Jagdish Bhagwati is seriously wrong
I fully agree with Professor Jagdish Bhawati’s approach with respect to economic policies – creating an environment for growth is a necessary condition to make resources available for social initiatives. However, he is seriously wrong when he said that the Indian-American community does not lobby. He made this assertion during a programme organised by the publication house, the India Today group, in New York in the context of the visit of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to the USA. He said that Indian-Americans are into a darshan mentality – they are happy to have a photo taken with the president of the USA, but will not lobby.
There are some Indian-Americans who do not have this darshan mentality, and do not make an effort to have their photo taken with the president of the USA. But, they have established organisations that make resolute efforts to lobby. They make special attempt to meet the media, speak to US government officials, and actively seek out certain members of the Congress and the Senate in the US. Where a person’s organisation is not part of the coalition that is lobbying on a particular issue, he or she will come out in the public in an individual capacity. Their modus operandi is the same as any other lobbyist that swarm Washington.
Each takes the help of the other lobbying organisations set up by another American-Indians , even though they may have ideological opposition in each other’s core agenda. In this lobbying they are actively helped by Indians living in India, in academia and in media. They are also assisted by non-Indian-Americans – in media, in ‘think tanks’, in academia, etc. The correspondents for foreign publications – Indian citizens, foreign citizens (Indian born, Indian origin, and non-Indian origin) – in India also play an active role. They are all part of the Public Relations (PR) machinery working for the lobbyists.
They lobby against the interests of India.
It is done to present a false picture of India to the people all over the world. It is done to make an attempt to demonise the people of India. They have had a measure of success – until recently.
Before I go forward, let me make a comment about what Bhagwati said in the same programme about two lobbying efforts in the USA which he considers to be successful.
Lobbying by United States Steel
The first relates to the lobbying by United Sates Steel (USS) in the early 1960s. At the time, Bhagwati was working in Delhi with the Indian government. He said that the then USA Ambassador to India, John Kenneth Galbraith, conveyed a message that John F Kennedy, the President of USA, had agreed to support the setting up of the Bokaro Steel plant. However, Bhagwati said that the USS was lobbying with the USA Congress against the deal, because it was the assessment of the USS that the coming up of the plant would affect its own business interest. And the deal was scuttled.
But was it really a success? USS could not stop Bokaro Steel from coming into existence, which happened with the support of the then Soviet Union. The lobbying of USS gave another handle to those in India who wanted to create ill-will towards the USA. Today, Bokaro Steel is growing, while USS is a bit-player in the steel industry in the world. So, was it really a success?
Lobbying by the Hispanics
Bhagwati also gave an example of the Hispanic community in the USA, which he says is well organised. It makes specific demands from the government, and, he says, it makes threats if their demands are not fulfilled. In contrast, Bhagwati says, the Democrats can get the Indian-American votes for the asking, and President Obama does not have to worry about it one bit.
I would like to contend that this lobbying effort is the equivalent of vote bank politics that happens in India. The threat that the Hispanic community makes is that it will vote en-bloc in a particular way, so that the one seeking the votes has to pander to its desires – or perhaps the desires of those who claim to be the leaders of the Hispanics. The issue is not whether the demands are good for the nation or not – it is the demands of a community, and is pure and simple communal politics.
If this is allowed to succeed, and if the demands of the Hispanics are against the interests of the non-Hispanics, the the non-Hispanics can organise themselves and issue similar threats. Can such a nation be called a secular state? Can such a nation really stay united?
A contented Indian-American community
Let me give another perspective. I trust that Bhagwati is consciously aware of the fact that the Indian-American community is far ahead of many other communities, in absolute and/or relative terms, including the Hispanics, in parameters that would indicate its state of contentment – income levels, education levels, position in the corporate world, doctors, academia, etc. Members of the Indian-American community assist their family members in India either by sending money or supporting their education needs in the USA, and give donations to many genuine charity projects in India.
While the Indian-American community is contented, it is also grateful to the hosts for giving them an opportunity to do better than they would otherwise have done. In return, they ask for very little, because they feel that they should really not be a burden on their hosts more than is minimally required. They believe in the principle of Atithi Deo Bhava (treat the guest as god) and so behave in a godly manner so that their hosts would treat them as gods.
