Howdy Modi: An attempt to create a positive optics when Modi’s euphoria is withering
Howdy Modi! That’s what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mega event in the USA is called in a typical southwestern accent. Modi will be addressing the upper-caste Hindu Indian-American community and their white-supremacist allies in the Howdy Modi event, which will take place on Sunday, 22 September 2019, from 10am onwards at NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas. More than 50,000 tickets of the event are sold like hotcakes and Texas is all set to welcome Modi like a rockstar.
Modi will be joined by the American fascist dictator Donald Trump, the white-supremacist who despise any skin colour that’s not white and is infamous for his anti-immigration views. Yet, he will be sharing the stage with Modi and wooing the brown-skinned Indian-Americans attending the event, who are a large immigrant group in the US.
Islamophobia and racial supremacist Nazi doctrine are the common grounds for Modi and Trump to forge a strange but strong alliance. On one hand, we have Hindutva fascism, promoted globally by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of which Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are inalienable parts, on the other hand, we have the white-supremacist fascism, promoted by a plethora of organisations inspired by the Nazis, now united under Trump’s banner.
This will be a second mega American event for Modi, who is known for his PR and perception management skills that provide him competitive leverage against his contemporaries in Indian politics. Earlier, on 28 September 2014, Modi participated in a $1.5m-worth mega event organised in Madison Square of New York, where he sold the dream of his “new India” soon after becoming the prime minister.
Howdy Modi won’t be a different ball game, except for Trump’s presence. In Houston too, Modi will apparently relabel and resell the same narrative that he sold five years ago, albeit, with a strong flavour of jingoism to titillate his hardcore Hindutva fanatic followers.
However, it will be difficult for Modi to sell his euphoria of development and economic transformation if one starts judging him objectively over his disastrous performance in the last five years.
Actually, it’s the withering of this “Modi magic” that’s causing a kerfuffle in the global monopoly-finance capital’s boardrooms. Foreign investors have withdrawn more than $4.5 billion from the Indian market, after investing $45 billion in a period of six years due to their diminishing trust on Modi and his economic management skills.
This exodus is triggered by the failure of the Modi regime in liberalising the economy and providing the so-called “ease of doing business” with dream projects like Make in India, Startup India, Standup India, etc, about which neither Modi nor his pugnacious cohorts utter any word anymore.
Despite promising a liberalised, barrier-free reign of plunder for big foreign corporations and their Indian crony-comprador allies, Modi added more controls, imposed higher taxes and adopted selective corporate appeasement approach, which benefitted a handful of crony-comprador capitalists close to the BJP and the RSS, along with their foreign corporate masters, in acquiring ubiquitous control over the Indian economy. The larger section of drooling corporations was left stranded in a never-ending queue.
Under Modi’s rule in the last five years, India’s economy got entrapped in a chasm of despair. The rickety economy is continuing to plummet as the GDP growth fell to 5% in the quarter ending June 2019, a 27-quarter-low. The Indian rupee is incessantly falling against the US dollar due to the exit of foreign investors from India en masse.
Big banks, especially the public sector banks (PSBs) face a severe bad loan challenge as crony-comprador donors of the BJP duped them with impunity. The Modi regime couldn’t do anything to reduce the non-performing assets of these PSBs, rather, quite conspicuously, chose the path of merging the PSBs to privatise them by selling them to the same corporate entities who plundered them hitherto.
The credit flow to the market has been badly affected. It hindered employment creation by the entrepreneurs, while at the same time it caused a grievous injury to the crisis-ridden real estate sector.
Massive job cuts are happening in India even when the unemployment rate has skyrocketed to a four-decade-high 6.1%, which the government, despite accepting after a long delay, is constantly ignoring to avoid ignominy.
The Indian automobile sector and fast-moving consumer goods sector, crippled by a severe demand crunch, are languishing and resorting to large-scale layoffs to save themselves from bankruptcy.
More than a million people may lose their jobs in the automobile sector alone in the coming days, while the ripple effect will cause severe impacts on the lives of the poor and the vulnerable rural communities.
