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Perspectives

Bibek Debroy, Jerry Rao, Sanjeev Sanyal

the 9 things arun jaitley


must do to grow the economy

44

indias biggest foreign policy


blunder: AFGHANISTAN

December 2014

Sample issue. not for sale.

A New
Idea of
India
The Indian Right needs a
different narrativeone which
is rooted in openness, and a
refusal to discriminate based
on identity.
Can this man provide it?

Wallpaper Divas

Why Hindi film heroines are expected


only to look pretty and not try acting

56

From the Editor

A New Magazine
Thats 58 Years Old
Dear Reader,
In 1956, journalist Khasa Subba Rau, with the
patronage of C. RajagoplachariRajaji, Indias
last Governor-General, freedom fighter and a
statesman hailed by Mahatma Gandhi as his
conscience keeper, launched a weekly magazine called Swarajya.
Swarajya was intended to convey the founders quest to translate the joy of freedom not
only from foreign rule, but full freedom as
defined and promised by the preamble of our
Constitution. It represented the first coherent
and consistent intellectual response to Nehruvian socialism and the ever-expanding Big
State in newly independent India.
Long before it became fashionable, Swarajya
championed individual liberty, private enterprise, the minimal State and cultural rootedness. Thiia whAt Rajaji wrote:
There is before the country the great
problem of how to secure welfare without
surrendering the individual to be swallowed up by the State, how to get the best
return for the taxes the people pay and how
to preserve spiritual values while working
for better material standards of life. This
journal will serve all these purposes.
So what is this Swarajya 2.0about?
Rajajis words remain as true as ever even,
and especially now, in 2014. The new Swarajya
wishes to be an authoritative voice of reason
representing the liberal centre-right point of
view. It remains committed to the ideals of individual liberty unmediated by the State or any
other institution, freedom of expression and
enterprise, national interest, and Indias vast
and ancient cultural heritage.
Swarajya has two avatars to begin witha
digital daily (www.swarajyamag.com; you can
just scan the first QR code in the left column
on your smatphone and reach thereand this
monthly magazine.

(The next QR thing, I wont tell you about. Let


that be a surprise.)
We aim to be a big tent for liberal right-ofcentre discourse that reaches out, engages with
and caters to the New India in a manner thats
not arcane, abstruse, arrogant or self-referencing, through commentary, analysis, research,
satire and opinion. Our focus will be on what
we refer to as SPEC: the Social, Political, Economic and Cultural life of India.
These are our articles of faith (in alphabetical
order):
Democracy
Gender equality
Free markets
Individual enterprise
Individual freedom
Integrity of our country
Opportunity for every Indian to achieve his/
her potential
Promoting our cultural heritage
Reduced role of the State but a more effective one in its focus areas
Secularism which does not pander, and a
separation of religion from politics
The dangers of dogma
We have an Editorial Board of Advisors comprising outstanding thought leaders (again, in
alphabetical order):
Bibek Debroy, bold economist and distinguished Indologist; Jaithirth Rao, right-ofcentre philosopher, former CEO of IT giant
MphasiS, and head of Citibanks Global Technology Development Division; Manish Sabharwal, chairman of Teamlease Services,
Indias largest staffing and training firm, and
one of the countrys leading thinkers on employment and employability; fearless economist and perhaps the worlds best cricket analyst Surjit S. Bhalla; and Swapan Dasgupta,
historian, veteran journalist and authoritative
voice of the Indian right.
OK, our ambitions are pretty high, and we are
promising you a lot. But with your helpand
the frank criticism essential to the principles
of free discourse and exchange of ideas that we
have carved in granitemaybe we canmaybe
we can grow to be resonantdeep, full, and reverberating.
Welcome, and do plan for a long stay.
Sandipan Deb editorial director
sandipan@swarajyamag.com
De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

December 2014
C o v e r

S t o r y

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD


Bibek Debroy
Jaithirth Rao
Manish Sabharwal
Surjit S Bhalla
Swapan Dasgupta

22

w o r l d

56

In this issue
18

m e m o r i e s

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Sandipan Deb
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Prasanna Viswanathan
PUBLISHER AND CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER
Amarnath Govindarajan
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
N. Muthuraman
FOREIGN AFFAIRS EDITOR
Padma Rao Sundarji
EDITOR-AT-LARGE
Rupa Subramanya
NATIONAL AFFAIRS EDITOR
Surajit Dasgupta
BOOKS AND CULTURE EDITOR
Antara Das
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS
Aravindan Neelakandan
Biswadeep Ghosh
Jaideep A Prabhu
Seetha
FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS
BERLIN: Hermanne Denecke
TOKYO: Hiroyasu Suda
DIGITAL NEWSROOM INTERN
Kruthika Rao
CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Pranab Dutta

A New Idea of India

The Right needs to develop a different narrativeone that is rooted in the scepticism and openness
innate to Indian tradition. Can Narendra Modi provide that?
E n t e r t a i n m e n t

www.swarajyamag.com

72

We Lost Afghanistan

The Swatantra Years

The Indian government squandered Afghanistans goodwill through years of


vacillating and incoherent policy towards the country. This failure wil have
repercussions in the retire egion.

The son of Minoo Masani, co-founder of the Swatantra Party, committed to free
markets and free enterprise, and the chief political opponent to the Nehruvian
consensus, recalls those heady days.

C r i c k e t

66

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Letter from the Editor

Contents 4

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What is right wing?

12

Jerry Rao

29

Interpreters of Maladies

30

Sanjeev Sanyal

34

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A l s o

D e ce m b er 2014

Seetha 41

Why Pretty Women Wont Act

Beauty of the Bouncer

Paddy Padmanabhan

Mainstream Hindi films rarely delve beyond a womans physical beauty. Female actors bag roles
on the basis of looks not acting skills, leading to the creation of more stereotypes than ever before.

Phil Hughes death is a terrible tragedy, but banning the bouncer, as many are
suggesting, will be unjust and irrational, and can only diminish the beauty of
cricket. If you really love cricket, youll bat for the bouncer.

Books 80

S a m p l e I ssue

Archives 82

Cover Illustration
T F Hadimani
De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

Only 0.033 Per Cent of the


Nation Wants to Know

firstlight
Death of Employment:
Welcome to the Singular

Used to be that you would join a company as a permanent employee at the bottom rung of the ladder and work your way up, sometimes staying there your entire
career, and retiring one day with a pension plan, a gold-plated wristwatch, and a
plaque. Changing employers seldom happened.
Today, large corporations worldwide are embattled institutions struggling to
remain relevant to customers. They have become completely soulless environments
where the struggle for survival and job protection pits people against each other on
a daily basis. Compassion and empathy dont exist in large corporations today.
In an age where the permanence of an employer is a big question mark, the notion
of permanent employment is quaint and laughable. The rupture of trust between
employers and employees is the only thing that is permanent. Disenchanted with
large corporations, and lured by the opportunity to remain independent and do
meaningful work, young men and women are increasingly choosing self-directed occupations over employment. This often takes the form of entrepreneurship.
When every individual is expected to change a dozen jobs over the course of a
career, it is employment by name but free agency for all intents and purposes. Every
stint with an employer is just another gig that adds value through cash compensation, learning opportunities, relationship networks, and eventually, some form of
success defined as money or expert knowledge.
Call this the Singular phenomenon. A single individual drives his or her own
destiny, with little or no guidance and support from an institutional employer, and
often does this with the help of advanced and readily available technology, and most
likely a very small group of fellow Singulars. In this world, every person operates as
a single economic unit. Utopia? maybe not. Its a Singular world. And its yours.
Paddy Padmanabhan
(For the full version of this text, visit www.swarajyamag.com)

D e ce m b er 2014

Anna to Go
on Hunger
Strike Again?
On 22 November Anna Hazare met with Ram Jethmalani
and the Aam Aadmi Partys former head of legal cell Ashwini
Upadhyay at his home in Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra, to
finalize issues that the Adarsh
Bharat Abhiyan (ABHAIdeal
India Campaign) would take
up with the government.
These include: expediting
the appointment of the Lokpal; asking the government
why six crucial Anti-Corruption
Bills are pending in the Lok
Sabha; pushing the 2006 Supreme Court order on police
reforms; implementation of
the Law Commissions recommendations of 2009 on judicial reforms; and urging for an
ordinance to declare all illicit
money in India and stashed
abroad as national assets.
Hazare had written to Prime
Minister Modi, seeking his
response on these issues.
The Prime Minister assured
Hazare that the government
is working on the necessary
legislations and administrative reforms. However, ABHA,
formed on 9 August, is not
confident the laws will come
through in the winter session
of Parliament.
If negotiations with the government fail, Anna will sit on
hunger strike at Jantar Mantar
on 21 March.
Surajit Dasgupta

S a m p l e I ssue

Most of us have heard Arnab


Goswami thundering at 9 pm: Please
answer the question! The Nation Wants
to Know! But how big is this nation
Goswami claims to represent?
On any given night, less than 4 lakh
Indians watch this show! Yes, you read
it right. Less than 4 lakh! So to be technically correct, Arnab should be saying
0.033 per cent of this nation wants to
know! And of course, many among
even those watching may not really be
interested.
TV penetration in India is still low:
about 12 crore TV sets in a country of
120 crore
Hindi entertainment, regional channels, Hindi movies and kids channels
account for about 78 per cent of total
TV viewership.
News viewership is less than 4 per
cent of total viewership, and English
news channels: less than 0.4 per cent.
Thus, even assuming every TV set
has two viewers (which is an overestimation in case of news), there are
about 10 lakh viewers per night for all
English news channels put together!
The reader can use market share data
advertised by these channels to assess

The Boy They


Called Super
Onion

viewership of specific channels.


So, next time you watch Goswami (or
Barkha Dutt or Rajdeep Sardesai), bear
this simple fact in mindthat their
reach is 0.033 per cent of the population!
In fact, many popular Twitterati may
be influencing more minds than these
news anchors on any given day!
N. Muthuraman

IBM Highway Makes Better


Sense than Vivekananda NH
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has
started renaming airports, streets, and
projects hitherto named after members
of the Nehru dynasty. It seems that
Modi might rename streets and projects
after Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Narayana Guru, etc.
Why though?
Yes, these luminaries contributed
immensely to Indian society. So, OK,
name some projects after themone per
head. Wouldnt it make better economic
sense to invite private parties to bid for
naming of projects after the highest
bidder? Who gains when the highway
connecting Chennai and Bengaluru is

named NH4? Or even when it is named


after a leader from a bygone era? But if
it were to be named Microsoft Highway,
after the highest bidder, it would bring
huge revenue to the exchequer which
could be invested in development. This
idea could be extended to Indias ailing
public schools, transportation, and
hospitals.
Naming projects after great Indians shuts out an important source of
revenue. In that sense, figuratively
speaking, a Vivekananda or Narayana
Guru stands in the way of economic
development.
Kalavai Venkat

Arvind Subramanian, Chief


Economic Advisor to the Government of India, graduated
from St Stephens College,
Delhi, in 1979. Reena Theophilus Panikar, captain of the colleges ladies basketball team
at the time recalls that Subramanian was known as Super:
And to his fellow basketballers, as Super Onion. Says
Sunil Mehta (who contributed
the group picture to Swarajya,
showing the victorious basketball mens and womens teams
in 1976-1977, Arvind second
from left standing): He used
to be thrilled each time we
beat the college across the
road (Hindu College).
Padma Rao Sundarji, Foreign
Affairs Editor, Swarajya, remembers Super as the guard
in a Shakespeare Society play,
Antigone, dressed in a skirt.
Super was also Assistant Editor of Kooler Talk (KT), our college rag that ripped everyone
off. Historian Supriya Guha
reveals that it was on board
the 210 (a Delhi public bus
route) that classmates introduced Subramanian to Parul
Tiwari, whom he married.
Says Shavak Srivastava:
Arvinds thoughts are way
ahead of his ability to speak
and then he gets so excited
and speaks so fast. I wonder
how Finance Minister Jaitley
and the government will deal
with that!

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

firstlight

Left Behind?

5 Facts Communists Have


to Hide about Karl Marx

01.12.1955:
Rosa Parks
Wont Get Up

Groucho was certainly the more


entertaining Marx, and possibly made
much more sense.
Marx was a poet As a young man,
Marx wrote quite a bit of poetry. Many
of his poems are marked by violence, a
sense of doom, a cursed universe, and
pacts with the Devil. Sample this: The
worlds, they see it and go rolling on/
And howl the burial song of their own
death./ And we, we Apes of a cold God,
still cherish/ With frenzied pain upon
our loving breast/ The viper so voluptuously warm,/ That it as Universal Form
rears up/ And from its place on high
grins down on us! Scary!
He played the stockmarkets On 25
June1864, he wrote his uncle, Lion
Philips, who later founded electronics
giant Philips: I havebeen speculatingin American funds, (and) English
stocks, which are springing up like
mushroomsI have made over 400.
Many of his most famous lines were
not his It was Jean-Paul Marat, a leader
of the French Revolution, who wrote:
The proletarians have nothing to lose

10

D e ce m b er 2014

but their chains. German labour leader


Karl Schapper said: Workers of the
world, unite! And French socialist
Louis Auguste Blanqui first called for a
dictatorship of the proletariat. Marx
borrowed these pithy lines.
He falsified data to prove his points
In 1885, Cambridge scholars Joseph
Tanner and F.S. Carey published a
monograph in which they exposed
how Marx had misquoted and falsified
data published in British government
reports (Blue Books) to make his points.
They wrote: He uses the Blue Books
with a recklessness which is appalling
to prove just the contrary of what they
really establish.
He was Britains greater exploiter of
a worker Marx admitted that he never
discovered a worker in Britain who was
paid literally no wages at all. But Helen
Demuth lived with the Marx family as
domestic help for 45 years. She got her
keep but was never paid anything. In
1851, Marx fathered a son through her,
but refused to accept responsibility.
Henry Frederick Demuth worked as a
railway engineer and died in 1929.

It was rush hour in Montgomery, Alabama. A 42-year-old


African-American seamstress
took a seat on a bus on her
way home from work. And set
off a social revolution.
On Montgomery buses, the
front 10 seats were reserved
for white passengers. Rosa
Parks was in fact seated in
the first row behind those 10
seats. When the bus became
crowded, the driver instructed
Parks to vacate her seat for
white passengers. Parks refused, the driver called the police, and she was arrested.
Her arrest became a rallying
point. The African-American
community organized a bus
boycott. Martin Luther King Jr,
a 26-year-old pastor, emerged
as a leader during the peaceful boycott that captured the
worlds attention. The 381-day
boycott ended with a December 1956 US Supreme Court
decision banning segregation
on public transportation. But
Parks had triggered off the
Civil Rights movement, which
would finally triumph with
the US banning discrimination
based on race, colour, religion, or national origin.
When Parks died in 2005,
she became the first woman
to lie in honour in the US Capitol Rotunda.

S a m p l e I ssue

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firstlight

What If Gandhi Hadnt Been


Thrown Off The Train?
On June 7, 1893, at a little station
called Pietermaritzburg, Mohandas
Gandhi was thrown off the train. Big
mistake. For over 20 years, he was a
thorough nuisance to the South African
regime. He avoided violence, talked of
virtue, refused to play fair. They were
relieved when he left for India in 1915.
But what if this had never happened?
Supposing a fellow passenger had said,
Hullo, you look quite decent for a
brown chap. Fancy a spot of tea?
Gandhi was not a born revolutionary. His family had hoped that he would
earn some money and experience in
South Africa, and come back and take
over as Dewan of Porbander. Perhaps thats what he would have done,
remained a lifelong loyal servant of
the Empire, and built Porbander into a
model state, with good roads, clean toilets, and many goats. Once India became
independent, it would have become an
example for the rest of us.
But without Gandhi, would we be
free? We probably would, because the
British were running out of things
to steal. They could have kept us as a
captive market for their products, but
unfortunately they had already taken all
our money, so we were not in a position to
buy anything.
So we would definitely have needed the
freedom struggle. Who could have led us
to freedom?
Nehru, son of Motilal Nehru, and an
excellent speaker, would certainly have
been a player through the 1920s and 30s,
and been pointed out as a leftie at tea parties. Like Nehru, Subhash Bose turned
nationalist early, punching out British
professors in college. There might never
have been a Sardar Patel, though. He was
inspired into action by Gandhi, suddenly,
in his middle age. If this hadnt happened, maybe he would have remained
a respected member of the local community, known for his clear thinking, the
right man to go to with a problem, never
in his wildest dreams imagining that one

12

D e ce m b er 2014

When Arjuna Drew His


Sword to Kill Yudhishthira

3 Steps to
Create a
Culture of
Innovation

day he would become a big statue.


Which leaves a Congress with Nehru
and Bose as key leaders, along with
one Mr Jinnah. Certainly a fine mind,
but a cold fish. Nehru and Bose being
impatient men, the Congress pushes
for freedom sooner. They are militant.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army is getting
restless. The British raise salaries, which
they can ill afford to do.
In 1938 and 1939, Bose is Congress
President. People notice that some Congress volunteers are wearing khaki, and
marching. Jinnah (no one ever mentions
the word partition) finds Boses costumes funny, but he can deal with him.
When World War II breaks out, Bose
sees Hitler as opportunity. By 1942, the
Indian Army is disintegrating, fatally
weakening the British war effort. Some
have formed the Indian National Army.
The Japanese win the Battle of Kohima,
supported by the INA. They break
through to the plains of Bengal, where
the Japanese are thrilled to find so much

fish. Netaji gives the order to rise, and


New Delhi falls in a military coup. Garrisons across Western and Southern India
rally to his name. Its worth remembering that in the Congress elections of 1938,
every single Congress delegate from the
South voted for him.
Netaji is declared Supreme Leader,
with Nehru as Foreign Minister. The first
thing Bose does is request Stalin for support. Stalin is busy taking over Europe,
distracted but sympathetic. Nehru flies
down to Moscow. He floors all the women.
The Americans cannot allow this. They
make the British take back the Japanese possessions in East India. A much
smaller British India is re-established,
right next to the freshly independent
Republic of India.
An Iron Curtain falls over the subcontinent. Soon, a wall goes up, somewhere
near Patna.
Shovon Chowdhury
(For a full version of this text, visit
www.swarajyamag.com)
S a m p l e I ssue

It was Day 17 of the Kurukshetra war.


Though most ofn the maharathis of the
Kaurava army had fallen, Karna still
remained. He was now comander of the
Kaurava army and had been unstoppable, scattering the Pandu soldiers
like a mass aof cotton by the speed of a
mighty wind.
A harried Yudhishthira, unable to
withstand the force of Karnas assault,
retired to his camp, awaiting news
of Karnas death. When Krishna and
Arjuna entered his tent, he was elated:
Karna must be dead! But Arjuna said
no, he would fight Karna the next day.
At this, Yudhishthira just lost it.
He railed against Arjuna, calling him
worthless, and a coward, ending with
what today reads like a dialogue from a
Hindi movie: It would have been better
if you had not been born in Prithas
womb. No true warrior would stand for
this barrage of insults. Arjuna grasped
his sword, ready to kill Yudhishthira.
But why would these two brothers,
the epitome of filial love, hurl abuses
at each other? And why would Arjuna,
who had two weeks ago received the
timeless wisdom of the Gita from
Krishna, lose control so much?
OK, ask this: Arent we more likely
to lose our temper when tired and exhausted, say after a long day and week
at work, at the slightest of provocations?
Thik about it: You are more likely to
let out an obscenity at an errant driver

when youve been stuck in traffic for an


hour on Friday evening, than on a weekend drive to a resort. Why is that?
The answer may lie in ego depletion, a relatively new idea in social
psychology, which has been used to
explain various seemingly odd phenomenawhy we are more likely to gorge on
pizza and beer on Friday night rather
than on Sunday evening.
Self-control, or willpower, can be
compared with a muscleevery decision we take that requires us to make a
conscious choice, tires that muscle. But
unlike physical muscles, more use does
not seem to make the willpower muscle
stronger. The stress of 17 days of battle
had taken a toll on the warriors. The
anger and frustration would have been
under control on Day 1, but not Day 17.
Ego depletion had set in. Even though
Dharmaraj knew better than to snap
at his brother, and so virulently, the
psychological toll of war had withered
away self-control.
Of course, as you can guess that a
bemused Krishna, who had been a silent
observer till now, stepped in and broke
up the fight. But the point is, keep that
ego muscle well rested, lest it deplete.
Abhinav Agarwal
Reference: Dr Bibek Debroys Mahabharata (Penguin India, 2013), an
unabridged translation of the Critical
Edition of the Mahabharata.

