The causes and effects of the Rafale deal

So the ticking time bomb has triggered a full scale explosion. The endless debates and punches and counter punches that has been happening over the course of weeks and months has given way to a full scale war. Finally, some light has fallen on the shadows of the dubious Rafale deal and it is not good news for the Modi government. The fact that Anil Ambani has been the beneficiary of an unholy deal between the Indian and French government has been brought to light by none other than the erstwhile French President himself.

Questions are raging over how a weapons manufacturing company was started by Anil Ambani just weeks before the deal was signed, HAL was sidelined and Ambani’s company was proposed as the only option by the Modi government as partner for the deal. But my problems and concerns go much deeper. I did a one year MBA program with an international business school in Shanghai. There I met people from almost every part of the world. I used to have a good time with a young Pakistani lad who incidentally knows the band members of Strings and I used to tell him that one day I will be in Pakistan and I need his help to meet them. The college had given me a fellowship and I used to work actively with the college staff most of whom were Chinese. My point is, I was not fighting with that Pakistani guy and the Chinese people I know. It made me realize that citizens of India are not at war with the citizens of Pakistan and China. When we, the people have no problems with each other, why do we have borders and armed forces? Why are the governments buying and manufacturing all the weapons? To protect the people from what?

Lets take the case of Jammu and Kashmir. It became part of India during Independence and then the war of 1948 broke it into two parts. I see reports about separatists indulging in violence and the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits and I wonder, why can’t the people who want to be with Pakistan go to PoK and the ones who want to be with India come to this side of the border? Wouldn’t that solve the problem? Why are the Indian and Pakistani governments not trying to resolve the problem? Why is the UN not trying to resolve the conflict? Same goes with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Every time I hear and see about conflicts and problems, I always wonder why people are not working towards solving these issues.

Coming back to the Rafale issue, my next problem is in the way the government eventually decides from which country and which companies to buy the weapons from. The three wings of the armed forces are more than well equipped to do their own due diligence and decide what their requirements are. All the government needs to do is to provide them the required funds and clear all bureaucratic hurdles for the purchases. But when the government overrides the needs of the armed forces and initiates deals as per it’s wishes, then something murky is definitely happening in the shadows. This is what caused the Bofors issue and now the Rafale issue.

During the 2014 elections, there was a rumour that Modi’s election campaign extravaganza expenses ran upto Rs. 20,000 crore. He was always seen travelling for election rallies in private helicopters of Gautam Adani. Now why would a corporate businessman provide the services of this private choppers to a PM candidate? It doesn’t end here. Wherever Modi used to travel to for campaigning, be it as far as Thiruvananthapuram in the south or Arunachal Pradesh in the east or Jammu and Kashmir in the north, he used to always return to Gujarat the same day itself. Those journeys themselves must have cost a monstrous amount of money. Why was Adani spending so much money on Modi? So it was clear that Modi was going to be the next PM. Now Modi has himself admitted to being a chaiwala (tea seller). So how does all of this reflect on him? Like the story of Kalidasa, an ancient Indian poet. Kalidasa was a stupid and ignorant woodcutter who was found by some wise men cutting a branch of a tree he was sitting on. These wise men had a grudge on a princess because of her haughtiness at her wisdom. So they dressed up Kalidasa, asked him to keep quiet, spoke for him and interpreted his actions and claimed to the world that he was the most knowledgeable guy in the world and managed to defeat the princess in a debate. The same seems to have happened with Modi as well. The corporate seems to have installed him as the PM to be at their whims and fancies and to get their business deals signed off without understanding anything and without asking any questions. The Rafale deal seems to be just one of them. If there were scams during the previous UPA government the present government itself is a corporate scam.

Now how did Anil Ambani and the Modi government manage to pull off such a deal brazenly without the fear of any repercussions? They thrive on the ignorance of people. Most people in rural India especially in the North do not have even basic facilities like drinking water and electricity. They do not even have enough education to spell Rafale properly. Political parties have been exploiting them every 5 years by baiting them with the offer of basic amenities in return for their votes. They get nothing after each election and since they are all stuck inside vote banks, they continue voting for the candidates from their caste, religion etc. Most importantly, political parties ensure that people do not get proper education. Education increases our understanding of the world and we start asking questions. Questions are the biggest threat to the existence of political parties. This is why government schools are in dilapidated condition in many of the states and private schools charge such exorbitant fees. The objective is to keep people away from education. This is why Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP party had to go through all sorts of dire situations and repercussions when they tried to revive government schools in Delhi. Five of the biggest Indian states from where maximum representatives go to the Lok Sabha (lower House of Parliament) are stuck in this situation. BJP won maximum seats from these states in 2014 which clearly reflects the pathetic condition of Indian democracy. The consequence is that apart from the fragmented urban voters, no one will question Modi about the Rafale deal. He can happily go and campaign for the 2019 elections in the rural areas of India. This is what emboldens political parties and the corporate to take the country and the people for granted in their quest for money and power.

