It shouldn’t come as no surprise to most listeners when I say I’m a fan of Tulsi Gabbard. Tulsi’s Presidential run has been riddled with controversy because she speaks out against the Military Industrial Complex and the corruption of the DNC. Not only that but she relaxed parking laws in Hawaii for food trucks! That’s amazing! Parking laws shouldn’t even exist so someone finally fighting back again Big Parking is a win in my book! Elect this woman right now! Free parking for all!
One of her controversies involves India. Tulsi is a practicing Hindu and there are claims of her being connected to Right wing of Hindu politics. She’s been deemed as an agent of Hindu Nationalism among other things. But how true is it? And do we in the United States have an understanding of what the right wing of Indian Politics really is? This week we’re going to dive into the recent election victory of Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India.
Modi has been and continues to be the Prime Minister of India since 2014. He’s part of the conservative, Hindu party, the Bhartiya Janta Party or BJP. The BJP is the political wing of the Rajeshtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the RSS. The RSS is a non-political, volunteer, Hindu Nationalist organization that pushes the ideology that India is a Hindu Nation. The RSS is pretty much the BJP’s sugar daddy, that makes you feel guilty for eating too much sugar.
Modi ran an anti-corruption campaign, like most populists candidates do. The opposition to the BJP is the Indian National Congress Party, spearheaded by Rahul Gandhi who wasn’t currying the favor of the Indian people. His grandmother was Indira Gandhi, probably one of the most powerful female leaders of our time. His dad was Rajeev Gandhi who was unpopular Prime Minister. Both his family members were killed in the line of Politics. At this point, the question to Mr. Rahul Gandhi would be, why would you run and put yourself in the crosshairs! Be anything else! Break the pattern of history and assassinations, by breaking the caste system and save your life. People did loose faith in the Congress Party when they didn’t do much to help with poverty problem in India. So the people of India voted in a different direction.
Modi also appealed to people because he represented the idea of upward mobility. He started out a working class man, vending Tea on the side of the road. He eventually became a the Chief Minister, or in American terms Governor, of Gujarat. And then in 2014 at age 63, a Prime Minister. Rahul Gandhi comes from a line of politicians who were in upper castes. Rahul Gandhi was out of touch of the problems of the common man, while Modi was one of the commoners. He was nicknamed the ‘chowkidar’ or watchmen for the people. He embraced his lower caste position and vowed to use his power to equalize everyone.
But the problems for Modi actually start when he was the CM of Gujarat. Modi made a speech that a terror attack was possibly the fault of local Muslims which led to riots in 2002. This led to the death of a lot people, mostly Muslims. The Indian Supreme Court did call him into trial for advocating for this violence but had to release Modi due to lack of evidence and things being associated with a chain reaction of events. Which was basically the courts saying “Eh, life happens”. Well in this case life happened to kill a lot of people, which is like the opposite of life.
Before all this in the 70s, when Indira Gandhi enacted the Emergency, a period of time where she ruled without opposition, Modi spearheaded the local contingent of the RSS to combat against this dictatorial act. When the RSS was banned, he was forced to go into the underground and when he appeared in public he’d have to be disguised. Sometimes he was monk or a Sikh man. This is pretty fodder for a Modi Bollywood film. And it does have a revolutionary ring to it.
In terms of economics Modi is actually pretty conservative. He reduced corporate taxes, eliminated wealth taxes and deregulated diesel. All this is very much in line with how America has operated and pushed Trickle Down Economics for years, with mounting evidence that it won’t work. This, paired with the decrease of funds for the “education for all” program and social programs, Modi’s policies didn’t seem to really help common people of India too much. Now decreasing funds for educating Indians isn’t particularly a pro-Hindu platform. It’s perpetuates and props up the White Supremacist idea that brown people aren’t smart. But so far, this seems like he’s in line with the Republicans…and the Democrats that are secretly Republicans, which is most of them.
