Developing Yadav leadership is BJP’s only ticket out of the Bihar tangle

There are few states in India, where politics is as deadlocked as in Bihar. On the one hand, there is a political monopoly that has grown complacent and delivers subpar service to the people. You can try to wiggle out of the monopoly, but then you would have to opt literally for disaster. The monopoly understands your predicament. That’s exactly why they are so complacent. They know you have no way out.

The deadlock is just as much among the political parties as among the people. The biggest political party in Bihar knows it is not getting the respect nor power it deserves. But if you move a muscle, you end up losing whatever little you have.

Enough of blank statements. Let’s get to the specifics.

Look at Bihar from the eyes of a common voter. The BJP+JDU has been in saddle for (almost) three terms. The elders have told you enough horror stories of Lalu’s jungle raj. You remember with gratitude how the two parties pulled Bihar out of the hole during their first term. But after 2010, what? The period from 2010 to 2015 was marked with JDU’s endless drama and jealousy towards Narendra Modi. After 2015, the JDU ruled for 2 years with RJD and then returned to its comfortable old alliance with BJP. The ruling faces have not changed in 10 years and delivery is really subpar.

So now what? Vote for RJD in hope of change? No way. You are smarter than that. What option remains? Just vote BJP+JDU and let things go on as they always have. Accept the inevitable, which will only make BJP+JDU more complacent, likely bring down even further the pace of delivery. Sad.

Now look at Bihar from the eyes of the BJP. Yes, they have power. But definitely much less than what they are entitled to. In fact, Bihar is now the only state in the entire Hindi belt where BJP has not had the post of Chief Minister for even one day. It’s almost unbelievable if you think about it. At this rate, the BJP will get the CM chair in Bengal before it gets the CM chair in Bihar. Oh, the irony, especially with TMC machinery trying to stereotype the BJP in Bengal as the party of Biharis 🙂

There can be no doubt which party is stronger in Bihar : BJP or JDU. When the 3 parties fought separately in 2014, the BJP’s vote share was by far the biggest. In the 2015 Assembly elections, the BJP again had by far the largest chunk of votes. Significantly, the JDU had the lowest vote share and won fewer seats than RJD.

In 2019, the arithmetic was such that NDA would have swept Bihar. But again, almost hilariously and as if acting deliberately to irritate Nitish Kumar, the people of Bihar gave NDA 39/40. The BJP won all its seats. The LJP won all its seats. Who lost that one seat? The JDU, of course.

This is not just a new thing. Even as far back as 2010, the BJP’s strike rate in seats was higher than JDU. There is no doubt which party is bigger and stronger.

The Assembly elections are now approaching. The BJP could demand due respect and the CM post. But then, Nitish Kumar will walk right out of the door, join hands with RJD and sweep the election again, leaving BJP out cold.

Deadlock.

The only one who is happy in Bihar is Nitish Kumar. He wins in every possible scenario. It is truly astonishing for a leader to have a state so under his control with so few votes of his own.

The RJD’s 18-20% vote share doesn’t matter. The BJP 22-25% vote share does not matter. Only the JDU’s 15% votes matter. How ironic is that?

A thorny issue is coming up for BJP and JDU. It’s seat sharing. Probably, the JDU will, as a starting point, insist that the two parties go back to their traditional arrangement: 102 seats contested by BJP and 141 contested by JDU. The LJP would be allotted seats proportionately from the quotas of the two big partners.

This is staggeringly unfair to BJP and it’s unlikely they will accept this deal under any circumstances. The BJP will point to something resembling the Lok Sabha seat distribution: 17 for BJP, 17 for JDU and 6 for LJP. Yes, the BJP gave up four sitting MPs in 2019 to strike the alliance with JDU, but the JDU also conceded something big : the number one position in Bihar. Until now, the Lok Sabha seats had been divided up as 25 for JDU and 15 for BJP, making BJP by far the junior partner.

Given that Nitish’s popularity is definitely ebbing and he needs Modi’s popularity to create a “hawa,” the JDU will most likely accept the principle of equal seats for BJP and JDU. Remember this carries a lot of risk for Nitish Kumar, because contesting equal seats means almost certainly that BJP will emerge with more seats than JDU.

Ultimately, there is only so far that Nitish can push the BJP. His luck has held so far like a charm. But if he does another U-turn and goes to RJD now, it may just be one gamble too far. You cannot underestimate RJD beyond a point. Remember how 2005 started? People knew Lalu Yadav was “under pressure” but not very sure. It took two elections in 2005 in rapid succession, but Bihar dumped Lalu Yadav. What began as a ripple became a wave. Remember that RJD had swept Bihar just the year before in 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

What if the ripple of anti-incumbency against Nitish also turns into a wave?

For BJP, there is only one long term solution to the Bihar deadlock. They have to break RJD’s monopoly on the Yadav vote. For this, the BJP has to put forward its own Yadav leadership to replace the Lalu family.

In flashes, the BJP has shown that it understands the idea. When Nitish broke ties with BJP in 2013, Nandkishore Yadav became Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly. The BJP could have picked any number of leaders from other OBC groups, but they knew which was the right move. But as BJP and JDU allied again, the strategy was lost in the wilderness. For BJP in Bihar, politics has become too easy.

Therein lies the rub.

Bihar is a poor and backward state. But great sweeping changes in Indian politics have also started from the banks of the Ganga in Bihar. Nitish Kumar will probably win, but he should be watchful about the perils of history.

Four lakh crore stimulus package to indigenous defense manufacturing

On the day when Rafales were delivered to India, I remember lamenting that India does not produce aircraft like these. The announcement by Rajnath Singh yesterday about an embargo on 101 defense items might not have been big news, but these are the changes that truly matter.

