Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, has taken up the gauntlet to be a 'Hitler', if required. Has `Hitler-ism’ worked in India? An insight
Hitler means `Fuhrer’, which connotes a ruthless, tyrannical leader. After World War II, the word `Hitler’ has come out from the literal sense of the word (which is a surname) and has metamorphosed into a metaphor that points largely to negativity of the most cruel kind, paradoxically though, ironically and tragically, peppered with a tinge of positivity.
It is in regular use particularly when it comes to a strict `father’ in a family or a stern corporate leader, with again a tinge of admiration contained in it, for the ability to be firm, disciplined and; to be committed to achieve the required goal. This time round, it has been used by K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), the chief minister of Telangana, to elevate himself to a pedestal in the public eye, to suggest his high degree of determination to implement several projects and controversial issues which are required after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh – as if to say, Hitlerism is the ultimate in deliverance!
“One says KCR is Hitler, another says KCR is a dictator; KCR is definitely Hitler for thieves. I want to be Hitler for the corrupt. I don't feel shy. KCR is Hitler to stop injustice. I can even be Hitler's grandfather," Rao told reporters in Hyderabad while defending the Telangana government's decision to carry out a household survey.
On Monday, the Congress party, launching a scathing attack, has called Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat as 'Hitler' over his remarks that India is a Hindu nation and Hindutva is the country's identity. “I thought we had one Hitler in making but it seems now we have Two! God save India!," Congress party's general secretary Digvijay Singh, a known detractor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, tweeted.
Shiv Sena chief late Balasaheb Thackeray and many other political leaders from India are quite fond of the Nazi dictator, but have not been sure how to correctly decipher and use `Hitler’ for their political benefit. So, they dilly-dally. Apparently, even Bollywood is wary of portraying `Hitler’ for they don’t know who they will hurt and how. As per news reports, noted actor Anupam Kher once dropped his decision to play `Hitler’ after his near and dear ones warned him of controversial consequences. Hitler’s autobiography `Mein Kamf’ is still sold quite well in India, pointing to the fact that the Nazi dictator’s life is still a subject of interest.
In the recent times, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, Arvind Kejriwal has been brandished as Hitler, in all its negativity. Many see his stern and uncompromising disposition and approach as his party’s miserable failure in the Lok Sabha elections and failure to have command over his followers, in a sustained manner. That’s typical Hitler-ism according to his critics.
During the pre-election Lok Sabha campaign, Narendra Modi as 'Hitler' was one of the trendy nomenclatures on Twitter - to denounce him to the hilt. Paradoxically, amongst his admirers, he as 'Hitler'- connoted a welcome tone in party circles, against the backdrop of non-governance and corruption of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. I remember one such obsessed admirer of Modi telling me in no uncertain terms, “If Modi is a Hitler, then Hitler is what we need in India!”
In 2006, two entrepreneurs ventured upon opening a new restaurant in Navi Mumbai and named it `Hitler’s Cross’ with the `O’ in the cross designed in a Swastik Motif (the much despised logo of the Nazis but having its auspicious roots in Ancient India). Satish Sablok, one of the owners, publicly stated that they had brainstorming sessions to coin such a name so as to attract public attention, after a public outcry over it. Little did Sablok realised that naming his restaurant `Hitler’s Cross’ would attract international outrage, besides local wrath.
Mumbai, which has a 5,000-odd strong Jewish community, was the first to register its protest against the restaurant’s name.
Further, it compelled the consul generals of Germany and Israel to intervene in the matter, to urge removal of the name. International media carried the story in a big way, besides Indian media, particularly some insightful editorials.
The Times of India in its editorial of 25 August 2006 wrote: “The naming of a new restaurant in Navi Mumbai after one of the world's most brutal mass murderers — changed after a week of public outrage — is a shameful example of the triumph of ignorance…
…Perhaps it would be instructive for him and his patrons to know that the stigma of the Hitler name is so great that the Fuhrer's only nephew, William Patrick Hitler, vanished into a life of anonymity in Long Island and his three sons decided to have no children so that the infamous bloodline could end.”
The story ended with Sablok and his partner apologising to the Chairman of the Indian Jewish Federation, Jonathan Solomon and changing the restaurant’s name to `Cross Café.’
