Indian Civil Society Pushes Back Against Abuse of Power

Abuse of power isn’t new to India but the latest scandal is taking a different turn.

Outraged at not getting premium seating, a member of parliament belonging to the Shiv Sena, a regional party in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling coalition, on Thursday refused to deplane after his flight landed in New Delhi.

After repeated entreaties to disembark, the MP allegedly beat an Air India employee and tried to throw him down the landing stairs.

With a sandal, Ravindra Gaikwad repeatedly hit a shift manager who was sent to calm him down, while threatening to throw the man off the aircraft, flag carrier Air India Ltd said in a statement the same day. Video of the incident showed him pushing the airline employee toward the door.

Air India said it had informed the MP’s staff in advance that the aircraft didn’t have a business class. The passenger was accommodated in the first row of the all-economy plane because he wanted to take that particular flight, the carrier said.

The MP later bragged that of course he had beaten up the Air India employee because he’s a Shiv Sena MP who doesn’t put up with disrespect.

“Yes. I hit him.  I wanted to throw him out of the plane,” the Shiv Sena MP told TIMES NOW. “Is he really an officer. He is not even a buffalo cart driver. He doesn’t know how to deal with customers,”

[By the way, shabash! to the air India hostess who stops Gaikwad from pushing the other employee down the stairs and then gives Gaikwad a piece of her mind, “you’re a role model, no?” she says defiantly.]

air india scandalGaikwad is no stranger to abuse of power:

Gaikwad has seven cases registered against him, including that of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and charges of stopping a public servant from performing his duty, his 2014 election affidavit showed. He was also involved in the infamous incident at the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi when he was among 11 Sena MPs who forced a Muslim worker to break his Ramzan fast [i.e. force fed him, AT]…The MPs were complaining of poor quality ‘chapati.’

Air India and its employee have registered a complaint with the Delhi police who have opened an investigation, it will be interesting to see what they do. Civil society, however, is making its views very clear. The Indian media are raking Gaikwad over the coals. The hashtag #GoonGaikwad is popular.

Even more important, Air India, the government owned airline, has refused to fly Gaikwad. Air India and its political masters have long engaged in a mutually profitable relationship of backscratching, featherbedding and kickbacking so for them to put their foot down even against this kind of outrage is remarkable. Moreover, in a show of solidarity, all of the private airlines have followed suit so Gaikwad has been reduced to trying to book flights under various aliases. He’s been stopped every time, however, and in the end he had to drive from Mumbai to Delhi (a nearly 900 mile trip).

This kind of pushback by civil society against the abuse of power is in many ways unprecedented in recent times. It’s an interesting marker of change in India.


Lucky, things are different in the US. If Trump tried something like this, right-wingers would never try to spin it as reasonable.

Trump has his own plane (and flight attendants):

All the easier to grab them right by the p*ssy.

Well, I guess it defines who you define Air Force One when talking about the commander in chief, though in theory, the plane belongs to the citizens of the United States of Americans. The flight attendants are likely to be his subordinates, which may or may not be a more hierarchical relationship. There are some things that the commander in chief can order his subordinates to do, being at the very top of the military chain of command, that no CEO could, while at the same time, there are some things the commander in chief probably cannot do, such as summarily dismiss a military member from the service. For example, by forgetting to put the cheeseburger on a plate, without taking off the wrapper first.

(That is not precisely a joke, by the way - 'Falwell joked about Trump loving Wendy’s cheeseburgers to the huge crowd of Trump supporters.

“I’m a country boy from Virginia,” Falwell said, adding that when he joined Trump on his plane he thought, “Here’s going to be champagne and caviar.”

“He broke out Wendy’s cheeseburgers and fries,” Falwell joked.'

"Lucky, things are different in the US. "

Our U.S. politicians have much more access to dedicated government aircraft and vehicles. Less need to mingle with hoi polloi.