Finally, why a deal for weapons manufacturing? Which are the most booming business industries in the world? Weapons, drugs, prostitution and trafficking in that order. What generates maximum revenue in the world? People’s fear and people’s lust. We need to look at nothing beyond the first movie of the Iron Man franchise. What prompts billionaire businessman and playboy Tony Stark to become Iron Man? Because he finds the weapons manufactured in his company Stark Industries in the hands of terrorists and he realizes that weapons manufacturers sell weapons to both sides of wars and conflicts. The best commodity for sale has become the human life itself. Anil Ambani seems to be thirsting to enter that realm of business and make some money for himself at the cost of human lives. This is why Kashmir, Palestine and many other areas continue to be conflict zones. More is at stake here. Financial institutions move in into conflict areas once some sort of deal for peace is made, invest money and basically enslave people’s lives in that region. If all conflicts stop, financial institutions and weapons manufacturers will have to close down their shops. The stakes are much higher than the comprehension of common people and political class is just a puppet in the hands of the corporate all over the world.

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Another scam in India: why it should and doesn’t matter

Indian economy has been limping after the twin strikes of Demonetization and GST implementation which came on top of sluggish economic growth and ever rising inflation. The economy did not take that hard a beating as most of the other countries in the wake of the financial meltdown of 2008 because the RBI had smartly manipulated the value of the Rupee. But I realized our currency is not so robust after all when I read about how a change in the value of the government bonds in the US had triggered tremors in the value of the Rupee. To add to all of this, two diseases have been plaguing the Indian economy and have prevented it from growing to the levels it should have long back. Black money and scams.
Tax evasion is a part of daily life in India and all that money goes underground immediately which then flows out to bank accounts in countries like Switzerland and Monaco. There is a reality check that can be done with regards to tax payment in India and it can throw up staggering details. The agricultural class and religious centers do not have to pay taxes, business class evades tax as much as they can and unemployed people and people below the poverty line cannot pay tax. So where does the majority of tax money come from? Just the working middle class. What is their % in the total population of India? 20% max. So taxes from 20% people run the entire country and also supports the rest 80% of the population. There is another catch here. There is no country in the world that is free of corruption. In developed countries, 80% of taxpayer’s money goes back into the development and maintenance of the infrastructure and 20% goes into corruption which happens at the highest levels. In India, the percentages are just the opposite. 80% of the money goes into corruption from the grass root to the highest levels and with 20% of the money we have still developed so much. Imagine where 80% could have taken us. The black money ends up in the black hole which is lost forever. Some of it is being speculated to be flowing back into the country as FDI.

 
Scam is like a fashion statement now. Everyone is trying to pull off scams in their own ways. Nigerian scamsters are constantly sending spam mails to trick unsuspecting victims. One reason why the erstwhile Congress government fell away in the 2014 elections was because many of the scams that happened under the noses during their 10 year regime were brought to light. But no political party can wash their hands off and plead innocence here. For a big scam to succeed, the entire system has to be corrupt and corruption can nurture where there is unaccounted money. So it all ties together. The recession of 2008 was completely scam driven. Just like black money fraudsters, these scamsters find loopholes in the banking and financial systems to avail massive loans and get away from paying them back resulting in financial collapses of banks and other lenders. Vijay Mallya is the biggest fish under the scanner now and now a new one called Nirav Modi has leapt into limelight in the past week.
Banks in India are struggling to contain loans of all categories from becoming NPAs. Most of their pain is because of business loans that become NPAs and they are simply not able to get even their principal amounts back. This is how the corrupt system rears up it’s ugly head here. All loans are disbursed through one of the branches of the banks. For normal loans, branches initiate strict checks and ensure that either through timely repayment or recovery procedures, loans can be closed. But business loans never go through the same channel of verification. The top level executives of the banks are connected to the political and business class so they ensure that loans are disbursed without enough verification because it is common knowledge that such loans will never pass a thorough verification. No business deals are completely clean and transparent so business loans will also have a dark side to it. Vijay Mallya reportedly told the lending banks that Kingfisher airlines was running on losses and there was no way he could turn it around but the lenders kept pumping in more cash with the hope of making it profitable again. I am not aware of Nirav Modi’s background yet, if dug deep enough, he may be connected or related to the top 1% of the population who call themselves the elitists who control all the major businesses and financial institutions in their countries. Without such connections it is impossible to pull off such big scams and escape from the country so easily.
Now what is the impact of black money and scams on the country’s economy? If the GDP numbers are good, it indicates a thriving economy where people are earning and spending more and this translates to substantial cash flow in the system. The central banks increase the quantity of currency based primarily on 3 critical factors:

