Mamata’s PM ambitions are a plus for PM Modi, but nobody should underestimate her

One thing is clear. As absurd as it may seem, Mamata Banerjee is positioning herself as Prime Minister. Her giant ego has been flattered by her big victory in Bengal. In her mind, she is asking for sure: if Modi could make a bid for Prime Minister after 3 successive election victories, why not her?

On paper, her point is exactly right. If anything, her three successive victories in Bengal are actually bigger than the 3 successive wins of Modi in Gujarat. Remember that from 2002 to 2007 to 2017, the BJP actually registered marginal declines in seat tallies in Gujarat assembly. On the other hand, as incredible as it may seem, the TMC has actually gained both votes and seats in Bengal, from 2011 to 2016 to 2021!

This is why I have been daring Bengali “intellectuals” since the results of May 2. Come out and demand that Mamata Banerjee be declared the PM candidate by a joint opposition, including the Congress. If you have Bengali pride, show it. Why can’t a Bengali be PM? If you hide now, you are just cowards who are scared of Sonia Gandhi’s son.

Of course, this is where the structural limitations of the TMC come in. We hardly need to explain this point. Back in 2012, the BJP was at a low ebb. But even at that, it was a major force across northern, western and central India, along with Karnataka. The BJP was in bad shape in Uttar Pradesh, but they were always in the contest somewhere. In contrast, the TMC is absolutely nowhere in any state outside West Bengal. They actually have a small base in Tripura, but most people wouldn’t even know that.

It turned out that in 2014, the BJP swept every state in its catchment area, from Uttar Pradesh to Maharashtra. If you ask me, the BJP (technically NDA) sweep in Maharashtra was as big, if not a bigger surprise than Uttar Pradesh. In Maharashtra, the BJP snapped up seats that the Congress would never have lost in 60 years. It didn’t just pick up such seats, it gobbled them up with margins of over 1-2 lakh votes.

In contrast, the TMC is nowhere. How would it even cobble together 50 seats? Assume for a moment that BJP faces a worst case scenario in Bengal. Assume that Mamata is able to create some crazy wave of Bengali pride that runs over party loyalties (unlikely… we just saw how hardcore political loyalties in Bengal can get). Even then, the TMC is capped at 42 seats. Nothing more.

Surely, the TMC supremo has done this calculation. Her only chance lies in a fractured mandate in 2024, and sweeping Bengal, which would make her “third largest party” in the Lok Sabha. Ironically, this status of “3rd largest” once used to be occupied by the Left, using the very same Bengal as their base.

Luckily, the methods that Mamata Banerjee needs in order to realize her dream scenario also help Modi/BJP in at least three ways. For one, she has to make sure that the opposition does not rally around Rahul Gandhi. This is likely to create an unstructured, confused picture for the opposition as it takes on a BJP standing rock solid behind PM Modi.

Second, when Mamata Banerjee throws her hat into the ring, some other regional opposition leaders might start fancying their chances. The first person to think of this should have been M K Stalin, but I find the DMK lacking in ambition and somehow in awe of the Congress. But there is always Sharad Pawar. Or one of the two big regional parties from Uttar Pradesh.

These regional leaders are all in awe of the Congress dynasty to various degrees. That is what sets Mamata Banerjee apart. She demurs to Sonia Gandhi, but has nothing but contempt for Rahul. So I am not saying these other regional leaders will try to sideline Congress. I am saying they will bristle at Mamata’s assumed leadership and try to sideline her. Even with no particular aim in mind, they will trip her up just like that…

The third and most important thing is that TMC needs to keep Congress tally in 2024 to an absolute minimum. As a wannabe for “3rd largest party,” she needs the gap between TMC and Congress to be as small as possible. Now, the TMC has a hard cap at 42 seats. The Congress is at 52 seats. She needs the Congress to stay exactly where it stands now. With each seat that Congress gains, her chances get worse.

This brings me to the Congress, which is really a sleeping giant. Rahul Gandhi does not understand it. Nay, he is too dumb to understand it. That’s why he is so eager to bend backwards and compromise. Even at its very low ebb, the Congress stands a serious chance (and always will) of displacing BJP in 2024. All that the Congress has to do is carry its weight in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, win back some seats in Bihar and Jharkhand, sweep Kerala, get a good seat sharing deal from DMK in Tamil Nadu and not screw up in Karnataka. A handful of seats from Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab will take them close to the UPA 1 score of 145. From that point, the game belongs to Congress for sure. Now, it is doubtful that all these gambles will go right for Congress, but these are not impossible either.

Rahul Gandhi does not realize that the Congress is a sleeping giant, but Modi surely does. That is why, even though Rahul’s image has been run into the ground, the BJP can never stop taunting and belittling the Congress.

This is where we have an ironic confluence of interests between BJP and TMC. Both parties see a silver lining in demoralizing the Congress. The more Mamata Banerjee flaunts her superiority in Delhi, the more Congress workers stop believing in themselves. That works great for BJP.

In Mamata’s daring bid for PM, there is a final silver lining for BJP. In some sense, Mamata Banerjee has already abdicated her throne in Bengal. Whatever convoluted strategy she has, one thing is certain. It is going to take a lot of time and energy. Since there are only 24 hours in each day, she has to loosen her grip on the administration in Bengal. Given the way dynastic parties work, it means the reins will pass into the hands of her nephew. The latter is arrogant, inexperienced and has never achieved anything in his life. This is everything you would look for in a failed administrator.

That means it is time for BJP to double up its effort in Bengal. The Assembly election of 2021 is already history. As Mamata quits the state, there are going to mistakes galore. The BJP has to do in Bengal what it has always done best: play the role of opposition.

About 8% short of July target, India’s vaccination drive looks manageable

It took India a while to get things going, but finally it looks like we are on the right track. Yesterday, India went past the figure of 45 crore vaccine doses. With three full working days left in this month, at the current pace, it is clear that we will end July with 46 crore vaccine doses given.

Here are a number of key observations about the vaccination campaign, in no particular order of importance.

(1) In late May, the Center had projected that India would administer 50 crore doses of vaccine by July 31. The exact number was 51.6 crore doses, but remember that was the count of doses that would be “made available” to states. Accounting for some amount of vaccine wastage and other kinds of leaks, it is reasonable to round this off to 50 crore.

But India is ending July with 46 crore doses, or about 8% short of the target.

(2) Honestly, this isn’t bad at all. Considering how bleak things were looking in May, this is not bad at all. At the time, it was almost impossible to get vaccination slots. And while we may not be swimming in vaccine doses, our program is humming along at a reasonable clip. An 8% deficit is eminently manageable, as we step up vaccine production over the next months or so.

(3) What about “vaccine shortage”? First of all, if you notice, these stories are now few and far between. There was a day or so when BMC had to restrict itself to second doses because of a supply problem. There has been shortage in Kerala recently, but I suspect this has much more to do with Kerala government looking to find excuses for its disaster of Covid management.

