Thursday, April 09, 2015

Narendra Modi loves the Chinese model. Heck, any anti-democratic model!

A couple of days ago, after reading a news item that half of India's rivers are polluted, I tweeted about it.  A high school friend from India replied, with his characteristic sarcastic brevity, "just half?"

Talking about pollution, working on highlighting the damage to the natural environment, and actively engaging to protect it, might sound as valid democratic activities to us here in the US.  Every plant and animal and river and lake and mountain seems to have a group or two championing the cause openly and loudly.  Which is what I expect in a democracy, even when I disagree with them.  If we can have the NRA and the Chamber of Commerce, then why not the other organizations too?

It can be frustrating, no doubt, to have all these people yelling and screaming about their favorite issues all the time.  But, the alternative is far worse.

There are countries that are not willing to accommodate the multiple and competing interests and claims.  Especially the ones that don't agree with the government's bottom-line.  At an extreme is North Korea.  But, along that continuum of gradual change, a change from conditions here in the US to North Korea, lie a bunch of countries.  A whole range of them.  And, many of them seem convinced that the Chinese approach is better than the American one.  Unlike in the US, what if the troubling voices are silenced?

With every passing day, it appears that India's Narendra Modi's government is moving farther away from an American-style democracy--however screwed up it might be--towards a Chinese model.  The latest example:
Stating that acceptance of foreign contributions by Greenpeace India has prejudicially affected the public and the economic interest of the country in violation of the Section 12 (4)(f)(iii) and Section 12(4)(f)(ii) of the FCRA, the government said the act also amounted to violation of the conditions of grant of registration certificate. Accordingly, the Central government has suspended the registration of the organisation, including its branches and units, under the FCRA, for six months beginning Thursday.
I like how the government makes explicit "the public and the economic interest of the country."  The "Make in India" slogan shall not be compromised!

Have I violated the rule? ;)
"Use of the 'Make in India' logo is strictly prohibited without permission of DIPP"

India being a complex labyrinth of rules and regulations that are meticulously implemented by the "Ramamrithams" that this blogger caricatures and tortures, the following is no surprise:
The suspension order faulted the NGO for shifting its office and activities from Chennai to Bengaluru and also replacing 50% or more of its executive committee members without approval or intimation of the home ministry.
How dare somebody move their office from Chennai without the government's approval!

Greenpeace, I am sure, took quite a few line-in-the-sand approaches that were against "the public and the economic interest of the country."  It is not the only one either:
Activist groups working against coal-fired power plants and other infrastructure projects have accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of diluting environmental rules and making it easier for businesses to buy land and set up factories. Modi came to power a year ago with the promise of reviving Asia’s third largest economy and break business bottlenecks.
Dissenting opinions and movements are, well, dissenting and not supportive.   In a democracy, we learn to live with opinions that don't agree with ours.  I know it all too well--it seems like I am always on the dissenting side, at my work and even otherwise.

In a democracy, we don't work to silence dissent.   But then, China is no democracy and that is the model that appeals to quite a few these days, Modi included.


Ramesh said...

Much as I detest Greenpeace's methods and actions, on this one, I am on their side. To fall foul of Ramamritham's petty and nonsensical rules and being banned for it is crazy.

India is a nation of cacophonic protests on everything. After all we are full of argumentative Indians. So I wouldn't worry too much about alternate points of view, voicing them, etc etc. We are no China.

The issue in Greenpeace's case which got the government's goat is foreign funding for protests and dissent. That is not such a clear cut issue. I can see both the for and against for it. At one end of the spectrum would be say humanitarian funding of the Red Cross in North Korea. At the other end would be a Saudi funded radical Islam school in the US. Both would be easy to deal with. But what about the million things somewhere in the middle. Not sure. Needs some considered thought and debate.

Sriram Khé said...

"Needs some considered thought and debate" is what cannot happen when such drastic actions are pursued by the government.

I tell ya, it is a crazy world out there and with every passing day, I am glad that I am on a countdown ;)

Anne in Salem said...

Love that song. It is my ring tone on my daughter's phone. In history class in high school, the kids were given the assignment to find out as much as they could about all the items Joel mentions, but without aid of the internet. There were some fun discussions!

Sriram Khé said...

Yes, it is always burning ... we didn't start it ;)