Monday, February 29, 2016

Women with Power of Durga ...Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard / February 28, 2016

Women with Power of Durga and Modern Mind Can Show the Way Forward in Politics
Smriti Irani (left) and Mayawati
Smriti Irani (left) and Mayawati
Ancient Hindu philosophy depicts the balance of the universe as dependent on the perfect harmony of the male and female principle. The rise of 38-year-old Union HRD Minister Smriti Zubin Irani symbolises the growing shakti of the female voice in Indian politics. Irrespective of the aggression and strategic nuances of the content of her speeches within and outside Parliament, Irani has set new paradigm of the fiercely uncompromising incarnation of the New Woman Politician. On the face of it, she is just one of the 95 female MPs in Parliament. But ever since she took over as India’s youngest and first woman education minister, she has dominated the academic and political narrative. For the past few months, she has been grabbing headlines and prime time space for her ministerial performance. Never before has an education minister occupied the mind space of opinion-makers for so long. Is it because she is a woman who has successfully stormed a male bastion? Many adore her. Many more abhor her. But there is hardly anyone of relevance who can afford to ignore Smriti Irani. The force of her decisions and assertions, wrong or right, shakes up the most complacent in the establishment. She has admitted to not holding a degree from any glamorous university. Yet a large majority of elitist institutions worldwide are engaged in dissecting and disparaging her personality. Many of her admirers claim that she is a target not because she belongs to the Sangh Parivar, but because she articulates her ideology and beliefs much more convincingly than many of her Ivy League detractors. She has even been mocked as “Aunty National”—a blatantly sexist description by any standards—by a smuttily snooty and nefarious neo-aristocracy. Unfortunately, to the chagrin of many of the exclusive Indo-Anglian club, a girl from a lower middle class locality of New Delhi speaks fluent English and delivers her arguments more vigorously than most of them. 

Such vicious personal attacks are reminiscent of the verbal venom spewed at late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Undoubtedly, she was the author of many controversial decisions. The reality, however, was that she took on the male-dominated world of politics and taught many of her seniors lessons in powercraft. When she challenged the Syndicate’s supremacy, they responded by splitting the Congress. Yet, by sheer force of personality and conviction, Mrs Gandhi was able to decimate her opponents within and outside her party in three years. During her 16-year tenure as Prime Minister, with a brief interruption in between, she remained the most preferred target of her political foes until her assassination in October 1984. Today, there are many fearless women of substance who face resolute resistance from their male and even female opponents; for example, take three former and current women chief ministers—Mamata Banerjee, J Jayalalithaa and Mayawati. None of them have been accorded the political respect normally given to male chief ministers. All three remain in the crosshairs of their adversaries. In Delhi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has always been on top of the list of her political enemies as the target for the choicest of adjectives.

Despite facing continuous antagonism, most women leaders, from Irani to Jayalalithaa, have succeeded in creating popular acceptability and an independent space for themselves. Sonia has broken the record for holding the post of the longest-serving Congress president in the history of the 130-year-old party. It is the example of their patience and prowess that is inspiring more and more women to become lawmakers at the Centre and in the states. The current Parliament has the largest number of women MPs ever. Even in the states, one out of 10 MLAs is a woman.

Irani is the latest icon in the pantheon of India’s powerful female leadership, who is not only dictating the national agenda but is also proving beyond doubt that it is merit that has raised her to the position she holds than anything else. With more and more women participating in debates and dialogues, all political parties are looking for opportunities to replace non-productive male leaders with effective women warriors. As the HRD minister launched her high-powered verbal fusillade against her detractors in the House last week, the Congress couldn’t find an alternative woman leader to counter her with equal, if not more, voltage. Of the 31 women MPs in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress has the largest number—nine. The BJP has just four. But most of the Congress grande dames are too old or ill-equipped to face the feisty minister. MPs like Wansuk Syiem from Meghalaya, Viplava Thakur from Himachal Pradesh and Naznin Faruque from Assam have hardly made any impact in Parliament. Frankly, it was not the Congress but Mayawati who gave Irani a run for her money as a champion of her core constituency. Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma are formidable voices, but they are helpless to counter the political artillery of the acclaimed actor-turned-politician. Other senior leaders like former Union ministers Mohsina Kidwai and Ambika Soni are conspicuous by their non-participation in any heated debate. From the non-BJP parties, only Mayawati and Jaya Bachchan have been able to make an impression with their interventions.

