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Archives for : August2018

Modi Govt Ad Spend Could Feed 46 Million Children Mid-Day Meals For A Year #WTFnews

Shreya Raman,

Bhopal: A hoarding of `World Hindi Conference` in Bhopal on Sep 6, 2015. (Photo: IANS)

Vehicles pass by a government of India poster around the World Hindi Conference in September, 2015. In its first 52 months in power, the National Democratic Alliance government spent Rs 4880 crore on publicity.

 

Mumbai: Midday meals for 45.7 million children for a year. One day’s wages for 200 million workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS). About 6 million new latrines. And at least 10 more Mars missions.

 

These were some of the things that could have been financed with the money that the current National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government spent on publicity in the four years it has governed India.

 

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government spent Rs 4,880 crore ($753.99 million) on advertising its flagship schemes in the 52 months between April 2014 and July 2018, according to the information made available to the Rajya Sabha (Parliament’s upper house) by Rajyavardhan Rathore, minister of state (Independent Charge) for information and broadcasting.

 

This amount is double the sum spent by the government’s predecessor in 37 months: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government spent Rs 2,048 crore ($377.32 million) between March 2011 and March 2014, according to this 2014 response to a Right To Information (RTI) query filed by activist Anil Galgali.

 

Of the Rs 4,880 crore the NDA spent on publicity, Rs 292.17 crore (7.81%) went to advertising four public schemes in three years–Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme) for crop insurance, Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission) for a nationwide cleanliness campaign, Smart City Mission and Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (Ideal Village Scheme for Members of Parliament) for urban and rural development.

 

 

When these figures came to light in July 2018, the government was criticised for not investing the money in public utilities.

 

Prashant Bhushan

@pbhushan1

~5K Crores spent by Modi govt on advertising! Most of the advertisements are just of Modi’s face. Apart from a colossal waste of public money which could have been used to build schools & hospitals etc, it gives a huge unfair advantage to party in power https://m.hindustantimes.com/india-news/government-has-spent-rs-4-880-cr-in-ads-since-2014-15-rajyavardhan-rathore-in-rajya-sabha/story-ChDcKQlI5WYAOY8kfOub2M_amp.html?__twitter_impression=true 

Government has spent Rs 4,880 cr in ads since 2014-15: Rajyavardhan Rathore in Rajya Sabha

The central government has spent over Rs 4,880 crore in advertisements through electronic, print and other media since 2014-15

m.hindustantimes.com

 

Ajay Maken

@ajaymaken

‘Modi Govt Spent Rs4,880 cr on Ads Since 2014’

Shame-Govts use huge amounts of Public money for self-publicity

As a leverage to muzzle the opposition&influence the minds of the electorate through news media

Most subtle form of Unfair Electoral Practicehttps://www.news18.com/news/india/modi-govt-has-spent-rs-4880-crore-on-ads-since-2014-parliament-told-1828503.html 

Modi Govt Has Spent Rs 4,880 crore on Ads Since 2014, Parliament Told

The information was given by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore in a written reply.

news18.com

 

IndiaSpend calculations showed that the money spent by the NDA on publicity could have been used in critical government projects ranging from child nutrition to public health and sanitation.

 

 

There’s been a 34% rise in govt ad spend in four years

 

Government expenditure on advertisements rose 34% from Rs 980 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 1,314 crore ($203.89 million) in 2017-18.

 

In 2016-17, the government cut down on print advertisements and channeled money into audio-visual publicity instead. But in 2017-18, it did the reverse–it spent more on print ads than audio-visual campaigns.

 

The 2017-18 trend seemed to have continued into this financial year too. The government’s bookings in the four months to July 2018 show that it has spent double the money on print advertising over audio-visual publicity.