Modi also instated a new program called “Make In India”. This is a program where he wants more foreign companies to come into India and manufacture their goods in India. This is why he needed to lower corporate tax rates. At least in India it seems like some of the large corporations would pay taxes. But the balance is higher Goods & Services Tax. So the products made in India would be taxed higher on the export. Math, it can be beautiful thing. But with the growing talks about automation all Modi is doing here is inviting a global robot initiative to make our shit. The future is going to be robots enslaved to move our consumerism forward.
I think something we should all be concerned is Robot Rights and what class they’d belong to. And eventually we’re going to have to have a dialogue about what genders these robots belong to and whether that’s for us to decide. Humanity needs to sort itself out real quick before these even more complex questions start coming up. I feel like the thought of Transgendered Robots will give most of the Republicans in office an aneurism.
The major thing that people are upset with Modi about is the demonetization of 500 & 1000 rupee notes in an attempt to fight terrorism, organized crime and corruption. The problem is, because of the increased poverty in India, most of the country has a cash based society. No-one tell the IRS. But this meant that a lot people in rural India and in the lower castes didn’t have bank accounts to put these demonetized notes into in the short amount of time they were given. So it perpetuated the poverty problem and didn’t stop illegalities. It just gave those people a high interest saving accounts. That’s what we really need; organized crime with a responsible financial plan for 10 years with a great interest rate. Invest in disenfranchisement today! An FDIC member!
In 2015 Modi instated the New Health Policy which didn’t increase government spending in healthcare, but rather partnered with private healthcare providers to help fund a public option. Unfortunately this decrease the funding to public healthcare options by 20%! Eventually he switched a new plan called “Ayushman Bharat” or healthy India. This was a program to meant to cover over 500 million lower caste and poor Indian families and ensure their access to healthcare. That’s more than the population of America. Over 100,000 Indians had signed up for this by October 2018.
Modi also worked on sanitation for India. He built public toilets to decrease public urination and defecation. This needs to happen in every bar district in India AND America. India still has issues with sanitation but programs like the ones Modi has put into place will help reduce that. It would make the olfactory experience of India a little less…robust. This is a very big deal! This would be incredibly beneficial in the States too! Sure there are rest areas but in the cities this would eliminate the “restrooms are customers only” rule! And yes to be fair some of that comes with we the people taking advantage of small business owners and giving them the Starbucks treatment. You know going into a Starbucks to looking a barista in the eye, promising them your order of a caramel latte after you use the restroom, only to ghost them, leaving wondering about what drink you would’ve ordered.
Modi also tried to get the Internet to rural areas in India. This would increase electronic manufacturing in India and would be covered by the increase in GST. Now, this is a pretty incredible feat. I don’t think there’s been a recorded time in our history where someone has tried to provide over a billion people with Internet! America sure hasn’t! Especially with the repeal of Net Neutrality…unfortunately done by an Indian…rural communities in America don’t have great internet coverage! This should be included as a basic human right. The internet is used for education, entertainment, pornography…and everyone needs this!
At this point, India’s internet connectivity and speed is a work in progress. Because of certain extremist groups, there is some internet censorship in India. Some reports claim there is some haphazardness in what has been censored, but increased freedom of sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, it might decrease this haphazardness. Although the fear is that if sites like these are accessible in all countries, will they determine the censorship of content on a global scale creating a one world government technopoly? There’s a good chance if the alogrithms of YouTube, Facebook & Twitter merge into one entity, it would create Ultron! And with how much we’re defunding education we might not have a Tony Stark for a while.
Now, lets get into the most troubling aspect of Modi’s leadership, his connection of Hindu Nationalism. The BJP and it’s parent company, the RSS, are both proponents of the Hindutva. This is the ideology that India is a country for the Hindus. This sort of ideology is not different than a lot of other countries. Israel is a country for Jewish people and America claims to be a Christian nation. Now India’s constitution much like America’s states a freedom of practicing your religion. India much like America is a Republic that is based on secularism. But because of the National Pride of Hindus in India, there has been an increase of violence towards Muslims.
India is a very religious country. It’s so religious that India has a god for everything. A god for money. A god for the rivers and mountains. A god for pants! America mostly just worships the Almighty dollar. It is not a coincidence that American currency has the photos of it’s past leaders and the word “In God We Trust” right on the money! Money is God in America and the leaders were owned by it!