In the Lok Sabha too, the Congress lacks powerful female speakers. On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ensured that comparatively younger women candidates were given tickets during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The average age of women MPs is 47 as against 54 for men. The younger lot belongs to the BJP. Led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the saffron bloc is packed with powerful women orators like Kirron Kher, Meenakshi Lekhi, Poonam Mahajan and Maneka Gandhi. The Congress, with its paltry 45 MPs, has hardly any women gladiator except first-timers like Sushmita Dev from Assam. With the emergence of Irani and her type, the Congress has to realise that Sonia Gandhi alone is not enough to move the masses. She needs the assistance of more shaktis in the Indira mould. Indian politics is stuck at the crossroads of a gender crisis, from where only women possessing the magnanimity of a mother, the unconquerable power of Durga, and the multidimensional perspective of a modern mind will show the right way forward.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Monday, February 22, 2016

Save Symbols of Nationalism from ...... Power & Politics/ The Sunday Standard / February 21, 2016

Save Symbols of Nationalism from Becoming Victims of Divisive Agenda of Neo-liberals

Police stop demonstrating students during a protest at JNU
Police stop demonstrating students during a protest at JNU 

Nations whose nationalism is destroyed are subject to ruin— Mahatma Gandhi.

The poignant irony of ideology is that the Father of the Nation would have never imagined that India would be debating the concept of nationalism seven decades after his martyrdom. And that too over the arrest of a student leader from one of India’s 500-odd universities. The paradox of patriotism is that the noble notion of nationalism is under threat from those individuals who swear by Gandhi’s nationalistic legacy. Last week, the entire Indian society was dangerously divided over the definition and desirability of swearing by one’s nation and her integrity. For a class of liberal opportunists, nationalism is just another adjective to be used or misused to propagate the idea of a country without borders and exercise the freedom to damage and insult the avowed symbols of India’s pride. There are many counterfeit liberals, who bask in the illusion that nationalism is just another marketable product, which can be peddled on the auction block to the highest bidder from India or abroad. They don’t seem to understand that for a mammoth number of people, nationalism is an article of faith. India’s National Anthem, its Tricolour and borders are the three undisputed and non-negotiable pillars of nationalism.

Hence it is tragic that in India exists a cabal of conspirators, who, bound by their idea of education and political predilections, has made these three symbols a matter of dispute. The questionable activities that happened at the Jawaharlal Nehru University were aimed at demolishing the idea of India. The involvement of JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar may be a matter of dispute and judicial scrutiny. In a free country like India, anyone can legitimately question the invoking of a dubious sedition charge against Kanhaiya. But there is not even a shred of doubt that the motives of the organisers and participants at a gathering on campus were to glorify Afzal Guru, the Indian Guy Fawkes who was hanged for conspiring the 2001 Parliament attack. Yet, ever since Guru went to the scaffold and an unmarked grave, a section of the intelligentsia and illiberals has been mocking the Indian state and its highest judiciary for sending him to the gallows. Such is the fate of all traitors worldwide, ever since the history of nation-states began. None of the propagandists of “freedom of speech” are questioning an undisputable anti-national event where slogans like ‘Bharat Ki Barbadi (destruction of India)’ were raised. Even the pro-Guru event organised by a former Delhi University teacher SAR Geelani at the Press Club of India was ignored by them. They have been able to convert it into an episode celebrating freedom of opinion and academic autonomy. Many of them have been educated in the US or UK. Have any of these professional pundits of pseudo-patriotism ever heard of any American or British institution lauding and eulogising the killers of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King or John Kennedy? Have they ever attended any seminar held by the American establishment to discuss water boarding at GITMO? American, Russian and European forces are killing hundreds of terrorists in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere on a daily basis. Why have none of our modern freedom fighters ever raised a finger against them? The current US Presidential election is dominated by the issue of saving the nation from the terror threat and debating the morality of banning a certain community from entering the US. Never before has an American derided the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ or mutilated their national flag. Instead, they display it with pride even in their front yards to signalise the power of democratic beliefs.

