Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Talking about Bernie Sanders

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie added his name to the long list of contenders for the Republican Party nomination for the 2016 US Presidential Election today, adding more confusion to a party that is spoiled for choice at this stage. With this mad deluge in the Republican Party, it might be forgivable for someone to forget that there is actually an entire party other than the Republicans - the Democrats! Indeed, as compared to the energy in the Republican camp, one might think the Democrats do not even intend to seriously fight this election.

Or, more likely, they're all running scared of the Clinton machine. For all her talk of leaving the White House in poverty after her husband and former President Bill Clinton finished his last term, Hillary Clinton has nothing short of a war chest, both in monetary terms as well as in terms of political influence. She enjoys a massive approval rating among Democratic voters, despite her sordid term as Secretary of State and has clearly amassed a fortune in speaking tours, where she is known to charge about a quarter of a million dollars for each session! In front of such a well-oiled political machine, it is hard to imagine anyone standing a chance. But then, that was the case in 2008 when Barack Obama eventually defeated her for the nomination and went on to win the White House. So despite her power, she is beatable.

And that's what Bernie Sanders hopes. Formerly an Independent Senator from Vermont, he is now the only one challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic ticket. He is a unique political creature in that he is honest and direct (extremely rare in a politician). Instead of falling for the usual conservative booby traps - socialism! - he simply brushes them off and speaks some plain truth. While this could endear him to voters, it is dangerous because all he needs is one shortcoming and the opposition can destroy him. The very reasons politicians have to be like they are is to preserve themselves from the inevitable failures and shortcomings that they have.

I'm very sure Sanders will lose to Clinton. He is no Obama, and Clinton is now much wiser (i.e., experienced in lying). But despite disagreeing with him, I will feel sad - he is a rare creature indeed. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

New Series: PVNR: The Man, The Scholar, The Statesman

Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao (PVNR) was the tenth Prime Minister of India (1991-1996), leading a minority government that saw India's most significant economic reforms in history, turning a large, poor and bankrupt country into one of the world's largest economies, a dynamic and young country that has pulled hundreds millions out of poverty, and established a foreign policy that re-asserted India's centrality in South Asia. He was the first Prime Minister from southern India, a scholar who spoke 17 languages and whose very essence was born from ancient Indian civilization. He spearheaded India's nuclear weapons program, which was ultimately brought to fruition by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1998.

Among right-wing circles in India, PVNR is deeply respected as the true father of Indian economic reforms, one who respected Hindu sentiments and understood them very well. He remains an inspiration to all politicians aspiring to high office for his ability to push through difficult legislation while being in a minority. Indeed, in 2015 India, among the right-wing, PVNR is the only politician who earns greater awe and respect than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This year, OTFS takes you on a journey, back to the humble origins of the son of a farmer from Warangal District in Telangana, who saw the tyranny of the Nizam, the British occupation force and finally the license-quota-permit raj, all of which he helped dismantle. We explore his scholarly mind, that swept up everything from literature to scientific computing. And then we go back to the tumultuous years in which India was ruined, indebted and left with a begging bowl, only to rise and rise thereafter.

Opinions 24x7 Presents
PVNR: The Man, The Scholar, The Statesman 
Coming Soon

Poor Bobby Jindal

Last week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal became the 13th Republican to cast his boat into the choppy waters of the 2016 Presidential elections, aiming for the Republican ticket. It is becoming an increasingly crowded ticket, although Jeb Bush appears to have an edge on account of his excellent political connections, no doubt as a result of his glorious family. Of course, without a single debate having taken place, all this is just in the realm of speculation.

However, when it comes to Bobby Jindal, the stacks seem to clearly decked against him. It wasn't always like this - mere months ago he was a party favorite. All that crumbled rather spectacularly with his recent handling of the session of the Louisiana Legislature. He has become deeply unpopular in his own state, being seen as having poorly managed the economy and even more seriously, using state machinery to push his own national ambitions. To the Louisiana voter, it seems that he took them for a ride for personal political benefit.

On the issue of immigration in particular, Jindal is seen as being a hypocrite, himself being a son of Indian immigrants and yet fiercely opposing immigration. While it is understandable that he would rather be seen as American and not Indian-American, it is a fact that he has used Indian-American funding groups when he needed them. For the Indian-American community, it seems, it is better to support a bad candidate who is 'one of their own' than support a good one who is not (caste system in the New World, basically). In India, he has become extremely unpopular for denying the inherent Indian feeling of being superior beings, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Poor Bobby Jindal. Hated in the home he had. Hated in the home he could've had. 

