Modi Co-opting Chandrayaan-3 Success For Hindutva Propaganda?

Well before India's Chandrayaan-3 landed on the moon on August 23, India's "Godi Media" started showing split screens with the landing craft’s animated image (no pictures or live video) alongside a photo of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was clearly meant to give him exclusive credit for ISRO scientists' major accomplishment after their decades-long hard work. This Hindutva propaganda has echoes of Adolf Hitler’s use of the 1936 Berlin Olympics to promote his Nazi ideology.  It is boosting the morale of the hateful Hindu supremacist trolls unleashed by the BJP “IT cell” on social media. It is easy to conclude that the Chandrayaan is now essentially a prestige project for the Hindu Nationalist government in New Delhi. Funding such projects is easier for politicians than implementing social sector programs to uplift hundreds of millions of poor and hungry Indians who are deprived of the most basic necessities. 

Chadrayaan3-Modi Split Screen Godi Media Propaganda

It is clear that Mr. Modi wants to claim credit for the moon landing but he refuses to take responsibility for high unemployment and widespread malnutrition in the world’s largest population living in extreme poverty in India. Nor does the Modi regime accept the blame for millions of preventable COVID19 deaths in India in 2020-21. This is what Princeton economist Professor Ashoka Mody, the author of “India is Broken”,refers to as India’s “lived reality”. Here's an excerpt from Mody's book: 

"The grim reality is that, to employ all working-age Indians, the economy needs to create 200 million jobs over the next decade, an impossible order after the past decade of declining employment numbers.1 Right from independence, the Indian economy produced too few jobs. For more than 80 percent of Indians, the informal sector employment became the safety net, where workers idled for long stretches, earning below- or barely-above-poverty wages. Demonetization in 2016, a poorly executed goods and services tax in 2017, and COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 struck hammer blows on the informal sector while creating no new options. Indeed, technology accelerated job destruction, especially in retail and wholesale trade. More Indians just stopped looking for work. Set against this bleakness, many pundits and leaders look back to celebrate and draw hope from India’s high GDP growth rates of the 1990s and 2000s. That celebrated celebrated growth, however, was an outcome of unusually buoyant world trade, rampant natural resource use, and a domestic finance-construction bubble. Even as wealthy Indians accumulated astonishing riches, job creation remained weak. The most severe forms of poverty came down, but still afflicted over 20 percent of Indians; another 40 percent lived precariously, ever at risk of falling back into a dire existence. The median Indian lived in that vulnerable zone—and, looking through a government-induced data fog, still lives there. The unchanging problem through the post-independence years has been the lack of public goods for shared progress: education, health delivery, functioning cities, clean air and water, and a responsive and fair judiciary. Along with scarcity of jobs, the absence or poor quality of public goods makes the lived reality of vast numbers."

India Ranks Low on Social Progress Indicators. Source: Economist 

India ranks 110 among 170 countries on the Social Progress Index (SPI), according to a dataset published by the Social Progress Imperative, a non-profit organization. The Social Progress Index combines 52 social and environmental indicators. 

Over 75% of the world's poor who are deprived of basic living standards (nutrition, cooking fuel, sanitation and housing) live in India compared to 4.6% in Bangladesh and 4.1% in Pakistan, according to a recently released OPHI/UNDP report on multidimensional poverty.  Here's what the report says: "More than 45.5 million poor people are deprived in only these four indicators (nutrition, cooking fuel, sanitation and housing). Of those people, 34.4 million live in India, 2.1 million in Bangladesh and 1.9 million in Pakistan—making this a predominantly South Asian profile". 

Related Links:

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Riaz Haq said…
AAP Ka Mehta 🇮🇳

Ravish Kumar in his Style Exposes PM Modi and BJP's efforts to steal the credit from scientists on the success of #Chandrayaan3

While Lander was close to landing, PM Modi appeared on screen and captured half of the screen..

When the Landing was successful, PM Modi again captured the screen space and started addressing the Nation before the Scientists could celebrate.
Ken said…
How ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 got helped from NASA and ESA

Since the launch of the Chandrayaan-3 mission on July 14, we have been receiving a remarkable display of international collaboration. Ground stations from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) are providing support to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) during its moon mission. Global backup support is crucial during space missions and this especially applies to spacecraft landing. In India, ISRO operates a 32-meter deep space tracking facility that plays a crucial role in locating, tracking, and communicating with its remote spacecraft.

However, there are instances when ISRO needs to communicate with or track a spacecraft that's positioned outside the coverage area of this antenna. Constructing new large antennas and control centers worldwide is a costly endeavor. To solve this, ISRO sought assistance from partner organizations. This approach not only proves cost-effective but also promotes collaborative efforts in international space exploration. Know how NASA and ESA are collaborating with ISRO in the Chandrayaan-3 mission:

ESA's Contribution:​
ESA ground stations on Earth have stayed connected with the spacecraft to ensure its successful operation. ESA is playing a pivotal role in the Chandrayaan-3 mission. It is utilizing its ground stations within the ESTRACK network to closely monitor the spacecraft's journey. Two ground stations, the ESA's 15-meter antenna in Kourou, French Guiana, and the 32-meter antenna at Goonhilly Earth Station in the U.K., have been employed to track the satellite, receive telemetry data, and relay commands between ISRO's Mission Operations Centre in Bengaluru and the Chandrayaan-3 satellite.