The first thing it shows is that a full audit has been done of what the military currently imports and which items we can expect to start making in India in the near future (by 2025). With a vast military such as ours, the problems are on a scale bigger than we can even imagine.

When we think of defense imports, we think about Rafale from France or C-130 planes from the US. But the truth is that India imports much more stuff that does not make any headlines.

For starters, there is stuff like ammunition and bombs. It is tragic that our military is chronically short of ammunition. That our vast industrial base is not self sufficient in this basic aspect.

Some years ago, the Army Chief had raised alarm bells when he said India has ammunition only enough for a 10 day war. Think about it. Just 10 days! That’s all.

Obviously, the situation is more complicated than that. Because ammunition comes in all forms, often with multiple kinds for each weapons platform. So there is no concrete answer to how many days worth we really have. And reconciling all the different kinds of ammunition and keeping track: this is exactly the kind of thing where our nightmarish bureaucracy would drop the ball.

It seems the basic audit has been done now. We have taken stock of what we have, what we need, how much can be made at home within a reasonable time frame and what we have to buy from outside.

The reason I am emphasizing audits is precisely this: because our capabilities are extremely uneven. For example, India is able to make its own nuclear submarines : the Arihant class. Our Agni-V missile is among the best in the world. And yet, did you know that India is struggling with putting together a basic assault rifle for our troops?

Indeed, the INSAS rifle, which is standard small arms issue for our military, is still having issues. And now we are going back to Russian Kalashnikovs and some German fare.

What does this show? How can it be that we make nuclear submarines and ICBMs but not rifles? It shows a lack of coherence: while a high prestige project like a nuclear submarine gets done, something much more basic but less glamorous like a rifle is languishing.

This is why I welcome the “low glam focus” of Rajnath Singh’s announcements yesterday. Instead of big ticket items, the program focuses on manufacturing the small ticket items within India. He has not announced a new missile program or fifth generation fighter: he has announced plans to make humble ammunition and assault rifles.

And big money has been dangled in order to get this done. Rs 4 lakh crore worth of orders to be placed in the next 5 years to the indigenous defense sector.

Coming at the time of Coronavirus, this is really a stimulus package. With the money being put behind exactly the right kind of causes.

The Minister also mentioned that India had spent Rs 3.5 lakh crore on purchasing these items from abroad in the last 5 years. That’s a hell of a lot of money spent on buying small stuff that could well have been made in India with a little bit of effort.

On a side note, I can assure you that no decision from Modi govt in last 6 years has made liberal elite as angry as the decision yesterday.

India is the world’s second largest importer of weapons, accounting for 10% of purchases globally. In case you are wondering, the largest buyer is Saudi Arabia. But Saudi weapons purchases aren’t real. Middle Eastern countries buy weapons from the US as a bribe to keep America’s military industrial complex happy. It is basically a rebate. In return, the American elite lets OPEC keep its monopoly and keep robbing common people. It’s the common American who pays for Middle Eastern dictators and the US military-industrial complex to get fat.

Anyway, let’s come back to India.

While weapons dalali is banned in India, we know what goes on. There are billions and billions of $$$ at stake here. And weapons dalali has been one of the biggest sources of nectar for the ecosystem to feed on. Much of India’s lack of self-reliance in defense production is by design. If India stopped buying foreign weapons, what would the dalals eat?

The plan yesterday seems to be for a graduated exit from defense imports. The ban is not immediate, but step by step, with items successively coming under embargo between Dec 2020 and Dec 2025 as the indigenous industry steps up. And I am all for that.

With Ram Mandir stance, Congress has gained nothing, but lost its last vote bank: Muslims

Often, it is not fully appreciated just how much the Congress depends on the M-vote. Obviously, we have no hard figures, but here is a simple estimation: in about half of the country, the Congress is the foremost “secular” party. A rough calculation therefore suggests that half of India’s M-vote goes to Congress.

Assuming that the M-community makes up 15% of the country, half of them give the Congress about 8% of the vote. In 2019, the Congress polled 19% of the national vote. That means around 42% of all the people who voted for the Congress in 2019 are from the M-community.

There is no doubt that this 42% would make up the single biggest chunk among the Congress votes. The votes coming from any given caste, or a sliver of anti-incumbency votes, etc, would be much smaller in comparison.

You can blame Sonia Gandhi if you want, but there is a reason the UPA ran a government based on hardcore minorityism. With so much of the Congress vote coming from one community, they had to cater to their core voters.

With the rise of Modi and a united Hindu votebank along with him, minorityism has comprehensively failed as an election strategy. On the other side, we have the clueless Rahul (along with the even more clueless Priyanka) with their dreams of bringing Congress back to power.

And hence, Rahul and Priyanka reach out desperately to the Hindus over Ram Mandir. It was kind of funny to watch the Congress on Aug 5, squirming, begging, itching to sign up for the Hindu vote.

Their messaging was desperate and totally confused. In comparison, PM Modi’s message was direct and effective. I can guarantee you that Congress did not win a single Hindu voter on Aug 5 with its stance on Ram Temple.

But I can assure you Congress has lost big on Aug 5: the trust of M-voters, who were the last remaining vote bank of the party.

Everyone understands what Congress is thinking. In the few states where Congress is still a major player, they are taking their M-vote for granted. Where would they go? To the BJP? That’s why Congress believes (foolishly) that they have nothing to fear by supporting the Ram temple.

In doing so, the Congress has completely forgotten its own past and learned no lessons from its decline. How was the Congress monopoly broken in state after state? The BJP was on one side, or allied with a regional party. But the real decimation always came due to smaller parties that made away with the votes of some caste group or other. Mayawati took away the Dalit votes, Mulayam took away the Yadav votes and so on. The BJP itself took away the OBC votes and forward caste votes. I am talking about the 90s.