1. GDP growth rate

2. Bullion reserves

3. Foreign exchange (FOREX) reserves
When GDP growth rate is good, central banks get enough cash flow to buy gold and silver and expand their bullion reserves. When international trade is on the upswing, FOREX reserves will grow. Central banks use bullion reserves to settle international debt and also lends to bullion banks which in turn does trading in the precious metals market thereby generating cash flow. This entire cash flow gets adversely affected when money goes missing through laundering and scams. Central banks will have to lend out more from it’s bullion reserves to stimulate cash flow thereby shrinking the bullion reserves. Reduced cash flow will affect trade and stall the growth of FOREX reserves. All of this will decrease GDP growth rate and reduce the value of the currency which in turn will shrink the FOREX reserves. Central banks cannot simply print more currency notes because it will lead to inflation.
Back in 2014 during the heat and din of the general elections, when the present PM was claiming to bring back all the laundered black money stashed away in foreign banks, the present CM of Delhi had let out pearls of wisdom to the people and to the media which no one had cared to even hear. He had said that the need of the hour was to first stop any further laundering of black money. There are banks in India that aid the flow of laundered money to foreign banks. These banks have to be neutralized first and their operations have to be decapacitated. Going after stashed money is the next step. The system we are all in is a Matrix and no one bothers about anyone who goes against the system. So a Vijay Mallya or a Nirav Modi will be in the limelight time and again. I am sure there are gigantic fishes with billions or trillions of dollars in debts to banks but are happily living their lives because they are well protected by the system. This is where the imbalance in the economic structure of capitalism has taken the world to. Nothing exemplifies this better than a palatial mansion in Mumbai right in the middle of a large slum area.
Now how does any of all of these matter to the common people? It does but no one has time to know about it or ask questions. A struggling economy fraught with inflation and unemployment means people are having to constantly and tirelessly work to find ways to make their ends meet and find even an ounce of prosperity. This effectively neutralises the educated middle class, the ones who are most likely to understand what is going on and ask questions. Questions are the biggest threat to the system so engage people to a level where they do not even have time to understand what is going on. Use the media to blank out truth and reality from the public. Keep the rural population largely illiterate and maintain unemployment and BPL levels. Politicians effectively secure their vote banks and the elitists have total control over the system. 

Why India needs to look beyond her current political system

This is the year of general elections in India. It is the biggest electoral process in a democratic country and the largest democratic country in terms of population will be casting their votes and choosing their representatives. Every five years, the world stops to watch this amazing spectacle. But the reality on the ground is far from being spectacular. India is plagued by vote bank politics because of which votes are fractured based on religion, caste, community, urban and rural divides. People are baited to vote for candidates by luring with money, alcohol and other “gifts” or are bullied into voting. Before that, people are paid money and then herded like cattle into vehicles and transported to election rallies to hear the leaders speak. This election has taken on new dimensions and is generating incredible interest and heated debates among people because of several reasons. An analysis of the major political parties will show why.

Congress, the ruling party for the past ten years has been in steady decline partly because of the turmoil in the world markets. But their bane has been corruption. The first five years of their government was considered to be good which is why they were voted back into power. But those five years were littered with scams in several industrial sectors which emerged out of the shadows during their second term of government. It is still a mystery why Congress needs to be under the umbrella of the “Gandhi” tag to stay relevant. They have strong and well educated political leaders in their ranks, but their party leadership under Sonia and Rahul Gandhi is weak and has lost touch with the ground reality of the country. Rahul, who is leading the party into the elections is inexperienced, has been disinterested in assuming leadership of the party, shows no inclination to speak on national issues and is showing complete immaturity when handling situations and when speaking to people.