To create a culture of innovation in companies or teams,


start by being innovative.
INSPIRE Set aside time to
talk about innovation. Bring in,
say, a mechanical water sprinkler and share with your team
why you think it is innovative;
better yet, ask them. This allows you to develop a shared
sense of what is innovation
that its not only a cure for
cancer. Over time, this can be
things that your own team has
innovated.
MEASURE Put in a process,
where the team can spend
time focusing on problems
which allow scope for innovation. This could be in technology, internal processes or any
function within your business.
And put in measuresonly
that which gets measured will
get done. When you measure
it, everyone pays attention.
REWARD & RECOGNIZE But
dont celebrate success alone.
Recognize and reward risk taking. We need to create a culture of tolerating mistakes and
viewing them as a way to learn
and do better. As Gordon
Moore, co-founder of Intel, put
it, I view this years failure as
next years opportunity to try
it again.
K. Srikrishna
(For a full version of this text,
visit www.swarajyamag.com)

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

13

Id e a s

Shovon Chowdhury

Excuse Me,
But What is
Right Wing?
A deep, incisive,
challenging
multidisciplinary
investigation into
the Big Question.
We try to make it
easy for the reader
with lithographs by
Honore Daumier
(1808-1879), the
Michelangelo of
caricature.
14

D e ce m b er 2014

part from being opposed


to left-wing people, who or what
is a right-wing person? In judging this, we usually go by instinct. Very often they have lots
of money. Sometimes they wear khaki shorts.
Like Paul McCartney, they long for yesterday.
All these are clues. But such a burning issue
can no longer be left to guesswork, not when
whole magazines are being put together on the
subject. In India, it could be anyone who hates
Sagarika Ghosh. While this can be deeply satisfying, it seems rather fragile, ideologically
speaking. What happens if she actually does immigrate to Pakistan? How do we fill the empty
space in our lives? We could replace her with
Arundhati Roy, but the emotions she evokes
are so strong that sometimes people end up
frothing too much at the mouth to form coherent sentences. This is not conducive to debate.
Until the 18th century, there were no wings,
only kings. The principles of governance were
simple. You obeyed the king, or he chopped off
your head. If he was a bad king, he chopped off

the heads of your family too, and in some cases,


the rest of your village. If he was a good king, he
settled for an arm or a leg. Even though kings
were divine, and much greater than the rest of
us, it was hard for them to do everything. So
they surrounded themselves with a small group
of well-armed well-funded people. This became
the aristocracy. They became rich and powerful because of their proximity to the ruler. As
a result, life was very good for the king and his
friends, but not so good for the rest of us.
The French are well known troublemakers.
They changed this. They had a novel thought.
Why dont we cut off the kings head instead?
they thought. Maybe things will be better
then. This was called the French Revolution.
It was this Revolution that gave us the term
right wing. Members of the French National
Assembly in 1789, who supported the king,
sat on the right. They supported the ancien regime, which is French for this is the hotel of
my father. Outside the Assembly, the French
people were busy killing clergymen and burning the homes of the rich. The right wing hurS a m p l e I ssue

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

15

The French right wing consisted of


people like Joseph de Maistre, who
thought the most important employee
of the State was the executioner, the
ultimate guarantor of order

16

D e ce m b er 2014

riedly gave away as many of their privileges as


they could. Soon after, the people burst in and
hauled most of them off to the guillotine.
From this, the right wing learnt, at the very
moment of its birth, that giving things away is
never a solution.
The next 100 years were full of action, as people in other countries thought, if it worked for
the French, than why not us? The Russians rose
repeatedly. The British were far more gradual.
They did kill their king, but they brought back
his son, and they let most of the aristocracy live.
These aristocrats became the Tories, whose
philosophy was best summed up by the Duke of
Cambridge. There is a time for everything, he
said, And the time for reform is when it can no
longer be resisted.
The French right wing continued to thrive,
inspired by Edmund Burke, and represented
by people like Joseph De Maistre, who thought
the most important employee of the State was
the executioner, the ultimate guarantor of order. Meanwhile, Ferdinand of Naples, another
notable conservative, dressed up as a woman
and had himself sculpted as Minerva, Goddess
of Wisdom, by Canova. This shows that, even
at this early stage, right wing politicians were
willing to embrace diversity.
As usual, what used to be a simple matter
was unnecessarily complicated by the Americans. In the early 19th century, Andrew JackS a m p l e I ssue

son, an angry man who massacred many Native


Americans, invented producerism. Producerism rallied hard-working producers against
evil parasites. The middle class, the honest
farmer, and factory-owners were the producers. The poor, the bankers, and people who had
immigrated more recently than them were the
parasites. This is a rich and powerful tradition,
which lives on in America. Even today, elements of the Tea Party attack big business for
supporting immigration, which is an evil plot
to get themselves cheap labour.
In fact, America was where economics was
first introduced into the right wing thought process. At the turn of the 20th century, economic
liberals and social conservatives joined hands,
and the infernal brew that resulted was known
as modern conservatism. They formed a union
which has lasted for over a century, and has two
guiding principles, Dont touch my money!
and Why arent you reading the Bible?
This thought process has been very influential, and today most countries have at least one
party which hates gay people and loves bankers. But there are wide variations across societies and cultures. For example, in America,
liberal is a swear word. In the UK, its a political party. In India, its a girl of loose character,
as in she is very liberal. Most fundamentally,
what differentiates the right wing from the left
wing is their attitude towards change. The right

In the US, Andrew Jackson invented


producerism, which rallied hardworking producers against evil parasites:
the poor, the bankers, people who had
immigrated more recently than them
wing believes nothing should change. The left
wing believes everything should change until
they can take charge.
How has it worked out in India? We see everything through the lens of secularism. Broadly, we have two types of people: people devoted
to cows, and anti-national pseudo-sickular
Porkistani sluts. Im no expert, but its probably
not that simple. Why view everything through
the lens of religion? A toilet has no religion, and
neither does a roti. Many people in India need
both. This doesnt mean that faith isnt important. Just that its not all-important.
In India, like everywhere else, the right wing
is a force of reaction. Reaction to one man, and
his theories, economic and social. Im not naming him because Im not sure thats allowed
here. Lets call him the Evil One. But maybe its
time to move on. Maybe we should just thank
De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

17

The hand that we feel on our necks, governing


everything, answerable to no one, is nourished
on salaries that come out of our pockets
him that were not Pakistan, and get on with our
lives. Because theres more to life than secularism. Its a good thing were remembering Rajaji
again. His views on caste are a bit worrying, but
he was also the man who coined the phrase License Permit Raj. Instead of spending all our
time cursing the Evil One and his socialism,
maybe we can think about this.
Who issues the licenses? Who produces the
permits? Under whose Raj do we live? Why are
they answerable to no one, and immune from
any form of prosecution, unless they give permission, which they rarely ever do, even if we
ask nicely? Adam Smith talked about the Invisible Hand. Whose hand is it that we feel on our
necks, governing everything, from where we
can put our penises to what we can make money from, and how much? Whose hand builds the
schools without toilets, and the hospitals without doctors, and the irrigation systems for wineries, while farmers save up money for poison?
Whose hand takes away 85 paise out of every
rupee thats supposed to reach the poor? Whose
hand arrests the victims, and pats defense lawyers on the back, saying there, there, dont worry, the file will be misplaced shortly?
Whose hand steals the homes of war widows,
and jeopardizes our international relations

because of a nanny, and keeps our brave soldiers on glaciers, with same-size-fits-all boots
and no oxygen, and the nearest medical facility hundreds of miles away? Whose hand signs
the vouchers for millions of phantom cleaners,
while the garbage piles up on our streets? Could
it conceivably be a hand nourished on salaries
that come out of our pockets? Are we actually
paying them to do this to us?
Pappus will come and Fekus will go. Even
AK49 will one day leave us wondering whether
he was a CIA agent or a Maoist, or just a man in
a muffler with delusions of grandeur. The Evil
One will become a distant memory. Maybe its
time we stopped fighting each other, and saw
who our real enemy is.
Maybe we should pause, just for a while,
in our battle on behalf of labour, or against it,
and stop arguing about what our fiscal policy
should be, and what exactly a Hindu Muslim
is, and whether bikinis are good or evil. Maybe
we should get together, as citizens, joined by
a common cause, and push through new laws
that will get that dead hand off our necks, once
and for all. If some of those hands break stones
in Tihar, so much the better.
Thats when well really be free. Thats when
well have genuine swarajya.

Shovon Chowdhurys blog,


India Update, has horrified
nearly 200,000 people. He
is also the entire editorial
staff of The Investigator,
published by Hindu
Business Line, which digs
for the truth, so you dont
have to. He has recently
edited the secret diaries of
Manmohan Singh. He has
completed one novel, The
Competent Authority. His
next, Death of a School
Master, comes out in
December.

To know more about the life


and work of Honore Daumier
please visit
www.daumier.org

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

19

m e m o r i e s

Minoo Masai (left) at


an election meeting
with C. Rajagopalachari
(centre) and Acharya J.B.
Kripalani (right)

Dr Zareer Masani

The son of Minoo Masani, co-founder of the


Swatantra Party, committed to free markets
and free enterprise, and the chief political
opponent to the Nehruvian consensus,
recalls those heady days.

The
Swatantra
Years
20

D e ce m b er 2014

S a m p l e I ssue

he Swatantra Party first


entered my life as a dimly understood rival for my mothers attention. I would have been around 11
at the time, and my father Minoo
had given up his comfortable job at the Tatas as
JRDs Chief of Staff to launch independent Indias first serious parliamentary opposition to
Nehrus one-party state. Though sympathetic
to Swatantras free market ideology, JRD had
been persuaded that Fathers continuance at
the Tatas as an opposition leader would bring
down the ire of the Nehru government on the
whole business group.
So Father set up on his own as a management consultant and hit the campaign trail as
General Secretary of the new party in the run
up to the 1962 general election. Mother increasingly had to accompany him, playing the role of
loyal politicians wife and adding her personal
glamour and impeccably Hindu credentials to
his agnostic Parsi origins. The Jan Sangh, precursor of todays BJP, had been trying to discredit father as a beef-eating Parsi.
For me, still ignorant of such political machinations, the Swatantra Party meant long and
painful separations from an indulgent mother I
adored, living in her absence with my very disciplinarian Parsi grandparents. Why, I asked

Father, couldnt he take the far easier route of


joining Nehrus Cabinet instead? After all, they
had been good friends, working closely together
during the nationalist movement. Fathers reply was characteristically terse: Because that
would stop me doing the things I believe in,
and the PM would feel much the same. Father,
by then, had already been active along with
Jayaprakash Narayan and C. Rajagopalachari
(Rajaji) in championing lost causes such as Tibetan independence, so abjectly surrendered to
Red China by Nehru, and self-determination for
Kashmir.
Although Rajaji accepted no official position
in the Swatantra leadership, he was its presiding deity, lending it the credibility of his august
past as a leading Congressman and independent Indias first Governor-General. The old
fox, my parents affectionately called him, partly because of his inscrutable smile and dark
glasses, but also his reputation for Machiavellian political strategies. Like Mahatma Gandhi
with the Congress in the past, Rajaji sanctified
Swatantra gatherings with his presence and
often had the last word behind the scenes. His
entourage included the great singer Subbalakshmi, dubbed the nightingale of India, whose
husband, Sadasivam, was Rajajis devoted
assistant and secretary. Despite her roots in

Masanis wife Shakuntala


(exreme right) during
a Swatantra Party
campaign. To her right
is one of the new partys
stars, Ayesha of Jaipur
(Maharani Gayatri Devi)

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

21

Minoo Masani
electioneering in Rajkot,
with a cow and calf.
The Jan Sangh had
denounced him as a
beef-eating Parsi.

To read Rajmhan Gandhi


on the Swatantra Party,
use this QR code:

22

D e ce m b er 2014

Carnatic music, Subbalakshmi excelled at the


Meera bhajans of northern India; her inspiring
performances of these frequently opened and
closed party conferences.
The third and least impressive member of
Swatantras leading triumvirate was Professor N.G. Ranga, a farmer leader from Andhra
Pradesh, whose professorial title belied his
bumbling presence and incoherent speeches. I
often asked how and why he had been elected
party president, to be told that his peasant credentials were necessary to balance the partys
strongly urban image.
By the time I became a college student (at
Elphinstone in Bombay), Fathers remarkable
organising abilities and his oratory had made
Swatantra the main opposition in Parliament,
with Father at its helm hammering away at a
Prime Minister whose failing health mirrored
his humiliation in the disastrous 1962 war with
China. In the 1967 general election, Swatantra
did even better, crossing the necessary threshold to become Indias first official Opposition.
Father became Leader of the Opposition, with
Cabinet status and a Lutyens house to match in
New Delhis coveted Tughlaq Road.
My own politics through these exciting
times were steeped in Swatantra ideology. I was
dazzled by the glamour of the legendary beauty,

Maharani Ayesha of Jaipur, who led the cohort


of Indian royalty that gave Swatantra its rural
base, joining forces with the partys urban businessmen and intellectuals. I remember Father
grumbling about the Maharanis penchant for
disappearing to Europe unexpectedly with her
polo-playing husband, just when she was most
needed in Rajasthan for local electioneering.
The Jaipurs, as close friends of the Queen and
Prince Philip, led a jet-set lifestyle which made
them easy targets for socialist jibes. Father had
far more admiration for the grit and perseverance of the Gwalior Rajmata, although she
gravitated eventually to the Jan Sangh.
Perhaps the most appealing characteristic of
the Swatantra Party was its uncompromising
secularism and championship of minorities.
Father, in particular, much admired Pakistans
President Ayub Khan, who had backed India
during the China war, and he blamed Indian
intransigence on Kashmir for the hostilities
which escalated into the second Indo-Pakistan
War of 1965. I remember being dubbed a traitor
by chauvinistic fellow students at Elphinstone
when I argued Pakistans case on Kashmir in
the prevailing climate of jingoism.
The Swatantra Party strongly challenged the
economic orthodoxies of Nehruvian socialism,
and Father led the assault every year with his
S a m p l e I ssue

Budget speech in Parliament, opening the debate as Leader of the Opposition. It was a challenging performance, since the Budget details
were never known in advance, but Father always rose to the occasion with his usual oratory and a forensic skill in dissecting opaque official statistics. His speeches usually filled both
the press and public galleries, were heard with
rapt attention and were widely reported in the
papers, though not on government-controlled
broadcast media.
Father was also the partys main link with
events and movements abroad during these
tense years of the Cold War. Like Nehru, he
was a firm internationalist, but the similarity
ended there. Unlike Nehru, Father, then still a
socialist, had been appalled by Stalins purges
of the 1930s, followed by the Iron Curtain imposed on Eastern Europe at the end of World
War II. He saw Communism as an expansionist
ideology, which would attempt to sweep across
India as it had China. Global Communism was
for him the greatest threat to world peace, and
he strongly supported the military alliances
the West was sponsoring to halt the Communist advance. Not surprisingly, he saw Nehrus
Non-Alignment developing, under the baleful
influence of the Communist fellow-traveller
Krishna Menon, into a thinly veiled apologia
for Communist tyranny. His warnings were
vindicated by the attempts of Indias supposedly non-aligned government to condone Soviet
suppression of both the Hungarian uprising of
1956 and the Prague Spring of 1967.
Ironically, it was my years as a student at
Oxford in the late 1960s, at the height of the antiVietnam War protests, that ended my Swatantra honeymoon. After two years of staunchly
arguing the American case, I finally succumbed
to the anti-war Zeitgeist. Father and I now had
frequent rows about what I saw as his toadying to American imperialism, and I converted
Mother to my own subversive views.
Tensions at home escalated in 1969 when
Indira Gandhi split the Congress and launched
her bid for supreme power on a populist platform of nationalising banks and abolishing
princely privileges. Father, now President of
the Swatantra Party, resolutely opposed Indira
and expelled C.C. Desai, a colleague who had
been bought over by her to foment disaffection
in opposition ranks. It won Father the reputation of being one of the last incorruptibles
among Indian politicians.
I remember a Times of India cartoon by the
great R.K. Laxman, showing Father tall and upright in a sombre black Nehru jacket showing
the door to a scruffy, little C.C. Desai, dressed in
a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers and complaining:
But nobody dresses like that anymore!

Indira had already carried the battle into


our own home, where Mother and I split with
Father to campaign for the left-wing Indira
Congress in the 1971 general election. Father,
under pressure from Rajaji, had, by then, been
compelled to submerge the distinctive Swatantra identity into a so-called Grand Alliance
with the discredited right wing of the Congress.
The result was a landslide for Indira, in which
Father, for the first and last time in his career,
lost his own parliamentary seat. He insisted on
taking responsibility for his partys defeat and
resigned as its president. A few years later, the
party was wound up. Father devoted the rest of
his long life to civil society groups promoting
citizenship and free enterprise.
Forty years on, the wheel has turned full circle, with a government ostensibly committed to
economic liberalisation. My own politics have
also returned to the pro-Western economic liberalism of my early youth. But like other secularist economic liberals, I now find myself politically homeless, unwilling to choose between
a dynastic Congress rump and the saffron chauvinism of Narendra Modis RSS cadres. The
sad demise of the Swatantra alternative left a
political vacuum that has yet to be filled; this
is not just my own nostalgia but the lament of
left-wing Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. In his
speech at this years Jaipur Literary Festival,
he said he would not have voted Swatantra himself, but the country needed a secular, right-ofcentre alternative to the Congress.

1992: Masani with


then Finance Minister
Manmohan Singh,
who was credited for
bringing in economic
liberalization, something
the Swatantra Party had
fought for 30 years ago

Dr Zareer Masani is the


author of Macaulay:
Pioneer of Indias
Modernization; And All Is
Said: Memoir of a Home
Divided; Indira Gandhi:
A Biography; and From
Raj to Rajiv: Forty Years
of Indian Independence
(written with Mark Tully).
He is an Oxford doctorate
in Modern History, and
lives in London.
De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

23

C o v e r

S t o r y

A New
Idea of
India
Rajeev Mantri & Harsh Gupta

The Right needs to develop a different narrativeone that is rooted


in the scepticism and openness innate to Indian tradition
Who knows, and who can say
Whence it all came, and how creation happened?
The gods themselves are later than creation,
So who knows truly whence it has arisen?
Whence all creation had its origin,
He, whether he fashioned it or whether he did
not,
He, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
He knowsor maybe even he does not know.
The Nasadiya Sukta (Hymn of Creation), Rig Veda

he Foundational texts
of Dharma, forged some
three and a half millennia
ago, are filled with such scepticism that would gladden
the heart of philosophers
and physicists to this date.

24

N o v ember 2014

Indeed, the great physicist Erwin Schrdinger,


writing in 1944, observed that the Upanishadic
concept that atman equals brahman or that
the personal self equals the omnipresent, allcomprehending eternal self was, in contrast
to Christian thought, far from being blasphemous, and in fact represented the quintessence of deepest insight into the happenings of
the world.
It is because of the sceptical tradition within
the metaphysical aspects of what is now called
Hinduism that, say, the New Atheist movement
so prominent today mostly critiques Abrahamic or Western traditions when they critique
religion. Hypocrisies and hierarchies exist
in Indic religions as well but are primarily sociologicalrelated to gender and casteand
less theological. This is not because there are
no worrisome holy texts or doctrines, but
because those texts and doctrines can be selectively followed.
I ssue 001. 01

N ovember 2 0 1 4

25

Under Nehru, our democracy came to be based


upon the State brokering settlements between
groups of religions, castes and languages rather
than guaranteeing equal rights to each citizen
Nehrus Certitude

Why Scepticism is Essential


Scepticism is an indispensable foundation for
what is today called sciencethe fundamental premise of scientific inquiry is that an unknown truth can be learnt through iterative
experimentation and exploration. A dogmatic
school of thought cannot profess to be scientific.
As physicist Richard Feynman said, science is
the belief in the ignorance of the experts. Applied to the spiritual sphere, a scientific religion would be one that can accept that its assumptions are wrong. Indeed, philosopher of
science Karl Popper said much the same when
he posited that for a theory to be scientific, it
should be falsifiable. Popper also critiqued the
historicist and teleological underpinnings of
the Marxist and Hegelian worldviewthat
there were inexorable laws of historical destiny, all leading towards definite ends. In simple terms, the Indic worldview is more cyclical
than linear.
Similarly, an economic system that imbibes
such scepticism cannot, by definition, be centrally planned, for that would require an omniscient, omnipotent body to allocate resources. In
this sense, socialism is analogous with obscurantist and fundamentalist faith, while com-

26

D e ce m b er 2014

petitive capitalism is analogous to a scientific


religion.
Also, scepticismand the intellectual humility that it engendersis required to cultivate tolerance in a society, for it allows fellow
human beings to accept mutual differences.
This tolerance is also mediated through the
mechanism of the social contract in the modern era of democratic, liberal nation-states, so
that the views of one person or group cannot be
forced onto fellow individual citizens.
Social diversity too is the product of scepticism. Only if individuals are allowed to syncretically build upon, add and subtract from
tradition and practice, without being required
to dogmatically treat them as immutable rules,
can diversity within a group emerge. This diversity is apparent and much celebrated in the
land that is India, where the same festivals and
rituals are celebrated in different ways by different communities and regions. Had the Hindu tradition been a dogmatic one, there would
have been uniformity, not heterogeneity, in
socio-cultural life. That is why the opposition
from some factions of the Hindu right to multiple interpretations of, say, the Ramayana, is
very unfortunate.
S a m p l e I ssue

India under Jawaharlal Nehru and his successors decided to pursue a development model inspired by Soviet Russia, with the State enjoying
a gargantuan participation in the economy. Under his leadership, our democracy came to be
based upon the State brokering and negotiating
settlements between groups of religions, castes
and languages rather than guaranteeing equal
rights and freedoms to each citizen.
Inevitably, the State favoured some groups
over others, needlessly anointing itself referee
and vainly believing that it was best placed to
decide what was right for whom. In both economic and social spheres, the Indian State exuded a certitude that chafed against the millennia-old ethos of the society it sought to govern.
But the governance philosophy was not limited
only to certitude; it was selectively condescending as well. While Hindu personal laws were
modernised, Muslim laws were not. Perhaps
Nehru wanted to cultivate a committed voter
base as he pushed through his programme of
leftist economics, for, despite being lampooned
by the Right, Nehru always understood why India was united.
In 1961, addressing the All-India Congress
Committee session, Nehru had said: India has
for ages past, been a country of pilgrimages.
All over the country, you find these ancient
places, from Badrinath, Kedarnath and Amarnath, high up in the snowy Himalayas down to
Kanyakumari in the south. What has drawn
our people from the south to the north and from
north to the south in these great pilgrimages?
It is the feeling of one country and one culture
and this feeling has bound us together. Our ancient books have said that the land of Bharat is
the land stretching from the Himalayas in the
north to the southern seas. This conception of
Bharat as one great land which the people considered a holy land has come down the ages and
has joined us together, even though we have had
different political kingdoms and even though
we may speak different languages. This silken
bond still keeps us together in many ways.

The Secular Confusion


But Nehrus philosophy of centralisation and
certitude, carried forward with increasing

intensity by his successors, had disastrous


consequences for economic development and
communal harmony. However, it did not fail
entirelythe carving out of linguistic states remains its biggest success. Today, the fact that
Nehrus successors are hard pressed to even acknowledge the civilizational unity that seemed
obvious to Indias first Prime Minister shows
how far they have travelled from their roots.
In the quest to brand themselves secular, and
guided by narrow electoral interests, they have
transformed into deniers of Indias civilizational heritage. The fundamental flaw of modern Indias secularist philosophy is that it embodies
what English-American political theorist and
philosopher Thomas Paine had identified as the
confusion between State and Society.
Nowhere is this confusion more evident than
in the way secularism and communalism are
routinely touted as antonyms. The opposite of
secularism is not communalism but theocracy,
for secularism is a feature of the Statenationstates can be secular or theocratic. However,
communalism is a feature of Society. In a free,
democratic and liberal country, it is not only acceptable but sometimes even welcome for individuals to be communal. The more communal a society is, the more social capital it has.
The networks of trust and cooperation that
high social capital catalyzes bind together a society in myriad ways and thus encourage intercourse rather than creating distinctions, to use
Paines words. It is important to recognize that
the type of social capital is as important as
the quantum, but the former is more a product of State policy than the latter. The degree of
economic freedom determines the type of social
capital, and the greater the economic freedom,
the more likely it is that communities not tied
exclusively to religious or ethnic identity will
emerge.
This same confusion between State and Society rears its head when India is spoken of as a
Hindu nation. Whenever any politician, intellectual or public figure says so, there is much
outrage and heartburn among a section of the
left-liberal intelligentsia, who wail that secularism is in danger. But this intelligentsia fails to
distinguish between Nation and State. Because
of Indias civilizational ethos, demography and

To see and hear


Jawaharlal Nehrus Tryst
with Destiny speech at
the moment of Indias
Independence, use this
QR code:

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

27

There is a slow but sure realization


that our idea of ourselves should evolve
into seeing individual citizens as
the unit of State policy
history, India is already largely a Dharmic nation or society. However, it follows from the
scepticism innate to Indias philosophical tradition that the concept of a theocratic Hindu
state is illogical and absurd.