One has to understand what the term “shortage” means. There is nationwide shortage and there is localized shortage. The two are separate things. Nationwide shortage is due to production issues, while localized shortage is due to logistical issues.

In order to vaccinate the whole country, we don’t just need to produce crores and crores of doses of vaccine. We also have to make sure these doses are shipped in appropriate amounts to every city, district, block and tehsil. This distribution has to account not only for population, but also things such as availability of personnel, vaccine demand and so on.

All of this is a majestic (and frightening) math problem, almost impossible in its complexity. You can think of it by means of superimposing two giant logistical problems. First, think of something like a General Election, something that takes place in every corner of India. Now imagine if that General Election were happening every single day for 6 months running.

This should give you an idea of the enormity of the task, but it’s not nearly enough. Because vaccination takes into account a dynamic problem that the General Election does not. Demand! If there are 1000 voters in an area, the EC will put a voting booth there and forget about it. It does not matter if all 1000 people show up to vote, or just 10 of them or even zero.

But vaccine doesn’t work that way. We cannot leave piles of vaccine sitting in every corner of the country. We have to optimize. The vaccine must go where there is more demand, where there is more prevalence of disease and more trained personnel to administer the vaccines. Seen this way, the logistical problems of vaccine supply have to work more like the network of Amazon fulfillment centers.

So that is how complex the whole thing is: Add the magnitude of a General Election to the dynamic complexity of an Amazon distribution chain.

(4) How can vaccine hesitancy be a problem when vaccine shortage is also a problem? A simple minded person would see this as a contradiction. But in view of the logistical problem, it finally makes sense. You have to maintain minimum supplies in every corner. But unless the vaccine doses are injected into arms, those doses are a waste. I remember late May in Bengaluru, when there were no vaccine slots in the city. I opened the app and searched for a rural area in Northern Karnataka. Plenty of slots!

See? Vaccine hesitancy in one place can cause vaccine shortage in another.

But for the ordinary public, logistics problems are difficult to explain. For most people, it is difficult to think beyond “X crores needed” and “Y crores produced.” This is why we have so many people asking uninformed questions like: if Bhutan can vaccinate so and so % of population within a week, why not India. Some politically motivated individuals have also tried to fire people up with dumb tweets of this variety.

India is not a bunch of Bhutans stuck together. There is the question of logistics. That is why Bhutan has vaccinated 90% of its adult population in 1 week, but the US is still crawling towards its July 4 target of 70% adults getting at least 1 dose.

(5) Now let us come to the all important and difficult question of the third wave. This is where things get messy. From the looks of it, a third wave seems inevitable. Even in the UK, where 70% of the population has been vaccinated, there is a third wave happening right now. In the US, where 69% of adults have received at least one dose, there is another big wave happening.

For a while, the hope was something like this. The coming of a third (and many other subsequent) waves is inevitable, but if you vaccinate enough people, the infections will be mild. So while you might see some scary numbers on paper, things won’t really be too bad. That seemed to be roughly what was happening in the UK, for instance.

But deaths have been picking up. Yesterday, the UK saw 131 deaths, the highest since March. In the early part of this month, the UK was seeing just 5-10 deaths a day. Remember that 131 deaths in the UK is like 2600 deaths in India. That is twice of what we saw at the peak of the first wave. In the US as well, cases are soaring right now and it is only a matter of time before the deaths catch up. In states like Mississippi, hospitals have already closed down all elective procedures to make room for Covid cases.

I don’t worry so much about Mississippi. From what I read, the problems are mostly among those who are not vaccinated. I am much more worried about the new CDC guidance that even the fully vaccinated should be wearing masks, including indoors! If that becomes the norm, we have no idea when this is getting over.

The world is broken and perhaps irredeemably so. Are we going to have to wear masks for the rest of our lives? And keep getting booster vaccine doses every few months? I don’t know.

What I do know is this. Since the pandemic began, we have been talking about “once this is over…” But there is no scientific principle that says it has to get over some day.

(6) For now, we just have to keep doing the best we can. We have to work towards getting vaccinations up to the 1 crore mark each day. The disease spreads in clusters, mostly in big cities. At the moment, most of our big cities have got close to 70% of their population vaccinated (with at least 1 jab). The most pessimistic estimates say the third wave could be 3 weeks away. By then, this number might rise to 80% or so. That’s some good preparation. We can only hope.

What next for BJP in Karnataka?

Somehow, I don’t believe there is very much to see at all. It seems to me that things will keep unfolding exactly the way there were going to go anyway. I mean electorally, of course. For the BJP, the Assembly election of 2023 was a lost cause anyway. This is not specific to BJP or Yediyurappa. No incumbent govt ever comes back in Karnataka.

And what about the Lok Sabha election the following year? The BJP will stay number one, as usual. Just as it has been in every single Lok Sabha election since 2004.

As with most things about Karnataka in general and BJP in particular, the rise of BJP in Karnataka has been one of the least understood political phenomena in India. This is partly because BJP has been rather unlucky at the state level. They became single largest party in 2004, but Congress allied with JDS to keep the BJP out. In a rather unique incident, H D Kumaraswamy “revolted” against his dad and became CM with BJP support. The BJP was supposed to take over the CM post after 18 months. But of course, HDK went back on his word.

Elections followed. The BJP won, but again Yediyurappa could not finish his term. The BJP made an absolute mess of the state, with D V Sadananada Gowda and then Jagadish Shettar becoming CM by the elections of 2013.

Again, the BJP was single largest in 2018, but could not form a government until after the Lok Sabha election. And now, BSY quits in the middle of his term. This gives the image of an ever shaky, unsure BJP at the state level in Karnataka.

But this is an illusion. The BJP has been number one in Karnataka in every Lok Sabha election since 2004. Four successive General Elections. If you think that’s a mean feat, try naming another state where the same party has led in four successive Lok Sabha elections. Your answers probably would be BJP in Gujarat, or CPIM in Bengal or Congress in the period before the 1990s. BJP in Uttar Pradesh might be another example (not sure), but that would be more of a technical thing… because there were five Lok Sabha elections between 1989 and 1999.

In fact, the 2013 Assembly elections in Karnataka were sort of a miracle. Add together the votes of BJP, Yediyurappa’s then KJP and Sriramulu’s BSR Congress (the three factions of the party) and you get the same vote share as BJP in 2008. In other words, not one vote down despite making a total mess of their mandate. But on paper, the BJP did not even become the principal opposition party, the JDS did!

This gap between BJP’s strength on paper and BJP’s real strength in Karnataka has endured for a long time.

Another massive shift in 2019 was the spread of BJP in the Old Mysore Region, which accounts for 60 seats in the Assembly. The BJP used to draw blanks here, not just losing deposits, but polling 3-4% votes. It used to be Cong vs JDS in those seats. But once the Congress made a disastrous decision to ally with JDS, these regions became “opposition mukt.” In a single election cycle, the BJP went from nowhere to everywhere.

So the way I see it is simple. If the BJP couldn’t mess up its electoral prospects between 2008 and 2013, there is no way they can mess it up now. For BJP supporters today, it is hard to even visualize the kind of drift and aimlessness in the party between 2004 and 2013.

