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[00:00:00]

The brown Pandit's Brown cows and welcome to another edition of the Brown pundit's broadcast we have with us today got Lily Gorev is based in India, and she is he identifies as an Indian liberal, which is, some people think, a dying breed in India right now. But we'll see what he has to say about that. So I'll start by just asking Gorev to tell us a little about himself, who he is, what he does, what he writes about, and how he came to be an Indian liberal.

[00:00:40]

So I am based in Pwning, which is like a very educationally important city in the state of Maharashtra, which is in western India. So I am raised in a Gippsland Brahmin family in Boonie. And due to that or.

[00:01:02]

Correlated with that, I have had a strong Hindutva influence on my upbringing, so my maternal grandfather was a racist. So it's fair to say that Hindutva has always been there and they're about in the Maharastra Prakash's Brahmin. Peer group, so it would be fair to say that my upbringing was Hindutva, but I was not very particularly interested party in politics. But when I was growing up, I was interested in other things, like all kids are at that age.

[00:01:41]

The only time I like sort of was challenged politically was around the time when I was 18 or 19, when a friend of mine asked me whether I supported the movement. So my spontaneous answer was that, yeah, I support the movement and he asked me why. So I was puzzled at how can you ask me why? It is it was a very obvious answer to a 10 year old guy. So then I started thinking about politics, but still I was not quite.

[00:02:16]

Very interested in it, so then we come to the 2014 Narendra Modi election. Which was a very watershed moment in Indian politics.

[00:02:29]

Everyone who was not interested in politics, was interested in politics, was hooked to politics largely because the previous 10 years of Congress were not positively seen with corruption scandals, with growing minority appeasement, with terrorist attacks and so on and so forth. So one thing which cannot be separated from my or any other Indian millennials upbringing is the plethora of terrorist attacks which took place in the 1990s and especially in 2000, like the Mumbai attack, Mumbai train attacks. And there was even a terrorist attack in Poland where I live.

[00:03:08]

So all these things shaped my psyche growing up. And in 2014, I was moderately a Modi supporter. I was not I was never a hardcore, but I was a moderately Modi supporter. One of the reasons I would call myself a moderate supporter is because I have been an artist since 11. So I don't identify that much with the Hindutva moment because of my personal belief systems. But still, I thought, what is the guy to lead the country?

[00:03:40]

But. Directly after the victory, things started going a bit confusing for me, for example, on the next day of the 2014 Modi victory, there was an incident in polling where a Muslim attacker was killed by a fringe Hindutva group over some alleged remarks about the ballots. I or Shigemura, something like that. And that was something which like shocked me that such lynchings typically don't occur in cities like polling, which are seen as very elite and very calm and very like quaint places.

[00:04:23]

So that kind of challenged me to an extent. But still, 14, 15, I was not very anti Hindutva person to a large extent.

[00:04:34]

I still have certain sympathies for the RSS in project. I have much less sympathy for the BJP political machine and the Modi government to say.

[00:04:46]

And then one thing led to another, and next five, six years, I have been fairly critical of the Modi government and being in a Modi supporter BJP support group, I have often had to defend myself from a very minority position. So that has been an interesting part of who I am.

[00:05:10]

So do you feel we had a guest last week and we felt that the conditions in India are right now? He described it as very bleak. The future prospects of India are very bleak, and although he couldn't fully explain what he meant by that, still, that seems to be a common feeling in liberal Indians.

[00:05:35]

Do you share that feeling?

[00:05:37]

And if you do, why do you feel it is like I would like to counter it? I am not that apprehensive about the Indian project. I am a bit disappointed with the political goings on. Like I am not a supporter of the NRC, but I do not feel it is as bad as it is made out in the liberal media. So my opposition to the CNRT business is more from is easier as the amir of what you know, under Pakistan to be.

[00:06:10]

I don't think the makes India and Russia. I feel the air makes India the natural homeland of subcontinental non-Muslims. Which is a bad enough thing, but it is not in the Russia, which is often conflicted, which I would like to flag, but I don't support C.A.C..

[00:06:32]

So, Guriev, before we get a little further further into this. Can you explain to me what you mean by being a liberal, a liberal Hindu or a liberal Indian in that sense? So we have a sense of what that means.