Contradictions of Indian Renaissance

To hear Sardar
Vallabhbhai Patels
speech in Calcutta on
January 3, 1948, on his
idea of the unity and
diversity of India, use this
QR code:

28

D e ce m b er 2014

But the left-liberal intelligentsias fears are not


entirely unfounded. There is a section of the
Hindu right that is certainly straying from the
tradition that espouses scepticism and openness under the garb of protecting Nehrus land
of Bharat from foreigners. In a delicious irony,
while purportedly protecting the land from alien faiths, the self-anointed protectors have
come under the influence of foreigners in their
interpretation and practice of the Hindu tradition, aping the antediluvian diktatswhich disregard scepticism and deny opennessof the
same traditions from which they aim to defend
Hinduism.
How else does one explain a Hindu faction that beats up defenseless young couples,
yet subscribes to the same broad Hindu tradition that worships Krishna, famed for his relationship with Radha, with whom he was never
married? How does one reconcile a self-styled
Hindu faction that attacks women for drinking alcohol, when Hindu festivals are celebrated by men and women alike with the consumption of a drink made from the cannabis plant,
and when the potent datura is offered in prayer
to Shiva? These factions seem to have internalised the anti-blasphemy attitudes of medieval
Turks, and the prudery of Victorian England.
The Indian State has not been in consonance
with Indian Societys highest metaphysical impulses. Given that the Nehruvian experiment
has largely failed, there is a slow but sure, if
as yet unexpressed, realization that our idea of
ourselves should evolve into seeing individual
citizens as the unit of State policy, to quote
Arun Shourie. It is this philosophy, the opposite of Nehruvian thinking, that is congruent
with Indian Societys heritage and best represents the possibility for India to emerge as a
progressive, prosperous and strong nation for
all her billion-plus citizens.
Indias political right, with the Bharatiya
Janata Party as its vehicle, has ensconced itself

on the national centrestage only over the last


two decades. Under Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee, the right embraced free market reforms despite a powerful faction committed to
anti-liberal economic policies, thanks largely to
the Prime Ministers visionary leadership. This
push for market reforms created a new constituency of right-liberals committed to economic
and personal freedom. Competitive capitalism,
as opposed to crony socialism, also helped dissolve the bonds of caste and community, as has
been extensively documented by intellectuals
like Chandra Bhan Prasad.
Cut to 2014a low caste leader from a supposedly obscurantist party winning a simple majority in the Lok Sabha, speaking about
womens rights with peerless eloquence from
the Red Fort, is surely a first and something to
S a m p l e I ssue

be celebrated by even cynics and opponents.


When it comes to the normative underpinnings
of our public discourse, the orthodox have been
defeated decisively but not completely. But this
is a defeat of orthodoxy and not tradition per
se, for it is the tradition of our civilization to
be flexible. Through the ages, Indian tradition
has been shaped by modernizing influences
of the time. Hence, the adjective Sanatana or
eternal for Indias majority religionand it
is important to recognize that this is not an attitude limited to just one group. To take an advice
given by the great poet Ghalib to Syed Ahmed
Khan, we must focus on the present and the future and not the past.
The Indian Renaissance will soon enter its
third century, initiated by its encounter with
British imperialism. While India was humili-

ated, looted and denuded like all colonies are, it


got back a window to its ancient pasta culture
that had influenced the Greeks with its scepticism, to which the Europeans looked up to for
their own Enlightenment. The process of reform started off in Bengal, where the Hindu elite
finessed the acceptance of modernity and Western education while rejecting the Christianity
of colonial missionaries. The deist, egalitarian
and relatively feminist views of Rammohan
Roy and fellow travelers in the Brahmo Samaj
were opposed by the orthodox Dharma Sabha.
Today, an increasing number of educated Indians are closer to Roys ideas on rationalism
and equality than that of the Dharma Sabhas
even as they confidently continue to idol worship and believe in polytheism as symbols of
piety, diversity and tradition.
De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

29

Id e a s

Public intellectuals on the centre-right should


rise above partisan bickering and apologia,
and focus more on pushing ideas rather than
individuals, and policies rather than parties
A New Narrative for the Right

Rajeev Mantri and Harsh


Gupta are co-founders
of the India Enterprise
Council.

30

D e ce m b er 2014

There are four levels of political consciousness,


in increasing order of depth: party politics;
public policy; philosophical; and psychological.
At the party-politics level, public intellectuals on the center-right, be they animated more
by liberal economic or civilizational concerns,
should rise above partisan bickering and apologia, and focus more on pushing ideas rather
than individuals, policies and philosophy rather than personalities or parties. Electoral politics should be left to the cadre, on the ground
or increasingly onlineand that too is a critical role in any democracy. However, idea entrepreneurs may come across as more credible if
they keep reminding themselves that a political
party is just a vehicle, and not an end in itself.
At the policy level, there is room for substantial give and take. Both sides can agree to
concede a little and drive change on connected
issues such as Article 370 and the Armed Forces
Special Powers Act, the Special Marriage Act
and concessions for minority educational institutions, and many other combinations. We
have laws like the Right to Education, which
does not respect private property and distinguishes between citizens based on religion.
We have programmes like the National Rural
Employment Guarantee Scheme, which is fundamentally Luddite in nature. We have welfare
schemes like Right to Food, which do not understand choice and competition and instead force
distribution of food to the needy through a government-run body in a centralized, top-down
model rife with waste and corruption.
This is just on the welfare side; on the supply side, besides a Byzantine bureaucratic
structure, we also have the huge dearth of State
capacity, with an woefully inadequate number
of judges and police officers. This seriously undermines rule of law and justice delivery. Contracts are often not worth the paper they are
written on, which drives Indians to work only
with people they already know and trust, concentrating certain types of social capital within
specific communities.
At the philosophical level, the big question
is what is it that the Indian Right is aiming for?
Is there a Hindu version of Utopia or Ram Rajya besides rhetorical abstractions? If not, what

is the point of communal cold wars in the face


of worsening demographics? The Right needs a
different narrative. That is, the State must not
discriminate based on identity, whereas individuals should be by and large allowed to do so,
even if we find that personally reprehensible in
some cases.
Similarly, the antonym of an open economy
is not a welfare state, but autarkya protectionism-based, closed economic system that deludes
itself into thinking it is perfectly self-sufficient.
Competition-enhancing, supply-side reform is
in no way inimical to the State taking care of
the most needy, and indeed some competition
should be introduced to make our welfare state
more efficient. Swaraj is different from Swatantra. Individual freedom and local self-rule is
very different from national independence.
Finally, at the psychological level, the real
debate is between self-belief and a deep-seated
inferiority complex. After 67 years of Independence, why are we as a nation still seemingly
scarred? Is it just the millennium of colonialism? The Hindu right should be pushing for
free speech and free conversions, but is instead
acting only defensively. Despite all the bluster,
do most rightists believe that India can take on
the world? We should not hide behind a victimhood complex, and then blame others of doing
the same. The Indian nation will soon be the
largest section of humanity but do we really belong at the high table, and what do we hope to
contribute?
These baubles that we have accumulated in
the last generation or twodo we really believe
that we deserve them? Do we say Please and
Thank You to fellow Indians in the same way
as we do to foreigners? Or is something other
than politeness involved? Is one Indian as important as one non-Indian? The answer is no.
Our economy will boom if we make prosperity, and not merely the removal of poverty, our
aim. Our society will be free and open when we
make self-improvement, and not the transfer of
blames, our modus operandi. Instead of trying
to bring others down, theres no reason why
Indians should not take responsibility for their
destiny, channelize energies towards preparing
to win, and as Krishna had advised Arjuna, do
so without worrying about the outcome.
S a m p l e I ssue

Jaithirth Rao

A Tactical Alliance
With Ayn Rand
Ayn Rands popularity in India can be used as the Trojan horse
to direct Indias young away from the sterile paths of socialism,
collectivism, Statism and State paternalism.

n interesting news
snippet I ran across is that
India has one of largest
groups of young people
in the world interested in
Ayn Rand. This should constitute a great
source of hope and excitement for all of
us who are engaged in trying to spread
the message of the overarching importance of individual freedoms.
I have always felt that Rand was a
pretty mediocre novelist. Her characters
are wooden and stereotypes. Her situations tend to be simplistic binary ones.
But of course, it is not the quality of her
fiction that makes her such a compelling
read. It is the fact that her fiction is merely a medium for conveying with extraordinary emphasis, her basic philosophy
that the only way to achieve progress for
humankind is by unleashing the energies
of the dedicated individual.
Collectivism will doom us to a world
of envy and mediocrity, where individuals will cease to be free sovereign human
beings and become servile cogs in a
gigantic Statist wheel.
Keeping Rand on Indian bestseller
lists, disseminating her ideas, hosting
seminars where Rand is the focal point
of discussions, encouraging study groups
to talk about Randthese are ways we
should consider to expand the attractive beachhead we already seem to have
acquired among the young in India. Rand
can, in effect, become the Trojan horse
which we can leverage to direct Indias
young away from the sterile paths of
socialism, collectivism, Statism and State
paternalism, so prevalent in our academic, political and bureaucratic spheres.
Rand has an appeal to the hardheaded as well as to those attracted to

starry-eyed aspirational ideals. It is this


combination of being grounded in consequential empiricism while appealing to
the indomitable spirit within each of us
that we need to keep pushing.
The emergence of entrepreneurial energy in unlikely places, or places which
people considered unlikely, is one more
theme we can and should focus on. In this
context, a book I would recommend is Defying the Odds: The Rise of Dalit Entrepreneurs by Devesh Kapur, D. Shyam Babu
and Chandra Bhan Prasad.
This extraordinary book tells us how
Dalits, who have been for centuries suppressed by a stultifying societal identity
can liberate themselves as individuals
and how so many of them have literally
and metaphorically defied the odds and
emerged as successful entrepreneurs.
It is not State hand-outs or government doles that have been the key to the
lives of these remarkable people. It is the
call of the free market where the high
quality of your product and the attractive

price of your service determines whether


you succeed, not your surname or what
accent you speak with, which caste you
belong to or which college you attended.
It turns out that the best cure for
centuries of deprivation is simply having
the right of free and unfettered entry into
businessa right not granted based on
birth or connections, a right not granted
at all, a right that is grasped by sheer
ability, resilience, chutzpah, risk-taking
and hard work. No one turns down a
good job in a factory because the owner is
a Dalit; no one refuses a good bargain because the company providing the product
has been started by a Dalit.
The book is of course, inspirational
just like the story of any Ayn Rand
protagonist. But it is also dedicated to
the simple proposition of empirically
verifiable consequentialism that a free
market is the best antidote to entrenched
casteism. Remember that in the licensepermit Raj, only the well-connected get
licenses. But when you no longer need
the States permission or license to start
and run a business, guess what, out of the
woodwork, dozens, hundreds, thousands
of Dalit entrepreneurs emerge.
Between Ayn Rand and the biographies of Dalit entrepreneurs, we have
powerful weapons to encourage our
young to turn their gazes and give their
support to robust individualism, free
markets and the enhancement of freedoms for all humans.
The author is the former CEO of MphasiS, and
was head of Citibanks Global Technology Division. He is currently the Executive Chairman of
Value and Budget Housing Corporation (VBHC),
an affordable housing venture. Rao is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Swarajya
De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

31

E x p e r t s

Rupa Subramanya

The
Interpreters
of Maladies

Commentators on India in the foreign press tend to be


Western experts, elite members of the diaspora or, if based
in India, members of the Anglicised establishment elite

32

D e ce m b er 2014

S a m p l e I ssue

ho interprets India for


the Western audience? This
is not merely an arcane academic question, but for me
has been brought sharply
into focus by the spate of largely negative commentary pieces in the international media on
Prime Minister Narendra Modis visit to the
United States.
As representative examples, consider the
blog post in The Economist by Patrick Foulis:
And suddenly, just after mid-day, Mr Modi is
standing on the same floodlit spot (in Madison
Square Garden) where Mick Jagger probably
sang Sympathy for the Devil. Mr Modi ignores
the dignitaries completely: idiots. He looks
around the crowd smiling, savouring it all.
In The New York Times, Manu Joseph wrote:
(The Hindu diaspora backs the values) that triumphed with the ascent of Mr Modi, whom the
Indian stockmarket adores, who complained
in March that his political rivals were killing
rhinos to make room for Bangladeshi migrants,

who has shown disdain for government spending on the poor and whom human rights advocates hold responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of Muslims in 2002, as did the American
government, which barred him from entering
the United States until a few months ago, when
he became prime minister.
In his online column for Bloomberg, Pankaj
Mishra went much further: (Narendra Modi)
may actually be the most dangerous of cliches,
since the force unleashed by him can swiftly
turn malevolent. India desperately needs a vision other than that of the vain small man trying to impress the big men with his self-improvised rules of the game.
Commentators for India in the foreign press
tend to be Western experts, elite members of
the diaspora or, if based in India, members of
the Anglicised establishment elite. These three
representative examples I have quoted roughly
fit the paradigm.
What you wont hear are voices drawn from
outside the establishmentsuch as members

Prime Minister Narendra


Modi responds to an
enthusiastic crowd in
New York City

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

33

Experience Narendra
Modis speech at Madison
Square Garden in New
York City here:

34

D e ce m b er 2014

of the new middle class, largely self-made, or of


the non-elite diaspora.
In the language of post-colonial theory, these
are the real subalternsthose whose voices
are unheard, but instead are ventriloquised and
caricatured.
While the likes of The New York Times and
Bloomberg assiduously exclude such dissenting voices from their pages, technology has given the dissenters an outlet in the social media,
blogosphere and so forth. But for the most part,
the mainstream narrative has remained firmly
in the grip of an entrenched elite.
This cosy state of affairs has been given a
huge jolt with the overwhelming election victory of Narendra Modi. For the first time, a selfproclaimed outsider and vociferous critic of
the establishment is in power, threatening the
dominance of the Nehruvian consensus of the
idea of India.
Note the singular constructionimplying
that there is a monolithic and agreed-upon
idea of what India is, rather than a plurality
of competing and overlapping ideas which
also give voice to the disenfranchised.
Whats relevant in this context is that Modis
support base is drawn largely from the very
middle class whove powered Indias transformation into a modern economy since 1991, but
have ironically been excluded from the telling
of the tale.
Equally, those middle class Indians forced to
leave and seek opportunities abroadincluding the many Indo-Americans and non-resident
Indians (NRIs) who thronged Madison Square
Gardenare scorned by the establishment elite
(who had the luxury of crony connections that
allowed them to prosper in India) and they too
are excluded from the mainstream narrative.
Its telling that much of the criticism of
Modis US visit centres not on any policy announcements he might have made or not made,
but rather on attacking the non-elite middle
class backgrounds and culture both of Modi
himself and of his supporters.
Contrary to what the orthodox Left would
have you believe, and despite the hype, the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002 has little if
anything to do with the many critiques of Modi
being offered up.
If it were really about 2002, why do the critics
take such great pains to pour scorn and spew
bile on the risen bourgeois (both domestic and
in the diaspora)the group, more than any other, which has come to represent Modis strongest support base?
At the root of it, I would argue, is a deep-seated class bias that, try though they might, the
critics find impossible to conceal.
Modi and his supporters are most certainly

not people like us.


The glaring irony is that many of these criticswho in India tend to come from the Left
are familiar with, or at any rate, ought to be
sympathetic to, the ideas of post-colonial literature, the writings of Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha among others.
Yet, they so often engage in the worst form
of stereotyping, essentializing, caricaturing
and more generally Orientalising their subject while at the same time ventriloquizing the
voicelessall of which plays perfectly for the
intended audience in the West and Anglicised
Indian elites both in India and abroad.
As a prime example, those dissenting from
the consensus view are often painted as crazy,
irrational, religious fanatics, and so on. Establishment journalist Sagarika Ghose coined, to
much acclaim, the term Internet Hindus to
tar all critics of the left-liberal consensus as being radical Hindutva types, when these are at
best a small minority.
Sometimes this dislike is tinged with the
hysteria of self-loathing and the insecurity it
brings, as in the much publicised recent opinion
piece cited above by that native informant par
excellence, none other than Pankaj Mishraa
piece widely shared and lavished with praise by
the establishment, but which would make any
sensitive reader cringe.
As Mishra writes, with barely suppressed
disdain: Not for him the barely audible
speeches of his Oxford-educated predecessor;
he brought a Bollywood fantasy to Madison
Square Garden because thats what his admirers have voted for. It actually reminded me of
Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (Raju Becomes a
Gentleman), one of many Bollywood films to assert that rising Indians can conquer the world
in their own style.
Yet, Mr Pankaj Mishra lets the mask slip
ever so slightly.
There are many instances in world literature of the aspiring bourgeois who tries to rewrite the norms of society and ends up making
a fool of himselfsuch as, for instance, Moliere
and Lullys classic Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme,
with which, one assumes, someone of Mishras
presumed cultural sophistication is familiar.
Yet his natural cultural reference point, to
clinch (as he believes) his argument against
crass Bollywood culture, is a Bollywood film!
As it happens, Mishra was not born into the
Anglicised elite establishment, but has climbed
his way into an honorary membership in the
club. As the writer Patrick French bitingly puts
it: Pankaj has obviously been on a long journey from his self-described originsin what he
calls a new, very poor and relatively inchoate
Asian societyto his present position at the
S a m p l e I ssue

Pankaj Mishra must be especially riled that Modi


and his many fans at Madison Square Garden
are a reminder of his own socio-economic origin
in India, from which hes fled so nimbly
heart of the British establishment, married to
a cousin of the prime minister David Cameron.
But he seems oddly resentful of the idea of social mobility for other Indians.
But the membership is honorary.
Mishra cant quite muster the serious scholarship to be considered a true intellectual beyond reproach, nor, despite what we presume to
be a valiant effort, can he quite emulate the faux
Oxbridge accent that is so prized in the clubs of
Lutyens Delhi.
He must therefore, one presumes, be especially riled that Modi and his many fans at
Madison Square Garden are a reminder of his
socio-economic origin in India, from which hes
fled so nimbly.
As my friend, the writer and art historian
Deepika Ahlawat so aptly put it to me: Note
Mishras fetishisation of formal education

throughout, his mockery of Modis background,


his disdain of popular culture, and his Socratic
horror of democracy. This is a vicious and yet
tragic piece. Because Mishra stares at Modi and
sees only himself. Just less popular, less powerful and immensely less significant.
One might also add the delicious irony that
Mishras disdain for the middle class NRI is
the flip side of what used to be the middle class
NRIs disdain for everything Indiantwo sides
of the same coin of self-loathing.
Yet, the truly abiding irony of this cri de
coeur is that when Mishra damns the middle
class NRI and their brethren back home, he is,
one can only conclude, staring into a cesspool of
disgust which reminds him of his own middle
class origin in small-town India.
But then this makes him just the pitch perfect native informant.

Rupa Subramanya
is Editor-at-Large at
Swarajya. She is a Mumbaibased economist, policy
analyst, commentator and
co-author of Indianomix:
Making Sense of Modern
India (Random House
India, 2012).

