Can Hindutva deliver vikas?

The state as mai baap has to recede if development is to take off
By Sagarika Ghose – As MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi puts it, with ‘development’ as username and ‘hindutva’ as password logging in to massive mandates becomes automatic.

But can Hindutva deliver development in the long run?

Modi ran a ‘Hindutva plus development’ model in Gujarat for 12 years but as the Hardik Patel agitation shows the state still suffers endemic unemployment. Academic Pranab Bardhan writes Gujarat was a model of growth but not job creation, because Gujarat welcomed capital intensive petrochemical and pharma sectors which did not provide jobs for the uneducated and semi-skilled majority in the workforce.

The liberalization of 1991 showed that achieving high growth in the Indian context is not about asserting state power but rather about rolling back the powers of the state. A liberal economy generally doesn’t bear down on the individual with a plethora of rules, instead it aims to back off from areas where it ideally should not meddle. The summary closure of slaughterhouses is a triumphant example of brute state power and a strong man CM, but does such demonstration of executive authority create business confidence?

Hindutva with its rigid social hierarchies implies an assault on individual freedoms at different levels: the right to eat meat, the right to romance, the right to cultural interpretation or the right to a livelihood without fear of state action.

When social harmony and individual freedom hang in the balance, enterprise is stymied. Modi’s important promises of one crore jobs, or putting India in the first 50 in ease of doing business rankings (India still comes in at 130th) remain unfulfilled.

That’s because the Hindutva model of governance relies on state control of the citizen. The Hindutva state is in fact a massive socialist state with a religious hue. more>


Unruly Gaikwad

Politicians are not above the law and Air India is not their personal property
Times of India – Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad‘s alleged assault on an Air India staffer last week has led to a nationwide outcry – against how politicians with a bloated sense of entitlement expect to be treated as much more special than the public they serve.

Government must respect that the airline industry has the right to safeguard its passengers and crew. After all the Union civil aviation ministry is working on creating institutional mechanisms to check undesirable flight behaviour or unruly passengers.

The more it has been fed taxpayers’ money the more Air India has allowed elected representatives to treat it as their personal handmaiden. The more they throw their weight about, the more the remaining passengers shun Air India. It’s unusually bold of it to send a message that it will treat politicians the same as the people they represent. Government must recognise that only this kind of independent thinking can get the airline out of its dismal financial state. more>


The Indian State is authoritarian, and there’s nothing ‘right’ about it

By Aakar Patel – When people around the world say they are troubled by the rise of the ‘right’, they mean in essence two things. The first is majoritarianism, which privileges one group of people and gives them primacy. In such places the minority lives on sufferance. Meaning that diversity is tolerated rather than approved or celebrated. A group of citizens can be excluded totally from politics (for example through denial of representation or tickets) and this will be acceptable.

It is clear that majoritarianism is happening in India because Hindutva itself advertises it, and proudly. But to what extent can we attribute authoritarianism to the current government? We cannot. The Indian state is and has always been deeply authoritarian. The suspicion of the citizen demanding civil liberties was something felt by Nehru as much as it is felt by more recent leaders.

We can see evidence of this in many places but let us look at one in particular: our laws. The criminal justice system is actually about the rights of the accused (something that will surprise most Indians). In civilised societies, miscarriage of justice occurs even if the accused is not informed — in a language of their understanding — of their rights. We know this through Hollywood.

In primitive societies, fairness and process are not important. There is marginal or no difference between accused and convict. The focus, in these societies which stress ‘law and order’, is on prevention. This is done not through deterrence, which requires a properly functioning justice system, but detention.

Indians suspected of future mischief can be held without trial or conviction and this is something all governments in India endorse. more>


Use the mandate

PM Modi’s political capital should be leveraged to reform Indias product markets
( of India – India is a country of young people and around a million of them enter the job market every month. Unless enough jobs can be found for them, the ‘new’ India will end up looking very much like the old.

In terms of employment potential, organized retail offers enormous opportunities. Instead of opening up FDI in retail in a piecemeal manner, the best way ahead is to repeal all restrictions on investment. At one stroke, it will end lobbying and the search for loopholes in the law.

India’s economy is over-regulated. Instead of safeguarding consumer interests, the focus of regulation is on creating unnecessary obstacles to business.

Dismantling this perverse structure requires government to take on powerful vested interests. In this context, recent elections assume salience as Modi has the political capital now to bring about structural changes in India’s regulatory architecture. more>


Kerala is no model of development

By MA Oommen – Kerala’s social attainments, sometimes referred to as a ‘model’, brought to scholarly attention by the UN study Poverty, Unemployment and Development Policy (1975), has occupied a prominent place in development literature. It is only a post facto generalization of a historically evolved transformative experience in delivering broad-based healthcare (low infant mortality, high life expectancy, high female-male ratio etc), universal elementary education and social justice to a society once deeply divided by caste and class inequities of the worst order.

That this was achieved unsupported by high growth or industrialization has baffled the received wisdom in economics.

Kerala society is deeply fragmented on the basis of rent-seeking coalitions such as caste associations, liquor contractors, PWD contractors, quarry contractors and the like broaching opportunistic alliance with some political party or other for mutual gains. Hartals, a staple of Kerala’s everyday life, are no longer an instrument of people’s protest. It is difficult to endorse the claims of Patrick Heller (1999) and others who consider Kerala a radical social democracy. more>


Pollution of minds

Sexual harassment of Gurmehar Kaur has nothing to do with love for country
Times of India – Threatening a woman with rape can’t be justified under any circumstances. In this context, minister Kiren Rijiju should be more concerned about who’s polluting the minds of those who have been subjecting Gurmehar Kaur to extreme sexual harassment online. His government should show that it is indeed against all forms of intolerance by ensuring the strictest of police action against Gurmehar’s tormentors.

A certain section affiliated to BJP and its sister organizations believes in an aggressive definition of nationalism and imposing this on others. Anyone disagreeing with their world-view is labeled as anti-national and intimidated into silence. This intimidation can even take the form of physical violence – even against a war martyr’s daughter advocating pacifism.

The role of the government must be to discourage violence and ensure conditions for free debate, where nobody has exclusive claim to nationalism.

In a big and diverse country such as ours, people relate to nationalism in different ways. Questioning the government of the day or refusing to mouth patriotic slogans doesn’t weaken the nation. It isn’t anti-national. more>