Monday, April 28, 2014


Priyanka Vadra must leave her Lodhi Estate bungalow

Priyadarshi Dutta26 Apr 2014

Priyadarshi Dutta is an independent researcher based in New Delhi.

Time for Priyanka Vadra to leave Lodhi Estate bungalow
Those who live in glass houses, it has been famously stated, should not throw stones at others. PriyankaGandhi Vadra, however, has preferred that risky exercise. She is playing the devil’s advocate against BJP’s allegations regarding her husband Robert Vadra’s fabulous assets. A regime change at the Centre will hopefully lead to an impartial investigation in the matter. This article is not about crony capitalism that Vadra is accused of. It is about ‘crony entitlement’ that Priyanka Gandhi is not being accused of.
Priyanka Gandhi is the occupant of a Government bungalow — 35, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi-110003. It is also the official address of Robert Vadra in his legal documents. As per the official website of Directorate of Estates, Ministry of Urban Development, this type-6B accommodation was allotted to Priyanka Gandhi on February 21, 1997. The registration number is 99907375 and the allotment ID is 243820. But in what capacity has she been occupying the bungalow? Her neighbours are either Members of Parliament or even Ministers of State (MoS). Their allotments are co-terminus with the dissolution of 15th Lok Sabha or retirement from Rajya Sabha. But Priyanka’s allotment status is permanent with an expiry date.
Time for Priyanka Vadra to leave Lodhi Estate bungalow
She is neither an MP nor a MoS. She is not a bureaucrat/employee of the state. Curiously her designation is shown as ‘Leader’. But she is not known for holding any post in the Congress either. She loves Rae Bareli and Amethi so much that she campaigns only in those constituencies. But she does not love them so much as to be a permanent residentthere.
It is thus not clear in what capacity Priyanka was allotted to this bungalow. Her motherSonia Gandhi and brother Rahul Gandhi, both MPs, have separate bungalows. Sonia’s bungalow at 10, Janpath was allotted to her in her capacity as President of Indian National Congress.
Former Prime Ministers are allotted a Lutyens bungalow during their lifetimes. Under exceptional circumstances that privilege might extend to their widows. But it cannot be extended to their married daughters also. It appears that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra moved into this bungalow in 1997 after hermarriage to Robert Vadra. A story by Promila Kalhan (February 19, 1997) tells that couple had been allotted the 35, Lodhi Estate bungalow. The CPWD was still busy in readying it for handing over the possession. It also informs that the Vadra family resided at New Friends Colony, a plush locality insouth Delhi.
Priyanka could have stayed with her in-laws in New Friends Colony house as per Indian tradition. The Government could have only provided her the security cover. A bride generally stays either with her in-laws or separately with her husband. Vadra is now a billionaire (by honest means, says Priyanka) and he can certainly afford that second option. Under exceptional circumstances, a husband can come to live in a bride’s family house. Such a husband is called ghar-jamai in India. But here you have ghar-jamai of the Indian state! The HD Devegowda Government allotted them the bungalow on the occasion of their marriage. A billionaire Vadra is being subsidised by tax-payers’ money to stay in a Government bungalow. It might be for a nominal rent, or just a petty license fee.
Rajiv Gandhi’s death was tragic. Compassion for his family once made sense. But it cannot extend for an indefinite period to his daughter who is also married to a billionaire. This is no place for a family drama! The Government cannot resemble a never-ending soap opera on Star Plus or Sony.

Sunday, April 27, 2014




Democracy is a general word giving an impression that in any so-called democratic “nation-state”  people have voice in the government and in any progress that the state can make. Democracy as a general term can also be applied to any state that can under the cloak of this term perpetuates ideas and activities contrary to the spirit of democracy. It is a convenient term to be used by any state even if in essence it is either autocratic, dictatorial or one controlled by a group of few elite people who control the economy.

In this context when we discuss democracy, the spirit of democracy is that every society that has different economic strata should have an opportunity in this form of government to advance itself and make a steady progress to minimize the difference between one stratum and the others, thus achieving the ideal of equality. In this context everyone benefits by this concept of democracy.