But in India, invent-a-cause and hire-a-crowd has become remunerative for political parties, which have been dining out on secularism ever since the word became an apology for cynicism. The protest against Kanhaiya’s arrest wasn’t confined to New Delhi. A bigger protest march was organised in Jadavpur University, where students raised anti-India slogans and supported the ‘Azadi’ rhetoric raised by Guru. Even media organisations and journalists took sides in the fight between supporters of nationalism and its opponents. Many of them pleaded to understand the psyche of the student, which is rebellious by nature. But the modern Indian student is more interested in MBA than Marx.

Undoubtedly, it was the loony faction of the BJP, which provided a handle to the illiberals to pillory the government by attacking journalists, while the issue of the deification of terrorists and their tool-wielders was pushed under the secular carpet. Since the JNU event was organised by some extremists from J&K, it was clearly an attempt to jeopardise India’s unity. These are the same elements that refuse to sing the National Anthem or hoist Tricolour in the Valley.

The current confrontation between the Left and Liberal Lampoonists on one side and the Saffron forces on the other is an attempt to weaken the symbols of nationalism by converting the JNU issue into a cry against suppression of dissent. If intelligence agencies are to be believed, the country will face more attacks on the idea of an inclusive India, its flag and its National Anthem. Some parties even questioned the timing of the HRD ministry’s decision to direct Central universities to hoist the Tricolour in campuses. Both the Jana Gana Mana and National Flag were conceived by genuinely nationalist and secular leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel and Maulana Azad. But in India, the duplicity of dissenters is being passed off as virtues. Many of them call themselves Hindus, yet they oppose integral Hindu traditions. They support the ban on cow slaughter but relish a Kobe beefsteak, well done. The bathos of their crocodile tears is that even as they mourn the killing of our jawans, they toil to prove their secular credentials to Pak diplomats. They take out candle light processions and lobby for the continuation of the Indo-Pak dialogue over the graves of our soldiers. They turn a blind eye to the Obama administration’s duplicitous decision to provide F-16s to Pakistan, which will be eventually used not for peacekeeping but against India.

The blame for the revival of ersatz-liberalism lies at the door of a section of the ruling establishment. The trigger to shrink PM Modi’s gigantic stature was provided to his detractors from within. Modi has to evolve a mechanism to prevent India, the Tricolour and Tagore’s immortal ode to nationalism from becoming victims of the divisive agenda of the neo-liberalists. After all, nationalism threatens their luxurious existence.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Monday, February 15, 2016

Burning Air Miles to wee High and Mighty ...... Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard/ February 14, 2016

Burning Air Miles to Woo High and Mighty, Naidu Shrinks His Political Share at Home

Naidu with Yoshiro Tanaka, chairman of Mayekawa Manufacturing Ltd 
Naidu with Yoshiro Tanaka, chairman of Mayekawa Manufacturing Ltd 
A vassal with a vessel has become PM Narendra Modi’s man at alms. Of the five southern CMs, Andhra Pradesh’s Chandrababu Naidu is perhaps the most mobile and visible political chief executive of any state. He is in New Delhi almost every month, either to seek special status for his state or special packages from Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. After NDA II came in, he has visited the capital 23 times and spent 27 days—the highest number of days any CM has spent in the capital. Naidu is on the prowl. Going by his mobility, both in India and abroad, he is spreading his carbon footprint far and wide. And he is quite proud of it. He thinks burning air miles is the most effective way of making his state globally known. A few months after taking over as chief minister in June 2014, Naidu asserted, “Our state needs proper marketing and I have done that for Hyderabad in the past. Now I will do it for Andhra Pradesh. Every two or three months, I will visit a foreign country.” Even after 20 months in office, his Market Andhra mission is still to deliver dividends. Naidu’s office is always seeking new destinations at home and overseas for him to visit and organise road shows to attract investment. So far, he has visited five countries over seven visits and has spent 29 days trying to convince global investors and MNCs to put their money where his mouth is.

