What to think about Modi these days

Ian Bremmer offers one account of all the wrongdoing, which I will not summarize here.  In any case, many of you have asked me what I think of these recent events.

I do not at all favor replacing India’s secular democracy with “Hindu nation” as a ruling principle.  For one thing, I believe in strong libertarian protections for minority rights against state power, including for Muslims.  I also believe these moves will be bad for India’s economy.  Nonetheless I find most of the extant commentary on Modi fairly misleading and/or naive.

As this outsider sees it, India’s secular democracy was never liberal.  It had certain de facto liberal elements, but largely out of low levels of state capacity, necessitating a kind of tolerance but of course also leading to a very sub-par infrastructure.  Furthermore, it has been commonly described by political scientists as a “democracy without accountability.”  National voting has so much to do with religion, caste, and other particularistic principles that Indian democracy never enforced superior practical performance as it should have.

Then enter several forces at more or less the same time, including Modi, ongoing Indian economic growth, higher expectations and thus greater demands for state capacity, a rise in what is called “populism,” and also an increase in the focality of Islam and also terrorism around the world.

In essence that state capacity starts to be built and part of it is turned to wrong ends, in an attempt to appeal to the roughly 80 percent Hindu majority.  Here is the NYT:

The Modi administration has also done a better job than previous governments in pushing big anti-poverty initiatives, such as building 100 million toilets to help stop open defecation and the spread of deadly disease.

In other words, the positive and negative sides of the story here may be more closely related than is comfortable to contemplate.  The picture reminds me a bit of how parts of Renaissance Europe were often more anti-Semitic or racist than medieval Europe, in part because persecuting states had more resources and it was easier to mobilize intolerant sentiment, partly due to the printing press.  I don’t however idolize medieval times as being so libertarian, rather the earlier ideology contained the seeds of the Renaissance oppressions, which in time turned into foreign imperialism as well.

Similarly, oppression and religious conflict is hardly news in India, for instance you may recall the Partition which in the 1940s killed at least one million people and displaced at least 10 million more.

None of this is to excuse any of these oppressions, whether in India or elsewhere.  The libertarian rights still ought to apply, and should be written into the Indian constitution and laws more firmly.

(It is an interesting and much under-discussed result that the greatest violations of libertarian rights tend to come in periods of high delta in state capacity, not high absolute levels of state capacity per se.  The Nazi government was not that large as a percentage of gdp, but it was growing rapidly in terms of its efficacy along certain dimensions.)

The moral and resonant message here is “libertarian rights for minorities truly are important and beware state power!”  And somehow we need to think strategically, at a deep level, how that message can be combined with the inevitable and indeed desirable growth in Indian state capacity.  The libertarians only make this their issue by eliding the need for growth in state capacity.  So they moralize correctly about the situation, but they don’t see the underlying dilemma so clearly either.

Consider this NYT passage:

“Modi is not a normal politician who measures his success only by votes,” said Kanchan Chandra, a political scientist at New York University. “He sees himself as the architect of a new India, built on a foundation of technological, cultural, economic and military prowess, and backed by an ideology of Hindu nationalism.”

The real question here is — still mostly unanswered — “what else is the new ideology of state capacity supposed to be?”  I am happy to put in my vote for Anglo-American liberalism, but still I recognize that probably will not command either a majority or even a plurality.

Here is one proffered alternative to Modi:

“Rahul Gandhi felt people would support the Congress on issues of farmers, youth, employment, inflation. But, the core issues were left behind and surgical strikes and nationalism were highlighted. The Congress was dubbed a Muslim party. Aren’t we nationalists?” Gehlot asked.

I am not so impressed.  Or try this discussion “What is alternative to ‘Modi cult'”.  Again, on the ideas front underwhelming, at least for this classical liberal.  Maybe something good can come out of the current protest movement (NYT).

All the more, the “establishment media” just isn’t interested in framing the story in terms of individual rights and constraints on democracy.  That narrative is too…well…libertarian and also anti-statist.

For one example, blame either Nilinjana Roy or the person who titled her FT column “Democracy in India is on the brink.”  Last I checked, Modi was elected, then re-elected, and his party and its allies control almost 2/3 of the lower house.  That is truly an Orwellian column title.  It should not be so hard to write “The problem with Modi is the statism, and lack of respect for minority rights, sadly this is democratically certified and thus democracy requires real constitutional constraint of the powers of the government.”  But so many people today are mentally and emotionally incapable of thinking and writing such thoughts, having spent so much time in their mood affiliation glorifying “democracy” (or what they take to be democracy) above all other values.

So we should be spending our time developing and publicizing a new (non-Modi) ideology for greater state capacity in India, combined of course with greater liberty.

And yes, please do restore, redefine, re-enforce or in some cases discover all of the required minority libertarian rights.  Hundreds of millions of Indians and others are counting on it.

Comments

The ends can’t justify the means, as the means form a part of the ends in the long run.

This whole statement is a linguistic trick excluding side effect from the "ends". Fuzzy definitions do not make a profound observation.
Wittgenstein says hello.

Maybe, "Whatever It Takes." resonates.

It appears it's only Democracy if the Left wins election.

"The picture reminds me a bit of how parts of Renaissance Europe were often more anti-Semitic or racist than medieval Europe, in part because persecuting states had more resources and it was easier to mobilize intolerant sentiment, partly due to the printing press. "

China started this trend of Muslim concentration camps and now India copies. In other words, when your country gets rich enough, you can stick as many minorities that you don't like into concentration camps. The West's thesis that trade produces liberal democracy is once again being tested.

There is no concentration camp in India.

But there is what is going on in Jammu and Kashmir. Certainly not the same as a concentration camp by any step of the imagination, but still a step in the direction of depriving rights based on an evident lack of fervent Hindu nationalism on the part of the state's citizens.

What is "Hindu nationalism", folks? FWIW,there are about 200m muslims in India and is the 3rd largest muslim population country. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_by_country

And https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Census_of_India they had ~50% growth since 1951 to 2011. 9.8% to 14.23% of overall population of India

If it is not a "concentration camp by any step of the imagination" bandying that word is pretty stupid, ain't so?

Look at the American internship of Japanese during WWII for an idea of what internment, not concentration, camps look like.

It isn't as if mass extermination is what the Indians (or Chinese, for that matter) are planning, much less actually doing.

You are welcome to suggest a term that fits the circumstances, but obviously we both agree that concentration camp in terms of extermination is a thoroughly misplaced phrase.

