Weekly Update: Monarchy Walking Into Sunset? And Hindutva’s Self-Goal

The British Monarch, Her Majesty the Queen, a wonderful person because she never says anything beyond platitudes, almost always smiling, celebrated her 70th year on the British throne cutting ribbons and handing out ribbons, on the throne of the Commonwealth wheeling around the world cutting ribbons and wheezing around a few other countries , such as Canada and Australia, cutting ribbons. The 70-year Jubilee was a four-day affair with every world media showing some, all, or a bit of the four days. Music and hand waving, army march pass and street parties etc were all packed into the extended programme of celebrations. The Royal family glowed in the adulation. Even the baby royals were there to lap it up. Perhaps the leaders of many a country, must have been wondering, ‘Why can’t I have some of that’. Perhaps some will now organise a yearly jamboree of them being in power. Modiji next?

Everyone enjoyed it, except the thousands British who are anti Monarchists and want to turn Britain into a Republic. And those who are indifferent, but sulked in their front rooms as family members wanted to watch Her Majesty, while they wanted to watch football, or anything else, even Peppa Pig. And the failed exodus of thousands who had tried to escape but were returned from airports as flights were cancelled. They had to suffer watching four days of celebrations they were trying to get away from.

Or the many in the world, who remembered on these day the oppressions, atrocities and destructions visited on their communities by British colonialism in the name of the Royal family. For them, the scenes of HMQ and family smiling, while their cultures and nations are just about recovering from the poverty and near extinction, must have been a bit painful. Or as many saw HMQ and family sitting on gilded carriages, diamond studded tiaras and opulence built on treasures taken from their lands. Where are the crown jewels from, or the financial wealth of UK from?

Before colonialism, India reportedly had 25% of world’s wealth alone. In 1947, it was a country begging for food and development funds. That story is the same in many other parts of the world.

Still, as the Brits like reminding, they brought the railways to the countries. In this Jubilee year, countries should be grateful to the Empire and Royals for little mercies, so what if at the end they got poverty in return. But then how Russia got the Trans Siberian Rail, the longest railway, without British imperialism must be the eight wonder of the world.

However, Empires eventually fragment and end. Emperor Romulus Augustus is remembered for losing the mighty Roman Empire. Emperor Bahadur Shah lost the great Mughal dynasty. Both are known as losers. Queen Elizabeth 2nd, took power in 1952. By 2022, she has managed to lose almost the entire British Empire, the biggest Empire in the history of the world! Only the British can make the loss of an Empire as a triumphant victory! If Queen Victoria had extended the Empire to one where the sun never sets, Queen Elizabeth, has reduced the Empire to one where sun rises and sets at predictable times.

The Roman Empire lasted some 1400 years. The Mughals lasted a little over 300 years. From start to finish, the British Empire lasted a mere 200 years, largest and the shortest. There are many reasons for it. Many of those still exist within the British Royal family as Meghan will tell you.

The disintegration of the Empire hasn’t ended. The Commonwealth is a bit fed up with being told to be democratic but to accept the Queen as the non-elected permanent head. Many want to leave and others want rotating Presidents of Commonwealth. The Queen, they say will be the last one.

Within Britain itself, only 40% of the younger generation want to keep the Royalty. There are concerns that Royalty is seen as an anachronistic symbol of a brutal and oppressive past in British history. As the imperially drenched older generation ingrained with pomposity fades into the big sky, it seems increasingly possible the Monarchy too will fade as the last relic of an age, glorious to some, inglorious to others. It doesn’t matter how many song and dance shows are staged to make Royalty appear benign, its destructive shadow from the past lingers scattered around the world and its role in propping the class system in Britain remains. Sometimes soon that past will fade as did other empires. Unless David Icke is right, then we are in another realm.

Hindutva’s New Tava Missile

Hindutva is sometimes an aimless, groundless, mindless rocket that tends to whirr around from time to time spinning like a top falling off the edge and hitting an unsuspecting beetle beneath. It seems it has now entered that space between terracotta and chaotic neutrons where verbal travel is directionless.

No one really knows what Hindutva is, so its most fanatic adherents usually make it up as a sum of their prejudices, hates and mythical glory.

A couple have taken a pot shot at Prophet Mohammed now. Boom. It was easy beating up ordinary Muslims going about their daily business and even killing a few to end Kaliyug and revive a creationist past from 6,000 years ago when allegedly only ‘Hindus’ lived in Bharat in Dwapar Yug. The Muslim nations turned a blind eye calling it domestic issues and cultural idiosyncrasy, except Pakistan which has a few hundred of its own similar domestic issues as wannabe Mullahs beat up Shias, Christians or occasionally other communities.

The problem with Hindutva is that there is no word Hindu endogenous to the civilisation of South Asia. It is an exonym made popular by Islamic invaders as they settled in the region. Therefore Hinduism has no coherence, no philosophy, no central belief. Hindu was just a name for those who didn’t convert to Islam and Hinduism for everything that was not Abrahamic in South Asia. Then it was given a Royal stamp by British imperialist. Hindus as a category became part of census. All the very profound but different indigenous worldviews, philosophies and belief systems, such as Vedanta, Shaivism, Advaitism, Vaishnava, Carvakaism, Sankhya, Nyaya etc were packaged into one by the lazy British in a version of the usual, ‘they all look alike’.

It is difficult to develop a meaningful political ideology from an exonym or a category of convenience for the census. ‘Hindutva’ nevertheless was born to give Hinduism and Hindus an ideological identity. It is mostly an ‘anti everyone else’ ideology drawing boundaries. So hating those who don’t call themselves Hindus is part of it. They include Muslims, Christians, secularists and sometimes even Sikhs.

This time the ‘knock them down’ policy went a bit ballistic as the perpetrators hit the hypersonic missile button. Unfortunately the missile has boomerang engine.

Muslims tolerate many things, including blowing each other’s mosques, killing each other in the name of cleansing the faith, chopping heads of apostates. But attacking Prophet Mohammed suddenly unites them all. Outsiders sometimes fail to see this.

Salman Rushdie, still neurotically living and writers of Charlie Hebdo still drawing on State funds for protection should have cautioned the Hindutva forward charge brigade to know the boundaries of their favourite past time. Muslim nations stopped bombing each other (Yemen etc) and decided to stand up united for a few seconds. One by one they are lining to get an official apology from the Indian State.

At stake is $350 billion trade or part of it, a loss of goodwill from Middle East nations, and an opportunist take by Pakistan to fill in the job market that might emerge if Indian workers are sent packing home. Indian products are already being boycotted in some Middle East countries. India may have to quickly behead Nupur Sharma or at least give a humbling apology. It’s quite a feat having played some remarkable diplomatic dexterity around Ukraine only to land in a problem of its own making and attract the ire of 52 Muslim countries. It’s all in Modiji’s hands now. On the other hand the few seconds of ire may pass and pensioning off the two Generals of Hindutva might just do the trick.

Weekly Update: Sidhu Finds A New Role & Address; Prithviraj’s Identity Crisis; A Hidden Idol

Navjot Sidhu, a maverick, has hopped around many roles but hopping into jail was not the one he probably scripted for himself. Sometimes events and ‘Qudrat’ sabotage the best of plans. Sidhu first became a great cricketer, starting his rise in 1981 to dizzy heights in international arena. Sixter Sidhu was his nickname as he had a habit of hitting sixers. But even that was not uneventful. Sometimes he swore and got himself kicked out and sometimes he just walked out as he did in the match against England. Yet, his talent always got him back. Finally the sixes ran out and he retired in 1999. Not for him to the idea of buying a farm, raising chicken or growing rice.

