India – Constitution and Democracy under Siege

December 16, 2019

India – Constitution and Democracy under Siege

Padmini Arhant

Reiterating earlier call for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah to step down from office in light of status quo specifically deteriorating law and order deploying undemocratic means using public funded law enforcement and other cadre to silence democracy resulting in innocent lives deaths and unlawful detention of peaceful participants voicing their legitimate concern over the unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act and religion biased Naturalization law. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah’s religion and caste oriented politics is the epitome of their political career. BJP government desperate attempts to distract citizens attention from burgeoning economic issues such as high unemployment in all sectors, agrarian crisis, decline in economic growth and productivity, massive banking fraud severely affecting banking industry creating panic and frustration among common depositors having lost all their savings earlier from PM Narendra Modi’s disastrous demonetization and now in the state run banks mismanagement of public funds allowing unscrupulous members associated with political parties and economic sector to default and abscond on government and political opposition watch is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Since assuming office in the second term touted as Modi 2.0 by state operated media and other communication outlets, PM Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah together embarked on controversial and counterproductive topics beginning with Article 370 abrogation, Criminalizing Triple Talaq (Divorce) among Muslim community while turning a blind eye to similar or worse situations among Hindus and other demography, declaring Lord Ram Temple construction through hamstrung Supreme Court’s final verdict on the embattled Babri Masjid (Mosque) site in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh comprising largest Muslim population…are BJP’s election manifesto preliminary actions. 

Lately, PM Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah rammed Naturalization Law and Citizenship Amendment Act cherry picking three neighbors in the entire India sub-continent and South Asia. They are Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh isolating Muslims in religion based asylum in the Northeast and rest of India. PM Narendra Modi justified the conspicuous discrimination against Muslims in this process stating they belonged to the majority in their country of origin compared to the BJP government empathized groups viz. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Parsis in those three nations ignoring the persecuted Sri Lankan Tamils living in Indian Southern State Tamilnadu and elsewhere who are ardent followers of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma  evident in Hindu Temples erasement in Sri Lanka during ethnic cleansing by recently re-emerged Mahinda Rajapaksha regime (not without backend international and Indian political maneuver) in Colombo.

Likewise, the ostracized Rohingya muslims as minority in Myanmar with children, elderly and women upon arrival on Indian soil were expelled on unsubstantiated terrorism charges by this government showing little or no consideration for gross human rights violations experienced by them in Myanmar.

The irony in the ongoing catastrophic strategy of transforming India into a Hindu State and welcoming Hindu minorities from Muslim majority nations in the neighborhood completely neglects the plight and miseries of so-called Dalits, Adivasis (Natives), Indigenous, Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Backward Class, Other Backward Class (OBC) representing overwhelming majority Hindus subject to atrocities and extreme violence from Hindutva zealots under the pretext of cow vigilantes tied to organizations viz. Bhartiya Gau Raksha Dal / Indian Cow Protection Organization and other fundamentalist groups directly operating under RSS run BJP nationwide. Notwithstanding the land confiscations from various tribes and farmers to benefit certain corporate families like Gautam Adhani, Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani and the likes having close ties with the government and political class in general.

The interesting factor is the BJP government in New Delhi and other states /provinces have long been involved in beef export to near and far destinations amid fomenting violence leading to mob lynching on this issue against muslims and people determined as social outcasts referred to as Dalits in society.

Where is the humanitarianism from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah towards sweeping majority i.e. the designated lower caste Hindus enduring generational prejudice in urban areas and untouchability in rural parts of the country with the practice institutionalized in the past five years of BJP government?

The incumbent government’s consistent pattern in utilizing polarization politics to deflect mass grievance and anger over economic woes to BJP manufactured social and humanitarian chaos confirms the administration’s inability to effectively address the growing economic problems demanding prompt solutions that appears to be unavailable given the government priority on anything other than the economy.

The government selective raids and investigation on corruption scandals excluding large swath of members within and among alliances in addition to corporate favorites and celebrities in the entertainment with an alarming record of tax evasions, offshore hoarding in tax havens, black money and embezzlements reported in Panama Gate and other national as well as international corruption exposures barely attract the authorities interest.

Contrarily, in neighboring Pakistan, the Panama Gate revelation caused political storm ousting the accused former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and family with imprisonment freezing the assets of Sharif family for fraudulent dealings and illegal wealth amassment in the economically struggling nation with substantial population in abject poverty. 

India is no different in terms of impoverishment with the poor and poorest survival hanging in balance by the minute of their lives whilst the rich, famous and powerful stashing wealth overseas and in disguised investments lasting several generations are untouchable and held above law. The reverence and constant adulations of them making headlines and in news columns overcast criminal indulgence exempting them from any inquiry and rule of law.

Indian politics has evolved into betting, bidding and bareknuckle crony capitalism. The corporate run government with major political party deploying underhanded tactics to intimidate and lure members of opposition is heading towards consolidating power unbridled in enforcing and executing policies and agenda rejecting consequential upheavals from such endeavors. 

The fragmented and fragile Indian opposition fraught with internal strife pose no threats to the ruling BJP having successfully established the horse trading in forming or toppling government at regional and national level.

The opposition has no meaning or relevance witnessed in latest state assembly elections with parties forging alliance regardless of political ideology and platform sharing the common goal to access power even if that calls for alternating terms in office.

The victim in the current political, economic and social environment is none other than the average citizen. The middle class and downwards bearing the brunt of the escalating abuse of power targeting the most vulnerable and weak segments whether it be muslims or the economically burdened lower class confined to accepting government’s lack luster performance in the economic front unassailable.