If a caste based party could have taken Yadav votes, Dalit votes, OBC votes, Brahmin votes, Jat votes, etc away from the Congress, tomorrow a religion based party might well take M-votes away from them as well.

Take even Delhi. It’s too urban for caste based blocs. The nearest thing to a voting block was “urban poor.” The AAP gobbled it up — easily.

Politics is brutally competitive and has no space for the weak. Everyone sees the weakness of the Congress today, its exhaustion and lack of leadership. Decades ago, a whole bunch of leaders burst forth across the Hindi belt and made away with chunks of Congress votes. If Rahul or Priyanka believe no M-leader(s) will emerge with their own small parties, they are dreaming.

And Ram Mandir is exactly the kind of watershed moment that could cause an upsurge of anger against the Congress among the M-community. There is no doubt that Owaisi sees an opportunity. There are surely others like him.

The Congress has not realized as yet how weak they have become. The Congress today is a slightly glorified version of a regional party run around the M-vote. But the Congress party (and least of all, its clueless leaders) still harbor visions of winning over 100 seats, getting the PM post and so on.

Congress welcomed the Ram Mandir hoping to get favor with Hindu voters. The funny thing is Congress still believes Hindus are taking them seriously.

The Congress has not woken up to, not yet embraced what it has truly become: The M-League. And because it does not believe the reality, it has acted in a way that has made its core voters angry. Would RJD have upset the Yadavs? Never. Because RJD knows its core voters. The Congress does not even know its core voter.

The M-vote is itching to move away from the Congress. And with it, the final stage of Congress mukt Bharat is approaching.

Hagia Sophia, AIMPLB and why secularism is a scam

At first it may seem that the Hagia Sophia, a historical site of dispute between Muslims and Christians all the way in Turkey is of little relevance to India. But it most certainly is. There are certain sympathies that extend well beyond national boundaries. Which is why Muslim majority Turkey wants to intervene in Kashmir. And the All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) talks about the Hagia Sophia even as it wags its finger at the Supreme Court.

On a side note, one wonders what would have happened if a common citizen had dared to describe a Supreme Court judgement as “unjust, oppressive, shameful and majority appeasing.”

On the face of it, Hagia Sophia seems like a typical symbol of Islamist triumphalism. An Christian emperor built a church there. Then, a medieval Muslim emperor converted it into a mosque. As Turkey remained relatively secular (by standards of the Muslim world) for most of the 20th century, the site became religiously neutral, serving as a museum. Now, Turkey has reclaimed the Hagia Sophia as a mosque.

One may therefore be confused by the comparison drawn by the AIMPLB between the Hagia Sophia and the Ram Janmabhoomi case. The Hagia Sophia used to be a church. Those who converted it by force are getting to keep it. In the case of Ram Janmabhoomi, the Hindus are taking back one of their most sacred places. How then are they similar?

To understand, you must read the reasoning of the AIMPLB carefully.

…where a mosque comes up once, it remains a mosque till eternity

Get it? It is not about natural justice, not about right or wrong. Once a mosque, always a mosque. End of argument.

The Hagia Sophia case is relevant both for the reasons that everyone is talking about and for reasons nobody is talking about. We already heard about the church vs mosque dispute. But what they don’t tell you is that there is a third party to the Hagia Sophia dispute.

Except that the third party is not around to argue its case either in Turkey or elsewhere in the world. They are unseen. They are forgotten. And it is this unseen third party that is most relevant to the Hindus of India.

One side says the Hagia Sophia is a church. Another side says it is a mosque. But the reality is that the Hagia Sophia is built on a pagan temple.

Where are those pagans who originally worshiped at the spot where Hagia Sophia stands today? What became of their culture?

Today the two powerful Abrahamic religions, Islam and Christianity are clashing over who owns the site. The elephants are fighting. The grass has been forgotten.

This is where we have to realize something. We Hindus are the last standing major pagan culture in the world. Many centuries ago, a project began to bring all of humanity under the god of Abraham. One by one, the inheritors of the world’s great ancient civilizations: the Greeks, the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians, the Romans, fell under the swoop of this imperial project. They signed a truce with Communism, which mimics the structure of Abrahamic religions by replacing “one true god” with “one true state.”

We Hindus are still here, worshiping our land, the forces and bounties of nature, our ancestors. Our beliefs and practices are diverse and colorful.

We are building a temple for Ram, but we have temples for Ravana too. In Uttar Pradesh, in Madhya Pradesh, in Rajasthan, in Gujarat, in Andhra Pradesh, everywhere. There are temples where Lord Ayyappa is worshiped as eternally celibate. Young women are not allowed in there. There are also temples where Lord Ayyappa is worshiped as a householder, with not one but two wives. And there are also temples where men are not allowed to enter.

The imperial project sees us as people who should not exist. Our loosely organized religion, infinitely adaptive to local and personal beliefs, free from moral absolutes, is anathema to them. And above all, they see it as weakness.

They want that we should be broken up and made to surrender to one of the brands of Abrahamic religion.

At this point, you will inevitably come up against some standard objections from Indian liberals. First, how could a billion Hindus ever be wiped out? What do we have to fear?

You should turn that argument on its head. There are one and a half billion Muslims in the world and they control 57 countries. How could 1.5 billion people with 57 countries under their control be marginalized? Then, how come we have to deal every day with the sob story about this thing they call Islamophobia?

Second, they will say : Muslims did not convert all of India in 800 years of rule. How can you say they will do it now?