With the lunar landing attempt set for August 23, the ESA has further extended its support by deploying its 35-meter deep space antenna in New Norcia, Australia. This antenna will be critical during the Lunar Descent phase. It will provide real-time information about the Lander Module's health, location, and trajectory. These valuable scientific data will be received by the ground stations Kourou and Goonhilly and will be forwarded to the ISRO.
NASA's Involvement:​
NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) has been instrumental in providing telemetry and tracking coverage during Chandrayaan-3's powered descent phase. The network's DSS-36 and DSS-34 stations at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, followed by DSS-65 at the Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex, are assisting in receiving crucial data from the spacecraft.

Riaz Haq said…
#UK being taken for a ride! #India lands on #moon after taking £2.3bn in UK #aid over five years
The UK paid India £2.3billion in overseas aid to India between 2016 and 2021 - even though Britain's economy is a fraction of the size. #chandaryaan3 #Modi

14:25, Wed, Aug 23, 2023 | UPDATED: 21:21, Wed, Aug 23, 2023

On the day India landed a spacecraft near the south pole of the Moon, a Brexiteer has asked why Britain continues to pay foreign aid to the world's second-most populous nation - having handed over £2.3billion between 2016 and 2021.

On Wednesday (August 23), India landed a spacecraft in uncharted territory which scientists believe could hold vital reserves of frozen water and precious elements, as the country cements its growing reputation in space and technology.

However, while many, including the UK Space Agency (UKSA) itself, offered warm congratulations, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib was more concerned about the fact that Britain is still paying money to a nation whose economy dwarfs our own.

He told "It is odd, to put it mildly, that the UK gives increasing amounts of aid to India, a country with a space programme and an economy bigger than our own.

"Kemi Badenoch may think the aid will make her job getting a trade agreement easier, but it will not.

"They will take the aid, bank it and drive negotiations without any recognition of our generosity.

"Neither can the UK afford it. It should not have escaped the FCDO that we are in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis. Our finances stretched.

"Instead of spraying aid around the world, perhaps HMG could instead cut our taxes?"

"People speak of the soft power that providing aid gives the UK. It is a quaint but wrong notion.

"The £100 million given to India over three years will do nothing for India, will not be recognised and will not improve the UK’s standing one jot.

"Like so much of government expenditure, our foreign aid is being wasted."

The £2.3 billion of aid spending between 2016 and 2021 consists of £441 million in bilateral aid, plus £1 billion of investments through BII, £129 million in FCDO investments, and £749 million through multilateral channels such as the World Bank, according to publicly avaiable figures.

Figures uncovered by the Taxpayers’ Alliance last year indicated Britain spent more than £112million in 2021 on foreign aid projects in India and Pakistan - where almost £12million went towards a scheme promoting various contraception methods.
Riaz Haq said…
Nayini Anurag Reddy
- India lands on the Moon, #Modi appears on the screen.
- #Players win medals, Modi's smiling picture on a banner.
- Students return from #Ukraine, Modi takes credit.
- Indians get #Vaccination, Modi's picture on the certificate.
- #Army does its job, Modi politicises it.

On the other side, Manipur burns, but he remains silent. Demonetisation fails, he disappears. Farmers die in protests, he doesn't care. The value of the Rupee falls, he runs away. Prices of essential fuels rise, he acts unbothered.
Riaz Haq said…
Animated Clip Of Blue Moon Lander Viral As Chandrayaan-3 Landing

An animated video showing a lunar lander landing on the moon is viral on the internet as a footage of Chandrayaan-3's Vikram lander, which landed successfully on the lunar South Pole on August 23, 2023.

BOOM found these posts to be false; the video going viral is actually an animated clip of the unmanned Blue Moon lander, made by American aerospace and defence company Blue Origin.

Following the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, the internet has been flooded with false claims around the mission, along with the individuals involved in it. BOOM has fact-checked multiple claims on old or unrelated videos and images being falsely linked to the mission.

A user shared the video on Facebook Reels, with a Hindi text caption, that translates to English as, "Today India will make history. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat." Click here to view the reel, and here to view an archive version.

We also found the same video being shared on YouTube, with captions claiming it to be a footage of the successful landing of the Chandrayaan-3 mission.

BOOM ran several keyframes of the video on Google's reverse image search, and came across several articles about a large lunar lander called Blue Moon, made by Jeff Bezos-owned aerospace and defence company Blue Origin.

Blue Moon is a series of lunar landers, that have been designed to carry both cargo and humans to the Moon, and are being developed by Blue Origin, along with other companies like Boeing, Draper and Lockheed Martin.

The articles contained images of the lander, which matched the lander in the viral video.

One of the search results was a document by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) providing Lightweight Surface Manipulation System overview for Blue Origin landers.

We compared the image of the Blue Moon lander from the NASA document, and found it to be an exact match with the lander in the viral video (see comparison below).

Taking cue from this, we did a Google search with the keywords "animated video Blue Moon landing", and came across a YouTube video titled, "Meet 'Blue Moon' - Blue Origin's Lunar Lander Animated", uploaded on May 10, 2019.

Looking through the video, we found that the viral video has been made by extracting several clips from this animated video.