Sanctum Sanctorum: The End of the Cholas

The fall of the Chola Empire was as dramatic as its rise and was a result of the usual suspect: poor leadership among the later Cholas. In addition, failure to completely eliminate rivals, particularly the Pandyans and to a lesser extent the Sinhala kings of Lanka, led to an unexpected and rather comprehensive defeat. But it was not always like that. Indeed, after the vast expansion of the Chola Empire and its administrative consolidation, several competent rulers such as Kulothuga Chola I and Rajaraja Chola II ascended the royal throne and held the Empire together. In fact, Rajaraja Chola II built the Airavatesvara Temple, another great example of classical Indian architecture.

The attacks
Instead of being defeated in one fell swoop, which was quite impossible because of the vast Chola territory, it was bled by a thousand cuts, primarily from the Pandyas but also to a lesser extent from the Hoysalas, with whom they enjoyed a blow hot-blow cold relationship. The first chink in the armor came with the defeat of Chola king Kulothunga Chola III at the hands of Maravarman Sundara Pandiyan II in 1216 in Lanka. Together with their unlikely allies the Sinhalas, the Pandyans successfully drove the Cholas out of Lanka, thus losing an important province.

This defeat was compounded by a string of bad leaders. At one point, Rajaraja Chola III was even kidnapped by a local chieftain! Meanwhile, in the Kannada territory, the Hoysalas had allied with the Cholas but were really dependent on them, being held up by minor clashes elsewhere. The Cholas, being stretched by their allies, found it difficult to resist the Pandyans, who were blessed with a string of strong, able leaders including Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan. Basing themselves in the Tamil lands, they quickly took control of the Telugu lands north of it, holding the Cholas in a grand pincer.

Steady Decline
Over decades, the Pandyans steadily amassed power and territory from both the Cholas and the Hoysalas. The Hoysalas for one severely underestimated the power of their forces and were chased away from the Tamil lands to the Mysore plateau by Jatavarman Pandyan. By the time Rajendra Chola III's empire was coming to and end, the Pandyans had overtaken the Cholas as the mightiest force in the region. Based on records, the Chola empire ended with him and there was no successor. By the end of the 13th Century, one of the greatest empire's in South and South-East Asia had ceased to exist.

So it has been written.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

From a Liberal Perspective

To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party
By Heather Cox Richardson

The best way to read history is to read about the people who made it. The history of the United States is a very interesting one, as a predominantly agricultural society turned itself into the world's most powerful nation, in some ways losing itself in the process. I have been indulging in quite a bit of non-fiction these days, and this one was just begging to be read.

Now, the thing about history is that it is always a reconstruction of events and is never accurate. The reconstruction is always done to suit a particular line, and this book takes a rather liberal line to it. Therefore, while reading, it is important to distinguish between the facts and the value judgments. This book is no different and it is difficult to keep in mind that the Republican Party has really been very fluid, moving with the move of the times.

From Lincoln all the way to Bush, Jr., the book is a good compilation of all the people who molded the Party to their ideology. It is these people who build a nation and changed the world. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dealing with Failure

This last month has been quite difficult in terms of research, with two papers having been rejected by two journals in as many weeks. Failure is difficult to handle, but time heals. Unfortunately, or maybe not, time is not on my side. I have had to drop out of a Statistics course because of the work pressure - from a program that is going nowhere to a paper that I need to write urgently but which is proving to be excruciatingly difficult to. Add to the the frustration of having to meet a thesis deadline and... it's still not over. For, I have a symposium to attend and consequently, a presentation and a poster to prepare for that.

The times are dark, the journey long
The end is far beyond sight,
And yet I must move along,
And yet I must move along.
For in motion lies energy, in energy spirit.
Without spirit, there is no hope.
Without hope, what is life?

A Tragic Failure

Among the many bright faces in the Narendra Modi Cabinet that was finalize in the second half of 2014, the most powerful man is certainly Union Minister for Finance and I&B Arun Jaitley, a close confidante of Modi who won the latter's trust years ago during Modi's exile from Gandhinagar. Unfortunately, many have rightly dubbed him a 'Saffron Chidambaram' because his economic policies so closely match that of his predecessor's, whose party was roundly rejected by the electorate. And this is even more ironic seeing that Jaitley is not a trained economist, not a mass politician. In fact, the only think he is good at is wheeling and dealing through the corridor's of Lutyen's Delhi!