Well, Hindus of India just happen to be the exception. The Abrahamic religions have wiped out pagan cultures all across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. These cultures were not extinguished in a day, but step by step. We Hindus of India are the last remaining step. Don’t forget that the imperial project has already swallowed up Pakistan and Bangladesh. The tiniest remnants of Hindu culture have been scrubbed from there.

But the most important question you would face would come from within. The empires of the past are all gone. India is a secular democratic republic today. You have rights. What do you have to fear as a Hindu?

This is where you must come to the most devastating conclusion of all. Secularism is a scam and it does not protect you.

What is secularism? Secularism is the principle that establishes a free market of religion. It insists that all exchanges and trades in religion should be voluntary. And it puts the state in charge of making sure that nobody can use force.

It sounds great. But only if your religion is similar to a for profit corporation. You have these rules to ensure fair competition, to protect your profits and secure your investments.

But what happens if your religion has an altogether different orientation? What if your religion is not about delivering dividends to existing shareholders in terms of the quarterly number of new converts? What if your religions measures its success in terms of celebrating a cultural identity, history and traditions to be passed to the next generation?

I used the word “orientation” very deliberately. Here is a thought. What if I told you that every country in the world, including Saudi Arabia, already gives gay people the right to get married?

Think about it. Saudi law already allows all men (including gay men) to marry women. And Saudi law already allows all women (including gay women) to marry men. Fair enough?

No, not fair at all. Because gay people have an altogether different orientation. They have no use for their rights under Saudi law, which is fair in a literal sense but not in a meaningful sense. It’s the same thing when Indian secularism offers Hindus an equal right to convert members of other religions. We have no interest in it and no use for it. This “equal right” is a joke.

Secularism was set up for Abrahamic monopoly religions to carve out territory for themselves. Secularism does not protect the Hindu way of life.

You can observe this phenomenon easily. In secularism, the iron clad protections are reserved for the freedom to spread religion. It took decades for the judiciary to decide that a Ram temple could be built at Ayodhya. But if you want curb ways in which people celebrate Holi, Diwali, Janmashthami, or a practice such as Jallikattu, you can get a judgement on your PIL in a few afternoons.

It is important to divorce your feelings about individual cases from the general principle here. You may well be concerned about pollution caused by Diwali crackers and be happy that the courts are clamping down on them. That’s not the point. The point is how easy it is for the Indian legal system to curb practices of Hindu religion. Today it may be a practice you don’t like, tomorrow it could be something that is close to your heart. The Hindu religion is a diverse bundle of cultural practices. And the scary thing is that none of these is protected by law. That’s why secularism is a scam.

Let me make this formal. There is a legal term called “essential practice of religion,” which the judiciary uses to test whether some form of religious expression is protected by secularism. The Supreme Court defines it as “the core belief upon which a religion is founded.”

Do you see the problem here? What is the core belief upon which Hinduism is founded? Does Hinduism have one god, one book and one prophet? Can you show me something that actually qualifies as “essential practice” of Hinduism?

So which aspect of Hindu religion does secularism protect? In short, nothing.

Let’s say that again. Secularism does not protect Hindu religion in any way, shape or form. Secularism is a scam.

Ram Janmabhoomi movement: Three sacrifices that can never be forgotten

When PM Modi performed Bhoomi Pujan in Ayodhya yesterday, it capped a five hundred year struggle for Hindus to reclaim Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya. The temple becomes the most visible symbol of pushback by Hindus in nearly one thousand years.

As every Hindu knows, on a tour of holy places in India, especially in the North, you always come up against the same sad story. So and so was a great temple, but then … destroyed it. You know who. It could be Kashi, Mathura, Ayodhya. Or even a slightly less famous place such as the Shakti Peeth of Jwalamukhi temple in Himachal Pradesh. Akbar ordered the naturally occurring flames of the temple to be extinguished by covering them with iron discs and pumping water. It didn’t work.

I deliberately chose this example, considering that there is a particularly strong genre of fan fiction about Akbar’s “secularism” in our Ganga-Jamuni textbooks.

In India, the evidence of temple destruction is everywhere. The ASI dug the ground in Ayodhya, but you really don’t need to work as hard. There are famous places in India where you can literally see the old temple wall at the back of the mosque. The Indian state deals with this by banning photography of the exterior of the mosque. And most importantly, the phenomenon of destroying places of worship of non-believers can be observed all over the Muslim world even today. A temple under construction in Islamabad was demolished only last month.

In other words, the evidence for temple destruction is so vast and overwhelming that you would have to be a “historian” to not believe it.

At long last, on the 5th day of August 2020, we have a change of narrative. Hindus lost something. And they got it back.

Five hundred years of struggle went into this moment. There would be so many heroes that it is impossible to remember them all. The vast majority of them have been lost to history. But here are three in the post-independence era that we can never forget.

(1) Karsewaks who perished in police firing in Ayodhya

At the Bhoomi Pujan yesterday, one of the guests was Poornima Kothari from Kolkata. For nearly 30 years, she had been offering rakhi to pictures of her brothers : Ram and Sharad Kothari, who had been killed in police firing in Ayodhya in 1990.

We don’t know much about the Ayodhya firing incident. The state government led by Mulayam Singh Yadav claimed that 16 people had been killed. If you know anything about India, you will understand that means 16 is just a starting point.

The English language media refused to report on the incident for reasons of political correctness. There is something to be said here about Hindi language media (and in other Indian languages) which created a subaltern network to disseminate information about the brutality in Ayodhya. Back then, there were no smartphones to break the information blackout. And presumably, no conscience either among the Indian and global elite. Otherwise, they would have called it a pogrom.

As late as 2017, Mulayam Singh Yadav still justified his decision. In fact, he said that the police should have killed even more if needed.

(2) Godhra carnage of Feb 27, 2002

At least this time, we have an exact number of 59 killed. Aren’t we lucky?

