Posts Tagged ‘Badri Raina’

The Three Amigos: India, America, Israel

June 12, 2010

By Badri Raina , ZNet, June 12, 2010

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That both under the erstwhile  NDA regime, led by Atal Bihari Vajpai of the right-wing Hindu BJP (1998-2004) and the UPA regime (s) led by Manmohan Singh of the Congress Party (2004-2009, and since) a central feature of India’s foreign policy has been to draw closer to both the United States and Israel is not such a hidden feature of India’s post-reforms history anymore.

The more than considerate attentiveness to the interests of American corporates of course has been a long-term constant.

What I seek to do here is not so much to detail these histories as to draw a   skein related to diverse episodes,   one that seems intricately revelatory of a  coherent  macro policy intent, always latent among the Indian ruling classes but now more than ever in full bloom.

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Did Ahmedinejad say anything wrong about nuclear weapons?

May 6, 2010

By Badri Raina, ZNet, May 6, 2010

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Sauce for the Goose is not

Sauce for the Gander.

Unlike my friend, J. Sriraman, the reputed columnist, I am no expert on matters nuclear.

As a lay student of contemporary international history (where “contemporary” goes back , for purposes of this note, to the second world war), I agree with some six billion others that nuclear weapons are unacceptably evil in a usually acceptably evil world.

Everybody of course says so, including those who remain in control of the largest stockpiles.

Yet what stares you in the face is the unconscionable gap between the ethics of the issue which hardly anyone denies, and the record of performance through the decades.

And strikingly here, those that bear the most onus, even opprobrium, seem the most self-righteous.

Which is, after all, what the reviled President of Iran, Ahmedinejad, underscored in his recent appearance at a nuclear disarmament conclave in America.

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India: Troubled Times for Advani & Modi

April 9, 2010

Will the state desert them to justice?

By Badri Raina, ZNet, March 31, 2010

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Satyam Eva Jayate

(The Truth is ever victorious).


It suits India’s elite opinion-makers always to characterize the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as India’s  “principal opposition party.”

Principal opposition, presumably, to “the natural party of governance,” namely, the Indian National Congress.

The years have shown that such characterization on fact is patently erroneous, especially over the last two decades of Independent India’s existence.  Be it market fundamentalism, or militarism directed at “terrorists” and “naxals” or love of American imperialism  there is little daylight between the Congress and the BJP.

Even on that “basic” postulate of the Constitution of India, “secularism,” one has always known that  substantial sections among the Congress party covertly share the majoritarian impulses of the BJP, even as the party as a whole swears by  the principle of secularism as an article of faith and a feature of its long history.  Which is not to deny that other sections within the Congress continue to remain laudably wedded to Nehru’s vision of a welfare state of which secular citizenship was envisaged as a founding bedrock.  Without question, this section within the Congress has the great good luck of having Sonia Gandhi as a bearer of that legacy.

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India: A Parliament of Women as much as of Men

March 11, 2010

By Badri Raina, ZNet, March 10, 2010

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As is well known, the semantics of equality entered  western intellectual discourse only as a result of the writings of the  French Philosophes, whereas previously the acknowledged universal paradigm had been  that all human beings were created unequal.  Thus there were  those who were “privileged” by birth, and those who were not.

Indeed, in passing, it was only Buddhism in India that could be said to have genuinely offered a world  view  wherein equality made no exceptions.  Some reason why  it became fatally important for Brahminism to eject it at all costs.

The new European classes whose  material interests were thus enunciated by the emancipatory  writings of the Enlightenment claimed, as Marx was to note, that they represented not just their own interests but those of all “humanity.”  A classic example of false consciousness, since, as Marx theorized,  every new class that challenges older social formations needs such universalist claims to garner sufficient clout for the overthrow.

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Too Small A Country for One Great Artist

March 2, 2010

By Badri Raina, ZNet, March 1, 2010
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“Kitna hai baddnaseeb Zaffar daffn kei liye,
Do gazz zameen bhi na milie kooye yaar mein.”

(Bahadur Shah Zaffar, the last Moghul King of India, (1775-1862); exiled by the British to Rangoon in 1858 after the failure of the revolt of 1857; lines written from exile, and translating somewhat as follows):

“How ill-fated Zaffar,
Denied two yards of ground
For burial back in native soil,
Among native sight and sound.”


Zaffar, who knew only India for home, was exiled by the British imperialists at age 83. Since Moslems and Hindus had equally acknowledged his legitimacy and rallied against the colonial power under his uncontested leadership, the British were only too right to think that letting him return home would thwart the new imperial policy of divide and rule.

Thus it came to be that one who had been king was denied six feet of ground for internment in the only earth of his love.

A century and a half later, another iconic Indian, and a monarch in his own right, the renowned painter, Maqbool Fida Husain, has had to exile himself at a still more advanced age, driven this time not by some imperial power from the outside but by self-appointed “cultural nationalists” at home.

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India: Shiv Sena Fascists and the People.

February 16, 2010

By Badri Raina, ZNet, February 14, 2010
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History now and again offers moments of hope that seem small and fleeting but, placed in larger contexts and taken at the tide, promise reconstructions of far-reaching magnitude.

What happened in the city of Mumbai today was one such moment.

The fascist Shiv Sena had threatened not to allow the screening of the film My Name is Khan till such time as Shah Rukh Khan, the main actor in the movie and a Bollywood icon, had apologized for having expressed the view that Pakistani cricketers should have been participants in the forthcoming Indian Premier League. Shah Rukh, to his great credit, refused to do so—indeed the first Bollywood personality to have thus defied the Sena. With the exception, as I recall, of Mahesh Bhatt.