Technically true, since they are still building them. They are building mass detention centers in Assam right now to lock up the millions made stateless by the application of the NRC in Assam.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...” - some dead white member of the patriarchy

We need to bring some of those dead white patriarchs back to life.

The founders were justifily terrified of democracy, hence the republic.

The New Yorker had a long article about Modi and the rise of Hindu nationalism a couple of weeks ago. Much of it was familiar stuff, although some of it was new to me, e.g. I knew about the B.J.P. but I didn't know about its roots in the R.S.S. movement almost a century ago. It's evidently a religious and social movement, seemingly more sectarian than nationalist, and at least some of its members try to recruit Muslims, apparently viewing them not so much as the enemy as lapsed Hindus whose ancestors were converted/conquered centuries ago by the Mughals.

The article does not make one optimistic about Modi nor India.
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/09/blood-and-soil-in-narendra-modis-india

As for Tyler's comments, yes pure democracy is a crappy and unstable political system. But that's Poli Sci 101. Instead of talking about libertarian rights, I'd suggest calling them human rights. Those are much more generally recognized and respected, even if in the breach.

Right-wingers will usually grumble when someone plays the human rights card, but left-wingers also complain that human rights are just a subterfuge for some Western or colonial or capitalist plot. Which tells me that the people on both of those extremes are wrong (they can't both be right but they can both be wrong) and the advocates for human rights have the right idea.

How to get that to actually work in India is a huge challenge, but failure is not inevitable. Some European countries went fascist in the 1930s but some did not. Here's hoping India avoids continuing down the wrong path.

"Right-wingers will usually grumble when someone plays the human rights card, but left-wingers also complain that human rights are just a subterfuge for some Western or colonial or capitalist plot. Which tells me that the people on both of those extremes are wrong ...and the advocates for human rights have the right idea. "

This is one of the most logically unsound statements the commentariat of this blog has managed to produce.
And given the fact that the said commentariat is made up of evolutionary maladaptive liberals who are just parroting stuff ingrained in their minds in school, that is indeed telling.

"I'd suggest calling them human rights." There's no such thing as human rights. Man is a social animal; his rights spring from the society of which he is part, not from his being human.

Thus it follows that only men who society grants rights to can be said to have rights… Death to the left-handed.

"only men who society grants rights to can be said to have rights" : you may find this sentence awful, but if you think seriously about its meaning, you will recognize that it is a tautological truth.

What stops 'death to the left-handed' from happening? Natural goodness?

Someone stops the harm. Slavery was pronounced illegal by the British, who then provided a prize to Naval captains who captured slave ships.

In the US slavery was brought to an end by the Civil War, which cost something like 600,000 lives.

If I in Canada decide that someone is not worthy of a human right and take action, I can expect some burly man with a gun to show up to stop me.

So yes, society grants these rights in practice. The philosophical justification can come up with lots of lofty notions, but on the ground it is by force of law.

Wow, the liberals have finally discovered that might makes right.
Took them only 3.5 centuries since the lockean bullshit fest began.

To imagine that the Soviets and Nazis believed that might makes right too.

In the afterlife the flying spaghetti monster punishes those who have misbehaved.

Yes. Tyler totally misses the definition of democracy here! No pro-democracy political scientist would think that democracy wouldn't include some level of human or "libertarian" rights. Thus, when the columnist writes "Democracy in India is on the Brink", they're likely thinking about the the violation of rule of law, due process, and basic individual rights that most democratic theorist would say are essential parts of a democracy.

I agree that the left romanticizes voting and democracy as Tyler defines it (i.e., will of the people) too much, ignoring what he highlights here--the oppression of the state backed by majority will. But I think he's really beating a straw man here at the end of his post.

I think maybe you are missing the definition of democracy. It certainly is not premised on human rights.

Like most words, the meaning of the term democracy has changed over time and varies depending on the context. When used by scholars of politics and political philosophy, unless they’re specifically talking about Greek philosophy or using the term as the founding fathers use it, the term democracy means that people choose their leaders and have some basic level of human rights, property rights, and rule of law. More technically, it’s called western democracy or liberal democracy, but we just say democracy since this is the form it has taken in developed countries. Here’s a link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_democracy

Also, if we’re going to stick to the original definition of democracy then none of what Tyler was talking about is a democracy since it originally referred to systems where the people approved all legislation. That clearly is not how democracy works in India or the US. But this illustrates how the meaning of the term has changed over time and varies depending on context.

If you use the basic definition of democracy being citizens having a say in government, then the article is still correctly titled. The Indian government is removing the voting right of a massive number of citizens - primarily Muslims - thus removing their ability to participate in government through voting or otherwise. That is anti-democratic at a very basic level, without getting into human rights.

Honestly Modi is not that different from Trump and the related conservatives in America who have been trying to reduce the voting rights of minority populations for decades. They are all anti-democratic by definition.

What's Modi's position on the caste system? Can you be Hindu Nationalist but despise the caste system?

It doesn't sound logically impossible to use Hindu Nationalism to bury the caste system in the name of unifying the nation, but it would be a colossal challenge.

What would be Hindu about a nationalism that buries the caste system? "Hindu" refers not merely a particular set of individuals, but to certain characteristics that make them identifiable to each other as part of that set.

Sailer thinks in groups. One might almost speculate that he is genetically pre-determined to use such thinking when talking about people.

The only relevant question here is "Is thinking in groups evolutionary adaptive for those that practice it vis-a-vis liberal individualism".

So far the answer seems to be a resounding yes.

John, it seems like you are finally understanding why the United States (see words above about We the People) is the most successful society in human history.

It is because anyone can become part of the group of citizens of the United States of America. Like Sikorski (Игорь Иванович Сикорский). Or Nikola Tesla (Никола Тесла). Or Einstein - one assumes you actually know who he is without needing to spell it out in Cyrillic.

Evolutionary adaptability has nothing to do with the success of the society but the genetic fitness of its population as fixed per point in time A.

USA has been a dismal failure in that regard for its founding stock.
Anglo-Saxons constitute at most 15% of the gene pool of the 200 million white americans today (equivalent to 30 mil people).
Without immigration, anglo saxons in the territory of the states today would have been at least 150 million.

Every single immigrant wave starting from the germans in the 18th century, then the irish, italians and jews and the current hispano-asiatic one has been a dismal failure for the founding stock of this country. Every future one will be as well.

The funny thing about this is that Benjamin Franklin would agree with you.

He believed that British America would be ruined unless it could get rid of all those inferior Germans who were going to replace true Anglo-Saxons.

