Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

The cult of cronyism

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From the April 2014 issue of Seminar

The cult of cronyism

Siddharth Varadarajan

Who does Narendra Modi represent and what does his rise in Indian politics signify? Given the burden he carries of the 2002 anti-Muslim massacres, it is tempting to see the Gujarat chief minister’s arrival on the national stage as a watershed moment in the escalation of communal politics. Certainly the cult-like following he has amongst the sangh parivar faithful and a wider section of the Hindu middle class is due to the image he has of a leader who knows how to “show Muslims their place”. For these supporters, his refusal to do something so simple – and tokenistic — as express regret for the killings that happened under his watch is seen not as a handicap but as further proof of his strength.

And yet, Modi’s rise and rise has less to do with his Hindutva credentials and appeal than his secular critics would like to believe. Modi is where he is today – on the cusp of power — not because the country is becoming more communal but because the Indian corporate sector is becoming more impatient. Every opinion poll that shows him inching towards power sets off a bull run on the Bombay Stock Exchange.  In a recent dispatch for the Financial Times, James Crabtree noted the exceptional gains notched up by Adani Enterprises – the company’s share price has shot up by more than 45 per cent over the past month compared to the 7 per cent rise registered by the Sensex. One reason, an equities analyst told the FT, is that investors expect a government headed by Modi to allow Adani to expand his crucial Mundra port despite the environmental complications involved. “So the market is saying that, beyond the simple proximity of Mr Adani and Mr Modi, these clearances may no longer be so hard to get under a BJP regime,” the analyst is quoted as saying.

The word ‘clearances’ sounds benign but what it really signifies is Modi’s willingness to accommodate the desire of capital to expand in any way it wants – horizontally, across land and field, vertically, above and below the earth, and laterally, in terms of accommodating the demands of foreign investors, including for the opening up of the insurance and retail sectors.   And if environmental rules, livelihoods, farmsteads or community interests intervene, they must perforce make way with the vigorous backing and assistance of the government. It is this promise of ‘decisiveness’ that has made Modi such an attractive proposition for Indian – and global — big business today.

How and why the country’s top businessmen switched allegiance from the ‘indecisive’ Congress to Narendra Modi is a story that reflects the inner rhythms of life at the base of Indian politics. But it is also a cautionary tale about the deep crisis that rent-seeking and cronyism have engendered in the Indian economy now that the immediate gains made possible from liberalization have reached their natural limit. For all the changes that neo-liberal policies and the end of the ‘license-permit raj’ were meant to usher in, the level of rent that can be earned by companies that are close to the government has reached astronomical levels. As N.S. Siddharthan of the Madras School of Economics argues, “Under the existing business environment, the path to amass wealth is not through manufacturing but through exploitation of resources under government ownership.” Even if some of the estimates generated by the Comptroller and Auditor General in his reports on the 2G spectrum and coal scans appear to be on the high side, it is evident that the preferential allotment of resources has become a huge source of profit for companies that might otherwise earn only a ‘normal’ rate of return through their brick-and-mortar ventures. These resources include not just coal or spectrum or iron ore but, most crucially, land and water too. And here, the poster boy for the brave new world that Modi represents is Gautam Adani, whose emergence as a major businessman closely mirrors the rise of the Gujarat Chief Minister himself. 

At the January 2009 ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit, two of India’s biggest industrialists, Anil Ambani, who was locked in battle with Mukesh Ambani over the issue of gas pricing, and Sunil Mittal, chose openly to bat for Modi as Prime Minister. “Narendrabhai has done good for Gujarat and [imagine] what will happen if he leads the nation,” Anil Ambani was quoted as saying. “Gujarat has seen progress in all the fields under his leadership. Now, imagine what will happen to the country if he gets the opportunity to lead it … Person like him should be the next leader of the country.” Mittal, head of the Bharti Group with major interests in telecoms, had this to say: “Chief Minister Modi is known as a CEO, but he is actually not a CEO, because he is not running a company or a sector. He is running a state and can also run the nation.” Tata, who was present at the event, also sang Modi’s praises. “I have to say that today there is no state like Gujarat. Under Mr Modi’s leadership, Gujarat is head and shoulders above any state.” Again, the question of ‘clearances’ took pride of place.  The Economic Times reported: “A state, Mr Tata gushed, would normally take 90 to 180 days to clear a new plant but, ‘in the Nano case, we had our land and approval in just two days.’”

Two years later, at the 2011 Vibrant Gujarat meet, the prize for florid rhetoric went to Mukesh Ambani: “Gujarat is shining like a lamp of gold and the credit goes to the visionary, effective and passionate leadership provided by Narendra Modi. We have a leader here with vision and determination to translate this vision into reality.” In 2013, it was again the turn of his estranged brother. “Anil Ambani hailed chief minister Narendra Modi as the King among Kings,” the Economic Times reported, and requested the audience to give the CM a standing ovation. “The audience readily relented.” Others who spoke included a who’s who of top industrialists.  If there was no repeat of the ‘Modi for PM’ chant this time around, it was only because India Inc had already made its choice clear.

Looking back, a major turning point in this evolving matrix of business and political interests was surely the Niira Radia tapes drama of 2010. Coming close on the heels of the CAG’s dramatic exposé of the 2G scam, the Radia tapes brought out into the open the inner connections between big business, politicians, policymaking and even the media. With the Supreme Court now joining the CAG in seeking to stop the loot of public resources, it became clear that the era of easy “clearances” was now coming to an end. It was around this time that corporate India started accusing the Congress-led Manmohan Singh government – which they had strongly backed, and profited from, until then — of “policy paralysis”, “drift” and “indecisiveness.”