On the other hand the experience of many different states that attempted to achieve democracy in the past millennium in which the word democracy replaced other terms like monarchy, oligarchy, etc., when the protagonists of the concept of democracy gave hope to common people that good days are ahead for everyone, they created revolutions in some countries like for example the French Revolution, Russian revolution, etc. unfortunately ending up with “Democratic dictatorship” or “dictatorship in democracy.” This history has been repeated in many countries with the same results.

This makes us think what are the factors that despite the struggle to achieve noble goals of the
Society, with sacrifice of millions of people, the concept of democracy is nullified. It is worthwhile to examine the factors that work against democracy that are still active and alive while struggle for democracy is going on. For example, the ethnic groups, economic groups, cultural groups, groups based on language, “race” and “color”, religious groups, etc. that divide a society are still present to achieve their own hegemony. Once the power gets into the hands of any group it will be difficult to dislodge the power from that group. This is essentially antidemocratic.

So when there is a struggle for democracy, concurrently the sectarian forces at play under the surface are also alive. When the state is about to achieve “democracy”, it is either nullified or minimized by these divisive forces. Still people are made to believe that they are living in a democracy. Ignoring the requirements of equal rights legitimizes discriminations and differnces. Such counterproductive forces are very common in a democracy requiring continued efforts at compromise.

This spirit of compromise leads to the tolerance of differences and divisions up to a point finally the imposition of a small group of vested interests, their ideas and domination of others emerges. As long as the economy of the state is thriving or stable, trickle down benefits reach the lower strata of the society who cannot oppose the status quo, democracy of the state is loudly acclaimed to be working. If there is any struggle among the groups the term “class struggle” which is a “no, no” in a democracy is used pejoratively. So this circle of struggle among the classes with various opportunities or lack of opportunities is perpetuated and in essence the “democratic” institutions are used to maintain the vested interests of certain elite or powerful groups.

Utopian concept of democracy is long ways to go but in the nature of things the conflicting  interests will always use the democratic institutions to create and maintain the differences and inequalities. This necessitates the methods by which the counterproductive factors that weaken the concept of democracy must be identified and  solutions to mitigate or minimize the impact of all such factors be sought.
Now we may examine one factor after another.

Ethnic disparity: if there are several ethnic groups in a state each group is anxious to get maximum benefit out of the state that it feels it deserves or it is deprived of. In that process if different ethnic groups have an understanding among themselves of fair distribution of resources and benefits such understanding  will help strengthen the democracy. On the contrary, if the groups have to struggle or fight and come into conflict with different groups at one time or another, the state will remain in a state of conflict. This will weaken the democracy sooner or later. Even the fundamental rights of some ethnic groups remain denied in many democracies.

The economic disparity: if the individual divisions [provinces, prefectures, divisions] have disparity in their market economies that will lead to conflict if one or two “divisions” are economically dominant or superior. This will lead to separation and ultimately imperil democratic institutions especially when the struggle for parity becomes violent. This can shake not only democracy but the strength of the state.
The other factors like the culture of a particular group including language and other attributes can be a positive contribution to a state. If that activity is suppressed and/or commercially exploited by others it will lead to emotional disunity inimical to the state that is struggling to keep democracy healthy, to preserve it and improve it.

Another extreme danger that poses democracy is antisocial elements attaining leadership on various issues that look legitimate and corrupt the system in the elective process with a main aim of obtaining mafia like power. This is one of the worst vulnerability of the democratic process next to foreign interventions silently or openly designed to disturb the state.

Like this there are many other factors like natural disasters, water sharing of the rivers, external forces  from the neighboring countries affecting the borderline areas, by ideological oppression and terrorism forces, etc. which can shake the stability of democracy in the state and can perpetually lead to economic drainage. That in turn leads to a sense of betrayal and alienation, etc. causing lack of progress. Such factors are all impediments to the concept of democracy and need to be addressed constructively by leadership in a democracy. But the circumstances of groups protecting their own interests aggravate the problem and hence the struggle of the state and democracy goes on. All this shows that democracy is not easy to achieve but as long as it lives there is hope. With all these struggles one has to hope that democracy is achievable with its real meaning.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Happy Days will be here Again in Incredible India - from Merrill Lynch