You will find the media unnecessarily excited, still clinging to the dream that the south is somehow resistant to BJP. Never mind, they will keep saying it even if BJP forms a government in Telangana tomorrow. We are going to hear a lot about “Lingayat anger” in the days to come. The Congress doesn’t even have a Lingayat leader, so I don’t know what the media is expecting. In all likelihood, D K Shivakumar will be the CM of Karnataka after the 2023 election. That was true yesterday and it is true today. The only question is whether he will need JDS support. Fine, the BJP will win the Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka in 2024 and then DKS will go down in the next election, as all incumbent CMs in Karnataka do.

The pattern continues, as it always does. No change, really.

The legend of Yediyurappa continues

The top part of this post was written on July 27, 2019, when B S Yediyurappa became CM. As he resigns today, the legend of Yediyurappa continues.

Legend has it that when the king sent his three spoiled sons to the care of rishis in order to educate them about affairs of state, the learned sages decided to teach the young princes the path of dharma by telling them mythical stories about the forest. These tales and the wisdom contained in them came to known as the Panchatantra.

The stories of politicians are no less than the Panchatantra, with each and every character teaching a lesson of its own. Each flawed and legendary in their own way, showing the twists, the ironies, the struggles and the lessons that we learn from life.

The most straightforward lesson is from Rahul Gandhi, the young prince who had everything given to him on a platter, but could not make anything work. There’s Vajpayee and Advani and the legend of NDA 1, of hard work going unrewarded and being too old to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Between the two men, a story of friendship and sacrifice. There’s Dr. MMS, the man who was always at the right place at the right time and finally walked away with more than anyone thought possible.

Then, there is Modi, the child of destiny: when there is adversity, he turns it into opportunity. When he gets lucky, he turns it into even bigger opportunity. Secretly, he is always dreaming so big that you don’t even realize he was serious all the time. And Amit Shah, who is making his own grand plan happen by sheer force of hard work and determination.

Another such story is that of Yeddyurappa, or ‘Yediyurappa’ as he wishes to be known now. A man who never had it easy.

Seemingly, B S Yediyurappa did the impossible. Bring BJP to power in a southern state. He became Chief Minister of Karnataka in 2007 itself, but only for a week. The 2004 Assembly Election in Karnataka had thrown up a hung house with BJP as the single largest party with 79 seats, the Congress second with 65 and the JDS third with 58 seats.

Sound familiar?

But then the Congress and JDS got together (as now) and formed a government under the Chief Ministership of Dharam Singh of Congress. But that arrangement collapsed in early 2006, when H D Kumaraswamy broke away, ostensibly against the wishes of his father and joined hands with the BJP. As part of the JDS / BJP power sharing deal, Kumaraswamy became CM, a post that he was supposed to pass on to the BJP in Oct 2007 until the end of the Assembly’s term in May 2009.

But post dated political promises are worth nothing, as the BJP found out when H D Kumaraswamy flatly refused to transfer power in Oct 2007.

There are two quick observations to be made here. First, notice how the Congress being the bigger party with 65 seats, would never even have considered giving the CM post to the JDS which had 58. That was 2004. Compare to the Congress in 2018, which conceded the Chief Ministership to H D Kumaraswamy, no questions asked. The Congress had 80 and the JDS just 37. Tells you how weak the Congress hand has become in the past decade.

Conversely, think of the “helpless” BJP of the 2000s, which got badly played by a small regional party.

Badly betrayed by fate, Yediyurappa had to go back to the people in the election of 2008. The people listened and gave the BJP 110 seats in the 224 member assembly, just enough to form a government with the support of a couple of independents.

One must take a moment to understand how remarkable this achievement was. The BJP was still nearly absent in almost 60 seats of Karnataka’s Old Mysore Region, which means the BJP effectively ended up with a score of 110 out of 160 seats or so. This shows the vote getting power of Yediyurappa, who swept the Northern Lingayat belt of the state.

Not many remember this now, but BJP forming a government in a southern state caused a deep emotional reaction in the ruling ‘secular’ establishment which designated Yediyurappa as “Enemy No. 1.” If you think today’s lies and exaggerations about being people being forced to say Jai Shri Ram are bad, you should have seen the pressure that the Lutyens propaganda machinery exerted on B S Yediyurappa at the time. Suffice to say that their failure to prevent a pub attack by goons in Mangalore brought more bad publicity to the BJP run state government than a series of deadly jihadi terror attacks across India at the time brought to the ruling UPA.

Then, the corruption accusations against Yediyurappa emerged. Prima facie, the amounts of money involved in these accusations were laughably small in the context of Indian politics, where prominent businessmen-politicians can put the GDP of some countries to shame. But the Lutyens propaganda machinery in Delhi had found its mark and the BJP at the time was too weak to mount a serious defense. Yediyurappa had to quit in 2011, he was arrested and the BJP collapsed up in Karnataka. The party faced a humiliating defeat in the 2013 Assembly Election, briefly even losing the main opposition spot to the JDS.  Later on, all these corruption cases were dismissed by courts.

Interestingly though, the data from the 2013 Assembly election had some hidden surprises in it. The BJP had contested the election splintered into three separate factions, the official BJP, Yediyurappa’s KJP and the BSRCP. Separately, each faction had met a humiliating defeat. But if you pooled their votes together, they were roughly in the same place as they had been in 2008.

By this time, Modi had come to take over the BJP and become the Prime Ministerial face and he recognized the opportunity in Karnataka. Yediyurappa was brought back, the party reunited under his leadership and the BJP again managed to be a clear winner in the 2014 Lok Sabha election in the state.

But for Yediyurappa, things still were not easy. He had to wait  all the way till 2018 for the Assembly election to happen in Karnataka. The BJP went into the election with the same “geography problem” (absence in 60 seats of Old Mysore) and ended up with 104, tantalizingly short of the majority mark. He was invited to become CM, but the Honorable Supreme Court gave him 24 hours to prove his majority. This is roughly the same amount of time as the 2-3 weeks that H D Kumaraswamy recently had to prove his majority.

Faced with losing odds, B S Yediyurappa decided to turn it into his “Vajpayee moment.” He resigned on the floor of the House, with a promise to come back and sweep the Lok Sabha election next year.

And he succeeded and how. The BJP won 25 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka outright and a candidate supported by BJP won another, taking the NDA total to 26.  The BJP had not only won, it had overcome its “geography problem” in the state, sweeping the southernmost reaches hitherto considered impossible for the BJP. The Congress and the JDS had long been the two principal contenders in this area. In many seats, the two parties together controlled over 90% of the vote. And with the two coming together on the same side, people rejected both of them.

So now B S Yediyurappa takes oath as Chief Minister of Karnataka again. Not under ideal circumstances, mind you. And after an ugly episode of political instability that would have been best resolved by going for fresh elections. For the sake of the people of the state and the nation, we owe him best wishes for a successful tenure as Chief Minister.

