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Inside India’s Potemkin election Democracy cannot bloom within a caste system

Modi is fighting a sham election. Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Modi is fighting a sham election. Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images


April 3, 2024   7 mins

Always a rather grubby affair, as if put together by minimally competent quiet quitters, Indian democracy is now in serious trouble. To be sure, its formalistic trappings remain in place. Nearly a billion Indians will file into polling stations starting on 19 April. The world’s biggest election to date will take place in seven phases staggered over a Trussly span of 44 days. Results will be announced on 4 June.

Yet what will transpire will not be, in any meaningful sense, an electoral contest. Narendra Modi, India’s ruler since 2014, will trounce his rivals for a third time. And if the cards appear stacked in his favour, it’s because he owns the pack. Cobbled together at the eleventh hour, the hapless, heteroclite alliance ranged against him, the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance — INDIA for short — has had to suspend campaigning for want of funds; its bank accounts have been frozen by Modi’s government ostensibly on account of tax evasion.

Smaller parties, too, don’t stand a chance. Arvind Kejriwal, locally in power in devolved Delhi, has recently joined some of his party mates in prison. Kickbacks on liquor contracts are alleged, though everyone sees the ruse for what it is: a means to destroy the Common Man’s Party, which has for long been a burr in the ruling BJP’s saddle.

What of popular protest? Revolting farmers calling for higher procurement prices for wheat and rice, both Indian staples, learned their lesson in a hard school last month, when police and paramilitary forces were set on them. During the pandemic, the tractor classes had dealt a major blow to Modi, who was forced to climb down on agrarian reform — allowing big business to enter the wholesale market — in the face of a Delhi blockade. This time around, however, Delhi’s ruler gave no quarter. Farmers beat a hasty retreat as drones rained smoke bombs and tear gas upon them. On pain of fines and even imprisonment, social media apparatchiks were arm-twisted into blocking accounts critical of Modi and suppressing reports about the protests. To Elon Musk’s credit, though, X went public about government intimidation where previously Twitter had quietly gone along.

As for the press and television, the less said the better. The latest World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders, ranks India below Afghanistan and Libya; in a list of 180 countries, India comes in at 161st place. This in a land that, at the height of the Cold War, was arguably the freest between Berlin and Sakhalin. These days, however, a single critical piece of reporting is sufficient to warrant the taxman’s — or the policeman’s — knock on the door, as the BBC discovered last year.

Nearing 10 years in power, Modi hasn’t held a single press conference. His favourite Bollygarchs, Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani, both cronies of old, have a stranglehold on the legacy media. Ambani controls 70 outlets, which have a combined viewership and readership of 800 million. Meanwhile, the last independent network of sorts, NDTV, fell in 2022 to Adani, whose chartered plane Modi used on the campaign trail. Since the Prime Minister’s election, Adani has serendipitously scooped up all manner of contracts from airports to seaports, petroleum to edible oil.

As with the press, so with the judiciary. Time and again, the Supreme Court has proven itself as little more than the current ruler’s rubber stamp, ruling in Delhi’s favour over the construction of the Ram Temple atop the ruins of the razed Babri Mosque; over the suspension of rights in the disputed northern enclave of Jammu and Kashmir, whose residents were denied internet and phone access for 18 months; over Aadhar, a comprehensive China-style biometric database designed to be used, inevitably, as a mass surveillance tool.

Last month came a belated display of juridical independence: the Supreme Court scrapped electoral bonds — backhanders by another name — which in recent years had become the main source of campaign finance. Too late. The BJP has already raked in £600 million from them, as against the Congress Party’s £140 million. No surprise there. The donors — in the main mining and construction magnates tangled in red tape — naturally preferred the incumbents to their opponents.

The Congress, it is true, doesn’t inspire much confidence. That it ruled virtually uninterrupted from independence in 1947 to Modi’s election in 2014 — 54 of those 67 years — was in itself a little miracle, thanks in no small part to its historical role in displacing colonial rule, and the distorting effects of the Westminster system that guaranteed it supernumerary representation in parliament. Still, each passing decade registered growing disaffection with Congress misrule: bovine growth rates in the Fifties; wars in the Sixties; dictatorship in the Seventies; pogroms in the Eighties; corruption in the Nineties and 2000s.

By 2014, the Congress had run out of steam. Worse, it was hoist with its own petard. Decades of cosseting Hindu nationalists in its ranks had paradoxically mainstreamed their outré ideology. Similarly, just as the first-past-the-post system had worked to its advantage from the Fifties on, it now benefitted the BJP. In 2014, with 31% of the vote, Modi commanded 52% of parliament. Conversely, with its 19% vote share, the Congress boasted a mere 8% of lawmakers.

Now, it seems, we’re in for a repeat performance. Polls predict a BJP sweep. Modi’s coalition is set to win three quarters of the seats. If playing dirty works for Modi, he has been helped along by his duff opposition. Led in name only by the Congress president, Mallikarjun Kharge, a cipher by all accounts, the face of INDIA in fact is Rahul Gandhi, fourth-generation nepo baby and loser of the last two elections, now awaiting his third drubbing. Watching him on the hustings is a painful experience. He comes across as insufferably smug — also humourless, guileless and entirely lacking in irony. Modi, by contrast, laces his speeches with sarcasm, revelling in the double entendre and bon mot. Substantively, Gandhi’s pitch consists of no more than a vague rehearsal of multicultural shibboleths. Stylistically, he affects the Ă©lan of a cut-price Modi: scraggly beard, staccato delivery, superfluous appeals to piety.

“The fact remains, though it is unfashionable to point it out, that the people never really took to this democracy business.”

All the same, too much should not be made of these personal defects, or indeed of Modi’s strengths. For there is a third dimension enabling India’s slide into dictatorship (or, at any rate, “electoral autocracy”, the more precise expression favoured by political scientists): the Indian masses. The fact remains, though it is unfashionable to point it out, that the people never really took to this democracy business. But one can hardly blame them. As the economist Pranab Bardhan has argued in a superbly lucid analysis, democracy was imposed from on high by competing Indian elites, none of whom were strong enough to rule single-handedly. Indian democracy was, above all, a gentlemen’s agreement. Liberty, equality, and fraternity had nothing to do with it.

Properly speaking, the people themselves have had a say only in a handful of elections — the two following the dictatorship of the Seventies, and the six between 1989 and 2004. Before that, India was essentially a one-party state, a state of affairs to which the country has now once again returned. Then as now, structural reasons — political violence; business backing; media clientelism; mass defection — conspire against a free and fair vote.

The upshot has been political ossification. In the grey expanse of ramshackle slums, where scavenging counts as gainful employment, politicians’ promises are understandably received with cynicism, even incredulity. Decades have gone by since independence, and India has nothing by way of a national health service to show for it. State schooling remains a shambles. A recent study found that less than a third of 10-year-olds could handle basic maths. Only 84 million — 6% of Indians — make more than $10 a day.