Fifty nine human beings burned to death in a railway compartment. Ten of them were just children. In any other nation, this would have led to an outpouring of grief, sympathy for the victims and outrage against the perpetrators.

But in India, the opposite happened. Vicious rumors were circulated, implicating the karsewaks in their own murder. The most pervasive: that apparently somebody had refused to pay Rs 2 for tea at the railway station. And so the local vendors, who belonged to a peaceful community, had no option but to take 59 lives. Seems like an excruciating rate of interest, unless of course you believe that 59 Hindu lives are not even worth Rs 2.

The humiliation did not stop there. When Lalu Yadav became Railway Minister, he appointed a Commission that found the fire was an “accident.” If Lalu Yadav had become US Secretary of State, Osama bin Laden would have cleared his name as well in the matter of the 9/11 attacks.

In 2011, the Gujarat High Court convicted 31 people for the Godhra train carnage, but the lies have always stayed one step ahead of the truth. Despite the High Court conviction, Indian and foreign media routinely present the incident as if nobody knows who was behind it. It is good that Gujarat High Court commuted 11 of the death sentences from the Sessions court to life imprisonment. After all, 15000 “liberals” showed up to pay tribute in Mumbai when Yakub Memon was executed. If the Godhra convicts has to be executed, who knows how many “liberals” would have poured into the streets…

(3) Kalyan Singh’s resignation

There is one thing we know about politicians. They love power. When they have power, they stick to it no matter what.

Imagine what it takes to surrender your full majority government in India’s most populous state, only a year and half into your term. We have seen politicians fall over themselves to become Chief Minister, even if for six months.

But on Dec 6, 1992, Kalyan Singh resigned as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. There was pressure on him to do a Mulayam: to open fire on karsewaks. He refused. He chose to give up his chair instead.

The ecosystem never forgave him for that. In this chilling video, you can see the stone cold face of the NDTV interviewer as he demands why Kalyan Singh let crores of people be divided just to save a few lives. Just a few lives. I would like to ask the NDTV interviewer how much is the worth of one Hindu life.

For what it’s worth, the Central government also dismissed the BJP state governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh as soon as Babri Masjid was demolished.

In India, both Hindu life and democracy can be cheap.

The establishment of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya is a victory for the soul of India. It is not just a victory for our generation. It is also a tribute to generations past and a legacy we leave behind for the generations to come.

Five forms of apartheid that were wiped out when Article 370 was removed

When Article 370 was abolished on Aug 5 last year, I was astonished by how little I knew about my own country. If somebody had told me the day before that a full blown, fully constitutional system of legal apartheid exists in the Republic of India, I would not have believed them.

When the conspiracy of silence around these injustices was blown away in Aug 2019, I was offended by two things. First, that these injustices continued to exist for 69 years into India’s life as a democratic republic. Second, the fact that most people, including me, had never even heard of them.

Tomorrow, it will be exactly one year since that momentous occasion. True to their nature, the usual suspects have come out of the woodwork and are plying people with sob stories about how Kashmir has been suffering in the last one year.

Pay no attention to these voices. For they are not honest actors. For 70 years, they brought us heart warming stories about the childhood of Burhan Wani and Adil Ahmad Dar. Enough.

Let me list before you the five hidden forms of apartheid in Jammu and Kashmir that were ripped apart when Article 370 ceased to exist.

(1) Apartheid against Valmiki community came to an end

In 1957, members of the Valmiki community came to Kashmir on invitation from the state government. The state wanted to break up the strike of the local safai karmacharis. Even 62 years later, those people and their descendants were not allowed to take up any job other than as sweepers.

Read here the story of Eklavya, who had a PhD but was not entitled to any government job other than that of safai karamchari.

This is literally apartheid. It’s a level of injustice that sounds almost unreal. And Indian ‘secularism’ was sitting on it all these years.

Today, Eklavya is free.

(2) Apartheid against Gorkhas came to an end

About one lakh Gorkhas live in Jammu and Kashmir. Their ancestors moved there in the mid-19th century. And they still did not have the right to own land in the state. On top of that, thousands of them have served in the Indian Army.

Imagine serving in the Indian Army and still being a second class citizen of India.

This is the face of battle hardened Prem Bahadur, who served in the Gorkha regiment as far back as 1968. He has done more for the country than 99% of us. Until a year ago, he was less of a citizen of India than almost anyone else.

All these years, Prem Bahadur suffered in silence. Today, he is free.

(3) Apartheid against Jammu came to an end.

The Jammu region is home to 47% of people in J&K. But the state has never had a Chief Minister from Jammu. How is that possible?

Because the J&K Assembly was rigged at birth. In the 87 member legislative assembly, a full 46 seats were allotted to Kashmir. But Jammu was allotted only 37 seats, below its share of the population. This was a very deliberate arrangement, ensuring that Kashmiris and only Kashmiris would control the whole state. In essence, the principle of one person one vote was abandoned to appease a particular group of people.

J&K will now be a Union Territory, with most powers in the hands of the Center. The legislature of J&K will now be reconstituted and delimitation of constituencies will be done on the basis of the 2011 census.

(4) Apartheid against women came to an end

This appears to have been the only form of apartheid that was relatively well known. I don’t know if that is supposed to make it better. The Islamist patriarchy that ruled J&K controlled the life choices of women in very direct ways. A woman choosing to marry outside the state could no longer pass on her property to her children.

In India, we always speak of “motherland” and “mother tongue.” Imagine being told that you have been banished from your mother’s state and her property. When you cannot even inherit your mother’s identity, what is left?