Through its many ironies, setbacks, struggles and successes, the legend of Yediyurappa continues.

Added on July 26, 2021:

So much has happened in these two years that the top part of the post seems like it was written in some long forgotten era. Remember when we had never heard of the Coronavirus? Those were good times.

Earlier today, B S Yediyurappa announced his resignation, on completion of two years of becoming CM. With tears in his eyes again, he spoke of his life’s work; that of building the BJP in Karnataka. Indeed, what would BJP be without him in Karnataka? The humble shopkeeper from Shivamogga has achieved the extraordinary.

Did the BJP’s “high command” make the right decision in getting him to resign? Should they have waited for him to complete this term? Only time can tell. As for the 2023 Assembly elections, it would have been a miracle anyway if BJP had won that election. Like Rajasthan or Uttarakhand or (until recently) Kerala, no incumbent government in Karnataka ever comes back. The best that BJP could have done is resolved the leadership question for the round of Assembly elections after that. And BSY was clearly too old for that. Age defeats everyone.

For me, B S Yediyurappa will always be the man for whom nothing came easy. A man who always suffered the most cruel twists of fate. During the UPA era, if there was one BJP CM (after Modi) who bothered the hell out of Lutyens Delhi, it was BSY. I remember the jaws that dropped in power corridors after he became the first BJP CM in a southern state in 2008. It was the most devastating blow to the Lutyens worldview in that decade between 2001 and 2010. BJP in the south? No… must be a nightmare. I remember when some hooligans attacked a pub in Mangalore shortly afterwards. The media was so caught up in BSY derangement syndrome that they blamed the attack personally on the Chief Minister.

They could never do that today, even if they wanted to. And they wouldn’t even try. Since 2014, the BJP’s juggernaut has driven their egos to oblivion. Only BJP can win hearts in every corner of the country and they know that. These days, the zamindars are happy because they somehow saved Bengal from going to BJP.

Back to B S Yediyurappa. He is the sort of rare gem who can build a party. And he is also the kind of tragic hero who never fully gets to enjoy the fruits of his own hard work. You can learn a lot about life by observing him.

Politicians lead inspiring lives. I wonder how my life will turn out when I am 78 years old. Would I still be going at that age? And going so strong that others have to intervene and tell me to stop? That would be my good fortune.

Take a bow, B S Yediyurappa. You sir are an inspiration.

Global media looks away as Biden’s NSA “unmasks” dissenting right wing journalist Tucker Carlson

Would the most famously liberal government in the world spy on dissenting journalists? Never. With no such possibility at home, the New York Times, the Washington Post and their fellow travelers in global media have embarked on a campaign to save the (rest of the) world. Among their targets for regime change is India’s Modi. And so the global media elite, with their parrots in India, have spent much of last week dreaming up sinister stories of Modi government spying on journalists, ministers, judges, Twitter trolls and anyone who takes themselves too seriously.

Obviously, I’m being sarcastic. You might be wondering by now. Has the Biden administration been caught spying on dissenting journalists? Why is there no media storm about this? Liberal privilege?

Well, not exactly. Biden’s National Security Agency was just “unmasking” a right wing journalist. What does that mean, precisely? I don’t know. Nobody does. It’s a technical term used by the intelligence community. See if this helps:

” the nation’s top electronic spy agency found that Carlson was mentioned in communications between third parties and his name was subsequently revealed through “unmasking,” a process in which relevant government officials can request the identities of American citizens in intelligence reports to be divulged provided there is an official reason, such as helping them make sense of the intelligence documents they are reviewing.

In case you didn’t notice, that was not a paragraph. It was one single sentence, sixty-three words long. Because words like “spying” and “snooping” are for third world countries only. Rich countries with liberal governments need long sentences.

Here is the sequence of events. A few weeks ago, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, the highest rated news anchor in America and an outspoken critic of President Biden, claimed that the NSA had been monitoring his communications. At this, the NSA released the following statement.

On June 28, 2021, Tucker Carlson alleged that the National Security Agency has been "monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air."  This allegation is untrue. Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air.  NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States.  With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting.

It may seem like the NSA is dismissing the charges, but observe how carefully the statement is worded. “This allegation is untrue,” they say. But which allegation? Notice how the NSA quotes Tucker in an attempt to take advantage of his compound sentence. They deny that the NSA is monitoring him in an attempt to take his show off the air! Which part is the NSA denying, then? The monitoring part or the part about intent to take his show off air? They don’t say.

In the second paragraph, the NSA says they are not targeting Tucker Carlson. And presumably, they are not eating half his lunch nor taking a sip of his coffee each day. Are they monitoring him, perhaps as part of an operation that targets someone else? The NSA doesn’t say.

As Axios put it here:

Axios tried to ask more specific questions, but the NSA declined to comment. Very reassuring. And now comes this source based report.

Again, the headline would make the NSA very happy. And discourage the casual reader from reading the full article. That way you would never find the 63 word long sentence buried deep within it.

So, what really happened? Axios broke it down into several possible scenarios.

In their most likely scenario, Carlson’s communications would get picked up as he was reaching out to Putin for an interview. However, Axios also explains that in this scenario, Tucker’s identity would remain masked because he is a US citizen. An exception applies only if the identity needs to be “unmasked” in order to understand that intelligence.

So, why would someone need to unmask the identity of a reporter seeking an interview with Putin? Axios explains further:

But under this scenario, too, Carlson’s identity would have been masked in reports as part of his protections as a U.S. citizen, and unmasking would only be permitted if a U.S. government official requested that his identity be unmasked in order to understand the intelligence. And it’s not clear why that would be necessary here.

Not clear why that would be necessary here. Yes, when it comes to issues of privacy, it is always better when things are not clear.

That’s why the American media isn’t interested. The good folks at the New York Times and the Washington Post have decided to focus their energies elsewhere, preferably in India, where they can do so much good.

One final note. Yesterday, President Biden shut down the federal investigation into the thousands of nursing home Covid deaths covered up by Andrew Cuomo, the liberal governor of New York. Along with Cuomo, Biden’s other party colleagues, such as the liberal governors of Michigan and Pennsylvania, have also received a clean chit. The New York Times has not covered the story yet. They are busy looking for unreported Covid deaths in rural Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. We are ever so grateful for the way global media “speaks truth to power.”

The Bootlaundry experience : Why there is no economic model for journalism that “serves the public”

Around the year 2012, there was a very interesting and bold new experiment in the Indian media space. The digital revolution in India was just beginning to mature. Because of the internet, the old distribution channels were suddenly less relevant. A group of media professionals, some veterans, some newbies, began to try out this new model. They wouldn’t accept corporate ads, nor corporate sponsorships. Instead, they would go directly to the people and ask for subscriptions. Because it was easier to reach the public directly than it had ever been.

Their instinct was exactly right. News is broken because its business model is broken. If you take corporate ads, you have to bow to corporate interests and the political interests that are allied with them. In this model, people are not the consumers. Rather, people are the product. The job of the ‘news’ is to grab public attention and then sell that attention to corporate advertisers. Obviously, this is not news that serves the public.