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
Narendra Modi, persona non grata earlier, as Gujarat CM, would now be a diplomatic guest of honour at the White House. Can both, Prime Minister Modi and President Obama find amicable solutions for impending issues between India and the US?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be completing his 100 days in office by the first week of October this year. In this short space of time, he has taken the opportunity to meet a large number of world leaders, during his visit to attend the BRICS meeting in Brazil, and followed it up with visits to both China and Japan. In fact, only a week or ten days earlier, he would have had some serious discussions with the Chinese President Xi Jinping, not only in Beijing, but in India as well. Modi has had discussions with all his neighbours. Only, UK and Europe are to be covered in the next few months.
Both US and India are successfully operating democracies, and have a lot in common. But the relations have not been as one would have hoped. In fact, a few years ago, Narendra Damodardas Modi, as chief minister of Gujarat, was not even a welcome guest to the US and he was considered "ineligible" for a visit visa! This persona non grata then would now be a diplomatic guest of honour.
PM Modi is scheduled to visit the country and is expected to meet US President Barack Obama on 30th September in the White House. No doubt, they both have a long agenda to discuss and settle. It will be mutually beneficial in the long run.
India is Asia's third largest economy. India is a nuclear nation and a non-signatory to the NPT – Non Proliferation Treaty, which as many as 189 nations have signed. This has enabled a few lucky ones to be in the NSG - Nuclear Suppliers Group, which was set up in 1975 to ensure that civilian nuclear trade is not diverted for military aims. But when the US sealed a nuclear supply deal with India in 2008, China and some others in the group found the action questionable, as Delhi was outside the NSG. There were long and contentious negotiations before India could get a waiver. China has shown its reservations due to its proximity and close ties with its ally, Pakistan. This is one issue that Modi is likely to have discussed with President Xi in Brazil as well as in Beijing.
In the meantime, India has recently ratified an agreement that allows the IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency - to oversea its nuclear programme. It can now be assumed that during the talks with President Obama, this matter will be again raised and ways and means found to make India a member of the NSG. This is vital for national development.
India and US have had several defence deals in the past. India's import of weapons from US since 2007-8 has amounted to over $10 billion. In the last three years, for instance, India has imported Rs83,458 crore worth of weapons, out of which Rs32,615 crore was from the US, while Russia supplied Rs25,364 crore, France Rs12,407 crore and Israel Rs3,389 crore. In a recent visit of Chuck Hagel, US Defence Secretary, decisions have been made to revive the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) and also work towards the extension of 10-year Indian-Defence frame work.
Hagel met Modi, who stressed the importance of "technology transfer" and said India was keen to make further progress in bilateral ties. This included defence manufacturing in India. Both agreed to go in for co-development and co-production of weapon systems. No doubt, these would be raised again in the discussions between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi. During the meeting that Hagel had with his counterpart Arun Jaitley, it was brought to his notice that FDI cap has been increased to 49% from 26%.
However, there is the fear that US is not a reliable long term and high end defence supplier, given its spur of the moment reactions for imposing sanctions and stringent export control laws. India would be glad to work with the US, if such points can be settled amicably. Prime Minister Modi is likely to raise the issue of bringing up ground realities in asking for US support in restructuring global institutions like the UN Security Council and the International Monetary Fund (UNSC and IMF). In the case of UN Security Council, there is no longer any justification for India to be kept out; in fact, now that European Union is a reality, it would be unfair for both UK and France to have the membership of this august body. European Union should have one and it is up to them to nominate any member of the Union to be the permanent member in the Security Council.
When UNSC is restructured, it may have a total of five or seven members and, in such an event, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa could be other suitable candidates. No doubt, during his meeting with President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Modi would have raised these issues. Doubtless, he will take up the matter with President Obama so that this matter can be resolved permanently.
One other important issue that Prime Minister Modi is bound to raise relates to the US Immigration Bill. During his recent visit, John Kerry indicated that changes can be made. This will facilitate Indians.
President Obama may also seek India’s assistance in resolving some issues in the Middle East, relating to Iran, for instance, or even support in that area. It is in the interest of both the countries that efforts are made to support each other in ensuring peace and democratic traditions all over the globe.
Finally, Prime Minister Modi should take this opportunity to extend his personal invitation to President Obama to be the Chief Guest of Honour on the Republic Day celebrations on 26th January 2015. So far, Indian governments of the past have not bothered to do so, which is a shame. The US is the oldest democracy in operation and it should be a great privilege to have the President of that country to be the chief guest on such an important occasion. Modi should wipe out this black mark in our past governments' behaviour and correct the same.
In summing up, Prime Minister Modi needs to secure President Obama's support in:
(a) obtaining the permanent membership of the UN Security Council
(b) becoming a member of Nuclear Suppliers Group
(c) bringing changes in Immigration Bill in the US
(d) establishing transfer of technology and defence manufacturing in India
(e) encouraging educational institutions to set up their branches in India
No doubt, this will be a historic trip that will bring great advantage and progress to both nations.