Jaitley's two greatest mistakes have been incrementalism and tax terrorism (his own term, ironically). Modi's victory in 2014 was built on the foundation of speed. Modi's style itself, as reflected in the successful Jan Dhan Yojana, is speed. He is not a status-quoist. Unfortunately, Jaitley is more interested in preserving the status quo than radically shifting it. If PVN Rao's minority government could drastically change India's economy, then there is no reason to believe that Jaitley cannot do it with a full majority. His slow style is one of the reasons the BJP lost in Delhi, with people having become disillusioned with the economic promise of Modi.

Tax terrorism is quite another story. The term originated with Pranab Mukherjee's retrospective taxation of profits and Jaitley made an excellent case against it as LOP. Curiously, he did not do away with it in his first budget, or in his second budget, but just promised thus far and no more. And yet, his tax officers have used MAT to continue to terrorize businesses, while the disastrous attempt to change the ITR forms saw a near-rebellion from the BJP's core middle class voters, which Jaitley had to back down from only on the insistence of the PM himself.

In short, Jaitley has been the grand failure of the Modi Government and the responsibility for that falls on Modi himself, for not dropping him for a real economist. The only saving grace has been the MoS Jayant Sinha, but that is hardly enough. 

An Irresponsible Stance

The AAP legislators in the Delhi Assembly recently passed a resolution, describing Delhi's semi-state constitutional status as some sort of an 'emergency-like situation,' which was quickly lapped up by the media. BJP has-been LK Advani, whose 'Advani for PM' adventure in 2009 had even more disastrous results than the 'India Shining' campaign in 2004, recently talked about how the Emergency can return to India. All this is not just pure garbage, but highly irresponsible.

The Emergency, imposed by India's one and so far only dictator, Indira Gandhi, was the darkest period in our democratic history post-Independence. It was not merely about state governments being dismissed or bureaucrats being made to work more efficiently. It represented a direct, socialist attack on individual freedoms and liberties. The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, endorsed by a pliant Supreme Court, was the tip of the iceberg. Far from allowing an opposition party to have any say in a democratically elected state assembly, the Emergency gave power to the Central Government to prevent anybody from having any say at all, with all dissent being disposed of swiftly. After all, over 19,000 political opponents were put behind bars, with thousands more being forced to go underground to avoid arrest and continue the resistance against the dictatorship. That is what an Emergency is like.

To describe the current situation in Delhi as being remotely related to that is foolish. If anything, the only place in Delhi that fits all the requirements of an Emergency is the AAP Office itself. The current Central Government is not just transparent in its workings (as compared to the shameful UPA-II administration controlled by Sonia Gandhi), it is quickly disbursing powers to the states to choose their own destiny. Constitutionally, the NDA does not even have the numbers to amend the Constitution on its own, unlike the Congress (Indira) in the 60s, so just about nothing has changed in 2014. And yet, the media and thugs in AAP claim that there is a virtual Emergency in India. If there was, there people would've been behind bars or worse by now.

As for Advani, Justice (Retd.) Katju best summed it up by describing him as a frustrated man who is angry that his party does not give him any bhaav anymore.

This whole sordid episode is just another example of how Modi-haters are quickly turning into India-haters. To reduce the darkest period in the Republic's history to a political shenanigan just to vent frustration on the new rulers of Delhi is an insult to all the people who fought against dictatorship in India. It is an insult to the 44th Amendment and to the very founders of the Constitution itself. Shame on you. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Long Live the Individual

The United States Supreme Court made history today, reversing thousands of years of bigotry and the unholy nexus between the state and organized religion. In a 5-4 ruling along ideological lines, the majority rules that marriage between homosexual couples in the entire United States is legal and states cannot deny it to anyone based on a reading of the 14th Amendment, an old amendment brought in during Reconstruction that still has powerful relevance today.

The question over #GayMarriage is not one of religion. If religions forbid or frown upon it, then so be it. Nobody has the power to change that but the proponents of the religion themselves. It is nobody's business to fight against a religion not their's. However, government belongs to all citizens of the state and it is everybody's business as to what the government does and what it doesn't. The proper place for government is in public affairs of society and not in the private lives of individuals. Marriage as a union between individuals to allow them to avail rights promised by law - joint ownership of property, join custody of children, joint filing of taxes, non-discriminatory right to government services, right against discrimination in other services, and all the many rights that inherently belong to free people in union - is very much in the hands of government, but only in the form of a trust. While the government may provide services to couples in wedlock, it has no authority to determine who is a couple and who is not, as long as there is no criminality involved, in the strict sense of the term 'criminal' i.e., acting and intending to cause harm to the property of others.