Remember what respected analyst James Grant said on March 25, 2013?
  • "I think the world is always looking for the next growth story and I would nominate India. ... Narendra Modi, a.k.a. NaMo, has vowed to put his vast, poor and comprehensively mismanaged country on the road to modernity. Now under way is a financial travelogue whose terminus is optimism. China is yesterday's growth story, India might be tomorrow's."
That was so last month. Two weeks ago, a mutual fund manager called India "a gem" on CNBC. And now this week, the investment giant Bank of America-Merrill Lynch wrote "India is our top pick" in a report titled"Incredible India". India has won this "top pick" status by winning over China.

Source: BofA Merrill Lynch Asia Pacific Quant Strategy, MSCI, IBES

Merrill's Asia Quant Panorama group categorizes companies as "contenders" vs. "defenders", contenders being companies that are expected to win going forward. In their Incredible India report, Merrill-Lynch write:
  • "More Contenders are currently from India than any other country. Just three months ago, 11 Contenders were from China while only 2 were from India. In a dramatic reversal, now 6 are from India while only 1 is from China."
Hmmm! What happened in the past three months that drove this "dramatic reversal" from India to China?

Two of the three factors that drive a company into "contender" status are Price Momentum & Forward Price-Earnings Ratio ("PE"). We know that the Indian stock market has been racing ahead while Chinese stock market remains stuck in the proverbial "mud". So that accounts for Price Momentum.

What about PEs? The prices are high and so forward PEs should be lower for Indian companies, all things being equal. So why has Merrill Lynch ranked Indian companies attractive on PEs? We found the answer in the body of the report which argues that forward earnings of Indian companies should be higher because of a turn around expected in the Indian economy. And why should anyone expect such a positive turn around? We found another line in the report that suggests a positive outcome for the Indian economy as a result of the elections.

In other words, NaMo or Narendra Modi. His front-runner status is pulling the world's giant investment firms into increasing their growth prospects for the Indian economy and into pushing Indian companies into "contender status", more than those of any other country.

This is what Nobel laureate Robert Shiller describes as "Tale Risk".

Vaishnav Goes to Shiva's City

Gujarat is a land that owes its prosperity and culture to Bhagvan Sri Krishna, the Avatar of Vishnu, a part of the Divine Trinity. Sri Krishna persuaded his Yadav people to leave Mathura in Northern India to settle in Dwarka in Gujarat. There the Yadav prospered and became the richest group in India principally because of trading. That began the entrepreneurial & trading culture  that has made Gujaratis famous & prosperous. Even today, the traditional Gujarati greeting is "Jai Sri Krishna".

Varanasi, the holiest city in India, is the city of Shiva, another part of the Divine Trinity. It is home to the Kashi Vishvevar (Lord of the Universe) temple. The sacred river Ganga flows through Varanasi and the sight of prayers on the Dash-Ashvamedh Ghat is great to behold, especially from a boat in the river. No Indian wants to leave the earth without having seen Ganga-Maata (Mother Ganga).

Narendra Modi has chosen to run from this holy city of Varanasi. This week, he went to Varanasi to file his nomination papers. How did Varanasi welcome him? 

         Embedded image permalink

This was best described by NDTV anchor Barkha Dutt, a sceptic & opposer of Mr. Modi, on her show:
  • "Unprecedented surge, biggest road show, frenzy, no room to draw a pin...few ways of describing Narendra Modi rally today"
Our case has been simple. We have always been bullish on India's micro story. If Mr. Modi becomes the next Prime Minister with the support shown in his rallies, then India's Macro story will be bullish as well. And that is how India will become a Contender.

That is why Mr. Modi's slogan is "Acche Din aane wale hai" or "Good/Happy days will be here". 

Send your feedback to Or @MacroViewpoints on Twitter.


