India's Top Cheerleader Fareed Zakaria Acknowledges the Ugly Truth About His Native Land

In "Post-American World" published in 2011, CNN GPS host Fareed Zakaria described India as a "powerful package" and claimed that his country of birth has been "peaceful, stable, and prosperous". It all changed on March 7, 2021, when Zakaria finally spoke out the ugly truth about his native land. "A central thrust of the government's illiberalism relates to its efforts to promote Hindu nationalism, singling out India's Muslim minority", said Zakaria. In a rare moment of candor, he even came close to acknowledging India's military occupation of Kashmir when he said: "In 2020, Kashmir's (Freedom House)  score plummeted. Currently, it is rated as "not free," on par with dictatorships and police states". 

Freedom House 2021 Democracy Map. Source: Freedom House

While it was the first time that Zakaria used his global platform as CNN GPS host to criticize India, it seems that Prime Minister Modi's rule has been a source of great consternation for him. Speaking with Indian journalist Shekhar Gupta on The Print YouTube channel last year, Fareed Zakaria called the Indian state an “inefficient state”.“Indian government functions very poorly, even in comparison to other developing countries. Coronavirus has highlighted that reality, " he added. He did not clearly speak about the lynchings of Indian Muslims by people affiliated with the ruling BJP and the brutality of Indian military against Kashmiri Muslims, but he did ask: “What I wonder about (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is, is he really bringing all of India along with him? He noted sadly:”India seems like roadkill for China".

Has New Delhi's abject failure in containing the coronavirus pandemic finally done what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's extreme brutality and open hatred against Zakaria's fellow Indian Muslims could not do? Has he really had it with Hindu Nationalist government? While he has not used his perch on CNN to do it, it appears that he has started expressing his disapproval of the performance on other platforms.

 Here are a few of the key points Fareed Zakaria made while speaking with Shekhar Gupta:

1. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Indian government, and by that I mean the Delhi government, has handled this crisis (COVID19) very poorly.

2. Indian government functions very poorly, even in comparison to other developing countries. Coronavirus has highlighted that reality.

3. In a way, India seems like roadkill for China’s obsession with absolute control over their borders. I do think there is an opportunity here for diplomacy. I don’t think India needs to be confrontational about it (the LAC issue), but of course it should push back.

4. It is now a bipolar world. US and China are way ahead of the rest of the world. For the long term, India needs to decide it’s position with China.

4. Turkey under Erdogan has become more confident and independent. It is culturally proud. It is telling Americans to buzz off.

5. Popularity of political leaders around the  world is linked to their performance on the coronavirus pandemic. In India, however, the issues of religion and caste are still dominating.

6.  What I wonder about (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is, is he really bringing all of India along with him? How many Muslims in Indian government? Or South Indians in BJP? It is much less diverse than Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet.

7. I have been very sad to see how Indian democracy has developed over the last few years. It has become an illiberal democracy.

8. The India media is slavishly pro-government. Self-censorship is widespread in India.

9. The Indian courts fold in cases where government takes serious interest.

It has become increasingly clear that India's loudest cheerleaders like Fareed Zakaria are now starting to see the stark reality of Modi's India as a big failure on multiple fronts. Indian state has failed to contain the deadly COVID19 pandemic. India's economy is in serious trouble. The country's democracy is in decline. India seems like a roadkill for China. This turn of events has created serious problems for Pakistani "liberals" who have long seen and often cited India as a successful example of "secular democracy" at work in South Asia.

Here's a video clip of Zakaria's March 7, 2020 show where he criticized India:

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Riaz Haq said…
#American Historian Audrey Truschke faces threats, Rutgers University extends support to her. Some students, mainly #Hindu, allege that the historian was defaming #Hindus due to her ‘inherently prejudiced views’. #Hindutva #Modi #India via @scroll_in

Truschke, who teaches South Asian history at Rutgers University, is the author of Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court, Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India’s Most Controversial King, and most recently, The Language Of History: Sanskrit Narratives Of A Muslim Past, which explores ancient Sanskrit texts and their perspectives on Indo-Muslim rule and the Deccan sultanates.

Her most well known and controversial work remains to be Aurangzeb, in which Truschke offers a perspective on the public debate over the Mughal emperor, who is often condemned as the cruelest king in Indian history, and makes the case for why his often-maligned legacy deserves to be reassessed.

Aurangzeb, a Muslim ruler, is widely thought to have destroyed thousands of Hindu temples, forced millions of Indians to convert to Islam, and enacted a genocide of Hindus. In the book, Truschke uses extensive research to argue that his life and history do not match his current reputation.

The book generated fierce backlash in India, particularly from Hindutva groups, making Truschke the target of intense hate speech and slander on social media, which has only worsened over the years. The author also faced calls to ban Aurangzeb and even to ban her from India.