In fact, women of J&K would receive state subject certificates emblazoned with the insulting remark “valid until marriage.” For those who cry Kaagaz Nahin Dikhayenge, how would you like to carry around an official paper stating that your citizenship is temporary, valid only until so and so?

This used to be India. Until 2019.

(5) Apartheid against homosexuals came to an end

In a Sep 2018, the Supreme Court removed penal provisions that used to treat homosexual acts as a criminal offense. The decision was welcomed almost universally, even as three Christian organizations were left carrying the torch for bigoted Victorian era views on sexuality.

Contrary to perception, the 2018 verdict did not apply to every part of India. Thanks to Article 370, homosexuality was still criminal in Jammu and Kashmir.

Not any more.

The end of Article 370 was the end of apartheid in India. We should all celebrate tomorrow. If you are a woman, this is a moment for you. If you are gay, this is a moment for you. If you belong to Jammu, this is for you. If you are from a Gorkha or Valmiki minority, this is for you.

Tomorrow, we celebrate the end of apartheid. Ten days after that, we celebrate Independence Day. August is a great month.

There was never any doubt that ‘seculars’ were behind the Delhi riots

It was always a matter of common sense. The eyes of the world are upon us. Delhi is all set to welcome the President of the United States. Then, the evening before his scheduled arrival, riots break out in the capital. Thick clouds of smoke rise high above the city as the world media watches.

The US President finishes his visit and his plane takes off. The violence stops. As if someone has pulled a switch.

You don’t even need to ask who was behind the violence. Anyone with common sense would know that this could only have been done by opponents of Prime Minister Modi, trying to embarrass him in front of the world.

But in this case, common sense was facing two powerful enemies: brazen shamelessness of the liberal ecosystem and their overwhelming vice like grip over global media outlets. And thus was born the smear against Hindus, especially the Hindu right, of engineering riots in Delhi. Some went so far as to call it “genocide.”

From Day 1, this was an open and shut case. It was obvious who had the motive. There were viral videos of stones and petrol bombs being thrown from the houses of ‘secular’ leaders. Legions of police and media persons later thronged their homes, and their inventory of acid, stones, rods, petrol bombs and assorted riot ammunition was on full display.

We had not one or two people, but entire localities pointing fingers at who killed IB employee Ankit Sharma. On TV channel after TV channel. We had the dead body of Ankit Sharma, recovered from the gutter, with injuries too many to count.

And yet the smear continued. All around the world, Hindus were called the worst of names, starting with Nazi.

Now we even have a confession from Tahir Hussain.

In his confession, Tahir Hussain has also named people such as Khalid Saifi and Umar Khalid as well as the PFI.

The liberal ecosystem was ahead here as well. They had started raising the pitch over Khalid Saifi a while ago, highlighting the fact that he has a wife and kids. The familiar template, from “headmaster’s son” to “math teacher” to “video game player.” Whenever a ‘secularist’ is accused of a crime, go find some small human aspect of his life that a common person can relate to.

In a world where Osama bin Laden is remembered as “husband and father” and ISIS chief Baghdadi is remembered as “austere religious preacher,” creating sympathy for small fry like Khalid Saifi is no big deal for liberal media.

And therefore, no matter how many facts pile on, the insane global liberal narrative around Delhi riots continues. They don’t have motive, witnesses, physical evidence, confessions, anything to put the blame of Hindus. But they have friends in powerful places and that is what counts.

If control over media is one pillar of the liberal narrative, brazen shamelessness is the other. Almost exactly five years ago, as many as 15000 people from the secular community gathered in the heart of Mumbai to pay last respects to terrorist Yakub Memon. They did it with the whole world watching: a public celebration of one of the worst terror attack in India’s history.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, the brazenness works in their favor. In terms of public perception. If you can tell a lie, so many times and so brazenly, looking people in the eye, with no trace of confusion or regret, they will start believing you. So bringing 15,000 people to the streets to support Yakub Memon is perverse, but it works. Especially in the court of global opinion. Not everyone in America knows intimately about events in India. Whoever speaks with more confidence has a chance of being believed.

Did you know that the term “conman” is actually short for “confidence man?” The oldest references are to a New York man in the 1840s who would walk up to people on the street and politely ask for their watch. He never snatched anything. They gave it to him. It was art, really.

That’s who the modern liberal is. They lie to you with such amazing confidence that you start believing in them.

There is only one way to stop the confidence man. It’s called common sense. So unplug yourself from the silly narratives about Delhi riots. And just ask yourself: who had the motive?

Opposition is firing blanks over the New Education Policy

Among all the incidents over the last week, probably over the last year, the one of the highest consequence is the launch of the New Education Policy (NEP). I don’t even need to explain why.

I cannot say I am an expert, but overall it does seem to be positive. There are some basic themes that I think I could identify.

First, it seems at the school level, we are moving towards a more American model of “elementary school”, “middle school” and “high school.” In fact, at the bottom rung there are 5 years of preschool, starting at age 3. From what I know, there is a growing consensus among experts that “Pre-K education” is crucial. As such, some formalization of the process starting from age of 3 years is welcome. At the same time, this will also make it easier for women to re-enter the workforce after giving birth.

The second theme is the abolition of distinction between “Science” and “Commerce” and “Art” streams. This is somewhat in the direction of reducing rigid distinctions in school education. But I wish they had gone further.

Let me explain. In our system, there’s a Class 9 math textbook. You finish Class 9 and get promoted to Class 10, when you read a Class 10 math textbook. And the same for every subject.

This is far too regimented. It assumes that learning ability of a child increases at the same pace in every subject. But it most certainly does not. The same kid could be at “Class 12 level” in math but only “Class 9 level” in Chemistry. By the time kids reach high school, their specialized interests begin to reveal themselves. It would have been good to have pools of courses that one could take in high school, irrespective of which year they are in. And you qualify to take the Board Exam by assembling a certain number of credits across the courses you choose.