Indeed, even society as a whole, as represented by popular government, has no right to tell people who to marry and who not to. This judgment will certainly come under fire from the religious right, but they are clearly on the losing side of history. Priests and pastors may refuse to provide religious sanction to gay marriages, and they have their reasons to do so, but the state cannot refuse that right. For, religious officials are officers of their god, but the state is the trustee of the public at large. God can discriminate, the state cannot.

This judgment may be challenged in the future, since it was a 5-4 ruling (unlike Brown v BOE, which was unanimous and no longer open to legal challenge), but for now, the sun of freedom is shining over the land of the free. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

BBIN Ahead?

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially exchanged the historic India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement that was ratified unanimously by Parliament in the Budget Session. In that, Modi showed great statesmanship in bringing the recalcitrant Chief Minister of Bengal Mamata Banerjee aboard, who has scuttled previous attempts at finally ending a needless border problem that is simply a source of misery as an unfinished business of Partition. In Dhaka, where Modi was greeted by all shades of public and political opinion as a strong leader who could take the promise of SAARC forward, Modi made his regional agenda very clear.

Right now, we can see the contours of the Modi doctrine on SAARC. On the mainland, it is the eastern sector where Modi sees the greatest potential. The Motor Vehicles Agreement that allows free movement of supply lines between Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal (BBIN) is a landmark step towards the operationalization of SAFTA in at least a part of SAARC. It will bring benefits to the three countries that have to cross Indian territory to conduct trade with each other, while also giving India greater access to its landlocked and development-starved Northeast, a region that is very close to the Prime Minister's heart. Water-sharing and a revolution in the 'blue economy' is certainly also on the cards, a win-win situation for all sides.

On the maritime front, the Indian Navy saw its indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant being removed from dry dock. With its induction, slated for 2018 but certainly going to happen only after 2020, India's domination in the Indian Ocean will be complete, provided the Scorpene and Arihant projects reach their goals. Nonetheless, it is clear that Modi plans on bringing Sri Lanka and the Maldives, along with Seychelles and Mauritius, into a tight military engagement with India, as his recent tours have demonstrated. Effectively, in a little over a year, the BJP Government has dismantled China's String of Pearls and brought immense relief to India.

Afghan President Ghani's recent visit to New Delhi saw India pledging further assistance to the country, where 'Hindi' (Indian things) is highly popular. With thawing relations between Iran and the West, India's dream of connecting the Chhabar Port with the Afghanistan Highway system seems close, something that will mark a landmark for the war-torn country. India has sacrificed much in Afghanistan and Modi clearly intends to stay the course.

Thus, in the evolving SAARC architecture that got a new lease of life in 2014, Pakistan is losing out for its intransigence, its refusal to dismantle terrorist outfits like the LeT that target India even as it continues its own Operation Zarb-e-Asb in FATA. To make up for that, Pakistan has turned itself into a client state of China, but if it believes it will receive the benefits of Chinese investments, it need only look at what happened in Africa or Myanmar, where Chinese workers worked for Chinese companies on Chinese projects and were paid in Chinese currency, while the local population looked on. Certainly, CPEC will be important for China to free itself of India's Indian Ocean hold (and the US' Pacific hold), but the Pakistani leadership is being deluded if it believes that a few J14s from China can compensate for the country's economic stagnation. Right now, Pakistan can only generate enough revenue for defense, payroll and some state subsidies, with all other expenditure being met via the IMF, of which India is also a key contributing member. Pakistan's only hope is increased SAARC trade, but it clearly does not want that.

Thus, the Modi architecture for SAARC has the potential to turn the clock on the region's stormy past, all the way back to the days of one civilization that spanned the region. Of course, it depends on his ability to stay the course and expand the resources at the MEA, but the intent is very clear. 