It needs to be remembered that Shah Rukh Khan’s father had not only been a freedom fighter during India’s anti-colonial movement, but uniquely a Muslim who chose after the partition of the country to leave the new nation of Pakistan and relocate his family in India.

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See also: Shiv Sena in  Wikipedia

Raina: India, Australia

February 10, 2010

What is the Difference?

By Badri Raina , ZNet, Feb 9, 2010

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The  Victorian  police  chief,  Simon Overland, has finally found the answer to the  attacks that  Indians have been subjected to down under.

“Try to look as poor as you can,” he advises Indian immigrants to Australia: “don’t display your iPods, valuable watch, valuable jewellery.”

The implication here is explicit:  if you don’t flaunt, you will not tempt.

Thus, the onus that the state and law-enforcement ought to bear is neatly transferred to the victim on a principle of the call of “nature,” if you will.  To wit, men will be sinners; so the best course is to seduce as little as possible.

The Indian community has characterized this approach to crime as “ridiculous”—with justice.

I have no doubt we shall soon have fiercely outraged debates on Mr.Overland’s take on crime here on Indian TV channels.

But do ask yourself: how is Mr.Overland’s  advice here any very different from what Indian women are routinely advised by our own custodians of morality?  Or custodians of morality in large parts of the world?

If you flaunt, you invite rape—and on the same principle of  “nature” that informs Overland’s  counsel to Indians down under.  Thus, bigots of all hue argue that it is not the rapist and the molester who is out of order but the women who are thus raped or molested.

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India: A Tale of Two Chief Ministers

January 25, 2010

By Badri Raina, ZNet, January 24, 2010

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Long years ago, at the conclusion of my doctoral work in America, pressure was put on me to stay and teach there.  Twice, in fact.  Each time I made excuses. Pressed hard to explain I had the following to say:

–admittedly, staying on there would yield me every facility to write half a dozen books, but once outside the confines of academe, what would I be a part of?  By ‘what’ I meant what sort of active political involvement.  It did seem to me that the “end of history” thesis justly applied to the United  States.  With few resistance movements on the ground, post-Vietnam,  only centrist politics  remained available.  And who doesn’t know that the Republicans and the Democrats are, all said and done, tweedledum and tweedledee, espousing at bottom one and the same class interest.  There has rarely been an occasion when American history in the contemporary moment seemed to offer any major openings beyond what has always obtained—individualism, market economics, puritan exceptionalism, a commitment to “just” warfare, and a  near-universal abhorrence of  socialist thought and of any skepticism with respect to  god’s  purposes.

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A Future India Must Do Without

January 4, 2010

By Badri Raina, ZNet, Jan 3, 2010

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“Genius: a person who has a strong influence upon one for good or ill.”

(Advanced Oxford Dictionary)


All of the year gone by, India’s corporate classes—in sundry areas of material control, including the media—have been pushing and prodding the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) to return from the dumps to health and vigour. Editorially this Hindu right-wing formation has been reminded how the nation cannot do without them.

Alas, at the end of it all, its unedifying, even if highly diverting, internal squabbles have been for now set to right, not by its own autonomous political exertions, but per diktat of the RSS—a fascist outfit wholly extraneous to the Constitutional scheme of the Republic.

Brushing aside the many hopefuls within the BJP, Nitin Gadkari, a self-confessed RSS devotee who has never yet won an election to an assembly, not to speak of the parliament, has been installed as President of the BJP vide explicit decree of the RSS.

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India: Carting Off Medical Institute to Corporate Predators

December 14, 2009

By Badri Raina, ZNet, Dec 13, 2009
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No one can be perfectly free till all are free; no one can be perfectly moral till all are moral; no one can be perfectly happy till all are happy.”

(Herbert Spencer)

To  that talisman you could add another:  no one can be perfectly healthy till all are healthy.

At a time, however, when Obama, the welfarist democrat, battles the American Congress, sundry red-necks, and powerful Pharma lobbyists and private medical insurers to bring to beleaguered Americans a guaranteed public health dispensation, his strategic partner, Manmohan Singh, may be about to cart off the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, an iconic symbol of Nehru’s welfarist national vision, “recognized for providing low-cost medical care to large numbers of patients” (Wikipedia) to sundry business interests.

A committee (Valiathan) now recommends that the institute “should form consortia to develop and transfer for commercialization a range of products and processes.”

It suggests that “consultancy for Indian industry should be encouraged among faculty,” and faculty “should be given leave to join industry.”   Further that research papers should be monetarily rewarded as well, such as may be “of great interest to industry.”

In order that these predatory objectives are nicely fulfilled, it recommends that “industrialists. . . be nominated by the central government” to the controlling Board “in consultation with CII, NASSCOM, and FICCII”—godlike conglomerates of India’s private capital.

Lest you think that these recommendations have anything to do with enhancing the primary health care obligations of the Institute, please note that for the 12 years that the prestigious India Today magazine has conducted surveys, AIIMS has been ranked number ONE for 11  years!

Just as surveys conducted by the Week and Outlook magazines have named it the best hospital in India overall, as well as best in several individual fields, such as Cardiology, Nuerology, Gasteroenterology, Gynocology, and Opthalmology, ahead of several specialized institutions (Wikipedia).

Thus, even as Obama pays compliment to Castro’s  Cuba for the care it takes of Cuban’s health, Manmohan Singh rushes to emulate the American Republicans who believe passionately (read rabidly) that the least penny spent on public health by the state violates the  overriding sanctity of the Market.

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