As the momentum of India’s nine-phase Lok Sabha election shifts in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s opponents, a new bunch of writers and social scientists have risen to defend its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Some of them see virtue and talent, indeed even poetic genius, in a man who presided over the mass butchery of Muslims in Gujarat. (One of them compares Mr Modi’s ghastly poetry with Kabir’s!)
Yet others are shamelessly writing barely-disguised job applications anticipating a Modi victory. They include former diplomats and intelligence officers associated with the extreme-Right pro-Hindutva think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation , and Arvind Panagaria, a US-based neoliberal economist, and on his behalf, his mentor Jagdish Bhagwati.
Panagaria—who holds a chair at Columbia University named after (surprise, surprise!) Bhagwati—is lobbying for the post of chief economic adviser to the government. What little claim this undistinguished economist might have had to that post stands undermined by his recently propounded “theory” that Indians are genetically differently constituted from other human beings in that they are predisposed to being shorter and smaller. So standard international norms of measuring malnutrition or stunting by height-for-age and weight-for-age ratios don’t apply to Indians.