 

(Shreya Raman is a data analyst with IndiaSpend.)

http://www.indiaspend.com/cover-story/govt-ad-spend-could-feed-46-million-children-mid-day-meals-for-a-year-65262

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World acclaimed Marxist Economist Samir Amir Dies at 86 #RIP

Egyptian French Marxist thinker Samir Amin, was one of the most prominent economists in the world

Mohammed Saad , Sunday 12 Aug 2018
Amin

Marxist thinker Samir Amin (Photo: AO)

World acclaimed Egyptian econimist and thinker, Samir Amin, has died on Sunday in Paris. He was 86.

Amir was hospitalized on July 21 and went back home on Saturday, but he passed away the following day.

Born in Cairo, Egypt, the prominent thinker died Sunday afternoon in France after serious complications following a brain tumor, reported his colleague Cherif Salif SY on social media.

 

“A very shocking news of passing away of Samir Amin after a brief period of memory loss to brain tumor and suffering,” said the fellow economist on Linkedin. “The world has lost a towering thinker and activist, a humble comrade and friend. Rest in Power and Peace, dear Comrade Samir,” he added, sending his condolences to Amir’s family and “comrades of Third World Forum.”

He published almost 30 books about capitalism and Marxism, his most important works being Accumulation on a World Scale: A Critique of the Theory of Underdevelopment, A Critique of Eurocentrism and Culturalism: Modernity, Religion, and Democracy, and Capitalism in the Age of Globalization, among others.

Amin was born in Egypt in 1931 to an Egyptian father and French mother and spent his youth in Port Said. After studying in Egypt, he continued his diploma in political science in Paris in 1952, before getting a degree in statistics and then a doctorate in economics.

He worked first in Cairo at the Institute for Economic Management from 1957 to 1960 then moved between countries until becoming director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal in 1980.

He authored many books including The Liberal Virus 2003, A life Looking Forward 2006, Accumulation on a World Scale 1970 and Capitalism in the age of globalization 1997.

In an interview with Ahram Online in 2012 Samir Amin said that he believes that “this neo-liberal phase is in state of collapse. It doesn’t mean that capitalism is collapsing; but that its current form is collapsing and we’re entering a new phase. It has to adapt, and whether the new system will be biased to the ruling class or the masses, is still be revealed.”

He also said that “We should not just look at the Muslim Brotherhood as a political Islamist power but as a backward movement that rejects workers movements and social justice, preferring to talk about charity as a form to ensure their control over the people.  The Islamists accept the policies of dependency under the guise of open market and private ownership rights; they openly accepted the American role in the region and the USA support for Israel, including the Camp David agreements.”

Partial awareness emerges from particular struggles, for example, from the struggles of peasants or women for the defense of human commons or the struggle for respect of popular sovereignty. The progress of the convergence of these particular types of awareness would make it possible to advance towards the formulation of new ways to surpass capitalism. But note…increased awareness will not happen through successive adaptations to the requirements of capitalist accumulation, but through awareness of the necessity of breaking with those requirements. The most enlightened segments of the movement should not isolate themselves by brandishing their disdain for others. Rather, they should involve themselves in all struggles in order to help the others to advance their understanding.

—Samir Amin, “Reading Capital, Reading Historical Capitalisms,”
Monthly Review, July-August 2016, p. 148

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentP/18/309519/Books/World-acclaimed-Marxist-thinker-Samir-Amin-dies.aspx

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Somnath Chatterjee: The 10-time MP Lost Election Only Once, to Mamata in 1984 #RIP

Somnath Chatterjee was defeated only once in 1984 by Mamata Banerjee, who incidentally came to limelight with this win. Chatterjee was the leader of the CPI(M) in Lok Sabha from 1989 to 2004.

Kolkata: An outstanding parliamentarian, Somnath Chatterjee was the first communist in the country to don the role of a Speaker.

Chatterjee, who had been associated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for most part of his life, leaves behind an imprint as one of the most illustrious speakers of the Lok Sabha.

His father N C Chatterjee was once president of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha. Chatterjee was unanimously elected as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in 2004 during the UPA-I government.