Yet, at a popular level, inequities provoke little resentment. For vertical deference counts for more than horizontal solidarity. The average Indian looks up to his betters, and shares no fellow feeling with his equals. To the latter sentiment is attached the rank odour of Marxism — by turns foreign, unnatural and even a little sinister. G.K. Chesterton held that “the oligarchic character of the modern English commonwealth does not rest, like many oligarchies, on the cruelty of the rich to the poor. It does not even rest on the kindness of the rich to the poor. It rests on the perennial and unfailing kindness of the poor to the rich.” Nowhere is this truer than in India.

Here, in a nutshell, is how the caste system is sustained, every stratum content with its station. Against this backdrop, elections degenerate into computational games played out in panelled boardrooms, with parties vying for the support of “caste leaders”, who, in exchange for public sinecures, deliver votes en bloc. Democracy proper, needless to say, can hardly thrive in cultural conditions where individuality is at such a discount.

Indeed, no observer of the Indian scene can fail to note the oppressive conformity — ideological; cultural; sartorial — of the place, of an order with few world-historical equivalents outside the Muslim world. From haircuts to home dĂ©cor, one is hard-pressed to detect even a hint of deviancy. Outside elite ghettoes, public displays of heterosexual, let alone homosexual, affection are as rare as alien sightings. Women remain practically absent from the workplace; the female participation rate hovers around the 28% mark.

Pop culture offers no respite. Barring the odd tour de force such as the Amazon show Pataal Lok, a coruscating, chiaroscuro masterpiece that pulls no punches in depicting the dregs of Delhi, film and television rarely deviate from the usual formula: slapstick snoozefests interspersed with mechanical dancing and nationalist propaganda; think Adam Sandler meets Jane Fonda with hints of Leni Riefenstahl. The premise, invariably, is boy meets girl, something which is all too rare in the real world. Marriages — few of which are open (quelle horreur), mixed (caste taboos apply), or liable to termination (1% of Indian marriages end in divorce, as against 42% in Britain) — are customarily brokered by parental fiat.

Intellectually speaking, what was once a luminous world of letters is now a backwater. Time was when — as late as the Nineties — the hottest name was Vikram Seth, a terrific prose stylist unafraid to tackle the darker recesses of Indian culture. His heirs, if they can be called that, are Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi, both subliterate dispensers of postcard schlock. Tellingly, their celebrity rests not on their vapid writing but their vigorous cheerleading for Modi.

The review and opinion pages, likewise, used to be a punchier affair. There was a real joy to be had leafing through the latest number of Seminar, Quest, Swarajya, even the Economic Weekly. The latter nowadays throws its writers under the bus, pulling pieces to placate offended industrialists. The leading dailies, for their part, simply toe the party line. Real investigative reporting is left to the dissident press — the likes of Caravan, Scroll, and The Wire, which eke out a tenuous existence amid spurious lawsuits and tax raids. Anti-caste academics and activists are routinely carted off to jail on trumped-up charges of conspiracy.

All of this evidently enjoys popular approval. With polls showing that 85% of Indians express a preference for autocratic or military rule, one can only conclude that the vast majority of Indians don’t exactly swear by democracy. On the eve of what promises to be a sham election, with opposition leaders in prison and party funds frozen, it seems they have finally got what they wanted.


Pratinav Anil is the author of two bleak assessments of 20th-century Indian history. He teaches at St Edmund Hall, Oxford.

pratinavanil

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Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
3 months ago

If the People vote for less democracy, this is the sign of a healthy democracy in action. In fact, democracy is neither a panacea nor a cure-all.

Gazans voting for a terrorist group to lead them – is democracy. Indians voting for a party which retains power through dubious means – is democracy. One-party generational rule in numerous towns, cities, states, and nations worldwide – is democracy.

In a democracy, the citizen is sovereign, and the voter is king. A good People create a good Kingship, a feckless People create a feckless Kingship.

No more. No less.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

What makes you think that Indians vote for a party which holds power through ” dubious” means? That is a highly sweeping assertion. I don’t comment on countries which call themselves democratic but of which I am not a citizen and am not familiar with in terms of exercising my franchise.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

why not, comment on other democracies is important.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago

Seems some here are suffering from an acute bout of commenting on areas they may have not visited in years. Ok, provided that same licence is available to all – which unfortunately is not, as usually the same lot are outraged when us non Western people comment on Western issues.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Ah, yes, this is true. My apologies. The author of this article made this claim, but he did not prove it. I retract my statement. I should have said, “A party in any nation which retains power through dubious means”.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

I get your point on democracy overall. Indeed it is a deep question in the context of most modern democratic nations as to whether indirect as opposed to Swiss style direct democracy is always throwing up results which an enlightened elite prefer.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
3 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

And 4 upvotes go down to 1 when I upvote. What is going on?

D Glover
D Glover
3 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

3 people downvoted while you were reading. When you voted the tally refreshed itself and went…..down.

Umm Spike
Umm Spike
3 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Which is precisely why Plato decried it as the next-worse government after tyranny.

David McKee
David McKee
3 months ago

Indian politics is a very complicated beast, which is exceptionally hard to dominate. Nehru made it look easy, but he survived by continual compromise with regional power-brokers. He compromised over language for example, which is why English is still the dominant language of India’s elite.

Modi thinks he has found the magic formula, in the use of religion as a unifying factor. No compromises necessary, and no need to make much in the way of promises. That’s fine for the Hindu-dominated heartlands of North India, not so fine for the Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Buddhist periphery.

For an unscrupulous politician who uses religion as an electoral recruiting sergeant, the effect is like riding a tiger. If you ever fall off, you get eaten alive.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

You obviously are not familiar with Mr Modi’s slogan of “Sabka Saath Sabkaa Vikas” aka Development for all. Or you stew in Orientalist tropes of India to justify the West’s own failures by name calling India.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

You said it yourself, his slogan (a short easily remembered phrase, especially one used to advertise an idea) is just that, a slogan, wind. It means nothing until it is an action. You seem to be very intolerant of any opposing view and quick to throw accusations around, to wit, “Or you stew in Orientalist tropes of India to justify the West’s own failures by name calling India” and that makes all your comments suspect.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Look you are obviously a keyboard warrior shooting off rubbish from overseas. If you consider the tremendous pace of positive changes in the last decade as meaning ” nothing” it shows you up to be vapid and disingenuous as far as India is concerned.
No-one denies that a lot more has to be achieved but that doesn’t mean much hasn’t already been achieved.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

The only KBW here is you. See my reply to your comment above. You really have a problem with any view but your own. Rather childish behaviour on your part. You should try and read, and comprehend, comments before going off half cocked. I said that a slogan is just that, a slogan UNTIL it is put into action. This, it may well have been, but until there is proof it is just a rallying cry and, as stated, wind.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

The progress of China economically says it all when compared to India

Abhi Garg
Abhi Garg
3 months ago

It’s not really a fair comparison. China’s totalitarian model has managed to significantly accelerate their economy in manufacturing, exports etc and their infrastructure is miles ahead again due to central control. However their economy is vulnerable to systemic shocks on a number of fronts, we saw this during the COVID pandemic. The property market collapse, debt restructuring and not to mention depopulation are all effects of their command and control policies. India’s growth is slower and less impressive, however more sustainable, and much more resilient. There is a lot more internal demand and less export dependency, also a much healthier population demographic.