Since his name had figured in the Radia tapes, it was only natural that Ratan Tata should lead the charge. Warning that India was in danger of becoming a ‘banana republic’, the head of one of the country’s largest conglomerates hit out at the government for failing to maintain a conducive climate for industry.  He was soon joined by Deepak Parekh, the influential head of HDFC bank, who raised the spectre of capital flight since land acquisition and mining leases were becoming more difficult. “Talk to businessman after businessman”, the Times of India reported, “and one of the first things he’ll tell you, off the record, is, ‘The government’s come to a halt. Bureaucrats, bankers, everybody’s scared to take decisions.’ The next thing he’ll tell you: ‘We are now looking at investing abroad rather than in India’.” Sharad Pawar, the business-friendly Union Agriculture Minister, also lent his voice to this chorus of protest.

It is a fact that outward investment from India has been growing steadily, except for a fall in the slump year of 2009-10. Companies invest abroad for a wide variety of reasons. Some look for resources like coal or oil to feed their industries at home, others for technology or a means of more easily accessing protected markets. Domestic constraints on profitability can also be a factor. As Harun R. Khan, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India has noted, “There exists a school of thought which apprehends that overseas investment by Indian corporates is at the cost of on-shore investment. One of the discernible reasons acting as an obstacle for companies to undertake on-shore investment could be the policy and procedural constraints.” But domestic investment is also constrained by supply bottlenecks, especially in infrastructure, and domestic demand, which, in turn, are functions of public investment and expenditure, investor confidence, and the poor dispersion of income, which affects the spending power of the population.

As long as the Indian economy was maintaining a high rate of growth during the first term of the Manmohan Singh government, the biggest Indian companies were able to enjoy both “normal” profitability and a “crony premium.” But the joint effect of the 2008 global slowdown  on inflation, and interest rates, and the blow that Radiagate, the CAG, public opinion, and a more vigilant judiciary have delivered from 2009 onwards has fatally compromised this cosy revenue model. The arraignment of the Sahara group by the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the jailing of its boss, Subrata Roy, by the Supreme Court on contempt charges is perhaps the most dramatic example of how the terrain for big business is changing. To be sure, Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram were aware of the brewing disquiet in the corporate sector and tried to tackle the problem at the easier end by creating the Cabinet Committee on Investment and making rent-friendly changes in key ministries like Petroleum and Natural Gas and Environment and Forests.  But this has not been enough to restore the confidence of India Inc in the Congress party’s ability to restore the status quo ante.

It is hardly surprising that this is the time the name of Narendra Modi as a potential Prime Minister of India enters public discourse in a determined fashion. Egged on by corporate sponsors as well as by the personal preferences of their proprietors, big media swung into action to take the process of “normalizing” Modi to its logical conclusion. Barely nine years earlier, the Gujarat Chief Minister and the massacres he failed to prevent were universally acknowledged by the media as having played a key role in the defeat of the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre in 2004. The problem was how to convince the same urban middle class India, which is repelled by the spectre of communal violence, that the solution to India’s problems lies in Modi’s leadership. This is how the myth of the ‘Gujarat model of development’ came in handy. “Today people are talking about the China model of development in Gujarat,” Anand Mahindra of Mahindra and Mahindra told the 2013 Vibrant Gujarat summit. “But the day is not far when people will talk about Gujarat model of growth in China.”

Enough has been said and written about the statistical legerdemain that underlies Modi’s fanciful claims as an administrator who has transformed Gujarat. But in praising their Leader in this way, Corporate India is making an inadvertent admission: that what they admire the most about Modi is his love for the “Chinese model.” What is this model? It is one in which “clearances” for land, mines and the environment don’t matter. It is one in which awkward questions about gas pricing are never asked, let alone answered.  Unlike the growing public support for strong institutional action against corruption that lies at the root of the visible disenchantment with the Congress, Corporate India is not interested in an end to “corruption” as such. Cronyism and rent-seeking have become an integral part of the way our biggest companies do business – a sort of ‘capitalism with Indian characteristics’ – and they are looking to Modi to run this system in a decisive, stable and predictable manner. What they want is a Leader who will manage contradictions and institutional obstacles as and when they emerge. The communalism of the hordes who follow the Modi cult is an added attraction for his corporate backers, provided the Leader is able to keep his flock in check. This is something Atal Bihari Vajpayee and even L.K. Advani were not always capable of doing. Narendra Modi is a more decisive and strong-willed man. He can be counted upon to keenly calibrate their deployment whenever a crisis requires a diversion.

Postscript: As this issue was going to press came news that N.K. Singh, the bureaucrat-turned-politician, who is heard on the Radia tapes trying to influence the course of a parliamentary debate on a matter concerning Reliance, has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

(Siddharth Varadarajan, formerly Editor of The Hindu, is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, New Delhi)

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80 comments on “The cult of cronyism

  1. HARSHDEEP MINHAS
    May 11, 2014

    Businessmen normally don’t want to be on the wrong side of political parties . So ambani and mittal bating for Modi is not surprising , we saw that even in case of the recent progressive punjab summit – an absolutely non performing Govt was being praised by business tycoons . They are always on the side of money

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  3. parwatisingari
    May 1, 2014

    Interesting, are you telling us that the corporate India, has exhausted the congress potential and Modi is the newer pasture?
    The only way to counter act this strengthen the grass root.