The Andhra leader’s current woes stem from the steadily declining financial position of his state. According to reports, Andhra Pradesh’s first budget after the division of the state revealed a revenue deficit of `60.6 billion for 2014-15. It got worse during the second budget, when the revenue deficit saw a substantial upward revision to `142.4 billion because revenue generation had declined by 9 per cent. Even now the state cannot meet 25 per cent of its capital expenditure. The chief minister, however, is obsessed with the construction of new capital Amravati. Naidu expects that he would showcase his expertise in creating modern cities by making Amravati one of the world’s state-of-the-art metropolises. He had earned global laurels by making Hyderabad one of the most attractive IT cities of India when the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was part of NDA I. Despite his love for technology, Naidu was mauled in the state elections and remained out of power for over a decade.

But the Andhra apothecary of financial ailments hasn’t given up his obsession with foreign investments and chasing glamorous infrastructure ideas, when instead he should be focusing on deliving basic amenities to the majority of the five crore denizens of his state. For the past 19 months, he has been spending more time with foreign or Indian corporate leaders to set up new projects in a state, which is not showing any significant rise in demand. During his trips abroad or to New Delhi, Naidu has been parroting the same demands to potential investors and political leaders. For example, he has visited Singapore twice. In November 2014, he spent three days inspecting wastewater treatment systems and studying the Singapore Model for the development of a new capital for Andhra. He was back there in September 2015 to discuss details for the development of Amravati and invite Singaporean PM for the inauguration function to be held weeks later.
A similar story unfolded during his two visits to Japan. He flew to Tokyo first in November 2014 for a five-day trip. He signed four important agreements with Sumitomo and persuaded Isuzu to show some interest in investing in Andhra Pradesh. He was back in Japan nine months later to convince them all over again to set up new plants or at least open offices in his state. Being comfortable in the company of corporate honchos, Naidu is one of the few CMs who are conspicuous by their presence at the World Economic Forum—an annual rendezvous for the world’s rich and mighty who go to Davos to make merry and network at lavish dinner parties than do any serious business. Naidu was present in 2015 and 2016, and confabulated with numerous MNCs in a specially created meeting hall where officials from his state made hi-tech presentations. It’s true that Naidu seems to be dead serious about what he is doing, but so far, he is yet to make public the outcome of his foreign forays. This has forced even his party leaders and opposition to question his opulent style, while pillorying him for neglecting the state’s drought-affected areas.

Even his capability to influence Modi is under scrutiny. Two decades ago, Naidu was the kingmaker. In 1996, he played a key role in making both HD Deve Gowda and I K Gujral Prime Ministers. He could gain any concessions for his state from the Centre. But this time, he has hardly succeeded in getting a special financial package or status for his state. Two weeks ago, he was in Delhi to persuade Modi to grant Andhra special status—a demand made twice earlier. Naidu has adopted any excuse to get a boarding pass to Delhi, whether to hold meetings with medical equipment manufacturers, to invite PM Modi, BJP President Amit Shah and other Union ministers to attend Amaravati’s foundation stone-laying ceremony or to meet numerous ministers to get various pending projects off the tarmac. None of the other non-BJP chief ministers such as Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav or Jayalalithaa are seen in New Delhi chasing Modi’s ministers.