Sidhu joined media as a commentator, then as a comedian and even acted in a film or so. He became famous for his one liners. He hopped around various stations as his tongue got the better of him at times, getting him the odd sack. Stations had to drop him, only for him to surface in a different station and finally back to the one that booted him. His talent at laughing at his own jokes before anyone else even got it, was infectious. Everyone laughed and his bank balance also laughed.

Then he started hopping in politics. First it was BJP, then independent, then Congress and he was even wooing Aam Aadmi. Perhaps he was too big or hot or a loose cannon for the control-obsessed Kejriwal to handle. In Congress he created enough entertainment to be a constant headliner in the media, a media sixter if any. Finally he was bowled out from political stardom in 2022 when a relatively unknown grabbed his Amritsar seat. Qudrat again!

Still groping around for a role after his political demise, the esteemed judges of Supreme Court obliged him with one. They gave him the title of prisoner number 137683 in Barrack no 10 of Patiala jail for a year! That was one role Sidhu had probably never expected he had a talent for, but all signs are he is playing well. He doesn’t like the paani dal (hot water with a sprinkle of masala) containing six peas and a potato slice served with crusting roti. So he has gone hungry and still grabbing the headlines.

Sidhu landed with this role because Supreme Court decided to hear a case from 1988 after a few decades. It finally came up for a final hearing in 2022 at the Supreme Court. Voyager 1, the space craft launched in 1977 reached interstellar space in 2012. So the Indian judicial system, known for its ‘justice in eternity’ has just about beaten the space mission by a year (77-2012 =35 years: 1988-2022= 34 years) and Sidhu should be grateful that our SC is faster than space travel.

Sidhu got the sentence for his slightly lesser known talent. That of landing a hard punch. In 1988, in a road rage incident he is accused to have punched a 60-year old man. The fist blow caused death.

There are going to be a lot of headlines with Sidhu tantrums in Patiala Jail. But he has company with Bikramjit, his political adversary. If he is lucky and Bhagwant Mann gets around to it, he might be joined by a few more political celebrities, possibly from Akali Dal and Congress.

Identity Crisis For Prithviraj!

As the common Indian is trying to take cover from searing heat and eating a reasonable meal a day against rising fuel and food prices, there are still parts of the nation where even more important issues such as attempts to get to the one place where a certain group will get access to God and what caste was Prithviraj Chauhan.

Religion and caste is never further than micromillimeter in Indian politics. However times slogans of unity, one nation, ekta etc. are promoted by Governments, the people have a habit of blowing up in identity politics. The very political class that doesn’t want this, also joins in.

Heat, inflation and climate change are miniscule problems compared to the caste and religion conflicts. After all they have been going on for thousands of years in India, whereas climate change issues are only a few decades old, without a pedigree.

Prithviraj Chauhan was a King in twelfth century. His last war is said to be with Muhammed Ghori. Ghori defeated him and paved the way for Islamic rule in India. He is called the last Hindu king, although others dispute that as Hindu kings continued to flourish in south India and parts of North India.

Bollywood is making a film. Chauhan is a subject that draws in box office money. Nothing wrong with that. No one is fighting over or complaining about the money.

But it is what Chauhan is being depicted as that has started another war, albeit peaceful at the moment. No it’s not something as trivial as depicting him as ‘Last Hindu King’. It’s far more important.

Chauhan has been claimed to be a Rajput. The Gurjars don’t agree. They say he was a Gurjar. The film maker is lost.

Rajputs have a national body. In fact it is an activist movement called ‘Karni Sena’ or more precisely Shri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena. In 2017 the Karni Sena even threatened to cut off Deepika Padukone’s nose for her role in Padmavaat. It became famously infamous when it started protesting against Jodha Akbar film in 2008.  That move ended with Rajasthanis having to take a bus to Gujrat to see the film.

Now the Sena wants the title Samrat and surname Chauhan to be used. They want him to be referred as Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan. They are threatening to gherao theatres around the country if film maker does not oblige.

The film maker who only wants to make a few crore rupees, doesn’t want to upset the Rajputs or the Gurjars. The title Samrat and surname Chauhan are not being used much to the annoyance of the offended Rajputs.

The Gurjars, have their own national movement called the Akhil Bharatiya Veer Gurjar Mahasabha. They don’t want word Chauhan used. They say that Prithviraj was a Gurjar and has been historically kidnapped or hisnapped (our word from history and kidnapped) by the Rajputs.

They have told whoever wants to listen, that they too have a presence from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. They can disrupt the film and stop it in all the states of India. They have filed some sort of a case. That’s a few crores gone down the drain for the producer.

The only redeeming fact is that both groups are resorting to peaceful tactics such as protests and courts, instead of a spears and talwars as would have happened at one time.

Murti In The Mosque?

In Varanasi, on the other hand, a group of women have also gone to court inspired by the BJP game of claiming every other religion’s holy place as a a building built over a hidden ‘murti’.

In this case the murti exists. It is in the territory of a Mosque. It’s probably been there for few centuries. However the women claim that they must be allowed to ‘worship’ or do puja there. Perhaps their call to the murti won’t be heard if it is in another place.

Looking on the bright side, ‘life never changes in India even for centuries’.

Weekly Update: Khan Loses Match; BJP Stunt On Chandiargh; India Tells UK To Move On

Khan The Pathan Brought Down: The great Khan Pathan, Imran Khan, has also been shafted back to earth and his assumption of invincibility punctured by the real power of Pakistan, the Army. Khan was toying with outsmarting the Army. When on the verge of being removed from office, dismissing the C in C of the Pakistan Army seems to be the favourite last desperate preoccupation of many Prime Ministers of Pakistan. But they soon realise their office is a clerical extension of the Army and not the throne of power. They get into a habitual error of thinking that because they got the mandate through votes, they must be more popular and powerful than the Army. The Pakistan Army, like armies elsewhere, does not have a single vote nor does it seek any. It has the tanks and the finance, both of which tend to be more powerful in any political set up.

Now why our westernised anti-west star, the great Imran, international cricketer and once sought after by every socialite lady in the west, thought he could become pro Kremlin and at the same time recruit the democratic mandate in his favour is a mystery. Democracy wallahs are supposed to side with USA and authoritarian leaders on the side of China and Russia. In Pakistan, it is a bit topsy turvy. The Army that hasn’t a single vote, is pro USA, while the democratic elected leader is pro authoritarian Russia.

Pakistan’s perennial problems has been a failure to institute a constitutional structure that reflects the real structure and distribution of power in the country. But it was forced by the United Kingdom to adopt a democratic constitution. The UK calls itself as mother of democracy.

Contrary to popular myth, the UK is really a monarchy and power exercised by some powerful business interests. The System is all in the name of the Monarchy. The Queen has a Government to do the running around and manage the country. The Government is elected. But the leader that pleases Mr Murdoch and a few other British Barons, usually gets the seat of power. The one they don’t like, tends to get hammered in the media, owned by powerful barons.  Even though elected, the Government rules and acts on behalf of the Monarch, not the people. In effect, the Monarch asks the people to elect among themselves a leader and a party to manage her country. Brilliant. Its rule by the Barons, for the Monarch, with the people.

Pakistan on the other hand was bullied by this Monarchical -Baronial UK to adopt a democratic system to be consistent with the requirements of that other non-democratic institution, the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth insists that all member countries be democratic as Britain supposedly is. But it has a permanent non-elected leader, the Queen. And no one has asked when will Britain become a truly democratic State, except for the Sikhs. Once in Britain when the Government patronisingly lectured the Sikhs to become modern and adopt elections in their Gurdwaras, the Sikh leaders told the Government that when the head of State in UK is elected, then they will also pay more attention to Government sermons. The Government backed off.