A close associate of Marxist leader Jyoti Basu, Chatterjee was expelled by the CPI(M) in 2008 for “seriously compromising the position of the party” when he refused to step down as the Speaker, a position which he believed was independent and unbiased.

After his party, then under the general secretaryship of Prakash Karat, withdrew support from the UPA government in July 2008, Chatterjee refused to step down from his position holding that the Speaker’s post is above any party politics.

Describing July 23, 2008 as “one of the saddest days of my life,” Chatterjee had said in a statement that, “The speaker of Lok Sabha, like the speakers of other elected assemblies, while acting as such does not and cannot represent any political party.”

It was on his initiative that proceedings of the Zero Hour were telecast live from July 5, 2004. A full-fledged 24 hour Lok Sabha television channel also came into being in July, 2006 during his tenure as speaker.

Chatterjee was elected to the Lok Sabha 10 times on party ticket beginning in 1971 when he was elected as a CPI(M)-backed independent candidate to a seat in an interim election necessitated due to the death of his father.

He was defeated only once in 1984 by Mamata Banerjee, who incidentally came to limelight with this win. Chatterjee was the leader of the CPI(M) in Lok Sabha from 1989 to 2004.

He was born at Tezpur in Assam on July 25, 1929, to N C Chatterjee, who was once president of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, and Binapani Debi and was educated in Kolkata and the United Kingdom.

A Barrister-at-Law from Middle Temple in UK, Chatterjee was a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for four decades from 1968 to 2008, till he was expelled in 2008.

Conferred the “Outstanding Parliamentarian Award” in 1996, Chatterjee was known for his debating skills with extensive knowledge of national and international issues, delivered in his deep baritone voice, interspersed with wit and humour.

He adorned several parliamentary committees as chairman or as a member and was respected by leaders across the political arena. Chatterjee retired from active politics following the end of his tenure in 2009.

He shared a close relation with CPI(M) stalwart Jyoti Basu who had also made him the chairman of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), trusting him with the responsibility to turn the state around in bringing in investments and starting new ventures.

The lawyer-turned politician had acknowledged Basu’s role in guiding him, saying “he has always given me unstinted support and encouragement.” He is survived by wife Renu, a son and two daughters.

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Reductionism in the digital universe #BookReview

Title:New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the FutureAuthor:James Bridle

Title:New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the FutureAuthor:James BridlePublisher:VersoPrice:$26.95

James Bridle on how complex technology darkens our life and culture, and the urgent need to shed digital fatalism

In 2016, when Nintendo’s Pokemon GO created a frenzy across the world, fans of the augmented reality (AR) game were up for a surprise in Russia. While playing the game — which basically means tracking down hidden Pokemons in real time and in real locations using AR technology on their smartphones — near Kremlin, many users found some functonality glitches on their devices,The Moscow Times reported. They found their GPS function compromised.

For starters, Pokemon GO uses Global Positioning System (GPS) to direct users to various locations where the funny comic characters would appear. Near Kremlin, many users found a mismatch between where the Pokemons appeared and the location marked on their devices. Technically, such a thing should not happen because GPS signals could not be tampered with. Or that was they, like many of us, had thought until then. And they were wrong.

Cyber security experts say what the gamers experienced in Kremlin was a process called GPS spoofing, giving enough evidence that Russian agencies were tampering with GPS by faking the signals. So, anyone would want to find a way to Kremlin using GPS would be virtually ‘relocated’ to Vnukovo Airport, which was 32 km away from the city centre. Many experts think this was done for defence purposes, to redirect incoming weapons targeting Kremlin using GPS. Instances such as GPS spoofing, where an advanced technology people believe is foolproof can be doctored and faked, reveal the “blind spots, structural dangers and engineered weaknesses” of computation in contemporary life, warns James Bridle in New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future, a brilliant, unparalleled work on the perils of modern technologies and how they obfuscate social realities.

