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“India Loses Again, and the World Loses with It”: Siddhartha Deb on Modi’s Landslide Re-election



this is democracy now I'm Amy Goodman with nermeen Shaikh we turn now to India where Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears set to enter a second term in a landslide victory following a six-week long parliamentary election that was widely seen as a referendum on his leadership election results show Modi's Hindu nationalist BJP party leading in 300 of the 543 seats in parliament at this rate these numbers will give him an even greater majority than in 2014 when his party claimed the first outright majority in decades Modi declared victory on Thursday tweeting quote together we grow together we prosper together we will build a strong and inclusive India India wins yet again he tweeted voter turnout was a record 66% with more than half a billion votes cast India is the world's largest democracy with 900 million eligible voters most analysts had predicted Modi's BJP party would lose seats in the selection because some of his economic policies Modi's government has been criticized for crackdown on civil society targeting political opponents journalists human rights activists lawyers and writers human rights groups have also raised the alarm on attacks against vulnerable populations especially Dalits and Muslims this comes as Modi's main opponent Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi is fighting to keep his seat in parliament to talk more about the elections we're joined now by award-winning Indian author and journalist siddhartha dev he wrote a widely discussed piece in The New Republic in 2016 headlined unmasking Modi the violence insecurity and rage behind the man who has replaced Gandhi as the face of India his non-fiction book the beautiful and the damned a portrait of the new India was a finalist for the Orwell prize and the winner of the pen open award he's also the author of two books of fiction welcome back to Democracy Now Siddhartha it's great to have you with us talk about the significance of these elections and who Narendra Modi is well thank you for having me yes great to be back five years later not so great in terms of the elections in the loser's again and the world loses with it yes I mean I think the scale of the victory is surprising and it's an it's an absolute majority for a leader who is seen as incredibly authoritarian right-wing majoritarian violence and I think the difference between Modi's previous victory in 2014 and now was that in 2014 there was a semblance of talk about economic development economic growth five years of Modi at the helm have not delivered that in any way India shambles at every possible in every possible way and yet the Indian majority have voted for Modi again and clearly not based on growth or economic development but on majoritarianism and the promise of more violence well what's interesting siddharth is when we were speaking earlier you unlike many critics of the BJP and the Modi government you actually anticipated that he would win I did and it is depressing it's depressing to have to say this but you know one of the things is that again what I've seen over the last five years in India is that although the the distress the breakdown the degradation is incredible economically India is a shambles the the move that Modi introduced something called D monetization we're just you know a majority of banknotes small denomination banknotes that are used by large sections of the Indian population for everyday transactions people who work as a day laborers this is how they earn money they don't use credit cards he cancelled this without any kind of major public announcement it created enormous distress it created it never happened in the history of Indian democracy that banknotes are suddenly non-functional but in spite of this distress in spite of the massive growth and unemployment inspired of the the farmers the destitution which has led to incredible marches by farmers in two major cities like Mumbai and Delhi with bones are farmers who have killed themselves we are talking about that kind of deprivation in spite of that in Moody's growth on the Indian middle-class remains solid and that is shocking because it's not based on infrastructure anymore and it has to do with the kind of identification with this project of hindu-majority anism as the answer to whatever is complicated or confusing about the world I mean that's something that's extraordinary because the majority you know which people don't necessarily know about the majority of India's population is still rural 66 percent yes so and you've just talked about the conditions in rural areas so how is it that those very same people obviously in large numbers still voted from Modi it's true well I think one of the interesting things isn't up to the patterns is that the only little bit of hope that we see is that the South has still held out has resisted this sort of you know wave of Modi but the north and the West which are more conservative which are more ridden by caste which are more in by sectarian identity which are also more unequal in terms of wealth which are split between vast impoverished majorities and a very tiny section elite which is incredibly wealthy so their Modi's Holt remains solid he's further managed to expand into the East which and the Northeast which I find particularly distressing because that's where I am from well in Bengal the disappearance of the left or the sort of the decline of the left has clearly allowed the rise of the BJP but in Bengal and in Assam and in northeastern states he's done it by raising the specter of migration from Bangladesh this is of course connected to the fact of climate change of you know increasing impact impoverishment the the decline of agriculture in entire South Asia across borders but Moody has managed to turn this integration of Hindus versus Muslims and for him it's synonymous with Indians versus outsiders because for Modi if you are a Muslim and to a lesser extent if your other minorities if you're Christians but particularly if you are Muslim you are just not India and this is from this is true of Modi this is true of the political party he represents the BJP and this is true of the the paramilitary organization for which the BJP is a political front which is the RSS which is a right-wing fascist paramilitary organization dating back from the 1920s and that takes its inspiration from Mussolini and the Nazis and of course narendra modi himself is history's he rose to power as the head a kind of equivalent of governor of gujarat we're responsible for a massacre yes in fact people have been saying that this is a referendum on Modi we've already had the referendum Modi we keep having referendum of the IDO Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002 under his rule a pogrom against Muslims was instigated which led to mass deaths sexual violence displacement