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

35

Id e a s

Sanjeev Sanyal

The Architecture
of Hinduism
An investigation into Hinduism as a complex adaptive system

anatana dharma or Hinduism has long suffered from


a very basic problemthe difficulty of defining it. One can
describe a particular sect or
philosophy, but it is not easy to explain
the whole. Thus, it is not uncommon for
people to ultimately fall back on saying
that it is a way of life. Unfortunately,
such a definition is neither a meaningful description nor of analytical value. If
anything, it causes a great deal of confusion by suggesting that Hindu religion
is identical to Indic culturethe two
are obviously linked but not exactly the
same. The purpose of this article is to investigate the systemic logic of Sanatana
Dharma as a whole and the processes
by which it evolves. It is not concerned
with the philosophical content or daily
practice of any of the constituent sects,
traditions and philosophies.
Most world religions, particularly
those of Abrahamic origin, are based on
a clearly defined set of beliefs a single
god, a holy book, a prophet and so on.
These are articles of faith or axioms from
which each of these religions is derived.
This is why the terms religion, belief
and faith can be used interchangeably in
these cases. In contrast, it is perfectly acceptable in Hinduism to be a polytheist,
monotheist, monist, pantheist, agnostic,
atheist, animist or any combination
thereof. Thus, Hinduism is a religion but
not a faith, although constituent sects
or philosophies can be termed faiths or
beliefs. Instead, it should be thought of
as an organic, evolving ecosystem of
interrelated and interdependent elements
that are constantly interacting with each
other (and with the outside world).
There are many systems that fit the
above descriptionfinancial markets,
economies, cities, the English language,

36

D e ce m b er 2014

ecological systems and so on. These


are all examples of complex adaptive
systems. Note the contrast between the
organic and evolving dynamics of such
systems and the static laws of Newtonian
mechanics. In turn, this has important
implications for how we understand
Hinduism and manage it.
Not the Sum of Its Parts
One of the most obvious differences
between complex adaptive systems and
Newtonian mechanical systems is that
the former is not the sum of its parts. A
mechanical system like a car is the sum
total of all its parts as put together to an
intelligent design. In contrast, a city
is more than the sum of all the buildings
and a biological ecosystem is not just the
sum of all the plants and animals. This is
why complex adaptive systems cannot be
described neatly from any one perspective. The English language cannot be
defined through even the most detailed
description of its grammar. Similarly,
the most detailed description of the Taj
Mahal would not define Agra. Yet, speakers of Englishand the citizens of Agra
have little difficulty identifying and
using the language and the city respectively. The same is true of Hindustheir
seeming difficulty in defining Sanatana
Dharma poses no problem in recognizing
and practicing their religion.
Moreover, the evolving and mutating
nature of complex adaptive systems im-

plies that even the most detailed description is not just insufficient but fundamentally wrong over time. For instance,
given the constant absorption of words
and usages into English, an exclusive
reliance on Wren and Martins grammar
to understand the language would miss
the point. This is also true of Hinduism
where even the most detailed reading of
Dharma Shastras and Smritis would not
give you the correct picture of the lived
experience of the religion over time.
History-Dependent but Not Reversible
One of the common characteristics of
complex adaptive systems is that they
are path-dependent, that is, they carry
the imprint of their historical evolution.
Thus, most cities, biological ecosystems
and living languages will show the layerby-layer accumulation of their history.
Readers will no doubt recognize how this
applies to Hinduism. Notice how this is
distinct from Newtonian mechanics. Two
identical footballs, in identical conditions, will behave in exactly the same
way if exactly the same force is applied to
them. There is no historical memory in
the system, and it does not matter what
was done with the two balls before we
subjected them to this experiment.
Complex adaptive systems, however,
have an additional propertyirreversibility. This means that the system will
not reverse to its origin even if all historical events were reversed. Thus, revers-

It is perfectly acceptable in Hinduism to be


a polytheist, monotheist, monist, pantheist,
atheist, or any combination thereof. Thus,
Hinduism is a religion, but not a faith
S a m p l e I ssue

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

37

ing history will not take English back to


Old Saxon but to some other language.
Reversing the events of human evolutionary history will not take us back to our
ape-like ancestors but to a new species.
Similarly, reversing urban history will
not take a city back to the original village
settlement. More likely, one will get a
deserted city like Detroit or a museum
city like Venice. Again, notice the difference with Newtonian mechanics where
a perfect reversal of factors will take the
system back exactly to its origin.
An implication of these characteristics is that Hinduism carries its history
within it but cannot return to a pure
origin or Golden Age. It is necessarily
about constantly evolving and moving
forward even as it draws inspiration
and ideas from its past. The holy books,
traditions, customs and tenets of Hinduism should not be seen as a path to an
ideal Kingdom of God or Caliphate
to which everyone must revert. Rather,
they are the accumulation of knowledge
and experience. Critics may argue that
idea of Ram Rajya contradicts this
point but this is a misunderstanding.
Hindus draw inspiration from the idea
of Ram Rajya as a time of prosperity and
rule of law, but it is not a vision for a
return to the Iron Age.
No Equilibrium State
Yet another characteristic of complex
adaptive systems is that they do not
have an equilibrium or steady state in
the long run. Again, note the contrast
with Newtons laws. Thus, the English
language will keep adding words and usages with no tendency to stop. Similarly,
successful cities will keep changing and/
or expanding.
However, a corollary is that if the
system begins to contract, it can keep
contracting with no tendency to selfequilibrate. Thus, a city like Detroit kept
declining even though theory would suggest that falling real estate prices would
attract people back. Financial markets
too behave in this waythey will keep
rising past what people think is a fair
value and then fall back well below
hardly spending any time at the so-called
equilibrium.
This behaviour has important implications for how to manage complex
adaptive systems. First, it means that
managers should not attempt to hold
the system at some preconceived steady

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D e ce m b er 2014

state. Rather, they need to accommodate


the fact that the system is characterized
by increasing returns to scale which
can push the system into spiraling expansions or contractions. This does not mean
that one should not attempt to manage
such ecosystemsfar from it. Financial markets, cities and even ecological
systems can benefit from active management. However, the management should
allow for constant movement. A city
mayor or a financial market regulator
who insists on holding the system to a
static equilibrium will either fail or effectively suffocate the system.
Although Hinduism does not have a
centralized leadership, the above characteristics have many implications for
how Hindus think about their religion
and manage its future. For instance, they
suggest that Hindu leaders refrain from
being too prescriptive of where Hinduism
should go in the long run. Much better
that they focus on continuously updating
and reforming the system on an ongoing
basis while taking care to maintain internal diversity. The lack of uniformity may
seem like a disadvantage in the short run
but is a big advantage when dealing with
an unpredictable long-term future. This
is analogous to a species maintaining
genetic diversity as a bulwark against
epidemics and other shocks.
Another possible implication of this
intellectual framework may be that
one needs to be less enthusiastic about
anti-conversion laws. These have been
proposed by some activists as a way to
protect Hinduism in some Indian states
but these laws are based on an idea of
static equilibrium. Our analysis, however, suggests that such laws will have
little benefit if the Hindu community is
shrinking (for whatever reason). In other
words, a defensive tactic cannot work if
the community is in a downward spiral
in a particular area. It would be far better
to focus on expansionary strategies to
re-inflate the system. These could include
intellectual and cultural innovation,
social and missionary work, building alliances with other like-minded religious
traditions and so on. Some of these efforts can be derived from the past, but it
is perfectly alright to use completely new
strategies.
The Importance of Flexibility
One of the learnings from the study
of complex adaptive systems is that

flexibility will always triumph over


brute strength in the long run. Indeed,
inflexible systems can sometime disintegrate very suddenly even if they look
outwardly strong. Take, for instance, the
evolutionary history of life on earth. The
dinosaurs were big and strong, and dominated the planet for millions of years.
Yet, they suddenly disappeared as they
could not adapt to changed circumstancesexcept for a few species who adapted
to become birds! Similarly, the Soviet
empire, for all its nuclear warheads,
collapsed overnight because it could
not adapt. China adapted and thrived. A
similar story can be told of cities. Oncegreat cities like Birmingham, Detroit and
Kolkata were unable to adapt to deindustrialization. In contrast, by repeatedly
reinventing itself, London has not only
survived deindustrialization and the loss
of Empire, but has been able to retain its
place as the worlds financial capital.
This has very important lessons
for Hinduism. Indeed, the religion has
survived for so long because it was able
to continuously evolve though internal
reform, innovation and absorption.
Sometimes it was the slow accumulation of small changes, sometimes it
was a rapid shift led by a reformer like
S a m p l e I ssue

Adi Shankaracharya or Vivekananda.


There were also many instances where
Sanatana Dharma absorbed a foreign
idea and made it its ownHindu temples
and idol worship is possibly inspired by
Greek influence (Vedic Hindus only used
fire altars).
Interestingly, Hinduisms flexible
adaptive architecture may not have appeared entirely by chance but may have
been deliberately set up by the ancient
Rishis. Thus, Hindu scriptures are divided into Shruti and Smriti.
The former are said to have been
heard from the gods and consequently
are canonical. Strictly speaking, only the
first three VedasRig, Sama, Yajur
are considered Shruti (although many
would also include the Atharva Veda). All
other sacred texts, including the much
revered Bhagavad Gita, are considered
Smriti. The Smriti are remembered and
therefore considered of human origin
the works of great thinkers, compilations
of traditions, and so on. Some of them
may be highly regarded but they are not
canonical.
This architecture has had important
implications for Hinduism. The Shruti
texts may be canonical and provide general principles but they are wonderfully

Analyzing Hinduism as a complex adaptive


system shows us that its key strength has
been its ability to evolve, adapt, innovate
open-ended (just consider the Nasadiya
Sukta or Creation Hymn in the Rig Veda
to understand what I mean), whereas
the Smriti texts are more specific but
not canonical. This means that one can
keep adding new texts and ideas forever,
including texts that contradict previous
Smriti texts. The much criticized Manu
Smriti, by definition, can simply be replaced or revised if Hindus so wish.
To conclude, analyzing Hinduism as a
complex adaptive system provides many
important insights into the functional
architecture of Sanatana Dharma. It
shows that the key strength of Hinduism has been its ability to evolve, adapt
and innovate. This ability needs to be
actively enhanced and strategically
deployed in order to keep Hinduism
healthy. For instance, it may be time to
revive the tradition of writing new Smriti
texts, a practice that went into decline in
medieval times. Some orthodox Hindus

may consider this presumptuous but, as


already discussed, it would be in keeping with the inherent logic of Sanatana
Dharma.
This essay merely illustrates some
of the possibilities presented by the systemic approach to understanding Hinduism. It is not meant as a comprehensive
treatise but an attempt to initiate a new
way of thinking about Sanatana Dharma.
The author hopes that others will build
on it.
Sanjeev Sanyal, currently global strategist with
one of the worlds largest banks. is a Rhodes
Scholar and Eisenhower Fellow. Ho was named
Young Global Leader 2010 by the World
Economic Forum at Davos.
A version of this article will be published in
Probodhani, a collection of essays on Hinduism
edited by Saradindu Mukherji, published as
part of the World Hindu Congress, New Delhi,
21-23 November 2014

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

39

P o l i t i c s

Jayant Chowdhury

Are Muslims
in West Bengal
Flocking to BJP?
We joined the BJP out of our own free will. The colour of Islam is green and the BJPs colour
is saffron. Together, we make for India whose flag has both these colours.

hat the BJP is on the ascendant


in West Bengal is well known. That
the ruling Trinamool Congress,
worried over this development,
has been letting its goons loose
on BJP supporters and activists, especially in
rural areas, has also been widely reported. But
a significant detail lies buried under the blood
and gore of these continuing clashes that erupted immediately after the Lok Sabha polls: the
BJP lost five of its supporters in these clashes
and all five were Muslims!
Muslims, as BJP state president Rahul Sinha
attests, form a considerable chunk (about 15 per
cent) of the new entrants in the saffron party.
What makes this very noteworthy is that this
is happening in a state whose chief minister
has gone to great lengths to fashion herself as a
champion of the minorities. Her controversial
overtures to Muslims include sops like monthly
stipends to muezzins (those who give the call
for prayers at mosques) and imams (priests),
which have not gone down well with members
of other communities.
While many of the Muslims who have joined
the BJP in recent months had been Left supporters, there has been quite an exodus of Muslims from the Trinamool as well. The reasons
are manifold. In keeping with the culture of
retribution and violence that has characterized politics in West Bengal ever since the

40

D e ce m b er 2014

Communists came to power in the state in 1977,


Trinamool Congress supporters and activists
attacked, killed and maimed Left activists after Mamata Banerjee won the elections on the
crest of a promised paribartan (change) wave
in 2011. They were merely avenging what they
were subjected to by Left cadres when the Left
was in charge in Bengal.
Since Muslims formed a large chunk of Left
supporters, they were at the receiving end of
the Trinamool cadres retribution. But the Left
parties, which had collapsed quite like the Berlin Wall after their decimation in the state assembly polls, were in no position to offer any
protection to their supporters. Thus, for three
long years till the summer of 2014, Left supporters, left in the lurch by the party apparatchik,
bore the reign of terror that the Trinamool
thugs meted out to them.
And then things took a sudden dramatic
turn with the BJP, with Narendra Modi at the
helm, sweeping to power at the Centre earlier
this year.
Suddenly, the BJP emerged as the only
party that could pose a challenge to and check
the marauding Trinamool goons in Bengal. No
wonder, then, that Left supporters, including
Muslims, changed colours from red to saffron.
The story of the other lot of Muslims who
have been flocking to the BJP since the Lok
Sabha polls is equally interesting. Trinamool,
S a m p l e I ssue

point out political observers, is a breakaway


of the Congress with all the ills and warts that
pockmark the face of the Grand Old Party. Factionalism, thus, is rife in Trinamoola party
that lacks any ideological moorings and whose
leaders and office-bearers are there mainly for
power and pelf. The jostling for power and its
attendant benefits among various leaders of the
party has led to intense rivalries that often find
expression in violence. Leaders, and supporters
of the weaker and marginalized factions within
Trinamool have been facing the same plight
as that of Left supporters and, in order to save
their skin, have been joining the BJP. Many of
them are Muslims.
But then, say sociologists like Nikhil Chandra Chatterjee who used to teach the subject at
Calcutta University, to say that Muslims are
joining the BJP in Bengal for protection from
Trinamool would be too blithe an explanation.
The popular belief is that the BJP is, at best,
apathetic towards Muslims and, as such, anathema to members of the community. Going by
this belief, Muslims wouldnt have joined the
BJP even to save their skin. As many political
observers point out, had the BJP really been a
pariah party for Muslims, a far better option for
them (the Muslims) would have been to swallow whatever humiliation they suffered at the

hands of Trinamool goons and seek shelter under Mamata Banerjees aanchal.
That they havent done so, preferring instead
to join a party that the self-proclaimed and selfserving secular cabals in India love to taint as
communal and majoritarian, perhaps speaks
volumes about Muslims changing perceptions
about the BJP.
As state BJP chief Rahul Sinha contended
just the other day, had the BJP really been antiMuslim as the party has been portrayed, Muslims ought to have shied away from it. There
is merit in his argument. More so because the
Muslims who have been joining the BJP did
have other options. They could have easily
opted for the Jamaat-i-Islami which has turned
away from its earlier bonhomie with Trinamool
and is now pitting itself against the ruling party
in Bengal.
Jamaat leader Siddiquallah Chowdhury has
been quite critical of Mamata Banerjee in recent
months and could have been a far better option
for Muslims to rally around, had they really
been seeking protection from Trinamool. Also,
the attar king Bajruddin Ajmal-led All India
United Democratic Forum (AIUDF) which has
emerged as a powerful force in neighbouring
Assam and had set up base in Bengal a couple
of years ago could have been another option for

BJP President Amit Shah


addressing a rally in
Kolkata on November
30. The Trinamool
government tried to stop
the rally from taking
place.

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

41

Id e a s

Seetha

The Crony
Capitalism Scare
India is a better place than it was during the heydays of socialism
because there is more transparency today. Crony capitalism has been
put on watch; crony socialism never was.

E
Joining the Jamaat or
the AIDUF would have
guaranteed Muslims
in Bengal complete
protection, since Mamata
Banerjee, hyperconscious of her secular
image, would never
have allowed attacks on
members or supporters
of these outfits

Jayant Chowdhury is
an avid observer of and
commentator on politics
and society in Bengal and
eastern, including northeastern, India.

42

D e ce m b er 2014

Bengals Muslims. The AIUDF has announced


it will contest the next assembly polls in the
state in 2016. That Bengals Muslims did not opt
for these two parties and chose, instead, to join
the BJP is significant in itself.
What is clear is that for the Muslims who
were facing attacks from Trinamool, the BJP
was definitely not the only option before them
and they had the Jamaat, a political outfit, and
the AIUDF that is perceived as a Muslim political party like the Hyderrabad-headquartered
All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen, to join
if they wanted to. If anything, for these Muslims, joining the Jamaat or the AIUDF would
have guaranteed them complete protection
since Trinamool would not have dared attack
members or supporters of these two outfits.
Mamata Banerjee, hyper-conscious of her socalled secular image, would never have allowed that.
But the BJP, to her and her goons, is fair
game and the Muslims who joined the BJP
knew that. And despite this knowledge, they
joined the BJP. This proves that the theory that
Muslims are joining the BJP in Bengal to save
themselves from the marauding Trinamool is
not the whole truth.
The reality is that a growing number of
Muslims in Bengal do not buy the propaganda
that the BJP is a communal party. In urban and
semi-urban areas, many literate and even semiliterate Muslims perceive Narendra Modis
development plank very favourably. Most Muslims, as expelled CPM leader Abdur Rezzak
Mollah, who was a senior cabinet minister in

both the Jyoti Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee governments, says, have started seeing
through the hollowness of Mamatas touted proMuslim gestures.
Mollah, who retains considerable clout in
south Bengal, warned Muslims at a convention
in Kolkata a couple of days ago against Mamatas minority communalism. He believes
Mamatas gestures and sops to Muslims are hollow and insincere, aimed at only securing the
communitys votes. His charge finds resonance
among many Muslims. So does the BJPs sabka
saath, sabka vikaas promise.
Add to that Narendra Modis image as a nononsense incorruptible leader whose stated
objective is fast-paced inclusive development
that is in sharp contrast to the Saradha scamtainted, corrupt Trinamool Congress government that lacks any vision and objective and is
characterized by misgovernance. Is it any wonder, then, that Muslims in growing numbers
are joining the BJP?
Khalil Sheikh, the bereaved father of 17-yearold Sheikh Jasim who was shot dead and then
hacked by Trinamool goons at Chowmandalpur
village in Bengals Birbhum district on November 16 for having joined the BJP, told visiting
mediapersons: We joined the BJP out of our
own free will. The colour of Islam is green and
the BJPs colour is saffron. Together, we make
for India whose flag has both these colours.
Khalil could well have been speaking for all
his brethren who have joined the BJP, much to
the anguish of Mamata Banerjee and other socalled secularists.
S a m p l e I ssue

ver since the Supreme


Court order on the coal
block allocations came, the
Socialist Syndicate has been
on a roll. Smug smirks on
their faces, they point out that the entire
mess has proved every warning of theirs
rightthe private sector is unscrupulous, market forces have no morality and
opening up the economy in 1991 has only
encouraged crony capitalism.
Fortunately, the defenders of free
markets have been the first to welcome
the order, seeing in it an opportunity to
clean up a mess that is the result of what
Firstposts R. Jagannathan calls crony
socialism. The order has paved the way
for putting in place a more transparent
system where the scope for hijacking by
a crooked politician-businessman nexus
is minimised.
Yes, certainly, the camaraderie
between business people, politicians and
bureaucrats is more open and unapologetic than in the pre-1991 days, when it
was covert and sly. Yes, corruption seems
to have increased. In their book, Corruption in India: The DNA and the RNA,
Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari
have noted that reforms seem to have
thrown up opportunities for big-ticket
corruption and that the frequency and
monetary value of scams have grown.
But the corporate sector also has
never been under as much scrutiny.
Indian jails had never played host to as
many top business leadersB. Ramalinga Raju, Jignesh Shah, Shahid Balwa,
Sanjay Chandra, Neeraj Singhal, Subrato
Roy. And notice that no one is crying
about witch hunts. There is recognition
and acceptance now that if businessmen
try to game the system, they will have to
pay for it.

In pre-1991 India, managing the


environment was more important than
managing the market. In post-1991 India
too, businessmen do manage the environment with the help of obliging politicians
and bureaucrats and by silencing the
media with threats of pulling out ads and
filing defamation cases. But they succeed
only up to a point. Beyond that, they are
brought up short against market agencies (rating agencies, market analysts)
and independent regulators and the odd
crusading NGO.
How did the cooking of the books of
Satyam Computers get outed? Stockmarket analysts and institutional shareholders raised the red flag, when Satyam
approved the acquisition of Maytas Infra
and Maytas Properties in what Raju later
admitted was a bid to replace fictitious

assets with real ones. Raju had enormous clout with both the Congress and
the Telugu Desam in erstwhile Andhra
Pradesh. What led to the comeuppance of
Jignesh Shah? It was a payment crisis at
the National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL),
promoted by his company, Financial
Technologies, that saw an empire collapse like a house of cards. No government patronage could save it.
How did the flamboyant Subrato Roy
Sahara, who flaunted his proximity to
politicians cutting across party lines, go
behind bars? Roy had defied SEBI, which
had restrained two of his companies from
taking deposits from the public. He tried
every legal measure to get his way, but
ultimately nothing worked.
Political clout did not save any of
these businessmen.
The limit to managing the environment is the result also of an increase in
competition, again a post-1991 phenomenon. Earlier, there was a limited number
of players in any sector, making manipulation and suppression of dissent easier.
That is no longer the case. There are also
tougher corporate governance and disclosure norms in place, far more stringent
than when the state was micro-managing
businesses.
Yes, frauds still take place. Market
players are not always scrupulous. For
every case that independent regulators
crack down on, there are allegations of
them turning a blind eye to two more.
There are still regulatory grey areas. The
rule of law is not as robust as it needs
to be. And yet, India is a far better place
than it was during the heydays of socialism. Crony capitalism has been put on
watch; crony socialism never was.
Seetha is Contributing Editor of Swarajya
De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

43

Id e a s

Bibek Debroy

Creating artha is
desirable, as long as
it is done through
legitimate means
and the wealth
created is used for
desirable purposes.
Without artha,
dharma and kama
cant be pursued

The Desirability
of Artha
Selective and biased reading from texts gives the false impression
that Hinduism is against wealth creation. In fact there is a healthy
emphasis on creating wealth, with limited expectations from the State.

cross several texts of


Hinduism, dharma, artha
and kama are described
as the three objectives of
human existence. Dharma
is difficult to translate in English. In
different contexts, it can stand for duty,
ethics, rule of law, code of conduct and
the spiritual or metaphysical. Artha is
wealth or prosperity, and kama is desire,
but not necessarily interpreted in the
narrow sense of sexual desire. Transcending dharma, artha and kama is
mokshathe ultimate goal of emancipation or liberation.
At a superficial level, there is an
impression that moksha is superior to
dharma, dharma is superior to artha and
artha is superior to kama. Also at that
superficial level, there is an impression
that the template of good behaviour is
based on varnashrama dharma, the four
varnas and the four ashramas.
To state the obvious and without
defending its subsequent hereditary
aspects, the four varnas represented
nothing but economic specialization.
If one leaves aside sacrifices, Brahmanas engaged in studying and teaching.
Kshatriyas ensured security, rule of law
and jurisprudence, imposing and collecting taxes. Vaishyas engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry and trade, while
servitude was the lot of Shudras. As for
the four ashramas, brahmacharya was
the first, followed by garhasthya, leading
to vanaprastha and finally to sannyasa.
Since this is known, why waste
words on something that is obvious? The
problem lies with quoting from a text,
ignoring the context. Take the Dharma
shastras. Who were they primarily written for? They were primarily written