[00:06:47]

So by liberal, I mean, I am like I am a small liberal. I don't hold conservative positions on religion, on society, on politics. So I tend to avoid reactionary. Politics like reactionary Hindutva politics are reactionary other politics, I tend to so because of my upbringing and even because of my reading of new artists, I have I harbour certain critical views of Islam and other monotheisms. But I do my best to keep my personal biases in check whenever I confront politics.

[00:07:30]

So there is anti-Muslim or you can call Islamophobic sentiment in me, but I am aware of it and I try to control it as much as I can and think and act as much rationally as I can. From a liberal position, so I try to put myself in other people's shoes. And I come up with the position, so I guess I guess my question is a different one, and I do appreciate your answer and I think part of it elucidates kind of what we're talking about.

[00:08:05]

But I think my question is in the Indian context, what does it mean to be liberal? Like, well, in the American context, for example, we can say things like, you know, we uphold free speech. We're for progressive ideas like, you know, making sure that gay people all have rights where for, you know, protecting minorities. I mean, there's a bunch of these liberal ideas we can say in America. What does that mean in the Indian context?

[00:08:34]

Yeah.

[00:08:35]

So actually, it is a bit fishy in the Indian context, because as many of the people have already said on this podcast, India doesn't have a Liberal Party, India doesn't have a liberal polity. India had. Conservative Hindu Paul Politti and unconservative Hindu quality, so India truly doesn't have a Liberal Party, but as an Indian liberal, I am something who would like to stand up for minority rights, for women's rights, for freedom of expression, for dissent.

[00:09:08]

So I don't support the binelli of national or international or the so-called theocratic gang or the blanket calling people urban nuzzles. So I don't support those things. I feel like all problems that there is no smoke without any fire. So there are a few fault lines in India and few people may have conspiracies to exploit them. But I am not willing to put my politics on those conspiracy theories. If they are true, we will find out eventually. But I am willing to give the benefit of doubt.

[00:09:44]

That's my position, so I like whenever there is a censorship issue, like I like, for example, recently there was that Netflix movie, something on. So my boys are on comedians, which which make some awkward remarks. So my position is they should be allowed to say anything they want to. And the stifling of dissent, which is especially a Twitter thing and also carried over by other media actors as well, so that is something that I think we should grow out of as a liberal, as a in terms of politics in India right now.

[00:10:30]

Who would be a party that you would consider voting for? So for my last elections, I voted for the nationalist Congress Party in Syria, which as part of the United Progressive Alliance, so I voted. I am not a fan of that party at all. So there are very serious corruption allegations and they are not particularly ideological as well. But I thought that was the best bet to beat the BJP. So mind you, I was not a hammer and tongs on beating BJP.

[00:11:02]

My political aim of 229 was to ensure that BJP doesn't get a majority. I am happy with the BJP minority government like beating. The democratic system has enough checks and balances with coalitions and parliamentary democracy to curtail the extremes of any party, but when we come to the place where we are right now, where BJP has three hundred and four seats in Lok Sabha, that is something which I am a bit alarmed by. I would be alarmed by it, even if it was the Congress party, which got 306, because we have seen what they have done when Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had complete majorities.

[00:11:43]

Right. But then what is it that. To you was the sort of a deal breaker for the BJP, you voted for them in 2014 but did not vote for them in 2019. What changed your mind?

[00:11:56]

Yeah, so there are like there's a long list of things. I will go down them as briefly as I can. So first is the cullings which take place often. So I have seen the data. I have followed the Hindutva argument. I have followed the liberal argument. I feel there is some truth in both arguments I have seen. I cannot conclusively say that lynchings have risen sharply after BJP has come to power. But what cannot be denied is the cases like dancing, where Ajaka and a group of leaders were convicted of lynching the person and the union minister for BJP who happens to be a liberal person.

[00:12:43]

Garlanded, then on a visit to Chattisgarh, Darkcoin, some of it, so might I tend to believe in Ockham's Razor, that whichever is the most logical and simple explanation of the truth. So I ask the question to myself, why would a guy like dancing Garland? People who have been convicted of killing people, so the only logical explanation is he might be feeling he may be wrong in his feeling. I'm not a mind reader that. BJP hierarchy will be partial towards him, positively towards him, if he is this nasty people with garlands and plaudits and whatnot.

[00:13:28]

So that is the explanation which I make sense of. As a liberal, I don't expect Narendra Modi government or the prime minister himself to condemn a religion, which happens because in a country of 138 crores, few strike accidents and nasty things happen every day. So I don't expect him to come on video or Twitter and condemn everything. But the signal I get, the strongest condemnation the prime minister gave of the lynchings was when some Goldex attacked a few a couple of Dalitz in Gujarat.