Market economy is not something the government can “impose” overnight. It requires social recognition, re-drawing of social contracts, probity in public life and ethics in relationship-based transactions
Three societies, namely China, Russia and India are struggling to become market-oriented economies from having been in different shades of socialist practices. Of course, China and Russia were hard core socialist economies with the state controlling most aspects of the economic sphere. India adopted the “socialistic pattern of society” wherein the commanding heights of the economy were controlled through state ownership.
Major companies in heavy and light industry, banking and insurance were all State-owned. State ownership has in practice the following characteristics
• Major expansion/location decisions are taken based on political consideration
• All major decisions regarding lending or waiving of loans are based on political considerations
The State begins to occupy a dis-proportionately large role in different aspects, not only of economic activity but also other areas like art, literature and films. It distributes favours and it also gives out awards. Over a period of time a state dependent “Culture” gets created, wherein the answer to every problem is assumed to lie with the Government.
State acceptance is confused with 'social acceptance' and State awards or rewards are equated with excellence in the corresponding field.
Obviously, this creates huge corruption in the system, where greasing palms slowly begins to fuel the engine of any business decision. Substantial amount of time in doing business is spent in dealing with Government minions and worrying about regulatory compliance. Huge departments are created to satisfy compliance needs; business men have a major pre-occupation –namely managing Government. It starts as an art and ends up as science.
Knowing a minister or a bureaucrat connected with your business is more important than knowing your business. In such an atmosphere, innovation, customer care and service excellence take a back seat. Even sectors, like information technology (IT) in India shines due to its off-shore activities. Good numbers of capable youngsters vote with their feet and migrate abroad.
Bank lending decisions are suspect and no serious system of punishing defaulters or chairman for wrong or sometimes mala fide decisions. See an excellent write up that recently came out in this magazine --
In such an atmosphere, when you “open up” the economy, it means entry to large amount of foreign capital and encouragement is given to the same old group of business tycoons to expand their activities. Again, access to power centres is more important. Clamour for reforms ultimately ends up as clamour for foreign capital since that is the easy option to many business tycoons and Government.
Market economy is not something the government can “impose” on the society overnight. It requires phenomenal amount of social recognition, re-drawing of social contracts, probity in public life and ethics in relationship based transactions.
Moving away from socialistic pattern of society to market mechanism is not accomplished with a magic wand. Also, market mechanism need not be only the Anglo-Saxon model. It can be different one, based on specific cultural habits and traditions. Fortunately, in a country like India, in spite of all efforts by the Nehruvian socialistic pattern of society, except some 20% of the GDP, all others were generated by private initiative. But regulations and license permit raj have created a humongous corrupt bureaucracy and to come out of it is not easy.
Our innate ability to respect private initiatives has to be brought back. For that the following needs to be done...
1. Dismantle half the ministries at the Centre, which are mirror images of ministries at the State level
2. Dismantle more than half the ministries at the State level, which are mostly money making activities for the babu class
3. Strengthen municipal and corporation level activities by banning construction contractors and real estate barons occupying elected posts
4. Abolish most local regulations on shops and establishment Acts, food and adulteration act and introduce swift and severe punishments for wrong doing
5. All courts to function in two shifts with enhanced pay for participants. At least criminal cases should be concluded within three years
6. Courts should be discouraged from giving adjournments
The central Government should basically focus on defense, foreign affairs and central taxes and state governments on law and order.
The initiative to do things should be left to individuals and the state should only be a regulator stepping in when things go wrong. It is not an easy task to build a proper market-based economy when most businesses are unfamiliar with it.
Crime will lead to punishment is the only mantra, which can make systems function with probity. Last, but not the least, political leadership must show maturity and probity and a willingness to accept that networking and Sifarsu-based system is no good.
Are we ready?
P.S. Intriguingly, an e mail-released today by Jet Air says that it plans to merge its Konnect type services with main airlines, which -among other things- means providing meals to all passengers. The note says subject to Government approval
(Views expressed in this article are personal)
(Prof R Vaidyanathan , Professor of Finance and Control, has taught at IIM Bangalore for over three decades and is consistently rated as one of its most popular teachers. Prof Vaidyanathan has coined the term 'India UnInc' for the largest component of the Indian economy comprising small entrepreneurs, households. Prof Vaidyanathan sits on the advisory boards of SEBI and the RBI.)