The important thing is to get the student to pursue their interest. In the US, many kids take “Advanced Placement” or AP courses. I have come across Class 10 level kids already learning math at college level or above.

I know people often make fun of the school system in the US. But you have to see the results. The fact is America produces more innovation and entrepreneurship than anyone else on earth. We don’t need kids to load up on rote learning the capitals of states or which year so and so was born.

On higher education as well, the NEP theme seems to be one of mobility and flexibility. The Masters degree is redundant and seems to be on its way out. The Bachelors with research, lasting 4 years, is enough. Stay one year for a certificate, two years for a diploma, three years for a Bachelors and four years for a Bachelors with research from which you can roll directly into a PhD.

I absolutely loved this setup. So seamless. So smooth. So conceptually elegant.

Adding to this seamless nature is the credit bank for college. You study two years at College X and then move to College Y, transferring your college credits with you. This is what the future will be like. A young adult may not be ready for a four year commitment. Maybe because they don’t know what they want. It could even be because of financial or family situations…whatever. You do what you can when you can. Your “education credit” stays with you. You can come back and pick up where you left off. Anywhere in India. In the future, we will have older people coming back to college to reskill themselves. They will need this free flowing system as well.

Of course, the most crucial brick here is teacher education. We know this is where our system falters. When state governments have asked teachers to produce their degrees, we have sometimes seen protests. Why would they be scared to show their degrees? We know why that would be… We know there is an embarrassingly large number of teachers who clearly aren’t qualified. From what I read, they will now have to pass a teaching exam every 10 years. Let’s hope this is enough.

There is a lot to chew on and one cannot possibly address everything in one blog post. That would be silly.

But I wanted to say something funny as well. After NEP was announced, I saw loads of Twitter outrage. Some were trending that NEP is “Anti-working class”. Another said NEP is “Anti-Bahujan” and finally another group said it is “Anti-Dravidian.” You click on any one of these trends, each with thousands of tweets and you won’t find one specific objection to a policy point in NEP.

They have cartoons, memes, everything. But so far I have not seen a single specific objection anywhere.

The CPIM Politburo condemned the NEP in strongest possible terms. The only specific point they could object to is renaming the HRD Ministry as Ministry of Education. LOL!

Bear in mind that in matters of education, the CPIM is the significant party, not Congress. As part of the unwritten deal between CPM and Cong, we all know that Communists get to rule education.

And all they could come up with was why did they name it the Education Ministry?

I’m not kidding. This is their flagship issue 🙂

Seriously. At this point, the opposition to NEP is looking like this scene from Bunty aur Babli.

Come on, opposition, if you have nothing to say, don’t make a fool of yourself.

How Amit Shah saved Delhi from hitting AAP’s ‘target’ of 5.5 lakh cases by Jul 31

Here is a fact that was never widely reported. Towards the end of March this year, just as Coronavirus was making its way across India, the AAP government quietly signed up Delhi for the Center’s Ayushman Bharat program.

Until then, Kejriwal had maintained that Delhi did not need to join Ayushman Bharat because Delhi’s own system was much better.

How much better? Believe it or not, Kejriwal provided an exact figure. In a two page letter (written in Hindi) to Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan in June 2019, Kejriwal had stated that

Delhi government’s health scheme is 10 times bigger and comprehensive than Ayushman Bharat

And yet, just as India found itself entering the jaws of a pandemic, Kejriwal abandoned his own health scheme to pick up a product that in his own words was 10 times worse.

And thus begins a tragicomic tale of a Chief Minister who loves bombast but seems bored by the actual task of governing. Which is why he is forever looking for others to pick up the slack.

But the virus is not forgiving. And in a big metropolis such as Delhi, there was no stopping it. The AAP tried all the obvious tricks. Testing too little. Hiding data on death toll. An app that gave fake info on availability of hospital beds. Blaming “outsiders” for taking up space in Delhi hospitals and trying to kick off a big public “debate” over this non-issue. This is “latkaana, atkaana, bhatkanaa” on a scale that would put even Congress to shame.

At the very least, the Chief Minister’s IIT education should have taught him that you cannot hide from an exponential curve. By mid-June, data compiled from Delhi’s municipal corporations showed that the Coronavirus death toll was at least twice the official figure from the state government.

As Delhi clamped down on testing, the test positivity rate soared to a frightening 37% on June 13. The capital was now officially spinning out of control.

Not only was Delhi testing too little, there was a story in who it was testing. A story of class privilege and elitism. A story that is particularly cruel to the supposed “aam aadmi” votebase of the AAP.

Here is the number of tests that Delhi government had conducted by June 14, broken down by region, as compiled by The Print.

Right away, you can see that the number of tests in posh South Delhi and New Delhi area towering over places like Shahadara, where the poor of the city live.

The test positivity rate tells a similar story of AAP’s cruelty to Delhi’s poor.

The rate of positives in New Delhi is 22%. In South Delhi, it is 28%. Scary indeed, but surely better off than the astonishing 75% in Shahadara. In other words, the poorest parts of the city were suffering the most and getting the least number of tests.

The data leaves absolutely no room for doubt: the government of “aam aadmi” was working only for the elite.

But virus doesn’t see rich or poor. By mid-June, AAP knew it was all over. That’s when Deputy CM Manish Sisodia went public, sort of promising Delhi 5.5 lakh cases by July 31.

Unbelievably, Sisodia was still playing games at this time over the non-issue of reserving hospital beds for locals.

Delhi desperately needed adult supervision of its elected government. And they got it. The Prime Minister put together a team to “help” Delhi and Amit Shah stepped in.