[00:14:07]

Mind you, the the leaders were not killed. They were just paraded and humiliated. So that is where I feel the BJP power felt that we cannot lose the. And or we cannot hurt the Dalitz, so that is when he made a strong statement which could have acted as a deterrent in either case, his statement was much more major. So, again, this is very subjective, but this is what I feel about that. Lynchings, then?

[00:14:43]

Then going to other theaters, pseudoscientific things which these people indulgent like there was that embarrassing statement which the PM did about the Ganapati had been the result of plastic surgery. It had been made in jest. I would have been fine with it. And it is in itself not a deal breaker, but nothing in itself is a deal breaker. These things pile on and then the whole deal itself is broken. So there were those Indians and Congress where people presented aeroplane's in Vedic times and whatnot.

[00:15:21]

And everything like that, but still, I was fine after all this things these are things I can live with, but then there are some things which are concretely problematic that, for example, let's take the example of 2017 with the British elections. So this is a large state with a population of 20 crores, and out of those 20 growers, 20 percent are Muslims. And there are four hundred and two parliamentary seats in British. Out of those, 400 and 260 BJP did not give a ticket to a single Muslim candidate.

[00:16:03]

This is something which is terribly difficult for me to digest, the BJP sympathizers often say that BJP only plays to win and they cannot win with Muslim candidates so they don't give Muslims tickets. So that statement itself is problematic for me. You cannot find a single Muslim assembly candidate in a population of 20 crores, which is larger than like. All almost 99 percent of the world's countries. It's a problem. I think you make very good points. I see what Mukunda has to say in response, but I wanted to ask you, what is the trend line then if this party is not willing to give even one seat to a Muslim candidate and seems to have a policy of trying not to appear?

[00:16:59]

In any way sort of appeasing Muslims, right, that that even a simple thing like condemning a lynching is. It's done selectively because the image of the party doesn't to they would feel that they're the real image of the person they're really trying to reach will not be happy if they if they take a stand against it. Right. What is the what is the outcome that you see in terms of India's future if this continues?

[00:17:33]

Yeah, there is a small thing which I would like to add. So, again, I may come off as sympathetic to ISIS ideology, but I feel that ISIS at least makes a concerted effort to reach out to Muslims because they are not bound by the political cycle of victories and losses. So for them, pleasing audiences, secondary and their aim is to sort of do a partial go to Popsy, not exactly a good website, but to homogenize or indigenized all the Muslim populations.

[00:18:04]

So that is something which I can at least put a blind eye towards. Like, I'm not very comfortable with it, but that is not something which I take offense to. But when that ideology combines with the nasty electoral politics in a corrupt system like India, the results are catastrophic.

[00:18:23]

Yeah, and to your particular question, I feel this, it's detrimental to the society because this kind of polarization which BJP practices is bad for the Hindu community as well as the Muslim community.

[00:18:39]

The result is increased ghettoization of Muslim communities who are already stuck in conservatism and illiberal thoughts.

[00:18:47]

So of. A minority which always perceives itself to be under siege, so this is a criticism of Islam that in the doctrines and even in the literature, there has been this siege mentality and when. Actually, people are trying to be nasty about you, that siege mentality is bound to increase and they are going to take comfort in the conservative parts of their religion, which is detrimental to the society and the community in particular. But the effect this has on the Hindu community is also not something I like.

[00:19:26]

As a Hindu, I am an atheist, but I still call myself a Hindu.

[00:19:31]

So the. So the Abraham ization of Hindu religion, which is underway currently offense, taking a name, calling people, calling people who are not enough Hindu for you, all these things are happening. So that is not a good place to be. From my point of view, yeah, I mean, Gorev, a large part of your points, I actually agree with you. I think your your reasoning is sound and, you know, you have.

[00:19:59]

Good, good. Good, good, basic thoughts on what's going on, because, I mean, when we talk to a lot of other Hindu liberals or Indian liberals, what I find from from them, which I don't find from you, is just a visceral, emotional reaction. What I see from you, which I think is very interesting, is you bring up solid points. I mean, each of those things by itself, like you indicated, can be washed away.