Even as they ask for minimal considerations from the hosts, the Indian-American community has set up temples to meet their spiritual needs, organised Bal Vihars so that children can be inculcated with the values that they received from their parents, made Yoga popular so that even the hosts are able to deal with stress that is a natural part of life today, introduced the principles of pluralism and the spirit of tolerance, and innumerable such positive things. They also contribute to the well-being of the society at large. They are well assimilated in the larger community, even while being proud of their ancestral identity.
So, without making any demands from the state, is the Indian-American community any worse off?
Sadly, instead of applauding this admirable contribution, Bhagwati is criticising them for not lobbying without realising that they have achieved so much without lobbying. Bhagwati would do wonderful service to his fellow community by highlighting their achievements. And then say: “If the Indian-American community behaves in such a secular manner, should not others emulate them?”
The revocation of the visa of Narendra Modi
Now let me turn to those Indian-Americans who have not imbibed the darshan culture that Bhagwati talked about, and yet do the lobbying, which, as I contend, is against the interests of India.
The classic example of the success of this lobbying is the revocation of the visa of Narendra Modi in 2005. The history of this effort has been narrated by Zahir Janmohamed in an article titled “U.S. Evangelicals, Indian Expats Teamed Up to Push Through Modi Visa Ban”, and published by The New York Times (probably only on its website and not print), at the following url:
The author claims: “I had a front-row seat to these events as they unfolded. I worked in Washington. D.C., from 2003 to 2011, mostly at Amnesty International and in the United States Congress, and I was a part of the campaign to deny Mr. Modi a visa.” He also says: “(I)t came about from a highly unusual coalition made up of Indian-born activists, evangelical Christians, Jewish leaders and Republican members of Congress concerned about religious freedom around the globe.”
(The article gives lots of names of persons and organisations, and is actually a source of a mine of information for an inquiry of the type I will be recommending later. And the modus operandi as explained by Janmohamed will indicate how cunningly the whole lobbying effort was conducted. The article also mentions about the attack on India Development and Relief Fund, and I will dwell on it in some detail later.)
This lobbying effort is supposed to have convinced the US government that Narendra Modi was guilty of a crime that made him ineligible to visit the USA. A press release from the US Embassy in India had said: “Mr. Modi’s existing tourist/business visa was also revoked under section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 212 (a) (2) (g) makes any foreign government official who “was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom” ineligible for a visa to the United States.”
The lobbyists were happy with their success. According to the criteria set earlier by Bhagwati, one would probably conclude that this is another example of successful lobbying. Instead, I would like to suggest that we should apply the perspective mentioned by me regarding the lobbying by USS, and then make up our mind about the present case.
The revocation and the analysts
The real tragedy is that very, very few of the analysts in the US – both Indians and non-Indians – have written about the history of the visa revocation. I would like to think that they KNOW the history – otherwise I would have to conclude that they are incompetent since they have not made an effort to know what is already available in the public domain.
Some do say that Narendra Modi is gracious enough not to let this grave personal insult to him come in the way of what is in the interest of India. Yet, many are still continuing to call him as sorts of derogatory names – names that they have used for him since 2002.
The US government’s official position regarding the eligibility of entry of Modi to US is that the section based on which the tourist/business visa was revoked does not apply in case of a diplomatic visa. This means that they still hold Modi guilty of the charges made against him in 2005, implying that he will not be able to visit the US (if he so desires) when he is no longer the prime minister of India. Thus their present position is pure and simple chicanery, using deception to achieve goals they have in mind.
On the subject of the visa revocation, I have had interaction with two Americans, both academics with stints in the US government, and I asked them of their views on the subject. One of them, with whom I had an email exchange, is William Avery, an ex-diplomat. His website says that he advises corporate on international trade, besides other issues, and that he served as ‘served in the United States diplomatic service as an Economic Officer’ in India and other countries. His response was: “…we cannot undo the past and should focus on the future.” Cleary he expected Modi to just swallow the deep insult, and I said so to Avery in so many words.