So we have perpetual issues in Pakistan. Power is with the Army. The Army has set up a democratic front to shut the Brits and Americans up. Meanwhile Pakistani people think they are democratically holding power to account. It serves everyone. When things go wrong, the Army blames the elected leadership and people get a chance to elect another leader who can’t sort the mess either. UK and USA are happy that the country is listed as ‘democratic’ and can tick the boxes. A bit like medieval crusades, when the converted could do anything such as rapes, pillages etc, as long as they called themselves Christian. But if they weren’t Christian, they were called the devil incarnate, child eaters, witches and any grotesque character adjective that the pious Vatican could think of for non-Christians. In modern times, the UK-USA alliance does the same for countries who are not ‘democratic’. India therefore is saved from this name calling.

Time changes but nothing changes. Let’s hope one day Pakistan will have the ability to set up a constitutional structure that reflects the levers and distribution of power as it really is. In the meantime Mr Khan has been bowled out. We hope he has enough money to go into exile in Dubai.

Chandigarh For BJP?

Well, who would have thought that one day the nationalist Hindu party, BJP would be screaming for Chandigarh to be recognised as capital of Punjab? ‘Qudrat’ (Nature) indeed is ironical.

During the militant days of Akali run Anandpur Sahib Resolution campaigns in the late 1970s and then Khalistan campaigns of 1980s, one of the key demands was that Chandigarh should solely be the capital of Punjab. The Punjabi Hindus opposed it.

Ever since the family run Akali Dal Badal came to power, the issue of Chandigarh seemed to have evaporated just as the rest of Anandpur Sahib resolution did. Now that Akali Dal can only be seen with the Hubble Space telescope from outer space, as otherwise it is no where to be seen in the levers of power, the BJP decided it was going to raise the issue of Chandigarh. Obviously it is to start a headache for Aam Admi party in Punjab, but the irony is too much not to be commented on. Fact is that in reality all BJP Punjab has to do is ask its Daddy BJP in Lok Sabha to hand over Chandigarh to Punjab. But where is the fun if it does that?

Britain Told To Look Around

The Indian Foreign Minister is not as much of a rottweiler as the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is, but S Jaishankar certainly gave the British Foreign Minister an earful. In reality Jaishankar is not aggressive at all in dealing with other leaders. He is the epitome of a diplomat. Lavrov, on the other hand can get annoyed and throw put downs with ease.

When the British Foreign Minister, Liz Truss, went over to India to give a colonial dressing down to Jaishankar reminding him that India is part of the democratic block and further told him to get in line and oppose Russia, the mild mannered Jaishankar did a Lavrov.

He told her that times had moved on and the world is in a period of multipolar power blocks. India will make its own decisions and not be dictated to by the Brits. Liz Truss, who likes posing as Ms Rambo in tanks, quickly belted up, took the next flight home and sat mopping in her toy tank in the back garden, firing soap bubble shots at the Indian Foreign Minister. That has not been reported or verified yet, but not one beyond possibility. Liz Truss always has the look of a Captain Britain with raised eyebrows.

Weekly Update: Biden As King Henry II; Badals The Invincible; Slap Gets The Oscar

The ageing King, sorry President, Joe Biden, probably forgot he is not absolute sovereign. In Poland he got into King mode and thundered in his emotionally charged but barely audible voice, ‘Who will rid me of that Pesky Putin’ or something like that.

It was King Henry II of England in 1170 who got exasperated with Archbishop Thomas Becket as the somewhat Godly Becket wouldn’t twist Christ’s teachings to suit Henry. In his court with his nearest Knights present, Henry II is reputed to have said. “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!” (or perhaps meddlesome).

Henry of course was sovereign King with absolute power. Four of his knights standing in the room, took this as a megaphone hint and went and clobbered the poor pious Archbishop (head priest of England) to death. Henry got his wish or command done. No questions asked and no Government enquiries, police investigation or charges.

When Biden said “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power” at a public function for every bounty hunter in the world, every wannabe assassin and all his arsenal of intelligence services to hear, the world went a bit, ‘What!’. He even spoke on a mic live on TV so it was loud and clear. Every news channel worth a penny or paisa was broadcasting it.

Times have changed. The President of the world’s foremost power that is meant to police international law and order, democratic accountability, and State sovereignty all across the world (except in USA) just seemed to have said, ‘go break the law, fulfil my wish’.

Every leader of almost every NATO state distanced itself from this, plunging America’s already faltering status further into a hungry blackhole. Even Britain’s Boisterous Boris took cover.

America’s first minister to the leader, the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, quickly did a somersault and tried a damage exercise saying, ‘He didn’t mean what you think he meant’. English language has its advantages. It can apparently be translated in several frames of hermeneutic dexterity.

In contrast to the 1170 court of Henry II, the four knights of the United States of America 2022 who were probably meant to get the hint, charge on Putin and dispose him in the way they do, went underground for the first time. The CIA, the FBI, the State Department and Homeland Security, all with ‘unlimited licences to kill’ responded, ‘not my job’ or ‘not done this way, Boss’.

It is possible that Biden got carried away in Poland. It has a lot of old castles and lots of stories of monarchs with great powers and gory deeds in the past. Its current President also ignores EU when he wants to. Biden thought as head of the most powerful country (or once most powerful country before the Taliban ran it out of Afghanistan with WW2 weapons and sandals) he could do a Henry II. Even the megalomaniac Trump didn’t go that far. But Biden has a history.

Badals The Invincsibles

It seems that some political parties have a unique approach to politics playing ‘loser takes all’. The family firm, the Indian National Congress, has been doing this for nearly a decade. Losing seats like a drying stream evaporating water in summer heat, the Congress has repeatedly placed its faith in the unwinnable leadership, the Gandhis. Rahul who has the look of a fish out of water in politics, has had numerous votes of confidence confirming his ‘extraordinary leadership’. Move over Indira Gandhi, Rahul will reign Congress longer than you if the losing streak carries on.

Now it is once great party, the Akali Dal that is outdoing the Congress. From a formidable 75 seats in 1997, it has now landed hard in 2022 with just three. This is the party that once defeated the might of British Empire in the plains of Punjab. It is the party of the Sikhs in the Sikh heartland!

The decline has been inversely proportional to the level of confidence expressed in its leader Sukhbir Singh Badal. It gained just 15 seats in 2017. Every Akali flocked around him saying ‘great result, only Sukhbir can save us’.

In 2022, it has been reduced to a rump. So much so that 94 year old senior Badal who will probably be fighting elections even from his dying bed when he gets there, and son Sukhbir Badal, both lost their seats. The message of the Punjab voters seems to have gone with hypersonic speed through one ear out of the other ear. Consequently, all the Akali Dal (Badal) high command got together and elected Sukhbir as the best Akali leader ever. ‘Only Sukhbir can lead us to victory!’ And its not even a Pollywood comic.

The Akali Dal (Badal) perhaps took its cue from another sister party, the Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar. Its leader Mann gets elected unanimously after losing every election with the promise of the one messiah that will lead Sikhs to political nirvana, despite the fact that almost no one wants him to.

There must be some logic in this somewhere. As long as these parties were winning, there were constant criticisms and challenges to the winning leaders. But when they started losing, there started unending bowing to the ‘dear leader’, knees first.

Will Bollywood Follow Hollywood

Bollywood has a habit of copying Hollywood. It copies films, dance style, stories, even character types. After all it is celluloid. If it does not mimic life, it mimics competitors.

Hollywood has its Oscars, Bollywood has its International Indian Film Academy. The word Academy gives it a pretence of the Hollywood Academy Awards.

Since Bollywood likes to Indianise or Hindi-ise most of Hollywood, one wonders if in the next IIFA there will be a version of the Will Smith drama simulated in the award ceremony. It’s good for the rating and the mimic game.