We also found the exact same video uploaded on the official YouTube channel of Blue Origin.
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's #Hindutva diplomacy is hurting #India's image. #Hindu nationalist attitudes are alienating other nations. #RSS, #BJP’s ideological parent, openly advocates Hindu supremacy, resulting in hate crimes against #Christians & #Muslims. #Islamophobia

Just weeks ago, Indian diplomats had to douse diplomatic fires across the subcontinent after Modi inaugurated a new parliament building that featured a mural map of India, commissioned by the Modi government, that showed the country’s borders stretching from Pakistan in the west to Bangladesh in the east, gobbling up Nepal and Bhutan. In case anyone had doubts, lawmakers from Modi’s BJP lauded the mural for its representation of Akhand Bharat, a Hindu right-wing conceptualization and ideological goal of an undivided India.

India’s neighbors were horrified at this casual trampling of their sovereignty. Pakistan protested. The Ministry of External Affairs said the mural was not depicting Akhand Bharat but “the spread of the Ashokan empire.” The first to contradict this was, among others, Modi’s own Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, who tweeted a photo of the map and said, “The resolve is clear—Akhand Bharat.”

Foreign minister S. Jaishankar, now a frequent presence on Indian Instagram and YouTube videos for his brusque responses to criticism, swat Islamabad off in trademark fashion, saying he does “not expect Pakistan to understand.”

The explanation was enough to set hyper-jingoistic social media feeds ablaze. But Kathmandu and Dhaka, traditional friends of New Delhi, were equally mortified. Both asked for explanations. Former Nepali Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai warned that the mural issue would “stoke [an] unnecessary and harmful diplomatic row,” with the potential for “further aggravating the trust deficit” between the two neighbors. In Kathmandu, Mayor Balen Shah, a young populist politician, cocked a snook at the mighty neighbor and published a map of “Greater Nepal” that included Indian territories. Under domestic pressure, Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, on the eve of his India visit, said he would raise the issue with Modi. On his return, Prachanda said that even though the Modi government had “clarified” that it was a cultural map, “further study” needed to be done in the issue.

This mural controversy came just weeks after the United States made public that Modi’s BJP and Hindu nationalist groups affiliated with it were propping up demands by Nepali Hindu groups to ditch Nepal’s secular constitution and turn it into a Hindu state. The disclosure, made in the U.S. State Religious Freedom report launched by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in May, also recorded Nepali civil society actors saying that Modi’s BJP could even be funding some of the organizations driving this demand.

India’s domestic media, mostly submissive toward the Modi government, ignored the report, but foreign capitals have taken note. There is growing recognition that these instances are damaging India’s standing globally even if few might be willing to say it aloud.

“The rise of Hindu nationalism within India will have an impact on India’s global image, no doubt,” said Aparna Pande, the Washington, D.C.-based director of the India Initiative at the Hudson Institute. She added that some of India’s actions in the recent past have been “damaging” to its interests, especially in its immediate neighborhood.

“The ideology or the belief of the ruling party in Delhi has historically not been allowed to impact foreign policy. It did not matter if we had a socialist government or one that backed free-market policies, because foreign policy was insulated,” she said.

Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's #Hindutva diplomacy is hurting #India's image. #Hindu nationalist attitudes are alienating other nations. #RSS, #BJP’s ideological parent, openly advocates Hindu supremacy, resulting in hate crimes against #Christians & #Muslims. #Islamophobia

This, though, is changing.

In 2019, the Modi government amended the country’s citizenship laws to fast-track citizenship applications of non-Muslim refugees from the neighboring Muslim-majority countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Leaders from the BJP made statements, without any pushback from the party or Modi, that threatened to “send back” the “illegal Bangladeshi Muslims,” referring disparagingly to the economic immigration, often undocumented, by Bangladeshis into India. In a rare show of its anger with New Delhi, Dhaka canceled scheduled visits by its ministers to India.

Local conflicts can play into the Indian government’s fierce nationalism. Last year, violent clashes between newly arrived Hindu immigrants and Muslim residents rocked the English city of Leicester. Police investigations found, according to the Daily Mail, that Hindu nationalist “elements close to Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party” were suspected to have played a key role in inciting them. The Modi government issued an unusually partisan response, condemning the violence and singling out “symbols of Hindu religion” as the target of the attack.

Five months later, in February this year, the Modi government unleashed a series of tax raids on offices of the BBC across multiple cities. The sudden raids came just weeks after the BBC released a documentary that investigated the role of Modi during the 2002 riots in his home state of Gujarat, which killed 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.

Ian Hall, a professor of international relations at Griffith University and the author of the book Modi and the Reinvention of Indian Foreign Policy, said the Modi government had been trying to tread a fine line by “sometimes using anti-Muslim language at home to mobilize voters while trying to maintain positive relations with Muslim states,” he said. “There is no doubt that outbursts of anti-Muslim rhetoric and attacks on Muslims in India cause problems for New Delhi, both in the Muslim world and in the West.”

These problems come in different forms.

In London, a foreign-policy expert who asked not to be named said there were many within the U.K. Foreign Office who were “petrified” and “worried” about doing business with Modi’s government, but also acknowledged the “overriding strategic concerns” that brought them closer.

India’s geopolitical significance as a counterweight to China in the region might ensure that criticism for its actions may not be too vocal, but that still won’t give India a free pass, said Kira Huju, a fellow in international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“Western capitals are compelled by geostrategic imperatives in the Indo-Pacific to seek India’s cooperation, but they may well have gone further in these pursuits, had they not harbored deep reservations about domestic developments in India,” Huju said.