The other is Robert Blackwill, who had a stint as the US ambassador to India, prior to 2005. In June, 2014, he was in New Delhi to give a public talk, where I asked him what the President of USA should do about the revocation of the visa in 2005. I had introduced myself as a senior office bearer of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an organisation within the larger fold of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
After giving a fairly elaborate exposition about the wrongness of the action, both originally and continuing it, he said: “If I was back in the White House yet again, I would not have the American president apologise to (Modi). I would just try to take the relationship forward. And I don’t get the sense that the PM is looking to get an apology from the American president. Everything that the PM has done is to indicate that he wishes to turn the page. He is the PM of India, and no longer the CM of Gujarat. I don’t see an apology is in the works.”
Blackwill made the above statement to an audience of over 100 people, mostly Indians. There were retired government of India servants and those who had served the Indian defence forces. There were some business people, mostly from companies with American investment. There were also some from foreign diplomatic missions.
Since I did not specifically ask whether the USA should apologise, I personally found the comment by Blackwill to be highly patronising, arrogant and insensitive, particularly when made to an audience of Indians and said on Indian soil. Like the Avery comment, it was also deeply offensive. Based on an interaction with Girish Dhume, a retired member of the Indian Foreign Service, after the programme, I have strong reasons to believe that other Indians, at least, would concur with this assessment. I really wonder if Blackwill realised his complete lack of diplomacy, considering that he has a desire to be accepted as a friend of India. His body language clearly gave me a message that he seemed to be very happy to have been able to make the statement to Indians on Indian soil. And I wonder if there was anyone who told him so in private at the personal level. Probably not.
I have asked the same questions to some Indian-Americans who work in organisations claiming to be think-tanks. These Indian-Americans have come on many seminars, lectures, discussion groups, etc., both on TV and public sessions in Washington and New York. In each case my question was completely ignored. Some of them are: Ashutosh Varshney, Milan Vaishnav, Sadanand Dhume, Ashley Tellis.
The Indian-Americans who diligently lobbied the US government to revoke the visa will continue to lobby through some members of the Congress. Other Indian-Americans who have the ear of the members of the US administration have taken a position that they will be silent on the issue of whether the US should apologise or not. At the same time, the young Indian-Americans who had come to New York to hear Narendra Modi at Madison Gardens would be very much in favour of their government making personal amends on the issue. Rajdeep Sardesai, the ex-IBN journalist but now with the India Today group, had said that these people are with money but had no class. I will use the abbreviation WMNC for them.
But Bhagwati interacts in a 5-star hotel environment with those who are silent, and not the WMNC who were on the streets of the US. He has to change tack, and come out on the issue himself. It is not just a question of apology to Modi, but also to the people of India. The US government has to understand and accept that they made a huge blunder in coming to the false conclusion of Modi’s guilt. And they should know that the WMNCs know that this was done without any basis, except the say-so of the lobbyists. They did not wait for the judicial procedure in India to play its role. And even when the judicial verdict has been given, they still want to continue to play the charade. They do not wish to take a position similar to what the Australian prime minister has taken, as narrated below.
Some say that the US government will not and does not apologise. I would like to propose the following principle: “Lesser time is needed to rectify than justify any mistake; besides peace and relationship is guaranteed.” I think an apology will actually raise the status of the US in the eyes of not just the people of India, but also of the people of the rest of the world. Some in various governments and those with an anti-US ideological axe to grind may gloat. But the people will applaud the decision.
The US government should also isolate those who lobbied in favour of the revocation, because the advice was mischievously motivated, and legally and morally false. The role of these lobbyists should be investigated, particularly to find out on which other issues they lobbied against India. While doing the investigation the US government should keep in mind that these lobbyists could be using the name of another organisation for the lobbying. If they scratch a little below the surface they will find that it is the same set of persons involved. These lobbyists can no longer be interlocutors, if the US government wishes to have genuine and mutually beneficial relationship with India.
In line with the Hindu tradition, Modi has taken nine steps forward to try and repair the relationship with the USA. But, it seems that the US has actually taken one step back, and expects Modi to take two additional steps (eleven in all) to meet up.