Many Federal departments have large fleets of aircraft and automobiles, routinely used to ferry their bigshots around on expensive convenience travel. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are particular abusers. Congressmen have the Andrews AFB VIP air fleet at their disposal for "official" travel. Governors & mayors are notorious for using police helicopters for convenience travel.

Also, bigwig politicians at all levels are now very fond of motorcades for local ground travel. Not just the unnecessary, multi-vehicle caravans -- but the large-scale temporary blocking of normal traffic on local roads & highways by police... so that these arrogant government politicians may speed comfortably to their next campaign fund raiser.

The FBI also has a fleet of spy planes which are registered under front firms.

Yes, this budget allocation is so legitimate, that they need to use front companies to provide the public service of spying on entire cities that never asked to be spied on.

Cities should have greater jurisdiction over the airways, with exceptions to be restricted to "there might be a nuke go off in the next minute or day" sort of situation. So, I understand that ongoing capacity is required to be able to do that.

Spying on all people in all places in all of the main US cities is not the way to go about that. Statistically speaking, it is partially true that this is precisely what they are doing.

Yet another reason to support slashing every government program.

Governors spend tens of thousands for an unnecessary rides in choppers, therefore cutting food stamps in half is a good idea?

Even more important, Air India, the government owned airline, has refused to fly Gaikwad.

Actually it looks like the same sort of Deep State objections to the BJP that Trump is getting rather than any action by Civil Society. Air India is run by the government and was long a darling of the Indian National Congress. I imagine that the BJP has not got around to sweeping everyone else out of their cushy jobs-for-life yet.

India would be much better off if it stopped messing around with democracy and moved toward a Chinese-style communist government without elected leaders. Throw in a bit of free-market capitalism to keep the large, private employers around.

It doesn't matter what the system is, in the end Indians are still Indians. West Bengal is not run better or worse than Uttar Pradesh.

The really interesting questions are 1. Why do Chinese officials restrain their corruption enough so that the economy can work and 2. why are Indian voters happy to sell their votes for so little? I mean, sure, corruption and all that. But why vote for people who give so little in return?

And yet, Kerala seems to be better run than many other places, not only in comparison to India but to many other countries.

Might have something to do with this, which is unlikely to be discussed by Prof. Tabarrok, particularly the political activism aspect of a functioning civil society - 'The Kerala model of development, is the style of development that has been practised in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

This state has achieved improvements in material conditions of living, reflected in indicators of social development, comparable to those of many developed countries, even though the state's per capita income is low in comparison to them. Achievements such as low levels of infant mortality and population growth, and high levels of literacy and life expectancy, along with the factors responsible for such achievements have been considered characteristic results of the Kerala model.

More precisely, the Kerala model has been defined as:

A set of high material quality-of-life indicators coinciding with low per-capita incomes, both distributed across nearly the entire population of Kerala.

A set of wealth and resource redistribution programmes that have largely brought about the high material quality-of-life indicators.

High levels of political participation and activism among ordinary people along with substantial numbers of dedicated leaders at all levels.

Kerala's mass activism and committed cadre were able to function within a largely democratic structure, which their activism has served to reinforce.'

One word: REMITTANCES. So please STFU.

Those remittances are from Indians.

Kerala is different. What could be so unusual about this heavily Christian part of India? I have no idea.

But it is not their fondness for voting to the Left. Bengal does that too and it is a cesspit even by Indian standards.

Here are some things to keep in mind about Kerala:

1. Headstart: even by the time of independence in 1947, Kerala's literacy (somewhere around 45% then)
was about 4 times the national average;

2. Road connectivity: almost no place in Kerala qualifies as "remote", so not much of "hinterland"
for feudal practices to thrive;

3. Remittances: Kerala has very few industries and its agriculture is in shambles. It survives because, as Dmitry Helios said above, large numbers of people work in other states of India as well as Gulf countries etc., and send money home.

4. It is not "heavily Christian" as "So Much For Subtlety" says. More than 50% are Hindus who form the majority, next come Muslims and only then Christians.