So, you are two and a half centuries too late to say that the U.S. has been ruined, in light of subsequent American history demonstrating the exact opposite.

The conclusion is exactly right.
USA has been a dismal failure for the anglo saxons in terms of genetics (the only terms that actually matter).

It's been somehow successful in terms of memetics for anglo saxon culture but the current immigration wave coupled with cultural marxism will erase even that.

So, to summarize - USA has been a dismal failure in every meaningful way.

You are right, of course - America's current president is not Anglo-Saxon, being of German and Scottish heritage. And look at what a dismal failure in every meaningful way, to use your phrase, he is.

Good!

Well, that's why it would take a political and/or spiritual genius to pull it off, to redefine Hinduism, after a couple thousand years of castes, as solidarity: "Hinduism is about how were all in this together: one for all and all for one!"

Gandhi doesn't make the cut, apparently.

Or possibly, the fact that a Hindu nationalist killed him might just be taken as a sign that Hindu nationalism does not want to be redefined.

Just as a proper political or religious genius is unlikely to finally convince Roman Catholics that the papacy needs to be abandoned.

Uh, if no one convinced Roman Catholics to abandon the papacy, then where did all these Protestants come from?

Protestants aren't Roman Catholics, however. Maybe that was not clear enough - if someone could convince Catholics to abandon the papacy yet remain Catholic was the concept.

Opinions are like ass holes. Every body has one.

Like you, Dick.

Well, a political and religious genius (Luther) DID convince millions of Catholics of this. And they were a Northern European, somewhat literate bunch, not mereky peasant rabble who were cowed into following.

Hindu nationalism is a political platform and so can always fine-tune its rhetoric to be more inclusive when necessary. Look at the Conservative Party in the U.K. and how they were able to win some working class constituencies in the last election. Hindu nationalists appear to have convinced at least some low caste Hindus that they care more about improving the lives of the poorest and rooting out corruption than their opponents.

What percentage of Untouchables/Dalits vote Hindu Nationalist?

I don't have a dog in this fight. I'd be happy if Modi somehow defined Hindu Nationalism and building toilets and not crapping on the Dalits.

Modi's position on caste is the same as the RSS or any other mainstream Hindutva position on caste - consistently and firmly anti-caste, but following a strictly integration-oriented/positivist approach in contrast to the loud and dissipative fights that leftist approaches center around. Many RSS affiliated groups run temples where Dalits are priests, which is very unlike popular mainstream Hindu temples.

This can be confusing, unless you keep in mind how far Hindutva is from traditional Hinduism. Hindutva was built by synthesizing European ideas and ethics together with a superficial Hindu/Sanskrit coating and a sense of Hindu self-identification; hence I would even say that Hindutva is somewhat protestant. They don't think too much about history, gratuitously but lightly believe in a golden caste-free ancient India, and respect traditionalism from a distance without trying to find out too much about what it entails.

Interestingly, one of the Hindutva talking points is that most of the Hindu refugees from Pakistan are Dalits (as these were the ones who didn't have the means or ability to move to India during partition), and by opposing CAA, the liberals have conclusively established that they are anti-Dalit. I for one believe they are right in saying so.

The end of special status for Kashmir, that the liberals decry, opened up many positions for lower caste Hindus that the previous special laws for the state had closed to them, liberating them from menial jobs:

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/can-now-dare-to-dream-j-k-s-valmiki-community-rejoices-end-of-article-370-1578908-2019-08-08

Thanks. Very interesting.

Modi is actually from a lower caste, previously on a rank just above the Dalits. The current serving president of the country is from the Dalit Community. So it's sort of weird when the left accuses the BJP of being caste-reinforcers.

The main opposition's leaders INC - (European, Brahmin and Elite Parsi), TMC (Brahmin) , DMK (Isai Velalar), NCP (Maratha), NC ( Ashrafi Muslim - British) clearly reflect elitism. Infact the Communist are so terrible at this game that their highest political body the Politburo has not had a single Dalit representative since it's inception.

Even the main parties representing the lower castes - BSP and SP, are seen as benefiting their own small sub-caste than the poor as a whole.

This is where BJP is able to sell an image of the "small people" making big through unmatched (even if it's still shoddy) distribution of social welfare.

You seem to be hinting at a sort of Sailer strategy for India? That is exactly what many in the Hindu nationalist camp are seeking, and have indeed succeeded in doing in several elections so far. Consolidate and unify a large percentage of the Hindu vote (larger than previous governments) by projecting Muslims as the evil Other, while minimizing (at least rhetorically) the importance of caste. The BJP has tended to benefit from such inter-caste Hindu vote unification.

* Modi gets approximately 43% of the lowest caste Hindu vote and 46% of the Hindu tribal vote
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/elections/lok-sabha/india/heres-how-bjp-earned-massive-mandate-explained-in-numbers/articleshow/69529857.cms
* Modi got an overall vote share of 46% to win the general elections while the Congress party got approx 20% of the vote
https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/analysis-highest-ever-national-vote-share-for-the-bjp/article27218550.ece

Gandhi knows the answer to that question.

"For one example, blame either Nilinjana Roy or the person who titled her FT column “Democracy in India is on the brink.” Last I checked, Modi was elected, then re-elected, and his party and its allies control almost 2/3 of the lower house. That is truly an Orwellian column title. "

Consider these before concluding the term "Orwellian" is an overstatement:

1) Modi's re-election victory was driven by hegemonic control of television, print, and social media
2) A minor border skirmish was elevated into an existential threat by the media, to get the excitable North Indian to rally behind the flag
3) Crucially, corporate India which controlled the media contributed 10 times more money to Modi's BJP through a dubious and opaque "electoral bonds" scheme. This money allowed Modi to wield an undue influence over the electoral process
4) The use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) has proved controversial.
Even 6 months later the Election Commission's voting tallies do not add up. This has raised suspicions and social media jokes that the EVMs vote BJP in national elections and occasionally others in the low-stake state elections.
5) Crucially, the Indian judiciary has been bent to the will of the executive under Modi. It is universally acknowledged that its dubious judgments on Aadhaar, Ayodhya, EVMs, Electoral bonds etc are not going to be the last word on those issues. Known to be an activist judiciary, it has so far not raised any concerns, although its landmark 2017 judgment on the right to privacy is ignored by the Modi government.
6) Indian armed forces have after Modi's re-election admitted that the euphoria generated by Modi government before the election was based on false claims
7) After re-election, Kashmir was dismembered in the contrivance of the constitution (One more issue where the Indian judiciary has sided with Modi government by the postponement of a court hearing on the issue by over 6 months) Kashmiris have no internet, and all its Muslim political leaders are under house arrest under draconian laws.
8) To top it all, the NPR/NRC issue is such a naked attempt at changing the secular nature of India, that protests are growing in every small town in India.