Many TDP leaders in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are unhappy over Naidu’s excessive periods of absence from state politics. Some are even deserting the party. After being routed in the recent Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections, the TDP is now facing an exodus of MLAs and the threat of being reduced to a non-entity in Telangana. Last week, the TDP legislator from Quthbullapur, A P Vivekananda Goud, joined the ruling TRS and claimed more desertions would follow. The TDP won 16 Assembly seats in 2014. About half the legislators have left the party. If Naidu’s party is on the verge of extinction in Telangana, it is also confronted with massive disenchantment in Andhra Pradesh. Most party leaders, including MLAs, have been unable to meet the CM for a long time. Naidu’s over-emphasis on urban development at the cost of ignoring rural areas and small towns has provided ammo to his foe KCR to create an adverse political atmosphere against the TDP in Andhra Pradesh. Naidu’s future lies more in making his state a viable, stable and healthy entity than creating isolated oases of affluence. By flying high at state expense to woo the high-end audiences, he is shrinking his share in the local political marketplace to a shadow of what it was.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Monday, February 8, 2016

J & K Logjam shows politics of ...... Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard / February 07, 2016

J and K Logjam Shows Politics of Additionalism Can't be at the Cost of Ideology of Idealism

Experiments have dynamics, delivery and destiny of their own. In Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP’s experiment to form a coalition government with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was fated to end in frustration, fiasco and failure. In new age politics, the Ideology of Idealism has been replaced by the Politics of Additionalism. Instead of rationality, the arithmetic of additionality is the new mantra to grab more and more of the political market share. Parties are forging alliances indiscriminately just for power’s sake. The BJP-PDP deal forged in February 2015 was seen as a masterstroke. For the first time, the saffron party became a part of the ruling dispensation in a state where the BJP’s progenitor Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee spent his dying days in despair in a dilapidated jailhouse. BJP President Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi walked the extra mile to accommodate the sentiment and concerns of late J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to form the government on March 1, 2015. For the BJP, it was a chance to bring the Valley into mainstream politics. For the PM, an alliance with a party sympathetic to the separatist cause was a trophy to show the rest of the world that the BJP has the democratic mandate to rule the state. A formal Common Minimum Programme (CMP) was finalised. As long as Sayeed was alive, the coadunation machine was cruising along at a comfortable speed despite the undercurrents of ideological turbulence. Both parties were bound by the electoral verdict to keep the National Conference (NC) and Congress away from power. Over 65 per cent of J&K voters defied the terror threat and voted. But they gave a fractured verdict. For the BJP, it was its best performance ever in the J&K Assembly polls. Though the party’s maximum haul was from Jammu—it polled 23 per cent of the total votes as against 22.7 by the PDP, 20.8 by NC and 18 by the Congress.

But fate is a fickle mistress. Despite the decisive mandate, Sayeed took over two months to form an alliance with the BJP. Shah and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti announced that they had “ironed out” their ideological differences. Finally, Sayeed took over as the CM and senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh was sworn in as the state’s first non-Muslim deputy CM. This implied that the NDA government at the Centre could depend on the PDP’s support in Parliament. But the seeds of discord were nascent in the CMP itself. It stated the coalition government would ensure “all-round development of Jammu and Kashmir” and follow the principle of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas (with all, the development of all)’. It was agreed that controversial and contentious issues such as Article 370 and the Arms Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) would be referred to a high-power committee, which would be represented by both parties and a few eminent non-political personalities. But within a few days of swearing-in, Sayeed gave the credit for the high voter turnout to separatists and Pakistan’s non-interference in Kashmir’s tortured politics. “If, God forbid, the Hurriyat and militants tried to disrupt the elections, these would not have been as participative as they had been,” the CM said. This was challenged by the BJP. Over last year, the partners were engaged in shadow boxing over Article 370 and the issue of hoisting the state flag along with the Tricolour. The 56-year-old Mehbooba had always been uncomfortable with the BJP’s ideological push in the state administration. Now, her father’s demise has led both agonised allies to do ideological introspection. Mehbooba had the sudden epiphany that PDP’s association with the BJP was unpopular with her core constituency in the Valley. Sayeed’s agenda had been to get a Central financial package for J&K and very little about issues like more autonomy to the state. Today, his daughter wants the political issues to be settled first before deciding to restore the coalition government. On its part, the BJP leadership, including Modi, has decided to stick to what they call the ‘Mufti Vision’ and refuse to settle for anything less.

