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Subramanian Swamy Vs Raghuram Rajan and his Supporters: Why The Past Matters

Author: Sandeep
Publication: Sandeepweb.com
Date: June 4, 2016
URL:   http://www.sandeepweb.com/subramanian-swamy-vs-raghuram-rajan-and-his-supporters-why-the-past-matters-sadanand-dhume-salil-tripathi-reserve-bank-of-india-narendra-modi-rss-bjp-amit-shah/

Whatever the merits or otherwise of  Subramanian Swamy’s continual critcism of RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, one theme has emerged solidly: he has forced folks to take sides.

To begin with, we need to examine  Swamy’s perception among certain quarters in the larger umbrella of the BJP and/or broadly speaking, the “Right” wing: “troublemaker within the BJP,” “thorn in Modi’s flesh,” “Modi/BJP needs to rein him in,” and variants thereof. Some prominent members belonging to these quarters are characterized by one, some or all of the following features:

* An overwhelming and single-minded agenda of economic growth and development at the exclusion and/or expense of other aspects constituting the definition and raison de etre of a nation.

* An deep sense of hostility if not aversion to the cultural and civilizational ethos of India

* Trying to advocate policies that in the long run will make India another prosperous clone of the West

* A marked apathy and hostility towards “saffron” outfits like the RSS, VHP, and similar organizations

Three other crucial categories exist apart from these: the Johnny-come-latelys, the opportunists and the turncoats who no longer think Modi’s hands are stained with the blood of the victims of the Gujarat riots.

But where the twain meet is at the junction of being in the forefront of castigating Subramanian Swamy and defending Rahguram Rajan.

Even assuming that Swamy’s allegations about Rajan are unfounded, here’s why I remain deeply skeptical about Raghuram Rajan.

* He’s a UPA appointee: Let’s not forget that the UPA’s relationship with Rajan dates back to 2008 when Dr. Manmohan Singh appointed him as an honorary economic adviser.

* Hypocritical activism: From 2008 and till the UPA ended its term, Rajan has never, even once, uttered a word of reproach against the most corrupt two-term regime of plunder that independent India has witnessed. And under Modi’s helm, it appears Rajan gets bitten periodically by  an activist bug, taking digs at the government and the party that leads it. Raghuram Rajan is perhaps the first and only RBI governor to don the activist/moral guardian role, appearing in frequent media circuses.

* No scrutiny: To date, there has been absolutely no serious critical scrutiny about the role, successes and other aspects of Rajan’s tenure in the media and/or public space. Are we to seriously believe that Rajan had no knowledge of the shenanigans of P. Chidambaram and his son’s sprawling multi-continental empire built on ill-gotten wealth? Or that Rajan wasn’t aware of how the stock market was insidiously rigged?  This becomes more significant given Rajan’s penchant for said activism and mindless criticism of the Modi government. Perhaps Rajan took that shrew Shobhaa “Botox” De’s words seriously when she said he “put ‘sex’ back into the limp Sensex,” with his “ultra conservative…tight ass.”

Perhaps, my well-accomplished friend’s assessment of Rajan nails it excellently:

The craze for Raghuram Rajan amongst Lutyens’ Delhi cabal has more to do with his pedigree than appreciation for the economic policies he promotes. He is from Chicago School which has led the Free Markets movement and these Adarsh Liberals are closet Communists. We can trust Rajan to safeguard our financial system, while the Jholawalas sell their soul to the highest bidder. But Rajan is celebrated in the global power circuit. So irrespective of what his ideology is, he is worth fighting for. We are told that his credentials make him indispensable. We are supposedly not worthy enough of critiquing him. Even Subramanian Swamy, with a PhD from Harvard no less, is mocked for demanding his ouster. It is considered blasphemy to question the record of his association with Government of India since 2007.

Contrast this with the reception accorded to Prime Minister Modi. He has risen to power through sheer hard work and lifelong passion for development of Bharat. Despite unprecedented opposition, he won a massive mandate in 2014. But does he get anything more than contempt and threat from the ‘Intellectual’ Establishment? They are ready to sabotage India’s growth prospects just to hurt him. A society that gave refuge to people of all faiths and championed the idea of pluralism for millennia has been termed intolerant, simply to defame Modi. Why? All because he prides his humble roots and is determined to destroy the status quo.

We are possibly the only country where a democratically elected Prime Minister can be abused with the filthiest of words everyday, whereas the Central Bank Governor, who is an appointee of the Union Government, is sacrosanct.

In this light, I point you to the latest, vicious piece of rant from known RSS and Swamy-baiter and, now Rajan-defender: Sadanand Dhume in Times of India.