And so these innovators began by setting up lively debates, with a touch of humor, self-deprecation and a refreshing culture of not taking anyone (including themselves) too seriously. They would delight in taking media figures and stepping on their toes, pulling them a couple of inches outside their comfort zone. Never confrontational, but always probing, those early interviews were a joy to behold. I still watch those sometimes.

Their team was unconventional, in that they even had a couple of people who were not journalists at all. So was their approach, in that they openly admitted and celebrated their own biases as well as those of each other. Remember that in 2012, there was still this socialist Doordarshan inspired ideal of the ‘neutral’ journalist. Twenty years after the end of Nehruvian socialism, it was time to dump the myth. Like any group of people coming through journalism school, they had a strong liberal bias. But they admitted it. They weren’t self-righteous about it. And they sprinkled their team with those who had other points of view.

You can probably sense my admiration for this organization by now. So, who are these people?

Well, I choose to refer to this organization as Bootlaundry, because that is what they have become today. By far the most shameless collection of small minds on the Indian media landscape today.

Now, there are a lot of websites doing liberal propaganda. In reality, everything comes with a bias. You can learn something even from good propaganda. But these people are different. When you go to the Bootlaundry website today, the sense is one of pure disgust. Do you want to say and hear ugly, nasty things that no decent person will utter in polite company? These people will do it for you. This is the dark underbelly of the internet, the seedy corridors of the Dirty Tricks Department.

So, what changed? In my view, these people tried a different model and realized it doesn’t deliver as promised. Rather, the model itself pushed them towards more and more nastiness.

They didn’t want corporate sponsorships. They went out looking for ‘real people’ to support them through subscriptions. The problem is that ‘real people’ don’t want to pay for news either. They think it should be free, as with music or porn. With the internet, even more so. Earlier generations were used to buying newspapers, music CDs or visiting B-grade movie theaters to watch “blue films.” Now, we have brainwashed an entire generation to believe that all these things should be both free and unlimited.

So where do you find these paying subscribers? Over the years, they discovered that any kind of centrism, or even the slightest show of balance, doesn’t sell. People won’t pay to have their views challenged. In fact, the only people who will pay are the most obsessive ones whose entire identity is consumed by political partisanship. These are the people who are so extreme that they know they cannot speak up in mainstream society. Like at a party, or a family gathering. They feel like nobody understands them. So they go online and pay to have their views confirmed.

You know who else uses this model? White supremacists. No corporate sponsor will touch these people, because they are so vile. So these sick minds go to the dark underbelly of the internet to validate each other. Their networks and their solidarity are extremely strong.

This push towards the fringe in a subscriber driven model is not something that happens only in politics. Video games are an example. Once upon a time, people had to buy video games with a one time payment. Now, the so called “freemium” model dominates. The “basic” version of the game is free, but you keep paying for “upgrades” through the course of your life. These small amounts keep adding up. And guess what? As much as *half* of the revenue now comes from just 0.19% of active users. In other words, the video game industry is okay with over 99.8% of users enjoying some features of their product mostly for free. They will make their money by soaking the tiny minority of super addicted, super obsessive users whose lives are controlled by that video game.

Suffice to say those super addicted users are destroying their lives, but the video game industry doesn’t care.

Bootlaundry operates on a similar “freemium” model. They offer much of their product for free and they are okay with that. They are fishing for a handful of extremists who will pay.

And over the years, they had to overhaul their organization to bait these extremists. First, they got rid of everyone who wasn’t a liberal. They didn’t just get rid of them; they chose to ritually humiliate those they expelled. Because the fringe elements in their subscription base wanted no less. In their place, they brought in third or fourth rate minds, the kind who wouldn’t be able to make a paisa if they weren’t screaming abuse at the Prime Minister. These people depended on saying nasty stuff for a living and so they said more nasty stuff. And their extremist subscriber base lapped it up.

The downward spiral was now set. Their content got more and more hateful. For example, the other day, they said that an entire cluster of Indian states were pieces of sh*t. Would they have made such a vile, xenophobic comment nine years ago? I think not. The person they have hired to say this racist garbage is a compulsive hater with no other marketable skill. Would mainstream society have accepted his views? No. So where does he go to earn a living? He goes to Bootlaundry to say the most vile and shocking things, which their subscriber base loves.

That is how Bootlaundry went from a group of people discussing the news intelligently to some illiterate who refers to people as sh*t and p*ss for a living.

You will see this with a couple of formerly mainstream news anchors who have now turned to making Youtube videos for a living. These people were surrogates of the old political establishment. When the political establishment changed, these people found themselves gradually edged out of the system.

Have you listened to any of these people lately? Have you wondered at the amount of venom they are spewing? These people weren’t always like that. The economic model forces them to act like this. The need for attention on the internet forces them to become more and more extreme.

What is the moral here? Am I saying that corporates are better than people? Not really. I am just saying that there’s no utopia. And those who go off in search of a utopian vision might find themselves in a shocking reality. For example, there is no way a corporate sponsor would let someone describe people of entire states as sh*t. Because they need everyone to buy their soap or oil or cars. Most corporates depend on a mass market and not a fringe market.

The sad realization is that there is currently no economic model for news that “serves the public.” Because the common public doesn’t want to pay for news. You have to appeal either to corporates or to fringe elements of the public. When the corporates pay, the corporates are served. When the fringe pays, the fringe is served.

Why I don’t worry about the government tapping my phone – and neither should you

The global elite wants you to get angry. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Le Monde have investigated the matter and found that governments worldwide could be spying on people. The Guardian has a full page feature with Narendra Modi’s face on it. What are you waiting for? Stand up and resist.

Well, count me out. Why should I get angry? For one, I quite liked the fearsome image of PM Modi that The Guardian used for its feature. It’s a far cry from the fatherly, good-natured and bearded image that he tries to project today. The image reminded me of an earlier time, when his face would strike terror into the hearts of leftists worldwide.

I mean I am angry, but just a little. Could it be that the government used our taxpayer money to procure spy software to listen in on 2BHK journalists getting their election inputs from the domestic help, cook or driver? That would be a shame.

There was a time when I had a lot of respect for privacy warriors. When the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in 2018, I followed the developments very closely. Did shady political consultants harvest our data without our consent from the world’s largest social media platform? Did they use this data to influence our voting choices and thereby subvert democracies worldwide? In India as well, this should have been a watershed moment. Then, this happened.

I never heard about Cambridge Analytica in Indian media again. As Rahul Gandhi had once explained, the Congress symbol stands for daro mat (have no fear). I bet the good folks at Cambridge Analytica must have wrapped up their operations and left for the Himalayas in search of moksha.

Yesterday, when liberals were working themselves up into a frenzy, right wing users dug up this old gem from Dr. Manmohan Singh.

I showed this headline to a liberal friend of mine. Her rhetoric softened instantly. And I didn’t even show her this one.

So the current debate has nothing to do with principles, just liberal privilege. The liberal elite gets to choose the issue of the day and make us all react. This time, I am not going to worry.