Au Contraire
Au Contraire
3 months ago

Another uninformed comment. Post independence and Communist revolution in China Indian GDP was bigger than China’s. But years of misguided socialist policies of the Congress party opened up the big gap when China started booting up its economy shorn of its communist ideology. The present government is encumbered with that disadvantage going back to late 1980s. If China is well ahead it is not because of something wrong in policies of the present government. Never mind China, even the tigers like S. Korea and Taiwan have looked embarrassingly more successful! But why let facts come in the way of preferred prejudices!

Ash Sangamneheri
Ash Sangamneheri
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Lol

Au Contraire
Au Contraire
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

There is all the action if you choose to want to see it or hear of it. Please read my comment above how Modi’s policies towards providing basic life amenities and protections regardless of caste or creed but purely driven by level of economic deprivation. That is exactly the translation of the slogan!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

I think you are ignoring the rise of a more political Islam. President Zia ul Haq who came to power in 1978 made Pakistan far more Islamic in character which encouraged Hinduism in India. My Father played cricket in Pakistan in the 1960s and the captain was a general who had served in the British Army in WW2 and his wife had been educated at The Sorbonne. The Captain drank whiskey and was typical regular army officer of WW1 vintage. This type of Pakistani couple has lost influence since 1978, just look at how Imran Khan has had to change in order to keep attracting political support.
The Saudi Wahabi money into Pakistan; increase in Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia; Soviet invasion of Afghanistant in 1979; increase in the Deobandi/Wahabi influence combined with decline in Sufism; support of Pakistani ISI for terroism in Kashmir has led to support for Modi and decline for Congress and Marxists.
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq – Wikipedia

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Wasnt Partition supposed to be for a Hindu and a Moslem state?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Jinnah wanted a separate Muslim state, Nehru wanted to keep the country united.

Abhi Garg
Abhi Garg
3 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Yep. Didn’t work. India still has a 20% Muslim population. That’s roughly half of what it was pre-Partition though.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  Abhi Garg

Which countries offer the average Muslim more opportunities fro self improvement, India or Pakistan?

Au Contraire
Au Contraire
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

I think it would serve you well to know the history. During Nehruvian years and subsequent Congress hegemony the left polarised Hindu votes by dividing upper castes from lower castes and combining the latter with minority communities to create a vote bank thereby neutralising the Hindu majority in the country. All Modi has done is to reverse that polarisation by bringing the Hindu vote back into a polity including all the castes and in fact still giving the preferential benefits to the lower castes which under Congress was more a lip service and not in any tangible way to improve their lot. Under Congress the Muslims also were used more as a vote bank and not for any tangible progress in their lot. Under Modi government all the amenities – be it provision of toilets, homes, tap water, free health insurance, digital bank accounts, free food ration for the deprived – they are all availed by Muslims as much as Hindus. Modi’s divide is economic means rather than religion. If anything under Modi Muslim women have benefitted by his removal of triple talaq (consistent with most other Muslim nations) which has not only given the dignity but economic succour. So I think you really ought not to believe everything you read in the distorted coverage of the media.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago

Engaging and informative essay for sure. I don’t know enough to comment on Modri, but I’m always hesitant to cast stones at the democractic practises in other countries. The west isn’t exactly a beacon of liberalism right now. The legacy media, judiciary, big tech, high finance and NGOs have all been captured by ideology and are far from honest arbiters.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The entire article is a twisted slant hit- job. Please don’t believe a word of it.
Read India Today or the Open magazine for the real news.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

The west has a lot riding on India IMO. It looks to be a future economic powerhouse and we need a powerful friend in Asia. It takes a lot of reading and knowledge to separate fact from fiction in the west. Doing that for places like Israel and India is daunting.

My wife is traveling to India next month for a friend’s wedding. Would love to go myself, but you need at least three weeks for that trip.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I hope she has a good stay. You should visit too. India and Israel are the only democracies if you see the map from West to South Asia.
Is it a surprise then that so much propaganda is afoot to drag both down?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

You forget Turkey, which is at least semi-democratic despite all Erdogan’s efforts. Look at the recent local elections there that delivered a snub to him. I suspect that Modi’s government, like many other autocracies, depends finally on economic success. Economic failure ultimately undermines even autocrats.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

There is no comparison. India has a robust opposition which rules many provinces. Pm Modi will sweep the polls as there is no leader with his credibility.
Frankly we in India don’t give a damn to what frustrated and jealous Western MSM ” thinks”. Good riddance to them.
Most Westerners like you need to brush up your knowledge about the real India which is a vibrant democracy- much more than some of your nations.
This false trope against a successful Federal Government in India shows more the decline of the West and it’s media and it’s brainwashed people.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

First you have to remember that India’s Modi is a great friend of Putin’s Russia.
Modi’s India has been facilitating Putin’s war against Ukraine.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago

How has he done that? By buying oil? The worst mistake we can make is alienating India as an ally.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Promote Shale oil and gas and bring price down to $20 barrel, then it is not worth smuggling.
Congress was heavily influenced by the London School of Economics and had a socialist outlook, Pakistan looked towards the USA.
An Indian general has said that it needs to reconsider it’s alliances. I find it difficult to believe the Indian Officer Corp feels much love towards communism.
Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw strenuously tried to prevent I Ghandi using the armed forces as her poodle.
Sam Manekshaw – Wikipedia

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago

India has always been a great friend of Russia, not about Modi or Putin.

It all down to 1971, when the Pakistanis commited genocide and mass rapes in Bangladesh. The West supported genocide, Russia supported India.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Nixon supported the Pakistanis.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Down Voters- if you have the guts, debate with me. As to why you have downvoted.
Of course if you are a bot or troll you are excused!