After the renewed backlash on Monday, the author said she had to block over 5,750 Twitter accounts after enduring an “avalanche of hate speech, anti-Muslim sentiments, misogyny, violent threats,” and even “things endangering” her family.


A group called “Hindus on Campus” on Twitter, which describes itself as a student-led initiative to create “a safe space for diaspora Hindus to share their experiences with Anti-Hindu bigotry”, has launched a petition on social media against the historian.

It alleged that Truschke, in her tweets, falsely linked Hindus with extremists and white supremacists rioting at the US Capitol Hill, and claimed that the Bhagavad Gita “rationalises mass slaughter” and violence. The Hindutva community further accused the historian of tweeting that Hindu deity Ram was a “misogynistic pig”, while she “whitewashed Hindu genocide by Mughal king Aurangzeb”.

The group demanded that Truschke be disallowed to teach a course that involves materials related to Hinduism and India “due to her inherent prejudiced views”.

Further, the Hindus on Campus demanded that the Rutgers University publicly condemn her “for causing trauma to Hindu students, alumni, and the Hindu community”. It sought the university to give a platform where Hindu students can bring in faculty and researchers “who can provide realistic representations of Hinduism and India”.

The Rutgers University rejected the submissions made by the group. “Scholarship is sometimes controversial, perhaps especially when it is at the interface of history and religion, but the freedom to pursue such scholarship, as Professor Truschke does rigorously, is at the heart of the academic enterprise,” the institute said.

At the same time, Rutgers “emphatically affirms its support for all members of the Hindu community to study and live in an environment in which they not only feel safe, but also fully supported in their religious identity”, it said.

The institute said it was initiating dialogues to understand the sentiments of the Hindu community on campus, and “create a context that honors our complexity, while allowing us to do the difficult work of constructive and healthy engagement among our diverse community”.

After all, our academic excellence is inseparable from our diversity of perspectives and voices, Rutgers said.
Riaz Haq said…
Professor Audrey Truschke of Rutgers University speaking at a rally outside United Nations Headquarters on Nazi origins of Hindu Nationalism and Hindutva.

"The Party of BJP openly adhere to Hindutva. Hindutva was inspired in its early days by Nazism, the real historical Nazis, about a hundred years ago. Early Hindutva spousers openly admired Hitler. They praised Hitler's treatment of Jews in Germany as a good model for dealing with India's Muslims".
Riaz Haq said…
There it is. India is now coded as an “electoral autocracy” by V-DEM

The world’s largest democracy turned into an electoral autocracy:
India with 1.37 billion citizens.

As noted above, India recently lost its status as an electoral
democracy and its LDI declines from 0.57 in 2010 to 0.34 in 2020,
following the government led by Prime Minister Modi placing
restrictions on multiple facets of democracy such as civil society
and free speech (see box on India and tables at the end of this
report for details).

Riaz Haq said…
After 13 quarters of gdp decline, #Modi is putting lipstick on a pig but the fact is India is now behind even #Bangladesh . Meanwhile, #India’s #Hindutva leaders are more concerned about who Indians marry rather than why they are not working. #Islamophobia

by Aakar Patel

The problem did not begin with Covid; it existed much before that. Growth began declining from January 2018 and has declined sequentially, meaning every quarter since then. The government has tried to tweak some of the numbers, something that Americans refer to as “putting lipstick on a pig” but to no avail. It is sequential decline over three years. The India growth story is over and has been over for a few years now. You can make all the speeches you want but you cannot argue against 39 straight months of slowing.

Speaking loudly of competing with China and America but then falling behind even Bangladesh’s per capita GDP does not inspire confidence. The fact is that even without the lockdown we were in crisis, a word that is used loosely but can be said to be accurate here. The government has no idea why the economy began to stall from January 2018. There are theories from the outside, but they are not discussed or debated in government — who will tell the King that his rule is incompetent? Nobody, unless they want to lose their head (or at least their job) and so we continue to bumble on, along the same path that has brought us to this disaster.

The signs of our decay are all around us. Work that has left China because of Trump’s trade war and Covid has not come to India but to Vietnam and Bangladesh. Our neighbour has crept ahead of us in per capita GDP because its exports (powered by high-labour intensive garment manufacturing) are growing while ours have not grown since 2014. We have six years of zero growth in exports. It is also ahead because it has much higher participation of women in the labour force.

In India, the patriarchy is more concerned about who Indians marry rather than why they are not working. India is the most dangerous place for women in the world. According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation World’s Most Dangerous Countries for Women, we were at fourth place in 2011 and then fell to last place in 2018, where presumably we remain. The low participation of women in the workforce has many complex reasons, but the failure of the State and indeed the inability of this current government to stop the slide further, is also responsible.

We have more of the same to look forward to in 2021. We will not see the economy pick up but we will see more bombast from the government about how well we are doing. The enormous hole in the economy that was created in the first quarter of last year (April-June) because of the lockdown will have been filled over the last few months. When results for the same quarter year on year appear sometime in the middle of 2021, Modi will exclaim that we are the world’s fastest growing economy and pretend that the 25% increase is not just the filing up of a hole he himself created but some miracle he has delivered to the Indian economy.