The main religion of India is Hinduism which is a very old religion that has evolved over time and moved all across globe and is probably responsible for the popularity of yoga pants. And as we all know, yoga pants are responsible for the increase in people staring at women’s butts in the last decade. I’m pretty sure that’s not one of the core beliefs of Hinduism.
One of the core beliefs is that cows are the womb of the earth. So cows in India are sacred. In fact that’s where a lot of the violence against Muslims stems from that. People have been attacked for using leather products and eating beef. There are cow vigilante groups all across India that are killing people, particularly Muslims for eating beef. It’s like the Avengers for cows and with a lot more unnecessary murder. Plus Modi has spoken out against beef eaters and leather makers to appease more Hindus. And there are cow protection laws in India. But no laws to protect violence against people of a certain or any faith.
Modi even came out and spoke out against America’s beef consumption problem! It would be interesting to see a wave of Hindutvas that came into America to tear down the oppression of the Burger King! Burger Kings’ “I Don’t Give A Fuck” Sandwich just found a large contingent of people that give all of the fucks and they’re here to tear things down!
What these Hindutvas are doing is wrong, not just morally or humanitarianially but also Constitutionally. They’re going against what their country is about. Not only that, when you laws to protect animals but not people it shows a genuine lack of care for people that decided to worship differently than you. It doesn’t make you an effective chowkidar or watchman, it makes you complicit in hatred. If more laws like the cow protection laws are passed India, without laws against violence towards People, India won’t be a Republic with a Democracy but a Theocracy with little or no room to improve and progress, possibly overrun by livestock…and robots. And yes, maybe even robot cows.
Violence against people also goes against the tenants of Hinduism…and most all other religions. Most religions fundamentally boil down to one thing: the Golden Rule. Treat each other the way you want to be treated. If this is the way Hindus in India want to be treated then the retaliation is just. The issue with the Modi Administration is that they’ve been pretty silent about the Muslim attacks. And as we’ve learned from American politicians, silence is often the loudest thing you can say.
The Hindutva ideology comes from fighting against the British Empire. It was about solidarity and now it’s being politicized by the RSS and the BJP for political gain. It was an ideology to prevent persecution of Hindus from the colonists, and in the 60s that idea was used by the BJP again. But India’s always been known as a majority Hindu country and I don’t think there was ever a point since it’s Independence that Hindus have been persecuted there. There has been violence towards them, but the retaliation from the Hindus has been swift and exponential. Now the same reasoning is being used because of the rise in secular thinking. The questioning of the superstitions of religion that has led to the exploitation of hundreds and thousands of people is a danger to more conservative traditionalist power-hungry ideals.
I think Nationalism is seen as something positive in India and it can be. Modi says that Nationalism is what inspires him. If we look at Nationalism as pride in one’s home then it’s not particularly a bad, as long you don’t led pride piss in your eye and blind you from the fact that you’re being pissed on. And if you have pride in your country, perhaps following the guidelines that set up your freed country would be the logical decision to make. That would mean persecution based on religion is incorrect and making India less multicultural and less diverse would be the least Hindu thing to do!
Secularist ideas would help achieve Modi’s goals of equalizing people. In his recent speech Modi says that the winners of the election were really the people of India. That would be the case if he improved the relationships between 2 feuding communities. If along with implementing better public options for healthcare, education, sanitation and digital literacy, he was able to decrease the fear within the Hindu community. The Hindutva was created to fight the British and empower the people of India. At this point that includes members of the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist communities. Hinduism is an open-minded religion and the silence towards this violence doesn’t show the world you’re a good Hindu. Perhaps adding laws that restrict violence & persecution towards specific groups of worshippers could be a start.
Modi seems like someone that really wants to do better by India but has fallen into the traps of being a politician. Keeping silent on Muslim attacks and stoking the flames of terror show that you’re not for all Indians. It shows that you have the Party’s interest in mind over the people’s well-being. The next 5 years of his rule are really going to be dependent on whether he can put his party aside in order to pull India up on to the World Stage of Progress, and be a better Hindu as he does it.
So where does leave Tulsi Gabbard’s connection. According to the Intercept it has to do with her individual donors. These donors, especially ones that have given her a large sum of money since she was first elected in Hawaii belong certain groups like Overseas Friends of the BJP and Sangh Parivar, which the Intercept has deemed as Hindu Nationalist groups that believe in the same exclusionary ideologies as the Hinduvtas. So lets take a look at someone these horrific principles these people stand for.
According to their website, the Overseas Friends of the BJP say they’re for ensuring Indians in the media are portrayed accurately. I really hope they tried to get Big Bang Theory off the air. They also believe in ‘Integral Humanism’. PLUS they want to work on strengthening the bonds of American Indians despite region, race, religion, creed, and color! How dare they take the friends part of their title so damn seriously! Where is part about Hindu ethno-states and cow worship! How can you worship statues of gods we’ve never seen with words like HUMANism! It’s like they’re not even trying to sow the seeds of divides.
I think the Intercept might be a little upset the title of the organization sounds like the Indian reboot of the Friends franchise. And it’ll for sure have more minorities it than it’s American counterpart.
Sangh Parivar is a bit more complex. They do have ties with the RSS & the BJP but the party itself is like the libertarians of India. They have very liberal social ideologies but don’t like globalism! So it seems like these organizations and parties are vaguely connected and are more offshoots of the central BJP. But the main point being that these are still individuals that donated to her, not the organizations or the political parities.
I’m sure Bernie Sanders has a pro Jewish, pro Israel donors, but that doesn’t make him anti-Palestinian! And I’m sure Joe Biden has some black donors but that doesn’t mean he likes black people!
These particular individuals have said a few things that the Intercept article presents as Nationalist. Things like having a Hindu Specific Political Organization like every other religion in America and not having the word ‘Indian’ be replaced to ‘South Asian’! HOW DARE THEY ASK FOR REPRESENTATION! Now I get that when you talk about the Indus Valley, the accurate geographic location is in South Asia, but it really depends on when in time you’re talking about the region. Thanks the partition of India & Pakistan by the Brits, we have to extra sensitive about where invisible lines are drawn.
Tulsi lost favor with some of these Hindu organizations when dropped out the World Hindu Congress in 2015. A lot of her individual donors who she had personally reached out were furious and were said to decrease their contributions to her campaign. She had sent a letter saying there were complications with her participation of a Hindu Partisan political event. After meeting with one of them she clarified her position, which healed some of the tensions with the American Hindu community. All this sounds like she builds relationships with some of the people that have donated to her.
One of the troubling aspects of her record is that she voted against a House Bill that would have America intervene in the Muslim violence in India. But she said there was a lot of fake information about the 2002 attacks. PLUS she against interventionist actions. Perhaps there was another way to make this happen, a diplomatic one. And maybe one someone who has experience talking to more conservative Hindus can address their concerns on a world stage and meet with the leader of their party to resolve this violence amicably & peacefully.
I feel like a lot of Indian people in America are excited about Tulsi because we finally have a candidate in American politics that is culturally and ethnically connected to us that doesn’t suck. After the major failures of Bobby Jindal, Ajit Pai and Nikki Haley, we’re loosing faith that Indian Americans in politics can be decent people. Tulsi proves that you can! It’s a positive representation of Hinduism and it’s philosophies. And this is coming from an agnostic that’s highly critical of religion.
The Hindutva isn’t how all Hindus practice their faith. Most Hindus want to be happy praying to their God of choice and you to pray to yours and find a way to embolden each other’s lives. The claims that she’s a Hindu Nationalist because she’s a practicing Hindu demonizes all Hindus. It’s the same tactic that’s been used against Muslims in America. The accusers of Tulsi Gabbard unfortunately fall into the same category of hypocrisy that some members of the BJP fall into. You have the freedom to practice any religion in America and India. As long as that doesn’t involve harming others in the name of some deity you haven’t met, what difference doesn’t make who you call God?