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

That id the funny bit. Consider what is happening with Trump, efforts to ban AfD, blocking bank accounts of protesters in Canada…
Stuff like that would be considered unbelievable in India.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I would highly recommend the book by Utpal Kumar “Bharat Rising” and by Umesh Upadhyay on Western media narratives.
I gave the links below but UH is censoring.
The Wire is a very distorted website but it is running despite the fake news it peddles.
Do listen to Aadi Achint on YouTube and Abhijit Chavda, Sanjay Dixit and Pgurus on YouTube for authentic news on India.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago

Aha!
UH and Anil at falsities yet again. Pointwise rebuttal-.
Unlike Anil I am an actual citizen of India and have voted for several decades. In my first vote in Marxist ruled Calcutta I witnessed actual ballot stuffing. And just previous to that was one of the worst genocides in post 1947 India- where Left tyranny massacred millions at Marichjhapi.
The Supreme Court and the Election Commission of India are fine institutions. I have served on the latter and can testify to how much things have improved with complete electronic voting machines( EVMs) and voter identification unique IDs which make it difficult to tamper any verdict.
Now the allegations on election bonds. Anil fails to mention that the parties with the highest number of bonds are the Southern Dravida Party – close ally of the Congress and the Trinamul Congress – another hard Left regional party from Bengal. Both outfits make robber barons look proud.
And the Congress has violated Income Tax laws leading the tax department to ask for an explanation. However it has said that the case will be seen after the elections so as to maintain the sanctity of the democratic process.
What ” farmers protests”? They were staged by a gaggle of billionaire farmers to re- Socialise the agricultural system with greater government handouts. Fizzled out after a week and were limited to Punjab farmers who are the sole beneficiaries of a twisted Socialistic agricultural system which the present government has tried but failed to dismantle due to the Soros backed activist lobby staging violence in 2021.
And on caste etc it’s due to the re- ification of caste by the Left- Congress since 1989.That is a complex topic and the roots go back to pre 1947 India.
Anil’s whole article is again a tissue of lies lies and lies. Every point is either an outright falsity or a twisting of facts.
The magazines he says are under threat are very much there. They were under the scanner for getting funding from the Chinese Communist Party. Their websites are active and arenot banned despite spreading vicious untruths much like Anil himself.
The statistics are dubious for every other assertions made.
I am surprised ( but not so) to see this kind of Potemkin article from a writer who I spotted in a recent literary festival in my city sharing both a stage and ideological bonhomie with the chief of the Communist party of India whose motto is still ” The Chinese Chairman is our Chairman”.
And with the Congress who signed a MOU with
CCP in 2008.
The real tragedy is that people like Anil influence wrong ideas on India among many here who maynot be familiar with either it’s recent history or present geo- politics – where CCP is everyday trying to disrupt internal democracy as well as stir up a war like situation on the border.
Of course there are problems – and that problem is the venality, corruption and sleaze of India’s rag- tag ” Opposition” and the failure of some of its genuine honest leaders like Sachin Pilot of the Congress to find a platform- due to venal dynasts like Rahul Gandhi( who I am sure sponsored Anil to write this bilge) who don’t allow any challenge to come up to them.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Thanks for this. Reminds us all to have an open mind, but always be skeptical.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I did give a reply to you which is under UH scanner

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Thank you for comments. What about communist influence in Bihar and Odisha/Orissa ?Are Maoists still waging terrorist campaign in Odisha/Orissa ?

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

The present government has to a large extent stopped the Communist Maoists in Central India. Bengal is however a different kettle of fish where the elements are active and in collusion with various other external agents.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Why is Bengal so Marxist ?

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I did reply to that in an earlier thread in December 2023. It was the Andrew Tate piece I think.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Good rebuttal. A quick check of the umbrella INDIA movement reveals that it was founded in mid-2023. Hardly a viable political movement for a 2024 election in such a large country. Is it not likely that such a group would be formed as a shell for nefarious financial ends? Either that or its adherents are complete incompetents.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

The Opposition has to find better leaders. Not dynasts. Look into each party and see it is headed by a dynast or clan leader. Except for the BJP and the Communists.
There are many honest and decent politicians in the Opposition parties but they are not allowed to come up because of the dynasts.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Your over zealous defence of India and it’s politics says a lot !

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago

Why? Since when is it a crime to be a patriotic Indian on UH( I presume I am not on the Guardian or the NYT)!
UH- before you send me a renewal request please add a disclaimer if you dislike patriotic members- I shall not renew.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Samuel Johnson.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

How very predictable. You really could do better.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

I don’t really need to with such an inept opponent. Now stop bothering the grown ups.

Abhi Garg
Abhi Garg
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

This is precisely the point. The idea that being “patriotic” means defending any and all criticism of the incumbent government. If being a patriot means being blind to any and all criticism then it’s not patriotism but blind faith.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  Abhi Garg

Rubbish. It’s perfectly fine and acceptable to criticise Modi and the BJP, and I hear plenty of it from his own supporters.

The issue here is not blind faith posing as patriotism, but blind hatred of Modi and hatred of Hindus posing as concern for “democracy”

Abhi Garg
Abhi Garg
3 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

If there is balanced criticism of Modi and the BJP from his own supporters, then I have yet to hear it. I have yet to see mature debates about real issues of concern in the Indian media or the government being taken to task, as should happen in a functioning democracy. Happy to be proven wrong.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  Abhi Garg

“mature debates about real issues of concern”
Infrastructure, terrorism, defense, improving access to toilets etc.
The reason there has been so much progress in India over the past decade is because there is a lot of debate and a strong feedback loop that exists.

Incidentally, the debate and criticism about genuine issues occurs primarily within the pro Modi cohorts.

The anti Modi camp is much busier with “issues” such as “Hindu fundamentalism” and “Hindutva” – in a country where minority groups enjoy special privileges and have grown as a percentage.

David McKee
David McKee
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

It’s not uncommon for any criticism from the West of a developing country to be greeted with outrage by the people in that country. Sayantani is, sadly, no exception.
No one – me, Dr. Anil, or anyone else – set out to insult India. What we are doing is taking India seriously. And that means analysing and, where necessary, criticising, what is going on in India. Dismissing everything Dr. Anil said as ‘lies’ may make you feel patriotic, but it won’t help you to solve your problems, which are many. There are people in Britain, like me, who admire India, but are not blind to its faults and failings.
Well, let’s take a point that Dr. Anil did not bring up, and that’s the huge expansion of India’s police forces since independence. In 1947, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) consisted of couple of battalions of lightly-armed police, to act as reinforcements of the police forces of the princely states if things got out of hand.
Sardar Patel took this, and built it up into a paramilitary police force, ready to intervene anywhere in India. Both Congress and BJP governments gradually expanded it to its present-day strength of around 360,000 policemen. It helps to make India one of the most heavily policed societies on Earth. It also makes the home affairs minister, who controls the CRPF, the second most powerful figure in the Indian government (in other countries, it’s normally the finance minister who is the second most powerful). The CRPF, rather than the army, performs internal security duties in India.
The CRPF acts above the law. The use of lethal force, including massacres, is not investigated nor wrongdoers punished, It acts to enforce the will of Delhi, regardless of the wishes of the voters.
Is there anything in this you would disagree with?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

UK has 135,000 Police for a population of 60M. India with a population of 1.2B would have a Police Force of 2.7M.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
3 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Aren’t they closer to 1.5billion?