Though Modi promised 20m jobs a year and 100m jobs by the end of his five-year-long first tenure, no employment opportunities were created to absorb the growing number of job seekers entering the market each month. Rather, the nonchalant Modi regime has always distracted the onlookers from the unemployment scenario by using subterfuges.
Modi didn’t speak about the economic crisis and the massive unemployment issue once; he audaciously avoided the issue during the 2019 general election while peddling extreme chauvinism to polarise Hindu voters. His finance minister has been making ridiculous claims to show that the economy is recovering. Most of Modi’s cabinet members are in a denial mode, while the government continues to peg its target to achieve a $5 trillion economy goal by 2024, which it can only do now by fudging numbers.
Recently, the Modi regime usurped Rs 1.76 trillion ($245.46 billion) from India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, without stating any reason. India’s finance minister couldn’t provide clarity to the press on where the money would be used.
It’s feared that the money will end up to the coffers of the big crony-comprador capitalist supporters of the BJP-RSS and will also be used for incessant propaganda to create a brand Modi hype. In the first five years of its rule, the Modi regime spent Rs 48 billion in advertising and propaganda alone.
The present economic ordeal started with Modi’s whimsical frenzy to implement a test project of the USAID to push a cashless economy in a principally cash-driven economy.
Funded by big banks and payment gateways, Modi unleashed havoc on the poor of the country by demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes on 8 November 2016, which created a severe cash crunch and pushed millions of poor people, especially contractual workers, semi-skilled workers, agricultural workers and toiling people into the brink of semi-starvation and semi-pauperisation.
Demonetisation was the first shock that sent the ripples throughout the economy, rendering thousands jobless and fuelled a massive reverse migration to the countryside, as the migrant workers, with no work and money, returned to their villages to add far more burden on the already-stressed rural economy. By the time, the situation started normalising, the Modi regime sent another shocker in one mid-night exercise.
In 2017, Modi rolled out the Goods and Services Tax (GST), another disastrous economic policy that ruined many small and medium businesses. The GST was rolled out to do-away with multiple taxes at the federal and the state levels, to keep a uniform rate for all items throughout the country using an ambitious — one country, one tax — slogan.
The GST was rolled out without considering the vast economic inequality prevailing in the country, where people of each region earn a different wage for the same type of work. They all were burdened with the same amount of tax on commodities and services. This, along with a complicated eco-system, cost of filing, obfuscate processes, disarrayed policies, constant rate revisions, etc, resulted in the ruining of businesses and fall in tax collection, causing a drop in revenues.
The excessive government control, tax terrorism and selective corporate appeasement irked many and even turned a large section of the US corporations against Modi and the BJP.
Many players in the US politics are also infuriated over Modi not providing equal opportunities to plunder India to all big American corporations and for denying the US monopoly-finance capital singular and exclusive access to the Indian market, especially in the lucrative defence sector, where Russia and Israel are big suppliers.
This is making a horizontal difference between the US presidential hopefuls on their India standpoint, albeit each of them supports the cause of neo-colonial hegemony of the US on India and South Asia.
This fallout with the western corporations that invested a lot in building his brand initially, despite the dominant section of the US ruling classes, represented by Trump and his coterie, still supporting him, allowed a large number of American and western press launching no-holds-barred criticism of the Modi regime’s communal policies, its discrimination against Muslims, its support to the mob lynching and cow vigilante terrorism and, above all, its gross atrocities against eight million Kashmiri people, who are locked up in their homes or are jailed and tortured by a brutal military rule the Modi regime subjected to.
Though the Indian mainstream press reported Kashmir’s ordeal to some extent, they couldn’t match the voracity with which the foreign press exposed the human rights violations at grassroots. These media houses, including the empire’s favourite (Trump’s most loathed) The New York Times, Washington Post, etc, also came under Modi’s volley of fire, for daring to question his regime and its hyper-nationalist and a bigoted narrative on Kashmir.
Apart from Kashmir, the Modi regime’s project of building Auswitz-style large concentration camps (named “detention centres”) to lock up 1.9m people, who are excluded from a dubious citizenship record called National Register of Citizens (NRC) in India’s northeastern state Assam, is also exposed by the western media on several occasions.