44

D e ce m b er 2014

for Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, especially Kshatriyas who were kings. Words
like brahmacharya and sannyasa are
symptomatic. Brahmacharya is usually
understood as a period when one studies,
which is fine. But it is also understood as
celibacy, which is not necessarily true.
I can cite chapter and verse to illustrate that brahmacharya was also
interpreted, not as celibacy, but as indulging in sexual intercourse within the
permitted norms of behaviour, such as
with ones own wife. Similarly, sannyasa
did not mean renouncing everything and
resorting to a life of mendicancy and becoming a hermit. Within the garhasthya
(householder) stage, one can also practice
sannyasa, as long as one sticks to some
norms. The contested proposition is thus
the following one.
That, with its emphasis on the next
world and dharma and moksha, Hinduism wasnt concerned about creating
wealth. It was instead about pursuing
objects that werent material.
As a counterpoint, you may think of
Kautilyas Arthashastra. But I didnt really have this text in mind. Arthashastra
is about rajadharma, the duties of a king.
Arthashastra is about what we would today call government and governance, the
enabling framework for wealth creation.
I have in mind the Mahabharata instead,
especially, but not only, the sections that
have to do with Bhishmas teachings to
Yudhishthira when he is lying on the bed
of arrowsin the Shanti Parva and Anushasana Parva. You will also find similar
statements in Vana (or Aranyaka Parva)
and to a lesser extent in Udyoga Parva.
Incidentally, the Mahabharata also
has a substantial section on rajadharma.
In terms of describing the economy and

society, these are much richer than


Arthashastra. The Mahabharata isnt
only about the core Kurukshetra War
between the Kauravas and the Pandavas
and it is unfortunate that these sections
arent usually read. I am deliberately not
going to cite chapter and verse. But three
messages come out very strongly.
First, creating artha is desirable,
as long as that wealth creation is done
through legitimate means and wealth
created is used for desirable purposes.
Without artha, dharma and kama cant
be pursued. Artha is the base.
Second, brahmacharya (understood as
the period of being a student) is a stage
that everyone goes through. But after
that, garhasthya is superior to resorting
to vanaprastha or sannyasa. Had there
not been householders, who would have
sustained those who resorted to vanaprastha or sannyasa?
Third, as one progressively goes down
the cycle of yugas, Satya (Krita) yuga,
Treta, Dvapara and Kali, tendencies towards dharma go into a decline. In Satya
yuga, people were naturally inclined
towards dharma. No longer. Hence, the
role of the king and the carrot and the
stick in ensuring rule of law.
This proposition, about the importance of artha and garhasthya, isnt new.
For instance, it was also stated, without
detailed probing, by Swami Vivekananda
in several of his lectures, including the
one named Karma Yoga.
However, even when it is recognized,
little is written about a householders
role in creating wealth. For example, a
lot of the discussion gets bogged down
in the five daily sacrifices a householder
must performtowards Brahma (studying), towards ancestors (funeral sacriS a m p l e I ssue

fices, having offspring), towards gods


(offering oblations into the fire), towards
guests (feeding them) and towards nonhuman species (feeding them). These are
respectively known as Brahma-yajna,
pitri-yajna, deva-yajna, manushya-yajna
and bhuta-yajna.
Note that manushya-yajna isnt quite
charity, though it is often understood
that way. There are strong injunctions
against giving to the wrong person at the
same time.
Note also another point. If the king is
equated with the State, there were limited expectations from the State, beyond

security, law and order and jurisprudence. For instance, public works were
driven by individuals, not necessarily by
the king. Who imparted skills training?
Not the State, but the counterpart of what
may be called guilds.
On jurisprudence, it is interesting
that the Mahabharata gives a listing of
17 types of civil suits, in order of priority,
which the king should pay attention to.
Right at the top was breach of contract.
On the criminal side, there is an argument that rich people should not be
imprisoned. Thats a drain on the public
exchequer. Instead, monetary penalties

should be imposed on them. It is the poor,


who are unable to pay fines, who should
be imprisoned. This is a rather modern
line of argument.
Who created the wealth? Within that
varna framework, given the occupations
Brahmanas engaged in normally (exceptions were permitted for exigencies),
wealth must have been created primarily
by Vaishyas, with some Kshatriyas and
perhaps even the odd Shudras thrown in.
Whenever there was greater urbanization and trade, this wealth creation must
have increased.
In reacting to the texts and quoting
from them, it is important to remember
this, in addition to the chronological
timeline. Why quote from the Dharma
shastras, if we know those were primarily meant for Brahmanas?
Remember that most of the support
(including financial) for the Buddha
came from Vaishyas. Hence, if there is
an impression that Hinduism is against
wealth creation, thats because of selective and biased reading from the texts.
There is a healthy emphasis on creating
wealth, with limited expectations from
the State. Indeed, there are arguments
about a balance between the three objectives of dharma, artha and kama. But
thats not an argument against artha.
Bibek Debroy is a noted economist. His ongoing
10-volume translation of The Mahabharata is
one of the most seminal works in contemporary Indology. He is a member of the Swarajya
Editorial Advisory Board
De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

45

E c o n o m y
Surajit Dasgupta

9 Things Arun
Jaitley Can Do
The government is moving in the right direction, but rather slowly. It needs to go beyond
procedural changes and strike at some very basic wrong premises that hold back Indias
growth. Here are 9 major reform areas that come to our mind.

inance Minister Arun Jaitley


has promised a whole set of second
generation reforms in the Budget
proposals that he is going to present
before Parliament in February 2015.
He said the reforms called for some undoing:
allocation of resources without the executive
exercising discretion, a rational and reasonable tax regime and some procedural changes
in, among other things, land laws.
1. Beyond Incrementalism
It is in the language of the third that the status
quoism that the minister has been accused of,
manifests. Procedural changes as well as freeing business from legal hassles had marked the
announcements in his first Budget, but that
clearly did not satisfy the liberal intellectuals
who campaigned for a BJP government or the
people who shunned their old favourites to vote
for a Narendra Modi-led dispensation during
the Lok Sabha elections to see an employmentgenerating, paralysis-free policy in place.
2. Land Acquisitions
It is wrong premisesmore than lengthy proceduresthat stunt Indias growth. In the case
of land, for example, government must cease to
be a broker. A hands-off regime will not only set
the ruling party free from the accusation of being guided by cronies, but will also send personal property prices hurtling down while helping
stop generation of black money needed to book
a piece of earth in this country.
In case of acquisition, let it be a direct deal

46

D e ce m b er 2014

between the industry and the land owner; in


case of housing, let there be no registration hassles. Governments job should be restricted to
oversight of compliance with regulations. Once
land is acquired, an increase in its value will
not lead to agitation by farmers who would regret having charged less for the land that is no
longer theirs. For, only the State can be subjected to activism; private parties cant.
As the Lok Satta Party had put it last year in
reaction to the UPA government-made law, in
the guise of helping the farmer, the Bill creates
all sorts of bureaucratic hurdles in the shape of
committees at the district, state and central levels for clearing land acquisition.
The partys then president Dr Jayaprakash
Narayan had said that the children of farmers
who parted with land should be equipped with
skills and provided jobs in activities that follow
land acquisition. He recalled that he had the
privilege of training 8,000 children of farmers
who parted with their land for the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and providing permanent jobs
to all of them. The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act is completely silent
on this aspect.
The people get a raw deal, too. More than
50 per cent of land allotted to special economic
zones (SEZs) across the country remains idle.
The SEZs very purpose was defeated with no
significant increase in employment even as
the governments revenue foregone was to the
tune of Rs 83,000 crore between 2007 and 2013,
according to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
S a m p l e I ssue

Will the NDA government change the scenario? On 12 November, The Indian Express
reported: Worried about the adverse political
fallout of watering down provisions of the Right
to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the
Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, the NDA government is unable
to decide whether to go ahead with its plan to
amend the Act in the forthcoming winter session of Parliament or try and build a larger
consensus on the issue. Sources said the government is even toying with the idea of taking
the ordinance route after the winter session of
Parliament to effect key but politically sensitive changes to the Act. In fact, the government
had earlier also mulled issuing an ordinance to
give effect to the changes but the move did not
fructify.
True, this columnist had explained to
Swarajyas readers in his 23 October article on
swarajyamag.com that the new government
was committed to reforms, but it would usher
in changes keeping their political implications
in mind. However, that cannot perpetually stay
as the governments excuse, especially after the
BJPs remarkable victories in Maharashtra and
Haryana assembly elections. If 288 seats in Parliament were not enough to instil confidence in
Team Modi, the BJP will be in a better position
to send its representatives to the Rajya Sabha
with more states in its kitty, which its Upper
House MPs can represent by the time February

2015 arrives. Still, will procedural changes be


all that the people will get from Jaitleys next
Budget?
3. How about disinvestment?
The government is indeed moving in the right
direction, but rather slowly. The disinvestment
programme for 2014-15 seems to have kicked
off in right earnest with the Cabinet clearing
the sale of government stake in four major
public sector companiesSteel Authority of
India (SAIL), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation
(ONGC), Coal India (CIL) and National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC). But what
about several other businesses that, according
to Modis pre- as well as post-election speeches,
government had no business to be in?
The Indian State is a strange authority that
once nationalised domains where competition
was possible and privatised those where it
wasnt. Tata Airlines, Oriental Life Insurance
Company and other insurance companies, 20
privately owned banks etc were once forced to
sell their stakes to Indira Gandhis government.
Air India, Life Insurance Corporation, etc
sprung up in their place and banks were now
State-owned while retaining their old names in
most cases.
On the other hand, State electric and water
supply contracts are being gifted on a platter to
private industries, even though if the customer
is not satisfied with the services, he can in no

Jaitleys first Budget


did not satisfy the
liberal intellectuals
who campaigned for a
BJP government, or the
people who shunned
old favourites to vote
for an employmentgenerating paralysis-free
policy regime

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

47

A 4.1 per cent fiscal deficit target, slack tax


revenues and the challenge of raising $9.5 billion
from asset sales could force spending cuts
way switch from one supplier to another.
Shouldnt Government stop running hotels
and airlines and being the countrys chief moneylender forthwith?

Scan this to go to
Arun Jaitleys offical
site. Unfortunately, he
does not seem to have
provided a link where
visitors can comment:

4. Smart Welfare
When it comes to replacing subsidies by direct
benefits transfer (DBT) via Aadhaar, bank accounts, Su-Pay, debit cards, and mobile payments, for instance, the subsidies on cooking
gas and kerosene will soon be transferred to
bank accounts of beneficiaries. The UPA government was handicapped by the Supreme
Court judgement that said Aadhaar could not
be forced down peoples throats for DBT. But
Jan Dhan Yojana coupled with Aadhaar reaching Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand means an increase in the number of
people with unique identification numbers to 1
billion by the end of 2015.
Government must now rely on an anticipated human reaction; when some people get the
benefits and others dont, there will be a rush
among those left out to secure their Aadhaar
cards. DBT, therefore, must not be delayed any
further.
5. Coal Mining
The NDA government moved on 20 October to
open up the coal industry to commercial mining, signalling the most serious shift in 42 years
toward allowing private players full participation in the sector. But procrastination is writ
large on its announcements. While the industry
will be opened as and when required, no timeline has been set. Further, no foreign company
will be allowed to do commercial mining.
This isnt totally liberal, but acceptable nationalism. Once coal-bearing land is taken back
from private companies whose mining licences
were cancelled by the apex court in September,
the government will hold an electronic auction
of the mines for steel, power and other companies for their own consumption in three to four
months; this transparency is welcome. Now the
status quo: No changes are being made to the
structure of Coal India.
6. Fixing the Railways
Liberals were quite happy with the first Railway Budget of this government, but then came
the rude shock of the removal of D.V. Sadananda Gowda from the ministry. News of the

48

D e ce m b er 2014

Cabinet reshuffle was immediately followed by


a report that the former Railway Minister was
not able to get his job done. Why was he then
put in the Law Ministry that is crying for judicial reforms?
But this article is about economic reforms.
Mercifully, a go-getter Suresh Prabhu has been
put at the helm. The new committee on rail restructuring will come out with multiple reports
on different themes. Before the next Railway
Budget, the committees first interim report
should be submitted. If the government desires,
these recommendations can be implemented in
a phased manner.
7. Labour Law Reforms
Indias labour laws are archaic, suffering from
a 19th century impression about capitalists,
thereby making capital investments virtually
impossible. Rigid laws discourage firms to introduce new technology, as that sometimes entails retrenchment. This deters FDI because of
the fear that it would not be possible to dismiss
unproductive workers or to downsize during a
slowdown. Hence, getting FDI into export-oriented, labour-intensive sectors in India has not
been fully achieved.
The Industrial Disputes Act (1947) has rigid provisions such as compulsory and prior
government approval in the case of layoffs,
retrenchment and closure of industrial establishments employing more than 100 workers.
A 21 days notice and employees consent are
required if the job content or nature of work of
employees needs to be changed, as per the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act
(1970). The Trade Union Act (1926) provides for
the creation of trade unions where even outsiders can be office-bearers. This hurts investor
faith and restricts economic growth.
Amendments to some restrictive provisions
of the Factories Act (1948), the Labour Laws Act
(1988) and the Apprenticeship Act (1961) have
been cleared by the Cabinet and are set to be
tabled in Parliament. The punitive clause that
calls for the imprisonment of company directors who fail to implement the Apprenticeship
Act of 1961 is sought to be dropped. Employers
will no longer be required to absorb at least half
of the apprentices in regular jobs if the amendments pass parliamentary muster.
Doubling the provision of overtime from 50
hours a quarter to 100 hours in some cases and
S a m p l e I ssue

from 75 hours to 125 hours in others involving


work of public interest is on the cards. Companies with 10-40 employees will be exempt from
having to furnish and file returns on various
aspects, helping avoid procedural delays. But
there is no proposal to increase low worker productivity in the country.
8. Insurance Needs Reforms Too
In the insurance sector, thankfully, the BJP, as
the then main Opposition party, had not made
as much of a noise of protest as it had made
against FDI in retail.
Its not just about increasing FDI in the sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent. The proposed
law gives more power to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) to decide on expenses of the insurers. This, among
other things, allows the regulator to stitch a
new commission structure for distributors.
The Bill also puts the onus on the insurer to
tighten its underwriting norms. Currently, an
insurer has a window of two years after a policy
is bought to reject a claim on grounds of any
mis-statement or fraud. After two years, the insurer can still reject a claim on grounds of fraud
such as intentional suppression of material information.
The Bill, however, gives insurers three years
to establish this, after which the insurer will not
be able to reject a claim on any grounds. This
will curb the practice of underwriting a cus-

tomer at the time of claim instead of at the time


of buying the policy. The Bill and the proposed
amendments gives more power to the regulator and brings in several customer-friendly reforms. It defines quantum of penalty on specific
violations such as insurance sale through unlicensed entities and clearly prohibits damaging
sales practices such as multi-level marketing.
9. Lets go easy on Taxes
While the Finance Minister said before his last
Budgetand has maintained so thereafter
that he is personally for a wider tax net but
lower tax rates, the exemption was upped in his
Budget by a measly Rs 50,000 per annum.
Elsewhere, how much RBI Governor
Raghuram Rajans reluctance to reduce lending
rates has curbed inflation is unknown, but the
middle class, whose lives run on how efficiently
they manage the monthly liability of instalments, has certainly got no relief. Goods and
Services Tax is now the buzzword; hopefully,
the states, which have been offered a good share
from the consolidated tax, will not object. But
what happens to competitiveness of indigenous
products with imported ones in the scenario to
follow is not clear.
Further, with a tough fiscal deficit target of
4.1 per cent of GDP, slack tax revenues and the
challenge of raising a record $9.5 billion from
asset sales could force Jaitley to cut spending,
risking a fragile economic recovery.

The new committee on


railways restructuring
will submit its first
interim report before the
next Railway Budget. If
the government desires,
these recommendations
can be implemented in a
phased manner

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

49

D e f e n c e

Padma Rao Sunderji

Did the
Germans Try to
Sell Us a Lemon?

Fighter jet maker Eurofighters plans to sneak


in through the backdoor looks set to backfire

t is the largest defence deal in the


world and India is the buyer. India will
spend $28-30 billion (Rs 173,600-186,000
crore) on 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) to meet the urgent requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF)
and replace its ageing Soviet-era aircraft.
It is a deal that, for the IAF, is imperative
and long overdue: there has been a dramatic
rise in both fatal accidents involving its old
planes but also in security threats in the volatile South Asia region.
It is a deal that, since the first tender in 2007,
tested and eliminated the US F-18 E and F16-E,
Russias MiG-35 and Swedens Saab 39 Gripen,
narrowing down the choice to two aircraft
both made in Europe.
Finally, in 2012, India rejected the Eurofighter Typhoon built by the European Air Defence
Systems (EADS) consortium (Germany, UK,
Spain and France) and settled on Frances Dassault Rafale. Negotiations are in their last and
final stage, over pricing. Dassault is confident
of a wrap-up in 2015.
But Indian media reports suggesting that
price negotiations with Dassault are stuck over
some issues seemingly provided a ray of hope
for the Germans. For, two years after India settled for Dassault, German representatives and
those of EADS have renewed and intensified
their lobbying for the Eurofighter in New Delhi.
In September, both German ambassador in
India Michael Steiner and his boss, German
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier confidently told members of the German media that
negotiations with India are still on. To our
knowledge, India is still considering two offers

50

D e ce m b er 2014

(Dassault and Eurofighter), Steinmeier told


ARD TV. The Indians will decide on the one or
the other. All German media unquestioningly
and without exception reported the same.
But defence experts are perplexed at the
Germans renewed bid to gain a sideway entry
into a deal which is just short of being finalized.
The possibility of the purchase of the Dassault Rafale being cancelled at this advanced
stage is extremely remote, said Rahul Bedi,
defence analyst for Janes Defence Weekly.
There is a never-exercised-before procedure
under which India can, under very extreme and
desperate circumstances, cancel the import of
strategic equipment, but it is not likely to be invoked. Backtracking on such a huge deal is also
a question of Indias credibility and reliability.
Bedi cites other, even more important reasons:
One, India would have to give adequate and
acceptable reasons for cancellation. It would
require tremendous political courage because
a government that does so, would immediately
come under attack from the Opposition for possible corruption.
Two, cancelling the deal now would mean retendering. In the most optimistic of scenarios,
a repeat of the entire procedure up to delivery
of the aircraft could take up a further 20 years.
Three, given its urgent requirement and
growing regional security concerns, the IAF,
which is satisfied with Dassault, is pressuring
the government to sign the deal so it can start
flying the new MMRCAs as soon as possible.
Four, if the Dassault deal is completed by
2015, the first aircraft will be delivered only in
2018 and the last in 2025. To tide over the wait
till 2018, France has reportedly offered two of
S a m p l e I ssue

In October, the German army discovered a


considerable number of defects in the tail of the
Eurofighter Typhoon jets. Other countries, like
Austria, too have been complaining

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

51

If the Dassault
deal is done by
2015, the first
aircraft will be
delivered in
2018. To tide
over the wait,
France has
offered two
of its Dassault
squadrons
immediately

52

D e ce m b er 2014

its own operational Dassault squadrons with


immediate effect. This is a standard procedure
which is good for pilots to train and get used to
the new aircraft.
What is also likely to take the wind out of the
sails of the German and EADS lobbyists wooing
Indias Defence Ministry all over again, are developments in Europe a couple of months ago.
Just weeks after Steinmeier made a renewed
pitch to sell the Eurofighter to India and not
for the first time, the German army in October
discovered a considerable number of manufacturing defects in the tails of some of its Eurofighter Typhoon jets. Defects in the aircraft
have also been reported in other European
countries like Austria, whose bankrupt defence
ministry has additionally been struggling with
the astronomical prices of spare parts for the
sophisticated Eurofighter.
Despite these problems with the aircraft in
Europe and even after India had settled on the
Dassault, the Eurofighter manufacturers had
made a presentation to then Chief Minister of
Gujarat Narendra Modi, when it became clear
that he would win the national elections. Aware
that going indigenous is high on Modis list of
priorities, EADS is reported to have given him
a detailed presentation of a plant they would
set up in India, and even dangled the prospect
of using the plant as a manufacturing hub for
further exports.
Could this newfound German confidence be
based upon that meeting with Modi? Is there a
likelihood of India purchasing the Eurofighter
in addition to the Dassault?
Absolutely not, says Bedi. India already
operates about 26 platforms needing 26 lines of
repairs, servicing etc. to keep the equipment operational. Further, and since the requirement
is for three generations of fighter aircraft (Dassault being the medium range) and we are also
buying heavy and light fighters from the Russians, there is no money either.
Bedi agrees that indigenous manufacture is
something which is bound to be attractive to
the Indian government. Even the initial restriction to local manufacturing to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (under UPA II) has, in the interim,
been further expandedto the greater comfort
of Dassaultto include some private domestic
industries. And yet, he firmly rules out a cancellation of the Dassault deal.
But the German media reports of the Eurofighters manufacturing defectswhich, perhaps due to language issues, have hardly been
picked up in the Indian mediaraise the disconcerting question: Have EADS and the Germans been trying to sell India a lemon?
Quoting the German armys own website, a
report in German magazine Focus in October

stated that a large number of manufacturing


flaws were discovered in the tail of the Eurofighter during a routine inspection. Though
EADS assured the armed forces that the flaws
in the tail did not compromise flight safety, the
latter immediately reduced the down-time
(that is, the permissible flying hours till the
next inspection), from 3,000 to 1,500, citing they
were doing so as an additional safety precaution. To avoid disadvantages and in the protection of its own interests, the German army
also decided not to accept delivery of any more
Eurofighters for the time being.
Worryingly, Focus also reported that of
the German armys total inventory of 108 Eurofighters, only 74 are theoretically accessible,
of which only 42 are combat-ready.
The discovery by the German army in October unleashed concerns in neighbouring
European countries. Austrias Wiener Zeitung
reported that the countrys defence minister
already struggling with cuts in the defence
budgetis considering legal action against
EADS. Between 2007 and 2009, Austria had taken delivery of 15 first-generation Eurofighters.
By May 2011, 68 defects that had led to emergencies had already been chronicled.
Austrian defence expert Gerald Karner told
S a m p l e I ssue

the daily that all sophisticated aircraftlike


the Eurofighter or even the US F22do frequently have glitches. But though some countries which needed fighter jets on a must-have
basis like Saudi Arabia had purchased the Eurofighter, it was not as though dozens of others
were queuing up to buy the jet either, he said.
Indeed, manufacturing flaws in the Eurofighter have been reported frequently since
way back in 2004.
So could another reason for EADS enthusiastic offer to Modi to set up a manufacturing
hub in India and thus offer what seems like a
win-win for both sides, be the phenomenal rise
in manufacturing costs of the Eurofighter in
Germany itself? According to a 2013 report in
Germanys Spiegel-Online, the Eurofighter took
25 years to be developed. Till date, the German
air force itself is yet to receive all 180 jets it had
originally planned to order. Meanwhile, Berlins entire budget of $18.6 billion will have been
used up on merely 108 jets.
The Spiegel report also pointed out that the
last batch of Eurofighters ordered by Germanythe Tranche 3Bwhich boasts the most
sophisticated technology to datewill cost the
government billions more than envisaged. Germanys defence ministry reportedly said that a

decision had not yet been taken.