Some of this pushback was on display during Modi’s recent U.S. visit.

Media reports said that despite Modi’s insistence on not holding a press conference, the Biden administration pushed on after a marathon negotiation, ensuring that their guest did not leave without fielding questions from the press. Pande, from the Hudson Initiative, said the U.S. insistence on the press conference was a not-so-subtle message from the Biden administration.

Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's #Hindutva diplomacy is hurting #India's image. #Hindu nationalist attitudes are alienating other nations. #RSS, #BJP’s ideological parent, openly advocates Hindu supremacy, resulting in hate crimes against #Christians & #Muslims. #Islamophobia

When a U.S. journalist posed a question to Modi, infamous for not having addressed a single press conference in his nine years as PM, pro-Modi trolls, including Modi’s own leaders, viciously attacked her online and highlighted her Muslim roots. The attacks were so vicious that the White House stepped in, called it “unacceptable” and saying that administration officials “absolutely condemn” the attacks, which the spokesperson said were “antithetical to the principles of democracy … on display during the state visit last week.”

Huju said that even former U.S. President Barack Obama’s CNN interview during Modi’s trip, in which he implicitly criticized Modi’s Hindu nationalist politics, was possibly “coordinated” by the Democratic administration in the White House to send a message across to the Modi government.

Closer to home, India’s brand of politics is rankling friendly regimes, too.

Shahab Enam Khan, a Dhaka-based academic and a Fulbright professor at the U.S. University of Delaware, said that many within the Sheikh Hasina regime, traditionally close to New Delhi, were “uncomfortable” with the Modi government’s actions.

This anger against Modi and his government spilled over onto the streets in 2021, when the Indian prime minister visited Bangladesh. Angry protesters clashed with security forces, leading to the death of at least 10 people, and dozens injured.

“In Bangladesh, Hindutva is also perceived to be one form of extremism. Hence, many here are questioning India’s right to criticize other forms of extremism,” Khan said. “In fact, many here are now comparing the centrality of religion in India’s politics to the centrality of religion in Pakistan’s politics,” he said.

In Kathmandu, an anti-India brand of politics has been brewing afresh in the recent years, and the recent mural controversy only added to it. When Prachanda—the Nepali PM, an avowed lifelong atheist and leader of the country’s Maoist movement—visited India in June this year and performed a six-hour long ceremony at the Mahakaleshwar Temple in the city of Ujjain, many in Kathmandu were left aghast.

“Many here felt that this temple visit could not have been Prachanda’s choice; it was possibly hoisted on him by the Indian government,” said a Kathmandu-based geopolitical analyst and chief of a think tank, who did not wish to be named.

Analysts warn that allowing the Hindutva agenda to fray New Delhi’s traditional neighborhood ties could be dangerous for India.

“India’s neighbors are its first layer of security. India and its neighbors are in a dependence relationship—you can push it a bit, but you can’t break it,” Pande said.

According to Pande, the “entire ecosystem created” by actors belonging to and aligned with Modi’s BJP has “ensured that domestic politics now has greater impact on foreign relations with our neighbors than our foreign policy does.”

This was evident even in Modi’s visit to Johannesburg to participate in the BRICS summit between Aug. 22 and 24. The Daily Maverick, a local newspaper, reported that Modi “refused to get off his aircraft” on arrival, to protest the South African government deputing a cabinet minister to receive him.

Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's #Hindutva diplomacy is hurting #India's image. #Hindu nationalist attitudes are alienating other nations. #RSS, #BJP’s ideological parent, openly advocates Hindu supremacy, resulting in hate crimes against #Christians & #Muslims. #Islamophobia

The story went viral in India, shared widely by Modi’s critics. Hours after it was published, the Daily Maverick tweeted that it had faced a “massive” cyberattack by Indian servers, ostensibly “to deny the people of India access to this story,” and hence was blocking access to its website for Indian users. The government of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa rubbished the news report but did not react to the cyberattack. While the attackers did not reveal their identity, Modi’s party has been known for its proficient use of information technology.

This brand of muscular nationalism will have damaging effects for India’s foreign interests, analysts said.

Bangladesh’s Khan agreed, pointing to a comment by then-BJP chief and now India’s Home Minister Amit Shah referring to undocumented migrants from Bangladesh as “termites,” which remains widely remembered in Dhaka.

“The rise of nonsecular narratives [and] the rise of religious nationalism will destabilize the region because you are fueling toxic nationalism across the region,” Khan said. “It is inevitable that the more hyper-religious nationalism emerges in India, the greater political instability there will be in the region.”

Huju, the London School of Economics fellow, said that even the nature of Indian diplomacy, through the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), was at stake as a result of the Modi government’s assertive Hindu nationalism.

“Should there be a third BJP term, we are looking at lasting institutional changes to the way that the IFS is governed and culturally imagined,” she said.
Riaz Haq said…
Views of India Lean Positive Across 23 Countries
Among Indians, Modi and India’s global influence are viewed favorably

Next week, political leaders are gathering in New Delhi for the annual G20 summit, the first ever to be held in South Asia. As international attention is drawn to India, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that views of India are generally positive across 23 countries.

