Thoughts on economics and liberty

How Modi can get the support of people like me, and improve his electoral prospects

Modi is an excellent speaker. He is a competent administrator. He makes (feeble) speeches in the direction of good policy although he doesn't understand either freedom of speech (he bans books) or good economic policy (opposes FDI in retail – instead of taking a more nuanced regulatory approach).

While both are deeply wedded to socialism, the Congress is better, in some ways, than Modi in terms of economic policy, despite its far worse set of leaders.

Both BJP and Congress are totally corrupt. So in most respects there's nothing to choose between them.

The great negative for BJP is its aggressive and militant (fake) "Hinduism" – which worships swords and whose leaders (including Modi) often attack (condemn) Muslims as a group (not just those who are violent).

And India remains determined to not create a classical liberal party. So a genuine good alternative is ruled out, at least for 2014.

Things are therefore pretty bad for India, regardless of who comes to power in 2014.

Tips for Modi

Swami Ramdev has given up the idea of a political party (it was for a separate political party with broadly classical liberal policies that I was actively working with him) and has thrown full support behind Modi – without explaining to me why he has done so. I don't agree with this decision of Swami Ramdev, as I've explained earlier on this blog.

Modi MAY become a good PM without changing himself, but he has to do a number of things before people like me support him for the 2014 elections:

1) He must abjure violence. This involves not holding (and waving about) any sword in any public ceremony. Can we imagine Gandhi ever handling a sword in public? Modi sends STRONGLY VIOLENT signals which overwhelm any good he may be doing. And he must ask RSS to stop worshipping swords. I even suggest a commitment to prohibit swords (except for Sikhs who can wear a small kirpan, as required by their religion). Hinduism does NOT require anyone to go about brandishing swords and other weapons. Plus he can't be both a PM and perform religious actions on the same platform. As CM/PM a person must control his religious urges in public. Lighting a lamp with a candle is acceptable, not brandishing swords. Religion is a private matter and must be kept out of politics.

2) He must take responsibility for his incompetent handling of the riots in Gujarat. Either he was complicit in post-Godhra killings (for which evidence is overwhelming, in my view, but for which he has not yet been officially found guilty by any court) or he was incompetent. Assuming he was innocent (we must give the benefit of doubt to everyone who is not proven guilty), he was terribly incompetent. He should acknowledge that as a new CM he was incompetent and failed to protect a thousand people in his state. He should say that he has learnt how to manage such difficult situations and will never allow violence under his watch again.

3) He must FULLY dissociate with the Ram temple issue, and with VHP. This idea – that he can somehow back VHP in its revival of Ram temple issue – and still become PM is ridiculous. The people of India can sense Modi's personal backing of VHP. Statements by BJP and VHP clear: they are working together. He CANNOT force his "religious" view of the world on an entire nation. Let the law decide its course, or (as I say) let the government get out of managing ancient buildings and just regulate them. That will allow the sale of that property to "Hindus". The Hindus should thereafter be required to DEFINITELY rebuild the Masjid (it was, after all, an ancient Indian monument of some architectural value) and also build their own temple on the side. 

4) He must find out who killed Haren Pandya: It is ridiculous that his own Minister (the only one who opposed him) was killed in broad daylight but the killer has not been found till date. All circumstantial evidence point to him (Modi). This is not about incompetence. It reeks of complicity.

5) He must lift his ban on books. Freedom of speech is paramount. He can't ban books even if he doesn't like them.

6) He must commit to total reform of governance and economic policy using world-best policies of liberty. He could (if he likes) use the SKC agenda (which I've already sent to his think tank for review).

If he does these things I will support him and thus BJP. And when many people like me join in support, then Modi WILL become Prime Minister.

Remember this is about INDIA, not about Modi. I don't care about any single individual, but I do care about India. Politics is, to me, about what is good for India. .

If Modi is unwilling to do these things, the country will likely reject BJP and will have a hung parliament again. India will suffer badly as a result. No one wants Congress but if Modi is determined to not broaden support beyond his violent VHP and other "Hindu" goons, then Congress will likely come back.

India will, once again, be the loser.

Instead of thinking about his brand of FAKE "Hinduism" (real Hinduism is universal), let Modi think about INDIA.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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13 thoughts on “How Modi can get the support of people like me, and improve his electoral prospects
  1. Musthafa

    I agree!

    “Assuming he was innocent (we must give the benefit of doubt to everyone who is not proven guilty), he was terribly incompetent. He should acknowledge that as a new CM he was incompetent and failed to protect a thousand people in his state. He should say that he has learnt how to manage such difficult situations and will never allow violence under his watch again”.

    This was my stand too for sometimes now. For this argument, some of my friends who support Modi said to me that he has already done that.

    One of such discussions here:

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Where is the public documentation (press release/statement) of Modi in which he admits his incompetence, etc.