The NRC was commissioned to weed out Bengali-speaking Muslims as “illegal immigrants” going against the norms of the United Nations. Trump, who himself has the fantasy of building a wall to prevent Mexican immigrants entering the US, and in building large concentration camps to detain and torture those whom his regime accuses of being immigrants, ensured that the US government didn’t criticise Modi for this Nazi agenda.
When Modi will come to the Howdy Modi event, the Indian yellow press and its bedazzled vassals will screen the glittering of saffron to the Indian people, especially Modi’s feral support base, as evidence of Modi’s surge of popularity around the world and endorsement of foreign powers to his rule.
They will cover up the fact that Modi, who brought a catastrophe for the Indian poor and toiling masses, isn’t celebrated by anyone sensible but a batch of 50,000 boisterous Hindutva fanatic Indian-American diaspora, none of whom would leave their privileged American life to return to a Modi-fied India.
These same Indian Americans will cry foul if the US government, following Modi’s NRC model, tries to strip them of their citizenship. They will complain loudly if xenophobic and racist mobs target them in the US, but they will vociferously support the Hindutva fascists carrying out mob lynching at an industrial scale in India.
It’s obvious that due to their class-caste position and their non-dependence on India for existence, these dimwit Brahminical fanatics, who are yearning to catch a glimpse of Modi in real for their shared Islamophobic outlook, will hoot and cheer for him and his boss Trump. However, their support and gala show in Houston, a place dominated by white supremacist fascist politics and anti-Mexican xenophobia, can’t be equated with the endorsement of Modi’s politics by the majority of Americans.
These 50,000 who will attend the Howdy Modi event, are affiliated with the Texas India Forum (TIF). A little delving into the partner list of the TIF will show that they are mostly the Hindutva fascism-affiliated organisations, especially those associated with the RSS, the BJP, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) — the international arm of the RSS — and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which is an outfit used by the RSS to radicalise and politically polarise the Hindu priests.
Ironically, the VHP, which has been complicit in several anti-Muslim and anti-Christian pogroms in India, is designated as a militant organisation in the CIA World Fact Book, 2018. The presence of the US president in an event, where a designated militant organisation is an indirect endorser, isn’t merely paradoxical, it’s also an indicator of the nadir that the white supremacist fascist Trump can stoop to in order to woo voters using Islamophobia.
All praises heaped on Modi, the cacophony of his Hindutva fascist fans, the jubilation over Modi’s persecution of Muslims in Kashmir and Assam, the wild chest-thumping over the prospects of a Hindu Rashtra by 2022, etc, will actually help the BJP and the RSS to camouflage the Modi regime’s grotesque reality and its disastrous failure in managing India’s economy from the American people.
The optics of the Howdy Modi event will add layers of sheen to make the Modi regime look glittery to the hapless, clueless and jobless Indian poor, toiling masses and the lower middle class so that they can remain distracted from the principal issues concerning their lives.
The participants of the Howdy Modi event will eventually be remembered in history as 21st century Nazis, who cheered for the tyrant. Though the event will remain mostly the marketing promotion of Hindutva fascism by its organic followers in the US, the anti-fascists of the US, the broad masses of left, democratic and progressive forces, will also use the occasion to tell the world and history that they won’t let fascism win.
Through massive protests, demonstrations, public rallies and events, the anti-fascist forces of the US are going show the world that the alternative is not only possible – it’s there, fighting all injustice and growing a large support base, even among the “Woke” Desi people.
Howdy Modi can’t be a simple event that will showcase Modi in the brightest shades, it will also become a spectacular event that will show the bitter struggle of the American anti-fascists against Modi and his reactionary regime.
In their fight against the fascist Trump regime, the American anti-fascists can’t forget the Indian cause and must forge a strong bond with Indian anti-fascists waging the same struggle thousands of miles away. At the end of the day, according to the infallible rule of history, fascism will be cast to the trash bin even if Modi and the Hindutva fascists spend billions on organising events like Howdy Modi.
An avid reader and a merciless political analyst. When not writing then either reading something, debating something or sipping espresso with a dash of cream. Street photographer. Tweets as @la_muckraker