BJP, the principal opposition party in India for the past ten years has largely been in political hibernation. They seems to have forgotten the rule of thumb of democracy. When a party is not elected to power, it means they had their shortcomings in understanding the needs of the people and the country and by sitting in the opposition, they have been given a chance to learn and prepare themselves for the next elections. When all the scams were going on, they chose to be silent partners with the Congress and only made noises inside the Parliament. They forgot that they were also responsible for going to the people and spreading awareness of the government’s misdeeds. A year from the elections, they suddenly found themselves faceless because of serious infighting among their own leader. So, one fine day, they decided to project Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat as their leader. Then, funded by the business class who has plenty of their own interests in Modi coming to power, the BJP launched a massive media campaign to falsely project Modi as the messiah of development in Gujarat into the psyche of common people. Modi, a largely uneducated man, rose from the lower strata of society by working his way up through the ranks of the party and with the help of a Godfather turned foe. He wears designer clothes when addressing people below poverty line in large rallies and travels by helicopters provided to him by the business class which clearly shows his proximity to them. He maintains an army of people, to provide governance in Gujarat and even to write his speeches. Never comfortable talking to people other than addressing them in rallies, he avoids interviews with the media like a curse and has never shown his leadership qualities and inclination in standing up for national issues.

AAP, the new kid on the block born out of democratic turbulence. When scams and corruption reached their peak, a respected social activist by the name of Anna Hazare kicked off a mass civil movement by going on hunger strike to protest against the decay of the country. The educated urban community started pitching into the movement and from that cauldron rose a leader called Arvind Kejriwal. Not only did any political leaders including Rahul Gandhi and Modi show any inclination in taking a stand against corruption, they joined the chorus of the political system in ridiculing and deriding Kejriwal and taunted him to enter the political world and prove his worth. Thus was born AAP, a party made by the people for the people. Starting with a stunning debut in Delhi state elections after which they were coerced into forming an unholy coalition with the Congress, they were forced to quit after Congress joined hands with BJP in thwarting them from implementing key proposals in their election manifesto.

The political system has been fooling the common people of the country for the past 67 years. Nothing really changed after India’s independence, the country moved from colonial rule to the rule of the indigenous political class. The people are still treated as slaves. The only time people have power in their hands is when they vote and after that, for the next five years, they are largely left to fend for themselves. These political leaders, who are supposed to represent the people, rise up through the ranks of the political parties, not with the credibility of working for the people and the country. Every election manifesto of parties highlight growth, development and good governance. These are the basic reasons why we elect our representatives by exercising our votes. No parties are able to even fulfill their manifestos and they have nothing more to offer. Neither the political parties nor the people know what true democracy is.

Congress party has lost it’s face before the country and do not even have the credentials to stand in the elections. The Modi propaganda team has created the so called Modi wave and people across the country have been made to believe in it. Smaller regional parties and politicians tainted with corruption and crime are making a beeline to join BJP in the hope of gaining power. AAP, the only party that has pledged clean politics is plagued by people joining with an eye on contesting elections and it is becoming a bane for Kejriwal and his men to manage the burgeoning party. In his crusade against corruption, he seems to have missed the point that the political class will never allow him to have a level playing field. He will be ultimately pushed into playing vote bank politics after all. That is why the business class is in silence when he accuses them in public for being in connivance with the political class and creating large scale corruption. AAP is yet to formulate it’s views on many of the key issues of the country. Their only agenda till now has been tackling corruption, which I believe is right to a large extent because corruption has almost stalled growth in the country. But they have to do a lot more to be a national party with very less time, under the enormous weight of expectations and a burgeoning population which is increasingly getting disgruntled with them by surpisingly showing no patience towards them while they chose to stay mum through the tainted ten previous years.

The country needs strong leadership and someone educated, intelligent and wise of the world at the helm. The current vote bank politics, which has become an epidemic, must be eradicated. Election manifestos should cater to only four classes of people, the farming class, the business class, the working class and the class of people below poverty line. Development projects targetting these four classes will automatically result in the development of the nation. All government projects are now initiated only with the objective of reaching into the coffers of taxpayer’s money and there is no intent to do good for the country. A simple financial analysis will show how feasible any of those projects are provided true numbers are available but government numbers and calculations will largely be manipulated. This system has to be purged. The country desperately needs innovative strategies to get out of the hole it is presently in and none of the parties or their leaders seem to be capable enough to do that. Even though Modi is touted to assume power, his task of repairing the country is momentous which he doesn’t look to be capable of and he does not have a magic wand to wave off all the country’s woes. The way up looks to be slow, long and excruciating. This is why the country has to look beyond the short term and the existing political system for a better future.