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

India has various layers of police. It’s a colonial legacy largely- a centralised Indian Police Service as the apex, various State police services in each of the provinces. Plus Railway police and para military battalions.
You can read some good books on Indian policing and it’s challenges if interested like the Reports on Police Reforms, works by Sankar Sen and KPS Gill, to name just a few.

David McKee
David McKee
3 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

It’s how they are used. Police in India are very, very visible. Which is more than you can say for our boys in blue. But that’s a question for another day.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Well pointed out David.
The police in India are high handed, often corrupt and can resort to physical violence. But they are visible, and they do deter criminals.

The police in Britain are polite and nice. But they are utterly useless at preventing or punishing crime.

Tradeoffs I guess.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

David, the ” facts” cited by Anil are cherry picked. You read my response to see why.
I see a basic contradiction in your assertion on the police aspect.
First you say that India is a developing country. Indeed it is. Then you question why are there so many police. Why shouldn’t there be so? Isn’t policing a necessity in such societies?
Many Indians find appalling double standards in some Western commentators or those like Anil who are immigrants into the West – for continuously complaining about supposed ” threats” to democracy only as the present government is not their preferred ideological one.
I hardly ever see informed analysis on UH about India on the class factor undergoing radical transformation in India in the last decade. Mr Modi speaks for countless poor and village Indians who were treated with disdain and patronizing sneering by an Anglicised elite who dominated politics under Congress for almost 70 years.
Most here don’t get India as they possibly are not visiting in the recent few years.
Or they refuse to acknowledge the radical social changes in the growth of a new aspirational middle class.
Tending to be stuck in the past is the problem many like you show in your refusal to grasp the above.
If the article had been a genuine one it could have dealt with the real problem – why is the Indian opposition so venal and corrupt and dynastic? Why can’t a genuine Opposition emerge as Kejariwal had promised anti corruption in 2013 when AAP first came to the fore but since unravelled to be one of the most corrupt political dispensations as well as mimic the rest in its dynastic colours( Mrs Kejriwal now it’s defacto new leader). Why are the better elements in the Opposition as I referred to so silenced in their own parties?

David McKee
David McKee
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

There’s a lot I’d like to say, but a 10,000 word essay would not be appropriate. So, I’ll make a general point, then a specific one.

India has, and is, making huge strides. But development is dreadfully uneven. As Amartya Sen observes, India consists of islands of California in a sea of sub-Saharan Africa. It is also deeply fragmented, where states on the periphery, like Kashmir and Nagaland, and the adivasi (tribal peoples), have never been at peace with the idea of being part of India.

Specifically, policing in India is startlingly paramilitary. It needs to be, when India is faced with a seemingly unending series of insurgencies. Modi thinks he can use Hinduism as India’s unifying factor. But where does that leave the Muslims and other religious minorities? Anil did not mention the Citizenship Amendment Act, but I will. It has been strongly criticised, has it not?

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

This is a trope of the Left about Kashmir and Nagaland. It has little basis in present realities. Many Britons like you think the North East is unwilling to be a part of India, but that’s not true. Congress governments signed accords in the 1980s in the NEast. See no reason why you should think to the contrary.
Regarding Kashmir, it’s an integral part of India. Pakistan backed terrorists have tried for ages to disrupt it. Failed despite the colossal loss of life. Things have improved a lot now – there are going to be elections in September and many ex militants like Shehla Rashid have decided to participate.
Like you I don’t want to write a 10000 word essay on the issue – but it goes back to the 1940s-a tumultuous period I am researching for an upcoming book.
Curiously the only other source thinking on similar lines to you emerges from the CCP.
Regarding CAA, preference in citizenship to non Islamic minorities – Christians, Buddhists, Parsis and Hindus-in theocratic states like Pakistan and Bangladesh – what is so evil about it?
The US has Lautenberg, Vannick Jackson, Specter and various other amendments to fast track citizenship from ex Soviet Union, Hungary, Vietnam etc for Jews, Christians, those who fought for South Vietnam etc
It doesn’t involve depriving Muslims of applying for citizen rights. They are free to do so- the Pakistani singer Adnan Sami being a notable example.
It merely fast tracks citizenship for oppressed minorities. Are you not aware of the persecution of non Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh? Via blasphemy laws, etc?Very strange if you are not.
You also are fairly unaware perhaps that at the time of Partition the Hindu population of Pakistan and Bangladesh was 25%. Now due to persecution and killings the same is less than 1%.
So that’s fine with you? Hindu lives and those of other minorities in Islamic theocracies don’t matter?
And since you quote Amartya Sen are you unaware that Kerala – his showpiece state has the highest consumption inequality? Look up the Auditor Generals reports to see what a mess it has made of its economy so that it has declared bankruptcy.
The problem with people like you is your preconceived Left bias and prejudice which leads you to mouth inane cliches ignoring present realities.
Get real David, and start by visiting India to see for yourself.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

,”states on the periphery, like Kashmir”
You mean the muslim majority in parts of Kashmir who exterminated the Hindu minority?

“Specifically, policing in India is startlingly paramilitary. It needs to be, when India is faced with a seemingly unending series of insurgencies. ”
Where is this India, that most Indians wouldn’t recognise?

“Modi thinks he can use Hinduism as India’s unifying factor. But where does that leave the Muslims and other religious minorities? ”
Parsis, Jains, etc have no complaints as they know their rights are protected under Hinduism.
Muslims are not just protected, they enjoy special privileges. If they have problems with that, we can treat them the way muslims treated minorities wherever they were in the majority.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

India has less than half of the police per capita as Britain, and that’s if you include both the CRPF.and local police forces.

And while you are quick to dismiss her excellent, exhaustive rebuttal of this unbelievably biased hit piece, you do yourself no favours with such ridiculous statements.

Suggest to any Indian that “CRPF acts above the law. The use of lethal force, including massacres, is not investigated nor wrongdoers punished, It acts to enforce the will of Delhi”
And they will howl with laughter. Irrespective of whichever political party they support.

Abhi Garg
Abhi Garg
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

The difficulty Sayantani is that your defence of Modi and the BJP government seems so one sided. All the concerns raised in the article are brushed off as fabrications, lies etc. All the problems are ones created by the opposition or by someone other than the government. Opposing or different points of view from what Dr Anil has written are more than welcome. However it is a little difficult to take your rebuttals seriously because they seem equally one sided. Is there no criticism of the current government that you would accept as valid? Is everything they are doing perfect and unquestionable? Surely that can’t be.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Abhi Garg

Please read my comments carefully. I have pointed out why I feel the writer was wrong in his analysis. He distorted and deliberately falsified facts. You can see for yourself on the Election Commission of India website about the highest bonds being held not by BJP but by TMC and DMK- part of the Opposition.
Anil’s whole article is motivated to discredit Indian institutions- it’s Income Tax laws, it’s Supreme Court etc
He is working on an agenda of perhaps Soros and CCP – the former who openly called for external interference in India. The latter who want to exterminate India as they want to do to Taiwan.
It’s a question of who versus who. I am unclear if you are an Indian voter. If you are, what is the choice?
As an honest Indian taxpayer and someone who doesn’t want to add to the West’s unwanted hordes of immigrants, I certainly don’t want to see a corrupt, money grubbing Opposition in power, and one which will allow CCP to Balkanise India.
Let the Opposition in India recover it’s mojo first and get rid of the crooks who run it now.