  3. Shravan

    Mr. Sabhlok! Stop this flaky drivel. There is nothing politically or socially or psychologically or morally or legally wrong with a leader holding a sword. Is it a show of strength? yes.

  4. Kishan

    Sir,you have written that you don’t follow any religion but pretend to know all of them thoroughly. “Fake Confidence” ?
    1-Most of Hindu gods/goddesses (except perhaps Saraswati) carry a weapon.Even Krishna who had vowed not to take up any weapon in Mahabharata had to use the wheel of a broken chariot as a weapon.So Gandhiji’s Hinduism cannot be called the real one.His ideal Ram also killed many, at least one by apparent deceit.Yes, non-violence against all creatures is the ideal Dharma, but in exceptional cases where required, not to take up weapons is Adharma.
    2-I believe Shashi Shekhar has given you detailed account of what happened during the first 2/3 days after Godhra Train burning incident.If that does not explain to you the actual state of Gujarat in those days then nothing will, even if Modi rubbed his nose to the ground.Contrast the actions taken in Gujarat 2002 to the happenings in Delhi & elsewhere in 1984.Only Sikhs(3000) murdered in the pogrom,not a single Hindu.I saw this with my own eyes.
    That Modi has learnt the lesson you mention is proved from the fact of no violence in the last 11 years.Contrast that with the ideal secularist Mulayam under whose rule violence has broken out in UP practically every month in the last 16 odd months.
    3-Modi has not spoken anything concerning Ram temple issue in the last more than a year.
    However, Ayodhya is not about Ram, it is about re-claiming Hindu self esteem lost in last 800/900 years of repression by alien rulers.Thousands of their temples were razed to ground to totally kill their self-respect.We see the remnants of the slavish mentality even now after 66 years of independence.
    4-About Haren Pandya let CBI that is a caged parrot/slave of the current rulers in Delhi investigate and find out who killed him.
    5-Your point about ban on books is unexceptionable.
    6-May be you should visit Gujarat and see things for yourself.While ideally total reform of govt and economic policy should be the goal, but real-life situations are never ideal.Ideals by definition are rarely achieved.
    But we must keep trying and keep moving in the right direction.

  5. Musthafa

    I have not got any supporting materials to show he acknowledging his failure to stop riots.

    One link provided by my friend is this one. It is said to be his appeal on Doordarshan to maintain peace (but there is no indication on the video that it was telecasted on Doordarsan).–qgSrmS9Oc

  6. Shravan

    Feeble speeches? what is a strong speech then? one made by gandhi?

    Modi is first and foremost a politician, his opposition to FDI has a lot to do with politics and not just economics.

  7. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Please search for the actual statement so one can review, and then ‘tick off’ the issue as having been dealt with.

  8. Shaantanu

    Sanjeev – Holding sword and linking it to voilence is incorrect.
    And your point about any Gandhi holding sword – do a google image search – ‘sonia gandhi holding sword’.
    Hopefully this will show that holding ceremonial swords is not just Modi or Gandhi . Everyone does that.

  9. A

    Holding of ceremonial swords can at best be called a superstition or a PR stunt.

    (Now apparently Maharashtra is planning to legislate against superstitions ! What a superstitious idea it itself is, that a law might fix people’s thoughts! But I digress)

    I am not a fan of governments getting into matters of thought control. Governments should maintain law and order and just get out of my brain.

    As for PR stunts, leave it to those who employ such stunts, to “reap” the rewards.

    Now swords and such weaponry do irk pacifists of every kind. I don’t have a problem with Sikhs wearing turban and kirpan (small sword). But then at times use of force is necessary if only for self defense. What if the Mumbai photojournalist or her colleague been armed ?

    My point in summary is that it is too simplistic to react to the display of a sword.

  10. A

    I think now the question to be debated is of Modi vs. Modi’s media image.

    Do we know the true Modi ? Or only the media’s image of him ?

    I think the media is suspect, especially if it is seen to have censored its own creations, this interview to be specific:

    Disclaimer: The title says that this interview was pulled, I do not know if it was or wasn’t.

  11. Suren Patel

    Hi Dear All
    Please refer to a piece Modinama (a sort of e-book) available at written by Mr Kishwar who has endeavored an unbiased attempt to understand Modi in Gujarat post Godhra riots. Perhaps, after reading this, most of your questions may be answered conclusively.

    As to Vazara’s letter, it remains to be seen who is behind this and the fraudulent purpose the manner in which it has been written, considering the articulately usage of English language and denial by his lawyer that he is not aware of the letter.
    Sanjeev is correct that India is regressing very fast and to me this means a Civil War is loomimg in the very near fguture.

  12. Faiyaz

    I have never seen such a calm debate, no harsh words, no threat and no abuse. I must appreciate and thank you all for having such a peacefull conversation on such a topic. hope the trend will continue….. :)