The Australian prime minister
There is at least one leader of a foreign country who has had the decency to publicly accept the judgement of Indian legal system stating that Narendra Modi is not guilty of the crimes alleged by the lobbyists. A report in India Today says: “Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday said Narendra Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister should not be blamed for the 2002 riots in the state. ‘Modi was just a presiding officer who has been cleared in endless inquiries,’ said Abbott. ‘My understanding is that there has been endless inquiries into this and Mr Modi has always been cleared. That certainly is good enough for me,’ Abbott said in an interview to Karan Thapar on Headlines Today. Elaborating his thoughts on the issue, the Australian prime minister said he accepts that sometimes ‘we’ (leaders) are presiding when terrible things happen. ‘I don’t believe the presiding officer should be blamed just because something terrible happens in the country over which he is presiding,’ he said.”
Of course most other publications found it most uncomfortable to carry this forthright statement from Abbott. It would seem that the Australian media also was silent on the statement, and would like to continue the line that Modi was responsible for the deaths during the riots.
Lobbying against IDRF
These lobbyists, with the help of the usual suspects, have also been indulging in working against the interests of Hindu organisations and Hindus in the USA and India. I will give two examples. The first relates to India Development and Relief Fund, which was stated in 1987 by Dr Vinod Prakash and his wife, Sarla Prakash – a lovely couple whom I had the great pleasure to personally meet during a trip to Washington.
Dr Prakash left a job at World Bank many years before he would have retired. I wonder if there is another example, in the Indian diaspora, of a person leaving a high profile job to devote full time to help people in India. Dr Prakash decided that he had enough savings available to lead a life of reasonable comfort without having to work even part-time. In this effort, he was joined by his wife.
But what did the Indian-Americans in the business of lobbying do? They hounded the couple, alleging that they are raising money from the Hindus in the US to be used for attacking the religious minorities in India. In the US, the campaign’s faces were Vijay Prashad, Biju Mathews and Anjana Chatterjee. All of them are hard core communists, naturalised citizens, and working in the academia where their salaries are paid by the people of the US. I would not be surprised if the various entities whose primary motive for existence is to be inimical to Hindu organisations, Hinduism and India, supplemented their academic salaries.
I personally know that the Praksashes went through much mental trauma in defending themselves. The publicity that was given to these lobbyists, both in India and in the US, created a serious doubt in the minds of the Hindu donors in the US about the motives of IDRF. The Prakashes had to defend not just the IDRF but also their personal reputation, based on which they were able to motivate their friends and others to donate to IDRF.
The tragedy is that the media decided to support these lobbyists and gave oxygen to the false and malicious propaganda by the lobbyists even in this case. The various correspondents of Indian publications based in Washington volunteered themselves to be part of the PR machinery and made themselves available to carry out their evil message to the public.
The US administration took cognisance of the news reports and asked the Prakashes to provide data for scrutiny. Such an investigation can be truly harrowing for people who are sincere and are undertaking charity for purely spiritual reasons. One can be caught on the basis of a trifle technicality, and even though the investigating authority may make light of it, the lobbyists can magnify the technicality. And given the media support, a Mount Everest could have been created out of a mole-hill.
I have prepared an analysis of the report ‘The Foreign Exchange of Hate – IDRF’ which is available at:
You will find the names of the usual suspects – the notorious husband-wife duo in India (Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand), in addition to the three American academics mentioned above and many others. These are the people who are also active members of the ‘unusual coalition’ that was responsible for the revocation of the Modi visa in 2005.
The California text-book case
The second example is the case of the California school text books on Hinduism. The books are reviewed with a certain frequency. Over a two year period, two Hindu groups in the USA, the Vedic Foundation and Hindu Education Foundation made a number of suggestions which would teach Hinduism with a certain amount of empathy. These suggestions were evaluated by the California State Board of Education (CSBE) with the help of Shiva Bajpai, Professor Emeritus at the California State University, Northridge. The Hindus followed the method of evaluation meticulously. So did the CSBE up till the day before the final approval.
This was when Michael Witzel, Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University, got to know that changes were being proposed. He did not know anything about the changes, nor did he know about the Hindu organisations that had made the suggestions. However, his side-kick, Dr Steve Farmer, sent an email to CSBE alleging that the changes have no merit, and that the organisations were part of the political groups in India propagating Hindutva. The right words and idioms were used to terrorise the members of CSBE into keeping the changes on hold.