A complex web

Bridle believes technology has made human life extremely complex today by creating layers and layers of processes and systems where humans are condemned to cohabit machine intelligence in ways they cannot comprehend.

As a result, we don’t necessarily realise where we need technology’s assistance and where we don’t. Even that ability is controlled by the systems and processes of technologies we use. “Our social lives are mediated through connectivity and algorithmic revision,” writes Bridle. He explains how the entire world “becomes a code/space” as smartphones becomes powerful personal computers and computation disappears into every device around us, from fridges to cars to fitness bands.

What happens then? This “ubiquity underscores our failure to understand” how computation impacts the “very ways in we think”. Bridle gives the example Wikipedia, which is a beacon among open internet projects. Currently, Wikipedia relies on an army of software agents – bots – to enforce and maintain correct formatting, build connections between articles, and moderate conflicts and incidences of vandalism. At the last survey, bots counted for 17 of the top 20 most prolific editors and collectively make about 16 per cent of all edits to Wikipedia. That’s a “concrete and measurable contribution to knowledge production by code itself,” notes Bridle.

What exactly is the danger here? Clearly, algorithms, which bear within themselves all the ugly biases and prejudices of their creators, are slowly and gradually interfering in our cultural spaces by contributing faster and in many cases better.

At the outset, there may not be a problem and we are free to think such technologies (bots here) are just augmenting our lives. Bridle disagrees: “Computation does not merely augment, frame, and shape culture; by operating beneath our everyday, casual awareness of it, it actually becomes culture.” In a way, software gibberish replaces healthy sociocultural discourses. This can have ramifications in spheres such as public policy, art, journalism, healthcare, sports, welfare distribution and such.

Why do such things happen? This happens largely because of a purely functional understanding of technology. Bridle explains, enchantingly, the dangerous fallout of it, which he calls “computational thinking”, which is the belief that any problem can be solved by the application of computation. “Whatever the practical or social problem we face, there is an app for it,” Bridle mocks. This is some kind of a “solutionism”, which essentially means technology can find a fix to problems. As Evgeny Morozov explains in his witty, insightful 2013 work To Save Everything Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism, this approach is inherently faulty because it underestimates and masks that fact that our imperfections make us human.

Bridle agrees. He says computational thinking forces its apostles (businessmen, policymakers and such) to think that it is impossible to think or articulate the world in terms that are not computable. Soon, the thought reverses in an obscene fashion.

They think that to be solved, all problems should be computable. That which is not computable or not digitally mappable or measurable or code-able is runs the risk of losing a solution or even falling out of the radar of governance, business and culture.

Digital fatalism

Bridle warns that computational thinking is predominant in the world today, driving the worst trends in our societies and interactions, and must be opposed by a “real systemic literacy”. Technology cannot be left to the whims and fancies of those who keep it complex. It should be democratised. Systemic literacy is the thinking that deals with a world that is not computable, Bridle explains, while admitting that it is “irrevocably shaped and informed by computation”.

But that’s not an easy job, in a world where data companies control pretty much everything an individual does and force their users to ignore their fallibilities and become what this reviewer would call digital fatalists, where they become extremely submissive before their digital service providers and accept their propaganda and conclude that everything that happens is inevitable (in a way predetermined by a Super Code) and we have to reprogramme our lives to get them in synch with the digital realities.

This is not some soft-coded paranoia. This is a reality we face every day. When governments ask us to have digitally traceable (and controllable) unique identities and then make such computable citizenship or identity documents mandatory for availing services that do not necessarily require such strict screening by any measure, and when we succumb to such demands without a whimper. We even praise such efforts without really understanding the complexity of such systems or their hidden abilities to be manipulated, we become submissive subjects of computational thinking.

Bridle asks us to stand up and say our existence is be understandable only through computation. We are more than the data we are. Technologies need to be audited (Morozov has argued for algorithmic auditors) and updated to reflect human values such as justice, ethics and inclusiveness. Equally important is to know that systems are fallible and in a world where even the GPS can be faked and choreographed, overreliance on technologies can be dangerous.