Abhi Garg
Abhi Garg
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Sayantani, agree that the present BJP government is leaps and bounds ahead of the present opposition, and by no means am I advocating that the opposition should have any chance at regaining power. For the record, I am not an Indian voter, however have long standing ties to India and the BJP.

I do see the Modi government has being far more competent than the previous many wasted years under the corrupt and hapless Congress. Absolutely with you on that.

However, this is where our opinions will start to diverge. The emergence of the Modi government seems to now also come bundled with some other disturbing trends – lack of press freedom, an unwillingness to criticise the government, a conflation of criticism with “unpatriotic” behaviour etc. Your response to these things seems to me “but they’re better than the opposition!” Not disagreeing on that, but is the current opposition really the benchmark for how the government ought to behave? Surely not.

I admire the fact that India, despite its size, population, diversity and manifold problems has managed to exist as a vibrant and functioning democracy. However those of us of Indian origin who live in the West, while you may argue that we don’t have skin in the game as we are not voters, see disturbing trends. We see an emerging lack of real freedom. We see a clamp down on freedom of speech, thought and expression. We see silencing of voices in the name of patriotism. The present opposition are crooks, yes, but what are we doing to ensure that a viable and vibrant opposition is able to emerge and be heard? Throwing key figures in jail and/or freezing their bank accounts is not a good look. Put together what emerges is a 1984 style Big Brother (or “Bade Bhaisahab!” if you prefer) government that puts on a happy face and races to build temples but chafes at criticism and jumps to label it as unpatriotic.

Very happy to be proven wrong in all of this, but this is how it looks from the outside.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Abhi Garg

I am afraid you are getting a very wrong and distorted picture of the real events in India. Why don’t you read the Open magazine at http://www.openthemagazine.com or listen to PGurus.com run by NRI Shree Iyer from California? Or read another NRI Rajiv Malhotra who has an excellent book” Snakes in the Ganges” to explain the reasons for this false propaganda in the West?
Why do people like you forget that the real censorship was under Congress right till 2014? Mrs Gandhi’s actual Emergency from 1975-77?
That it was Nehru who in the First Amendment in 1951 brought draconian legislation to curb civic freedom?
Read Tripurdaman Singh if you feel I am biased.
The fact is that there is more freedom in India than in the West. You name me one pro Russia journalist published in any UK media.
Where is there suspension of ” real freedom “? Only in Trinamul ruled Bengal and DMK ruled Tamil Nadu.
Every day the Wire, Scroll, Caravan etc publish every mischievous lie but no-one bans them. The Wire featured in Matt Taibbi’s expose of Twitter Files as a prime proponent of Deep State propaganda but Anil Pratinav never mentions that.
A virulent fake news guy called Mohammad Zubair who was responsible for the deaths of several Hindus after starting a false hate campaign against Nupur Sharma was freed by the Supreme Court despite his crime.

I can go on and on- the fact is we Indians hate this jealous campaign by the rogue Left from the West and assorted Deep States to bring down Modi.
We will answer at the ballot box.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Abhi Garg

You are wrong on every count. I gave a detailed reply as to why in links below. They took time to appear as UH was screening them.
Read Rajiv Malhotra Snakes in the Ganges.
Listen to pgurus.com
Or Sanjay Dixit and Aadi Achint on YouTube.
This narrative of ” lack of freedom” is total BS.
The real lack of freedom was under Congress. And in Bengal and Tamil Nadu ruled by the totalitarian regime of TMC and DMK

Abhi Garg
Abhi Garg
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

“You are wrong on every count”. I rest my case.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Abhi Garg

No issues Abhi. But at least as a person of Indian origin try to read the sources I gave.
I actually agree with your analysis of not everything being right- but the reasons which you give are fairly wrong.
Many a time people in the West forget India was ruled for 70 odd years by a dynastic Party and was a Socialist/ Communist Party of India supported government for much of the 1970s and 1980s.
There was real tyranny then.
Nothing of that sort happens now, but the eco- system of which people like Anil are a part, push fake narratives.
Sad.

Abhi Garg
Abhi Garg
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Totally get it, for the record my own maternal grandfather was jailed during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency in the 1970s. I have deep family roots in the RSS and BJP, this is personal for me. However having been outside of India for a very long time I also have the benefit of an outside perspective on the Modi government. And, I can tell you that things don’t look that good from here. I visit India fairly regularly and, while we certainly can see vast improvements in many areas (e.g. infrastructure), a pervasive herd mentality seems to have beset the entire country. I hear sloganeering and knee jerk responses to any criticism, and a conflation of criticism with unpatriotic behaviour. I am not getting the sense that it is a society able to have mature conversations about complex issues. Sadly, many of your comments on this thread come across as symptomatic of the same herd mentality. You ride roughshod over others and do not offer a balanced opinion. It therefore becomes extremely difficult to take anything you say seriously. This seems to be the general state of Indian society. Recent economic successes seem to have gone to their collective heads, cultural symbols like the Ram Mandir are ruthlessly exploited by the incumbent government for political reasons etc. I see a rough road ahead and some rude awakenings for the Indian people.
No doubt you’ll dismiss all this as “completely wrong” 🙂

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Abhi Garg

Anil’s entire article is a lopsided distortion of facts. Maybe that, and the reactions of some who are obviously not inured to Indian realities got my response to be rather vigorous.
I don’t know why you expect me to be ” balanced” in replying to an author with an obvious agenda. At the recent JLF I saw him speaking in support of the CPI( M) chief whose great pal he seemed to be. No-one who espouses Marxism can be a real liberal is as I see it.
In any case I can’t see why you have not taken into account the points of factual misrepresentation I made about Anil’s piece.
I am a strict Rankean and I have refuted the obvious untruths he has written. You can go through all my detailed factual refutations including some which UH withheld but has now placed back.
I have grown up under an actual totalitarian Communist regime in CPM ruled Calcutta. That was where the real fascism was- from mind control to bullying to terrible massacres as at Marichjhapi, Kasba and Bantala. Not to speak of the tyranny on campus and other forms of mindless violence.
I don’t disagree with you that there is lots to be achieved more. I agree. But remember we are having to catch up after 70 odd years of Socialist/ Marxist tyranny and dynasty.
I think you are young and are probably not very aware of the intricate details of the last 76 years of Indian history. You wouldn’t be aware of the humiliating self flagellation which large heaps of the Indian population have suffered due to bad politics.
Mr Modi shows a ray of hope after Atal Vajpayees brief stint. That’s why most Indians back him.
Also, I happen to know of the real threats to India from assorted Deep States and external enemies. I don’t wish to elaborate further here why, but these are active trends for trying to Balkanise India.
We can discuss on other forums in more
congenial ways. I write a Substack too. Tani’s Substack. You can find me there.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Abhi Garg