Importantly for India, the site reported that
there were plans to raise money for Tranche 3B
by selling the older, first-generation aircraft delivered to the German air force to generate several hundred million Euros. But those jets are
outdated by European standards, and NATO
partners are only marginally interested.
Given all these angles, Germanys renewed
if futileattempt to reverse the Indian Defence Ministrys decision may well be aimed at
tackling some of the myriad problems that have
beset the Eurofighter in Europe itself.
Defence expert Bedi says that Germany is
not alone. Ever since the media reports suggesting roadblocks in negotiations with Frances
Dassault, there has been a renewed attempt
by all stakeholders including the Russians to
launch fierce campaigns against one another.
But even if the Germans were to undercut
the French offer multifold, a reversal of the deal
with the French manufacturer, at this advanced
stage, still remains virtually impossible. The
nature of Indo-French relations is very different to that with Germany, Bedi says. We have
nuclear cooperation with France, we buy a lot
of other defence equipment from them. No government would want to jeopardize all that.

The Indian Air Force,


which is satisfied with
the Dassault Rafale,
is pressuring the
government to sign the
deal so it can start flying
the new planes as soon
as possible

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

53

A s i a

Hiroyasu Suda

New Dynamics,
New Chapter
Much has appeared in the Indian media about Prime Minister Narendra Modis trip to
Japan in September. But what do the Japanese think of Modi?

W
When Satyajit Ray met
Akira Kurosawa:

54

D e ce m b er 2014

hen Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose


Japan for his first official
overseas trip, diplomatic
and business circles in both
countries sat up and took note. There are no
two other countries in the region that can provide as steadfast and solid a base for economic
development without much risk, wrote Akihiko Tanaka, head of the Japan International
Cooperation Agency (JICA), in the daily Yomiuri Shinbun. Importantly, Tanaka argued
that Japans forging good relations with South
Asian countries, notably India, is not merely a
reactionary trend to Chinas expansionism. Instead, the JICA chief sees it as an effort to lay
a firm and long-lasting foundation for development in South Asia: one in which Japan can
play a much more effective and dynamic role.
Any India-watcher in Japan will tell you that
it has been obvious for long that India holds
enormous potential for Japan. And yet, a look
at the past 23 years since India began opening
up its markets to foreign investors reveals that
Japans pace of investment in India, compared
not only to western countries, but even other
Asian economies like Singapore and South Koreahas been rather slow.
The reasons for Japans reticence were not
very different from those of many foreign investors. The Japanese too were overwhelmed
by the chronic India problem: a combination
of politics, bureaucracy and corruption.
Consequently, for many Japanese companies, China and South East Asia remained the

main playing fields. Even though they were


evaluating Indias unique potential as a sleeping elephant, Japanese investors prioritized
expanding their businesses in geographically
closer Asian markets first.
But despite the sluggishness, Japans presence in India maintained a steady upward
curve. Take New Delhi alone. In the 1990s, the
number of Japanese residents in the Indian capital was around 1,000. In 2014, there are about
5,000 Japanese residents in the National Capital
Region, most of them in the suburban business
areas of Gurgaon.
Since 2000, Tokyos polity has witnessed
chronic stalemate. Several prime ministers
have been toppled after the briefest terms in office. This unsteady scenario posed serious challenges to Japans overall business competitiveness. Asias most industrialized nation began
to lose out to China and South Korea. As we
struggled with domestic political turbulence,
these two countries consolidated their presence
across Southeast Asia, especially in the automobile and home electronics sectors.
Of course, many Japanese remain confident
of their prowess in sophisticated technology,
which remains at the global forefront and still
sells successfully in many countries. Indeed,
current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe mirrors
this faith. Abe and his team have made it clear
that they are determined to rescue Japans
economy from the doldrums, plagued as it has
been by deflation over the past two decades.
It is therefore entirely in keeping with that
goal that Abe has set out to reassess Japans
S a m p l e I ssue

In Abes vision, India would always be a good


partner. But to improve relations with New
Delhi, there were several hurdles to be crossed
global partnerships and identify the good ones
that will be of reciprocal benefit.
Ever since his Liberal Democratic Party
came to power in a landslide election victory in
December 2012, and much like Indian PM Modi,
Abe has travelled more extensively than any
of his recent predecessors, visiting almost 50
countries in barely two years. In Abes vision
of who or what constitutes a good partner,
he had taken note of the potential India holds
for Japan. But to improve relations with New
Delhi, there were several hurdles to be crossed.
The first was the nuclear disarmament issue.
India has not signed Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT) for the discriminatory nature of
the treaty between the Haves and the HaveNots. But in Japan, the worlds only victim of
nuclear weapons, strong anti-nuclear sentiment persists in some sections of public opinion: all governments have to factor this in to
all policies, at least to an extent. Consequently,
every initiative to improve relations with India
must bear this section of opinion in mind.
Since Abes first government (2006-07) faced

declining popularity at home, his idea of forging ties with India did not make substantial
progress.
This was followed by the global financial crisis of 2008, which crippled subsequent Japanese
governments, already struggling with conflicts
within both the Liberal Democratic Party as
well as the socialist-inclined Democratic Party.
Japans global strategy lay neglected.
By the time the general elections of December 2012 came round, a deep distrust of all political parties prevailed among Japanese voters. All of them expected any new government
to revive the stagnant economy. Much like the
public mood ahead of the elections in India earlier this year, it is these voter expectations in
Japan that lent a big momentum to Abes return
to political centrestage.
Given the significantly greater public support, Abes second coming has proved far
stronger than his earlier tenure. He has begun
to tackle the most crucial issues head-on: reviving Japans economy and lending consistency
and pragmatism to domestic policies.

To see the absolutely


unique beauty of Japan:

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

55

Modi wih Japanese Prime


Minister Abe at the Toji
temple in Kyoto, a world
heritage site that houses
ancient Buddha statues

Hiroyasu Suda is a veteran


Japanese journalist
who has been Bangkok
correspondent, New Delhi
bureau chief, Hanoi bureau
chief and senior editor in
Osaka and Nagasaki, for
Kyodo News. The old India
hand currently alternates
between Bangkok and
Tokyo and is a much
sought-after senior analyst
of South and South East
Asian affairs

56

D e ce m b er 2014

Over the past 15 years, Chinas expansionist


policy became apparent and Tokyos relationship with two neighbours, China and South
Korea, turned sour over territory and differing
views on mutual history. Increasingly, Abe
and Japanese business leaders began to share
the view that Japan needs partner countries in
areas beyond East and South East Asia.
Abe was thus able to close the circle and return to his old idea of improving ties with India.
The opportunity to employ Japanese technology
to develop India and other countries connected
with India, the Middle East and Indian Oceanrim African countries, is a stepping stone to
that new dimension of Japans foreign policy.
The bilateral relationship with India has
already seen a significant development: Tokyo
has made it clear that it will cooperate in the
transfer of nuclear technology for peaceful use
in spite of the domestically prevailing anti-nuclear sentiment. This clearly indicates a more
pragmatic stance towards business.
Another area of interest for Japan is the introduction of its rapid railway system in India.
Of course there are other competitorsGermany, France and Chinawho are as keenly
interested.
Further, Japanese businesses are also considering some parts of India as hubs in the
supply chain of Japanese goods to the world
market. Such industrial estates already exist
around Bangkok. These bases produce car parts
and audio electronic goods for companies like
Nissan, Panasonic and Canon to export to the
world. But when Thailand was hit by severe

floods in late 2011, some of these factories were


forced to suspend operations, leading to a sharp
drop in their production of goods. Having another hub in India would certainly minimize
this kind of risk.
The landslide victory of the BJP in the May
elections made news in Japan. But even Modis
earlier reforms during his 12 years as Gujarat
chief minister, such as streamlining the state
bureaucracy and revitalizing the style of doing business were already viewed here as big
successes. So it is no coincidence that Abes
long-held interest in India has been energized
through the emergence of the Modi government, one that is more ambitious to push for
reforms than its predecessor was. Modi, on his
part, set the ball rolling. By choosing Japan for
his first official visit as Prime Minister, he sent
a clear signal to Abe that he, too, views Japan as
one of the most important partners for Indias
development and economic reforms.
Of course, sceptics abound in both countries:
they want to wait for substantial results before
commenting on Narendra Modis promises to
rebuild India.
Given Indias complexity of religions and
castes, bureaucratic red tape and ironically
because of its strong democracy, many Japanese know that India is a notoriously difficult
country to govern. Yet, positivity has the upper
hand. The current scenario in India is vastly
different from the past, said a Japanese business leader. This is a time of rare optimism, it
has come after a decade. We must not lose the
momentum.
S a m p l e I ssue

N e i gh b o u r s

Jaideep Prabhu

How India
Lost Out In
Afghanistan
The Indian
government
squandered
Afghanistans
goodwill through
years of vacillating
and incoherent
policy towards
the country. This
failure will have
repercussions in the
entire region.

58

D e ce m b er 2014

here used to be a time, not long


ago, when Afghanistan could not
get enough of India. Just in 2013, in
addition to the usual delegations
on business, health, security, and
other sectors, then Afghan president Hamid
Karzai paid three visits to India. Then suddenly, a coolness developed in India-Afghanistan
relations when Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai took
over as President after the Afghan elections
of April 2014. Just like that, the hot romance
cooled down to casual acquaintance.
However, things were hardly that sudden.
In fact, the Indian government squandered Afghanistans goodwill through years of vacillating and incoherent policy towards the country.
Where decisions were taken, they went unhonoured as many times as not, and Delhi almost
appeared disinterested in the future of the central Asian state. Most critically, India repeatedly deflected requests to play a greater role in
the security of the nascent Afghan democracy.
Indias historical ties to Afghanistan are well
known; every Indian and Afghan leader likes to
reflect upon them in front of the camera and analysts usually make at least a cursory reference
to them. Yet Indias crisis in the mountainous
country has little to do with either Mauryan
conquests or Mughal control of the country.
More importantly, the policy paralysis India

has exhibited in Afghanistan is symptomatic


of deeper flaws in the Indian foreign policy apparatus that will have repercussions not just in
the country but in the entire region.
In October 2001, less than a month after the
September 11 attacks, the United States and its
allies launched the invasion of Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom. The United
States was quick to ask India to contribute towards its Global War on Terror. India showed a
willingness to cooperate in terms of intelligence
and logistics but firmly refused to play a military role in Afghanistan. Washington appealed
to Delhi several times during the tenure of India-friendly president George W. Busheven
for Indian boots on the ground since 2006, but
Raisina Hill did not budge. Perhaps some felt
that the United States owed India for creating
a grand mess in the region in the 1980s in the
first place.
Riding on the coattails of US military power
comes easy to the world, especially when things
are going well. However, by 2009, Americans
were growing tired of a war on the other side
of the planet that supposedly degraded terrorist networks but did not yield any visible
prize. In May 2011, Osama bin Laden was found
and killed in Pakistan, barely a stones throw
away from a military facility of an American
ally. Domestic public pressure to leave became
S a m p l e I ssue

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

59

Former President Hamid


Karzais relations with
Pakistan were as toxic
as they were good with
India. Just in 2013, he
had visited India thrice

60

D e ce m b er 2014

stronger, now that the mission seemed truly accomplishedthe Afghan government had been
established in 2004 and it was their responsibility to safeguard their own wellbeing.
Strategists warned, however, that the Taliban was not yet dead and would come back the
moment NATO left Afghanistan; the Afghan
National Security Force was as yet too weak to
resist the Taliban on its own. The United States
was desperate for allies in the region to hold on
to the gains it had made. Already, as American
plans to retreat became more pronounced, the
Taliban began a small surge against local and
foreign forces.
Indias reticence to become involved in Afghanistans security has come at a high price.
Even as talk of downsizing the American commitment to Afghanistan appeared in the US
presidential election campaign in May 2008,
the Indian embassy in Kabul was the target of a
terrorist attack that left 58 people dead and 141
wounded. It was targeted again in October 2009,
killing at least 17 more. In February 2010, terrorists levelled the Arya Guest House, killing
nine Indian doctors. In August 2013, the Indian
consulate in Jalalabad suffered a suicide bomb
attack with 10 casualties, and the Indian consulate in Herat was attacked in May 2014, thankfully with no injuries. Indians have also been
victims of kidnappings and executions in the
central Asian version of the Wild, Wild West.
Many of these attacks have been traced
back to Pakistan and its notorious intelligence
service, the ISI. The US retreat had not only
encouraged the Taliban to launch their own
Spring Offensive but also emboldened their patrons in Islamabad to try and dislodge Delhis

foothold in their backyard. In fact, Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistans Chief of Army Staff from 2007 to
2013, had publicly called for minimizing Indias
role in Afghanistan in exchange for stability in
Afghanistan.
Indias inaction in the face of these provocations is curious. On the diplomatic front too,
Delhis actions can at best be described as tepid
except when it has come time to criticize the
United States. However, India has helped neither itself nor the region with any proposal of
its own.
For example, from Delhis perspective, Iran
holds the key to Afghanistans reintegration
into South Asia. Yet India has done little to
persuade the United States to make an exception to its sanctions on Iran so that India could
continue the highway from Delaram to Zaranj
through Milak to Chabahar. This route would
not only open Afghanistan up to trade but also
the rest of Central Asia.
At the same time, Chinese companies trade
routinely with Iran in arms, auto parts, electronics, mining, oil, power generation, textiles,
toys, transportation, and more. Chinas trade
with Iran has increased dramatically since 2007
when it replaced the European Union as Irans
largest trading partner, and is set to hit $44 billion this year. India has largely complied with
the spirit of the US sanctions by reducing its
oil dependency on Iran and disconnecting its
financial links with the country.
So timid has Indian diplomacy been that Delhi was excluded from the International Conference on Afghanistan, held in Istanbul in January 2010, largely due to Pakistani pressure. Last
year, Delhis outcry at the preposterous attempt
S a m p l e I ssue

by Washington to distinguish between a good


Taliban and a bad Taliban was also ignored.
Despite vociferously denouncing the withdrawal of US troops, Delhi remained predictably yet
frustratingly quiet during the negotiations between Afghanistan and the United States over
the Bilateral Security Agreement in 2013 and
early 2014. If anything, Indias policy towards
Afghanistan since the US invasion can be best
described as masterly inactivity.
To be fair, Raisina Hill has not been entirely
inert: India has extended over $2 billion in aid
to Afghanistan, the most it has ever extended to
any country. India is the fifth largest bilateral
donor to Afghanistan, after the United States,
the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany,
though Islamabad remains Kabuls largest trading partner. Besides the much-publicised Delaram-Zaranj highway, India has also built power
lines from Uzbekistan to Kabul, constructed the
Salma Dam for hydropower in the Herat province, invested in the mining sector at Hajigak
(although work has progressed so slowly that
Kabul has threatened to take the contract away
from the Steel Authority of India), and provided
support in education, health, and telecommunications. India opened up four consulates in Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif,
and in 2007, also pushed for Afghanistans entry
into the South Asian Association for Regional
Cooperation (SAARC) to better integrate it into
the regions economic networks.
Howbeit, India would do well to look to its
own historyif it ever opened its archives
to understand that developmental aid would
never mean the same as military assistance.
The United States and Japan were the largest

sources of developmental aid to India since independence and yet it was the Soviet Union that
won the affection of the Indians with their MiG
fighter jets and Uralvagonzavod tanks.
Indias military aid to Afghanistan is not
quite nil: Delhi trained 576 Afghan troops in
2012 and that number increased to 1,000 in 2013;
over 650 officers and special forces commandos
have also received training in India. According
to Indian officials, there are also some 500 Indian paramilitary forces deployed in Afghanistan to guard Indian assets as they develop Afghan infrastructure. Finally, in May 2014, India
worked out a deal with Russia whereby Delhi
would pay Moscow to manufacture and deliver
weapons to Kabul. Though the specifics of this
deal are unknown, brand new weapons would
cost more and cut into the volume of armaments Afghanistan is looking for. India would
also pay to repair old equipment the Soviets had
left behind in 1989.
This is not enough for Kabul, which has been
blunt about what they expect from India: second-hand weapons such as MiG-21 fighter jets,
T-72 tanks, Bofors howitzers, AN-32 transport
aircraft, MI-17 helicopters, trucks, bridge-laying equipment, radios, radars, other equipment
critical to command and control, and significantly more military trainers. Indias excuses
so far have been baffling, from claiming that
India does not have surplus weapons and Pakistani refusal to grant overflight permission, to
requiring Russian permission to manufacture
weapons for export under license. Admittedly
with the benefit of hindsight, it is nonetheless
unclear why Delhi could not anticipate Kabuls
requests and work towards resolving these log-

New Afhan President


Ashraf Ghani is an
academic and technocrat
who comes to the table
with a blank slate and
is willing to work with
Islamabad to reduce
terrorism in his country

The US Navy Seal who


killed Osama bin Laden:
I shot him twice in
the forehead...It was
closure.

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

61

Afghan troops fighting


the terrorist attack on
the Indian embassy in
Herat in May 2014

62

D e ce m b er 2014

jams once it received the first requests from


Washington and Kabul in 2006.
Seeing Indias hesitation, Afghanistan has
reached out to other regional powers such as
China and Russia and has been less prickly towards Pakistan, from whom it had once rejected any military aid, even training. For Kabul,
Delhi was the ideal partner as it provided aid
with no strings attached, given the considerable
overlap of interests between the two countries.
India itself invited China, Iran and Japan to
find ways of providing for Afghanistans security. As most realists would point out, this was a
grave mistake by the Indian governmentone

never offers other governments an opportunity


to enter ones own backyard, especially when
one of them harbours hostile intentions and has
been known to support a rival neighbour.
The real reasons for Indias vacillating Afghanistan policy are twofold. The first is that
Delhi continued to subscribe to the foolish
policy of placating Islamabad at all costs lest
the latter escalate the situation in Kashmir and
elsewhere. Over the last decade, India has approached Pakistan with a soft touch because
of domestic vote bank politics and/or a mental
paralysis that prioritizes looking noble and
restrained over achieving results. While there
S a m p l e I ssue

was no lessening of support for terrorist activity against India from Islamabad, Delhi genuflected to the half-baked logic of brotherhood
and Pakistan as a co-victim of terror. As one
analyst argued, India already deploys almost
10,000 troops abroad under the UN flag; it really
would not have been that difficult or alien an
experience for India to put boots on the ground
in Afghanistan if it so decided.
The second reason for Indias inertia is that
its ruling political party was too inward-looking and occupied with domestic rivalries to
formulate an effective national policy. Foreign
policy was federalized, with Sri Lanka being

the purview of Tamil Nadu, Bangladesh falling to West Bengal, and Pakistan coming under
the jurisdiction of Kashmir and its chapter in
Delhi. There was no foreign policy community
in the country that could grill the government
as citizens became withdrawn from governance
with scam after scam rocking the country and
institutions crumbling one after the other.
In April and May 2014, both India and Afghanistan went to the polls. In India, the BJP
won in a landslide, the first time any party captured more than 50 per cent of the seats in the
Lok Sabha in 30 years. Even before Narendra
Modi took his oath of office, he received two
calls from Karzai. The appointment of Ajit Doval as National Security Advisor gave hope to
the outgoing Afghan president that India may
at last step up to its regional responsibilities.
In Kabul, Ghani took office; unlike his challenger in the polls, Abdullah Abdullah, Ghani
had no ties to India. He had not fought alongside
Ahmad Shah Masood against the Taliban. Ghani is an academic and a technocrat, educated at
the American University of Beirut and Columbia University before teaching at Berkeley and
Johns Hopkins and joining the World Bank.
While Karzais relations with Pakistan were
as toxic as his relations with India were good,
Ghani comes to the table with a blank slate and
is willing to work with Islamabad to reduce terrorism in his country. Now, India fears that this
may increase Pakistans influence in Kabul yet
again.
Ghani is by no means anti-India. However,
having watched the South Asian giant vacillate
for years, he is following the prudent path by
dealing with those ready to do so. Delhi fears
that Ghani might overcompensate for his predecessors brusqueness with Pakistan and cooperate with them to reduce Indias footprint in
Afghanistan in exchange for reducing support
to the Taliban.
The pity of it all is that Delhi remained aloof
while it had Afghanistan trying to woo it and is
now realising its folly, albeit under a different
government, when Kabul has turned away to
other partners.
In many ways, Afghanistan is a litmus test
for Delhis ascendance as a regional power.
One of the many lessons a regional power must
understand is that soft power, while useful, is
meaningless without hard power.
For a decade, Delhi proudly recalled that
the most popular TV serial in Afghanistan was
an Indian soap opera, Kyun Ki Saas Bhi Kabhi
Bahu Thi, as proof of the superiority of its soft
power over US military force. Yet Kabul burned,
and as they used to say back home, dum Romae
consulitur, Saguntum expugnaturwhile Rome
deliberated, Saguntum was captured.