    • anand
      May 18, 2014

      and are you telling that Narendra Modi is going to do that as if he had done this job already in Gujrat. In your dream ……………….

      • parwatisingari
        May 19, 2014

        NO, don’t harness any illusion that BJP is going to be any different their areas and modus operandi will be different.
        The only thing Modi can offer is a presence and a faint hope that things may change.
        If we want change we need to pick our butt and start participating at the panchayat level. We need to look at decentralizing. Its a long way to Tipperary and Modi is a stopgap.

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  5. awaken
    April 29, 2014

    “Corporate India is not interested in an end to “corruption” as such. Cronyism and rent-seeking have become an integral part of the way our biggest companies do business – a sort of ‘capitalism with Indian characteristics’ – and they are looking to Modi to run this system in a decisive, stable and predictable manner.”
    This has been true since the first Indian elections, and will remain true into the foreseeable future.
    You can replace Modi in the paragraph above with Indira Gandhi, and the substance does not change one whit.
    In the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, the major industrialists preferred politicos who would keep India as a closed market to ensure their well being.
    The times and tunes have changed a bit but the end goal has and will remain, maximization of profits for the major players.

  6. Ipsita Pal Bhowmick
    April 28, 2014

    Excellent analysis ! Can we get the permission of Bengali translation for a Bengali webzine and magazine Guruchandali ? Thanks a lot.

  7. KodandaRam
    April 28, 2014

    “We had found that students, mostly those whose families had RSS backgrounds( just paid people), were taken on board,” said Gohil. “They work in three shifts and each of them had as many as 1,000 email ids. Their job is to post comments on every website where a Modi article appears, and also blog about him. One of the students I spoke to was given the job of writing testimonials on Modi’s website. He posed as a businessman or a doctor and praised the efficiency of the Modi government. I verified this information with some bureaucrats and they conceded. This is the real truth of Vibrant Gujarat.” When TEHELKA tried to gather information about Sanskardham, we were stonewalled by the officials.

    One cannot agree or disagree with this, but what one sees of late does lend credence to Gohil’s accusation. For instance, all one needs to do is check the list of people Modi follows on Twitter. The list varies from NaMo4PM to handles that abuse anyone questioning Modi’s ambitions. And this is no hypothesis, as it is Modi’s official handle, and his endorsement says a lot.

    If Gohil is to be believed, the anonymous handles on Twitter, and the accounts that post comments on YouTube, Facebook and Google Plus, are products of organisations like Sanskardham. Another factor that binds Modi followers on Twitter, besides the fact that most of them are expatriates, right-leaning, self-confessed nationalists, sanatan dharmis, engineers, doctors from acclaimed US and UK-based universities, is their allegiance to organisations

    Source : http://www.tehelka.com/modis-operandi/

  8. KodandaRam
    April 27, 2014

    Mr.Siddharth what u say is commom knowledge.Absolutely nothing new.So the real problem is ur own Kind:The Media.

    The best solution therefore is to fight for a Constitutional Role of ‘Media Commissioner’.Such a one like CAG or CBI Director can only be removed by 2/3rds of the parliament majority once appointed.Complete control of Doordarshan and All India Radio should go into his control.Also we need similar constitutional roles for Information Commissioner who takes over RTI,DPA(Data Protection Act, storing of all state and govt files on computers so that nobody cud destroy evidence in scams etc).Then another Constitutional Role for SEBI Chariman, another one for Consumer Commissioner(who deals with consumer complaints against corporates, fights price cartels and other corporate malpractises), IT commisioner, and the RBI governor the eigth.

    These eight constitutional commissioners would have been far better than the idea of JanLokpal.

    The idea of public funded media headed by a Constitutional body of Information commisioner wud have gone a long way in exposing the Paid Media virus in this country.

  9. Prabhat
    April 26, 2014

    When congress came to power in 2004 and 2009, the media never highlighted the crony capitalism or crony socialism which they have displayed it in the form of scams later on and which the media has meserably failed to predict which now it is apprently trying to do a job of predicting riots and scams.
    But however the media has a prob apparently with a person who makes business easy and he is charged guilty of crony capitalism without a shred of evidence.
    If it takes a long time to grant licenses- the govt is inefficient and if it is done so faster, it is cronyism.
    The media follows the philosophy of “Damn if you do, damn if you don’t”. The media has to introspect and get in touch with the existing issues of the common people such as price rise, inflation, unemployment.
    The media which was extensively left oriented until recently is finding trouble finding right-thinking voices and is resorting to such tactics of showing the right-wing party as communal, crony and other negative traits. ( I am an athiest FYI)

  10. radhika
    April 26, 2014

    Sidharth ,

    Gujarat 24 hrs electricity , drip irrigation, solar power and agrarian success are not to be ignored. UPA”s colossal corruption and policy paralysis pinch the middle classes too even though it made hay for their crony capitailists. The Shahid Balwas and Unitechs were not modi bhakts

    An energized economy and assertive decision making are desired by the middle classes and are not the preserve of the ” crony capitalists” alone.

    The selective data usage , the obsessive single mindedness with regards damming modi by the intelligensa is reaching levels of epistemic closure.

    And to think that the alternative is privileged dynast’s with not
    an iota of work experience , I say give the other guy a chance.