As every Bollywood wallah knows, Will Smith couldn’t stomach a joke at his wife’s expense made by Chris Rock. So he got up and threw a right (or may be left) hook or slap on Rock right in the middle of the ceremony while the world was watching.

He even swore in the bargain. Many thought it was an act. But it was real. Will Smith apologised when he went to pick his own best actor award.

We don’t know what it will do to Will Smith’s image. But it certainly got the Oscars more audience than the Ukraine war which is reaching a fatigue point with audiences. Everyone is talking about ‘not talking about’ Will Smith and that slap or outburst. ‘Did you watch that Simi, Bunty or Radha or whoever?’ It is burning out the social media. It is headlines on the main media.

So wait for good old mimic Bollywood version of this in the next IIFA. It may not be an exact narrative, but the crystal ball says there will be some drama that will get IIFA in the news. You heard it ‘prophesised’ first as Saturn joins pattern.

Weekly Update: Modi’s Bypass Fear, Trudeau’s Wilting Ideals, EU’s Dual Standards

Bypass Still Haunts Modi: Ever since the very very close miss with death at the Punjab Bypass where Modiji was stuck for 30 minutes, as open target for all of India’s enemies and Modi’s enemies, the Indian Prime Minister has been having foreboding hauntings.

The Bypass drama has confused almost everyone except the BJP. No one can identify what the threat to Modiji’s life was on that fateful Bypass where he got stuck due to his own security decision. It was one of this notebandi type spur of moment decisions. An avid fan of helicopters, he decided to go by road only to get stuck when there was ‘rasta roko’ by farmers. He got stuck on the top end of a bypass and since then has been haunted by ideas of conspiracies.

Although no one has come forward to say, ‘array mauka gwah diya’ (Oh! We lost an opportunity to get him). But Modiji is still convinced that it was a conspiracy, even if it was of his own making.

So last week in UP, Modiji, nervously convinced of conspiracies, again bellowed out that despite others wishing him dead, he is still here. This time he wasn’t stuck on a Bypass. In fact he was only stuck in front of his chosen audience at a rally in Uttar Pradesh elections.

So what was the conspiracy that was threatening him? According to Modiji, there is a great conspiracy. And he was able to point to the evidence. According to him, ‘People are praying for his death!’ As a yogi, he probably fears prayers. Except…

The main rival of BJP in UP, Akhilesh Yadav, had made fun of Modi’s frequent visits to his constituency (Varanasi) and gesticulated why he was doing that, ‘People spend their last days in Varanasi.’ Yadav was suggesting that Modi was frequently coming to Varanasi as these were the last days of BJP in power in the state.

But hypersensitive Modiji sees more than a conspiracy in these words. Emotionally he said, ‘They are praying for my death!’ It is said people do go to ask for wishes in Varanasi and take a dip in the Ganga. But to make a connection from Yadav’s political pun to ‘prayers for my death’ seems a rainbow bridge even the mythology might find difficult to build.

I wish Modiji long life, but sometime morning sadhna can take you into different realms of inferring reality and simple jokes. That Bypass has been a traumatic experience.

The Messiah’s Ideals Wilter

Canada’s Trudeau likes to give sermons to the rest of the world on human rights, morality and conduct. Currently he is busy telling Putin how to behave. In 2020, he and members of his Government publicly lectured Prime Minister Modi on the need to respect peaceful protests. This was when the farmers had peacefully besieged Delhi with tractors, langar and chai pakoras to save their farms. They were there protesting peacefully. The Indian Government fearing that pakoras could win the aam admi, decided to send the crack police forces to break up the protest.

The right to peaceful protest is enshrined in international human rights law as Trudeau lectured from Ottawa. India at the time hit back and said that Canada was one of the main reasons that the laws were being introduced as Canada had been objecting to MSP (Minimum Support Price) for crops at the WTO. Having been exposed as the cause of Punjab farmers’ dilemma, Trudeau, his Government, his party and all the Sikh Canadian MPs shut up like Trappist monks.

Now the issue of protests has boomeranged. Thousands of Canadians decided to protest peacefully in the capital city and outside the Canadian Parliament. They are anti-vaxers and do not like a law to force truckdrivers to vaccinate against Covid or lose their jobs.

Two very different protests but similar principles. The Farmers of Punjab were fighting for their livelihoods. Modi government got concerned about the growing discomfort around the world at his heavy handed attempts to break peaceful protests and decided to ‘respect the right to protest’. The Messiah Trudeau was right to point out India’s obligation to permit peaceful protests, even though he was lighting the fire that caused the protests in the first place. Some messiahs play God by being the cause and the adjudicators of how people react to the mischief.

Until it happens to them. The gods (not God) get quite angry when some one tests them for the principles they pontificate to others. Some messiahs do that. Little gods, messiahs and rest of mortals live in different dimensions.

So as the anti-vax Truckers were refusing to move, making the life of ‘hard working’ elite politicians a bit difficult as they tried to go into Parliament. The Truckers’ right to protest became a subject of little god’s law. The messiah Trudeau, suspended their accounts, and sent in the riot police, beating quite a few of the truckers and violently detain many. The peaceful protests of the truckers were ended by the violent methods of a messiah preaching human rights and peace to others.

However the wonder of all this is, Indian politicians and media didn’t remind Trudeau of his sermons to India! Nor did UN Human Rights bodies. Perhaps the right to peaceful protest, like many other things, is only when it doesn’t affect the framers of these rights. Or perhaps western messiahs like all mythical gods are in their own league. People don’t expect them to follow what they preach to mere mortals.

And Freedom of Expression Is…

The west is further confirming that what it preaches is not what others should expect it to follow. One of the strongest pillars of human rights and freedoms is the right of expression and free speech. The west promotes it everywhere and monitors it. African countries, China, India and even the Taliban all get constant lessons on why freedom of speech is a fundamental right from the ‘enlightened Europeans’.

I totally agree, Freedom of Expression is fundamental and it should never be compromised. Nor should the media ever be penalised, banned or censored by authorities simply because the State does not like what it says. It is a ‘universal right’ applicable universally except where universal principles are developed.

Am I talking about the Godi media? Sadly not. I am drawing attention to the very champions of free expression and free media. Europe.

In its desperate efforts at supporting the Ukraine Government to fight against Russian invasion or ‘special operation’ depending on who is defining it, the EU has decided that it is going to ban Russian TV (RT) and Sputnik. The EU says that both are spreading ‘propaganda’!

It is difficult to convey the double standards. Nearly all media in the west including the self-certifying acclaimer of balanced reporting, the state owned BBC, have a political position. Reporting and programmes are heavily biased either to the left or the right, or to some other politics or the national narrative on foreign policy. There is no such thing as an objective balanced media in the west.

As would be expected, RT and Sputnik, report news with a Russian State bias. As Russian media, they naturally try and contest western interpretations of events on the ground.

The freedom loving democratic Europeans find the critique of their own reporting a little uncomfortable. For instance RT concentrates on statements by Russia and its friends such as China or others on need to address security concerns of Russia around NATO expansion if there is to be meaningful discussions to end the Ukraine conflict.  European media has promoted the war as efforts of a deranged dictator (Putin) trying to restore the Soviet Union. It is almost quite on issue of NATO expansion and hasn’t to date explained why NATO wants a base in Ukraine.

Clearly the two explanations are at odds and in a genuine environment of freedom, both sides can blast their versions loudly and allow people to make their own minds.

Not in freedom loving, ‘independent media’ Europe. Unfortunately for them a lot of people are watching RT to get the other side of the story. Ordinary people are always a bit suspicious when their leaders start calling other deranged etc. They want to hear both sides of the story.