My point is, India is a democracy now, the same way Chavez's Venezuela and Orban's Hungary is. They are illiberal, majoritarian and can barely hide Authoritarian tendencies.

India's first middle-class in the 80s was created through public sector jobs. Its 2nd middle class is a product of liberalization and the IT and private sector boom that ensued. That middle class is now dying under Modi's rule (The actual GDP growth is decidedly less than 4.5% in the last 6 years)

American think tanks and corporates have supported Modi. It is not because he is pro-market. He has proven to be better at charming the industry and private sector advocates while persuing a statist policy both in India and abroad. One day, someone will write a book about how he did that.

Indians have lost patience with empty promises and vaudeville democracy they are experiencing under Modi. Even today, Modi spends more time curating his image than prioritizing jobs or economic growth. So, his record will whittle away his media created popularity eventually.

A liberal alternative of Modi's India is a western demand. Indians want a large state working for them. So statism is not the problem. Indians want a state hat expands their freedoms and opportunities. MNREGA, NFSA & RTI laws did that. The public clearly wants the Aadhaar law/NPR/ NRC that has led to a surveillance state gone. But because of Western interest groups and some academics are cheerleaders of Aadhaar, even a Congress government is not willing to commit to it.

So liberalism, in this case, will be won through judicialization. Therefore, the issues where liberalism actually eventually wins in India may not be where you will find some joy.

I don't know, by your own accounts Modi seems to have taken a page from Hungary and Poland in dealing with "liberalism through judicialization". Why should Indian Hindus listen to the diktats of a bunch of lawyers anyway? How many divisions, or for that matter machete-wielding mobs, do they have?

The remark about "judicialization" is presumably a recommendation of a lawyers' putsch. The mob's reply might be "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers".

To some, it's the "consent of the governed." To others, it's the "dictatorship of the majority."

It's only Democracy if the left wins election.

That's why you were so comfortable when Obama was president.

Oh oh. The EVMs were also used in many state elections after the national election. So are you saying that BJP let the EVMs work against them in those state elections and got booted out of power?

BJP has been for scrapping for JK special status and won on that platform, got majority and got it done. Judiciary understood that the process through which it was done was constitutional. So what does a ill-informed XYZ advocate?

On NPR/NRC, are you advocating that a national soverign govt doesn't need to know a good measure of its population & citizens/aliens/refugees?

It's interesting how closely this maps to what one hears from the left in the US. "Conservative voices have not been excluded from the media, and our ability to rely on the judiciary to make favorable policy is being rolled back. Every election we lose must be endlessly litigated. The views of deep state institutions, like the military, must be respected -- in the name of democracy -- when they tilt our way."

The top news channel is Fox news, so conservatives definitely haven't been excluded from media.

The judiciary is losing its neutrality, thanks to Republicans pushing through as many young, Federalist Society judges as possible. (The judiciary doesn't make policy, FYI, but they do undermine existing policy when they decide cases ideologically rather than textually).

Liberals are not litigating Trump's election victory; his campaign was investigated for possible crimes related to the election (and a number of people were convicted in the process), and he is was impeachment for an unrelated offense. (for what it's worth, my instinct tells me Trump coordinated with Russians to illegally find and release damaging information on his opponent, but none of that has actually been litigated, much to my chagrin.)

The term deep state is made up and nonsensical. If career officials and institutions can provide a check of any kind on Trump's illegal and dangerous moves, then we liberals will happily accept the help. I'm all for slashing the military's budget, but if it, for instance, has the institutional checks to prevent Trump from bombing Iranian cultural sites, then that is great.

"in the name of democracy" - This is only slightly related to your comment, but liberals are objectively more supportive of democracy than conservatives in America because liberals are in favor of expanding voting rights, accurately counting population, and establishing neutral districting standards, while conservatives have been actively trying to reduce voting rights, format the census to undercount minorities and redraw voting districts with the stated goal of reducing the effectiveness of liberal votes. The Republican party is not supported by a majority of voters and works to maintain its political power by undermining neutral democratic voting. You can get discuss representational democracy and who should get to vote, but that statement is objectively accurate.

I know the western distaste of talking about demographics. I also know of the reason behind the distaste: white supremacy has been a big problem throughout the western growth story, often used to justify horrific acts.

But the recent protests and counter protests over CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) are all about demographics. In West Bengal, the Hindus are very alarmed by the illegal immigration of Bangladeshi Muslims, turning Hindus into minorities in some districts. Meanwhile, the natives of Northeastern states are alarmed by both Hindu and Muslim illegal immigrants who in the future might turn them into minorities in their own ancestral homeland. They (Northeasterners) have also been vehemently against settling of the so called mainland Indians, but that was solved after years of negotiations with the leaders from the region. Indian Muslims at large are threatened by a policy that outrightly favours non-Muslims. Hindus at large are threatened by higher Muslim birth rates throughout the country.

In a country that has largely accepted the rule of majority through a parliamentary democracy, demographics is a lot more than a shift in your dining options. Communities accept the inter-generational change that has happened organically, but detest any changes to their way of life caused by "outsiders".

Mass migration and differential fertility means a lot more than a "shift in dining options" everywhere. Indians are right to be concerned about them, especially given the state of the US and Western Europe right now.

"In a country that has largely accepted the rule of majority through a parliamentary democracy, demographics is a lot more than a shift in your dining options. "

Great. Now do this about the west.
Because the oh-so-scared-of-white-supremacy liberals keep telling me that immigration changes nothing and you are racist to think otherwise.

Are “libertarian rights” different from civil rights?

I believe he attempting to distinguish from positive and negative rights.

In all the noise around the Citizenship Amendment Act, I have not come across one coherent argument about what is in it that oppresses INDIAN minorities. Some have made the argument that discrimination (even for foreigners) on the basis of religion is against the principles of the Constitution but then India already has different rules for different religions (read up on Uniform Civil Code).

IMHO, the major opposition parties have been consistently losing their mind-share of the Indian people and have not been able to make much noise on any other issue*. This issue is their last stand at staying relevant.

*There are a lot of issues that the Indian people are disgruntled about - slowing economy being just one of them. But somehow the opposition parties have not been able to build a coherent narrative around it any other issue.