Bridle’s work is a great handbook for those who want to probe more on this. He speaks with the calmness of a prophet and the alertness and passion of an evangelist.

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/article24674348.ece

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India – Hindu Rashtra is Here

 

Union Minister Jayant Sinha felicitating one of the convicts who have been awarded death penalty by a fast-track court after he got bail in the Ramgarh lynching case. — File photo

The Sangh Parivar’s work partakes in a new formation of the state, the formation of a de facto Hindu Rashtra based on unofficial, societal regulation with the blessing of the official state. If one day the Constitution of India is amended, it may become a de jure Hindu Rashtra.

Christophe Jaffrelot

THE media often presents cow-related lynching cases as spontaneous reactions of the mob. Certainly, some ordinary people take part in them. But the perpetrators’ ideological orientation could be surmised from the fact that they often make their victims raise slogans such as “Gau mata ki jai (Hail the cow-mother)” or “Jai Hanuman (Hail Hanuman)”.

That the choice of victims for assault had less to do with cow protection than with underlying hostility toward Muslims is clear in the way Hindu cow-breeders and transporters have been spared during attacks — Pehlu Khan’s truck driver got away with a mere slap, whereas the others, all Muslims, were beaten (one of them to death). More importantly, most of the lynchings reported between 2015 and 2018 were perpetrated by vigilante militias or the result of the atmosphere they created, often using social media.

The most visible Hindu nationalist organisation in this domain, the Gau Raksha Dal (GRD), has chapters in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi and Haryana. In Haryana, one of the movement’s strongholds, the GRD emblem is a cow’s head flanked by two AK47s. Elsewhere, daggers replace firearms on the movement’s coat of arms. In practice, its members use cruder instruments like cricket bats, hockey sticks, lathis and so on.

In Haryana, the GRD and police have arrived at a division of labour. The president of the Haryana GRD, Yogendra Arya, told Ishan Marvel, the author of a remarkable piece of investigative journalism (‘In the name of the mother’, The Caravan, September 2016): “We have a huge network of volunteers and informants. […] As soon as someone sees something fishy, they call us up, and we then inform the volunteers of the relevant district, and the local police, who then set up joint nakas — checkpoints — to catch the smugglers. […] Police can’t do what we do, they have to follow the laws. They don’t have the resources and network we have.” The GRD thus acts as a community cultural police, with members closely monitoring the deeds of those who deserve not only to be reported, but also punished.

In Haryana, the convergence of two types of policing — official and unofficial — has reportedly been strengthened by the creation of a “cow task force” within the state police. An IPS officer heads this network, which has specialised officers in each district. These officials allegedly work with the GRD: In some respects, the state subcontracts policing tasks to non-state actors, turning them into a para-state force.

The other Indian state that criminalised beef consumption by law in 2015, Maharashtra, has taken similar steps. The state government appoints Honorary Animal Welfare Officers to implement this new law — former gau rakshaks have been hired for these jobs.

In Haryana, the osmosis between vigilante groups and the state goes well beyond this. Yogendra Arya, the national vice-president of the GRD, sat on the board of the Gau Seva Ayog, a Haryana government institution devoted to cow welfare, along with 10 others, who like him are longstanding members of the Sangh Parivar. The lack of distinction between non-state actors and government authorities has probably never been so great.

These developments have triggered a new dynamics of state formation, as defined by Bruce Berman and John Lonsdale. In their study The Unhappy Valley, Berman and Lonsdale distinguish the formation of the state as a social institution and state-building as an administrative process. Reasoning solely in terms of state-building tends to reduce authority only to official agents and their actions. Berman and Lonsdale take into account private actors who work their way into the process of state formation through the “vulgarisation of power”, which involves commandeering public authority to further private ends. This approach has obvious heuristic advantages for the analysis of Hindu vigilante groups and their relationship to the state.

