Modi’s New 500 and 2000 Rupee Notes Solve the Smaller Problem Temporarily

By smaller problem, I mean the problem of operational corruption. In case you don’t understand this terminology from my book, it’s the corruption in the operations: black money, hidden money, whatever you want to call it. Essentially, it’s shady financial activity which governments acknowledge as illegal.

Realize that Modi’s new notes provide only temporary relief from operational corruption. Although the new notes are stone-gray and magenta, there are experts who can turn them into black. It’s just a matter of time before fake-note printing presses and tax evaders catch up. In other words, the new 500 and 2000 rupee notes will eventually be abused in the same way as the old notes.

But forget operational corruption; efficient administrators like Modi can handle it from time to time.

I want to talk about the bigger problem which nobody wants to talk about: primitive corruption. This is the corruption built into the system. It’s the abuse of public power for private gain that happens even when there is no black money, no hidden money, no illegal financial activity whatsoever.

One example of this is the idea that a government sitting in New Delhi, made up of people 95 out of 100 of whom don’t speak our language (Kannada) can legally take away our money by taxing us, write laws for us, and so on and so forth.

Why is this corruption? Well, refer to the definition of corruption and open your eyes and see India’s diversity.

Corruption is defined as abuse of public power for private gain. While most people think of individuals when they hear this, I like to use this definition to talk about groups.

One specific group walks away with private gain by abusing the government of India’s power: Upper-caste Hindi speaking North Indians.

This group controls the government of India and most of the nation’s commerce after having rendered every other group powerless at a time when nobody was looking: during this nation’s inception. It has the audacity to reduce every Indian language other than Hindi to worse than footnotes on banknotes – an audacity which has been amplified in the new notes released by RBI yesterday.

If this group has its way, India’s diversity will be wiped out with the same efficiency with which the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes were wiped off in a nation with 1.3 billion people. Overnight. They have the legal sanction to do this.

The Modis of India can’t solve this, the bigger problem. They don’t want to. It’s the solution they are aiming at by removing stumbling blocks such as black money.

Understanding Paris

Last night’s brutal shootings in Paris have proved that the old European model of nation-states has officially collapsed.

Last night’s brutal shootings in Paris have proved that the old European model of nation-states has officially collapsed. Francois Hollande was quick to proclaim that the attacks are an ‘act of war’ by the ISIS. But remember that the ISIS is not an accepted nation-state by the Frances of the world.

Therefore, it’s not a war between two nation-states as the West knows them. It’s a war between a nation-state and something the West cannot understand, but uses the word ‘terrorist group’ to identify.

Why can’t they understand it? Because they’re unable to think outside the nation-state model that they’ve laid down for the world. This is also the reason why not only France, but every nation-state is incapable of containing what is known as ‘terrorism’.

Nation-states have armies, navies and air-forces so that they can fight other nation-states coming out to fight a professional war. But those days are clearly gone. What happened in France isn’t a war of this sort. Just think of Mumbai – was it such a war? Was 9/11 such a war? No.

This is exactly the reason why Islam, a religion and not a nation-state, gets the blame for these ‘wars’. Just think about it: people blame a religion for a war on a modern nation-state. As if someone thousands of years ago has chalked out a plan for unleashing the kind of violence we’re seeing.

Despite the fact that some parts of the Kuran can indeed lead to interpretations in which which organizations like ISIS can find their own legitimacy, I find it impossible to believe that any religion can be the source of the kind of violence that Paris witnessed yesterday.

When we’re not ready to see our own role in our misfortunes, we end up pointing a finger at all sorts of entities. Therefore, ‘Islam’ (popular among all other religious groups), ‘religion’ (popular among atheists), even ‘Islamic civilization’ are blamed for these attacks.

The last of these is used by those who think these are attacks on ‘western civilization’, the concept of ‘freedom’, etc., etc. Such analysts seem to realize that the violent attacks in question target not one particular nation-state but something intangible that links all the nation-states of the West. There is truth in this viewpoint.

However, the West refuses to admit any role played by itself in the whole matter. Hence the widespread belief that the shootings in Paris are one hundred percent unprovoked. That’s why the word used is ‘terrorism’: they’re unleashing this sort of violence because it’s simply in their DNA. No provocation necessary for the ‘barbarians’.

Sorry, this is impossible to believe. Newton’s third law applies.