So the alter of free speech, France and rest of Europe, are banning RT! European States do not trust their own citizens to not fall to RT ‘Propaganda’ as they call it and are taking steps to prevent their citizens’ exposure to ‘vile fake propaganda’ as they label RT! Germany was among the first to ban RT. Poland followed suit and rest of EU is on track.

However, in oppressive, dictatorial, tyrannical Russia under a madman as Guardian, BBC and EU media would like us to believe, CNN and BBC can freely transmit. Not only that, they have been able to interview many war dissenters, including politicians and families of Russian soldiers. 

In Europe, including UK, politicians are scared of going on RT. The ex Scottish politician, Alex Salmond, who did a regular feature has been hounded by the British free media and has exited from RT. Europe says the war in Ukraine is about protecting ‘our liberal’ values. Whereas in Russia, one of the dissenters is the daughter of the spokesperson of Putin! She still goes shopping in Moscow without being harassed and her dad is still in the job in the office of the so called ‘tyrant’ of Russia! Even chaos theory cannot explain the logic of these facts.

Seems we are in a different world of reality now. It’s a bit confusing what freedom of media exactly means and what democracy and liberal values mean. Suddenly our cranial synapses are having to readjust to different explanations of liberalism. Or may be we already have a saying, ‘Pandey says. Do as I preach, not as I do’.

Weekly Update: Gasbag Gunboat Diplomacy, Hijab Row & Yogi’s Maya

With pop guns blazing from her mouth and a dance of eyebrows that mimicked Clint Eastwood in A Few Dollars More, Liz Truss, Britain’s Foreign Secretary (Foreign Minister), went to meet the savvy, experienced Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov to tell him ‘Clear out or….’

The amused Lavrov waited for the ‘or…’. It turned out the gunboat waiting outside Kremlin was threat of economic sanctions and the prophecy of a dangerous war that Britain won’t get involved in but will sell weapons in.

One of the most experienced diplomats in the world, Lavrov made comic of Britain’s diplomatic initiative and said it was like a mute talking to the deaf and called her style, ‘shouting slogans from the tribunes’. The British Foreign Minister thought he was calling her ‘mute’ and immediately retorted that she was certainly not mute in the talks making herself look even more silly.

But that was not the only banana slip. During the talks Lavrov asked her a ‘trick question’ whether she recognised Russia’s sovereignty over regions of Voronehz and Rostov. ‘Never’ said Clint Liz Truss Eastwood making lip contortions as if spitting tobacco on the floor just as Clint does on screen. Liz, who had done as much homework as her Boss, Boris of Global Britain does before a meeting, thought Voronehz was Donbass. She probably didn’t know where Donbass was either.

By this time Lavrov probably felt like a University professor asked to do an oral viva of a student who had less knowledge than a nursery child but attempting a degree exam. It was the British Ambassador who quietly reminded Liz Truss that Voronehz and Rostov were Russian regions just as Midlands and Hertfordshire are in Britain.

During colonialism, the British had perfected a unique form of diplomacy called gunboat diplomacy. There would be a few ships with cannons loaded and pointing towards the Chief’s house while the British representative would engage in ‘diplomatic negotiations’. It went like this:

Brit Diplomat: ‘Chief, we want your land to dig gold and we will give you these shiny plastic beads in return.’

Chief: ‘Not acceptable.’

British Diplomat: ‘Ok that boat there will make our opening diplomatic statement.’

The cannons fired killing half the village and the Chief.

This particular type of British diplomacy worked well during colonialism. Now everyone has big cannons and the Russians some hundred times more than British Army. But habits die hard. The British Foreign Office still sticks to the old and tried methods. So its minister went to the Bear’s den to tell Lavrov, ‘Clear off or….’

Imagine Lavrov’s disbelief! In a war between Britain and Russia, the British Island will be frazzled within 15 minutes out of sight, making the channel crossing a long journey between France and America without any recognisable land mass in between.

The British Foreign Minister, Liz Truss, hoping to oust Boris the Boss, came back to Britain thinking she had put Lavrov in his place with her gunboat diplomacy and looking tough and determined. To the many old Brits, this playacting reminds of old days and they love it, even if it is only drama now. She will get their votes.

As for the sanctions, the Russians know that the threat of freezing their ‘slush money’ is non-starter. Britain owns 90% of ex pirate Islands now used for ‘keeping safe illicit money or money away from the taxman.’ The arrangement works in secrecy. If the Government freezes funds of one person, the whole edifice will start to come apart exposing British Oligarchs as well. Not a chance that British impose real sanctions.

Karnataka Going French

It was just the French who were afraid of women’s clothing and brought in the full force of the law against little girls wearing hijab. Now it is the brave men of Karnataka, the Hindu Rashtra soldiers, who feel their identity, masculinity and Trishul power draining existentially when they see an 8 year old girl with a Hijab over her head.

It seems romantic revivalism of the Kshatriya soldier has had the same effect on the men of Karnataka as the French revolution did on the French.

Both have huddled in numbers and passed laws banning the threatening and dangerous piece of cotton or polyester clothing over the head of young women. Imagine little girls saying, ‘Mummy, why is that man going pale and trembling when he looks at my hijab?’

The police, the Government officers and the teachers have forced little girls to ‘TAKE OFF THAT HEAD SCARF’, called hijab. The men can feel safe in Karnataka. Onward march the soldiers of Krishna, now that they have removed the most powerful defence equipment that was hampering their progress in what ever they think they are progressing to.

Only problem, when is a hijab not a form of chunni. dupatta or vice versa. Women have been covering their heads in South Asia since time immemorial. Even Sita covered her head. Will all young girls in Karnataka be subjected to naked heads! No more chunni! That is what the French did.

It is quite a sight to see a French Foreign Legion trained soldier reduced to a weeping, melting body of tissue when he sees a schoolgirl with a hijab. So it was understandable the French had to ban head covering. It is a quirk of French cultural genes as no one else in the world was inflicted with this fear psychosis of the hijab. Now it seems the genetic mutation has reached Karnataka. It would have been better to ban Air France.

Can ‘flyover superman’ Modi ji come to the rescue?

Moksha Elections Continue

It was a belief held in ancient times that this world is ‘maya’, an illusion. Moksha is when the soul leaves the body and joins the great ‘Brahma’. That belief sustained Hindus for thousands of years. Hindus survived alien occupations, wars, and oppressive regimes knowing that all that takes ‘form as matter’ is ‘maya’. Yoga and meditation were geared towards that.

Now Yogi Adityanath, perhaps having done enough yoga and not seeing any Mokshastan in sight has decided that it will be Hindustan that will be made into Moksha basti. The concept of Maya itself has become illusion and reality is to make first UP, then Hindustan, free of Muslims. So his tirades against Indian Muslims continue and an underlying theme of elections in UP.

One will no longer have to persevere through Yoga, Simran, Samadhi, Dhyan. People can just go to the voting booth, put Yogi ji in power again and Moksha will be in sight. And its all thanks to the genius of the British.

The power of British invention of democracy is extraordinary. Seems Westminster style democracy panth beats all other Indian panths and can achieve moksha in mayaland too.

Weekly Update: Mandir Politics In UP; Kisan Morcha Aasabad; Theatre At Mother Of Parliaments

UP Elections: GDM Not GDP Growth

Asaduddin Owaisi, the leader of AIMIM has accused both BJP leader Yogi Adityanath and the SP leader Yadav of competing to be ‘greater Hindu’ ahead of the UP elections. Both Yogiji and Yadav ji have been trying to convince voters that they will build bigger Mandirs and are the real protectors of Hinduism. Yogi of course uses the Babri Masjid-Ayodhya claims to fame. To out do him, Yadav has inaugurated a Lord Parshuram Mandir in Lucknow on the banks of Purvanchal Expressway.