of people into camps Modi famously referred to them as baby producing factories this is the kind of person we are talking about the United States in 2002 banned Modi from entering the into Georgia under george w bush but banned him for entering the United States visa under the act of hito basically against working against religious freedom against the principle religious freedom but Modi has success Modi has successfully remade himself he's turned himself into a strong man and he's admired in India among the elite but he's also admire in the West so Modi's although in in Gujarat when the riots happened all the people who were punished got away pretty much scot-free those few people among bureaucrats political police officials activists who managed to stand up were harassed and punished throughout this is the clear pattern and that is what Modi has taken across to India but he's been embraced by the West of the world he's been embraced by the Obama administration he was named by Obama as a time magazine of Person of the Year he was invited to the United States to address the joint houses of Congress and even before the election results were declared completed in India yesterday I believe last night there was a op-ed in the New York Times by a former Treasury Secretary of the Obama administration talking about how India needs Modi and so yes he does have support across the world for this kind of violent majoritarian authoritarianism well I want to ask about another issue that's been crucial in this election in which many observers say has been critical to his victory Corporation's reportedly contributed as much as twelve times more money to the BJP then then to those of the other six national parties combined amounting to 93 percent of all corporate donations recent changes in campaign finance laws also allowed companies to conceal how much they donated and to which party earlier this month we spoke to award-winning Indian author around that the ROI we asked her about the role of money in these elections I mean if you look at now in now you you you have to be a rich person to stand for elections you know you have to have a lot of money and of course the corporate you know the corporate support would mean that you know there are certain corporations like Reliance which is the biggest one in India which owns let's say 27 24 hour news channels or 20 27 TV channels sorry now so the combination of money of a complete control on the media and what used to be a complete control on the social media you know which has now been shaking a little bit so that's I don't that the ROI on Democracy Now in fact we spoke to her just the day after you interviewed her at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem so if you could respond to what she said both the distorted and overwhelming coverage of Modi in the media and how much money the BJP was able to raise yes I think in that sense India is following a pattern that is you know again you can see in the United States that a democracy substantive democracy does not really exist even in countries where you have no matter how impressive these elections might sound because of the kind of the kind of distorting influence of wealth yes the corporations have been behind Modi from a long time this happened right after the Gujarat massacres in 2002 when some of them initially felt a little bit you know I think hesitant about just the scale and the of the brutality of the violence but they caved in Modi was very very strong but he was very very Modi took them on they caved him the Indian Chamber of Commerce sent him a letter of apology saying we are sorry that we hurt your feelings because this is a man who cares deeply about his feelings clearly so yes the Indian corporations because Indian corporations are being enriched at enormous rates now India again as I said it's a basket case economically but there is massive wealth extraction going on in terms of natural resources companies like Reliance another company called Adani which is very very close to Modi so there is a kind of an incredible crony capitalism that is present in India there is a kind of you know enrichment that is happening at the same time as the impoverishment of the masses the corporations pretty much and I worked in India as a journalist from the mid 90s the mainstream media in India television is completely a I think I don't know T Roy famously called them Fox News on acid which is a great phrase that is what Indian television is it is unwatchable because it is an unending wave of violence and denunciation again against Dalits against Muslims against leftist against feminists it's this incredible it's a kind of 24-hour ray this is what the corporation's produce the same things to the print media social media is a torrent of abuse as well so yes the media place and this answers are another question that nermeen asked earlier about the villages why are people doing it they are manipulated by the electronic media by the print media it's very that the outreach is very very successful and so media does manage to spin the issue so that they don't think about the questions of employment or impoverishment we don't have much time Siddhartha but I did want to ask you about Narendra Modi the past and now new prime minister's relationship with Trump the United States with Putin Russia with vet Netanyahu Israel they all love each other they're all authoritarians they're all majoritarian so in the way that Trump stands for white supremacism a white supremacy in the United States during the Modi very much has a version of that in the in India which is about hindu-majority ISM this is connected all this is connected to climate change to the growing impoverishment we are basically you know this is the result of decades of neoliberalism and I have to say there is no difference as far as my as an Indian I'm concerned there's no difference between men astray ssin and the Trump administration there's no difference with the Democrats and the Republicans as far as embracing Modi and this kind of majoritarian violence is concerned and again the kind of inequality you're talking about in India the Oxfam report that came out that said the nine richest individuals in India have as much wealth as the bottom 50% that's the nine richest individuals in India have the same amount as wealth of over 600 million India yes that is not a democracy it's an oligarchy it's a nation-state held hostage by an oligarchy and Modi is the strongmen who is delivering them their riches Siddartha dead we want to thank you so much for being with us award-winning Indian author and journalist we will link to that piece you wrote in the New Republic headlined unmasking Modi the violence insecurity and rage behind the man who's replaced Gandhi is the face of India his non-fiction book the beautiful and the damned a portrait of the to India this is democracy now democracynow.org the war and peace report when we come back Syria stay with us you

