Open Thread: (Open) Hands Across the Waters

Schroedinger’s Cat posted about this rally on Wednesday. I can’t claim her expertise in Indian affairs, but it’s gonna be interesting to see how the American grifters navigate the tricky politics of this event…

Howdy Modi is a community summit hosted by Texas India Forum (TIF) for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, September 22nd at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas at 10 am. Over 50,000 attendees have registered in three weeks for the sold-out event though online registration, waitlist registration for free passes is still open. The live audience will be the largest gathering for an invited foreign leader visiting the United States other than the Pope. The “Howdy Modi” summit has been organized with the support of more than 1,000 volunteers and 650 Texas-based Welcome Partner organizations…

There’s the GOP’s omnipresent xenophobia, for instance:

Or a certain ‘Democratic’ presidential candidate, who may not have been willing to risk such public connection with a controversial figure:


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Foreign Affairs Guest Post: “Houston, We Have A Problem… “

Thanks, as always, to Schroedinger’s Cat:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a rally scheduled in Houston this Sunday. WalMart is one of the sponsors and the President of the United States has promised to attend along with an estimated 50,000 attendees.

What bright future are we talking about? The Indian economy is in the doldrums, minority populations live in fear, rapists are not arrested if they belong to the ruling party while activists fighting for the rights of the dispossessed languish in jail without a trial. As for dreams, the dream of a Hindutva dominated India where minorities are persecuted and dissenting voices are silenced, sounds more like a nightmare. Where the truth is sacrificed at the altar of political expediency and history is rewritten to service the ideology of hate.

Why is Modi doing this? My guess is for the publicity and for the $$. It’s also a reward for those among the diaspora who opened their wallets for Modi’s reelection. This rally would give the Prime Minister a much needed PR boost internationally after the draconian anti-democratic steps being taken in Kashmir since August 4th. It will show his fans and supporters back home in India that India has the world’s respect. Getting the US president who routinely demonizes immigrants, to a rally attended mostly by immigrants is definitely a PR coup for team Modi.

I was actually surprised that the White House accepted the invitation. Indian Americans have voted heavily for Democratic candidates in the recent past, see the figure below. Some have suggested that the crowd size may have been the irresistible attraction. Besides the fact that the Hindu right has deep pockets.

In addition to the President, 60 other elected leaders of both parties have promised to attend according to the organizers. Here is the list of those whose names appear in the news dispatch.

Raja Krishnamoorthi
John Cornyn
Ted Cruz
Al Green
Pete Olson
Sheila Jackson Lee
Sylvia Garcia, Greg Abbot
Cindy Hyde-Smith
Ami Bera
Brian Babin
Brad Sherman,
Eliot Engel

Firstpost is reporting that Steny Hoyer is also going to attend.

Check if your representative or senator is on the list and going to share a podium with a man who presided over a pogrom targeting Muslims in 2002 as the chief executive of Gujarat and is pursuing a nakedly majoritarian agenda in his second term as the prime minister. Actions in Kashmir being the case in point, where people have been without internet or cell phone access and access to medical care since August 4th.

Check out the BBC for news updates on Kashmir.

Watch this space for more updates on this developing story of the Houston rally. If you have questions leave them in the comments.








Guest Post: “Orange Fever” in India

Thank you, Schroedinger’s Cat:

I am afraid that the scrapping of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is just the beginning, it has little to do with the development of Kashmir. Prime Minister Modi’s agenda for India in his second term is to change India’s constitution and pave the way for a majoritarian state which is a democracy in name alone. 94 years after its formation the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) is the closest to achieving its goal of the Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation).

The international media is missing the RSS agenda behind Modi’s actions. Before he entered politics, Modi was a pracharak or a fulltime evangelist for the RSS. Just like the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime minister, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee before him. There is no daylight between what the Sangh wants and what the BJP wants.

BJP is the political front of the Sangh, an all male grassroots fraternal organization that has had only one non-brahmin sarsangchalak (chief of the Sangh) in its almost hundred years of existence. According to some estimates, a group that makes up around 5% of the population of India. Also with two exceptions spanning 16 years, all the other sarsangchalaks have been Marathi brahmins. The Sangh still does not admit women. For a group that purports to speak for all Hindus its leadership is drawn from a tiny slice of Hindu male brahmins.

India is as complex as Europe would be if it were one country. India is home to two major language families and twenty two official languages. India also has the second largest population of Muslims in the world. The Sangh sees this diversity be it religious or linguistic as inherently problematic. Their dream India, which they call Bharat, is united under the saffron banner of Hindutva speaking as one in one language, Hindi. Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are considered Hindu for the purposes of this classification but Christians and Muslims are not. Sangh ideologues have argued that diversity made India weaker and an easy prey for the British in the 18th and the 19th centuries and the first wave of Muslim invaders from Central Asia a thousand years ago and later. The way for India to go back to its former greatness is to unite under a banner of a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation).

Britain has been forgiven but BJP and its sympathizers want Muslim citizens of India to pay for the sins of the central Asian invaders and also for the formation of Pakistan. Their claims about a Hindu rashtra are inspired more by the nationalistic fervor sweeping Europe in the early twentieth century than they are by ancient India. Here is what Madhav Golwalkar, the most influential sarsangchalak who held the post for 43 years had to say about Hitler’s Germany in a book published in the 1940s.

…To keep up the purity of the nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of Semitic races – the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.

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