[00:20:26]

But there are concerns with the interplay. You know, I lived in India for a few years in twenty fifteen to like twenty seventeen and sometime before that. But I mean, one of the concerns to me always was how is it that these go to chicks who find they might be good intentioned or whatever they want to protect the cow. They're still killing or lynching Muslims or killing people that are engaging in these activities. They don't find to be correct, but the government would constantly be letting them go.

[00:20:59]

Right. And that is that is a scary thought to think about the role these guys can play. And you're right. And it's something I've also talked about down the line is the kind of vitriol and anger and hate that a lot of the Hindu Hindutva supporters start shooting at anyone that they disagree with. You know, the way they attack women, the way they attack Muslims, in the way they call people that don't agree with them, Dimmeys and and Libertador and all these terrible words.

[00:21:30]

Right. It's just it's a polarization that I mean, it's just not particular in India at all across the world. I mean, how are you how are you dealing with this polarization and how do you engage with the the the people around you that I mean, like you said, you come from Hindu to a family. I'm sure you have a lot of friends or or Hindus supporting people. How do you engage with them and how are they responding?

[00:21:54]

So that is like ongoing frustration of my life.

[00:21:58]

So I wouldn't call the people of my family extremist by any sense of the they would condemn these lynchings and all these things from the point go. They would not say that these lynchings are fine or any such things are right. But still, they don't feel these things are important enough to oppose the Hindutva ideology. So that is where we run into problems. So the problem for many people is that they are whatever happens, they are single issue voters are single issue politicians.

[00:22:35]

So I have had arguments with people that I almost convinced them of the problems of BJP. And in that one moment and then they take a look at. Islam and then every every reasonable explanation goes out of the way, and then it is a single point, I hate Islam or I fear Islam, I am Islamophobic. They don't say I am Islamophobic, but that is the overriding argument or overarching theme in their acceptance of Hindu Hindutva.

[00:23:05]

They don't necessarily agree with all the crap in the disappearance. So there are many things which are good. And in other words, well, like I take umbrage to the fact that leftists call Hindutva, they were no longer believers of. I feel if any political movement has done more for the upliftment of the left and workers, it is Hindutva. But that doesn't mean that they are they are always treating Muslims as not the fifth pillar.

[00:23:38]

But yeah, right, so it finally comes down to Islam, these arguments always break down with Islam or nationalism or whatever.

[00:23:47]

So, yeah, I mean, I guess I guess my concern is always this is is I think it's fine to to criticize Islam or ideas and so on. But the issue I tend to have within the what I find in much of the Hindu community is the demonization of Muslims as if they are evil or they are something other that's not patriotic or not connected to India or their their allegiance is first and foremost Islam. And and look, frankly speaking, there is some tension there because the movements within Indian Islam have changed recently.

[00:24:25]

Right. You have a lot more of the Wahhabism, Salafism, the the about these schools that are really influencing the way that Muslims are practicing Islam in India. Right. So do you think there's any. Any any fear in that and that's legitimate or do you think it's all hysteria making?

[00:24:43]

No, there is certainly a legitimate fear. Like, as I told, there was an incident in 2012 which which had made me enraged that the Congress Islamic alliance, as much as the normal Internet do. So there was some atrocities at Rohingya Muslims by the Burmese state in 2012 13, something along those lines. And then there were some rumors that people in the Northeast had beaten up some Rohingya or some Bengali Muslims, something along those lines. And what resulted is a large Muslim communities started protesting in Mumbai, Bangalore, and of all things, started beating Northeastern looking people.

[00:25:29]

For no reason there there is a Azad Maidan ground area in Mumbai where these protesters gathered and they heard that there were police as well. It was a communist government. So naturally, they were very mild. The Muslim crowd, these crowd, these people protesters took away the guns of some of the policemen. They started firing in the air. They burned four or five or Behrendt's there. There are some unconfirmed cases of raping some police women and so on and so forth.

[00:26:07]

And yet the police did not fire. It was almost a riot and no action was taken on anyone. So these are the kind of extreme minority as appeasement. It is not just appeasement of the minorities. The Congress and the left have often given voice to the worst of the conservatives and Muslims and ignore the liberals or the nationalist party. So that is a legitimate criticism. But that doesn't justify what is happening today.

[00:26:40]

The wrong. In a certain extent, yeah, yeah, just one there is something another uncomfortable thing which everyone has faced at a certain point in their life, so.

[00:26:56]

As India Pakistan matches go, every time Pakistan will win a match, some small section of Muslim crowd, some Muslim locality will celebrate with firecrackers.