Deleted

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
1 month ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

My Substack is free. Go to the Notes area.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Abhi Garg

I would also add that it was Nehru who was the real tyrant to curb freedom in the First Amendment. Read Tripurdaman Singh the historian based in the UK.
And have you not heard of the fact that The Wire is run by MK Venu who has close ties with the Dravida Party and that Siddharth Vardarajan of The Hindu, which pushes a similar line is a US citizen? It’s going strong though it’s news is slanted and fake. It has links to assorted Deep States. No-one has banned them the way some sites have been banned in the Western media.
This is a false propaganda narrative run in the West by Soros etc that there is ” lack of freedom”. To engineer regime change through dubious means.
Umesh Upadhyay has just written a detailed book on the reason for the narrative being created against India. Read it.
Also Utpal Kumar.

Au Contraire
Au Contraire
3 months ago
Reply to  Abhi Garg

Please give us the names of the most virulent critics of Modi in the mIndian media have been disabled from continued attacks on his government. Please do not peddle stuff you hear about from biased sources who are out to present a very negative picture of the truth. We await your list of journals and journalists who have been disabled.

Au Contraire
Au Contraire
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

I think you have more robustly and with detail made the points I was trying to make. Thank you. It is noteworthy that virtually the entire clan of Indian origin academics in the UK and the US are heavily leftist aligned and do their damndest to promote a very biased and a mischievous presentation to what is happening in India. The nexus of the Champagne Socialists in India, the left media, academics and intellectuals there and abroad allied with some NGOs have been at it ever since there has been a change of government in India. These votaries of democracy would have one believe that the only time there is democracy in India is when their acolytes are in power. In other words as long as their opponents don’t win elections then democracy in India is safe. Their implicit preference is a rag tag of family owned left leaning parties to rule India instead of a strong viable government currently in place. Their selective focus on the process of functioning of democracy is telling. In any democracy the role of the Government is to deliver for its citizens development, poverty alleviation and welfare of those that need support. They will not even concern themselves with a material improvement in the lives of the people at the lower end of the strata which is why the BJP keeps winning elections. But that evidently is not democratic!

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Au Contraire

Sadly you are right. If this article had any truth in it overall I wouldn’t have reacted as vigorously as I did.
What I truly find baffling is how even a Centre Right leaning site as this trusts only writers like Anil to repeatedly spew lies about India at present.
The collective demonization of a nation and its people by a ancient regime cabal which can’t win elections in India but is using the Western diaspora of like minded people to denigrate and spread lies is very galling.
If you are familiar with India you will know what’s happening in Bengal and to some extent in the South, ruled by the Opposition.
You will also know the Deep State nexus which is fairly out in the public domain ( refer the You Tube channels I cited).
What is also ironic is that many in the Indian diaspora are either buying in to this propaganda or remaining silent.
I request more of those in the know of the real situation as you to speak out.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago

Oh, and this trope of ” opposition party leaders in prison” – yes Arvind Kejariwal swindled billions of dollars in a liquor scam which is building to one of the worst scandals in recent history.
So Anil wants criminal politicians to go scot free? I guess he is a fan of various assorted Western politicians who manage to game the system and stay scot- free.
And billionaires- his ire seems exclusive to those who are also unpopular with George Soros who in 2023 made open calls for regime change in India.
And what does he want in terms of ” deviance”- fentanyl addicted trans men and women flying rainbow flags and smashing buildings and statues? Thank God we are in India where Memorials to Queen Victoria still proudly stand and don’t have to be under police protection unlike Anil’s own campus where statues of Rhodes are smashed or London where Churchills Column has to be guarded.
Shameful UH. I didn’t think you would repeat this awful writer again and again.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Down Voters- Are you bots or trolls? Or Anil’s bouncers?

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Neither! I like to read all points of view. You do your pov no favours by trying to have others silenced. I grew up in Bombay and still consider India my home; I met Indira Ghandi and she was, to my childs eye, a very nasty woman. A not uncommon opinion. Should I be silenced because I am not a fan, or perhaps the fans should be silenced in the interests of dissenters? You are published and he is published. Each is a view and, without living in India, cannot be verified. You could be doing that which you accuse Anil of doing; lying.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

I speak with facts. Anil doesn’t. If you claim Indian roots then check the granular data on each point before saying what you are stating.
As a Rankean historian I would have expected Anil to stick to historical facts which he doesn’t by twisting and cherry picked-selection.
” A lie can travel halfway around the world before truth puts on its shoes”.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

I did not claim Indian roots, I said I grew up there. There is a big difference. You speak with facts? You speak with politically coloured opinions, the same, probably as Anil. The fact that someone has been jailed does not necessarily mean that they are guilty of anything, not even in this country regardless of the verdict handed down by a court, same as in this country. If we are going to start quoting quotes, remember the Golden Rule; He who has the Gold Rules!
Granular data? Wonderful! Let’s throw in some fancy-sounding term which has little, or no, bearing on an opinion so that you sound cleverer than you are, and/or to try and intimidate/confuse the other side. As far as I am concerned, not living there, I appreciate diverse opinions. I still know many Indians and find that many of the males are brought up by Mummy, who has birthed a boy (Hallelujah and duty done, no icky girls) to think that they are little gods who are always correct. They then refute all other contrary opinions for only they have the truth and get very snarky with those whose minds are open. You are not doing your side of the argument any favours with such behaviour.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Ah, one more of the ” I know India better gang” as I was ” born” there.
Good riddance to your ilk.Maybe you are the one with “ayah ” problems to spout balderdash.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

You don’t comprehend English very well. Read and try harder. I said nothing about being born there. I am Welsh /British and GREW up there. I was born in Cardiff, Bombay on the Taff. As previously stated you cannot abide dissent, can you mummy’s boy.
Ayah is a nanny, not a mummy. Now off back to the call centre where one of your intellectual abilities belongs. I can no longer be bothered with one with such a paucity of education.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Oh dear Taffy, stick to your pidgin nonsense. For all your learned English your grammar is rather questionable.
Sorry to disappoint you- I don’t work in a call centre but maybe you just lost your job with Port Talbot.
I am not a ” boy’ either but maybe you are a lager lout dashing off ignorant idiocy. Goodbye.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

“The fact that someone has been jailed does not necessarily mean that they are guilty of anything”
Funny how you lot were quick to accuse Modi of genocide despite him being actually cleared of all charges by the court.