Collusion between police and Hindu nationalist movements is indeed evidence of the start of a transition from a state-building process, in which the administrative and coercive apparatus is supposed to treat all citizens equally, to a state-formation process wherein majoritarian non-state actors impose a social and cultural order.

What adds a layer of complexity to Berman and Lonsdale’s model is that in India, these non-state actors enjoy state protection. Though the authority they exercise is illegal, it is nevertheless seen as legitimate by the state in that it is inspired by the values and interests of the dominant community to which the government is accountable. In that sense, the Sangh Parivar is more of India’s deep state than a parallel government, all the more so as the BJP is part of the Parivar.

This shift from a neutral state to an ideological Hindu Rashtra illustrates a form of violent majoritarianism that can be observed in all countries where vigilantes bring minorities to heel with the more or less tacit agreement of shadow forces that share their biases or ideology (the relationship between white supremacists’ militias and the police in the US could provide other examples).

In addition to the Sangh Parivar’s influence at the grass roots and within the state apparatus, another variable needs to be factored in, as evident from the way a police officer recently bowed to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Guru Purnima. In that case, the authority of the saffron-clad chief minister was not only due to its temporal power but also because of his spiritual authority, a status no political leader has had in India. That is conducive to still another type of state, theocracy.

Not only has the prime minister abstained from condemning lynchings, some legislators and ministers have extended their blessings to the lynchers. Only a few of the lynchers have been convicted so far. Whenever lynchers have been arrested, the local judiciary has released them on bail. If the executive, legislature or judiciary do not effectively oppose lynchings, India may remain a rule-of-law country only on paper and, in practice, a de facto ethno-state.

The Hindu Rashtra label, in fact, perfectly describes the process at stake: It refers as much to a people united by blood ties, culture and social community codes, and a political framework. It is at once a society, civilisation, nation and state. In this way, the Sangh Parivar’s work partakes in a new formation of the state, the formation of a de facto Hindu Rashtra based on unofficial, societal regulation with the blessing of the official state. If one day the Constitution of India is amended, it may become a de jure Hindu Rashtra.

c.indianexpress.com

Hindu Rashtra is Here

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Union Minister Jayant Sinha felicitating one of the convicts who have been awarded death penalty by a fast-track court after he got bail in the Ramgarh lynching case. — File photo

The Sangh Parivar’s work partakes in a new formation of the state, the formation of a de facto Hindu Rashtra based on unofficial, societal regulation with the blessing of the official state. If one day the Constitution of India is amended, it may become a de jure Hindu Rashtra.

Christophe Jaffrelot

THE media often presents cow-related lynching cases as spontaneous reactions of the mob. Certainly, some ordinary people take part in them. But the perpetrators’ ideological orientation could be surmised from the fact that they often make their victims raise slogans such as “Gau mata ki jai (Hail the cow-mother)” or “Jai Hanuman (Hail Hanuman)”.

That the choice of victims for assault had less to do with cow protection than with underlying hostility toward Muslims is clear in the way Hindu cow-breeders and transporters have been spared during attacks — Pehlu Khan’s truck driver got away with a mere slap, whereas the others, all Muslims, were beaten (one of them to death). More importantly, most of the lynchings reported between 2015 and 2018 were perpetrated by vigilante militias or the result of the atmosphere they created, often using social media.

The most visible Hindu nationalist organisation in this domain, the Gau Raksha Dal (GRD), has chapters in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi and Haryana. In Haryana, one of the movement’s strongholds, the GRD emblem is a cow’s head flanked by two AK47s. Elsewhere, daggers replace firearms on the movement’s coat of arms. In practice, its members use cruder instruments like cricket bats, hockey sticks, lathis and so on.