The Economist reported that Mukesh Ambani’s wealth rose 350% in 2020 and Gautam Adani’s rose over 700%, but we are at record unemployment, which is hovering around the 9% mark. And it is not higher still only because many crore Indians have removed themselves from the job market. Those who are not employed and not actively looking for work are not considered unemployed. The real figure could be approaching 15% and perhaps even higher than that.

On every conceivable metric that you can think of, from bank credit growth, to automobile sale, the revelation is not only that there is no India growth story but there is a decline that has set us back years, perhaps a decade. And yet the triumphalism carries on.

Riaz Haq said…
#India reports year's biggest #Covid_19 daily spike of the year on Saturday, with 24,882 infections, boosting the caseload to 11.33 million. India's COVID-19 deaths rose by 140 to 158,446, compared to an average of about 100 since early February.

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India reported its biggest daily spike in COVID-19 of the year on Saturday, with 24,882 infections as a resurgence since last month continues.

The new cases mark the highest 24-hour figure since December 19, according to health data, boosting the caseload of 11.33 million, now third after United States and Brazil, which has overtaken India, according to recent data.

India's COVID-19 deaths rose by 140 to 158,446, compared to an average of about 100 since early February.

India's caseload had been falling steadily since peaking in late September, but increased social gatherings and travel has caused a spike since early February, even as the country has started to vaccinate its vast population.

Maharashtra state, yet again the nation's epicentre of fresh cases, has imposed fresh lockdowns in several districts.

About 3,000 police will be deployed to enforce a week-long curfew and lockdown in the central Indian city of Nagpur from Monday after a 60% jump in coronavirus cases there, officials said on Friday.

The government is running a nationwide immunisation campaign aiming to vaccinate a fifth of the country's 1.3 billion people by August.
Riaz Haq said…
Edward Luce
"...India, which is jailing its opposition leader on a trumped up defamation charge; Netanyahu, who wants to quash Israel's independent courts; & Mexico, where Obrador aims to end free & fair elections. With pals like these, democracy needs no foes." Me.

President Joe Biden’s second summit for democracy, which is taking place this week, is both virtual and surreal. Among the participants are India, which is in the process of jailing opposition leader Rahul Gandhi on a trumped up defamation ruling; Israel, whose leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, wants to shut down judicial independence; and Mexico, whose leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is trying to end free and fair elections. With friends such as these, democracy hardly needs enemies.

Biden’s aims are noble, and it is noteworthy that neither Hungary nor Turkey, regarded in Washington and western Europe as illiberal democracies, was invited. But the president’s means are open to doubt. According to V-Dem, a Swedish research institute, almost three quarters of the world’s population now live in autocracies against less than half a decade ago. That vertiginous shift justifies the term “democratic recession”.

It is difficult to believe a liberal democratic Russia would have invaded Ukraine. It is equally hard to imagine the people of an autocratic Ukraine fighting as fiercely for their freedom as they are doing now. It is thus reasonable for the US to think that spreading democracy is in its national interest. The problem is that America is not very good at it.

Nowhere has the US expended more guns and butter than in the Middle East. The democratic returns have been almost uniformly negative. The Arab world’s only recent convert, Tunisia, was recently lost to a coup d’état. Israel’s democracy, meanwhile, hangs in the balance. That is without mentioning the fact that the Jewish nation state is not exactly democratic with the Arab territories it occupies.

Sarah Margon, whom Biden named to lead his administration’s efforts on democracy and human rights, withdrew her name in January after senators objected to her criticisms of Israel. Having a record of arguing for democracy seems like an odd rap against the person whose job that will be.


As India’s foreign minister, S Jaishankar, put it last year: “Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems.” What Jaishankar really meant, of course, was the west as a whole. But he was careful to exclude the US, just as Biden is careful not to mention India’s democratic backsliding. Each needs the other to counter China.

Here it gets even muddier. India’s treatment of its Muslim minorities is arguably as bad as China’s policies in Xinjiang. The US State Department has labelled the latter “genocide” — the gravest charge possible. Yet barely a peep is heard from Washington about what is going on in Kashmir.

When the west can be bothered to listen, the global south’s consistent refrain is for more dollars to help their shift to clean energy, better infrastructure and modern healthcare. Which of the two great powers, China or the US, helps the most is likeliest to shape their political future and foreign policy alignment. One of the by-products of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is that it has brought this pressing question to the fore.

Biden’s White House is trying to come up with a coherent US approach to the global south, but officials admit it is a work in progress. China has pumped more money into the developing world than all the west combined — with both good and bad effects. Whether the Malis, Cambodias and Bolivias of this world become democracies lies in their hands. The best way of nudging them down that path is to lecture less and listen more.

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