The fact is, Western imperialism is already a provocation. What the nation-states of the West have done to the peoples of the Middle-East, Africa, etc., in the last four or five centuries, must count as provocation. Only, the provoked aren’t organizing themselves in the only way that the west understands: as formal nation-states. Western thought may require it, but it’s not necessary.

Understandably, it is difficult for the current generation of the West to recognize this provocation. It was something they did long ago. It’s not as if Africa was colonized yesterday and the shootings happened today. It’s not as if the Middle-East was destroyed yesterday and the shootings happened today. Therefore, they don’t see the provocation. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any.

A long time to react doesn’t make a reaction a non-reaction. Nor does it rule out an original action.

To summarize, I find it impossible to believe that ‘terrorism’ is unprovoked. One needs a special instrument to recognize the provocation. It’s called a mirror. One also needs an eye for detail and the readiness to remove the elaborate intellectual make-up, together with the old foundation, before looking in it. The make-up may make us appear pretty, but that’s not the goal here.

Narendra Modi got it one hundred percent right in Wembley. India, and only India, has the solution to the ‘terrorism’ problem. But that’s not the same as saying India is on the right track today – and that’s a completely different topic.

Does Modi Want India To Break Up Into Dozens of Uzbekistans?

It’s outrageous to submit to foreign countries that there is only one Indian language, Hindi. That’s what Mr. Modi has done. No, Hindi is not the language of the people of India. It is the mother tongue of a trifling minority, and it must remain so if at all the Indian nation must be considered an ethical entity.

The Hindi-imposition agenda of the Indian nation is nothing new. However, as I have argued earlier, the present BJP disposition at the Centre has taken it up on a war footing. It seems to have given itself a 5-year window within which to destroy every Indian language other than Hindi.

Speaking in Uzbekistan on July 7, 2015, Mr. Narendra Modi reportedly said that the importance of Hindi is set to increase with India marching rapidly towards economic prosperity. NDTV attributes this quote to the prime minister:

Those (countries) whose economy is strong, wings of their language grow faster as people want to learn their language.

This statement, of course, is true for a country which has only one language. But India is not such a country. India is home to at least two dozen well-developed languages. Hindi is a new kid on the block and pales to insignificance in comparison with languages like Kannada, Tamil, and even Mr. Modi’s mother tongue, Gujarati.

It’s outrageous to submit to foreign countries that there is only one Indian language, Hindi. That’s what Mr. Modi has done. No, Hindi is not the language of the people of India. It is the mother tongue of a trifling minority, and it must remain so if at all the Indian nation must be considered an ethical entity.

Hidden in the prime minister’s statement is an acceptance of the fact that it’s possible to look at Hindi speakers as a country by themselves. Similarly, Kannada speakers, Tamil speakers, Gujarati speakers, etc.

That is, India is a nation of many countries. It’s a nation of nations. It’s a nation of multiple linguistic peoples, multiple cultures. To brush it all aside and talk as if all of India speaks one language, has one culture, is nothing but a return to colonialism, imperialism.

By saying that the importance of Hindi wiill increase with India’s economic prosperity, Mr. Modi has really said that economics in India is largely a north-Indian, Hindi-speaking, high-caste phenomenon.

He’s not even counting South India as a participant in India’s economic prosperity. Or East India, or West India. He’s only thinking of a few Hindi speaking businessmen from North India.

Is this prime minister the prime minister of India or Hindia? Is this government the government of a piece of India which has seceded from India as we know it?

However you look at it, the statements of Mr. Modi, the linguistic hegemony of his government, and the inherent bias for Hindi in the Constitution, are all against the interests of the diverse linguistic peoples of India.

Every Indian wants economic progress and the world to know about his or her language. Every Indian wants more and more people to learn his or her language. Every Indian wants the wings of his language to grow faster.

If the Constitution, the Government, and India’s prime ministers cannot accommodate — no, celebrate — these expectations, let there be no doubt that India is all set to break up into dozens of Uzbekistans. Why? Because a billion people are not going to take the death of their languages lying down.

Digital India: ‘Stronger than death-dealing war-ships…’

Digital India’s Narendra Modis will talk to every illiterate farmer more than his actual, flesh-and-blood neighbors. When that happens, the idea that India’s racial and linguistic diversity should be taken into account in India’s political system will be all but dead. If the different parts of India cannot communicate with the Centre at break-neck speed, the case for more regional autonomy becomes all the more clear as time rolls on. But with the kind of communication links Digital India is expected to bring in, the case is weakened. Or so the Centre thinks.