History is testimony to events beyond threshold delivering outcome against anything unsustainable.

Indian democracy is indeed at risk and the nation beckons not only forward, progressive, open minds but also anyone who deeply care about their present and immediate future to rein in authority wasting taxpayer funds and national resources in unnecessary and futile exercise with serious repercussions.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

Author & Presenter PadminiArhant.com

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U.S.Economy & Financial Markets

October 11, 2018

U.S.Economy & Financial Markets

Padmini Arhant

The Federal Reserve preparation to hike interest rates in December 2018 in consideration of historic lower unemployment and GDP forecasts is received cautiously with financial markets reaction to United States and China trade war alongside unnecessary economic sanctions against Iran and Venezuela having drastic impact on global economy.

The Federal Reserve move on gradual rate increase to maintain inflation at current 2 percent bearing low unemployment is a step focused on limited factors such as job and GDP data. However, the fact of the matter is there are other aspects with potential reverse outcome on Federal Reserve’s action to interest rates hike that merits attention.

On the job status, the unemployment figures might be impressively low. Nonetheless, the cash flow in the economy is still lagging in small and medium businesses and other areas of the economy involving direct consumer purchase such as the housing market and automobile industry.

In general, the consumer spending is fairly weak and reflected in retail industry poor performance with many brick and mortar stores struggling to survive in the anemic retail business. The retail figures at the end of holiday season this year will further indicate the condition one way or another. The conventional retail chains and big stores are facing tough competition from e-commerce with online giant like Amazon forcing  shutdowns on major retail stores unable to compete effectively given the popularity and convenience of online marketing.

The e-trade is a big challenge to standard retail business and that in a way controlling inflation on many goods and services in the market. Again, the purchasing power among majority of consumers in the middle and lower incomes category is static and even remain below the expected level despite low unemployment in the economy. One of the reasons behind this sluggish consumer spending is lack of fair income distribution.

Although the job market might appear to be favorable, the buying power among consumers on big budget items like home and cars as well as other essentials are nowhere near  anticipated market share with significant impact on construction industry and manufacturing sector.

On the international front, United States administration policy towards Iran and Venezuela is triggering currency devaluation in emerging economies like India and developing nations such as Pakistan, Turkey and countries in Latin America dependent on crude oil imports from overseas. The U.S. dollar pegged to oil trade, the strengthening of U.S. currency is mainly associated with global transactions in dollar and the alternative being euro depleting foreign currency reserves for most nations worldwide.

European economy barring Germany, Norway and few Nordic states are yet to recover from recession started back in 2007 and experienced until now. Many EU members like PIGS ( Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) along with Eastern European EU states are not relieved from economic crisis and barely able to meet financial obligations amid EU enforced austerity contributing to depressed economic growth and development.

The debt saddled nations are driven towards debt servicing to enrich international monetary authorities and prominent bankers profiteering on the extraordinary debt burden of these countries confronted with liquidity crunch creating the dilemma of debt trap causing economic downturns for nations in this situation.

In the given scenario, euro as the optional trading currency is superficial posing needless strain on global economic activities especially in the backdrop of fragile European economy and United States politically motivated sanctions against Iran and Venezuela compounding the problems on the energy demands and supply chain for nations like India and China with massive energy consumption to fuel the economy. The other efforts in this context such as raising OPEC output to deal with United States sanctions on Iran and Venezuela do not satisfy market requirement that are already felt with unaffordable fuel prices in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and many parts of the world.

United States and Europe would be ultimately affected as the western multinational corporations are predominantly benefiting from global presence and operations right from production to sales, distribution and service  in many industries invariably exposed to common energy and economic issues striking the consumer base in Asia and other regions instrumental in boosting global economic progress.

The global economic regression is directly related to these unwanted events with immediate repercussions on allies and those behind the strategy. China trade war is another dimension with United States having granted the former MOST FAVORED NATION (MFN) status and many United States companies involved in manufacturing goods from China that are not only available in America but also in the global markets. China has long been the world’s central exporter and wholesaler with businesses from far and wide ignoring labor exploitation in addition to normal employment and environment violations in the profit-oriented system. As such, China’s reciprocation to U.S. actions are not without consequences for both economies engaged in mutual trade warfare.

Accordingly, discernment on decisions against China, Iran and Venezuela from the U.S. administration under President Donald Trump is critical to save the economy from possible meltdown in the aftermath of global economic decline that are visible in the wake of current account deficits among many nations trying to maneuver the difficult predicament of survival and resolution to impending economic woes generating anxiety in the global domain.

As for the Federal Reserve resolve to move forward on the overnight federal funds rates over the next year and beyond from the present 2 and 2.5 percent to about 3.4 percent to contain inflation at 2 percent would predictably slow the positive economic trend hurting prospects in the already suppressed housing market and retail sales as highlighted above.

The macroeconomic forecasts on United States GDP for third quarter at 3.7 percent and 2.6 percent for fourth quarter with the Federal Reserve revision showing higher growth figures based on the latest tax cuts and government spending prompting Federal Reserve position on premature rate increase neglect stagnancy in ordinary household income.

The mere job growth in the absence of affordable living standards confirm income disparity. The per capita average net income and cash flow determining consumer price index and inflation is trailing behind projections and proposed changes to rates could wipe the gains realized in the recession free economic span in the past decade until now.

In a nutshell, the exponential rise in minimum wage and average income i.e. per capita income in correlation with GDP is important besides minimizing joblessness in the economy prior to addressing inflation alone in the macro and micro economic management.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

PadminiArhant.com

Prakrithi.PadminiArhant.com