How good is the record-keeping in West Bengal and the Northeast? There are reports of Muslims with roots going back decades (back when India recognized jus soli citizenship) in these places having their citizenship questioned. As in Thailand and Myanmar, the worst case scenario is that India winds up with a stateless population who are barely tolerated, detained, or deported to countries they have no relationship to.

deported to countries they have no relationship to.

Wait a minute. What about a population emigrating to a country with which they have no relationship? And expecting to be accepted?

As I pointed out, some people who are being told they are not citizens have some documentation and witnesses attesting to legal residence stetching back decades. The citizenship law is a way of telling non-Muslims in this situation not to worry because they will be legalized. But Muslims who can't afford lawyers or bribes will have to trust the local bureaucracy.

The burden of proof is on individuals to prove they are citizens in an area where there are essentially no records - and in the cases where there may be records the individuals are illiterate so lack the tools to prove anything.

Adding onto this: While the text of CAA appears to merely exclude granting of citizenship to Muslims while granting it to all other persecuted minorities from adjacent countries, the outcome is that, of the group of refugee immigrants this applies to, only Muslims don't get citizenship. That is objectively discriminatory and being enacted by a party that actively states an animosity towards Muslims, so people know that any argument that it's a security issue are in bad faith.

Separately, India is currently forcing a large number of people to prove their citizenship to before independence (before India was a distinct country). As paper records are not great in many parts of the country, this is impossible to prove for many, and the government has already proven to be using its discretion on documentation in a discriminatory manner: accepting the citizenship of Hindus in situations where they are not accepting that of Muslims. The big story regarding this was the girl that committed suicide when her whole family was determined to be citizens, but she was not.

Now, the real fear is that these two separate laws will be combined nationwide. Where all Indians are forced to prove their citizenship and of those that cannot because of poor government record management, only the Muslims will be expelled. Those being expelled are not non-Indians; they will largely be families that have been in India since it's conception three generations ago. This is not a random fear as Modi's second in command has flat out stated this as the long term goal in multiple speeches.

The politics around "real Indians" is fraught with divisiveness as the BJP believes only Hindus to be true Indians. They do not believe in the basis of the constitutional government created during independence, and they believe all Muslims to be invaders because many years ago the Mughals invaded a primarily Hindu country. (for an American comparison that would be like saying all white people are not American citizens because whites invaded Cherokee land)

Most of western commentary on Modi/BJP follow GIGO principle, unfortunately.

To get a correct picture, follow the facts and ask correct questions.

For instance, "Which minority rights have been curtailed under Modi/BJP"

The answer might surprise.

Gaurav, don't waste your time. In India, the Nehruvian liberal elite (1947 onwards), the English-language media, the academics in the humanities and social sciences, all together have done a fantastic job of convincing clueless Westerners (suffering from colonial guilt) that the Hindu majority is pretty similar to the pre-WW II Nazis. The fact that the percentage of Muslims in India has increased significantly since Independence, despite the 'persecution' by the Hindus? Irrelevant! The fact that the Hindu population of Pakistan and Bangladesh has dwindled substantially? Boring! The fact that the Modi Government ended Triple Talaq, which was a travesty of justice for Muslim women? Who cares!

Gaurav, your name tells me that you are a Hindu. So am I. Just accept that our respect for all religions (not just 'tolerance'), our steadfast choice of democracy unlike our neighbours, our 4000 years of civilisation - all of this has no value in the eyes of most Westerners. Why do you want to listen to the patronising sermons they deliver (after casually dropping not one, but two atom bombs on an Asian people)? Give up this useless attempt, man... Find something worthwhile to occupy your time.

Clearly the criticism rankles which is why you chose to "waste your time".. The fact is that Modi is at the very least complicit in an act of state sponsored terror. As for the indicted murderer goon who passes of for a home minister, the worst cell in Tihar Jail probably will be too good for him. Between the two of them they are driving India, ironically, into one giant toilet. And yes, Indian democracy is strong enough to survive its second dictator and like the first will be consigned to the dustbin of history in 2024

Vijay, ever heard the saying: "When a great big tree falls, many small plants are crushed"? This is the statement made by a former Prime Minister of India, and he was responding to a question about the mass killing of Sikhs in North India (which happened in 1984). The PM who made this astonishingly dismissive remark about the killing of many thousands of innocent human beings was Rajiv Gandhi. If Modi is 'complicit in an act of state-sponsored terror', what is Rajiv Gandhi complicit in, Vijay? Oh, I am sorry, the death of a few thousand Sikhs or Hindus - why would anyone be bothered about that, right?

That is a ludicrous comparison. The Nehru-Gandhi's record on the economy, corruption, foreign policy, defense etc are, to be kind, simply indefensible This is not about Rajiv Gandhi much less his idiot son but about Modi. Modi promised better days and clearly he is (a) incapable of delivering it given his control freak nature and (b) a total lack of talent in his cabinet in the area of finance if not a host of others.
He seems hell bent on careening down a path of a self-destruction. Like a frog being slowly cooked he is unaware that his legacy is slowly but inexorably moving towards one that will document how he squandered a spectacular opportunity to lift hundreds of millions of Indians out of poverty by being a transformative leader; Godhra will be a mere footnote considering the wrecking ball he brought to the country's economy.

The Modi Government's record on the economy is a separate debate. (In my opinion, it falls under the "curate's egg" category - good in parts!) That, however, is not the topic of discussion here, is it? The question is, has the Modi Government systematically harmed the minorities or discriminated against them? The abrogation of Article 370, the banning of Triple Talaq, the CAA... are these somehow a great punishment for India's Muslims? To the best of my understanding, these actions are either extremely beneficial for Muslims (banning Triple Talaq), or of no particular consequence to them (Article 370). The CAA is an act targeted to help certain communities that suffer persecution in our neighbouring countries. These countries are self-declared Islamic countries, where Hindus are treated worse than animals. And, by the way, the vast majority of these Hindus belong to the Dalit category (former 'untouchables'). The CAA speeds up the citizenship process for the religious refugees who come to India, asking for our mercy and kindness. Explain to me, Vijay, how exactly this qualifies as 'anti-Muslim'?

