minister is a victim of terrorism as the son of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif when he was chief minister of Punjab, his home minister was assassinated by a terrorist. Political parties, civil society, the average people in Pakistan across the board have been the victims of perpetrators of terrorism.”

“We have lost far more lives to terrorism than India has,” he added questioning why Pakistan would ever want to perpetuate terrorism and make “our own people suffer”.

“Unfortunately, India has been playing in that space […] where it is very easy to say ‘Muslim’ and ‘terrorist’ together and get the world to agree and they very skilfully blur this line where people like myself are associated with terrorists rather than those that have been and to this day are fighting terrorism,” he continued.

The FM then went on to say that New Delhi perpetuated this narrative not just against India but also Muslims in that country. “We are terrorists whether we’re Muslims in Pakistan and we’re terrorists whether we’re Muslims in India.”

“Osama bin Laden is dead,” said Bilawal, “but the butcher of Gujarat lives and he is the prime minister of India”.

“He [Narendra Modi] was banned from entering this country [the United States],” he continued, “these are the prime minister and foreign minister of the RSS [a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation]”.

“The RSS draws its inspiration from Hitler’s SS [the Nazi Party’s combat branch, Schutzstaffel],” Bilawal added.

The FM went on to point out the irony in the inauguration of Gandhi’s bust at UN headquarters by the Indian FM and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “If the FM of India was being honest, then he knows as well as I, that the RSS does not believe in Gandhi, in his ideology. They do not see this individual as the founder of India, they hero-worship the terrorist that assassinated Gandhi.”

“They are not even attempting to wash the blood of the people of Gujarat off their hands,” said Bilawal, lamenting that the “Butcher of Gujarat” was now the “Butcher of Kashmir”.

“For their electoral campaign, Prime Minister Modi’s government has used their authority to pardon the men who perpetuated rape against Muslims in Gujarat. Those terrorists were freed by the prime minister of India,” said Bilawal.

“In order to perpetuate their politics of hate, their transition from a secular India to a Hindu supremacist India, this narrative is very important,” said Bilawal, claiming Pakistan had “proof” that Modi’s government had facilitated a terrorist attack in Pakistan.

The minister was referring to the “irrefutable evidence” Pakistan had of the involvement of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in the blast at Johar Town, Lahore last year as three terrorists had been arrested.

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