The how, and why, of the bullet train

This is — I can’t seem to find the right word — a revealing speech by Narendra Modi from back when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat.

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Just another U-turn

More, from his website from when he was CM:

The decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi brand retail sector by the Congress-led UPA has been strongly opposed by Shri Narendra Modi. The Chief Minister has termed this move as anti-people.

Shri Modi said that allowing FDI in multi brand retail would mean immense harm to small shopkeepers, hit the domestic manufacturing sector and create joblessness. The Chief Minister added that this would also mean cheap good produced outside being dumped into our nation.

Since yesterday, Shri Modi has strongly opposed the diesel price hike and the decision to rationalize LPG cylinders per household. Infact, on the same day the UPA announced these regressive decisions, Shri Modi announced 100% relief on loans and 50% relief on electricity bills for farmers. This decision by Shri Modi has been hailed all over.

We all know how the diesel price thing is working out; here’s the latest on FDI.

PS: This is not to suggest that FDI is necessarily a bad thing, but merely to underline the point that so much of what the BJP opposed (even to the extent of disrupting Parliament and forcing a vote) is exactly what it stands for now. Makes you think a bit about propaganda, obstructionism, all of that…

The Center to the rescue

Just how insane is this?

A post yesterday spoke of how public sector banks, alarmed over the misuse of loans to the Punjab government, has put a stopper on further loans. Inter alia, I’d pointed at the Rs 10,000 crore scam, spread over three states, that has to do with food procurement.

So what does the Central government do? It will give the Punjab government a Rs 20,000 crore line of credit to perpetuate the scam. Because see, Punjab is doing what it is doing “in the national interest”.

Who was it who said we get the government we deserve?

 

 

Hello, Sir Humphrey

And to that end, I recommend that we set up an interdepartmental committee with fairly broad terms of reference so that at the end of the day we’ll be in the position to think through the various implications and arrive at a decision based on long-term considerations rather than rush prematurely into precipitate and possibly ill-conceived action which might well have unforeseen repercussions.

Remember that classic stall by Sir Humphrey Appleby, from the ‘Doing the Honours’ episode of Yes Minister? Now read the one below: (Emphasis added):

It is also gathered that efforts will now be made to prepare a draft action plan examining all possibilities of bringing back the famed diamond back to India from the UK museum.

That’s from a news story about the government’s ‘determination’ to bring back the Kohinoor. All that is missing is the laugh track.

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Oh, FFS!

I know election speeches are about emotive appeals, but — really?

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Electrifying news

A BJP press release dated January 31, 2016 listed a string of achievements of the Federal government, and stressed the importance of data, and of educating the public to the achievements of the government. The relevant clip:

It is necessary to show the statistics because in the Congress-led UPA-1 & UPA-2 regime, many of these indicators were moving in the opposite direction. Due to economic policies and reforms implemented by Modi government, not only have many indicators improved, but they have improved by large margins.

As statements go, this is unexceptional. It is necessary to monitor progress and to disseminate the results of governmental schemes — lack of transparency was one of the big issues with UPA-II. The problem begins, however, when the line between fact and propaganda is blurred.

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Trump, Modi and the “preference cascade”

If this is true, then in both America and India, beneath the veneer of sophisticated political discourse, there lies a primal core that cares about more basic things, like race and identity and so on. In fact, maybe the exact same impulse explains both Trump and Modi: the instinctive attraction for a strong leader who will lead our tribe well and shit on all others.

That clip from a beautifully articulated Amit Varma piece on the “preference cascade” as it plays out in realpolitik.