5. It benefited from not being directly ruled by the British, and thus escaped a lot of the British induced famines and having to be a cheap source of raw material for British industries (partly because cotton etc. don't grow well there). Indeed, parts of Northern Kerala were ruled by the British, and those regions are poorer and educationally more backward than southern Kerala.

6. Caste used to be a big thing in Kerala till about the end of nineteenth century - in this respect Kerala used to be *worse* and not better than many other parts of India (so much so that Swami Vivekananda from Bengal called it a "lunatic asylum" in spite of having seen other parts of India including the BIMARU states). But somehow in the first half of the twentieth century, much before the communists came to power, things changed. Some people attribute it to social reformers from the so called lower castes, such as Sree Narayana Guru.

7. I don't know how much difference this caused, but womens' education seems to have had less resistance in Kerala than in other states. Swami Vivekananda was surprised to find women talking to him in Sanskrit, while in most other parts of India women were not educated in Sanskrit.

8. I don't know the details but the land reforms act in Kerala achieved much more redistribution than elsewhere in India. This was not a 100% positive thing: with the size of the holdings becoming small, the agriculture was affected adversely (back then Amartya Sen used to argue that small holdings increased productivity!). But it could be legitimately argued that this was a small price to pay for enabling larger sections of the population to feed themselves.

When manifest as against abuse of present state powers, this is normally thought of in terms of institutional breaks towards abuse of power after a transfer of power.

So, what you say is almost certainly highly relevant to the fact of this having actually occurred, but it's not clear that this is necessarily a problem. They couldn't do that arbitrarily for a really dumb reason, for example. (I doubt that, anyways).

Also, note that the private carriers followed suit. They would only do that if they calculated more profit as coming from solidarity against such abuses.

This MP is not from BJP.

Correct. I wonder why everyone else here is assuming otherwise.

The article says Shiv Sena, which is also a (particular kind of) Hindu nationalist party has been a coalition partner of the BJP in various guises since 1998 (at least so says Wikipedia).

Anyway, both parties are part of the Hindu right wing establishment, even if the BJP is far more moderate.

"Hindu right wing" or "Hindu nationalist" can range anywhere from believing that the constitution is today's "dharma" to wanting to establish Hindu theocracy. In fact, this is why words like "Hindu nationalist" are thrown in frequently by the US media: you can use one of the tamer interpretations to claim accuracy (and accuse any critic of having a chip on her/his shoulder), whereas the more extreme interpretations will work their way into the unsuspecting readers' minds.

I used to have a neighbor in small town US, who once asked me "What is the difference between Al Qaeda and Iran, aren't they all Muslims?" Technically a valid question if you choose to give enough benefit of doubt to the questioner, you see.

That said, appreciate your response.

Colorful tales from the sub-continent. Alex Tabbarok reporting.

First, '“your a role model, no?”' should probably read “you're a role model, no?”.

Second, just imagine that everywhere 'MP' appears, the term is replaced by 'billionaire' or 'child of owner/chairman.' Then try to find this story highlighted at Marginal Revolution - 'She's nuts for good service! Furious airline exec's daughter turned jet back to gate at JFK because she was served macadamias in a bag, not a dish

Heather Cho, a senior vice-president at Korean Air, is facing up to 10 years in prison

She is accused of demanding the removal of a crew member from a flight on December 5 for serving her nuts in a bag rather than on a plate

The eldest daughter of airline Chairman Cho Yang Ho forced the Incheon-bound flight to taxi back to the terminal to drop of the inept employee

A senior Korean Air executive is facing up to 10 years in prison over claims that she delayed a plane leaving JFK over the way she was served nuts.

Heather Cho, a senior vice-president at the airline, demanded the removal of a crew member from a flight on December 5 for failing to serve nuts on a plate.

Cho, who is also the eldest daughter of airline Chairman Cho Yang Ho, forced the Incheon-bound flight to taxi back to the terminal to drop of the inept employee.