The email had names of about 140 people from different parts of the world. Some of them were active academics, some were retired, some were students, and some were something or the other. Many had Hindu names, and some were living in the USA. Some of them were only remotely connected with teaching Hinduism. And the past writings of most of them would indicate that they had deep antipathy towards Hinduism.
Given the time between Witzel and Farmer getting to know about the changes and the sending of the email, it would have been impossible to get the concurrence of so many from different parts of the world. Knowing how such lobbyist work, I have a strong feeling that the names were added by Farmer without their consent. Farmer knows that these people would not say that they did not know about their names being included, because that would mean incurring the wrath of Witzel, who, until recently, controlled the dispensation of patronage in Indology studies.
Instead of coming out in support of the two Hindu groups, some of the other academics in Hinduism studies found all sorts of petty reasons to criticise the Hindu groups. One of the favourite was that these Hindu groups were not ‘street smart’, another that they did not accept that Hinduism is polytheistic. None of them came out and criticised the CSBE for allowing an illegal intervention by Witzel and his side-kick, or condemned the tactics of intellectual terrorism by the good professor.
I had a brief email correspondence with one of them – Dr Jakob de Roover, a Belgian who studied at Ghent University under Dr S N Balagangadhara. De Roover said that the Hindu groups should have said that Hinduism is polytheistic rather than monist. I wrote to him saying that he seems not to realise that the books are for students whose exposure to anything to do with religious studies at the academic level would be the few hours he would spend in the schools for a course with no credit marks. The student may have forgotten what he read as soon as the term ended!
People have been brainwashed into thinking that polytheism (which is the way Hinduism was projected in the school textbooks) means something evil. Do the Hindu groups try and reverse the years of brainwashing or try to do the best that is possible in the circumstances? I think they were street smart enough to understand that the best way would be to first wean away the young minds from the notion that Hinduism is evil. They also knew that saying that Hinduism is monotheist is factually wrong, and so used the term monist.
I then suggested to de Roover that it is really up to him, as an academic, to start a discussion in the universities about the difference between monotheism and polytheism, and their respective merits. Once this is done then polytheism will not be viewed as something evil. I do not know if de Roover acted on my suggestion.
One of the signatories to the letter by Witzel is Professor Robert Goldman of Berkley University. He gave a presentation at one of the public hearings that was held as a result of the terrorism that Witzel indulged in. The Hindu groups were most confused as to how to respond, because his presentation seemed to support their case than that of Witzel. This is what happens when one looks at the issue with the tainted glass of politics.
After he sent the letter to CSBE, Witzel started to mobilise resources, particularly financial, to support the war that he started. One organisation that came forward was the Dalit Freedom Network, which is a front for some Christian churches in the USA. The Network claims to work for uplifting the Hindu dalits in India, and not the ones who have converted to Christianity. The Network is quite happy to continue the system of different churches and different graveyards for Dalit Christians in India, so that the ‘purity’ of the non-Dalit Christians is maintained.
Given the desperation of Witzel, he had no problem of accepting support from the Network, on the principle of ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’.
As in the case of IDRF, the media lent their services, with the same vigour, to support the PR machinery of the lobbyist. And it is the same culprits as earlier – the US correspondents of Indian publication as well as those with Indian names writing for US publications. The Indian supporters for these lobbyists also used the opportunity to score what they thought were brownie points in the electoral battle they were waging in India. And in such battles, truth and journalistic professionalism are of no consideration.
To underscore the lack of their professionalism, it should be mentioned that the media in the US and in India never asked these lobbyists what kind of positive work they were doing for India and its people. In fact, by supporting the lobbyist, the media was trying to obstruct the Indian-Americans from doing something positive.
I would like Bhagwati to come out and speak against these lobbyists, instead of berating other Indian-Americans for not lobbying. Bhagwati should also recognise that the media who have become part of the PR machinery of the Indian-American lobbyists. This includes the journalists in the India Today group, and the head of the group, Arun Poorie, actually does nothing to ensure his journalists conduct themselves in a professional way. Not that Poorie himself is any better.