The temple was built by UP’s Samajwadi Party leader Santosh Panday. Not to be outdone, BJP responded the next day with its Deputy Chief Minister of UP, Brijesh Pathak, unveiling the statue of Lord Parshuram at the Hasoveer Temple.

Temple politics is big in this largest of Indian states. The BJP took lead when its ‘base’ the RSS demolished Babri Masjid and started building Ram Janam Bhoomi temple in Ayodhya with the  Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi having laid the main foundation stone on 5th August 2020.

Seeing that UP is more interested in Mandirs than food security, jobs or housing, Yadav revised his manifesto and put building an entire city after Lord Vishnu as one of his election pledges. So not only one temple to Lord Vishnu, but an entire city in his honour. The city will no doubt have Vishnu City Council, Vishnu City Football stadium, Vishnu city General Hospital, Vishnu City High Secondary School, Vishnu City Police Station, Vishnu City market and all other Lord Vishnu landmarks and institutions that cities have.

Meanwhile BJP has made rebuilding Mathura along the lines of Ayodhya as one of its key manifesto pledges.  While Yadav has refrained from attacking Muslims in UP, Yogi Adityanath has not been shy of this. The BJP has been branding Akhilesh Yadav as pro Muslim and Yogi has been raking up history of firing on karsewaks in the 1990s by the regime of Yadav’s father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, when he was CM.

Owaisi, the leader of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Musalimeen, was quick to pick this up and made the rhetorical statement that both Yadav and Yogi are in competition about who is a greater Hindu. It’s a tough one coming from a man who has been competing to become the greatest Muslim and therefor represent Muslims in India.

Unemployment, price rises, farmer’s issues, polarisation and development all seem to be taking a bit of a back seat. UP is famous for caste politics but the smaller caste groups seem to be engulfed by Uttar Pradesh obsession with GDM, that is Gross Domestic Mandirs than GDP, Gross Domestic Product index.

At this rate the main competition between states in future may not be who feeds the most mouths, has best education system or most peaceful state, but which state has the most mandirs. One for budding economists to watch and make a name.

Kisan Morcha Aasabad

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha has sent a memorandum to the President of India charging that the Kisans have been betrayed by the Government that had given assurances on six outstanding issues. The Morcha leaders, the ones still left standing after some have gone on to fight elections in Punjab, feel a bit let down by Modiji.

Why they expected the assurances to be kept is a wonder. Before he became Prime Minister, Modi had promised gravity defying promises. They included creating 2,00,00,000 jobs a year, a shelter for everyone and bring back black money. Every Indian was to get ₹15 lakh in their bank account. Farmers’ income were going to double.

So far, a few lakh jobs have materialised since 2014, somewhere in lakhs rather than crores. Shelter is still nature’s blue sky interrupted by smog over many heads. And bank accounts have yet to start being fed any proper money. Black money is nestling where it is and grown with interest and further investments. Modi’s policies made farmers saw a threat to their meagre income and they decided to protest.

Kisan memorandum complains that the Modi Government had promised to withdraw all cases against farmers with immediate effect. Yet no action has taken place. The Union Government is saying it is waiting for state governments to sort out paperwork. Farmers are still getting summons. The memorandum complains that the Union Government hasn’t even written to state Governments.

A committee to ensure MSP was to be formed. However no committee has yet even been contemplated let alone formed.

Moreover, the Government is moving ahead with the Free Trade Agreement with Australia that will threaten the existence of dairy farmers.

Modi has a history. In 2015, he gave a promise to the Sikhs in London that all political prisoners will be released immediately. Seven years later, quite a few still remain in prisons, waiting for this state government or that state government to finish its paper work.

Paper work is one of India’s great political tool. In the age of internet and online Adhaar Card technology, the bureaucrats can still bring anything to stone-age speed with ‘paper work’.

Yet despite all broken promises, Prime Minister Modi has maintained his popularity. It is an art, a gift, that has served the BJP well. It is what brought the Kisan Morcha to end. He has made the promise, but keeping that is for another ‘yug’, if that ever comes around. Yugs are in millions of years.

The Farmer leaders have splintered. The morcha got the laws repealed. Yet like one of those horror movies where the undead arise again, the laws are likely to come back in another form. One can sympathise with the farmers and hope this time the Modi Government will actually keep its promises. They live in hope –aas.

Theatre At Mother Of Parliaments

One of the interesting facet of the international community of States is that there is always some leader some where providing enough eccentric or maverick behaviour to keep the headlines running, journalists in jobs and the world entertained. From Berlusconi’s Bunga Bunga parties, Kim Jung Un’s pointless Missiles hitting whales in Oceans and Trump’s anti vax tirades, the world has some leader somewhere hogging the media. Now it is Britain’s Boris Johnson who is providing the political entertainment.

Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is a man who likes reckless challenges. During Covid lockdowns when he was going on TV to tell the rest of Britons to stay at home, not to visit relatives or friends, not to have any parties etc, he was busy doing precisely the opposite. There were parties galore at 10 Downing Street.

Caught out or rather outed by his ex-advisor Dominic Cummings, Johnson faced a huge backlash in the media and from MPs from his own party, the Conservatives. But Britain is old hand at managing accusations, a trick learnt by Indian Government too. It set an enquiry or a committee.

The first person to lead the enquiry had also been involved in a party. So he was replaced by another civil servant called Sue Gray. She has finished her enquiry but the British Police, more precisely Scotland Yard, whose Chief owes her continuing job to Johnson Government, has delayed publication by saying it has to ‘investigate’ some of the law breaking. Police investigations, as anyone knows, can also by Jugo Yug (eternal)

Meanwhile the people, now used to Instagram attention spans, are getting fed up with the delays and want to move on. That is what is happening.

Johnson has been given a lifeline by Putin. Putin has amassed forces at the borders of Ukraine. Johnson knows that Brits like wars or pretend they are still a world force to be reckoned with. So Johnson now bellows threats at Putin. Putin must be amused at these juvenile threats and has even given an audience to Johnson to add to the charade of Britain’s comic Global British Power.

In the meantime, the mother of Parliaments, Westminster, seems to be in a state of ethical dementia as MPs from Conservative party up hold the ‘highest’ standards by admitting openly that their leader is a pathological liar but they are still examining whether there are grounds to  remove him!

Weekly Update: The Flyover PM; Putin’s Khrushchev Moment; Political Petri Dish

Prime Minister Modi’s attempt to do a flyover visit in Punjab and get stuck over a flyover is a skit for satire if it wasn’t for real. The repercussions are still going around the social media with all sorts of threats, counter threats and allegations. The Prime Minister himself, who no doubt could easily get a job in Bollywood were he to lose his current role as ‘leader of India’, was as dramatic as ever.

‘Tell the CM I made it live to the airport’. Precisely who was threatening him is also a mystery. ISI? ISI don’t know what to do with a target if it was standing in front of them. They only work through ‘underground agents’ after coasting the target over weeks, if not months. ISI likes ‘clever’ games. It is a habit. Besides, that would have led to a war and ISI, for all its anti-India activities, isn’t quite ready for a war. Let us rule ISI out.

Sikhs? Why would Sikhs want to kill him? They just won the farmer protest having damaged him beyond repair. Modi is like a dead man walking in Punjab. Punjabis don’t respect losers. He lost and no point on inflicting more on him. His very presence is their victory. Some farmers simply obstructed his path and told him ‘Delhi wapas ja Bharava’ Go back to Delhi brother.

A Congress wallah? The Congress only kills people through the police and Army. They did enough in the 1980s and 1990s. They don’t do Jhatka, i.e do the work themselves.

It seems the only people threatening the beloved Modiji were Modi Bhakts. There was a bus load who were suddenly elated that they came almost face to face with their god and collectively said several times. ’Modi ji ki Jai’.