In 1887, a British MP by name Sir John Henniker Heaton told the Royal Colonial Institute something remarkable. It’s worth revisiting it amidst all the Digital India noise today:

Stronger than death-dealing war-ships, stronger than the might of devoted legions, stronger than wealth and genius of administration, stronger than even unswerving justice of Queen Victoria’s rule, are the scraps of paper that are borne in myriads over the seas, and the two or three slender wires that connect the scattered parts of her realm.

Heaton’s argument was that ‘in the postal and telegraphic services the Empire of our Queen possesses a cohesive force which was utterly lacking’ in ‘the Greek, the Roman, the Spanish, the Napoleonic Empires’. While these other empires collapsed, the British Empire would continue on and on because of the cohesive force of the post and telegraph system introduced in India.

What were the ‘parts’ that came together due to this cohesive force? Very clearly, Heaton meant the British imperial officers spread all over India. They could now communicate as fast as possible with higher-ups in the British Raj, going all the way up to the Governor General.

The quotes above are from The Tentacles of Progress by Daniel R. Headrick. He makes my point here better than I could:

The lines of communication that hold empires together never seem strong enough to those whose power and security depend on them.

That is, the post and telegraph system was basically intended to increase the power and security of the Indian Empire. Perhaps no more proof is required for this than this exclamation by John Lawrence, Chief Commissioner of Punjab:

The telegraph saved India.

For whom? For Britain, of course. From whom? From Indians! Sounds confusing?

Lawrence observed this after the British had successfully used telegraph “to re-establish control over Punjab and rebel-held Lucknow” during the Rebellion of 1857-58 (also called India’s First War of Independence).

I rest my case that fast communication is used by the political and economic powers-that-be to increase their own power and security.

Digital India is the latest example of this ancient secret, and we have a new and improved version of Lord Dalhousie at the helm of affairs now. “Look ma, no wires!”

Using this flagship project, the Government of India wants to link up all its departments in a tight communication link so that communication can happen lightning fast. So that those at the apex of the pyramid of corruption in this Aryan nation can appear like neighbors to everyone all over India.

Digital India’s Narendra Modis will talk to every illiterate farmer more than his actual, flesh-and-blood neighbors. When that happens, the idea that India’s racial and linguistic diversity should be taken into account in India’s political system will be all but dead.

If the different parts of India cannot communicate with the Centre at break-neck speed, the case for more regional autonomy becomes all the more clear as time rolls on. But with the kind of communication links Digital India is expected to bring in, the case is weakened.

Or so the Centre thinks.

In actual fact, a Gujarati or Hindi speaking politician in New Delhi doesn’t suddenly become a local in Bengaluru or Chennai or Guwahati or Mumbai just because there’s a fast communication link.

The farmer in Karnataka or Tamil Nadu or Assam realizes, sooner or later, that Digital India’s Narendra Modis aren’t doing him any good in the real sense of the term.

It will strike him, sooner or later, that everyone who is on a fast communication link with him isn’t his friend. It will strike him, too, that he’s not doing any of the talking. And then, regional autonomy shall rain.

I only hope it’s not the kind that India achieved in 1947.

Yoga Day: a Comeback of the Divine Right of Kings

This government, like most monarchies in history, wants to get into people’s minds together with a dose of divinity. Once the common man falls for the scheme, he attaches divinity to the government itself. His mind cannot disentangle the two easily, even though the government is no more than India’s biggest corporation. Reason thus blinded, the poor fellow finds it nearly impossible to question those actions of the government which have a greater bearing on his own life. And that’s the whole idea.

Rabindranath Tagore, undoubtedly one of India’s greatest sons, defined a nation as an ‘organization of politics and commerce’. He contrasted it with society which he called the ‘spontaneous self-expression of man as a social being’.

This bifurcation takes some time to sink in. It may never happen to those who have been indoctrinated to worship the nation. But if and when it sinks in, it becomes a very good tool to understand the world in general and India in particular.

From this understanding, it becomes clear that Yoga is the product of a society, not a nation. Politics or commerce didn’t lead to Yoga. In fact, when it was first discovered (or invented, you choose), there was no pan-Indian politics or commerce. There was no Indian nation.

The Government of India, on the other hand, is not a social institution. It’s is a national institution, i.e., one of politics and commerce. It’s really the biggest business in the country, and it must behave as such.

While it would be idiotic to deny the greatness of Yoga, it would be equally idiotic to think of the Government of India as having anything to do with it.

Yoga Day, therefore, signifies the usurpation of society by politics and economics, i.e., the usurpation of society by nation.