                                DR. SESHACHALAM DUTTA

The HINDU daily is the lone vehicle of one sided opinions publishing articles attacking Modi, whereas many in English media in India, earlier hostile to him, have adjusted their stance  and are less strident. Recent columns in the Hindu by Shiv Visvanathan (April 5, 2014) followed by Ananya Vajpeyi (April 10, 2014) in succession are holdovers illustrative of one sided uncritical spewing of venom couched in verbose writing.  Shiv Viswanathan’s column is outright abusive and clearly disparaging of Modi, although Ananya’s is more civilized, but it is just as destitute of substance.The Hindu’s journalistic attitude of one sided and partisan reporting and its opinion columns are criticized by many readers and its ‘reader's editor’ Panneer Selvan has presented elaborate defense.  The press in general in India cows down to the party in power and particularly to Congress which had been in power for most part of post-Independence era. Indira Gandhi sent her troops to break and destroy Indian Express during the emergency and the lesson is not lost on the publishers of the Hindu. The publishers meekly accept the Journalistic prostitution, to use the words of Jawaharlal Nehru himself, of towing the Congress party line. Thus “The Hindu” continues to operate under a misnomer basically remaining critical of Hindus rather than objectively focusing on the strength and interests of the majority Hindu society in India.

Visvanathan writes that each contestant to Prime minister’s position represents “WELTANSCHAUUNG,”
Modi being an “ERSATZ” of BJP.  Modi an Ersatz? Weltanschauung? Procrustean? He is referring to global view (meaning western view) of Modi which depicts him as of inferior quality to become a BJP leader leave alone a Prime Ministerial candidate! Why not simply say so rather than use such bombastic words? By using ostentatious style he wants to impress that he has something profound to say. In east of Mississippi such linguistic style is called ‘bull…’. The summary of his article is just this: Modi is a mediocre, a despot, a straw man, a second rate mimic of Vivekananda, a bully, inauthentic, uncivilized, paranoid, inadequate and he suffers from an arid sibling rivalry.

To put it simply, Visvanathan doesn't like him: he hates him.

There is very little to analyze in his article.  He does not provide justification for his hatred of Modi. He compares Modi to Vajpayee.  The election is not about Modi vs. Vajpayee, it is Rahul Gandhi vs. Modi.  Is Rahul comparable to his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru? Leave  alone Rahul compared to stalwarts like Chidambaram or Kapil Sibal. He could never hold a candle to Shashi Tharoor. Visvanathan has no arguments, in good conscience, to promote the ‘Dynasty” in the Indian democracy. So he chooses to run down Modi. Then he goes on to bemoan the fate of Advani, who had his chance in two election cycles and was ineffective as a leader. In a democracy, when leader fails to lead, he should gracefully step aside and yield place to someone else. In this BJP is more modern than many political parties in India and comparable to organizations in advanced democracies. BJP is not locked into selecting and electing sons, daughters and daughters-in law of its current leaders like it is done in most backward countries. Praising Vajpayee as a poet and charismatic leader and comparing Modi with him for his literary talents is a sheer intellectual dishonesty unworthy of an academic writer. The author has little to advance the arguments to support Sonia or Rahul, for he has none, except to accuse Modi for being too harsh on Sonia as a foreigner and Rahul as her “royal” successor.  It is true that Indians do not have self-respect as a Nation of a billion to elect a white woman to indirectly rule India after 200 years of “servitude to White Man.” The campaign started two years ago by Minister Pranab Mukherjee (now the president) naming Rahul as a successor to Manmohan Singh. There is a sense of entitlement to the throne in the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty promoted by Congress. That is what Modi is drawing attention to. Vajpayee or Advani did not have the courage to confront Congress for this self-degrading primitive act. They could not even bring attention of the public to what Nehru himself had said: ‘When dynasties rule, fools come to power’.  They were content with deference shown to them by Sonia Gandhi. There are occasions when Advani even obsequiously apologized to Sonia. I commend the courage of Modi to call a spade a spade. True democracy is based on the notion that every citizen has the same right to the highest office regardless of his station or birth. Congress wants to promote their oligarchical hegemony in the name of entitlement politics throwing crumbs to SCs, STs and BCs and further fragmenting Hindu society, in such a way that each fragment becomes much smaller of a minority in essence, even smaller than Muslims and Christians. All these groups are consequently lowered in status to Muslims and Congress seeks the Muslims and the Indian Christians as their constituencies, hence the Congress party has a need to resort to the false slogan of secularism. India has only tribal casteism and no true secularism.