The burning Indian political cauldron

My dad can’t stop gushing these days that politics in India has suddenly become interesting. He has good reasons for it too. What has been traditionally a two party battle with smaller parties eating the fringes of the vote pie has suddenly turned topsy turvy. One man, along with his band of a few good people have taken up the challenge to blow the wind of change across the land. What was branded as a motley crew is rapidly turning into millions and arrogance among the political class disintegrating into disbelief.

India, in all her glorious diversity, was a land ruled in parts by many and divided over every possible petty issues. In a way, colonial rule made us understand the importance of central governance and that was how we were able to form a central government after independence. It is fascinating to see how the pattern of freedom struggles in different countries from colonial rule looks so strikingly similar. People join hands in their blinded devotion for independence from foreign rule, but amazingly, it changes nothing about their mindset and the differences they have among themselves. Freedom fighters they were all, martyrs for the cause but ignorant about discussion, negotiation and governance. From this melee was born our own indigenous political class, to whom was passed on the baton of power and who have successfully maintained the legacy of colonial rule and added diabolically innovative dimensions to it.

These political leaders wanted and allowed the nation to be divided, so they could get their hands on power without stomping on each other’s foot. When children in schools are taught about this glorious freedom struggle and are told to idolize it’s leaders, they grow up without knowing that it was these same leaders who kept the country’s armed forces from procuring arms for the fear of military coup and it was the same leaders who tickled a neighbouring country into invading the land and then sent the unarmed forces to be butchered. More indignity was to follow, right from the time of independence when people were divided on the basis of their caste with the intention of polarizing vote bank and culminating in government declaring emergency to assume unlimited powers to stave off opposition to good governance and oppress it’s own people.

Opening up Indian markets to the world drove the final nail in the coffin. Corruption, that was in vogue became rampant as businesses started flourishing and money started flowing. New dimensions were added to polarising people, such as upper class, middle class and below poverty line. Corruption bred on the great Indian money rush, a diabolically sinister version of the great gold rush. In the unholy marriage, bureaucrats play the central role and politicians sign away documents favoring businesses and go home to keep staring at their burgeoning international bank accounts.

In these times of darkness and void, when people were forced upon the indignity of choosing between the less of the corrupt to represent them in government and then helplessly watch as their lives were slowly taken apart, a few people, people who paid their taxes and silently lived out suppressed lives stood up against the decayed system. They were outraged, humiliated and when none of it worked were challenged to enter politics and then practise what they preach. The political class made just one cardinal mistake. They challenged the free thinking, educated and enlightened people, catapulting the nation into a free wheeling battle of wits between the political class and the common man.

The supposed next generation leader of the grand old party of Indian politics accepts responsibility for the latest poll debacle, admits that much has to be learnt from the common man’s party and finds himself relegated to the political sidelines. The main opposition party, who were secretly in cahoots with the people in power and was on the cusp of a resounding election win on the anti incumbancy of people finds itself challenged by the same bunch of people who had requested for their help for better governance in the country. Their projected leader, a strong candidate not withstanding, albeit weakened by power hungry people in his own party has been handed a double edged sword. If he is wise enough, he would know by now that if his eulogized enigma doesn’t take his party to power, he will be banished to perpetual political oblivion by his own people.

Amidst all of this clamour, one man, an educated unassuming common man who stood up to the challenge when he was thrown the gauntlet to get dirty to clean dirt is rapidly becoming the beacon of hope of a nation desperate for change. He was derided by the political parties for the promises he made to people, but when he became the chief minister of the capital state and started putting his promises to action, political parties still keep deriding him and questioning his credentials while shamelessly trying to ape his ways of governance. It will not matter to him if he ultimately finds himself as the leader of the country or other parties finally adopt the ways of good governance and makes him and his party irrelevant. The objective will always be the greater good of the country and the people. World, behold as the greatest democracy prepares to extricate itself from the mire of the past and transcend into a new beginning.