Modi ji, who doesn’t even give press interviews or face people directly and only speaks at big rallies through a bullet proof glass wall, was suddenly physically confronted by the sight of his worshippers in close proximity. He was obviously unnerved. This was a new situation for him since becoming PM. They are meant to be behind ropes and barriers, clamouring to touch his feet, not two yards away on a flyover. He misread their adulation as threats.

But what was Modiji doing in Punjab? After the protests ended in November, there were no hugs or stuffing laddoos in each other’s mouths. He took back laws. The Punjabis are still suspicious. A committee has been formed. But he decided to go over to Punjab. He probably thought to say, ‘No hard feelings’. The farmers probably thought he has come over to show that he is still Boss.

For a seasoned politician, it seemed a bit naïve to think that he could go over to Punjab and be greeted with garlands. The protestors had occupied several roads to stop any Modi Bhakts to get to the ground where he was going to speak. But they got lucky and managed to stop Modiji himself from getting to the ground, which was going to be mostly empty anyway.

For a ‘helicopter’ PM who flies everywhere, travelling on an Indian Road must have been an experience itself. And then getting caught over an India made flyover with no opportunity for a helicopter to ‘save’ him from his Bhakts, must have been another nightmare.

Instead of complaining about the hapless Punjab Chief Minister who had made all arrangements for Modiji to get to his empty ground by helicopter, Modiji needs to haul his transport minister and order him to build better flyovers. Flyovers where a helicopter can land and whisk the dear leader off, away, from his fans. Meanwhile his statement, ‘Buch je agya hun’ (I have come back safely), is causing roars of amusement in Punjab, further denting his muscular profile. ‘Kis se Buch ke ayaa hae bhai’ (who did you save yourself from? Who was threatening you?)

Putin’s Khrushchev moment

Putin has gone into a high stakes poker game with the United States. Having amassed some 100,000 troops and heavy equipment on the borders of Ukraine, Putin is threatening war unless US gives assurance that there will be no deployment of NATO forces in Ukraine and Ukraine won’t be permitted to join EU. Biden and EU are so far refusing. Putin is said to be threatening to install missiles again in Cuba.

This is a rerun of the 1962 Cuban crises. The head of the Soviet, Nikita Khrushchev, decided to install missiles in Cuba, an independent Island country only some 80 miles from Florida, US coast. The US under Kennedy, circled the Island with its Navy and blocked further supplies. A threat of war was looming. The Soviet (now Russia) wanted US to remove its missiles from Turkey in return. The standoff lasted about a month. The Soviet took away its gear. Khrushchev lost face in the Soviet and had to resign for showing ‘weakness’.

Strongman Putin now faces the same dilemma. He started a political poker which will only conclude with him or Biden losing face. For some time Ukraine has been seen as a possible NATO army base. Ukraine has also been openly saying that it will join the EU if permitted. Both are seen as evidence of Russia’s loss of power in that region.

Putin took over the Crimea in 2014 and part of Eastern Ukraine (Donbas) in some swift moves. The Eastern Ukraine is not strictly in Russia but is de facto Russian territory. Putin decided to threaten war and take over Ukraine if it doesn’t give up attempts to join EU and have NATO base. A NATO base is seen as a threat too near Russian border.

Treating Ukraine as a puppet of America, Putin is dealing directly with the US and NATO rather than Ukraine. Putin has said that the situation is similar to the Cuban crises of 1962.

Both US and NATO are refusing to budge citing Ukraine’s sovereign right to chose what it wants. As days go by it seems Putin may have little choice but to either backdown or invade. The west is trying to call Putin’s bluff, trying to see how far it can push Putin’s tolerance.

Sooner or later, Putin will have to chose if there is no movement on the discussions. If he deploys missiles in Cuba, that might be seen as too provocative. If he invades Ukraine it will be very costly for both countries. The economic crises that Russia will face afterwards will weaken him. If he backs down, Putin will be weakened as a political strongman in Russia. Either way, he has problems.

If Putin attacks Ukraine, Biden will face a barrage of criticism in USA from the Republicans. It will distract from the enquiry into the attempted insurrection of Capitol Hill. It will be the second country Biden administration will have failed to live up to a promise of protection (Afghanistan).

All indications are that this is leading to a war barring a last minute diplomatic breakthrough in the talks.

The Political Petri Dish

Look down a petri dish under a microscope and one will see bacteria or other organisms wandering around aimlessly from one end to another. Politics in India seems similar. With no clear agendas except caste, communalism or unachievable promises, the parties have little to differentiate between themselves.

So politicians often see parties as career ladders rather than organisations of conviction and loyalty. So it is in UP. A number of BJP MLAs have defected to Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party. They say that BJP is only interested in working for the big corporate houses and not representing the backward castes or the poor. The BJP in turn is trying hard to woo the backward castes.

So like a petri dish culture, the politicians are crossing from one side to another. So far Dara Singh Chauhan, Swami Prasad Muarya and Dharam Singh Saini and a few others have crossed over from Adityanath’s BJP to Akhilesh’s SP. Dara Singh was in Adityanath’s cabinet.

Soon no one will know which party any candidate is in and what he or she stands for until the morning of the upcoming elections. At least that day the election commission forbids any statements so no point in political promiscuity on election day.

Weekly Update: A Bridge Too Near; Stealing Xmas; Priti Wants No More Pritis

China seems in a rush to get to the border in case Modiji calls them for chai and talks at the army posts. Or China wants to get its army to the border quicker when it decides it has had enough of talks and wants to start a bit more of territory that doesn’t really belong to it. So it is building a bridge over the lake Pangong Tso in Eastern Ladakh, an area it took over in 1962 in Sino-Indian war. China claimed that the land east of the current line of actual control belongs to it.

There has been dispute over this for a long time. In classic British ambivalence, the lines were never properly sorted. The British gave a considerable part of that region and some of Tibet to Raja Gulab Singh on paper but didn’t quite send a letter to China. Subsequently they drew new broders but apart from one border, the Royal Mail delivery didn’t reach China. So China is sticking by what it received in 1850s.

In fact Raja Gulab Singh under Maharajah Ranjit Singh had conquered quite a bit of land east of the current LOC in 1842. It seems the British redrew the boundary.

Now China wants a trade route to Karachi port to transport toys and other things made by its manufacturers. Lots of Middle Eastern people want toys and of course mobile phones and other China made things. Transporting these goodies through Karachi to Europe and Africa is also easier rather than ships going all the way through South China Sea. Hence the Belt and Road initiative is quite dear to China. Whereas India says it goes through the territory which was historically its (Ranjit Singh’s Kingdom).

So China is building a bridge to connect the northern beach of Lake Pangong Tso with the southern part. It’s only about 15 km inside the LOC. This will save some 6-8 hours of drive for the People Liberation Army (PLA) so they won’t have to go around the lake. They can get straight to the area of confrontation. Not looking good.

Stealing Christmas From Kids

The Bhakts seem to have found another distraction to promote their very intolerant-tolerant creed. Boasting of a tradition that is accepting of all, they decided that others too need to be like that. So they crashed into a kids Christmas event at a Church. There they gave the confused little ones a lecture on theology, philosophy and history and at the end told them to say Jai Sri Ram.

Kids are kids. They are still learning. They probably thought this was all part of an act. Or they were frightened and decided to chant what the Bhakts were saying, sensing that their Christmas has been hijacked in the name of pluralism or Hinduism or Hindutva.

This is turning the whole idea of Hinduism on its head. For decades, if not centuries, Hindus have been proudly saying that Hinduism is one of the most tolerant, accepting and pluralist of all religions and belief systems. But to barge into some other religion’s holiest celebration, take it over, frighten the children, the ladies (the nuns) and the elderly and force them to chant for your own religion is a new for the civilisation that Bhakts are proudly promoting as greatest. Stealing Christmas. Or they have misunderstood the Vedas. Shouldn’t the Mahasabha be talking to them?