There is one constant refrain against Modi, in fact, the only one, a shopworne one, that he was responsible for the death toll in the Hindu-Muslim riots of 2002 in Gujarat.  Congress used this spurious opportunistic charge and tried their best to shackle him unsuccessfully. He was exonerated by every investing body and finally by the Supreme Court. But Visvanathan in his wishful fantasy argues that the law is “sanitized” to let him go. Is Indian law sanitized? Congress Government in Delhi spent ten years to defame him, destabilize his government and convict him and at the end it has failed.

Let us examine what this Riot is all about. The train in which some Hindus were returning from Ayodhya was stopped at the Godhra railways station. A Muslim Congress leader organized gangsters, poured gasoline and torched one compartment. Many were injured and 25 people were torched to death.  This unprovoked organized massacre of the Hindu pilgrims outraged the Hindus all across Gujarat and they started a riot and killed several Muslims in retaliation, as it happens in any religious riots. In retaliation for this attack by outraged Hindus, Muslims killed several more Hindus which triggered a chain reaction by Hindus. All this happened in a matter of two days. At the end, several Hindus as well as Muslim families lost their lives and property, characteristic of communal riots in India.

This was not the first communal riot in Gujarat.  Any sensible person should ask: “Who started the rioting first”? How dare a Congress leader from a minority community organize the massacre of Hindus who are members of majority community? The answer is simple. The Muslim forming the essential power behind the political  constituency  of Congress, the Congress  has no courage to take them on. Also, there is a general belief and attitude that Hindus are cowards, as Akbaruddin Owaisi from Hyderabad has challenged that if police forces were removed for just one day, he would show to Hindus what kind of massacre the Muslims are capable of inflicting on the Hindus and he says he can show what Muslims can do. As Naipaul in his travel diaries of Pakistan writes, Muslims brag that one Muslim is equal to four Hindus when it comes to fighting. This attitude is further encouraged by Congress adopting them as electoral constituency.

Initially Modi was accused as Ananya Vajpeyi writes,  Modi “planned, incited, encouraged, tolerated, enacted or helped mass violence against Muslims.” Who encouraged the violence against Hindus? The argument is about numbers that more Muslims died than Hindus does not hold water. Why not ask what events led to this unfortunate event which started with Muslim massacre of Hindus? After all the travail of undergoing numerous investigations by tribunals and court appearances and final exoneration of Modi, he is asked to apologise!!! Apologise for what and to whom?  Who did apologize for millions of Hindus massacred and to millions of Hindus who lost  their properties in 1947? The inept Congress leaders who promoted hatred are no longer there to apologize. The failure of all leaders in political spectrum, mainly of the grand old Congress party, were responsible for the holocaust of 1947.

The darkest aspect of this episode in Godhra in 2002 is that several Indians, including some legislators in India are so shameless that they ask President Obama of US to punish Modi, their own leader and chief minister of a state in India (equivalent to a Governor of a state in US) by refusing him the visa to enter the US - asking a foreign Government to punish their own leader!!! In the U.S there is a saying all political differences stop at the waterfront. Indians who still have no pride have yet to learn that. No commentator has brought himself to abhor this disgusting gesture of Indians residing in foreign lands.

Issues facing India are the establishment of true democratic system and curbing corruption. Visvanathan admits grudgingly that Modi is not corrupt—not fiscally corrupt, he says. Fiscal corruption is what Kejriwal and other well meaning people are talking about, stashing billions of rupees in tax havens, not corruption of souls.

No one knows how good Modi would be as a Prime Minister. But any academician should write on this topic only cautiously with evidence-based analysis. Otherwise he is disgracing his standing in the academic circles. The best examples of academic writing on this topic is illustrated by the article in the Indian Express by Pradeep Chibbar and Rahul Verma of Berkley university (March 19,2014) who analyze the decline of Congress. Shiv Visvanathan and Ananya Vajpeyi may have something to learn from it.

Dr. Seshachalam  Dutta (