A median of 46% of adults hold a favorable view of India, while a median of 34% have unfavorable views. In comparison, views of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which were collected in a subset of 12 countries, are more mixed: A 37% median say they have confidence in Modi, and a 40% median say they lack confidence in him.


Indians are more likely than others to believe India’s power is on the rise. Around seven-in-ten Indians believe their country has recently become more influential, compared with a median of 28% across 19 countries who said the same in 2022. In those 19 countries, respondents were most inclined to say that India’s influence had not changed much in recent years (48% median), but only 19% of Indians agree with this view. Indians are just as likely as those in other countries to think India’s influence has become weaker in recent years (13% vs. a 19-country median of 13%).
Modi is popular in India, but has more mixed reviews internationally. About eight-in-ten Indians (79%) have a favorable view of Modi, including a majority of 55% with a very favorable view. In comparison, a median of 37% in 12 countries, most of which are middle-income, report having confidence in Modi to make the right foreign policy choices. Kenyans are especially confident, with 60% saying they trust Modi to do the right thing regarding world affairs, while Argentines are particularly skeptical. Just 12% in Argentina have confidence in the Indian leader. At least one-in-ten in each of these countries also do not offer an opinion on Modi.

Riaz Haq said…
Views of India Lean Positive Across 23 Countries
Among Indians, Modi and India’s global influence are viewed favorably

European attitudes toward India have turned more negative over time. Favorable views of India have declined by roughly 10 percentage points or more in all five of the European countries where past data is available. The greatest change is seen in France, where just 39% now have a favorable view of India, compared with 70% in 2008. Notably, French adults are also less likely than they were in 2008 to share an opinion on India. In all other countries, people are more or about as likely to offer an opinion on India as they were in 2008.

Indians stand out for their favorable views of Russia. Whereas a median of only 14% across 22 countries have a positive view of Russia, a 57% majority of Indians see Russia favorably. Indians are also the most likely to have confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin to do the right thing regarding world affairs among all publics surveyed. Likewise, the United States is seen more favorably in India (65%) than in many other countries surveyed. When it comes to China, India stands out for the opposite reason: It is the only middle-income country surveyed where a majority has unfavorable views of China.

Negative attitudes toward Pakistan persist in India. Roughly three-quarters of Indian adults hold an unfavorable view of Pakistan. This includes 57% who have a very unfavorable opinion. Indians’ views of Pakistan have consistently been unfavorable since the question was first asked in 2013, with the share holding an unfavorable view of the country never dipping below 60%.
Outside of India, substantial shares in many countries surveyed do not offer an opinion on India and on Modi. In the U.S., this includes 40% who report having never heard of Modi. Some groups are more inclined to provide a response to the two questions: This includes men and those with more education in several countries. Younger adults are also generally more likely to offer an opinion on India. Within India, a quarter or more do not offer an opinion of Indian National Congress (INC) leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
Riaz Haq said…
India Made It to the Moon. That Doesn’t Make It a Top #Industrial Power. #Chandrayaan3Landing will not move big roadblocks on #India’s path to becoming a top industrial power. #Modi's “Make in India” hasn’t done much. #MakeInIndia #manufacturing #BJP

India took a giant leap into the ranks of advanced industrial nations when its Chandrayaan-3 unmanned spacecraft landed near the moon’s south pole on Aug. 23. At least to hear Prime Minister Narendra Modi tell it. “Science and technology are the foundations of a bright future for our nation,” the 72-year-old Modi, who is favored to win a third term next year, told ecstatic staff at the Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO.

Manufacturing’s share of gross domestic product is stuck at about 18%, according to S&P Global. That compares with 28% for China.

Modi’s (not very realistic) target is 25% by 2025. One big obstacle is policy-related: His government remains keen on import tariffs, some of which hit inputs needed to raise exports. “The Indian government has consistently raised tariff and nontariff barriers to protect domestic suppliers across most sectors,” the United States Trade Representative wrote in a recent report.

Another is a lag in transport infrastructure. Indian ports can’t accommodate the biggest container ships, so freight has to be transshipped through Singapore or Hong Kong. “To become the global manufacturing destination of choice, India will need massive upgrades in rail, port, and freight corridors,” write S&P researchers. That won’t happen by gazing at the moon.
Riaz Haq said…
#G20India: Why #Modi Can’t Make #India a Great Power! #BJP Government-Backed Intolerance Is Tearing the Country Apart. #Manipur #Kashmir #Nuh #Gujarat #Islamophobia #Hindutva #Bharat

Starting September 9, New Delhi is scheduled to host the G-20’s 18th annual summit. The event, in the eyes of the Indian government, will mark the country’s growing international importance. “During our G-20 presidency, we shall present India’s experiences, learnings, and models as possible templates for others,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared last year, when his country assumed the organization’s leadership. This August, he asserted that India’s presidency would help make the world into “one family” through “historic efforts aimed at inclusive and holistic growth.” The government’s message was clear: India is becoming a great power under Modi and will usher in an era of global peace and prosperity.

But 1,000 miles away from New Delhi, in the northeastern state of Manipur, India is caught in a conflict that suggests it is in no position to serve as an international leader. Over the last four months, ethnic violence between Manipur’s largest community, the Meiteis, and its second-largest minority, the Kukis, has killed hundreds of people and rendered 60,000 people homeless. Mobs have set fire to over 350 churches and vandalized over a dozen temples. They have burned more than 200 villages.