Heather Cho, a senior vice-president at Korean Air, is facing up to 10 years in prison over claims that she delayed a plane leaving JFK over the way she was served nuts

South Korea’s Transport Ministry announced on Monday that they are investigating if Cho violated the Aviation Safety Law, which states that passengers should not cause disturbances, including using violent language or yelling, for safety reasons.

Flight 86 was already on the runway for its 12:50 a.m. departure from JFK when Cho lost her temper after an unidentified worker placed some macadamia nuts in front of her as she sat in first class, reports the Korean Times.

The junior flight attendant's faux pas was to serve the nuts inside the bag that they came in rather than presenting them on a small dish - as is protocol.

Cho screamed at the attendant and told him to bring out the company’s in-flight service manual so he could read the proper nut-handling guidelines.

When he failed to find it, Cho lost her cool and ordered him to get off the flight.'

Her final sentence, after appealing a 10 month jail term, was two years probation. Korean civil society seems to have complacently yawned at that result, much like American society would.

Always interesting to see how the comments are evaluated.

The Indian savage regime has enslaved the toiling masses of India. It must be crushed by the righteous blows of civilizarion.

You never fail to crack me up, bless you.

I am being serious!

The caste system reflected in Tabarrok's post is minor league compared to the caste system in America. I have a home in the low country, not far from a very expensive, very exclusive, very private island resort, where the swells from NYC and such places own "cottages" (is a 10,000-15,000 house a "cottage"?) that they visit on weekends by flying in and flying out (I call the area "fly in and fly out America" as opposed to "flyover America") of the nearby public airport that exists for the sole purpose of the swells not having to make the 10 mile drive from the real public airport (which has scheduled commercial flights and exists not only for the swells). I suppose I don't object to my taxes being used to avoid inconvenience of the swells, but would it be an inconvenience for the swells to fly out other than at 5-6 on Monday morning, the roaring jet engines rattling windows and sleepy non-swells (including women and children!). The worst of it is the annual spring meeting of swells who belong to a not so secret society of very important swells. No, it's not so much the number of jets (50 to 100) it's the size of the things, massive jets that could transport hundreds but occupied by one or two swells and the flight crew. When they fly out on Monday morning, the ground shakes, the animals flee, and the world is a less safe place as the very important swells go back to doing the nasty work they do.

"The caste system reflected in Tabarrok’s post is minor league compared to the caste system in America. "

After children of India's Untouchables learn about human misery in school, they later alarm their parents with tales of Americans choosing to live near airports.

The swells in India expect priority seating on a commercial flight; the swells in America expect their own jet, their own airport, their own schedule, their own world so they don't have to mingle with the untouchables. The rules are different here.

So the "swells" in India are corrupt politicians who demand freebies, while the American "swells" pay for things that they want.

Those two groups of people are analogous in what way?

You haven't demonstrated that the rules are different, Only that the resources are. If india suddenly saw an influx of trillions of dollars in wealth Im quite sure they would be demanding more than priority seating on a commercial flight. Same rules though


This is why Donald Trump has his own airplane.

This idea of Professor Tabarrok's is .. sort of bizarre. Look, I love India, I'm a child of Indian immigrants. I've been many times.
But the Prime Minister is a genocidaire and the very fact that Shiv Sena is in the coalition tells you something about the attitude of Indians to uncivilized overreaching government.

There are many immigrants who would disagree with you and contend the current Government is superior to the ineffective Congress Raaj.
No one can justify Gaikwad's behaviour and as Alex points out , no longer do Indian citizens take it lying down ( when was the last time you heard of all airlines cancelling an MP's ticket) ; however criminals as politicians are in all parties, not just the Shiv Sena.

Yet the courts have found no grounds to indict Modi on, though many attempts have been made.