In Haryana, the GRD and police have arrived at a division of labour. The president of the Haryana GRD, Yogendra Arya, told Ishan Marvel, the author of a remarkable piece of investigative journalism (‘In the name of the mother’, The Caravan, September 2016): “We have a huge network of volunteers and informants. […] As soon as someone sees something fishy, they call us up, and we then inform the volunteers of the relevant district, and the local police, who then set up joint nakas — checkpoints — to catch the smugglers. […] Police can’t do what we do, they have to follow the laws. They don’t have the resources and network we have.” The GRD thus acts as a community cultural police, with members closely monitoring the deeds of those who deserve not only to be reported, but also punished.

In Haryana, the convergence of two types of policing — official and unofficial — has reportedly been strengthened by the creation of a “cow task force” within the state police. An IPS officer heads this network, which has specialised officers in each district. These officials allegedly work with the GRD: In some respects, the state subcontracts policing tasks to non-state actors, turning them into a para-state force.

The other Indian state that criminalised beef consumption by law in 2015, Maharashtra, has taken similar steps. The state government appoints Honorary Animal Welfare Officers to implement this new law — former gau rakshaks have been hired for these jobs.

In Haryana, the osmosis between vigilante groups and the state goes well beyond this. Yogendra Arya, the national vice-president of the GRD, sat on the board of the Gau Seva Ayog, a Haryana government institution devoted to cow welfare, along with 10 others, who like him are longstanding members of the Sangh Parivar. The lack of distinction between non-state actors and government authorities has probably never been so great.

These developments have triggered a new dynamics of state formation, as defined by Bruce Berman and John Lonsdale. In their study The Unhappy Valley, Berman and Lonsdale distinguish the formation of the state as a social institution and state-building as an administrative process. Reasoning solely in terms of state-building tends to reduce authority only to official agents and their actions. Berman and Lonsdale take into account private actors who work their way into the process of state formation through the “vulgarisation of power”, which involves commandeering public authority to further private ends. This approach has obvious heuristic advantages for the analysis of Hindu vigilante groups and their relationship to the state.

Collusion between police and Hindu nationalist movements is indeed evidence of the start of a transition from a state-building process, in which the administrative and coercive apparatus is supposed to treat all citizens equally, to a state-formation process wherein majoritarian non-state actors impose a social and cultural order.

What adds a layer of complexity to Berman and Lonsdale’s model is that in India, these non-state actors enjoy state protection. Though the authority they exercise is illegal, it is nevertheless seen as legitimate by the state in that it is inspired by the values and interests of the dominant community to which the government is accountable. In that sense, the Sangh Parivar is more of India’s deep state than a parallel government, all the more so as the BJP is part of the Parivar.

This shift from a neutral state to an ideological Hindu Rashtra illustrates a form of violent majoritarianism that can be observed in all countries where vigilantes bring minorities to heel with the more or less tacit agreement of shadow forces that share their biases or ideology (the relationship between white supremacists’ militias and the police in the US could provide other examples).

In addition to the Sangh Parivar’s influence at the grass roots and within the state apparatus, another variable needs to be factored in, as evident from the way a police officer recently bowed to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Guru Purnima. In that case, the authority of the saffron-clad chief minister was not only due to its temporal power but also because of his spiritual authority, a status no political leader has had in India. That is conducive to still another type of state, theocracy.

Not only has the prime minister abstained from condemning lynchings, some legislators and ministers have extended their blessings to the lynchers. Only a few of the lynchers have been convicted so far. Whenever lynchers have been arrested, the local judiciary has released them on bail. If the executive, legislature or judiciary do not effectively oppose lynchings, India may remain a rule-of-law country only on paper and, in practice, a de facto ethno-state.

The Hindu Rashtra label, in fact, perfectly describes the process at stake: It refers as much to a people united by blood ties, culture and social community codes, and a political framework. It is at once a society, civilisation, nation and state. In this way, the Sangh Parivar’s work partakes in a new formation of the state, the formation of a de facto Hindu Rashtra based on unofficial, societal regulation with the blessing of the official state. If one day the Constitution of India is amended, it may become a de jure Hindu Rashtra.

c.indianexpress.com

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