Notice that date: June 14, 2020. And now see the magic. Here is the data compiled by India Today’s Data Intelligence Unit.

See how the number of tests in Delhi climbs rapidly as the Center steps in?

See how test positivity rate was soaring until Amit Shah stepped in? And how it began to fall immediately after?

The pattern is unmissable. Things turned around for Delhi with the Center coming in.

It is difficult to imagine how bad things could have gotten in Delhi had there not been the Center to babysit its supposedly grown Chief Minister.

But then, maybe that was Kejriwal’s master plan all along. If he makes a mess of Delhi badly enough, he knows he has Amit Shah to come in and pick up the pieces. Then, Kejriwal can do what he does best: chill out.

What an idea, Sir ji!

July 30: When 15,000 Indian liberals paid tribute to a terrorist

He finally came back to Mumbai after eight years, but not to give his daughter the promised hug.”

What is this? Perhaps the beginning of an account of the life journey of a tragic hero? Perhaps a quintessential Indian novel that will take us down the little known side lanes of India’s Maximum City. A good book is like balm for the soul.

I know you want to read more.

“….the sky remained overcast, mirroring the sombre mood of many thousand who would soon gather there to pay their last respects.

Such evocative writing. See how masterfully the author weaves together the scene with the emotions of the mourners. This could win a Booker Prize, folks.

So what is this? Well, it is a newspaper report on those who showed up at the burial of Yakub Memon.

You remember Yakub Memon. He and his friends carried out the 1993 serial blasts, in which 257 people were killed. In successive years, many other terrorists have tried to shatter his record. At Zaveri Bazaar, at Ghatkopar, at Mulund. At the 2006 local train bombings. At the Taj, Oberoi, CST Station and other places on 26/11. But all of them fell short of the benchmark set by Yakub Memon.

No wonder Indian liberals came out in full force to say goodbye to their favorite son.

A crowd of several thousand ‘liberals’ in India’s biggest metropolis, out to pay tributes to a convicted terrorist. But who am I to question their patriotism? I cannot question their commitment to ‘peace.’ That would not be secular at all. After all, we know terrorism has no ….

Well, you know the rest.

Meanwhile, think of the various things we have been asked to feel ashamed of over the last several years. Saying Vande Mataram or Bharat Mata ki jai. Wearing Hanuman shirts or putting Hanuman stickers on cars. Saffron flag on vegetable cart. Another liberal saw a Hindu conspiracy behind lighting of diyas at litfests. Then, there are international newspapers that cried foul over women wearing sarees. Another international outlet found that the word Bharat is “exclusionary” and potentially comparable to Nazism.

And let’s not even get into our festivals. Holi, Diwali, Rakhi, anything and everything is wrapped in guilt. Environmental degradation, patriarchy, sexual harassment : there is so much shame to go around that it is hard to breathe without giving offense.

Did I say breathe? The shame does not stop even when we are done with breathing. A top liberal outlet recently asked if Hindus whose ancestors were cremated have less claim to the land than those whose ancestors were buried in it. The question was echoed by a prominent Congress leader, who has served as Minister of State for Human Resource Development.

We come into this world, we breathe the oxygen, we pollute the air, the water and then we selfishly burn our bodies after death. Horrifying.

Don’t ask if anyone is ashamed of the 15,000 ‘liberals’ who paid tribute to Yakub Memon. As a Hindu, ask yourself what are all the shameful, patriarchal and selfish things you have done today.

And then there is the greatest shame of all: CAA. You want to bring more Hindus to this land? Don’t we have enough selfish Hindus here already?

No wonder a counter movement has started. Young liberals just won’t take it any more. They are out on the streets. They are heroes and sheroes ready to mount police barricades.

“Hindutva” ki kabar khudegi, they say. For now.

The Facebook timelines of these young heroes and sheroes flow with reverence for Yakub Memon and Afzal Guru. They call for Bharat ke tukde. They hold massive rallies describing how to tear India apart, starting with the North East. In between visits to the library, they find the time to throw stones … err, wallets.

On one side is the Indian state. On the other side, there is the crowd of Yakub Memon fans. Who is the Nazi here? Well, it is the Indian state of course.

One moment, these revolutionaries are throwing stones … err, wallets for their cause. The next moment, they remember all the homework they have. So they rush to the library and open their books. They are juggling so much, studying for a degree at public expense, family life, pregnancy, regular tributes to Yakub Memon and saving Indian democracy.

No wonder that media in India and abroad carry their images and their stories. Pulitzer prizes are handed out as a reward. One of the world’s top universities hires a BA degree holder as a professor. Because if there is one thing that her PhD students will need to know, it is about the inspiring struggle of Yakub Memon fans in India.

Other liberals take notice of this opportunity for career advancement through Twitter. One of them tweets out that “white lives don’t matter.” Wrong number! Twitter swoops down, deletes the tweet and it all ends with egg on her face. She tries again, this time by saying that lives of certain Hindus don’t matter. Bingo! Promoted to full professor.

The message is simple. Stay ashamed. Stay so busy apologizing for Holi, Diwali, sarees, rasam and Hanuman stickers that you never ask why 15,000 ‘liberals’ paid tribute to a convicted terrorist.

So why did 15,000 ‘liberals’ pay tribute to a convicted terrorist who killed 257 people? Well, for the same reasons as they paid tribute to the mothers and dadis of Shaheen Bagh who sat publicly, eating kudrati biryani as they dragged the life out of a four month old baby.

The ‘liberals’ who paid tribute to the convicted terrorist were never ashamed. The media is just covering for them until it is too late for the rest of us. Some years ago, an over-enthusiastic liberal leader had asked to remove police for just 15 minutes. But more mature liberals in media know that 15 minutes would not be enough.