Look, I'm a libertarian, I don't care for the guy, but at some point we have to let the events in Gujarat in 2002 go and move on. Since before Partition, it's sadly been quite easy to muster up lynch mobs to do murder on the basis of religion in India (as well as our neighbors to the east and west.) So regardless of what Modi felt about Muslims and Godhra, or his culpability in what followed, a number of Muslims in Gujarat would likely have been killed during those days (with or without his assent.) So calling him a genocidaire is bit much; it makes a third of the country that voted for him (we have a parliamentary system) moral monsters.

Also, his refusal to apologize or utter words of sympathy can be put down to simple political calculation rather than an admission of guilt. It's the same reason why Trump refuses to express remorse for anything that does not play to his base's prejudices.

I agree about the Shiv Sena; it's a full-blown fascist party made up of thugs, but why does Prof. Alex think it's part of the ruling coalition? The BJP itself won an outright majority of seats in the lower house in 2014; they didn't need to form a coalition. (But then I don't follow political machinations too closely, so I could be wrong.)

One wing of the Shiv Sena (ironically, it is the more respectable one) is an ally of the BJP in the State Govt of Maharashtra but not in Mumbai municipal Corp.
'Civil Society' has pushed back before on many occasions. Ved Mehta chronicled the story of a Congress Minister who got drunk and abused a telephonist back in the Eighties and then displayed wounded innocence when at the subsequent media hue and cry. Since then, there have been such incidents- some genuine, some staged. On one occasion a senior Civil Servant's wife accused the son of a female minister of having raped her over a long period. The charge was bogus but both mother and son spent time in jail.

Gaikwad is a particularly repellent thug and his misconduct hurts his patron who is under pressure from his better looking cousin. The problem with dynastic parties is that they find it difficult to discipline 'loyalists'. By contrast, Modi's type of celibate grass-roots activist- or, the new kid on the block, Yogi Adityanath- can abandon colleagues when they are caught on camera doing horrible things. Thus, though Modi himself was found not guilty of 'genocide', a minister of his- a lady Doctor from Sindh who had egged on the mob- was sent to jail. It does not appear that Sindhi anger at this outcome did Modi any particular harm.

The real problem in India has always been the dilatory Judicial system. The legal case arising out of the assassination of a senior Cabinet Minister in 1975 dragged on till 2014. Another problem is the routine filing of false court cases.
'Civil Society' does not really provide any sort of countervailing power or influence. However Public Interest Litigation has found a sympathetic ear in the Supreme Court and so it is clear that legal redress is available.
Modi did initiate reforms to bring justice within the reach of the common man in Gujarat. However, it remains a huge challenge which previous administrations have proved reluctant to tackle.

I have to say that as apologetics go, that is spectacular. You are really saying that Muslims would have died anyway so we shouldn't blame Modi?

And yeah it sort of does make the third of the country that voted for him moral monsters.

I would think that would make them heroes to you, SMFS. You seem to believe Muslims have it coming to them.

'You are really saying that Muslims would have died anyway so we shouldn’t blame Modi?'
I'm afraid that is the only reasonable view. Since 2002, there have been some good studies on how these communal riots work- who organises them, why and when the police get involved, who benefits and who suffers from them.
One reason such studies have been helpful is that it has become politically feasible, indeed desirable, to bring charges against elected politicians who take a hand in rioting. This is because we now realise that, even if we are so evil as to thirst for 'revenge' meted out by a mob, there is no need for elected politicians to get their hands dirty. If they do so, they become vulnerable to pressure from the local gangsters who are happy to do the job for free because they gain rents associated with extortion, 'land sharking', etc.
One thing these studies show is that even if a minority in a particular areas starts the riot and is better prepared for it, they get by far the worse off it. The pattern was set by 'Direct Action Day' in Calcutta in 1946 and has been endlessly repeated since then.
Take Mahatma Gandhi's assassination. Since a Chitpavan Brahmin committed the foul deed, the Brahmans in Pune were attacked. No doubt some had swords and revolvers and had spent time drilling. They were still cut down because they were a minority.
Similarly, in Delhi and Meerut &c, after Indira's assassination, Sikhs with military training proved no match for lumpen mobs- castigated at that time as Bengali Muslims (i.e. a code word for people of slighter build, supposedly lacking a martial tradition).