There are many such cases of lobbying by these Indian-Americans. In all the cases it is the WMNCs who have come out against the lobbyists. But, since the media, in India and outside, decided that they would be part of the PR machinery of the lobbyist, the opposition by the WMNCs received no coverage. Worse these WMNCs are being projected as aggressors in the physical confrontation that Sardesai himself started outside Madison Square Garden.
The third category of Indian-Americans
The third category of Indian-Americans, the ones with lots of money and (as per Sardesai) with class, thought the lobbyists had a lot of support in the public in the US and in India. This third category was represented in full force in the India Today programme where Bhagwati spoke. And this was the category which was alienated from Prakash due to the lobbying mentioned above. Prakash had to waste a lot of time trying to disabuse them – time that he could otherwise use productively in helping the people of India.
This third category actually get terrorised by the lobbyists and their PR machinery. Two or three prominent members of this category publicly spoke in support of the allegations made against IDRF. (The names are in the analysis that is referred to above.) They became part of the machinery, perhaps inadvertently, that created the confusion – which is exactly what the lobbyists wanted. It needs to be mentioned that even when the reality should have dawned on them, they have not apologised to Prakash for their earlier position.
Additionally, those American-Indians who work in academia and what are called think-tanks, almost never try and expose the role of the lobbyists. Even today, when it is known that the Modi visa revocation in 2005 was a blunder, these American-Indians would like to go along with the notion that because Modi has not made it into an issue, there is no need for them to make any comment other than highlight that Modi has not made it into an issue. By their silence, they give support to the lobbyists. I have been in touch with Ashley Tellis, Sadanand Dhume, Milan Vaishnav, Ashutosh Varshney, and others, on the issue.
Coalition Against Genocide
The WMNCs have always made effort to expose the agenda and the lack of representation of the lobbyists. Recently, one of these WMNC has come out with a report, exposing the composition of a group called Coalition Against Genocide, which is always prominent in the lobbying on issues of the type narrated above. This is what he said in an email to me:
The Indian American community never seriously challenged or analyzed the decision of the US Government as well as the background of the Coalition Against Genocide. In addition, the group’s falsities and anti-India prejudice were never seriously brought to surface either.
Therefore, on the eve of Mr. Modi’s Prime Ministerial visit to the US and as a humble tribute to the Indian people, I am happy to present an Investigative Report on the Coalition Against Genocide. The attached report – A House of Cards: Coalition Against Genocide and the Politics of Deception as well as the website http://www.ahouseofcards.net is an effort to research each of the constituent members of the coalition as well as their religious, political and ideological leanings.
The Report brings forth several important conclusions:
1) CAG is deceiving the regulators, media and the general public by inflating or maliciously falsifying the number of organizations in the coalition. Of the 40 organizations or groups forming the core of the CAG, seventeen Organizations are affiliated with the Forum of Inquilabi Leftists (FOIL) while six Organizations are affiliated with the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC). Fourteen Organizations are Defunct. The three Hindu sounding Organizations are purely Paper-Based and run by Shrikumar Poddar and his family, while seven Organizations are Questionable in Existence. Note: Some of the groups can be a combination of the above. For example, Youth Solidarity Summer (YSS), South Asian Collective (SAC) and Association of South Asian Progressives (ASAP) are all defunct organizations that are part of or affiliated with FOIL.
2) CAG’s anti-India and political activities are also evident. For example, CAG members have supported Jihadist groups aiming to destabilize India; a Pakistani ISI Agent found guilty of lobbying the US Government to pressure India on Kashmir; Maoists, Naxalites and Khalistanis; the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE); as well as political parties such as the Communist Ghadar Party of India (CGPI), the Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist (CPIML) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM). Working with aggressive Christian evangelicals, they portray India as a “super-violator” of human rights and have supplied atrocity literature to Right-Wing US lawmakers to label India a terrorist state and call for its balkanization.
This report is being circulated in the WMNC group online, and I hope it gets traction in the third group of Indian-Americans mentioned above. This would give them the necessary ammunition to stand up to the terrorism of the lobbyists. At the same time, based on past experience, it is highly likely that the report will not get any media attention, except to rubbish it.