For starters it is about the economy as Tyler notes: "moves will be bad for India’s economy". As for the CAA clearly you have swallowed Shah and Modi's Gobellsian portions in their entirety. You don't need a law to give citizenship to the few thousand looking to leave the 3 countries he mentioned. And why were Hindus from Sri Lanka excluded? Secondly, the dog whistle in this is evident as no Muslims outside of Kashmir protested Article 370. Lastly, you clearly are a Modi Bhakt and drink his kool-aid AKA poison that will irreparably destroy India's social fabric. You can't wish away 14% of the population much as you wish. They are going nowhere and many of them have fought for the idea of India before Modi

Oh, Vijay, Vijay!! To win debates you need things like logic and cogent arguments. Name calling and petty insults just don't do the trick. And it is not enough that you carry the name 'Vijay', okay buddy?
A plurality of the Indian electorate chose this government, fully well knowing what the party and the front stood for. They are enacting the laws that they promised their voters they would enact. Ain't that how democracy works, Vijay? India being a democratic country, all citizens have a right to protest against the government - as long as they do it peacefully. You talk of my wanting to 'wish away 14 percent of the population'. I have no such wish, but here is one piece of advice, gratis: don't irritate 80% of the population, and then expect that they will just take it lying down. You guys were so sure that Modi was gonna be chucked out in 2019. He wasn't, was he? What do you think is the reason for that, Vijay?

Sorry if you saw my comments as insulting. Your presumptions are pretty breathtaking but untypical of Modi's undimmed acolytes. For the record I truly wanted Modi to win last year and was very pleased when he did. I was even more pleased when he did away with Triple Talaq and later Article 370. These were all good moves that actually benefit Muslims (other than Kashmiri Muslims who by the way are almost universally disliked by Muslims in other parts of India, particularly the south for being coddled). The CAA on the other hand is a thinly veiled attempt at overturning the state government in Assam for starters. More importantly, it legitimizes Shah's visceral dislike of Muslims which he would love to translate into second class citizenship for them. Modi lost me not merely because of the CAA but due to his rank incompetence on the economy. That he and his coterie want to spend 50Cr per state on propagating Hindi, a useless (other than Bollywood) pariah language that contributing nothing to India's excellence in IT, ISRO, IIT, Medicine etc did not help

Just, for the record, Modi declared it illegal to protest CAA, using that as the justification to arrest thousands, absolve the government of the handful of deaths, and allow mobs to attack college students. So, no, India is not representing democracy right now in that respect. Also, as you noted, "all citizens have the right...", but right now Modi has turned the issue to who is allowed to be a citizen, therefore having those rights.

You forgot to mention that in Western newspapers it has been reported (in the 90s and the 2000s) that ~1000 minority Christian and Hindu woman are kidnapped annually in Pakistan and forced to convert to Islam. Where is the left on that issue? Minority rights in Islamic countries don't count?

A few things -

The West is perceiving a seminal shift in Modi's policy in this second term. So in this view, Modi was this closet Hindu nationalist who played "moderate" in his first term. But is now showing his fangs in the second term with a larger mandate

But here's what is wrong with this assessment -

1. Much of what Modi has done lately, be it abrogation of Article 370, the amendment of Citizenship act, or the initiation of a population register - are long standing talking points for the BJP. These are not "new topics". These have been dominating Indian discourse for 30+ years.

It is only natural for BJP to pick them up with such a large mandate. And picking these up need not signal that Modi is turning into some kind of a fascist. Regular "dull" service may resume in a bit

2. Much of the recent energy on these issues is driven by the Home minister of India, Amit Shah. A hardliner with extremely high energy and a reputation of being a hard and efficient administrator. The same issues may not have been picked up with a different more docile Home Minister at the helm.

3. All of these legislations are linked to a deeper concern among Hindus around demographic change in J&K, Bengal, Assam - where Hindu numbers have declined since independence, while Muslim numbers have increased.

So the concern around illegal immigration is largely driven by a deep insecurity around changes in religious demography - which has implications for the integrity of India

One can assume that the total number of Indian citizens in J&K, Bengal, Assam contains the total number of both Indian Hindus and Indian Muslims.

This is the basic problem with sectarianism - either people are your fellow citizens, or they are not.

The high energy hardliner Amit Shah is 14 years younger than Modi so maybe the future is more hardline than the present?

Shrikanth,

The repeal of Article 370 has indeed been on the BJP's manifesto since forever. But liberal/libertarian types like me are not bothered by the repeal so much as the draconian measures that accompanied it. First, not just the the troublesome provision get abolished, but the entire state did. It's like Congress passing a law abolishing the state of, say, Rhode Island, and making it a federal territory. Second, the entire Kashmiri political leadership was arrested not because they did something wrong but to preempt them speaking on the topic in public. Then there's the communication shutdown, curfew, etc.

People like me would have grumbled far less if the government had repealed the article and then let things roll as they would. We'd still question the wisdom of doing this at this particular time, but that's a debate we could have conducted in a civilized manner.

The CAA and the NRC on the other had have not been prominent topics in public discourse (outside of perhaps Assam), and a very casual follower of Indian politics like me would likely have heard of these for the first time in these past few months. And given what Shah and others have been saying, explicitly linking the NRC to the CAA, people like me cannot but vociferously oppose their designs.

I'm actually fine with the CAA. Giving citizenship to persecuted Hindus and others from our neighboring countries is something that ought to have been done a long time ago. But the same outcome could have been produced without explicitly listing the religions. (After all, it's not like Imran Khan's wife is going to come applying for citizenship; this bill is for, say, poor Hindus in rural Sindh who have been persecuted by their neighbors.) What the current CAA does is allow a government running an NRC to disenfranchise Indian Muslims, and that cannot be countenanced by any fair-minded person.

On CAA/NRC, rather than blame your own ignorance you are choosing to put it on a 3rd party? Did I get that right?

On 370, Indian Gov has a paramount responsibility to ensure that the populace doesn't suffer. And who in JK political class were ready to be responsible rather than fanning the sentiments to be let to be free to speak? Question all you want but the people voted for a party that had been vocal about removing JK special status. Whats the issue you have in trifurcating JK into 3? Leh/Ladakh for all purpose has nothing to do with J & K. And the people of Leh/Ladakh seems to have welcomed the move.

On CAA/NRC, rather than blame your own ignorance you are choosing to put it on a 3rd party?

What the hell are you talking about? I was arguing the merits of the legislation and the proposed steps. Who was I blaming?

I don't have a problem with trifurcation of the state into 3 states. But a state should remain a state, not get demoted to a union territory contrary to the will of the people who live there.

Indian Gov has a paramount responsibility to ensure that the populace doesn't suffer

This can be used as justification for virtually anything. In any case, I believe govts ought to be doing things as per peoples' consent. Clearly you are fine with arbitrary decision-making and the consequent tamping down any protests on the pretext of preventing violence.