Numbers count once you have a cycle of provocation and revenge. The administration retreats. In 1984, the Sikh president was powerless as was the Home Minister and the numerous Sikh army officers. Without question, some Youth Congress leaders egged on the crowds. These were 'secular' upper middle class people who had plenty of Sikh friends.
At the time Rajiv, a neophyte, honestly did not know that he could and should have stopped them- even if he had been intent on exacting revenge on innocent Sikhs. As I said, the thing would have been done for free.
Govts. don't actually need to spend money on murderous mobs. On the other hand, calling in the Army to shoot that scum is a good idea. So is lifting curfew early. However, the biggest lesson of 2002 is that you need to transfer existing SHO and other key police personnel so as to break the nexus with the local criminals. This was actually done for Modi by the Central Govt. because the Godhra incident was viewed by New Delhi as part of Pakistan's strategy to stoke up tensions on the border so as to avoid going after Osama.
In other words, Modi got lucky. He was able to break the cycle of violence which began in '69 because the Army was willing to come in and shoot Hindus. Once the corrupt police were shifted, he had a brief breathing space which he used effectively to tackle structural problems. He was rewarded for ending the cycle of riots- the attack on the Akshardam temple was passed off as a purely Pakistani operation- by getting re-elected. But by then Gujarat had balanced growth so his stature rose so high it took him to the top job in the country.

Modi was not re-elected because he had ethnically cleansed Muslims. If the Hindus wanted to do so, they could have done it long ago. Indians look to the Govt. for Civil Service jobs with pensions and other benefits. Murder they are quite capable of carrying out for themselves. This, as Mahatma Gandhi very well knew, is the true meaning of Ahimsa.
Take Emperor Ashoka- the first great votary of non-violence. He was paying a bounty on the heads of Jain monks out of the privy purse. Unfortunately one of his Buddhist chums happened to be naked and so was mistaken for a Jain and beheaded. Anyway, Emperor Ashoka stopped spending money from the Public Treasury on killing monks. Things like that are best left to the market.
This is not to say Indians favour anarchy. Riots are terrifying more especially because of the rumours that swirl around. An Army flag march restores confidence like nothing else.
Modi was re-elected because he and George Fernandes gave the Army shoot to kill orders so as to disperse mobs. There was a question as to whether Hindu soldiers would fire on Hindus avenging a massacre of their own. Because the Army knew of the tense border situation, they obeyed orders. But, that set a precedent. The Rule of Law was strengthened on a permanent basis.
This does not mean minorities won't be massacred by majorities in India. They will if there is a provocation or some other incentive obtains for it to happen. However, chances are the majorities doing the ethnic cleansing won't be Hindu and so the problem will be localised.


Good summary!

If you have proof of Modi's culpability, please bring it forward. Otherwise, neither you nor I were in the room where the instructions to massacre were allegedly given. Neither of our (and yes, I am partial to the theory that he knew and was involved in some way) feelings can stand up in a court of law. And if you are suggesting that we ignore courts and take matters in our own hands, we'll be no different from the men that make up the mobs.

Anyone who voted for Modi believing that he was guilty of the accused crimes is a moral monster. Anyone who voted for him because he committed those crimes is even more so. But the overwhelming majority of Indians who voted for him did so for reasons that polyglot has excellently summarized below. (That he's now reneged on his "minimum government" pledge is a different issue.) Most Indians took a negative or skeptical attitude towards him a decade ago. But multiple court cases and exonerations convinced them that there was nothing to see there, so we should move forward. And others have been punished for the Gujarat killings, so it's not like the issue was completely ignored by the justice system.