Expatriates in India
It is necessary to mention the names of some expatriate writers, living in India, who are part of the PR machinery for the lobbyists.
There is William Dalrymple, who likes people in the world to think that he is historian of repute with specialisation on aspects relating to the Mughal rule in India. His approach is to whitewash the role of the vandalism of Islamic rule, and want the Hindus to be actually grateful to the Mughals for ruling them. In commenting about the BJP’s election manifesto for the 2014 national elections, he wrote, “There is no mention of the glories of Mughal architecture or miniature painting or Urdu poetry, nor any of the wonders of the syncretic Indo-Islamic civilisation that flourished with such panache until British colonialism snuffed it out.” For Dalrymple, the Islamic vandalism of both the Hindu structures and the civilization is something that did not really happen.
He has been living in India for a long time. Some Indians and many from outside think that he is an expert on issues relating to India. And this alleged expertise is not just in history, but also in current affairs. So, he is sought after by foreign journals to write for them. Or maybe he just sends his anti-India articles to them, and, since the publication find the projection as fitting its agenda, print them, highlighting the ‘fact’ that he is an India expert.
Recently, in covering the visit of Modi to the USA, The Economist published an article titled “I give you Narendra Modi” whose original opening line was: “Which pain-in-the-ass sports star or musician is snarling traffic around Madison Square Garden, an arena normally graced by WrestleMania, the Knicks and the Rolling Stones? Actually, today’s performer is a politician: Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister.” This was subsequently changed to attribute to a New York policeman the phrase (pain-in-the-ass) used by The Economist for Modi. I guess The Economist thinks poorly of the intelligence and awareness of its readers. But it did not reckon with the intelligence and awareness of the WMNCs, and was therefore forced to make the changes. This it did in a most ungracious manner, clearly indicating that it was angry that the WMNCs have the gumption to question them.
One of the persons who loved The Economist article is Dalrymple, who gleefully tweeted: “Fabulous Economist piece on Modi in America. This is how it’s done.” He subsequently deleted it, when he realised that there are more people in India who would relate with the WMNCs than the lobbyists.
Then there is our own sort of English royalty, Sir Mark Tully, who has also awarded a Padma Bhushan in 2005 by the UPA2 government, headed by the Congress Party. Right in the midst of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections he spent a day or so in Western Uttar Pradesh, and announced that there is no Modi wave. And after the elections he wrote that Modi is not a good listener. I wonder whether to be considered as an expert on India one has to be RSS phobic!
I had said earlier, “The WMNCs believe in the principle of Atithi Deo Bhava (the guest should be treated as gods) and so behave in a godly manner so that their hosts would treat them as gods.” Instead, the expatriate India ‘experts’ expect to be treated as gods irrespective of how they behave. They also think that India is still a white man’s colony, and the natives should actually be grateful that they have deigned to have stayed amongst them. During the time of the colony, the rulers extorted money from the natives to get their salaries. Today these expatriate experts expect the natives to part with their money willingly.
Both know that if they were to work and stay in the country of their birth they would be nobodies. No one would ask them of their opinions on any matter, let alone relating to India. And they would have great difficulty of earning a living which would keep them in a life-style that they are used to while staying in India.
Furthermore, while in India they get fawned over by the bold and the beautiful in the Indian Capital of New Delhi. They are essentially on a huge ego trip, which would come crashing down if the people in India get to know who they really are.
Then there is the former correspondent in India for the Financial Times, Edward Luce. While in India, he had taken it upon himself to demonise the Hindu organisations both in the UK and in India, in the same line as the lobbyists attack on IDRF mentioned above. This demonisation made the UK Charity Commission to set up an inquiry on some of the Sangh-related Hindu organisations in his country. And the office bearers of the organisations suffered the same type of mental trauma that Prakash did in the USA.
Luce got his editors in the UK to write to the Charity Commission a letter in which it was said that the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, the trust set up to rebuild the temple in Ayodhya, has an apparent wealth of $350 million, and the unaccounted wealth is many times more. When I asked him the source of his information, he said that this is what he was told. He merely parroted the lies that the lobbyists and the PR machinery were spreading, and so allowed himself to be a part of the same machinery. He did not check the public documents that are available in the concerned government office. But then he would have to tell the truth, I guess – which would be very uncomfortable.