I know what you are thinking. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But my reasoning is more cynical than that. Why should I worry? I’m a BJP supporter and the BJP is in power. I have nothing to worry.

But wait, you might ask. Do you think BJP will be in power forever? Don’t be so short-sighted.

Of course not. Nothing is permanent. The government will change some day. I have no illusions.

But I also know that the day liberals come back to power, they will exact a terrible revenge. Have you seen how liberals operate in Bengal? For two successive elections now, the Congress has been reduced to dust. They could not get even the 55 seats needed to form the opposition. The day they get their power back, phone tapping will be the least of my problems. Like I said, I have no illusions.

So I don’t care. And neither should you, even if you are a liberal. What’s the worst that could happen to you? It’s been seven years of Modi and your business of liberal privilege is flourishing. In fact, you have gone from earning in Rupees to earning in dollars. Even small time Communist student leaders can spring for rooms at the Taj hotel. Imagine the lifestyle of the globally connected tycoons of Indian liberalism. While asking for donations, one of these tycoons put out an announcement that they make no more than Rs 2 lakh per month in salary. Were perks included? I don’t know.

Anyway, I saw the Taj hotel once, while walking in front of the Gateway of India. It seemed nice.

So, if you are a liberal, life is good under Modi. And if the liberals come back to power, life can only get better. So what are you worried about?

Ah, I almost forgot. What about principles? It’s time to stop asking stupid questions. Big Tech companies are compiling, trading and auctioning your data all over the place. There are no rules. Big government, foreign governments and hostile governments are all interested. Did you hear about what is happening in the United States?

It starts with misinformation about vaccines. Soon it will be extended to all political issues, to whatever a “fact checker” classifies as misinformation. Any time you are about to commit a thoughtcrime against the global elite, they will get inside your head and “fact check” you.

By the way, did you read that extract carefully? It is not even the US government that will start fact checking your text messages. It is the DNC or Democratic National Committee, working directly with service providers. Yeah, that’s right. Any time you are sending a message, it will go to the headquarters of the ruling party first. The ruling party will decide whether your message contains “misinformation.”

In his book Nineteen Eighty Four, Orwell spoke of the phenomenon of “crimestop,” the ability to stop on the threshold of a dangerous thought. At that time, it was just a dark fantasy. But let me tell you algorithms are fully capable of doing this today. By processing data from billions of people, they know what you are going to think of next, even before the idea has formed inside your head. Just like the e-commerce platforms just seem to know in advance what you are going to buy. Have you heard of text prediction software? It’s actually remarkable how coherent they have become.

What do you do for a living? More and more people now depend on Big Tech for a living. It isn’t just tech workers or social media influencers. It is also the person who strings together odd jobs, or drives around a taxi or autorickshaw. It is also a small business owner who runs a restaurant or hotel, or the delivery guy who runs to your door with the food. Just one thoughtcrime against the global elite and Big Tech will put you on a list. You get kicked off the platform and lose your way of making a living. By the way, your bank also subscribes to the list, which is why they will refuse to let you bank with them. You pick up the phone to call a friend for help. But your phone service provider has already disabled your connection. All this in the space of milliseconds. That day is coming.

In any case, if anyone tried to protest your plight, they would get “fact-checked” too. So be rest assured that nobody is coming to help.

Can you name any fact checkers? I know who you are thinking about. He is not the only one, but he is a good example. Well, think of his stony face and cruel eyes. That’s your new boss. So, show some respect.

In Nineteen Eighty Four, Orwell tells us to think of the future as a boot crushing a face. That’s our fate. Privacy is long dead. Om Shanti. Say it while you still can.

When death is not a leveler: Why did we forget the murder of cameraperson Achyutananda Sahu by liberal terrorists in Chhattisgarh?

The Editors Guild of India is saddened to learn of the death of a cameraperson and two policemen after they were attacked by Maoist insurgents in the Dantewada district of poll bound Chhattisgarh.

This is text from an Oct 2018 letter from the Editors Guild after Doordarshan cameraperson Achyutananda Sahu was murdered by left wing terrorists while on duty in Chhattisgarh. Here is the full letter, all of one paragraph. Below it are the names of eminent mediapersons such as Shekhar Gupta and Sheela Bhatt, who were then office bearers of the Editors Guild.

While the Editors Guild was saddened, there does not appear to be a whole lot of emotion in this letter. For one, the DD cameraperson had a name and the Editors Guild must have guessed that. Were they too lazy to look it up, because his name does not appear anywhere in this letter. Also, I don’t see the word “condemn” anywhere in this letter. When it came to the murder of the DD cameraperson, even kadi ninda was too much to spare. By the way, good on the Editors Guild for remembering to use non-judgmental language. Maoist insurgents, not terrorists.

I remembered this 2018 incident the other day, when I was saddened to learn of the death of a Reuters photojournalist after an attack by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. I looked up the name of the Doordarshan cameraperson. It was Achyutananda Sahu. As for the two policemen who died alongside him (whose lives were equally precious!), I could not even find their names reported anywhere. Here is a picture of Sahu.

You’ve probably never seen his face because his picture did not go viral on social media nor mainstream media. I would love to tell you more about him, but the problem is I simply don’t know anything. Because there were no tearful tributes about his life and work from the big “national” channels or the mainstream news websites. Nobody wanted to talk about his hopes and dreams and the lives of those he touched. Nobody even cared to send hazaar lanaatein (thousand curses) to the bullet that killed him.

If you must know, there are a few local channels in Odisha that cared to speak to his grieving family. But that’s all. No “national” channel thought of taking the trouble. You see, some deaths are local, while some others are global.

The question is why. What does it say about our society when death is no longer the ultimate leveler? What does it say when liberal privilege transcends even death?

I have no idea about the political ideology of Achyutananda Sahu. But it seems he did not have a blue tick social media handle. He did not go to college with any celebrity dissenters of today. Or if he did, he did not distinguish himself in their company by showing pathological hatred against a certain mainstream political ideology. None of this makes his life less precious.

Achyutananda Sahu died in Chhattisgarh, on Indian soil. His life was taken by terrorists who seek violent overthrow of the Government of India. Why did his murder not get the attention it deserved? Is it because he was not a member of the liberal elite? Worse, is it because his life was taken by “liberal” terrorists in Chhattisgarh? The media has worked extremely hard to convince us that all leftists are “80 year old poets.” Did the media overlook Sahu’s death because they did not want to talk about the brutal reality of Indian leftism?

I know I will be accused of ‘whataboutery‘ here. First of all, that is not an accusation, it is only made to sound like one. Comparing and contrasting things is a standard way to learn about the world. In fact, in many situations, it is the only logical way to learn about the world.

But more importantly, I am not even comparing the two incidents. I am just trying to get some attention for the unfortunate victims of left wing terrorism in the heartland. Hundreds of innocent people are murdered by leftists each year, but the liberal elite overlooks them all. I lack the cultural power of the liberal elite, so I cannot get the word out about these victims.