At first glance, it may seem as if the violence in Manipur will not hinder Modi’s foreign policy ambitions. After all, the prime minister has traveled the world over the last four months without having to talk about the conflict. It did not come up (at least publicly) in June, when U.S. President Joe Biden rolled out the red carpet for Modi in Washington, D.C. It was not mentioned when Modi landed in Paris three weeks later and met French President Emmanuel Macron. And the issue has not arisen during his visits this year to Australia, Egypt, Greece, Japan, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.

But make no mistake: the events in Manipur threaten Modi’s goal and vision of a great India. The state’s violence has forced the Indian government to deploy thousands of troops inside Manipur, reducing the country’s capacity to protect its borders from an increasingly aggressive China. The conflict has also hampered India’s efforts to be an influential player in Southeast Asia by making it hard for the country to carry out regional infrastructure projects and by saddling neighboring states with refugees. And the ongoing violence could give other Indian separatist and ethnic partisan groups an opening to challenge New Delhi’s primacy. If these organizations do begin to rebel, as some of them have in the past, the consequences would be disastrous. India is one of the most diverse countries in the world, home to people from thousands of different cultures and communities. It cannot function if these populations are in intense conflict.


the violence in Manipur clearly shows the limits of India’s potential under Modi. The country will not be able to effectively defend its borders if it has to divert military force to suppress internal unrest. It cannot serve as a counterweight to China if it is burdening other parts of Asia with domestic conflicts. In fact, India will struggle to be effective anywhere in the world if its government remains largely preoccupied with domestic strife.

For New Delhi’s Western partners, an India that cannot look outward will certainly prove disappointing. But it will be more disappointing for Indians themselves. Theirs is the largest country in the world; it should, by rights, be a global leader. Yet to be stable enough to project substantial authority, India needs to keep peace and harmony among its diverse population—something it can accomplish only by becoming an inclusive, plural, secular, and liberal democracy.

Riaz Haq said…
India's Modi is not the world's guru

Publicity campaign ahead of G20 summit strikes the wrong note

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

In the run-up to the Group of 20 summit this weekend in New Delhi, billboards and bus stops in every Indian city are plastered with images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will preside over the gathering of leaders from around the globe.

The posters hail India, via Modi, as a Vishwaguru -- a Sanskrit term for world guru or teacher to the world. Similar advertisements have covered the front pages of major newspapers.

India has never seen an advertising blitz of this magnitude. A former finance secretary estimated the cost at 10 billion rupees ($121 million) and rising. He sees the push as the start of Modi's 2024 reelection campaign.

It is of course convenient to have the government, rather than the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), pay for this ad campaign. Indian politicians of all stripes have done similar things in the past, but the scale of the current campaign beggars description.

By law, the most that can be spent on a campaign for a parliamentary seat is 9.5 million rupees. The legal cost to contest all 543 seats in the Lok Sabha would thus be no more than 5 billion rupees.

Critics who think Modi is trying to impress foreign visitors are clearly mistaken. This advertising blitz is aimed at financing the promotion of the prime minister in the election run-up, portraying him as a great leader of not just India but the world.

This message plays well with the Hindu nationalist BJP, whose members believe India was the greatest and richest civilization in the world in ancient times but then enslaved and impoverished by Muslim and British invaders. Modi himself says he has rescued India following centuries of "enslavement."

In the face of both threats and inducements, the Indian media is not talking much about Modi's use of government money to advance a personality cult or boost his election prospects. Dissenters of all sorts, whether in business, media or the nonprofit sector, have faced raids for supposed tax or foreign exchange violations that are likely to keep them tied up in court for years.

Indian media companies, meanwhile, are making millions of dollars from running Modi's advertisements, which they would lose if they played their intended democratic role of speaking truth to power. Very few are willing to pay this price.

Modi's notion of being the world's guru is just as ridiculous as his twisted history of "centuries of enslavement," which has been used to attack India's religious minorities.

A guru is nothing without disciples. If India or Modi himself is the world's guru, who are the disciples? The least likely candidates are Western powers which believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are the true global gurus.

It might seem that India's disciples would be most likely to come from its geographic neighborhood rather than distant lands. But even a cursory examination shows otherwise.

Does Pakistan regard India as a guru? No, it is India's greatest foe. It has allied with China, India's other major foe, to try and put India in its place. No disciples there.

What about Bangladesh, which India helped to achieve independence from Pakistan in 1971? There is now little gratitude for India's help, which is accurately viewed as a ploy to split and disempower Pakistan rather than an altruistic move to aid Bangladeshis.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is about the only Bangladeshi politician to express somewhat pro-Indian views, and even she has to step carefully. The Hindu share of Bangladesh's population has shrunk from 30% at the time of Pakistan's independence in 1947 to 7.5% today, as many have migrated to India to escape discrimination and persecution. No sign of Indian disciples in Bangladesh.

Riaz Haq said…
India's Modi is not the world's guru

Publicity campaign ahead of G20 summit strikes the wrong note

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

A guru is nothing without disciples. If India or Modi himself is the world's guru, who are the disciples? The least likely candidates are Western powers which believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are the true global gurus.

It might seem that India's disciples would be most likely to come from its geographic neighborhood rather than distant lands. But even a cursory examination shows otherwise.

Does Pakistan regard India as a guru? No, it is India's greatest foe. It has allied with China, India's other major foe, to try and put India in its place. No disciples there.