  11. Pingback: Who does Narendra Modi represent and what does his rise in Indian politics signify? | ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಕೋಮು ಸೌಹಾರ್ದ ವೇದಿಕೆ

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  14. anon
    April 24, 2014

    Fascinating read and I’m not even an Indian. Thanks.

  15. ashok agarwal
    April 24, 2014

    Biggest threat from Modi s to regional parties .They will never allow hi to be PM. Once he becomes PM ,he will annihilate regional allies of his own and some of UPA ..Like Akalis, Patnaik,Naidu in Andhra ..So they will not allow him to be PM.

  16. Surajit C Mukhopadhyay
    April 24, 2014

    India Inc is upbeat about Modi as the oligarchs are ready to further their nests but would like a government that would be more active in their quest for control over the natural resources and rent seeking. The so called red corridor is the confluence of Maoism and corporate rapaciousness – one trying to use violence to stop the rape of resources the other hell bent in usurpation. The Modi government (if that happens) would let loose state terror on a scale that has never been seen before to facilitate the execution of the stalled MoUs in Central India. The corporates are betting on this, dissapointed as they are with the ‘tardy’ UPA II on this issue. Modi’s agenda of minority bashing and pogroms would be secondary – the primacy of getting the Adanis, Ambanis and Tatas to fulfill coporate greed has put into pale the BJP of the 1990s.

  17. Superb article. But unfortunately, majority doesn’t care about these facts. Paid media and mass PR campaign appears to be the winner, I still positive lets wait and see…

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  19. Anil
    April 10, 2014

    It is no secret that in developing countries the big industrialists guide government policy! It is to be seen how the people of India react to the, now, openly discussed collusion between political parties and industrialists. With Mr. Modi’s suspiciously close proximity with industrialists one has to hope for a balancing act in the ongoing elections. Mr. Modi cannot be given absolute majority, it will be a great risk.

  20. vindhya
    April 1, 2014

    That was such a great explanation for what’s going on.
    The govt selling cheaply resources belonging to the nation to corporate at penny for a dollar and everyone clapping for India rising and the media silently abetting – all this at highest level of power that it’s becoming impossible to fight it. The name of the political party changes but not what goes on.

  21. Harsha Prabhu
    March 31, 2014

    Thanks for this excellent analysis of the crony capitalists supporting Modi. It’s clear that India is up for sale and Modi and his boys – Tatas, Adanis, Ambanis – will be laughing all the way to the bank (as if they were not already). In the process the country will be defrauded of its resources and the environment will be thrashed, but who cares, who’s keeping the books on the real cost of these thugs to the national exchequer. Apart from a few lone voices, most Indian media pundits have joined the Modi mandali and are falling over themselves to sing his praises. In this regard the situation in India reminds me of the support for Hitler as a strong leader by German big business and the media, while the opposition fought themselves to a standstill. The RSS big bosses, including the father of Hindutva, Savarkar, were all admirers of Hitler, and yesterday’s Jew is today’s Muslim. So there you have it in a nutshell: a vote for Modi is a vote for the Kaliyuga of corporate-driven fascism in the land of Bharat.

    • Mukul
      April 5, 2014

      You are absolutely right Harsha. This is the Kaliyuga of corporate driven fascism.

    • Indian
      April 9, 2014

      “A vote for Modi is a vote for the Kaliyuga of corporate-driven fascism in the land of Bharat”
      You hit the nail on the head!
      I hope common Indians will understand this and do their bit to stop the country moving away from democratic, socialist (read emancipation for poor), just, equitable, secular, republic values to the abyss of fanaticism, sectarian hatred, authoritarianism, loot of country’s resources by rich and religious extremism.

      I pray to God this never happens to my great country. Otherwise I would never be able to hold my head high with pride in being an Indian.

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  23. K Rajasekharan
    March 30, 2014

    You have come with an incisive and worth reading article with deep analysis to bridge your absence from The Hindu, which some of its readers like me loved so much. The article definitely would help one understand the delusion that surrounds Modi and his development planks and take a position before he goes to poll.

  24. Sajida
    March 30, 2014

    SHUBHAM CHHITARKA (@shubhamchhitark)
    The choice between Congress and BJP is really choice of lesser evil. India should do better than both parties.
    Modi is more hype than reality. people should just do basic online research to figure that out.
    You may want to consider this:

    http://indianexponent.com/why-the-so-called-achievements-of-narendra-modi-in-gujarat-dont-impress-me/

    Alos please keep in mind days of manufacturing creating jobs is over. Automation and robots are taking away more jobs, including in India where manufacturing shed jobs.
    See:
    http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/03/indias-skilled-workers-left-behind/
    Left Behind in India
    http://www.business-standard. com/article/opinion/jobless- growth-is-now-official- 113031800590_1.html
    Jobless growth is now official
    This is the future:
    http://www.businessinsider.com/everywhere-i-go-i-see-jobs-that-will-be-replaced-by-robots-2013-9
    Everywhere I Look I See Jobs That Will Be Replaced By Robots

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57601121/are-robotshurting-job-growth/
    Are robots hurting job growth?
    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50138922n

    http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/07/is_high-tech_to_blame_for_the.html
    Is high-tech to blame for the long road to ‘full employment’?:

  25. Sajida
    March 30, 2014

    @Anurag Modi
    US doesn’t have public financing of political campaigns. This is why its situation is the way it is. India is heading in this direction because o of the same flaw.
    http://www.alternet.org/economy/inevitability-income-inequality
    Why Income Inequality Is Going to Get Catastrophically Worse
    It also is paying price of failure to modernize industry, which was caused by machine tools becoming too expense after price rise due to no bid defense contracts.
    http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=11641
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Strategies?
    You should read up on Seymour Melman.
    http://ejournals.library. vanderbilt.edu/index.php/ ameriquests/article/view/127/ 136
    Chaper 3 – Deindustrializing the US: The War Against American Workers
    http://globalmakeover.com/ sites/economicreconstruction. com/static/SeymourMelman/ archive/ec/America_new_ economic.pdf
    America’s New Economic Problem
    Seymour Melman at Cape Cod, July
    http://mises.org/journals/ scholar/woods2.pdf
    The Neglected Costs of the Warfare State
    Meanwhile:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2582286/NASA-study-industrial-civilization-headed-collapse.html
    Industrial civilization ‘may be heading toward collapse’ within decades because of its strain on the planet’s resources, NASA report finds

    • G3
      March 31, 2014

      You are spot on. Reading this article, many parallels to the USA pop up in my mind. The business community throwing tantrums when they don’t get what they want (even if they are doing awesome) for example. One thing the Indian business community seem to lack (unlike the US counterparts) is the art of being corrupt without appearing so. In US, they buy politicians to do their bidding. Of course there is the army of lobbyists (and there is a revolving door between politics and business) to get the laws they want and make it all look legal. Not a single top management guy went to prison for th Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Some small fish were caught as part of a drama to make it appear something is being done to stem the rot(Bernie Madoff was caught because he was “idiotic” enough to screw the rich and the better-off, unlike the big banks which screwed the poor).
      India Inc though , I am sure, will be catching up with US.

  26. Sajida
    March 30, 2014

    India needs public financing of political campaigns. Otherwise situation due to get worse.

  27. Anurag Modi
    March 29, 2014

    Imagine two years back: when common man/women has lost faith in the system; frustrated with corporate government; corruption; and government missing from everywhere, and before Narendra Modi could have been trusted with corporate agenda, a need to bring back faith in the corporate agenda and policy was felt, and that could have been done by there media houses and it is here corporate media saw that opportunity in AAP, isn’t it? And, now when job is done, they are eager to dump them.

  28. A.K.Luke
    March 29, 2014

    I worked in Gujarat so have some understanding of the rise of BJP/ Modi there. The late eighties/early nineties were years of unchecked corruption and the rise of an organized criminal, largely Muslim, underworld. The Gujarati middle class was alarmed and saw the BJP as the party which would act as a counter to these forces which were threatening the certainties of a fairly placid though conservative mercantile culture. They were not communal. The BJP which came to power in 1995 continued the corruption though it stopped patronizing the criminals. The Shankar Singh Vaghela interregnum gave the middle class a shock as they realized that those with a Sangh pedigree could be as unprincipled as the Congress. That was when Modi stepped in and demonstrated his capabilities with the post Godhra massacres. The Gujarati businessman wants security above all. Modi gave them this and his anti Muslim pose was an added bonus. But Modi does not want to stop there. His subliminal message to the rest of India is that there is more where it came from and I can give to you too what Gujarat has received – a battered, underpaid working class, neglect of the weak, contempt for human rights, glorification of strength, elimination of the threat of terrorism, no nonsense about environment, and sparkling cities and infrastructure for the new wealth. In other words, a government by the strong and for the strong. Many Indians are buying it.

    If the UPA could have kept its hand clean and given India a reasonably responsive and transparent government, the Modi phenomenon would have remained a footnote. The moment India gets a governance which is clean and responsive, Modi’s obnoxious appeal will vanish. Today as Modi is poised to rule India, we are paying for the sins of the UPA.

    Alexander K .Luke, IAS(Retd.)

    • Mukul
      April 5, 2014

      Very very sharp analysis and observation by Mr. Luke . Such an insight can only come from someone who has practically lived and worked in Gujrat.

    • Mou
      April 30, 2014

      So true and very sad

  29. Anurag Modi
    March 29, 2014

    Yes, but this what capitalism needs, its hunger increases with age. This is what has been happening in USA for decades now, is openly coming in India. There can’t be clean capitalism ever

  30. Mahdi
    March 29, 2014

    Excellent article by you Mr S Varadarajn. Your article presents deep analysis about how the Modi cult has been created by corporate controlled media. Im a software engineer and work in IT industry. Most of my colleagues are media brainwashed and they believe that when Modi comes into power India will instantly become a super power. I know these guys are waiting for a deep disappointment. I fear, if Modi comes into power and becomes PM, India will become more of a pro rich dictatorship. And to lull common poor and middle class into slumber the doses of communalism and jingoism will be served.