With the murder of the Reuters photojournalist in Afghanistan, I find people grieving and hurt. This might be a time when they will be open to hearing about what is happening under the jackboots of leftists in the heartland. These leftists threaten our sovereignty the same way the Taliban threatens the Afghan people. Like the Taliban, the leftists want to turn the clock backwards. And like the Taliban, they kill whoever stands in their way. These leftists run kangaroo courts and hand out corporal punishment. They carry out mass executions to scare locals into submission.

And just as with the Taliban, the liberal elite are saying that these left wing terrorists are less dangerous than “Sanghis.” Surely you can’t fall for this.

Sending a message: Why Communists in Kerala relaxed Covid norms for Eid but Pakistan did not

From “controlled explosion” to “targeted testing,” the excuses for the Kerala government are many. And yet, despite all the literacy and HDI in the world, Covid cases are surging in Kerala. It is currently the only state in the country where active cases are still increasing. With a population of just 3 crore people, Kerala leads in daily new Covid cases, contributing as much as 33% of the daily national total. Evidently, the virus does not respect liberal privilege.

On top of this, the Kerala government has now decided to relax Covid norms for three days during Bakr-Eid. How could this be? Just two or three days ago, mainstream media was holding passionate debates calling for a stop to Kanwar Yatra in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. How can you let religious tradition prevail over common sense? Does human life not matter to you?

The outrage paid off. The Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance of the matter. The state governments of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand were shamed and panicked into doing the “sensible” thing. No Kanwar Yatra this year.

Okay, but what about Kerala? How can the state government lift lockdown for Bakr-Eid, that too when the state is number one in daily covid cases? How can they be so brazen about this? Frustrated social media users simply cannot make sense of the blatant double standard.

There are two explanations being offered, but in my view, both are wrong. The first of these accuses one particular community of being far too consumed by religious fundamentalism. The second explanation points the finger at moral bankruptcy of India’s secular establishment. The governments and the Lords will take all possible liberties with Hindu traditions, but they dare not touch Muslim festivals. Sometimes it is vote bank politics, sometimes hypocrisy and just plain fear.

But that is too superficial. Consider this instead.

That is from May this year, shortly before Eid-ul-Fitr. And again, before Bakr-Eid, Pakistan has imposed heavy restrictions on people traveling during the holidays.

Clearly, Pakistan is taking no chances. They are being eminently sensible. They understand the risks. They are doing what is needed to protect lives. And common people in Pakistan seem to be going along with it just fine.

You see that? No use pointing fingers at a particular community. In fact, Saudi Arabia has banned all foreign pilgrims from Hajj this year. Only citizens and residents will be allowed to make the journey, that too only if they are fully vaccinated, with a cap set at 60,000.

The Saudis don’t want to take any risks. Nor does Pakistan. Then, why is Kerala stepping out of line?

Because, in my view, Kerala is doing something different. The government there is sending a message, to people in Kerala and around the world. This is not about letting people enjoy a religious festival. The government of Pinarayi Vijayan and his son in law is sending a message to “non-believers” in Kerala that they are second class citizens.

If Uttar Pradesh can cancel Kanwar Yatra, why can’t there be a lockdown in Kerala during Bakr-Eid? The Kerala government is not worried about people asking this question. They want people to ask this question and internalize the answer. Because one is a pagan festival while the other is not. The Kerala government wants the idol worshipers to realize this, accept their second class status and bow down to those of the true faith.

They are not ashamed of the double standard. They are proud of it. They revel in it. Accusing them of double standards is like saying the rulers who imposed Jaziya tax had a double standard. The purpose of the tax was to humiliate the non-believer, not money.

Does Pakistan or Saudi Arabia need to rub it in the faces of “non-believers?” No, because the non-believers in those countries have fully accepted their second class status. There is no point in making a show of it again, especially in times of the pandemic.

But in Kerala, the question is still open. It seems the government of Pinarayi Vijayan and his son in law want to make it clear to the non-believers in the state that they are second class citizens. They are taking a huge risk by lifting Covid restrictions and they know that. But for the ruling Communists, it’s a risk worth taking.

“Zulus will deal with your curry relatives” : What I learned from speaking out against racist attacks on Indians in S Africa

As a kid, I remember being so excited when Nelson Mandela visited India. This was the first time I had heard the expression “world leader.” In my innocence, I thought Nelson Mandela was literally the president of the world.

As most Indians do, I always felt a connection to the people of South Africa while growing up. We learned that the Mahatma had spent his formative years over there. Our history books mentioned places like Durban, Natal and Pretoria. In essays in school, we wrote about the experience of Gandhi being thrown out of a first class railway carriage in Pietermaritzburg. We learned about apartheid and India’s role in ending it. I used to think it was all warm and fuzzy between us; Indians and the people of South Africa.

Until now. Yesterday, I chose to tweet about disturbing stories of Indians and their businesses being targeted in South Africa. I demanded to know why the world was being so silent about it. Where is the global elite of CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and BBC? Where is the conscience of Justin Trudeau? Where is the army of woke activists, from Trevor Noah to “first niece” Meena Harris and John Oliver? They were all so quick to seize upon the use of water cannon during “farmer” protests in India. Dear Rihanna, why aren’t we talking about the hatred that Indians are facing in South Africa?

Then, the attacks began. As South African Twitter discovered my tweet, my timeline was flooded with racist poison. Many said the Indians should go “home” so Africa could belong to Africans. I was told to go eat curry or smoke spices. I was hit with every possible racist stereotype and many users insisted on calling me “Rajesh.” This surprised me initially, until I realized it was a reference to the character of Rajesh Koothrapalli on The Big Bang Theory. And yes, I was asked if I drink cow piss for fun. And then there was the one who told me that Zulus would deal with my “curry relatives.”

Unlike global opinion writers at the Washington Post, I don’t make a living bashing anonymous handles on Twitter. I want to ask deeper questions. I want to know where this anti-Indian hatred comes from. This may seem like a localized incident in South Africa, but anti-Indian hatred has been rising worldwide. The other day, I watched in horror as this Vice News video explained that Indians in London were “incubating the virus.” I watched a video of British police torment a homeless Indian man, find a screw on the ground beside him and accuse him of keeping it as a weapon. All this, under the approving eye of Vice News, covering “crime and covid in London’s Little India.” This is cutting edge liberalism in times of great upheaval against police overreach in the West.

It appears as if they apply the rules of humanity to everyone except Indians. In 2020, Tulsi Gabbard made history as the only Democratic Presidential candidate ever not to be invited to her party convention despite winning delegates. In a year when racial and gender justice was the number one plank of the Democrats, they consciously decided to exclude a woman of color. She was a Hindu after all.

How was this hate atmosphere against Indians created?

Over the last three years, India’s reputation has been stormed like never before, on the front pages of global publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. They were joined by allies such as Al Jazeera and the newly formed TRT world (funded by Turkey). Our internal matters were projected on to the world stage with the harshest possible anti-Hindu commentary. Even channels in far away South America began using the F-word for Sardar Patel, describing him as a Hindu fundamentalist who took over Muslim kingdoms.