What about Bangladesh, which India helped to achieve independence from Pakistan in 1971? There is now little gratitude for India's help, which is accurately viewed as a ploy to split and disempower Pakistan rather than an altruistic move to aid Bangladeshis.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is about the only Bangladeshi politician to express somewhat pro-Indian views, and even she has to step carefully. The Hindu share of Bangladesh's population has shrunk from 30% at the time of Pakistan's independence in 1947 to 7.5% today, as many have migrated to India to escape discrimination and persecution. No sign of Indian disciples in Bangladesh.

Sri Lanka? Many there harbor ill will toward New Delhi in the belief that it supported the development of the Tamil Tiger insurgency when Indira Gandhi was India's prime minister in the early 1980s. The insurgency became a civil war in which up to 100,000 were killed. Hard to find disciples there.

What about Nepal, a predominantly Hindu nation? Ever since then-Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru intervened in a royal power struggle in 1951, Nepalese have viewed New Delhi as an imperial power to be feared. India has on more than one occasion blocked essential supplies to Nepal to try to exert political influence. Nepalese may be Hindus, but they are anything but Modi's disciples.

What about the West? It sees India as a rising economic power to be wooed. Western investment is pouring into India and the West lauds India's success in digital payments, financial inclusion and social programs.

But some in the West also castigate the Indian government for eroding democratic values and human rights and suppressing civic groups. Freedom House, an American rights group, downgraded India from "free" to "partly free" in its 2021 index of political and civil liberties around the world. Sweden's V-Dem Institute classifies India as an "electoral autocracy."

In its annual World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked India a dismal 161st. In the global Human Freedom Index compiled by the Cato Institute, India fell from 75th place in 2015 to 112th in 2022.

Indian government officials criticize these indexes as flawed. Maybe so, but the notion of India as a Vishwaguru sounds like a bad joke in the West.

India has certainly provided the world with yoga, transcendental meditation and the Bhagavad Gita. Indian mathematicians invented the concept of zero and sundry equations in ancient times. Bollywood has global fans today for its films and music.

This adds up to a reasonable amount of soft power. Alas, it is not the stuff of which world gurus are made.
Riaz Haq said…
Markets shuttered, schools closed as Delhi locks down for G20
By Krishn Kaushik and Joseph Campbell
September 8, 20231:40 AM PDTUpdated 19 hours ago

The central business and government district of New Delhi came to a standstill on Friday with markets shuttered, schools closed and traffic restricted as tens of thousands of security personnel fanned out for the weekend summit of G20 countries.

The official closure came into effect at midnight on Thursday with leaders of the group scheduled to begin arriving from Friday morning for the most high-powered global meeting hosted by India.

Those attending include U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Bin Salman and Japan's Fumio Kishida, among others.

On Friday, the centre of the normally bustling and choked city of 20 million was deserted, with just a trickle of vehicles and scores of armed security personnel seen along the main streets, Reuters witnesses said.

Nearly 130,000 police and paramilitary security personnel have been deployed across the city, mostly in the New Delhi district, with the air force providing cover from aerial threats.

City authorities have also demolished slums near the summit venue, tried to scare away monkeys and removed stray dogs from the area.

Stores and restaurants were closed in the capital's premier Connaught Place colonial-era shopping district, as well as in the popular Khan Market. Shopkeepers have told local newspapers they would lose about 4 billion rupees ($48 million) because of the three-day closure.

"It's quite normal for visiting dignitaries to visit a city landmark like Khan Market," said Sanjeev Mehra, president of the Khan Market Traders Association.

"For G20 delegates, we were preparing mementos, but the government has asked us to shut down our shops. We have decided to concede to the government's request, but for a growing economy, it would have been nice to let business operations run normally."

The leaders and their teams are staying in luxury hotels in and around the heart of the city and the meeting is being held at a newly-built venue across the road from the country's Supreme Court.

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed to Delhi's residents to bear with the possible inconvenience due to the summit restrictions.

"While the entire country is a host, Delhi will bear maximum responsibility" for the G20 summit, Modi said.

"When so many guests come from around the world, it does lead to some inconvenience ... I seek forgiveness from Delhi citizens for the problem they are going to face."

Authorities have been announcing that much of the city is open with Delhi Police repeatedly messaging on social media platforms that "just a small part of NDMC area will have restrictions”, referring to the New Delhi Municipal Corporation.

Offices and schools here have been asked to close, as also shops and small businesses. Taxis and buses aren’t allowed in this part of the city.

Even app-based taxi and food delivery services are barred. Those who need to reach the railway station or the airport through these areas would need to produce tickets to be allowed to pass through.

In the bazaars of the old city, it was not clear if the restrictions would be extended there. Many shops were closed on Friday.

Yashowarthan Aggarwal, a 37-year-old store owner in Dariba Kalan, a street renowned for its jewellery shops, said authorities should allow the area to remain open.

“The tourists coming to Delhi for G20 should look at our shops, buy something. If they just come and see everything is closed, there’s nothing good about it,” he said.
Riaz Haq said…
#India is a country of 1.4 billion. But the only face you see everywhere in the capital these days, after 2 days of hosting world leaders for #G20 summit, is that of PM #Modi. From monuments to food, India’s diversity was denied a stage. #G20SummitDelhi

What you don’t see in the videos is also telling. You don’t see the Jama Masjid, one of the most iconic sites in the capital. I didn’t spot any churches. The Taj Mahal, India’s most famous landmark and heritage site, built by the Mughal dynasty that is reviled by the rulers of today, gets only a photo on one of the walls. The Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of Sikhs in India, gets a tiny video clip.


