BEWARE OF FOREIGNERS SPEAKING CHINESE

Interviewing Dr Subramanian Swamy is always great for the TRPs because you can count on him to say the unexpected, for this is one leader who doesn’t mince his words. And sure enough, in his first interview to ITV Network post the lockdown, Dr Swamy was critical of the way the Rs 20 lakh crore Covid economic package was structured and commented wryly, “You need a Finance Minister who is politically strong, who knows macroeconomics. Economy is an integrated macro framework.” Apart from the economy, his linguistic skills also make for great TV, because this is one leader from the South who is very comfortable giving interviews in Hindi as well (Ram Madhav is another), and is always ready to give interviews in Tamil too. But given the focus on China during the current crisis, he also offered a few lines in Mandarin. Translating what he said, was “Do not be afraid of the Gods, do not be afraid of the Devil. But do be afraid of the foreigner who speaks Chinese…” Laughing, he adds, “It is such a difficult language so whoever learns it must have some ulterior motive”. Well, in this case, he is the foreigner speaking fluent Chinese, so one wonders what his motive is!

MISSION SELF GOAL

There is some controversy around the Mission Jai Hind charter that has been framed by various economists and left-wing activists, most of them pro Congress. The seven-point charter recommends free healthcare for all Covid 19 patients, a three-month interest waiver on loans taken by farmers, small businesses and homebuyers, ensuring all migrants reach their villages within ten days, etc. All no brainers and the need of the hour. Twenty-four people have endorsed this including Abhijit Sen, Deepak Nayyar, Jean Dreze, Ramchandra Guha, Nikhil De, Rajmohan Gandhi and Yogendra Yadav. But there seems to be some differences that arose after the document was made public. This is regarding Point 7.1: “All the Resources (cash, real estate, property, bonds etc) with the citizens of India or within the nation must be treated as national resources available during this crisis.” This amounts to full nationalisation of property and assets and the band of intellectuals have since been accused of what Pranjal Sharma, author of India Automated, referred to as “peddling an ultra communist agenda”. Others have been less charitable. But what is interesting is that since then Ram Guha has revealed that point 7.1 to which he put his signature to, was worded much differently and added “I have not and do not endorse this”. Clearly, with self-goals like this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t have much to worry about.

POLITICS OF CLASS

Both Akhilesh and Mayawati, who head two caste-based outfits, were missing from the Battle of the Buses between Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Yogi Adityanath government. Whatever the politics, it was a sad sight to see the buses, all kitted with sanitizers, masks and food packets pull away empty from UP borders, bypassing migrants walking on foot—whether they were 1,000 in number as promised by Priyanka, or 897 as the UP government claims. But there is a larger story here—as both the Congress and the BJP have realised, that post Covid, politics is going to become more class based. The story of the migrants’ struggle is heart-wrenching; add to this the economic uncertainty, food shortages due to lockdown and gaps in the supply chain—and you are going to see more of this struggle between the haves and have nots. Already metros are reporting an increase in smash and grab kind of incidents on the streets in broad daylights where the desperate poor are taking what they can even if it means smashing the glass windows of a parked car to steal what’s inside. This is going to be the political narrative in the coming months, even years. The Congress, looking for the right message to counter Modi, has already begun its outreach to the migrant class, which includes Rahul Gandhi  releasing videos of his interaction with migrant workers in Delhi. Now, one is waiting for the PM’s outreach, for there is no doubt that he will come up with something to spin this in his favour. He made demonetisation into a story between haves and have nots. But arguably, with Covid, he has a tougher task on his hands.

MCA vs Gymkhana Club

The order in the Ministry of Company Affairs versus Delhi Gymkhana Club case has been reserved by the NCLT till the end of the month, 27 May. With the ministry seeking to wrest control of the club from its members, there is a lot of apprehension regarding this within the club. And a lot of anger too against those who have squealed to the ministry against their own club. Interestingly, most who have complained against the club were part of ex club president Vijay Chibber’s committee when he was in charge (2013), so it does make you wonder whether they are peddling an individual’s agenda. Add to that speculation that a senior bureaucrat in the MCA could not jump the line in the club membership. It is also interesting that some of the misdemeanours against the club that the MCA has come up with happened on Chibber’s watch. But he is yet to be hauled up by the NCLT. This itself reveals both the nature of the probe and those instigating it. More to the point, won’t the first step be to put the club on notice and allow it to put systems in place to check the misdemeanours instead of taking control totally. Unless that was the plan in the first place and the probe is just a raison d’etre. Also, those celebrating at the club’s troubles should beware, once it scents blood, who knows what club or institution will be next on NCLT’s hit list.