Mehbooba is unwilling to lose PDP’s political space to its arch rival NC by making concessions to the BJP. She was shocked to discover that Sayeed’s funeral, held at his hometown in Bijbehara, was poorly attended while a few days later, the funeral of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Shakir Ahmad in nearby Pulwama drew a mammoth mass. Unlike Sayeed, Mehbooba has always had a soft corner for the separatist cause. Though she joined politics in 1996 as a Congress MLA from the Valley, she has persistently opposed the “excessive repression” of Kashmiris by the Central military forces. She was at the forefront of agitations against fake encounters. All of 2015, she had mostly stayed away from any dialogue with BJP leaders; the strategy was to project Sayeed as the dove and Mehbooba as the hawk. Now, she is acting true to form, seeking a credible assurance from Modi to oblige her agenda—scrapping AFSPA, getting the Army to vacate land under its supervision, and the return of power projects from the National Hydro Power Corporation—before forging an alliance. Meanwhile, both the NC and Congress are mounting pressure on her to fulfil the promises made to Kashmiris. The BJP is unwilling to totally abandon its hardline nationalist and Hindutva policy. Most of its leaders, both from the state and Centre, are against giving any concessions to Mehbooba. The party is caught between a rock and a hard place.

The J&K imbroglio has forced it to rethink its strategy on forming alliances with ideological adversaries for the sake of getting a share in the government. In other coalitions, the BJP is suffering because of the unsatisfactory performance of regional allies like the Akali Dal in Punjab and Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP in Bihar. Adventurist exercises like roping in caste dons in the Bihar elections didn’t yield results. Party insiders feel the Politics of Additionalism should be used to add to its kitty more voters and workers instead of caste and communal leaders. The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Maharashtra is already riddled with conflict, bringing disrepute to the state BJP leaders.

L K Advani, the maestro of the Art of Additionality, had roped in a legion of regional parties to form the 24-party NDA coalition at the Centre in 1998. It lost the elections in 2004 and 2009 because most BJP’s allies dumped it to protect their ideological identity. History is repeating itself. Modi and Shah stand to lose the BJP’s core constituency in J&K thanks to the BJP-PDP squabbles. Insiders feel that the party’s leadership should abjure the statecraft of striking deals or risk facing political isolation. To gain a durable and natural expansion of the BJP’s and NDA’s acceptability in the long run, the Twin Turbos need to stick to their intrinsic ideology and agenda for governance.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Monday, February 1, 2016

Trump Victory would Signal Shift in US ....... Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard / January 31, 2016

Trump Victory Would Signal Shift in US’ Mindset from Markets to Nationalism

Neo-nationalism is the new password to political victory. In the US, which claims to be a liberal and self-searching society, some potential presidential candidates are calling for a New America, which is exclusive rather than inclusive. If the slogans, issues, verbal volleys and abrasive adjectives used by various candidates are indications, the multiracial US society is heading for the most divisive and provocative election campaign ever in its history. From Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton, all contenders are unleashing personal pejoratives, while side-stepping the reason what ails the world’s richest economy.
The War for the White House appears to be a replay of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, in which individuals and not ideologies dominated India’s most fiercely fought elections. Like Narendra Modi, who sought a mass mandate to fight Islamist terror, Trump is asking Americans to vote for him to prevent the extremist Muslim menace from engineering another 9/11. Modi attacked the Gandhi Parivar for corruption and crony capitalism, and Trump, the hot favourite for the Republican nomination, is painting his rivals as lackeys of lobbyists and callous corporations. Like in Modi’s case, Trump’s trump card seems to be America’s middle class. Modi’s poll pitch was taking action against black money, making India a super power, terminating cosy capitalist clubs and bring in maximum governance with minimum government. His campaign was over-archingly tinted with staunch nationalism. Today, Trump seems to have torn a page off Modi’s manual, using similar means and methods. Carpet-bombing through social media, aggressive TV appearances where he flaunts patriotism on his well-cut sleeve, and back-to-back multi-city political rallies are the turbines of Trump’s election machine. With over six million followers on Twitter and 920,000 on Instagram, and about five million Facebook likes, the real estate baron is one of the most active political leaders on social media. He tweets on everything, from potatoes to politics. He blitzkriegs his rivals with invectives. He dares the media to engage him on his own terms or get out of the way. He even walked out of an interview and forced the television company to change a moderator who he argued wasn’t objective.
Unlike his opponents, Trump is fighting the elections with his own money—he runs a $4 billion business conglomerate. Like Modi had pilloried the New Delhi establishment, Trump has sworn to fix the Washington cabal. It is his totally anti-establishment, anti-Islamist, politically incorrect attitude and posturing that has brought him huge popular ratings—not only from white America but also from a large section of other communities. It’s an irony that a country, which denied a visa to Modi for over a decade, blaming him for what the American liberal elite called the Gujarat “pogrom”, is now being asked to vote for or against the domination of an idea which led to the shameful riots, which followed the burning of a train carrying karsewaks in Godhra.