All those text messages about the importance of Yoga, which the Government of India seems to have sent to every Indian with a mobile phone, all those ads, all that propaganda, were nothing but a vulgar display of the power of the Centre to infiltrate into society and take control.

Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Patanjali is no justification for Modi. However, because of the sheer power that the Government of India wields, many will end up thinking he is. That’s the desired result.

In other words, Yoga Day is designed to justify Mr. Modi and his government, their actions, and their right to rule India. It’s this century’s Indian avatar of the Divine Right of Kings.

This government, like most monarchies in history, wants to get into people’s minds together with a dose of divinity. Once the common man falls for the scheme, he attaches divinity to the government itself. His mind cannot disentangle the two easily, even though the government is no more than India’s biggest corporation.

Reason thus blinded, the poor fellow finds it nearly impossible to question those actions of the government which have a greater bearing on his own life. And that’s the whole idea.

Put differently, Yoga Day is an attempt by the Government of India to appear divine to the people of India by psychologically overpowering them, take away their liberty when they’re unguarded, and thereby win on the material plane. This psychological attack is at the very foundation of the party currently running the government.

It’s no secret that the BJP has forever tried to justify coming to and remaining in power using Hindu gods such as Rama. Having learnt that they’re too controversial, they’ve moved on to Yoga.

This time, together with the execution excellence of Modi’s team, the psychological overpowering is almost completely successful. The Divine Right of Kings, ladies and gentlemen, is back in currency. In a democracy.

Hindi as Putonghua

It is often difficult to separate out jealousy and enmity. While Narendra Modi‘s attack on China for its ‘expansionism’ is widely understood not to increase friendship between India and China, that’s not the full story. There is jealousy in it, too.

The Government of India has always secretly craved for Chinese-style control on the diverse peoples of India – and that’s internal ‘expansionism’. Not surprisingly, it forms the foundation of the Indian elite’s Idea of India. How nice it would have been if, for the outer world, the Government of India could openly claim complete racial, linguistic, and ethnic homogeneity within India! How nice it would have been if the Many voices of the Many Indias could be made to disappear and instead, the One voice of One India could assert itself on the global stage! Wouldn’t that be the roar of the Indian Lion no force on earth can stand up to? Narendra Modi is a puppet trying its best to turn this necrophilic dream into reality.

Of course, there is no democracy in China; India scores a big positive on that front. But there is no dearth of Indians who think democracy is India’s bane. And there is no dearth of people who think of democracy as a means to an end, not an end in itself. Why, even the founding fathers of independent India considered democracy as the best means to achieve, among other things, the homogeneity that China has achieved – but nonviolently. Why raise an arm where words suffice? Why use sticks when strategically placed carrots suffice? It is in the means that China differs most from India. The end is the same: homogeneity.

The Chinese have been getting rid of diversity, which always opposes the State’s supreme wisdom, from as early as 221 BC when the Qin dynasty came to power. But India hasn’t done anything comparable before 1947 AD – or, I must say, before the freedom struggle came of age. While the Chinese have effectively destroyed the various languages of China using violent means – books have been burnt, scholars buried alive, a single script imposed on one and all at gunpoint – India hasn’t tried anything of the sort. Instead, we are all set to destroy all Indian languages but Hindi nonviolently. No books will be burnt, no scholars will be buried alive, but they will all voluntarily submit their souls to the Centre, propelled simply by monetary, career, and sexual incentives (the last is the territory of Bollywood). That’s the belief, at least.

Take, for example, the upcoming State-sponsored celebration of Hindi beginning next week. That’s like a festival to celebrate the imposition of Beijunghua (the language of Beijing) on the diverse Chinese and calling it Putonghua (common language). Only, the Chinese never had to resort to such cheap tricks: they caught hold of all other languages and sent them to the guillotine after turning the lights off centuries ago, and nobody came to know.

Chinese writers who are allowed pen and paper by the Party, such as Zhang Weiwei, now claim that China is a ‘civilizational state’ – implying an organic homogeneity in one sixth of the world’s population. But in reality, China is a ‘state civilization’ – a whole mass of humanity forcefully subjected to an arbitrary state’s mindless craving for uniformity. The Indian elite working in tandem with the Government of India, jealous that our kings didn’t achieve this in the quietude of history, are now trying their best to achieve it today. Needless to say, they will fail, and the failure will be demonstrated, to an extent, in the next couple of weeks.

First Published: IBNLIVE, 12-09-2014