Old smears were dug up, connecting Hindus to Nazism. This was mixed in with racist colonial stereotypes and “cow piss drinker” became a global rallying cry of the Hinduphobes, from Pulwama’s suicide bomber to alleged journalists, academics and thinkers. Every possible thing about India, from sarees to rasam to earthen lamps and even the word “Bharat” was stuck with labels such as supremacist and Nazi.

In the US, it was all hands on deck. While think tanks rallied the intellectual class against us, late night comedians were firing up American audiences against the evil of Indians. On US campuses, where liberals run everything, they began protest marches, taught seminars and research courses on how bad Indian society is. US Consulates in India now speak of “Bengali Americans.” Or they take a wider view and speak of the “South Asian” community. In polite company, it is now considered unacceptable to utter the word “India.”

In fact, in recent times, the only thing that was described as “Indian” was the so called “Indian variant” of the Coronavirus. The colonial BBC came up with an absolute gem of a headline on this: “The Indian variant explained in five South Asian languages.” The languages are South Asian. The virus is Indian.

But why? Why do they hate India?

Indeed, what did we ever do to them? The answer is distressingly simple. Anti-India hatred is part of the age old prejudice against pagan cultures. Across the world, there are three hegemonic forces. One is Christianity, another is Communism and the third one is so peaceful that it is too risky to name them directly. These three forces appear to be at odds with each other, but they are really not. The elephants are fighting. We pagans are the grass. We are the ones who really suffer.

But why now? First, because India got big enough to the point that we began demanding an actual place at the global power table. Nobody likes that, even those who share the same culture and values. Even the British were outraged when Americans began to claim their rightful place in the world towards the beginning of the last century. So you can imagine the heartburn when India became the fifth largest economy in the world in 2019. As long as India was playing in the little leagues, it was kind of cute. We heard some nice things about being a democracy and all that. But then, India became the world’s fifth largest economy. That’s when George Soros declared a $1 billion initiative to destabilize India. The big guys are coming for us. Don’t worry, the big guys just want the best for us…

Second, while India got big, China got bigger and much faster. It was only in 2010 that China became the second largest economy in the world. A decade since then, China has learned to truly leverage its diplomatic and economic power. That is why a day after the Galwan clash in Jun 2020, “experts” told the New York Times that the reason for the clash was Amit Shah’s aggressive posturing during his speech on Article 370 in Parliament in Aug 2019. In fact, there was a year long campaign in Western media to portray India as a dictatorship and an occupier in Jammu & Kashmir. After bashing up India’s democratic image, the Chinese came knocking.

Why is India such a convenient enemy for the global elite?

Every movement needs an enemy. For the global elite to truly control the world, they have to give the masses an enemy. And there are several reasons Indians are uniquely suited to be that enemy.

First, India is a country that everyone has heard of, but hardly anyone knows about. You can’t make an enemy out of say Germany or Brazil. Everyone has heard of them and everyone knows about them. Their culture is far too similar to the dominant culture in Europe and America. On the other hand, you cannot make an enemy out of say Swaziland or Mozambique. A lot of people haven’t even heard of them.

We Indians are unique. Everyone has heard of us, but our culture is strange and different. Our reverence for cows, for instance, can easily be mocked. We have our elephant gods and monkey gods and so on. Now, you could say, all religious belief and symbols could be mocked. Sure, but their beliefs are the “norm.” That’s why cat and dog meat is banned by federal law in the United States, but beef bans in India are undemocratic. That’s why the British Embassy can pressure the government of South Korea to ban dog meat. Would you confront the British with dog piss jokes? Of course not, because whatever the Christian West believes is the “norm” and must always be the norm.

Second, in order to incite mass hysteria, you need an enemy with a large and distinctive cultural footprint. Like the Jews in Europe in the 1930s, Indians are everywhere. And what is more, Indians are disproportionately well off in all the countries where they live. The conditions are ideal to smear Indians the way the Nazis smeared the Jews. Not just today, India and its cultural footprint have always been there. India is older than history itself. Like the Nazis, the global elite is tapping into prejudice that is thousands of years old.

Finally, the designated enemy needs to be just strong enough to be hated, but just weak enough that it cannot hit back with sufficient force. India is a big power, but it’s not a superpower. People don’t want to feel like bullies, hating on some country far too weak, like say Colombia or Indonesia. Conversely, they don’t want to hate on someone too strong, such as China, or there might be severe consequences. The masses are intellectually lazy. The global elite is giving them an enemy that they can hate at the end of a long hard day, with a beer and their feet up. Ultimately, hatred is a drug, that the global elite serve for entertainment. Which American would want to hear that China has captured the American elite? That’s why late night comedians in America go after India. Yes, the Indians are evil, but America could crush them if they really wanted. The average American can go to sleep after hearing this.

What role have Indian liberals played in creating the current situation?

Even at its peak, the British Empire never had more than 30,000 officers in India. Usually, it was more like ten thousand British officers “against” thirty crore Indians. And the former remained in charge for 200 years. Let that sink in.

The other day I watched BBC toss a (rhetorical?) question to journalist based in India. Do you think the Western media is biased against India, they asked. The journalist dismissed the possibility outright. Of course the Western media isn’t biased, she said. The BBC used her as a prop to deny white privilege. Whatever the BBC paid her, if any, I am sure they got their money’s worth.

In the last few years, there has been a great convergence of interests between the global liberal looking to buy and the Indian liberal looking to sell. Something fundamental has changed among the Indian masses. With the political establishment changed, the Indian liberal is forced to sell overseas as the domestic market dries up. You can reel off the names easily. Journalists, academics, think tanks and the like. Everyone seems to be in the market for some international prize or honor.

The second wave of Covid was a stark example of this phenomenon. Remember how they flew drones over crematoriums? The Hindu practice of burning the dead is an international curiosity. Always a hit.

What do Indians need to realize here?

That we have no real friends. We have to understand that the liberal world has no place for us. And being an Indian
“liberal” will not offer you any protection nor advantages. If you are among the handful of Indian liberals actually getting paychecks from global publications, that’s different. But if you are among common people in the audience who sustain and sympathize with the Indian liberal ecosystem, they are taking you for a ride.

In the eyes of the global elite, you are just an Indian and they hate you for it. Whether you make cow urine jokes or say “Hindutva ki kabr khudegi” matters little. Did you see how the Indian liberals were so animated about Gaza a few days back? Did you see any of these people worry about the fate of Indians in Durban? What’s the general political affiliation of Indians in Durban? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

So better join up with the only group that will have you. There is security in numbers. You may not like everyone on this side. You may loathe most of them. Suck it up, because life isn’t easy, fair nor perfect. The struggle for survival isn’t over. Just ask yourself why the liberals care more about Gaza than they do about Durban.

Liberal values are for the liberal elite. They make these values sound universal, but they are not. If these values were universal, they wouldn’t accuse a homeless Indian man in London of “incubating the virus,” would they?