Apart from training his venom against Swamy, what’s notable in Dhume’s alleged article is how he dons the role of an advisor to what the BJP “as a natural party of governance” and what the Prime Minister needs to do, how Modi and/or Amit should “find a way to tone down the paranoid style embodied by Swamy,” and so on. Funny that Dhume who finds Swamy’s style crass, himself indulges in thinly-veiled crassness in the said piece. Even earlier, here’s what Dhume tweeted on 19 May 2015:

----------------------------------------------
Sadanand Dhume @dhume
Prediction: At some point in the next 6 months Swamy39 will attack the Modi government in full Technicolor craziness.
m.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/a...
7:27 AM – 19 May 2015
----------------------------------------------

Predictably, this time around, outrage followed on Twitter with Dr. Gaurav Pradhan tearing into Sadanand Dhume in a series of twenty tweets.

Nobody grudges Dhume’s talent for successfully repackaging himself as a pro-Modi government writer/advocate. But it’s important to have a sense of history.

Sadanand Dhume is a Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank with strong links to the Republican Party. Among others, illustrious folks to have emerged from its stable include: (former President) Gerald Ford, William J. Baroody, Jr., William J. Baroody,  Sr, and Newt Gingrich. A partial list of AEI members who have served in influential positions in the Bush government include: John R. Bolton, former Ambassador to the United Nations, Lynne Cheney, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Given this, doesn’t it stand to reason that everything that Dhume writes about India–Modi or no Modi–must be viewed with heavy doses of skepticism? Can we be absolutely certain that Dhume is not pushing the US and/or the Republican Party’s agenda in some cases? More fundamentally, as an Indian citizen, I do not think India needs to take lectures from an American citizen on how to conduct its affairs–my definition of “India” also includes the Congress and other parties.

Equally, as Dr. Pradhan says in his tweet,  Sadanand Dhume’s wife, Alyssa Ayres worked as US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State to the (current) Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, whose infamous role in blocking the Kudankulam nuclear power plant operations is too well-known.

In other words, both Dhume and his wife are well-entrenched in the top echelons of American politics.

Indeed, Dhume has quite a history of BJP, RSS and Hindu-baiting. His 25 Feb 1999 article titled “No Place Like Home” in Far Eastern Economic Review makes for revealing reading where he trashes the Overseas Friends of the BJP then headed by Dr. Mukund Mody. Here’s a revealing passage:

the Friends cultivates a sober image in the U.S. while remaining committed to
 divisive issues such as the building of a temple on the site of a mosque
 destroyed by a pro-BJP mob in 1992 and the persecution of religious
 minorities. The recent spate of church burnings in Gujarat, and the
 brutal killing in Orrissa of an Australian missionary and his two young
 sons by people believed to have links with the VHP, has only underlined
 these suspicions.
Even earlier, when the Marathi play, Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoi, was banned, the same Sadanand Dhume teamed with yet another vicious anti-Hindu pamphleteer named Salil Tripathi and wrote the following in the same Far Eastern Economic Review:

The banning of a play in Bombay… has sparked a bitter debate and raised critical questions about the kind of nation India wants to be – secular, democratic and liberal, or nationalist and Hindu.

To quote the intrepid columnist Arvind Kumar, “free speech is “nationalist and Hindu” while banning plays is “secular, democratic and liberal.”

Yet again, in an article titled“Shadowy Second Self,” in the selfsame Far Eastern Economic Review, the selfsame Dhume claimed, as the abstract puts it, that “many Indians are now concerned that the country could be very negatively affected by the RSS’s militant Hindu aims, as put into practice by the BJP. It has been extensively reported in India that RSS leaders influence Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s choice of cabinet ministers.”

Indeed, even as his latest rant in Times of India shows, Dhume’s animus towards the RSS hasn’t dimmed one bit. Except that he now couches it in a cloak of faux politeness:

Swamy’s willingness to say outrageous things – such as demanding the disenfranchisement of Muslims who do not publicly acknowledge Hindu ancestry – has earned him a following in the Sangh Parivar. Indeed, a senior BJP leader once told me that this was what gained Swamy entry to the party.

Let it be said loudly and clearly that India needs to take no lectures from Dhume, whose long record shows that it is impossible for Indians–especially Hindus–to trust him. To recall Arvind Kumar’s words again:

…Sadanand Dhume works for the American Enterprise Institute which operates in the area of advocating certain policy prescriptions. When people get paid to articulate political agendas that serve the interests of institutions operated by the ruling class in Western countries, such people, in essence, become Gunga Dins who carry water for their paymasters. This is especially true as these institutions exist solely to belittle countries outside the Western civilization.

The so-called “think-tanks” in the West do not seek to enrich their worldviews or shape their policies when they hire Indians. Instead, these organizations represent the interest of certain political entities with firm political opinions and they hire Indians only as viceroys of these opiions. These viceroys have the specific task of indulging in propaganda on behalf of their employers. Even when not specifically tasked to do so, the employees continue with the propaganda in order to prove their credentials and endear themselves to their paymasters. [Emphasis added]

And to wind it up, I shall summon Shakespeare:
 
Well, whiles I am a beggar, I will rail
 And say there is no sin but to be rich;
 And being rich, my virtue then shall be
 To say there is no vice but beggary.”

(King John, Act II, Scene II)

 

 
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