On the Myanmar Operation

Last week, the Indian Army undertook a rare cross-border operation slightly into the territory of neighboring Myanmar to break camps of various insurgent groups in the area that just a few days before killed several Indian soldiers in Manipur, the deadliest attack. The operation was conducted with excellent coordination between the Army, the Air Force, the MoD, the MEA and all under the constant supervision of the PMO, a feat that in itself is quite a surprise for those who are aware of the very poor coordination between branches of the Union Government. As with every covert operation, the aim was not so much as total military victory (there are still many insurgent camps in the area and this operation only took down the most immediate danger) but to send a message. And it certainly reached the intended audience, loud and clear.

Why was this operation so desperately needed? Because, in the eyes of the entire world, India had become a soft state, all talk and no show. Nobody wants to fight a full-blown war with India because they know that, below the nuclear threshold, India would lose very quickly. The Armed Forces are a complete mess, with the IAF steadily losing squadrons to accidents and age. AK Anthony's disastrous decade as Defense Minister saw everything from 26/11 to the expansion of the Maoist insurgency. It can never be forgotten in Indian minds that the most spectacular terrorist attacks on our soil, including 26/11 and the Mumbai Local Train blasts, remain open to investigations that are going nowhere, with the perpetrators safely ensconced in Pakistan and using Bangaldesh and Nepal as their bases. Indeed, India had become the punching bag of the world, with soldiers being beheaded and civilians being killed by the hundreds as a mute Prime Minister made empty statements of condemnation.

The important message that the Myanmar Operation sent to India's neighbors and indeed, to its own people, is that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India will no longer be a punching bag with a disposable civilian and military population. As the Defense Minister rightly said, we do not maintain such a large military to preach peace. The message was heard most clearly in Pakistan, where the entire leadership scrambled for cover. Certainly, the message was received at the correct address.

The only people in India who seem to be unhappy with the whole affair is the Modi-hating tribe of Leftists, who are good for just about nothing. From being anit-Modi, they have swiftly turned anti-India. Therefore, when America was attacked, they celebrated its global crackdown on terrorism; Osama bin Laden's assassination in a covert operation in Pakistan by the US was shown as a great achievement by Obama. And yet, when India is attacked, they believe we should continue to cower down and pay obeisance to our neighbors who would want our destruction. A covert operation by Obama is a matter of celebration, one by Modi is a disgrace. These Leftists are a great disgrace unto the country, if it were up to them, India would have become another Tibet, a defeated, conquered and subjugated people, a civilization that was lost to internal bickering and unending dithering. Fortunately, we have a Prime Minister who is neither ashamed of India's military not afraid to use it when the need arises, one who is in complete control of the government to make it deliver. Truly, 2014 saved India. 

Little to Say

How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror
By Reza Aslan, PhD

The War on Terror seems to be rebooting itself every now an then. First it was al Qaeda in Afghanistan, then it quickly became the Taliban, then expanded massively into al Qaeda everywhere and now seems to be focused on the Islamic State. In this work, Reza Aslan attempts to trace the root causes behind the conflict and, while he makes a compelling historical case on wars fought in the name of religion, his prescription and analysis have very little to offer aside from rather vague discussions on a 'Cosmic War'. His only tangible contribution is in decrying George Bush's attempt, on purpose or otherwise, of paining the War on Terror as a modern Crusade against Islam, an obvious mistake. But the entire book virtually builds on this one matter.

Surprisingly, the book is good for a quick elucidation of the history of Jews and the significance of Jerusalem. It comes out finally as quite bolstering the case for Israel to claim all of Jerusalem as its own, based on a much longer history and a deeper connection than the Palestinians. Alas, this is not the central question of the book and thus, most of the analysis is left for the reader to do. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

More History than Jesus

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth 
By Reza Aslan, PhD

A slight detour from my usual staple of historical fiction to the realm of historical non-fiction brought me upon this rather controversial book by a rather controversial academic, Reza Aslan from the University of California, a man with about two decades of scholarship in religious studies. For those who see religion as the absolute truth, this book is actually rather boring, because it hardly questions the scriptures at all. Rather, it uses a very academic approach to put the stories in the scriptures into a historical context. And therein lies the beauty as well as the boredom.

This book is great stuff for academics who take their profession very seriously, seriously enough to actually apply the scientific method to everything that they believe in, including and most importantly, religion. Of course, it does have a lot of speculation, but that is unavoidable in the historical context. It is not an attack on religion, as detractors like to make out, but a historical assessment of Christianity. And indeed, not everybody agrees with it either, which is why there are over a hundred pages of notes in the end, as any scholarly work should contain.