  31. Mr. Siddharth why don’t you write something about Shehzada “Rahul Gandhi” ???? What experience he holds, at least Chaiwala (Namo) he still has a vision for the country, What has he done till now other than talking about RTI, Women Empowerment, Youth. What are his achievements. Why don’t you bring into light Sikh Riots of 1984 where there was more bloodshed than Gujarat 2002 Riots. What outstanding thing did the UPA Govt do rather than distributing clean chits, relief packages which didn’t even reach to the concerned poor people it was supposed to. You talk about Modi’s relation with Gautam Adani, why don’t write on the rise of Robert Vadara who is the son in Law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Also can you please bring into light Riots which took place in Maharashtra last year where in innocent people lost their lives, it is not a BJP ruled state though. What has the congress government done for the people other than introducing reservations for the backward classes.The congress claims that it is secular, can you please tell us which bill has been passed for the betterment of non minority people. When we talk about Modi we think of development, cash flows, Growth, FII’s, better roads, Jobs, Agriculture Growth ,FDI. Also let me tell you that for a common man 2002 riots is not an issue, the issue growing unemployment poverty corruption policy paralysis, to which the solution is Narendra Modi. When we hear the word Congress, Scams, Reservations, Bills which doesn’t even have existence in reality and their implementation leads to rise of another scam.

  32. Rohit Verma
    March 28, 2014

    As usual Siddharth Varadarajan selectively quotes and tries to present a case and as usual miserably fails.One can understand the frustration of Varadarajan and ilk as despite of trying everything under the sun , they haven’t been able to prevent Modi’s rise.

    In Gujarat Hindus and Muslims , both were killed for this bigot it is an anti Muslim massacre.

  33. pradeep
    March 28, 2014

    Timeline of the events and the subsequent change in administrative scenario gives the credibility to your arguments. But I have my own doubts regarding this whole story. It’s not hidden that Modi is pro business, but it is also noted that he does so without hurting the common people. From your article only I can infer that UPA also helped businesses grow till Radia tapes were out, but stopped to do so afterwards because of watchdogs and strong intervention from judiciary. Do you think next government assumed to be of Modi’s will be able to change things in major ways, given that it will still be a coalition and judiciary will still hold it at bay? And aren’t these corporates shrewd enough to understand that?
    My point is role of pro business ideology of Modi has less to do with his current position compared to his alleged role in Gujarat riots 2002. Just answer my one question had Modi been a same brand as he is now, had there been no massacre in Gujarat in 2002. Lower, middle and upper class Hindus except those who consider themselves intellectuals are ready to accept him as their leader because they just don’t care what happened to a particular community in 2002 and Modi comes as a good alternative. If you can think of why Shivsena is still a stronghold in Mumbai, it is because of Marathi sentiments. Marathi people, a majority, feel secure when the government at helm explicitly tries to uphold their interests. Same is happening with Modi at national level.

  34. Rajesh Ramachandran
    March 28, 2014

    Dear Sir,

    Miss you in The Hindu pages. I came across this article accidentally and realise how much I missed you.

    If the UN Human development and Hunger indices are considered for judging the development standards (as long as one do not think having 4 lane roads and malls are the sign of development, these indices are the best to judge a society), India will fall down to the most bottom rows, if not for states like Kerala and Punjab. In fact, if we judge our states independently, Kerala is the only state which have standards comparable with nations, which rank the top quarter of these indices.

    While the Gujarat CM has used all the corporate PR to snob about himself, I think the state which made huge improvements in poverty alleviation and related issues is Tamil Nadu.

  35. Arvind
    March 28, 2014

    I am very disappointed by your article. Primary reason being that it is so selective and biased that it is unbelievable. Adani has under performed similar stocks in the category, Gujarat Pipavav being one, and one of the comments mentioned that. Second, I am appalled at conjuncture being drawn that Mr Modi will flout environmental norms because he is pro business. If any political leader is pro business, does it mean that he is anti environment. Third, Gujarat is one of the states where Public Sector Enterprises have proven that they can work as efficiently as a private company. So the key question is whether efficient public sector is good for the country or not… Also, FYI public sector companies are big beneficiaries in this rally. This including PSU banks despite the NPAs, thanks to UPA and oil PSUs despite the subsidies – again thanks to UPAs, because of expectations of better governance. My question to you is why you are not highlighting this? Is it because you are being selective and biased?

  36. indian
    March 28, 2014

    Author is EDIOT or Nth Order ..Kicked By IE for his biased journalism ..SICK …!!!

    • Maya
      March 29, 2014

      Who’s the idiot – the one who can’t spell, and even do basic research to know whom he was ‘kicked’ by? Foolish-idiot!

  37. The end less drivel masquerading as ‘data analysis’ – YAWN

    • Maya
      March 29, 2014

      Nothing to counter what he says? YAWN – at least some of the critics to this article did have something to say – Yaaawwwn yaannn

  38. Anas Yassin
    March 28, 2014

    Superb and excellent… read it carefully… affluent with information and data which reveals the real face of ‘Modi’ development…

  39. Sruti
    March 28, 2014

    Siddharth, there is a lot of useful data puncturing the tall claims made about the ‘Gujarat model of development’ and the exceptionalism of Narendera Modi in this article by two economists:

    http://outlookindia.com/article.aspx/?289889

    Their conclusion:
    In particular, this is what we tried to figure out: did a state that has for a long time been one of the most developed states in terms of per capita income, and was already improving at a rate higher than the rest of the country, accelerate further and significantly increase its growth margin under Modi’s stewardship? Our analysis shows that this did not happen. Both Maharashtra and Gujarat improved upon an already impressive growth trajectory in the 2000s, but the margin of improvement was too small to be statistically meaningful. So while Gujarat’s overall record is undoubtedly very good all through the last three decades, its performance in the 2000s does not seem to justify the wild euphoria and exuberant optimism about Modi’s economic leadership.