Jaideep A. Prabhu is a
specialist in foreign and
nuclear policy; he also
pokes his nose in energy
and defence-related
matters

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

63

Id e a s

Paddy Padmanabhan

The Long
Goodbye
Why Indian guests linger at the door, and other timeless habits.

ome years ago, I happened


to be in India for Diwali. Perhaps the first time in 10 years
that I was in my hometown
of Chennai for this most important festival in my culture. My good
friend Shiv had invited me to his house
for a Diwali party, which I was delighted
to accept. What time should I be there, I
asked. Oh, 7 pm should be fine, he said. I
planned carefully, adjusted for traffic delays driving across town, and showed up
exactly at 7 pm. Shiv wasnt home, and
his wife was getting the house ready for
the guests. From the look of things, the
guests werent expected anytime soon,
and the hosts werent quite ready either.
However, she graciously invited me
into the house since I was already there
a bona fide guest who had showed up on
time. I walked in, and I saw one other
guest, sitting a little uncomfortably and
examining the interior dcor with great
interest (its amazing how one can fixate
on the most mundane of things when
you have nothing to do, nowhere to go,
and no one to talk to). He looked up at me
with great relief, like he just set eyes on
a fellow traveler in the Sahara who just
might have some drinking water.
Turned out he was from Minneapolis.
Its close enough to Chicago that were
practically neighbours (relative to the
distance we had both traveled to be in
Chennai that evening). Our host, the
aforementioned Shiv, a charming man
with a mischievous grin, walked in and
announced oh, so the Americans are
here! Just as we expected. He and his
wife went on to explain that we Americans are always on time and hosts have
a dilemma on their hands every time
they invite Indian Indians and Western
Indians home. The westerners will always show up on time, the Indians never

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D e ce m b er 2014

will. As it turned out, the Indian guests


arrived between 60 and 120 minutes later
that evening. A random walk by any
definition.
I routinely suffered this embarrassment in the US, where I live. We have
many Indian friends who are gregarious,
party-throwing types for whom the concept of time is somewhat loose. We used
to be always among the first guests to
show at any party. One time, we showed
up at the appointed hour and learned the
hostess was upstairs taking a napat 8
pm. There was no food or drink anywhere to be seen, no other guests. The
hapless husband poured wine in paper
cups for us while we waited for her to
wake up.
That was the day I swore never to
show up on time ever again for an Indian
party. But then, it got me thinking about
this strange cultural issue. Why are
Indians never on time for parties? More
specifically, for Indian parties, and even
more specifically, when the party is hosted by close friends. And all this is just
about getting to the party. Its a whole
another matter when its time to leave.
There are broadly three types of
departuresearly departures, mass departures, and the stragglersdistributed
nicely along a bell curve.
Early departures: Guests have another
party or two to hit up before the end of
the evening, so they need to go.
Mass departures: Group behaviour
brought on by the sight of other guests
beginning to gather up their belongings
to leave.
Stragglers: Ones who wont leave till
every last drop in the whisky bottle has
been consumed.
They all have one thing in common.
The Long Goodbye.
Indian guests who have spent the last

three hours catching up with every other


guest, will suddenly remember many
things they need to talk about just as they
are about to leave. So between goodbye
hugs all around, the conversation drags
as they announce they are about to leave
(the hosts will always protestdo you
need to leave so early? Never mind its
1 am.). As the guests reach the door and
put on their footwear ( Indians are very
conscientious about leaving footwear at
the doorits ingrained in our culture,
just like never picking up food with
your left hand), there are more hugs and
goodbyes. Wait, its not over yet. The host
will follow you to your car, or at least
to the end of the driveway, while youre
getting ready to leave. By now, the kids
in the back seat are ready to blow their
brains out with boredom and frustration
(after all, its 2 am now). And so finally,
we depart.
Our scriptures exhort us to honour the principle of Atithi devo bhava
(loosely, the guest is to be treated and
welcomed like God) but neither guest
nor host seems to think that necessarily
means being punctual.
So, I decided to conduct some deep
psychological and sociological research
into the Long Goodbye. I wanted to leave
no stone unturned in my quest for the
truth. I started with three things:
1. I asked my close friends if they had
read Raymond Chandlers 1953 book
The Long Goodbye in their teens. My
hypothesis was that some kind of
groupthink had developed in the 60s
and 70s based on some influential
book (no internet or TV back then).
I quickly eliminated that theory because no one I talked to had read that
book or seen Robert Altmans 1973 film
of the book (Never mind that the film
changed the storyline dramatically,
S a m p l e I ssue

and the book itself has nothing to do


with anything here Im talking about.
I just want to impress the reader with
the rigour of my research).
2. I talked to my wife and kids. My kids
ignored my question and went on
with their work. My wife shook her
head and gently suggested I look at the
grocery list to run some errands.
3. I talked to my American therapist. He
said it was quite simple. You Indians
Are Like That Only. I got upset with
him because a) I was paying him for
therapy, not to insult my culture, and
b) he was probably right.
Being of a scientific temperament, I
decided then to start at the beginning of
time. Or, more precisely, the beginning of
Indian Standard Time. Turns out theres
quite a story there. Heres what Wikipedia (the source of universal truth) had to
say:
After independence in 1947, the Indian
government established IST as the official time for the whole country, although
Kolkata and Mumbai retained their own

My American therapist said it was quite


simple: You Indians are like that only. I got
upset with him because a) I was paying
him for therapy, not to insult my culture,
and b) he was probably right
local time (known as Calcutta time and
Bombay Time) until 1948 and 1955,
respectively.[3] The Central observatory
was moved from Chennai to a location at
Shankar Garh Fort Allahabad District, so
that it would be as close to UTC +5:30 as
possible.
Daylight Saving Time (DST) was used
briefly during the SinoIndian War of 1962
and the IndoPakistani Wars of 1965 and
1971.[4]
It also turns out there were attempts to
introduce three different time zones in
the 80s, and a proposal to revert to some

colonial era time zones (such as tea-time,


not to be confused with the time for
drinking teait was time observed in the
tea gardens, the bagans of the North East
where the sun rises and sets much earlier
than in Aamchi Mumbai). As recently
as 2001, there was even a government
committee set up to assess the merits of
multiple time zones for India, but their
recommendations were shot down by the
irrepressible Kapil Sibal who declared
that the prime meridian was chosen
with reference to a central station, and
the expanse of the Indian State was not
De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

65

large. Wow. So were not a big country.


Take that, you rabid nationalists.
Anyway, the point is that we are a
confused polity when it comes to deciding what time it is, or what time it should
be, for anything. (Never mind what place
it should be. Every town and street worth
naming in India has changed names in
the last 20 years. This has only caused
more confusion and second-guessing
among intelligent Indians.)
Note though, that we are incredibly punctual and punctilious when it
comes to our religious ceremonies. Ask
a self-respecting Indian what he would
think of being, say 30 minutes late, to tie
the knot at his wedding with his bride,
and potentially missing the auspicious
moment. Not a chance. Or the glamorous
Bollywood producer who has to break
the nariyal for his films muhurat at an
appointed time when the constellations
line up in a certain way that makes a
ka-ching sound at the box office. NFW.
(Editors Note: If you dont know what
NFW means, check it up on the net, but
only when your children arent looking
over your shoulder)
Note also, that in the horribly complicated US, which observes nine official
time zones (yesNINE. If you dont
believe me, look up Wikipedia), as well as
daylight saving timewith some degree
of confusion about Arizona, Indiana, the
Navajo Nation and the likeAmericans
still get to work on time, show up for and
leave parties on time, and are generally
good about managing their time. I must
clarify that the very same Indian Ameri-

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D e ce m b er 2014

Growing up with a degree of timelessness


at a time when no one knew exactly
what time it was gave an entire Indian
generation a warped sense of time
cans I refer to are rarely, if ever, late for
work-related appointments or official
events, or parties hosted by Americans
(which may or may not include other
Indians).
I grew up in an India where people
would routinely ask other people for
the time of day. Not many people had
watches; they were a luxury. Many families listened to the radio to get a sense of
time (If it was Binaca Geetmala on the
radio, it was 7 pm). My father was the
only one who had a watch in our home.
It was gifted to him by my grandfather
when he married my mother. It was a
Favre-Leuba, with hand-winding machinery. One day, when I was in high school,
he was mugged when walking along the
road at Ekdalia Park in South Calcutta
(oops, Kolkata, how things change with
time!), and they took his watch. I know
for a fact that we lost all sense of time (we
were timeless, in some ways) for a long
time. Many years later, after I moved to
the US, I bought him a nice watch which
he wore till the day he died.
So here is my conclusive theory
on this. Growing up with a degree of

timelessness at a time when no one


knew precisely what time it was gave
an entire generation a warped sense of
time. In later years, external factors like
unpredictable flight delays, horrible city
traffic, complicated game theories about
how late the other person was likely to
be for the meeting, linear programming
models that simulated a time-series flow
of guests at an Indian partyall of these
made the simple act of showing up on
time an extremely complex thing to accomplish.
But why do Indians linger at the door
every time its time to say goodbye? I am
currently studying the latest behavioural
theories for clues to explain this phenomenon. For now, I am behind schedule in
turning in this piece to my publisher.
Paddy is a Chicago-based low-brow thinker,
pop culture observer, and a repository of
thoughts and ideas that serve no purpose in
advancing humankind . During the week, he
runs a healthcare analytics business. During
the weekends, he sings and plays guitar in a
classic rock and blues band. He hopes to own a
1959 Les Paul Sunburst some day.
S a m p l e I ssue

C r i c k e t
Sandipan Deb

The Bouncer Is
A Fast Bowlers
Fundamental
Right
T

Phil Hughes death is a terrible tragedy, but banning


the bouncer, as many are suggesting, will be unjust and
irrational, and can only diminish the beauty of cricket.

he death of cricketer Phil


Hughes after being struck on the
back of his head by a bouncer in
a Sheffield Shield match is heartbreaking. Hughes (the scorecard
will forever, poignantly, read 63 not out) would
have surely been in the Australia team in the
series against India. He was three days short of
his 26th birthday.
A tragedy like thisa life so full of promise
cut short even before it reached its primeis almost disorienting in its sheer meaninglessness.
It just seems plain unfair.
However, what is also unfair is the flurry of
suggestions coming from all quarters (except,
as far I know, for men who play and have played
cricket at the highest level) about bringing in
more restrictions on fast bowlers. Enough damage has been done to the game already by tilting
the rules in favour of batsmen, and (especially
in the Indian sub-continent) carefully preparing dead pitches that offer the fast bowler no
purchase. We certainly dont need to load the
dice any further.
Op-ed writers have asked for the bouncer
to be outlawed immediately. Any delivery that
rises above the batsmans shoulder should be
called a no-ball, and if a bowler bowls a certain
number of such no-balls, he must be taken off
the attack. On Facebook, at least one senior

68

D e ce m b er 2014

journalist has gone an extra 22 yards and demanded that all deliveries above 130 km should
be no-balled!
Other ideas being floated include enforcing
shorter run-ups for fast bowlers, soft pitches,
even four-ball overs (This will rotate the strike
quicker, because a fatigued batsman is more
likely to be hit by a bouncer. What these innovative thinkers do not realize is that the bowler
will also be less fatigued!).
Of all the various brainwaves, the 130-km demand is the most unreasonable and bizarre. It
reminds me of a Kurt Vonnegut story about a
society of the future where all men and women
who are found to be more intelligent than the
average citizen have to mandatorily take medication that dumbs them down to the mean level.
Those who are physically stronger than average have to go around with weights chained to
their bodies (the stronger you are, the heavier
the weights prescribed). If men and women are
judged better-looking than the average, they
have to wear masks in public, the hideousness
of which are reverse-calibrated to their beauty.
The great West Indian fast bowler Joel Garner was nearly 7 feet tall. There was nothing
he could do about this, or the fact that when
he released the ball, it was 11 feet above the
ground. Coming down from such a height, the
ball naturally bounced when it hit the track.

S a m p l e I ssue

So, Garners average delivery came at the batsman waist- or rib-high. This was merely immutable Newtonian physics. I suppose the 130-km
gentleman would have wanted Garner to be allowed to bowl only if he released the ball from a
bent-over or crouching position.
Why not just ban fast bowling and ask some
blokes to roll the ball slowly down the ground to
the batsman?
But I suppose then some people will carp
that this is unfair to the batsmanballs rolling
down the ground are difficult to hit for sixes.

Within a few says of Phil Hughes death, several lists appeared of cricketers who have died
on the field. These run to 11 or 12 names (including Hughes), but on closer scrutiny reveal that
only five players and an umpire have actually
died from injuries sustained during a match.
The others died on the field from heart attacks
and seizures unconnected to the game.
In fact, Pakistani cricketer Abdul Aziz was
mortally injured during a domestic match in
1959 by an off-spin delivery which hit the rough
and rose sharply to strike him in the chest! And

Phil Hughes is hit on


the back of his head
by a bouncer during a
Sheffield Shield match.
The injury was fatal.

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

69

Everyone who goes out to play cricket at a certain


level knows very well that a leather ball coming
at him at high speed is a potentially lethal
weapon. This is an integral part of the game

Watch this! Curtly


Ambrose vs Steve
Waugh, 1995, the best
battling the best, and
commentary by the best
too, Michael Holding:

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D e ce m b er 2014

Raman Lamba died after he took a pull shot on


his head at close quarters, fielding at short leg
without a helmet.
So, out of the five relevant deaths, only three
had anything to do with fast bowling.
The number of officially recognized international Test matches and one-dayers played till
today is 5,703. Lesser matcheswhether international and domesticplayed are obviously
innumerable.
Of course, there have been near-death situations related to fast bowling, the two bestknown involving New Zealander Ewan Chatfield and Indian captain and opening batsman
Nari Contractor.
In a 1975 Test match, Chatfield was clinically
dead for a few seconds after being hit by a delivery from England fast bowler Peter Lever.
And Contractor was almost killed in 1962 when
he was struck on the head by the West Indies
Charlie Griffith.
Now the facts. Peter Lever did not bowl a
bouncer to Chatfield. The ball hit his gloves at
waist level and then slammed into his temple,
felling him.
And Contractor has said in many interviews that as Griffith came in to bowl, someone

opened a window in the pavilion right behind


Griffiths bowling arm, and Contractor couldnt
sight the ball (there was no system of having
sight screens at that time). This was hardly
Griffiths fault.
It is also a fact that many arms and legs and
jaws have been broken and noses smashed, on
cricket fields by fast bowlers, from Harold Larwood in the 1932-33 Bodyline series, to Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson of Australia in the
1970s, and the fearsome West Indian pacers of
the 1970s and 1980s. But its hardly true that its
only while batting that cricketers have been
grievously injured. Players get far more regularly hurt while fielding, and sometimes with
serious consequences.
Raman Lamba of course is the most tragic
example. But think of Saba Karim, a fine Indian
cricketer whose career ended suddenly at its
prime, when he was hit by a ball under his eye
while keeping wickets.
What no one deniesor can dare to, without
risking being branded a moronis that cricket
is a batsmans game. In case of a close call, the
decision has to always go in the batsmans favour. I think I dont need to go into the details
of how over the last decade or so, rules have
S a m p l e I ssue

been changed to aid batting sides, especially in


the limited-overs formats; we cant but admit
that the bowlerespecially the fast bowleris
already working as a second-class citizen. Phil
Hughes death is a freak accident, and we need
to recognize it as that, and not respond irrationally, and on the basis of immediate emotions.
The unfortunate young man whose bouncer
hit Hughes is technically not even a fast bowler.
He is a medium pacer.
Everyone who goes out to play cricket at a
certain level knows very well that a leather ball
coming at him at high speed is a potentially
lethal projectile. Thats an integral part of the
game, same as brutal shoulder charges are in
rugby. Or keeping control of the vehicle while
negotiating a curve at nearly one-third the
speed of sound in Formula 1 racing.
The bouncer is a completely legitimate
weapon that a fast bowler has in his armoury,
just like the yorker, which, when delivered perfectly by someone like Waqar Yunis, is referred
to as the toe-crusher. Yes, the bouncer is
most often used to intimidate rather than take
a wicket, to try to jolt the batsmans confidence
a bit, but what is wrong with that? Every good
batsman trains hard to tackle the bouncer and
if he is scared of being hit, he should not be out
there on the pitch. What use is a striker in soccer if he is terrified of the rough tackle?
There is even some outrage that bowling a
bouncer is not right in the gentlemens game.
Cricket is a competitive sport, and as far as genteel behaviour goes, I find the reverse sweep
far more uncouth than the bouncer, which is a
delivery that, in cricket history, only the most

talented bowlers have been able to bowl consistently well. And sledging of batsmen using
the foulest language is a much bigger insult
to the spirit of the game. The spirit lives on in
other ways; for example, though there is no law
against it, bowling short stuff to a tail-ender has
always beenand is still isconsidered unsportsmanly.
If you are in the team as a batsman, you are
supposed to give as good as you get, and the
bowler is honour-bound to give you the best
that he has.
And the fussy gentlemen can always go
play croquet if they want.
Batsmen today are as comprehensively armoured as they can be without the weight of the
protective gear slowing them down. The helmet
surfaced in Test cricket only in 1979, 102 years
after the first Test match was played, when Graham Yallop of Australia came out to bat wearing
one (It should come as no surprise that the rival
team was the West Indies). Till then, batsmen
were bareheaded or had a cap on, fully aware of
and accepting the physical risk involved.
The best ways to tackle a bouncer developed
naturallyhook it, or duck without keeping
your bat up like a flagpole, or just move out of
the way. This is a skill that batsmen learn as a
necessary component of their repertoire.
Has there ever been a more beautiful sight in
cricket than Sunil Gavaskar swaying his head
and shoulders away just the required bit from
a viciously rising delivery, while keeping his
eyes on the ball all the time?
The truth is that no fast bowlernot Larwood, not Malcolm Marshall, not Allan Donald,

From left to right: Harold


Larwood of England was
perhaps the fastest and
deadliest bowler of all
time. Pakistans Waqar
Younis was renowned
and feared for his toecrusher yorkers, as nasty
a delivery as a bouncer.
West Indian Joel Garner
was nearly 7 feet tall,
so his normal deliveries
would bounce off the
track and come to the
batsman at rib height

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

71

As Nari Contractor faced


up to Charlie Griffith,
someone opened a
window in the pavilion,
right behind the bowlers
arm. Contractor was
unsighted and was hit on
the head. He almost died,
but never blamed Griffith

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D e ce m b er 2014

not Shoaib Akhtarhas ever wanted to kill


anyone.
Truly fast bowlers, by the very nature of
their calling, have to instill some fear in batsmen, and the bouncer is the best way to do that.
When a batsman is hurt, it is usually the bowler
who reaches him first and is the most concerned
(as also happened in the case of Hughes).
Larwood went into depression after he had
hit Australias Bertie Oldfield on the head.
Marshall vomited right there on the field after
he had smashed Mike Gattings nose in a 1986
match (Gatting was a tough man. He had to sit
out a few games, then returned with his nose
plastered. Unfortunately, he had to face Marshall again when he came in to bat, and the first
delivery broke a bone in his arm). Peter Lever,
after hitting Chatfield, was inconsolable, and
was never the same bowler again (and he hadnt
even bowled a bouncer, since Chatfield was a
tail-ender, the No 11 batsman).
The truth also is that most good fast bowlers
use the bouncer sparingly, because it is a notoriously difficult delivery to get just right (the
same is true for yorkers). In fact, 80 per cent of
the time, bouncers are wasted deliveriesthey
are either too high or pitch too short (and goes
for a boundary or a six) or too wide for the batsman to even bother.
Phil Hughes death is a terrible and shock-

ing tragedy, but it is also an event that has an


extremely low probability, perhaps one in 20
million. The bowler is definitely not to blame at
all, and every genuine cricket lover will surely
hope that this 22-year-old cricketer can cope
with what happened, be psychologically fit,
and live a life without being pointed out on the
streets as the man who killed Hughes.
Because he did not.
He is as much a victim of fate as Hughes was.
Cricket is possibly the friendliest and most
inclusive team sport on earth. This is a common
sight in a Test match: a batsman makes a mess
of handling a bouncer and turns and grins appreciatively at the bowler who also laughs and
winks.
Dont tamper with a fast bowlers right to
bowl a bouncer. Dont shackle him further.
And listen to Nari Contractor, who would
have thought about bouncers and the danger
they pose more than almost any other human
being alive (After his injury, though Contractor
returned to first class cricket, he never made it
to the India team again). Reacting to Hughes
death, he said: But then, this is part and parcel of the sport. I am hearing that some people
are calling for change in rules and do away with
bouncers. If that is done, it will take away the
beauty of Test cricket.
This is a true cricketer. Respect.
S a m p l e I ssue

E n t e r t a i n m e n t

Biswadeep Ghosh

Why Pretty
Women
Dont Act
Anymore

Mainstream
Hindi films rarely
attempt to delve
beyond a womans
physical beauty.
Female actors bag
assignments on the
basis of looks not
acting skills, leading
to the creation of
more stereotypes
than ever before.

ehboob Khan remade


his own 1940 film Aurat as
Mother India in 1957. Almost
60 years later, this Nargis
Dutt starrer is regarded as
the most significant among popular Hindi woman-centric films ever. The reckless usage of te
term woman-centric implies that the man-centric film is normal and the former is not, which
is deplorable.
Films with women playing central characters are viewed as aberrations, which explains
why they need to be categorised and manipulated to defend the patently indefensible: which
is that the portrayal of the woman in films in
cinema is regressive and stereotypical. Thats
why whenever the subject of women in popular
Hindi cinema comes up during a discussion,
Mother India is usually the first title to pop up
in our minds.

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D e ce m b er 2014

Not that gender inequality is unique to Hindi cinema. It is a global problem, although Indias performance on every count is seriously
embarrassing. A first-of-its-kind study was
conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, UN Women and The Rockefeller
Foundation, which analysed the content of gender roles in 10 most profitable film-producing
territories. The case studies were theatrically
released between January 1st 2010 and May 1st
2013 and roughly equivalent to a MPAA rating
of G, PG, or PG-13, two conditions which led to
deductions which dedicated viewers of contemporary Indian cinema across all genres and languages may not like to hear.
To start with, Indian films are among the
worst in their emphasis on sexy attire and
some nudity. Even more pathetic is the focus
on attractiveness, an area in which India has
emerged as the global leader. While no sample
S a m p l e I ssue

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

75

Kamli, Dhoom 3, Katrina


Kaif):

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D e ce m b er 2014

study can be perfectly accurate, the nations


cinema in general and Hindi cinema in particular doesnt attempt to look beyond the womans
physical beauty in mainstream films. Female
actors bag lucrative assignments on the basis of
looks as opposed to acting skills, leading to the
creation of more stereotypes than ever before.
A typical example is Katrina Kaif, who has
been trying to evolve into a decent actor for
quite some time. If beauty has to be admired,
she will possibly score a 9 on a scale of 10. As
an actor, how good is she? Think Waheeda Rehman, Nutan, Meena Kumari, or Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit and Kajol, in spite of the many mediocre films they starred in. Katrinas best moment
as an actor may be as bador worsethan the
worst of a Madhuri or a Waheeda Rehman. But
she is one of the leading female actors at present. Enough said.
That the past has to be evoked during assessments of quality is a reflection of the flawed present in which objectification at the expense of
content has reached new levels. No film in the

modern-day counterpart of parallel cinema has


been able to make the sort of impact that those
with female central characters like Bhoomika,
Mirch Masala and Arth did. Each of them had
fine actorsSmita Patil and Shabana Azmi
and they delivered a significant sub-plot in the
post-70s cinematic narrative.
An irony of modern times is that obsession
with attractiveness is getting stronger. Amidst
such a decline, many in the media have been
struggling to establish how more and more
women are finding better roles in the Hindi film
industry. Those supporting this argument must
state that each year sees a rise in the number
of releases from Mumbais film-producing factory. They ought to admit that the industry had
never branded a film as a horexa film blending horror and sexbefore Ragini MMS:2 came
along. This, they naturally dont.
Since 2000, Madhur Bhandarkar has directed
several women-centric films such as Chandni
Bar (very good), Page 3 and Fashion (good) and
the not-very-convincing Corporate and Heroine.
S a m p l e I ssue

The argument that a big film with a Katrina Kaif


(Dhoom:3, facing page) or a Deepika Padukone
(Happy New Year, above) as the main star cant be
made since no one has a story to sell is rubbish
While Bhandarkar deserves a special mention
since his choice of subjects has attracted top
stars like Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor in spite of the low budget of the films, he
appears to have delivered his best with Chandni Bar, his second film after the disastrous
Trishakti. Besides, none of these films really
qualify as mainstream cinema.
Vishal Bhardwaj who is much more talented
than Bhandarkar has directed some films with
strong female characters such as 7 Khoon Maaf
and the controversial Haider in which Tabus is
the key role around which the story revolves.
Tabu is an accomplished actor who has played

powerful characters in Astitva, Chandni Bar,


Maqbool and even in the breezy and unambitious Cheeni Kum in which her character falls
in love with a man who is older than her father.
But since she is 42, mainstream Hindi cinema
will judge her as an actor who is past her expiry date. This eliminates the possibility of
casting her as the central female leador the
main supporting actorin big budget films. Is
this power?
Vidya Balan is being seen as an actor who
can steer solo starrers after her fine show in
Ishqiya and the success of Kahaani and The
Dirty Picture. True, The Dirty Picture brought
De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

77

Vidya Balan is seen as an actor who can steer


solo starrers: Kahaani (above) and Dirty Picture
(facing page). But much of Dirty Pictures revenue
came from those who went to see a dirty picture
The suicide of Silk, played
by Vidya Balan, in The
Dirty Picture:

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D e ce m b er 2014

in more revenue than the producers might have


imagined, but an honest analysis would suggest
that a fair share of the revenue must have come
from those who went to see a dirty picture.
This argument can be substantiated by the
fact that this film became the highest grossing Hindi film with an A certificate, a record
eclipsed by the sexist filth fest Grand Masti not
much later.
Kahaani was admittedly a success, in fact, a
huge one for a film with an estimated budget of
Rs 8 crore. That kind of money is equal to, or
less than, the fee of a top male star or what he

eventually earns because of his share in distribution rights.