46 Comments

  1. Minakhi Patnaik
    Minakhi Patnaik June 12, 2019

    Anti India propaganda. The people of India elected Mr Modi. These anti Modi brigade will try different methods to malign present government.

  2. Vinod Three Mosquitors
    Vinod Three Mosquitors June 12, 2019

    Review is a reminder about where the world is leading gradually in terms of democracy. Democracy is dying everywhere because principle of SOLIDARITY is missing

  3. Abesh Mishra
    Abesh Mishra June 12, 2019

    A leftist in attitude and self proclaimed liberal with selfish interest this analyst Siddharth is only working to get name and fame through Hindu bashing.

  4. Ring Neck
    Ring Neck June 12, 2019

    The irony of urban naxals calling their network as democracy now haha
    Drown yourselves in a cup of water you hypocrites

  5. Shiva Prasad Om
    Shiva Prasad Om June 12, 2019

    Dammm its so obvious these three idiots heads were in their asses and are still in there even after elections..

  6. Rocky
    Rocky June 12, 2019

    India is in shambles? Hah..so what does this so called author reads, which i havent read yet..?
    Really man, the pseudo-seculars and pseudo-liberals suck big time 😂

  7. Vijai Bhaskar
    Vijai Bhaskar June 12, 2019

    FEKU GOVT.SHAMEFUL INDIAN DEMOCRACY.BJP FATSOS,CRIMINALS IN GOVT LOOTING THE COUNTRY.REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A.REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A

  8. Vijai Bhaskar
    Vijai Bhaskar June 12, 2019

    FEKU GOVT.SHAMEFUL INDIAN DEMOCRACY.BJP FATSOS,CRIMINALS IN GOVT LOOTING THE COUNTRY.REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A.REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A,REMOVE 498A

  9. Shiva Prasad Om
    Shiva Prasad Om June 12, 2019

    Did the bald idiot compare white suprimacy to hindu majority… stupid psudo intelectual doesnt know what white suprimacy is and what it stands for

  10. Shiva Prasad Om
    Shiva Prasad Om June 12, 2019

    This idiots stting in some other country and r speaking as if they know better than the average people.. why dont the bring some ine from other side and listern their narrative.. why only psudo seculars.. bringing arundhati to debate on india is like bringing donkey to horse race , she is irrelavent. She Cooks up crazy bulshit and exaggerates

  11. prakkash nt
    prakkash nt June 12, 2019

    English educated elitist…..ranting away to save his butter , jam & bacon …dementia set in on the principles of democracy which does not suit his future career prospects…

  12. Tausif Jamal
    Tausif Jamal June 12, 2019

    People don't care of economy, India is losing her humanity. Terrible place for the weak and downtrodden.

  13. Ronin
    Ronin June 12, 2019

    These bunch of jokers think majority of Indian peoples, nearly 205 millions voted for BJP Party across the faiths, are stupid. This internet channel and no one know book author is DEMOCRACY holder of the world! India voted for BJP in 2014 and Indian people liked and voted again. Earth didnt loose a revolution yet. Same will repeat in 2024 too by this rate. USA Trump also got thumping majority and elites think otherwise. These jokers need to wake up and smell coffeeeeeey.