Let us wait for the courts go deal with Kejriwal, and no, he isn’t going to escape justice just by peddling lies about Modi.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Probably Hamas supporters.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Odd. Every upvote from me then shows only 1 upvote, where before there were10, or 15.

El Uro
El Uro
3 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

It happens many times here. Probably editors want to refresh discussion 🙂

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

UH often does that to ” manage” the response.

Satyam Nagwekar
Satyam Nagwekar
3 months ago

Nice to read an unfettered piece on Indian politics. While the writer’s views are far from being completely rounded, it does offer a good bird’s eye view of the ground reality.

Amos Farrell
Amos Farrell
3 months ago

Preview of the U.S. Democratic party in 2032

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 months ago

The corruption is manifest … democracy is denied by corruption!

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
3 months ago

For some unknown reason, Pratinav Anil hates contemporary India and its ruling political class. Instead of helping to build India, the guy is sitting in the UK poking holes in a developing democratic country. What a sad human being. He should join the BBC. I am sure he would find some sympathy there.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 months ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

India’s ruling class is deeply corrupt … so it’s right that it should be exposed … there is no democracy where you have deep corruption

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
3 months ago

The current ruling class is less corrupt than the class it replaced in 2014. The country is still developing. Compare India to the Western world as it was 50 years ago.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago

I would say the UK from about 1850 to 1950 was exceptionally free from corruption but that was exception in the history of the World. The corruption in the Naval dockyards and army up to about 1830s was horrific.
If one wants to see how corruption ebbs and flows look at the navy from the time of Henry VIII to today.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

What is strange Vijay! He must be a UK citizen who is a Woke warrior. More baffling is UH’s inability to find more balanced commentators on present day India.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
3 months ago
Reply to  Sayantani G

Balanced by whose definition? Yours? Thank you for the guffaw.

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
3 months ago

Overwritten and entirely negative article by Pratinav Anil. He conspicuously fails to notice the huge economic advances in India made during Modi’s time in office. A colossal country with relatively low levels of internal strife gets no credit. No hint of a suggestion about how things might be done differently or better.
Small point but there are dozens of Indian films on Netflix which tell different stories of cultural life there – not just escapist musicals. Also Indian news TV channels with incessant argumentation.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Dudgeon

Methinks the truth is not convenient to you, low growth and high levels of poverty have left India far behind their nemesis China

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago

No 70M killed post 1949 and how much debt is China hiding, all those empty cities.

David McKee
David McKee
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Dudgeon

Low levels of internal strife? You’re joking! Ever heard of the Naxalites? Or Kashmir? Or Nagaland? Or… or…

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

So what’s the annual casualty rate from those internal and border conflicts? And the proportion of fatalities in a population of one and a half billion and hundreds of scheduled tribes? Probably lower than anywhere outside western Europe.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Dudgeon

His facts are very distorted. He doesn’t know much about present realities other than regurgitation of Ultra Left tropes.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Ever heard of the Hindus in Kashmir who were exterminated, while the muslims enjoy the highest level of central grants compared to every other state in India.

Anthony Taylor
Anthony Taylor
3 months ago

Very interesting article and containing many things I didn’t know. Of course you need to be there to get a true feel for a place and its politics. My take, for what it’s worth is that Modi is a cynical sort, with venal, but well-disguised aspirations. How else to explain the marginalization and denigration of Muslims and their recent purging from the electoral rolls? His cozying up to big money backers is bad, but typical for modern politics. All said, no difference between Modi, Putin, Al-Sisi, Orban or Erdogan.

Naren Savani
Naren Savani
3 months ago

One of the most pompous writers on India appearing in this magazine . Initial amusement turns to boredom.Pity his students

Ess Arr
Ess Arr
3 months ago

The alternative to Modi seems to be a dynastic scion, whose family has been in power for 50 years, and no matter the shellacking their party receives, will not give way to others more competent, Rahul Gandhi’s latest manifesto will give everyone a sense of deja vu – back to the Fabian Socialism of his great grandfather, where the middle classes are extorted until they flee the country in the millions; corrupt bureaucrats monopolise every benefit such as multilateral (World Bank and IMF) and multinational jobs, free first class tickets on Air India (which he says he will renationalise) and land in prime locations; black money reigns supreme; hefty subsidies are shelled out to the favoured; investors flee and impoverished peasants are then exported to toil in the Gulf to earn foreign exchange.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
3 months ago
Reply to  Ess Arr

And support to Hamas and handing over India to CCP with whom he signed an MOU in 2008( whose terms have not been disclosed).

Au Contraire
Au Contraire
3 months ago

It is very sad when a learned academic peddles inaccurate stories. This article is a hatchet job and not by any means an objective representation of the realities. First of all INDIA coalition has not had its bank accounts frozen. Even the Congress Party which has been found not to have declared its income going back years has not been responding to tax authorities for years. Its bank account had a lien placed on it for the amount of tax claimed by the tax authorities and that is a small percentage of their actual bank balance. The rest is not frozen. As for there Aam Admi Party Liquor Scam case this has also been going on for some time and its leader has refused to respond to nine summons for attend the court.
As for the farmer revolt it was only in two of India’s over two dozen states where the farmers had issues with the agriculture reforms which had been mooted already by the previous Congress Government. When the revolt took place – many of the “farmers” turned out to be sympathisers of the Khalistani terrorist separatist movement. Quite interestingly the Congress Party’s manifesto for the coming election also seems to have the same policy measures as that proposed by the present government.
I could go on but if the elections in India were not democratic in nature then how would one explain state level elections where opposition parties have frequently won the elections?
This is a scurrilous article by a man with an agenda. You only have to watch Indian TV channels and electronic and social media to know that there is an ongoing virulent attacks on the government and not a single well known critics of the government has been constrained from expressing their opinion. The Ambanis may own some of the media but many of their journals known to be opposed to the present government have not changed their tack. One of the biggest media house India Today (not owned by Ambanis or Adanis) has also been robust in its reportage and editorial stand. Its editor in chief is a celebrated anti BJP leaning journalist whose wife is actually an MP for one of the Opposition parties.
The learned Professor should first focus on the tabloid and right wing broadsheet newspapers and channels like GB News and TalkTV in UK which have been massive supporters of the Conservative Government but he would not consider that to be worrisome.
The western media should try not to rely entirely for their understanding of India on traditionally leftist diaspora journalists and academics who have a political agenda of their own. At the very least they should try to get a more balanced perspective from both sides of the political divide. 
Arguably no previous government has done as much for the deprived sections of there population, regardless of their caste or creed, as this Government has done and that is why it got a massive mandate in 2019 and will likely get as big if not bigger mandate in the coming elections. The transformation in India over the last 10 years has to be seen relative to previous 60 years when the present opposition was in power. The Indian voter is savvy and will only vote on delivery of promises and not on any other criterion including that of religion! The current government has been one of the least corruption riddled government at the top and people see that. Modi cannot magic votes out of nothing!