Very naive. The rich and the powerful have powerful have billions or maybe trillions offshore in Singapore and the tax havens. This money is used to bribe the politicians, who are answerable to no one except their paymasters. Dubious that much of anything will happen to this miscreant. The western media loves to identify India as the world's largest democracy, and yes there are elections, but with vast majority of the country illiterate and impoverished with votes for sale it is a democracy in name only.

The Panama Papers supports your statement, but most countries directly or indirectly "sell" votes. For example, in some American states, unions vote for Democratic candidates in order to maintain union influence. Is that not a sale of some kind, although more of an auction than a direct one?

Democracies have not yet figured out how to govern without giving certain groups special favors. Whether such favors are enshrined in law, privileges, or direct bribery seems more form than substance if countries have not agreed on long-term plans and how to fund such plans sustainably. Just my two cents.

"it’s a full-blown fascist party made up of thugs"

If it's a full blown fascist party, then how come we have had free and fair elections in Maharashtra in the past 40 years and Sena has seldom won 2 elections in a row?

It is just another political party, with its fair share of ruffians

Shrikanth: it would help if you could "reply" to comments instead of starting a new thread.

Your point about the Shiv Sena having had limited electoral success at the state level is valid. But that does not obviate my labeling of it as a fascist party. This just indicates that our electoral institutions at the highest levels are still quite robust.

You should look at how the Shiv Sena operates in the places that it governs. There are a number of examples of that at the municipal level. There it regularly practices intimidation. Its very first objective, a few decades ago, was to kick out south Indian flower sellers, which it did using mafia-like strong arm tactics and Bal Thackeray's demagoguery. A few years ago, it hounded a girl who had the temerity to make a very mild criticism of its patriarch on Facebook. It has dug up cricket pitches and tarred speakers who it deems anti-national (or even anti-Shiv Sena.)

Now you might argue that every party, at some point, has stooped to such tactics. But no party has continuously demonstrated such tactics and contempt for freedoms as the Shiv Sena has. So I stand by the "fascist" label.

Well I don't see terms like "fascist" used to describe the great "socialist" party of Uttar Pradesh (Samaajvaadi Party) or the Communist party of Bengal, which engage in strong arm intimidation to as much extent if not more than Shiv Sena.

The examples you gave are those of demagoguery not fascism. It has not subverted the electoral process, and as I said, it has seldom won 2 elections in a row. Sharp contrast to fascist parties everywhere else (be it Germany or Italy or Spain) where the first course of action is to subvert democracy and seize power.

"And yeah it sort of does make the third of the country that voted for him moral monsters."

Well by that token anyone who has ever voted for the Congress is a moral monster after its awful failure to avert riots in 1947 as well as its wilful participation in a spectacular anti-Sikh pogrom in 1984.

You don't have to tell me. I have a lot more sympathy for the BJP than the criminals and idiots in the INC.

BJP stands for Blowjob Party right?

"but with vast majority of the country illiterate and impoverished with votes for sale it is a democracy in name only."

India is close to 80% literate. The figure was 74% in 2011.

It is a perfectly functioning democracy and constitutional republic which holds free and fair elections and which has not had a dictator for over 70 years.

"Also, his refusal to apologize"

He brought the riots under control within 3 days. Riots that broke out after a Muslim mob burnt a bogey of pilgrims alive. Should he apologise for that?

"Since before Partition, it’s sadly been quite easy to muster up lynch mobs to do murder on the basis of religion in India"

I don't like this air of apologia in your comments.

When Europe was at the same per-capita income levels as the India of 1947 - way back in the mid 1600s, it had its own religious wars. Which famously lasted for 30 years! And the number of Europeans killed in this civil war was 8MM!!

India hasn't seen anything remotely as egregious as this, in its 4000 year history.

I am Indian, not European. Why should I care what Europeans did to each other 400 years ago? If anything, I look at Europe today and marvel at how civilized they got over that period, and despair when I look at my own country.