Mary Kom, Queen, No One Killed Jessica,
Mardaani and Gulaab Gang are among films
with powerful women characters that we get to
read about every day. Gulaab Gang, being a bad
film, bombed, which is fine. Dedh Ishqiya didnt
live up to its hype, which is not new either.
But did any of the hits come remotely close
to earning Rs 100 crore in the Indian market
the new benchmarkat a time when the typical
high-budget Hindi film with a Khan or Hrithik
Roshan is targeting Rs 150 crore from ticket
S a m p l e I ssue

sales in India alone? None.


Did the producers shell out Rs 60 crore or
more for any of these productions? Forget
spending that much, a film which stars a woman rarely manages to earn that much.
Earnings explain a films reach or the relative lack of it. This reach, in turn, is the only
way real power can be understood. Major male
stars have that in abundance, but those with
comparable stature among women dont have a
fraction of what the men do.
Try as we might, this fact cannot be overlooked or disguised.
Within the film industry, a vicious cycle
is at work. From day one, a big budget film is
marketed as one with a big male star in the
lead. Any insistence that a similar film with a
Priyanka Chopra or a Deepika Padukone as the
main star cannot be made because nobody has
a story to sell is utter rubbish. The real problem
is that directors are dependent on the money
that producers invest.
Producers evaluate the risk factor and

choose not to gamble because he wont be able


to find distributors who will shell out a much
higher price. The final outcome is the smallbudget film which suffers because of ordinary
marketing and is eventually released on a much
smaller scale compared to the big-budget entertainer. Seekers of simplistic classifications call
it an art film.
Nobody asks a key question since it is seen
as irrelevant. If a commercial entertainer with
a woman in the central role costs Rs 100 crore,
will it manage to bring Rs 150 crore home, the
way even a migraine-inducing movie like Bang
Bang! can?
Logically speaking, thats possible, although
producers need to believe in the idea and invest
first. Distributors must respond by buying the
rights thereafter. Since that wont happen anytime soon, a huge film in the traditional sense
will lead us to one more Dhoom:3. A big film
with a female star will be another The Dirty Picture. Five times less reach as a sign of shifting
balance of power? Thats a bad joke.

Having started out as a


journalist at 18, Biswadeep
Ghosh let go of a promising
future as a singer not much
later. He hardly steps out of
his rented Pune flat where
he alternates between
writing and looking after
his pet sons Burp and
Jack. We decided to make
him a Contruting Editor to
Swarajya

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

79

Id e a s

Mallika Nawal

The Image Rises,


The Word Falls
Language has infinite power and as long as theres Romeo and Juliet
or Laila and Majnu or You and Me, as long as theres love in the world,
language will find a way to cast its spell.

OW-WOWPOOH-POOH
DING-DONGYO-HE-HO
LA-LABefore you ask, let
me set the record straight:
No, I have NOT lost my
mind (at least, not enough to land in an
asylumnot yet). Nor am I imitating
the two-year-old toddler that lives in my
neighborhood (although sometimes, I do
scream like him).
So, whats this gibberish?
There is always a method to my
madness, which usually happens when
someone makes me really mad. And this
time, the man who managed to press
my buttons (and not in a good way)
was none other than the beloved mass
author, Chetan Bhagat with his Half
Girlfriend, in which a girl who speaks impeccable English agrees to be only half
girlfriend to a boy from rural India who
struggles with the language.
I truly dont know whos more offendedthe girl in me, the feminist in me, the
linguist in me or the Bihari in me!
Of course, this is not another review
of the book, which, to be completely honest, I havent readfor the concept itself
managed to put off my multiple personalitiesall at the same time.
However, before I delve into my
twisted reasons for writing this article
(and I solemnly swear to explain the balderdash at the beginning of this article),
let me quote another IITianthis time
an eminent IIT professor (and a close
personal friend). During a session, he
categorically informed his students, You
can never speak proper English. Its not
your mother tongue. And I simply sat
there, staring at him.
I promise to get to those funny-sounding words in a momentbut for now,

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D e ce m b er 2014

bear with mejust a little longer, at least


for one last anecdote.
I once dialed the number of this
incredible hunk of a CEO and managed
to ask for him, in flawless Hindi (in my
defence, I had not expected him to pick
up the phone). He was horrified: Mallika, what the hell is wrong with you?
Are you alright? (The horror overpowered the happiness that I should have
otherwise felt, realizing that he knew my
voice). Since then, whenever I want to
toy with him, I just head into the Hindi
arsenal and bring out the big guns. And
although, he has managed to dial down
his horror, hes yet to pack some heat
which finally brings me to my reason for
writing this article and I can explain the
mumbo-jumbo.
Well, here goes nothing
Bow-wow, pooh-pooh, ding-dong, yohe-ho, la-la are simply derision-dripping
cute names that the great Oxford
linguist Max Mueller used to denote the
theories of the origin of language. Thats
right: language, like humans, have their
own evolution. They too follow the principles of natural selection and they too
have seen the practice of artificial selection (aka selective breedingplease note,
the proper term for such hybrid languages is macaronic language; for example,
Hinglish, Britalian, Chinglish, etc).
And language, like us mere mortals,
has also known life and death.
Speaking of death, lets head back to
the horrendous bout of Hindi horror. To
be completely honest, this Greek-Godpersonified CEOs consternation at Hindi
knocked the wind out of me (and stirred
up the hornets nest inside my head).
Since then, weve both been at it
guns drawn, words loaded!

Although, I havent stopped pondering


the implication of his questions: Is there
something wrong with me if I choose to
speak impeccable Hindi? If speaking good
English was a hallmark of good breeding,
when did speaking good Hindi degenerate into a debilitating sickness?
The answer, my friend, is blowin in
the wind.
It would be wrong to say I didnt see it
coming. I knew this war was imminent
signs of it were strewn about the World
Wide Web and the telecom networks.
Every day I receive intelligence from my
assets who send me cryptic messages
messages without vowels. Even now my
head reels at this bizarre boycott. And
while I call them Slow Sluggish Sloths,
they call me the Vestal Virgin for Vowels.
(Alliterations are so much better than
altercations, are they not?)
The world that we live in is truly
strange. There were three children, who
lived in perfect harmony. But now, English is the only legitimate child. Hindi
was abandoned in the dumpster long ago
and Hinglish now bears the curse of illegitimacy. The war bugle has sounded!
I know what youre thinkingChetan
Bhagat and countless others have been
cursing the English purebreds. Its an
exclusive club, after all, with special
membership privileges.
Are they wrong?
Alas, no! English does open doors for
you that would otherwise have remained
closed. And the truth is that even those
who openly condemn it; secretly covet it.
But in the arena of impression
management, through the battle-cries of
image consultants, language has lost its
lustre. Image is everything and the joy
of simply learning a language has sucS a m p l e I ssue

cumbed to its battle wounds.


Thankfully though, I was born in a
family that had a reverence for the rhetoric. And in the limited time I have spent
on planet Earth (of course, thats my way
of reminding you that Im pretty young),
I have lived and loved it all!
I have experienced the covetous pleasure of English, the bewildering intimidation of Hindi, the sweet caress of Bengali,
the rough embrace of Bhojpuri, the musical notes of Maithili, the flamboyant style
of Punjabi, the diabolical similarity of
Marwari and Gujarati, the longing desire
of Urdu, the uber-simplicity of Oriya, the
swift breath of Tamil, and the tantalizing
intricacies of French.
Unfortunately, in a world where
shortcuts and jugaads abound, corruption has permeated language as well
whether its the advent of Hinglish; or
the use of kinda, wanna, gonna; or the
mindless boycott of vowels. But before
you condemn this corruption, remember
evolution will weed out the weakling.
But the corruption itself does not
enrage me, its the label. If speaking good
Hindi makes me SICK; good English
makes me a SNOB! Either way, it
seems, Im going to be stuck with some
label. Of course, I dont care what label
I have to live with, I will not give up on
my romance with language, and neither
should you!
But was it always like this?

Every day I get


cryptic messages
without vowels. My
head reels at this
bizarre boycott
The answer is: No. Rousseau, in a
posthumously published essay, contended that language developed in southern warm climates and then migrated
northwards to colder temperatures. (And
as the temperatures dropped, language
too took quite a fall}. So, while at its
inception, it was musical and had raw
emotional power, the colder climates of
the north stripped language bare, distorting it to the present rational form.
The comparison of language to music
is a befitting one. Can you honestly single
out a single note in music and claim its
more important than the rest? Can you
choose a single colour and remove the
palette? (Dont bother answeringits
just a rhetorical question!)
To quote Otto Jespersen (1922), the
Danish linguist: The genesis of language
is not to be sought in the prosaic, but in
the poetic side of life; the source of speech
is not gloomy seriousness, but merry
play and youthful hilarity...In primitive

speech, I hear the laughing cries of exultation when lads and lassies vied with
one another to attract the attention of
the other sex, when everybody sang his
merriest and danced his bravest to lure a
pair of eyes to throw admiring glances in
his direction. Language was born in the
courting days of mankind.
After all, who amongst us has not felt
both its warming glow and its cold icy
stingits companionship and its abandonment
How it makes us soar to the greatest
heights of paradise or how it flings us
into the deepest darkest recesses of hell.
Truth is, language has infinite power
and as long as theres Adam and Eve (or
Romeo and Juliet or Laila and Majnu
or Martian and Venusian or You and
Me), as long as theres love in the world,
language will find a way to cast its spell
just as it did, a long time ago, on a little
girl who lived in Bihar.
Chetan Bhagat notwithstanding.
Curse you, CB!

Mallika is a professor-cum-author, about to


complete her doctorate in marketing from IIT
Kharagpur. She is the author of three management books which are prescribed textbooks in
universities across India. She has taught at institutes like IIT Kharagpur, and S. P. Jain Centre
of Management, Dubai. She is the author of the
crime novel Im a Woman & Im on SALE.
De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

81

B o o k s
Arnab Ray

Playing It My Way
Sachin Tendulkar
with Boria Majumdar
Hachette India
497 pages
Rs 800

82

D e ce m b er 2014

The Voice of God


And His Silences

Why Bharat wont


revolt against India

SRTs autobiography works (mostly) because Sachins voice comes out strong and clear,
despite stilted prose and an unimaginative retelling of that-which-everyone-knows.

Senguptas challenge to the inertia-ridden socialist political heads and dyed-in-the-wool


demagogues is formidable. And his book is no armchair commentary.

There was a time, around a few thousand


years ago, that God would talk to us.
A lot. Sometimes He would say something
from behind a burning bush. Sometimes He
would appear in a dream. Sometimes He would
give us his words in the field of battle and sometimes He would just send his son down to Earth.
Then, for some reason, God became silent,
round about the time Man started this whole
science thing.
Now once again, after Many Years, he has
spoken, this time through a new prophet.
Not surprisingly, the chosen one happens to
be a Bengali by the name of Boria Majumdar.
I apologize for the blasphemy I am going to
commit right now. But I have to say it. Prophet
Borias prose is, for the want of a less obvious
word, boring. Not to sully the purity of His
words, but one wishes that He had chosen a
more accomplished spinner of sentences, someone like Rahul Bhattacharya for instance, who
would have been less liberal with passages that
sound like paraphrasing of scorecards.
But perhaps I am wrong. God knows best.
Perhaps only Mr Boria would have been able
to capture the voice of God without superimposing his own. Perhaps each exclamation point
was an Ailaaa, and God does indeed remember how many balls he faced and how many
runs he scored of matches played decades ago.
Perhaps.
Because, truth be told, Playing It My Way is
authentically Sachin. (Note: I shall from now
use the word Sachin interchangeably with
God).
There is deference to higher authority, namely the BCCI, for even Sachin has His Gods.
There is predictable silence on the contentious stuff. The Ferrari. Vinod Kamblis outburst. The match-fixing that was taking place
all around him.
Needless to say, there is much carping on
the interwebs for his silence on the latter. The
problem in being God is that the infidels always
carp. If he had said something about fixing,
then the retort would have been: Why did he
wait till his autobiography to say this? He is just

His rationale is sound. And he has a way


with words he borrows from the popular US
TV serial the term Californication to summarise Amartya Sen and Jean Drzes description
of a liberalising India as islands of California
in a sea of sub-Saharan Africa. Hindol Senguptas Recasting India depicts a country whose
citizens have perhaps made more sense of freedom in the last two decades than what its politicians could muster. A member of the upwardly
mobile middle class would be tempted to own it
as his or her published title.
Beginning with Dwarakanath Tagore, Gurudev Rabindranaths grandfather who had interests in coal, tea, jute, sugar refining, newspapers and shipping, the author speaks of the rut
that Bengal politics, and hence economy, eventually fell into while not forgetting to mention
that this linguistic community was not found
effete when the situation demanded, first modernising a regressive society and then bombing its way into the history of Indias freedom
struggle.
But before the reader can accuse him of parochialism, Sengupta flashbacks to Bhimji
Parekh of 17th century Surat. Parekhs parleys
with British trade representative Gerald Aungier, which secured a place for Hindu Gujarati
businessmen in Bombay makes the point that
entrepreneurship is not always merely about
managing to make profits but often about extracting assurances from the ruling class.
As the book hovers over Mukesh Ambanis
Antilia, defiance of reasonable budgeting by
Suresh Kalmadis Commonwealth Games, and
A. Rajas 2G spectrum bidders jumping the
queue, it turns into a compelling argument
explaining why the disparity between the rich
and the poor is not spinning into a civil war, all
anti-corruption movements of the recent past
notwithstanding. The poor of the unorganised
sector, Sengupta argues with reason, are trying
with their limited capacities to climb the ladder
by making and selling whatever they can. This
per capita hopewhich his father dismissed
as per capita jokeis keeping them from taking to the gun. For, an atmosphere of business

creating controversy to sell his book. Now that


he has not, they are still pitchforking him.
Damned if you do, damned if you dont.
See, thats the Problem. Whatever He does,
God cant win.
And thats often been the greatest criticism
of Sachin, that He does not make India win,
something He lets go outside the off-stump.
There is some controversy of course, but
even here, Sachin has gone for Henry Olongalike easy targets. Greg Chappell is the big bad
wolf, as are Adam Gilchrist, Ian Chappell, assorted Australians and that English match-referee who denied God.
Well, I take that back. There is one rather dramatic beef with another God, a kind of Zeus vs
Hades, that is never quite as front-and-centre
as the lightning strikes on Greg Chappell, but
simmers and smokes throughout. I shall not
declare the details here, because that would
be a genuine spoiler, but suffice to say there is
material for massive crusades on Twitter, some
of which I see has already begun.
But then when has a Holy Book not been contentious?
Playing It My Way works (mostly) because
it is this voice of Sachin that comes out strong
and clear, despite the exclamation marks, the
stilted prose and the unimaginative retelling of
that-which-everyone-knows. There are remarkable insights into batting techniques. Though
absolutely non-controversial, unlike a certain
Sunil Gavaskar revelation in One Day Wonders,
there are many personal anecdotesof how
he wooed Anjali, of his son resenting his prolonged absences, of self-doubt, anxiety, loss and
fear. Even his broadsides against those who he
feels have hurt him just goes to show that even
God, with all the adulation and worship, can
never forget a slight. And then finally there is
my favourite, where he impulsively lets himself
gets stumped after being beaten by a bowler
who is hearing-impaired, even though the keeper flubs the chance the first time.
Its these that make Playing It My Way worth
a read. You know, the places where God appears
a bit...human.
S a m p l e I ssue

does not support violence. The author sees even


Maoist militancy in and around places buzzing
with economic activity as a fight for Anitilia
and not one against it; We want to be up there,
the faceless protagonists of the story seem to be
demanding.
In this roughhouse of course, scams like
Saradha happen, where old investors are paid
high interest from the money of the new until
the chain dries up. However, there is also the ilk
of Shriram Chits that does not promise stratospheric returns but does something useful for
trade: provide loans to truckers who would otherwise have to endure months of processing
time if they were to apply to banks for the sum,
a delay the business can ill afford.
But Recasting India is no starry-eyed account
based on anecdotes from the countrys metros.
Hiware Bazar, six hours drive from Mumbai,
for example, has its own nonfiction to narrate.
Juxtaposed with the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Senas protests against the toll
one has to pay while driving on the expressway
between the states capital city and Pune is the
calm intelligence of doing business in the backwaters.
The environs described in this chapter refreshed my memory of Himmatnagar in Gujarat which I visited just about a year ago:
Pothole-free roads, clean water, round-the-clock
electric supply, well-built and maintained houses and, most importantly, people making money
and the poor turning middle class. And this
capitalism comes with a good measure of social
tolerance; there is just one Muslim family in the
village, but Hindus have built a mosque to facilitate that familys prayers.
Senguptas challenge to the inertia-ridden socialist political heads and dyed-in-the-wool demagogues is formidable. His book is no armchair
commentary. Born in 1979, the author himself
exemplifies a change a relatively liberal India
has brought forth that the book does not delve
into: the emergence of a breed of right-of-centre
ideologues equipped as impressively as communist activists in universities with statistics hard
to deny.

Surajit Dasgupta

Recasting India: How


Entrepreneurship
is Revolutionizing
the Worlds Largest
Democracy
Hindol Sengupta
Pan Macmillan India
239 pages
Rs 499

De c e m b e r 2 0 1 4

83

A r c h i v e s

Nehru: Philosopher
Turned Technician
This piece was written by Atulananda Chakravarti for the 2nd April 1960 issue of Swarajya.

hy do people follow
me? asked Prime
Minister Nehru of
the press sometime
ago. He answered his
own question. It is, he said, because
of my dedication to them, because of my
patriotism. The world came to read all
this next morning with amusement and a
shot of pain at the same time. They were
amused by the stagey, theatrical tone of
it; and the pain they felt was due to the
Prime Minister trying to come out of a
muddled self-appraisal.
He is not alone in dedication and
patriotism. There were and probably are
thousands who can boast of the same.
Where are they? Some have probably suffered and sacrificed much more, vastly
more than he has. Do the people know
them even? The answer he gave was not
the right answer. The right answer is
that people are still searching for the
fierce idealist, the uncompromising
leader, in the faded shadow that is Prime
Minister Nehru.
At home he wanted to unify India, but
the agents he employed have substituted
centralization instead. He initiated the
Plans to make the people prosperous,
economically and socially. The Plans
have only let loose rackets of all kinds
and degrees. While his apparently loyal
followers are seeking to industrialize
India, they batten on the economy and
impoverish it, letting the essentials go
neglected.
The trouble began as Nehru took
to a new role not his own. Gandhi had
appointed him as his heir. A person bequeaths to another only what belongs to
him. In the same way, an heir can be said
to have inherited just that office which
his predecessor used to hold.
What was the office that Gandhi held?
His was only the unofficial office of the

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D e ce m b er 2014

from Swarajyas 40,000 pages


of archives since 1956.
leader of the Congress, of the Opposition;
institutionally it was Congress, spiritually, it was Opposition. And remember,
Gandhis announcement of successorship was made at a time when Prime
Minister-ship was not envisaged at all.
He could not have possibly chosen
Nehru as Prime Minister. And it would
be a queer piece of logic to say that
Nehru is Prime Minister by right of succession to Gandhis Office. He became
Prime Minister by virtue of being the
leader of the Congress Partybut then it
was a Congress from which Gandhi had
just gone out and which he was thinking
of remaking after his own ideal in the
light of the new necessities created by
the Independence in which he could not
participate.
And since Nehru went over to the government it was left to the old manthe
Master as he was calledto work as the

symbol of popular opposition to the government run by Nehru, and added that if
the king would do a wrong he would say
so and stand up against it.
Since then, Nehru had been giving
his best to the country as the spokesman
of the left wing of the Congress. Great,
though unperceived, tragedy followed
the sudden change of Nehrus habitual
faculty, his radical amendment of his
own mental constitution. It is seen only
today in its naked horror when the only
effective voice of oppositionGandhis
voicehas been silenced by destiny.
The result has been pathetic. No omission, no commission, no corruption of
the government can now be corrected by
the force of fearless opposition; for that
force, furthered by Gandhi, was Nehrus;
but he is the government, and as Prime
Minister, its invariable defender. The
self-contradictions of a great man whom
Nature made an opposition leader and
history turned into a Prime Minister are
bound to have fatal consequences.
These are reflected in the chronic conflicts within his party as well as within
his government. Nehru goes much faster
than it is possible for his men to catch up.
His ideas rush upon him more impetuously than he can himself handle them.
Before one innovation is absorbed in the
system he embarks on another. All this is
a fitful attempt to fit oneself into a situation for which one is an intrinsic misfit.
A professional politician may easily
adapt himself from opposition to the ruling position, but one who derives energy
from inspiration cannot so easily change
his place, for inspiration is not an outer
garment that can be cast off at will. It
is the tragedy of a political philosopher
playing the role of a political technician.
(For the full version of this text, visit
www.swarajyamag.com)
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