You see him (Modi) not only at the airport and at the grand venue that was recently constructed to host the summit, but on practically every road, every few feet. Sometimes, two car lengths, at most. It’s a one-man show.

Having spent many of my growing and working years in New Delhi, the changes in the city for this mega event stand out.

Schools and offices were shut for the summit, roads blocked for so-called VIP movement. Sometimes you had to wait 15 minutes to cross a street as police cars barricaded them.

Vendors, otherwise ubiquitous on Indian streets and selling everything from fruits and vegetables to clothes, shoes and household items, were missing the past few days. They need a daily income from their sales to survive – but clearly don’t figure in the Modi government’s agenda to push India as the voice of the long-suffering Global South.

On some streets, there aren’t even the stray dogs that are a staple of all neighbourhoods. They, too, were rounded up.

But if Modi was the hero of the diplomatic extravaganza, monkeys were the designated menace. Life-sized cut-outs of langurs have been put up to scare the monkeys that can run rampage in Central Delhi, which hosts most major embassies and hotels, and is close to the summit venue.

The relatively heavy rain cooled temperatures in the capital but the partly flooded
roads also showed that you may spruce up the city but until you really fix the infrastructure, things are not really going to change.

It’s at the venue, however, that the deep stamp of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – which will stand for national elections next year – was most visible.

The old exhibition halls at Pragati Maidan – which means “field of progress” in Hindi and previously hosted anything and everything from international trade fairs to book fairs and auto shows – have been replaced with a grand new convention centre called the Bharat Mandapam. It’s a Sanskrit name, where Bharat refers to India, while a mandapam is the front porch of a Hindu temple.

Just with that name, the exhibition ground moves away from its secular, humdrum past.

The grounds are supposed to be the biggest exhibition space in the country. And as the official information tells you, there are more seats than the Sydney Opera House. But it’s next to one of the busiest roads in the city and near the Supreme Court of India, so it’s not really easy to get that many people to visit in one go anyway.

Unless the government pulls out all the stops to do just that.

The cavernous, warehouse-like halls have barren grey walls, currently hidden behind large G20 billboards and video clips of the different cultural trips the delegates and their spouses have undertaken in the past year.

The billboards are covered with images of the lotus flower. That is India’s national flower but it is also the BJP’s election symbol. And it is everywhere. Even in the official logo of the G20.

The video clips playing on the walls tell a story too. They show glimpses of Hampi – a UNESCO World Heritage site which was also the capital of a 14th-century Hindu empire – of Khajuraho temples and of the Nathdwara temple dedicated to the Hindu god Krishna’s avatar.
Riaz Haq said…
From Google Gen AI:

China's top scientist, Ouyang Ziyuan, has disputed India's claim that its Chandrayaan-3 rover landed near the moon's south pole. Ziyuan says the landing site was 619 kilometers away from the polar region. He claims the landing spot's coordinates are too far away to count.

The "founding father" of China's lunar exploration program also disagrees with India's statement. He says the site was within the moon's southern hemisphere but not in the polar region.

India's space agency didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

After India's landing of its Chandrayaan-3 rover on the moon last month — becoming the first country to put a spacecraft near the lunar south pole and breaking China's record for the southernmost lunar landing – a top Chinese scientist has said claims about the accomplishment are overstated
Riaz Haq said…
Top Chinese Scientist Questions India’s Claim to Reaching Moon’s South Pole | Time

Ouyang Ziyuan, lauded as the father of China’s lunar exploration program, told the Chinese-language Science Times newspaper that the Chandrayaan-3 landing site, at 69 degrees south latitude, was nowhere close to the pole, defined as between 88.5 and 90 degrees.

On Earth, 69 degrees south would be within the Antarctic Circle, but the lunar version of the circle is much closer to the pole.

“It’s wrong!” he said of claims for an Indian polar landing. “The landing site of Chandrayaan-3 is not at the lunar south pole, not in the lunar south pole region, nor is it near the lunar south pole region.”

The Chandrayaan-3 was 619 kilometers (385 miles) distant from the polar region, Ouyang said.

India’s space agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

After the Chandrayaan-3 landing, the Communist Party’s Global Times quoted Pang Zhihao, a Beijing-based senior space expert, as saying that China had much better technology.

China’s space program “has been capable of sending orbiters and landers directly into Earth-Moon transfer orbit since the launch of Chang’e-2 in 2010, a maneuver that India has yet to deliver given the limited capacity of its launch vehicles,” the newspaper said. “The engine that China used is also far more advanced.”

Still, the Chandrayaan-3 went much farther south than any other spacecraft. Russia’s attempt to land a spacecraft near the lunar south pole ended in failure last month when it crashed into the moon.

China’s Chang’e 4, the first to land on the far side of the moon in 2019, touched down 45 degrees south. An uncrewed NASA probe, Surveyor 7, reached the moon at about 41 degrees south in 1968.

Getting close to the lunar south pole is important not just for bragging rights. Scientists think the region may have ice reserves that could potentially be valuable for long-term stays.

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