Overall, very good reading, if you have the patience and well... the courage. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Fast, in a British Way

The Final Cut
By Michael Dobbs

Well, I took a month off from the reading circuit, mainly because I was having trouble finding something good to read after the Century Trilogy. But with The Final Cut, I returned in style, with Book 3 of the series that inspired House of Cards, first on the BBC and then on Netflix in the US. Pity I couldn't get hold of the first two books, but it's not hard to pick up the story.

The book is very fast-paced, with developments happening on virtually every page, but with a British sort of niceness to it - long discussions on manners, etiquette, procedure etc. Scenes from the House of Commons also represent a rather, well... boring scene, despite the writer's best attempts to make it sound exciting. Nonetheless, the book does end on an explosive note, some would even say inspirational. A good read for a slow day. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Welcome Break from Hypocrisy

In her interaction with the media to commemorate the first year of the formation of the Narendra Modi-led BJP Government, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced that several high-level visits to Israel following that of Home Minister Rajnath Singh last year were on the cards, leading up to the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, the first such visit in history between two countries that destiny has aligned together, for better or worse. It is no secret that a large section of India, a majority in fact, appreciate Israeli efforts to defend themselves against Hamas-backed terrorism, making the death of each Israeli civilian a big deal, unlike India which can largely used its soldiers and civilians as canon fodder while dithering in making hard choices.

Let's state it clearly: India's Middle East policy has been duplicitous and self-damaging. Support to Palestine has gotten us nothing from the Middle East. We buy oil from them at full price, unlike the client state of Pakistan that receives billions in aid from Saudi Arabia. We supplement dictatorships there by providing cheap, almost slave-like labor so that the oil wealth can be used to buy the silence of the people there, and in return we get remittances, which are a product of that slave labor and not some gift as leftists like to imagine. In return, the Organization of Islamic Conference, dominated by the Middle East, has a special envoy who basically takes the Pakistani position on Kashmir. And not to forget how Saudi Arabia funds terrorist factories in Pakistan that strike India, among other countries. This is what decades of appeasement politics has gotten us.

Israel, on the other hand, has proven to be a worthy friend despite having every reason not to. The Indian Government, dominated by the Indian National Congress, voted against the creation of Israel barely a few years after voting in favor of the Partition of India, a clear case of double-speak. While it recognized Israel, it refused to have any official diplomatic ties, despite the alleged fact that Israel's Mossad helped create RAW after the catastrophic war of 1962 with China. It was only in 1992 when the hypocrisy of Nehru could be challenged that India's greatest Prime Minister PVN Rao opened up full diplomatic ties. In 1999, Israel was the only country in the world that sided with us in the Kargil War. Operation Parakram, despite its ultimate failure, would've been a non-starter without Israel. Today, Haryana and Maharashtra are using Israeli technology to improve agriculture and drought. Every year, Rishikesh and Haridwar welcome Israeli tourists by the thousands. All this, while being treated by the Indian government as a sort of secret mistress.

Leftists routinely speak against Israel out of what they call principle. Here's a principle - a friend in need is a friend indeed. By that step, all the countries that we once courted - China, the USSR and the Middle East - have been wicked enemies, while those that we berate - the US, Europe, Israel - have been allies. Here's another fact - the two-nation theory is a lie that cannot be run in India, as it is in Pakistan. Hindus and Muslims (and other groups) in India are part of the same Indian nation. What is good for India is good for all Indians. Defense against foreign invasion and drought are things that help Indian Muslims as much as everyone else. Therefore, the idea that India should boycott Israel to 'respect' the sentiments of Indian Muslims is based on the two-nation theory and should firmly be rejected.

Israel's timely and ready assistance to India is something that deserves praise, not to be hidden behind a curtain. Prime Minister Modi's visit to Israel will be a landmark one for India and should be welcomed by all patriotic Indians. It is the culmination of an unexpected but strong friendship, bound together by nothing less than the horrors of 26/11. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

How India is Changing

There is a quiet revolution is India, one that is happening virtually under the nose of government bureaucracy and yet affecting every aspect of the country as we know it. Originating in Bangalore, this revolution is spreading across the map, led by young people with no godfathers. It is the ultimate dream of India that is being recast into a modern form, a truly right-wing revolution with people at its heart. This month, those wonderful comedians at The Viral Fever are all set to capture that revolution - the Startup Revolution.

Do watch TVF Pitchers. It's the story of India today, for India tomorrow.