But it is not just the non-Indian journalists who are part of the effort to help in the lobbying against India. In New York, we have the Indian-American, Pankaj Mishra, to do their job. He seems to be very popular for his anti-India writings for left-inclined publications in the US and the UK.
There is another expatriate, an American citizen of Indian origin, Siddharth Varadarajan, who is also a part of the PR machinery for the lobbyist in US. Except for two or three years teaching in the US right after completing his education, Varadarajan has been working with the English media in India since 1995. His wife, Nandini Sundar, teaches at Delhi University, and is a known supporter of Naxalite causes, and other issues that are very popular with the Marxists (of various shades) in India.
The role of Indian analysts
In the context of the visit of Modi to the US, Dr Arvind Virmani tweeted: “I am amazed how personal agendas of some Indian’s are inducing them to undermine celebrations/success of their PMs visit to USA. Shame on them.” Since Virmani has been working in senior positions in the Indian government for a long time I emailed to him as follows: “Unless people in your position name and shame them, the tweet of yours will be mere platitude and not solve the problem.” He has chosen not to respond, despite a couple of follow-up email.
Many believe, and I concur, that Virmani was referring to Rajdeep Sardesai, amongst others, in this tweet. So, I sent him the following tweet by Sardesai: “Glad we caught the idiots on cam. The only way to shame the mob was to show them.” The idiots he is referring to are the WMNCs. And what he ‘showed’ was selective, that is he did not show that it was he who started the verbal abuse as well as the physical fight. But Virmani chooses to remain silent.
As with the Indian-American analysts in the US think-tanks, most of the Indian journalists, who would not like to be called left-liberals, also choose to be silent on the activities of the lobbyists in America. I have provided information and perspectives to Swapan Dasgupta and Ashok Malik, amongst others. I have contended with them that unless the lobbyists are exposed and isolated, their own voices will not get the attention that is deserved.
Galbraith and Durant
In the early 1960s, Galbraith called India a functioning anarchy. In 2001, he said: “There are some things you say to attract attention. I wanted to emphasise the point…that the success of India did not depend on the government. It depended on the energy, ingenuity and other qualifications of the Indian people. And the Indian quality to put ideas into practice. I was urging an obvious point that the progress of India did not depend on the government, as important as that might be, but was enormously dependent on the initiative, individual and group – of the Indian people. I feel the same way now (as I did some forty years ago) but I would even emphasise it more. We’ve seen many years of Indian progress, and that is attributable to the energy and genius of the Indian people and the Indian culture.”
This truly explains why India has been able to survive as a vibrant nation despite the considerable efforts that were made to put it down. Will Durant, the American historian, found out what the British colonisers did to India. After a lengthy visit to India, he wrote: “I came away resolved to study living India as well as the India with the brilliant past; to learn more of this unique Revolution that fought with suffering accepted but never returned; to read the Gandhi of today as well as the Buddha of long ago. And the more I read the more I was filled with astonishment and indignation at the apparently conscious and deliberate bleeding of India by England throughout a hundred and fifty years. I began to feel that I had come upon the greatest crime in all history.”
The WMNCs in America, and the Indian counterparts all over the world, just wish to be left alone, and not hounded by the lobbyists. They wish that Bhagwati and the Indian-Americans who are very rich and have class muster the courage to stand up to the destructive programmes of the lobbyists. Unless these lobbyists are exposed for the evil that they are, Bhagwati’s ideas will not be implemented with the speed that is necessary to solve the many problems that India faces.
The WMNCs will always consciously recognise these problems – all that they want is that the lobbyists quietly slink away and stop making life difficult for them. The WMNCs wish to solve the problems in a positive way, and not having to waste their time in defending themselves against the canards that are spread against them. The WMNCs want the media, in India and abroad, to be professional in their journalism and not be a part of the PR machinery of the lobbyists.
The WMNCs in America, and elsewhere are more than willing to lend their shoulders to resist Islamic terrorism and the designs of China. In this effort, if there is an opportunity to have their photos taken with important personalities, they will not say no. But they will not make it a condition. And they would like Jagdish Bhagwati to join them in the effort.