Priti Doesn’t Want Other Pritis

UK’s Boris Johnson is so desperate for trade deals these days that he and his wannabe Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss are willing to sign a deal with India and give study and work visas to the whole of India if Modi wants. Its quite a turn around when UK wouldn’t ever hear of letting a few hundred Indian students work after finishing their education. Times change.

However it is not so easy. Priti Patel, doesn’t want more Indian in UK. There might be too many Pritis then in Britain. Well, she doesn’t want any more immigrants in UK, be they Indian, African or whoever. She is trying her best to turn the illegal boats bringing migrant people from Europe back to France. She is not having success. She is the Home Minister.

It is all a bit strange. Priti Patel was much feted in India when she became the Home Minister. From Gujrati background like Narendra Modi, there was hope that she would make it easier for Indians to come to UK for further studies in interest of knowledge transfer. It was generally thought that she might persuade her cabinet colleagues that it will be in every one’s interest. Yet it’s her opposing the very idea! And surprisingly it is Liz Truss, a right wing politician, who appears to be more in favour of letting more Indians into the country. Politics has many twists.

Weekly Update: Biden Weaponises McDonald’s; UP Double Engine Slow Start; Punjab Politics Gets Crowdier

As Russia surrounds Ukraine with over 150,000 troops, heavy weapons, missiles on standby and jets revving up, Ukraine’s ally, the United States of America has sent a threatening message to Putin. ‘We will withdraw McDonalds!’ or something like that. Biden has threatened sanctions that will be the mother of all trade sanctions according to him. ‘Ya have seen nothn yet.’ So Biden retorted in barely audible decibels as if he didn’t mean it. If he does mean it then it must mean pulling back even McDonalds from Russia along with a few other things, such as helicopters and car parts.

The US imports a lot of oil and some platinum and bit of vodka from Russia among other things. Biden says he will stop importing these. Can this war be averted by threatening to stop McDonalds or similar things? Trade between Russia and USA is not eye popping anyway. In 2019 it was a mere $10.9 Billion exports to Russia whereas Russia exported $24 Billion of stuff to USA.

Russia already has huge foreign exchange reserves twice that of USA! It has 30% of world’s natural resources. And most of its trade is to neighbouring countries such as China, Ukraine, Poland, Kazakhstan etc. If it takes over large part of Ukraine, then that trade will be part of its domestic economy.

It’s difficult to see Putin having nightmares over United States threat on sanctions. Out of $551 Billion Russian annual exports, a loss of $24 billion seems miniscule. Ukraine will have to fight its own war. As usual, USA eternal friendship is finitely tied to its interests. Just as it ditched the Afghan democratic government which was relying on USA to protect it against Taliban, it is likely to dump Ukraine’s Zelensky when Putin sends the first tanks into Ukraine.

Sanctions will also mean that USA will force its allies such as EU and Britain to stop trading with Russia. The EU is a different story. As a block, EU is Russia’s largest trading partner exporting some $107 Billion worth goods to EU and importing about $88 Billion worth goods from EU. Sanctions will hit Russia and Putin may have to think hard.

But not so hard. A lot of import by EU is petroleum which is $75 billion worth, about 70% of imports. Rest is mainly minerals. It is difficult to see how EU is going to replace this amount of oil and gas. Germany has understandably long been reluctant to impose sanction on Russia as it relies heavily on petroleum from Russia.

If EU imposes sanctions, the price of oil will sky rocket, throwing many EU economies into possible recession. Just recovering from Covid lockdowns, the impact on European countries will be devastating as they import petroleum products from elsewhere. It will hit rest of world too.

Wily old Global Britain has already said it will not send forces if Russia attacks Ukraine. Little Englanders know they don’t stand a chance if Russia nukes Britain in anger and the current Brexit economy of Global Britain can’t afford another war, especially if Big Uncle Sam doesn’t relish sending any forces to aid Ukraine.

Putin has of course calculated all this. From his position, Ukraine has been a thorn in its security. Ukraine wants to join EU thus aiding its expansion to the borders of Russia. Ukraine could also give United States military bases. Russia has already compared this to the Cuba crises that faced USA in 1962 when the Soviet was planning to install missiles in Cuba on the doorsteps of United States.

Trouble with the West is that it has demonised Russia under Putin in its media and made a number of threatening statements warning Putin not to advance into Ukraine. This rhetoric could get in the way of finding a peaceful solution to the standoff between Russia and Ukraine although they, the West, have also been saying that sending forces against Russia is out of the question!

It should dawn on Ukraine that it is in the same position as the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan which fell to the Taliban and has become the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan when USA decided it had enough of the friendship with Afghan democracy.

Although high level meetings to avoid war are between Putin and Biden, it will ultimately be up to Ukraine to either accept its fate peacefully or under force. Putin is neither bluffing nor eager for war. His terms for avoiding war are on the table. If Ukraine understands its position, it will let the West know that it will not join EU and will not invite US to set up bases in Ukraine. If not, then Putin is likely to unleash his forces and colossal firepower and take a significant part of Ukraine.

Unless of course Putin decides that he cannot do without a Big Mc in which case Biden’s threat of sanctions as retaliation for any war on Ukraine might just miraculously work. On the other hand, capitalist McDonalds may decide that it doesn’t want to forego profits in Russia and may call its burgers ‘Putin Burgers’ to get around sanctions. These wars are becoming multifaceted and complicated these days.

Double Engine But Slow To Start

Scurrying to save the BJP in Uttar Pradesh (UP) after retreat from farmers, PM Modiji has been trying his persuasive powers to win voters back to BJP. Farmer leader Tikait has dented the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the state with the largest number of MPs in the Centre. Currently, UP is under BJP ruled by the monk Yogi Adityanath with a mixture of anti-Muslim rhetoric and Hindu revivalism.

‘Double engine Government’ said Modiji, is good for UP and everybody. By double engine he means, BJP government in UP and BJP government at the national level. Modiji laid the foundation of a ₹36,250 crore Ganga Expressway which will be the longest in the state. One stone has been laid. When it will have the last stone is another matter. Characteristically he even threw in a soundbite. UP + Yogi = UPYOGI. Only in Hindi it is flattering.

Not impressed, Bahujan Samaj Party leader, Shrimati Mayawati said, “Now near election the double engine government, meaning after 10 years, the Ganga Expressway has been announced and that also in two phases” Laelo ji double engine.

Equally unimpressed, the Samajwadi Party leader, Akhilesh Yadav tweeted, “Hathras’ daughter, Lakhimpur farmers, Gorakhpur traders, unsafe women, unemployed youth, daily and backwards all are saying the present government is ‘unupyogi (useless)’ than up-yogi.”

Punjab’s Politics Gets Crowdier

Already with more political parties than districts in Punjab, the over-crowded political space of Punjab has been joined by yet another new party. Fresh from their victory, a group of farm leaders under Gurnam Singh Charuni, has announced the setting up of Sanyukt Sangharsh Party. Their agenda, ‘To clean Punjab politics!’

There are many things Punjabis can do, including forcing one of the most powerful political parties in modern India to take back laws. But cleaning Punjab politics is a task that even God may shy from attempting. Nevertheless, Gurnam Singh is going to take on this more than Herculean task by fighting all Vidhan Sabha seats and bringing in Left ideology. MSP for all, fresh from Kisan Morcha.

Maybe the impossible might be achieved, politics will become cleaner and Punjabis will stop migrating to Canada at the creak of an open door and find jobs at home instead. There are more IELT classes than jobs in Punjab these days. These could be replaced by more job opportunities. Singhu border comes to Punjab.