  40. Shekhar
    March 28, 2014

    For all those questioning the analysis of Adani and Modi, some essential additional reading:

    1. On the rise of Gautam Adani: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/indl-goods/svs/construction/gautam-adani-meet-the-man-who-built-rs-47000-crore-infrastructure-empire/articleshow/22304960.cms (You need to read the second half of the story for sure. That talks about Modi and Adani’s concurrent rise and ends by talking about the close ties between Adani, state politicians, bureaucrats and judiciary)

    2. One reason Adani’s Mundra has grown so fast is the government has not allowed PSU Kandla to grow.

    2a. The Kandla-Mundra story: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-08-01/news/40963238_1_mundra-kandla-port-trust-adani-port

    2b. Recently, Raj Thackeray made similar assertions about Mumbai’s JNPT. http://www.livemint.com/Companies/zK5W69PFnFp51KIGBLZF2L/Raj-Thackeray-says-JNPT-expansion-delays-helping-Gujarat.html and http://www.asianage.com/mumbai/raj-thackeray-writes-jnpt-falling-business-521

    3. On the environmental violations

    3a. The remiss EAC. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/energy/power/gujarat-hc-slams-environment-ministry-in-adani-order/articleshow/28812412.cms

    3b. The greenwash by Sunita Narain. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-09-19/news/42218296_1_ministry-adani-group-green-laws

    3c. And the Adanis reject it. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/transportation/shipping-/-transport/adanis-challenge-moef-fine-for-environmental-violations/articleshow/26010466.cms

    4. On the instances of him being favoured by the state government. A story on Gulail.
    http://gulail.com/adani-modi-nexus-to-result-in-loss-of-rs-23625-crore-to-gujarat-in-one-deal-alone/

    • paliwalview
      April 26, 2014

      on 2 when u say that the mundras rise is because the govt didnt allow Kandla to grow u forget that Kandla Port falls under the central govt and mundra under state govt – GMB (gujarat maritime board ) how can u claim that NaMo didnt allow Kandla to grow when Knadla is under the central govt control ? who stoped it from growing and why

      • paliwalview
        April 26, 2014

        when u say environment ministry is at fault for environmental damage pl note that the EAC is done by environment misnistry which is under central govt (read Congress Govt ) why they recommended the project for apporval – why the decision was not communicated in timely manner and if they okayed the project arent they too responsible for the damage ? why only Gujarat Govt

      • paliwalview
        April 26, 2014

        when u say that adani’s rise is due to modi – some more counter questions

        1. adani port was operational in 2001 well before modi became the CM – so the land would have been allotted much before that ? makes sense ?

        2. Todays Adani groups is based in 7 states outside gujarat who also contribute to the adanis much touted 30000 cr group t/o. so if any wrong doing hapened in those states (including maharashtra ) how can Modi be responsible for that ?

  41. Ajit
    March 28, 2014

    This is a plausible argument on how Modi suddenly became a toast of Middle classes, Corporate overlords and Big Media.

    It is not anti muslim hindu communalism that is propelling him. but the corporate overlords. But anti-muslim hindu communalism will be strengthened by his rise and in case his coming to power. Just like it happened in Gujarat. That said, it must be admitted that the ordinary middle class people plainly mean “he got away killing muslims, he puts the muslims in their proper place” when they blather about Modi’s commitment to “Development”. That is a code word. They are like puppets at the hand of Corporate puppet masters, like robots programmed by their corporate masters.

    That said, I am not sure what to make of recent opinion polls showing Modi closing towards Majority of seats in Parliament. The Indian opinion polls are highly unreliable. I compared their predictions in 2004 and 2009 and what actually happened. They always, always lean toward BJP. They are also corrupted by Corporate money.

  42. sameer
    March 27, 2014

    you (vardarajan) may try very hard to appear neutral, secular but whatever you say or said always haunts you. you are more an anti-Hindu than anti-Modi. so people don take you seriously. You are increasingly losing credibility. You believe in everything which is anti-modi but suddenly become very logical on hearing something pro-Modi. What reasoning!!

  43. Brajesh
    March 27, 2014

    Seems like SidV is the new astrologist of this country, who is predicting everything that will happen under Modi. I was surprised he didn’t drag
    ABV into his fantasy world of ‘cronyism’.

    Wasn’t SidV was the editor of the reputed ‘The HIndu’ ?? If the situation was so horrific under UPA-1 and UPA-2, what as an editor you did to expose it and bring it in front of the public and parliament ?? No, you all were hand-in gloves with this crook govt. Media and more over secular media was totally supporting this totally corrupt and deceitful govt. Never did you expose or spoke a word against SoniaG ?? Why ??

    Corrupt Secular Media have no right preach others, and you are the boss of all.

    Youngsters like us are begging for jobs, who will give, your secular ranting and preaching is not going to fill our stomaches.

  44. Noor Ahmed Sheriff.
    March 27, 2014

    Superb article. No one could have written it better. I was your follower on twitter but this article has made me your Bhakt.(LOL).

  45. quest
    March 27, 2014

    Since you use the example of Adani Enterprises, tell me this. If it is the beneficiary of cronyism from a state government as you claim, why is it down more than 50% from the high of 789 hit in 2010 even as many other companies have gone up multiple times in price over the same period.

    Don’t insult the intelligence of people with this drivel. Your will not doubt continue to peddle your lies and push your hate filled agenda. At least do a better job of it.

    The problem with your types is that you live under the delusion that people are influenced by what you have to say when in reality you are the subject of mockery and ridicule.