Never before in the history of the US-of-A has any candidate sought electoral endorsement as a fighter against a section of a particular community by brazenly naming it in debates and discussions. But Trump does it without a pause. His tweets reveal his ideological moorings—“More radical Islam attacks today —it never ends!” “Strengthen the borders, we must be vigilant and smart. No more being politically correct.” He breathed fire and brimstone against America’s deal with Iran. Soon after it was signed, Trump was the first to react with his typical frontal attack style: “Iran humiliated the United States with the capture of our 10 sailors. Horrible pictures & images. We are weak. I will NOT forget!” He waxed sarcastic about the Obama administration’s capacity to face Iran. “In Iran deal we get 4 prisoners. They get $150 billion, 7 most wanted and many off watch list. This will create great incentive for others,” he tweeted. His unconventional departure from the practiced political paradigm has shaken his opponent’s self-confidence. Making fun of Jeb Bush’s ad campaign, Trump commented using his Twitter handle @realDonaldTrump on January 23, “Just watched Jeb’s ad where he desperately needed mommy to help him. Jeb—mom can’t help you with ISIS, the Chinese or with Putin.”

Trump’s no-holds-barred campaign has forced the political establishment of not just in the 50 states of America but also of other Western countries to introspect on their limitlessly liberal policy towards religious minorities. For example, when terrorists attacked Paris, Trump took a jibe at Europe by tweeting, “Man shot inside Paris police station. Just announced that terror threat is at highest level. Germany is a total mess-big crime. GET SMART!” Even Jerry Falwell Jr of the Moral Majority, whose father was the face of American right wing religious conservatism, endorsed Trump. Evangelical leaders who seek to make the US a “Christian nation” by combing conservative Christianity and governance have been flummoxed by the fact that over half their congregation gave Trump the thumbs up. He has both shaken and stirred the liberal establishment. Many of the billionaire businessmen and economic savants who habitually gather for the annually held, luxurious less-work-and-more-leisure rendezvous in Davos were disturbed by his stand on Muslims and the US economy.

Some Western leaders even mocked him as just an aberration in American politics. Yet Trump remains unmoved in his resolve to polarise American society like Modi did in India. If the latter was indirectly hinting at sending illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries back home, Trump wants all unwanted immigrants to be deported. If Donald Trump finally gets the GOP nomination, it would signal a strong ideological shift in America’s basic mindset, which is now being haunted by fear of homegrown Islamic terror and the ISIS vow to bring the super power under Sharia law. Its popular psyche is moving away from money and markets. Its leaders are being forced to champion American identity and pride. The supreme paradox is that a marketer like Trump is making the markets irrelevant. He has given a call to American voters to put him in the White House to “Save America” from vanishing. The species that could face extinction if a Trump wave sweeps the country is the academically liberal, bleeding heart classes of America, whose existence, like in the UK, stands threatened by its own indiscriminate policy of political correctness and fear of offending its enemies in the name of votes and seminars. Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla