India Inc: Hit Jobs & Destabilisation

Whether there is a deliberate ploy by powerful forces in some international quarters to destabilise India’s economic and financial clout at this particular juncture remains a matter for keen India-watchers

By Jan Arden

Last week’s opinion piece was centred on the short-selling attack by Hindenburg on Gautam Adani and his powerful financial Group. While some in the Indian Opposition and, in particular, the Indian National Congress (INC), have come out all guns blazing against the Adani Group, suspected to have helped and benefited from India’s infrastructure and manufacturing push over the Modi years, there has been no evidence adduced that such corporate growth has been achieved by cutting corners or playing fast and loose with the laws of the land.

The Income Tax Department raided the offices of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in New Delhi and Mumbai offices on Tuesday. Pic – YouTube

Raucous demands from Rahul Gandhi for a fishing expedition to investigate the rise of the Adani group on the basis of highly speculative innuendos and allegations from inside the Lok Sabha, have received short thrift from a generally placid Speaker, ordering him to provide before the 15th of February any evidence substantiating his allegations, failing which disciplinary actions, such as expunging large parts of the querulous rants in his speech on the budget, could not be excluded. As usual, unfortunately for an Opposition that prefers noise to substance, it gives the impression of giving preference to very dubious overseas reports or media attacks over the country’s own institutions, be they the army fighting hostile forces and losing valiant soldiers to ensure national security, or financial and fraud investigation agencies doing their job. The fact that the Directorate of Enforcement (equivalent of our ICAC) has been probing and taking the Gandhi family to court in the National Herald case may be just part of the broader narrative that is emerging.

The release of the wide-ranging ‘Mood of the Nation’ January 2023 (India Today) survey has confirmed PM Modi’s commanding stature in Indian minds and hearts, weathering out the Ambani-Rafale allegations, the pandemic distress and the associated economic turmoil, the demonetisation difficulties, the border threats from China or cross-border terror infiltration from Pakistan. Nine years of BJP rule at the Centre and in several states, has not dented the PM’s popularity (72% or close to pre-pandemic levels) nor the prospects of another sweeping BJP triumph (284 seats against 191 to the INC) should general elections be held today.

Anti-Modi rants

Some analysts feel that the perspective of another six to seven years of economic development trajectory and steadfast nationalism that the BJP has espoused, have worried many quarters inimical or overtly hostile to India’s strategic interests, far more than PM Modi’s presidency of the G20 or its economic clout as the world’s fifth largest economy with a buoyant rate of growth forecast for this and coming few years. These quarters find a welcoming abode in the Wall Street Journal, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, or in the paternalism of some press agencies in the UK replete with anti-Modi rants from disgruntled INC agents or “shoddy journalism”, as alleged by British Tory MP Robert Blackman as he slammed the BBC pseudo-documentary on PM Modi. The latest twist has the Indian tax authorities landing at BBC offices in Mumbai and Delhi for alleged violations of some taxation provisions that have been unsatisfactorily answered to over the past year.

We recall in a similar vein, that the high and mighty of moral values and principles like Amnesty and Greenpeace, raised their haughty nose and packed out of India when similarly queried for tax information on their operations inside India. In 2021, the Indian authorities attracted attention by calling on social media platforms operating in India to follow the law of the land: the government wanted certain handles blocked for spreading incendiary communal content. “We respect criticism… you can criticise even the Prime Minister,” said Minister of IT and Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad, “but if social media is used to propagate hate, then action will be taken.” The usual motley crowd of rattled Indian observers had painted this as another assault on democracy.

BBC tax investigation

In the BBC tax investigation, without even waiting for any report on financial misdemeanours which the BBC seems to have acknowledged, the Congress leader has termed this as nothing less than an “undeclared emergency”. The BJP had the easy task to remind Indians that Indira Gandhi had kicked the Beeb out of India for two years during the seventies and brand as anti-national the current version of the grand old party led by the Gandhi family. Allegations, images and questions were rapidly raised about the secret MOU that Rahul Gandhi, on behalf of the INC, signed with the Chinese Communist Party under the gaze of Sonia Gandhi and then CCP Deputy chief XI Ping. There have also been unproven allegations that international anti-Indian media and journos receive secret CCP funding and/or the overseas Pakistani diaspora who looted that country’s riches.

Whether there is a deliberate ploy by powerful forces in some international quarters to destabilise India’s economic and financial clout at this particular juncture or the prospect of another unhindered BJP and Modi-Shah rule remains a matter for keen India-watchers, but neutral observers cannot be entirely happy that standard international flag-bearers may have a sly or open but consistent anti-India or anti-Modi slant or by deliberate hit-jobs against the powerhouses of India’s economic drive forward.

One year away from general elections, the Indian electorate in its diverse democratic set-up, has learnt to live with such disinformation and if the ‘Mood of the Nation’ survey is correctly reflected in the 140,000 interviewees across all strata and regions of India, they merely shrug off the stir raised in the Anglophile Indian press and New Delhi circles (like New Delhi TV) fretting at their inability to dent the Modi image or unsettle the BJP electoral caravan as 2024 approaches. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 17 February 2023

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