I don't (usually) comment in a way that defends or criticizes groups of people. I defend or criticize people against standards I believe they ought to meet (universal standards, higher than tribalism). Looking through your filter, my comment may strike you as an apologia. But then it was never my intention to act as a blind advocate for India and Indians. I just happen to care more for India and dwell more on what Indians so because, well, I am one.

You did obliquely criticize India as a whole when you said it is ridiculously easy here to gang up a mob and lynch people.

Something that is not particularly true. Communal riots are not an averyday event in India and happen once every few years in isolated parts of the country and are typically not severe. Cases like Gujarat 2002 or Delhi 1984 are exceptions not the rule.

Sure India sees religious violence. But you cannot possibly compare it with Europe that is at a different stage of development. Compare it with countries with similar levels of per-capita income. How many such peers are functioning democracies or afford as much civil freedom as India?

The comparison with the Europe of 1600s is not inapt, as the per-capita income of Europe during 30 years was was comparable to the same in India during 1947. So it is an apples-to-apples comparison. And Europe at that stage saw far far far far worse religious violence than India has ever had in its 4000 year history.

Shrikanth has a point: when we look at the developing world and its problems, we forget that the west took centuries to go through (very roughly) similar developments.

Now we expect the developing world to go faster, as it has an example to learn from. But that doesn't mean everything is just smooth easy progress towards obvious conclusions.

"Kerala is different. What could be so unusual about this heavily Christian part of India?"

Kerala ranks at the top of the list when it comes to communal violence among all Indian states.

Its relatively high per-capita income has little to do with Christianity, but everything to do with its remittance economy. And 75% of Kerala population is not Christian.

Its higher rates of education is credit not to the Left-wing governments since independence but the Enlightened liberal rule of the Hindu monarchy of Travancore prior to independence. Those parts of Kerala that are relatively less-Hindu (Northern Kerala) are poorer than southern Kerala which is more predominantly Hindu.

"Look, I’m a libertarian, I don’t care for the guy,"

India can ill afford a libertarian. It requires a strong conservative government that can enforce the rule of law, ensure security, and aid large-scale infrastructure establishment, in a country lacking basic public goods

if you think libertarians are against enforcement of rule of law, you don't understand libertarianism.

Libertarians generally believe in a limited state that is yet quite powerful and effective at the limited functions it has taken responsibility for. The set of such functions is always negotiable. Large-scale infrastructure could definitely be one of them as long as the scope is clearly defined and circumscribed. If the scope is unlimited and there are no ground rules regarding people's property rights, the state eventually can take over land from virtually anyone, or create a system where corruption is rife.

I am, for example, in favor of the Indian state doing much more in the field of education; it's a crying shame that we let half of our kids grow up without a half-decent education, which stunts their prospects in life. (I happen to know something about this first-hand: government schools are in abysmal condition, teachers don't bother to show up, when they show up, they don't bother to teach, etc.)

I never said libertarians are against the enforcement of rule of law! Never said anything remotely close to that.

India is an incredibly poor country that cannot afford 100 years to reach income levels in excess of $10K from $2K the way England grew in the 19th century (at a leisurely pace - though fast by 19th century standards). Expectations are far higher in the 21st and it needs to get a move on. LIbertarianism cannot get India there. It requires proactive government investment /aid in infrastructure and education - things you usually dont associate with libertarianism.

"This state has achieved improvements in material conditions of living, reflected in indicators of social development, comparable to those of many developed countries, even though the state’s per capita income is low in comparison to them"

This is so laughable. Have you even checked the per-capita income of Kerala? It is $2100. Yes. $2100. Notwithstanding its huge remittance economy. Several large states including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, Haryana, and Uttarakhand have higher per-capita incomes than Kerala.

Wasn't that the point?

"the very fact that Shiv Sena is in the coalition tells you something about the attitude of Indians to uncivilized overreaching government."

What's your idea of civilization - Sanjay?

The government in your country criminalized inter-racial marriages in much of its territory as recently as the 1950s. India, for your information, has never had that degree of government overreach!

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