Kris: Anon is one of the hundreds of BJP trolls in denial about any aspect of reality and only intent on taking India "back" to some mythical period of prolific scientific discovery and global pre-eminence in trade (the marginally literate will cite Angus Madison on that). Instead the two goons in power are intent on a path of uncreative destruction that will ironically take India back to the Hindu rate of growth.

Define 'Indian Muslim': Indian as in 'a citizen of India' or 'residing at present in India'

And somehow we need to think strategically, at a deep level, how that message can be combined with the inevitable and indeed desirable growth in Indian state capacity.

The correct answer would be devolving more power to the state level. Extreme concentration of political power over 1.x billion people in a centralized government with little tolerance for regional and ethnic differences hardly seems like a recipe for "libertarian" rights.

Honestly Tyler's arguments in favor of Modi could have been made in favor of Stalin in 1929 with very little modification. If you take a long term view of progress you can justify just about any near term oppression and violence in support of your long term goals.

India, like everywhere else in the world with a clue, is going to generally emulate the effective policies of China in dealing with Muslim populations and ignore the worthless and destructive policies of certain other nations. Ditto for nationalist "populism". India being India, I doubt that these policies will be as competently/ruthlessly implemented as their Chinese counterparts, but there's plenty of room between the Xinjiang re-education camps and the insane policies of e.g. Britain.

On some level this is a return to fundamentals for India - the westernised elite have lost power and the people finally have their true preferences represented.

"an increase in the focality of Islam": have a care. When I googled "focality" I found lots of references to tumours. We don't want some nutcase slaughtering infidels at your place of employment.

The Western kerfuffle over the recent minority law is a classic example of what we now call fake news. The law excludes no one. What it does is recognize reality: India is surrounded by Muslim countries, so the religion(s) most likely to suffer persecution and need assistance are non-muslims. The Muslims protesting in India are upset that a wave of non-muslim immigrants will come turn states currently muslim-majority into muslim minority.

It's revealing that (A) The press sympathizes with the idea of muslim replacement in India and brings this dynamic up as an example of why Modi's law is immoral, while praising white replacement and the move toward minority-majority in Western nations.

Not at all, articles such as these provide wider context: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49520593

Some of the same people who blame India's poverty on corruption, official malfeasance and incompetence seem to have no problem with empowering bureaucrats to determine which Muslim residents -- who sometimes have roots going back decades to their homes in India -- can be denied citizenship rights and even kicked out. I guess if you really are a citizen and your paperwork is rejected, you can pay a bribe or spend decades fighting a court case over it if you have money.

"India is surrounded by Muslim countries": except Burma, Nepal, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan. So it might be more accurate to say that India has two populous Moslem neighbours to wit Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The Us and the Other.

We'll see how that works out.

Just like those ignorant FoxNews viewers, amirite??

A little bit, yeah

Well that’s certainly the way it works in all the Muslim majority areas. Historically it doesn’t work out well for the non-Muslim Other.

So, the answer is Ayatollah Modi?

The answer is not ethnic nationalism, but nationalism...you are a citizen of the country and will be treated equally. Even your religious beliefs. Otherwise, civil war. What Hindu nationalist comes after Modi?

Bad path.

I agree, Teddy Roosevelt's "no hyphenated Americans" model is a good one. Treat every citizen equally.

It's unfortunate that so many push identification with and special status and treatment for citizens based on race, gender, religion, or other factors. Its divisive and corrosive and, in the limit, may lead indeed lead in extreme case to civil war.

sadly this is democratically certified and thus democracy requires real constitutional constraint of the powers of the government.” But so many people today are mentally and emotionally incapable of thinking and writing such thoughts, having spent so much time in their mood affiliation glorifying “democracy” (or what they take to be democracy) above all other values.

That's because "democracy" is the secular religion that has replaced worship of a single supernatural being. It's not "mood affiliation", it's post-modern pseudo-scientific rationalism brought to the level of a creed.

Many clueless commenters assume that Indian state is discriminating against Muslim citizens, so here is a religion-independent way of formulating the contentious policy: minority religions in nearby theocratic countries get Indian citizenship provided they came to India by 2014. That includes Christians, a fact most people seem unaware of.

So don't worry folks, when it comes to dealing with citizens (as opposed to noncitizens who are prospective citizens), India's laws and policies continue to discriminate in favor of Muslims and against Hindus.

and Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists too

"The Modi administration has also done a better job than previous governments in pushing big anti-poverty initiatives, such as building 100 million toilets to help stop open defecation and the spread of deadly disease."

But wasn't open defecation good? Now, to suit the Modi narrative, we are told it is bad... I wonder why the enlightened ones changed their mind. Oh, I know, I know. https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/why-indian-leader-modis-big-win-is-an-absolute-tragedy-for-christians/

"But wasn't open defecation good?"

Huh?

It is not obvious to me that an ideological underpinning is a necessary part of improving state capacity. In fact, it should be the opposite. Improved state capacity should benefit all - why is ideology needed?

Replace ideology in your statement with broad acceptance by the citizenry. State capacity ultimately means imposing the will of the State upon the citizenry. For that to happen you need broad support for the state, a sense among the citizenry that it is legitimate and represents their interests. States are never neutral, state capacity makes choices to benefit some at the expense of others. Always.

I would rename 'ideological underpinning' to 'the consensus of the citizenry'.

Regarding the majority on the lower house: Note that, like many established voting systems, there's a non-trivial difference between voting percentage and representation. Modi's party got 55.8% of the seats alone, but 37% of the vote. 20% of the population voted for parties small enough that the system, in practice, weeds them out, and at best get half the representation of their votes.

Minorities winning elections to do things that aren't all that popular, but are thoroughly self serving, are common all over the world, and few electoral systems are designed to stop this at all.

You got that right!

Democracy here is used as a euphemism for individual rights and freedoms to a public not educated in the concept.

I'm wondering if we are seeing how things actually work. People will consent to be governed by someone they recognize and find familiar. Even in a mature democracy like the US right now we see how difficult it is for people to recognize the legitimacy of someone different from them as President.

The move from clan to a larger and broader political economy is not trivial; it took generations for that to happen in Europe. The US had the advantage of being new, but even then the clans were entrenched in the political economy by the federalist system with state powers.

What overcomes the clan influence is when a broader more open system is safe and provides more opportunity and better living standards. This usually would start with the largest clan establishing a prosperous and working system that would invite others in.