  46. prank
    March 27, 2014

    Not good , what u wanted conclude ? How have u been editor for so long ?

  47. Seriously speak, Mr. Varadarajan, dont you have any other task other than selectively find fault in Narendramodi.. You know wha. Too many such biased utterances by likes of you have made millions to seek the truth and are now following Modi.. People like you have made a one another CM of India as the most probably PM of India and deservingly Modi ha sailed thru all of your challenges and is still moving ahead… You keep whining with nmore such onesided articles

    • Tansh Goru
      March 28, 2014

      Well Karthik with feudal morons like you around India deserves a Modi

      • Feudal Moron
        March 29, 2014

        Feudal moron? Did you buy a new dictionary?

        How about some logical argument next time. Or maybe, you don’t have any.

  48. ASHISH GOEL
    March 27, 2014

    You seem to have a very communistic mindset and have twisted the words to hurl them against MODI. Thousands of riots, including the one of 84, in the congress regime of over 60 years are never questioned by your type of secularists. The problem with your type of intellectuals is that you would twist the data and the facts in such a manner that it would portray BJP and its leaders as demons, even the good deeds would be shown as “deionised deeds”
    Now you have made Mody a poster boy of the corporates, but you forget, it is the common man who votes, all have equal voting value, whether any Ramu, Abdul, Ratan Tata, Mukesh,& Anil Ambiny Adany. But it is not your fault, Hindus were always treated as bash-bags by your type of intellectuals to prove themselves and the blame lies with the Hindu community for not being proactive.

    • SHEEBA ASLAM FEHMI
      April 24, 2014

      Ashish Goel there is no continuity between the Congress that was behind the 1984 riots and the Congress of today. Congress does not survive upon anti-Sikh fodder. Congress never projected Sajjan Kumars as its PM candidate. They made a Sikh the PM after 1984. On the other hand, the man who did 2002 in Gujarat is the same man who audaciously wants to be PM today. His organisation’s oxygen is anti-muslims-ism.

      • paliwalview
        April 26, 2014

        not projecting sajjan kumar as PM candidate does not wash of the sins of 1984 pogrom

  49. Shiva
    March 27, 2014

    ” In a recent dispatch for the Financial Times, James Crabtree noted the exceptional gains notched up by Adani Enterprises – the company’s share price has shot up by more than 45 per cent over the past month compared to the 7 per cent rise registered by the Sensex. One reason, an equities analyst told the FT, is that investors expect a government headed by Modi to allow Adani to expand his crucial Mundra port despite the environmental complications involved. “So the market is saying that, beyond the simple proximity of Mr Adani and Mr Modi, these clearances may no longer be so hard to get under a BJP regime,” the analyst is quoted as saying. ”

    This is a highly misleading point to make based on the facts that you have cited.
    a) When you compare the performance of Adani Enterprises with that of an infrastructure major like Larsen and Toubro over 1 month and 3 months, the outcomes are as follows:
    — L&T: 1M –> 17%, 3M –> 19%
    — Adani Enterprises: 1M –> 33%, 3M –> 22%
    (Source: Google Finance)

    Personally, your comparison of a cyclical stock against a diversified index (like Sensex) is a misleading comparison. In fact, I would say that even Adani Enterprises and L&T are not appropriately comparable given the difference in nature of business and financial leverage

    b) To give you an almost like-to-like comparison, you can compare Gujarat Pipavav (GPPV) and Adani Ports. Both these companies operate private ports in Gujarat. GPPV is a MNC promoted port – significantly owned by AP Moeller Maersk. If you look at the same 1M, 3M returns for GPPV and compare it with that of Adani Ports, you would see that GPPV has outperformed significantly.
    — GPPV: 1M –> 22.5%, 3M –> 38.4%
    — Adani Ports: 1M –> 12%, 3M –> 12%
    (Source: Google Finance)

    It almost appears as if you are picking quotes that selectively prove your ingoing hypothesis without being objective / unbiased in your approach. I am not saying that the companies do not have any linkages … but trying to bias opinion in the manner in which you are doing is unprofessional. This is very disappointing.

  50. gulam shaik budan
    March 27, 2014

    Excellent. Dear sir can I translate it in Telugu and post in website along with original.

    • Siddharth Varadarajan
      March 29, 2014

      Yes

      • paliwal_w
        April 26, 2014

        1st rebuttal
        Narendra Modi has expressed grief / regret over the 2002 riots but not any apology and strongly opposed the concept of apology as he had no part to play in it.
        and he is right – if he is guilty then punish him / hang him – why be satisfied with apology

        2nd rebuttal
        Majority of Hindus rather Indians like him for his development led policies, politics and not because of “he knows to show the muslims their place” by saying so u are insulting a majority of indians (mind u not HIndus only) and almost all gujaratis (including me)

      • paliwalview
        April 26, 2014

        3rd rebuttal

        for environment related issues

        The project was cleared by EAC of the environment ministry of the Central Govt (read congress Govt) why did they clear it

        If the congress led Central govt cleared the project – how can Modi be held accountable for it ?

    • Manoharan. S
      April 2, 2014

      Dear Mr Gulam Shaik Budan, thanks for proposing to translate the article into Telugu. I am keenly waiting for reading the translated version.

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This entry was posted on March 27, 2014 by in Communal Violence, Indian Politics, Narendra Modi, Political Economy, Uncategorized.

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