  14. Vishal Bishnoi
    Vishal Bishnoi June 12, 2019

    Level of stupidity and lazy elitist leftist rant in this talk is astounding…. dude is so full of rhetoric and factless rant….

  15. Jayant Karmakar
    Jayant Karmakar June 12, 2019

    What a bull shit, Mr. Deb you have been feeding on the distress of our country, what you are scared of is you will not get fodder to books, tainting a country like this is a heinous crime, shame on you for fake comments, demonetization did not take out small notes you idiot.

  16. Baljinder Singh
    Baljinder Singh June 12, 2019

    Indians don't have any other option … Opposition have no leader capable of competing him…

  17. Mowgli
    Mowgli June 12, 2019

    The people on this show are so clueless about India that their ''insight' is a joke.

  18. qazwsxed
    qazwsxed June 12, 2019

    These people really understand nothing about India or Modi. Just a simplistic view that "Modi won because of majoritarianism" is something people with half brain would say. India is a complex country and you bald idiot speaking American English in a remote university thinks he understands what goes on in the minds of 1.3 billion people. What a joker.

  19. Jyoti Singh
    Jyoti Singh June 12, 2019

    Western media should stop calling such people who show you one biased side which is not the majority view….please ask him why e everyone around the world admire Modi

  20. Jyoti Singh
    Jyoti Singh June 12, 2019

    Who is this person? Why do you call such negative people…what has he really seen…living abroad…if things were so bad pray tell me why did he win.Mr. Siddhartha why are you not talking about Jandhan yojna, Aayushman yojna, Ujwalla scheme , reservation for economically weak is something that shatters your lies

  21. Rahul Maharsia
    Rahul Maharsia June 12, 2019

    yes …we should learn democracy from communists like you…..I bet this idiot does not even speak his own language and obviously know nothing about india as he is blatantly lying about pretty much each and everything and is bending half truths….they will just about pick any moron who can speak against the opposite idealogy….wonder who funds this propaganda…….

    Democracy now….you are a joke

  22. Rajan Rangarajan
    Rajan Rangarajan June 12, 2019

    waahh waaahh waahhh Dammit Modi won waahhh waaaahh waaahhh…. typical Liberals pseudo intellectual neo Marxists.

  23. chuchu kamurabba
    chuchu kamurabba June 12, 2019

    well people of India don't care what you swine are barking 😂😂😂😂 it's depressing then you are free to commit suicide 😂😂😂😂

  24. Raj Khedwal
    Raj Khedwal June 12, 2019

    Oh these so called arm chair writers,can these man give data to prove what he says,the rural people voted for Modi because they got toilet,they got free gas cylinder,they got health benefit thru health scheme,but then you have every write to crib.

  25. priyanka s
    priyanka s June 12, 2019

    Siddhartha Deb is just another Presstitute………keep your negativity to yourself & go to hell…..we know what & whom we voted for.

  26. Rahul Sinha
    Rahul Sinha June 12, 2019

    This guy is just to make money on the expense of his country with lies, India has the most religious freedom — more then so called western democracies, if democracy now want to keep any credibility, then they should do their own investigative journalism

  27. Stanny Dsouza
    Stanny Dsouza June 12, 2019

    This guy and all so called liberals , elitist intelligentsia and armchair analyst s have missed the undercurrents with the majority of Indian's populace ! And this faith in Modi's BJP is directly related to the rampant corruption of recent times by the Congress and the horribly twisted minority appeasement vote bank politics/policies of the Congress and few aligned political parties! And the same set of people don't even focus on how a section of the minority community have taken massive advantage of such appeasement policies disrespectful of the civil society at large in India!!! Will one of these intelligentsia/analyst/award winning authors care to do a documentary on the rise in this undercurrents….and you will get your answer why Narendra Modi's BJP won in 2019 ! Jai Hind

  28. rulia ram
    rulia ram June 12, 2019

    What a pathetic propaganda against Modi Are these people for real

  29. Ravi Singh
    Ravi Singh June 12, 2019

    The way she said "Narendra Modi" exposed her fake accent.

  30. tube or not tube
    tube or not tube June 12, 2019

    haha the irrelevant libtards bury their ostrich heads deeper into the sand. lies lies and lies. Only truth is when he says this @ 3:21 He is depressed personally.

  31. G M Patra
    G M Patra June 12, 2019

    dev is probably on congress party pay roll. he seems to like the corrupt govts. of congress party of india.

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