I suspect one of the dangers for India is the extremely large and very prosperous expat communities. Many are in mature democracies where things work, and the notion that patterns and practices that took a couple centuries to develop and gain acceptance could be imposed quickly at home.

No matter what or how, India faces major upheavals, almost revolution scale changes to be considered a first world nation and economy. It never is a straight line, and considering the profound sectarian and class divisions will likely be bloody at times.

"What to think about Modi these days". Why the devil should I think anything of Modi? He's none of my business.

We've found the one thing dearieme thinks is not his business.

I think Tyler is totally correct. The reasons everyone is getting India wrong are i) they're ignoring Indian history; ii) they're looking at India through "western" eyes: that's what bothers me about Shikha Dalmia's otherwise excellent piece (https://reason.com/2019/12/23/indian-prime-minister-modis-useful-idiots-in-america-should-now-condemn-him/), and iii) it's complicated!

It's an area of the the world that, for 5000 years, thought of itself as top dog. 25% of World GDP when the British came, and they didn't have anything the Indians really wanted to trade. But it was a very autocratic 25%--everyone was an absolute ruler and the institutions were not to Daron Acemoglu's liking! This sort of thing leaves a long lasting imprint upon the culture (which also explains why Indians felt the need to lecture the whole world even back in the 1970s when the place was a basket case). It's a hierarchical, top down, deferential society.

At the same time, it is an OPEN, hierarchical, top down, deferential society because these same people have been trading for a living for 5000 years. (Which is why there is very little resistance in India to introducing markets in new goods and services). As long as you come to India and are willing to adapt to the Indians, you're very welcome. The Modi issue doesn't have anything to do with secularism (as defined in the West): Indians don't really separate "church and state". There is no real need and it's not the Indian way. The Indian way is "syncretism". For example, it is entirely common in Pondicherry for people to get blessings in a Church, Mosque and Temple all on the same day. They see no contradiction in it. Modi's threat is to syncretism, not to secularism (the Indian view of secularism is much closer to: "my religion is my business, leave me alone, otherwise do what you want").

I know of at least one Christian Indian physics professor, an atheist, that nevertheless studied and taught Vedanta. Many families have multiple members of different religions and no one thinks to ask the the children which "faith they are following" (in the Western way). It's more or less assumed that they're following both (why not) and anyway, it's no one else's business. That's the part that is under threat, I think.

Recall that just a decade or so ago, a Roman Catholic handed over power willingly to a Sikh, in a ceremony presided over by a Muslim, in a majority Hindu nation, and not a single Indian newspaper thought that this fact was worth mentioning (which is exactly how it should be).

A lot of bad analysis is perpetuated by Macaulay's Indians (of which clearly I am one) and since they communicate in English, everyone thinks that what they're saying is true of 1.3 billion people! That's not very likely.

Ironically, Tyler's analyzing this with a proper "eastern" perspective--that is, in its OWN terms--which is why I think he's right.

what are you talking about? Indian society is as closed as it gets! Even amongst the English educated, unless you are from Delhi, the bigotry (on all sides) is rampant and usually openly expressed though not always accepted. It is now being accepted quite rapidly amongst all sections of society. I don't think anyone out here has a clue how dangerous things can get, and how quickly.

India the current nation-state (and the erstwhile Akhand Bharat that encompassed parts of Afghanistan_full-Pakistan_Bangladesh_Nepal) was/is/will be a OPEN society: where there were/are multitudes of communities (varNa and creed, varNa != caste) that lived together, with the attendant conflicts and harmony; it had its endogamy and in/out-siders and cliques and other loosely/tightly held alliances. Religiously: Islam & Christianity were imports that had its own set of voluntary and involuntary conversions. Ethnically: it has so many ethnicities; some native; some imports and then there is the mix of ethnicities over time. And some of the ethnic groups/creeds oppose that intermingling and prefer endogamy. Languagwise: it has about 22+ well differentiated living every day languages and the populace still is adhering together within the nation albeit opposing the hegemony of Hindi & its imposition covert/overt.

So whats your definition of Open/Closed?

What do you mean TC, by to paraphrase: ' "State capacity" +, "Statism" - '?

It better not just be "The capacity of the state to support and subsidize business is "State capacity" while the capacity of the state to redistribute from business and use business to subsidize others is "Statism"!".

It's already been 17 minutes of india superpower 2020 here in new delhi.
Kneel before the cow!

The question to answer is how long does a population of 200+ million muslims of India live under the label of Minority? Are they really a minority? Should they not come under the general category? Do they really require the kind of individual rights protection outside of the what is provided in the constitution for the majority?

What is this? Suddenly an adult is asking some inappropriate (for the SJW atleast) questions. No no no. This is internetz wokay. Please leave the playground to children and exit graciously.

The issue is that the Muslims were long considered part of the general category (at the country level, not necessarily in every community) until recently when a specific political group (the BJP) successfully used identity as a cudgel to create an us-versus-them situation in the electorate to gain power. Now the Muslims, who didn't need protections before, see themselves being framed as vermin and invaders by those in power. The government is now codifying these identity politics by enacting legislation that singles out Muslims, either directly, by omission, or in a way that appears neutral until carried out by the hardline Hindu Nationalists given control of the processes.

The current scale is relatively small, but clearly sets up the institutional, legal and legislative back end necessary to carry out the policy at larger scales.

In terms of political economy, the ideology of Modi is the New Traditional Economy, a concept developed by me and Marina Rosser back in the mid-90s, an effort to embed a technologically modern economy within a traditional socio-cultural system. The poster boy for this has been Islamic economics, but Modi's India with its "Hindu nation" seems to be heading in that direction as well.

Err, what about Japan, genius?

What libertarian rights are Indians deprived of? Would transferring large Indian territories to Pakistani control somehow libertarian? Can you say with a straight face that Pakistan is more tolerant and has more libertarian rights than India? When Belgium officially becomes an Islamic Republic in the next 10 years will libertarians count that as a victory? What is Tyler's plan for more libertarian rights in Iran? What is wrong with India's democratic system that does not allow Indians to work out their future for themselves? Given Tabarrok' s little windmill paen to totalitarianism yesterday and Tyler's little anti -democracy screed today, can we all agree now that what libertarians want is a libertarian philosopher king system of government?

Calm down, pajeet, libertarians have never been democrats.

"I also believe these moves will be bad for India’s economy". You are being far too kind.

Can we just decide, here among friends, that supporting Democracy requires more than being repeatedly reelected? If you don't support the institutions of democracy, an independent judiciary, a free press, non-political state apparatus, then you are against democracy.

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