[00:27:07]

So this is not a deal breaker. If a 30 year mature patient guy looks at it and say, OK, those are misguided people, what or what not.

[00:27:16]

But the large population doesn't really like that. They view that as an international. And that still exist, I have not heard this for the last five, 10 years, but it used to be a regular event in the 70s, 80s and 90s. And these kind of things create friction.

[00:27:34]

Right. And I think that the as far as creating fiction is concerned, friction is concerned. There's enough to go around on all sides. Obviously, one of the problems with the usual liberal argument in India, not your argument, because your argument is actually more like a principled Hindutva liberal than, you know, just or a normal human being who has good instincts. I don't think that there's any reason to label it any further. But the argument you hear from the leading liberal left intellectuals in India almost always starts as if history started after 1947.

[00:28:16]

Right. This is India. This is where it is. And now this is bad and this is good. But India was one country under British rule before 1947. And what happened? What was the, you know, the movement for Pakistan, the creation of Pakistan, the riots during partition, that forced displacement of people? All of these things happened in India. They are part of what constitutes the sort of psychology of India and cannot be separated from it.

[00:28:48]

Right. They do have a point. But even from their own point of view, I would say that they are wrong with their with the current way things are going. In fact, we just had a small exchange on Twitter this morning. Somebody brought up Israel that Israel actually treats its Muslim population better than India does. And I had I had said that actually Israeli Muslims have less rights than Indian Muslims to write formally. They are actually not treated equally.

[00:29:17]

They cannot be the prime minister of Israel. They cannot join the army in the same way. They do have legal rights that are somewhat different and therefore somewhat less than what the Jewish population of Israel does. Israel and the Jewish state, not a secular state in that way. India is a secular state and formally at least, there is no bar on Muslims doing anything. They can be prime minister. They have been president. They have been chief justice, whatever.

[00:29:43]

But the difference, though, is that the Israeli right wingers in their public conversation will never see the kind of things that Indian right wingers say all the time. It seems like the sort of a crudity and paranoia. Of the discourse is greater in India. Now the I'll I'll play devil's advocate and say that on their side, they might argue that if they had an Israel like situation, they wouldn't say those things. But I think that's a cop out.

[00:30:12]

It's you can't say that when we get there, then we'll become nicer in public. You have to be nicer in public from the beginning. Yeah.

[00:30:21]

Actually, the whole Hindutva movement is very organic and not very intellectual. So from the beginning, there have been very few people who have been the rigour of hard work, intellectual patience and so on. So their arguments are often very shallow and often rely on like a few biases which they then try to find data for.

[00:30:50]

So that is a difference. And on the other point, Indian state is a very weak state compared to the Israeli state.

[00:30:58]

So a lot of things which are problematic in India like this lending business. A large portion portion of that are due to bad state infrastructure, not all are because of Hindutva forces. So that is my perception. I may be wrong. I am not a field reporter and I don't talk to people on ground.

[00:31:19]

But that's empirically true. I mean, you can see it in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, all these places, there is mob violence. Thieves get lynched, people get beaten to death over very minor things. That's just poor law and order and social sort of weakness. Yeah.

[00:31:38]

So that is not and I feel Israeli and Jewish people are more self-confident. So they don't they don't need to keep on proving that they have a point. They have a point. I feel they are more confident that some of the Hindutva people. So that maybe the reason I guess I'm just speculating.

[00:31:59]

I don't know if you should call it confidence. I think it's just that they it's a more developed society in modern times. Yeah, that is. Yeah. And that's so from top to bottom, the Meccan, the mechanics of the state and the ideological foundations of the state are all very modern and therefore easier to sort of sync with modern people's conversation. Yeah.

[00:32:22]

So as a general who has often said I'm a follower of Rambabu, I don't agree with all of his points. But he has often said that India is becoming a voting only religion on the democracy. So Indians understand democracy as a representation by voting so that it's not the accepted norms, that there should be robust institutions which should be independent and so on and so forth. Freedom of speech. These things are not ingrained in the Indian society. So, yeah, I think you're right there.

[00:32:54]

I mean, part of the thing of is like India has never had free speech. So how do you I mean, at least modern India from 1947 onwards. Right. They have these laws that prevent you from talking about other religions. So how can you have free speech when your inherent speech, like the free speech, originally rose even in the West in context of the ability of individuals to talk against other religious faiths and political institutions that exist in that time?

[00:33:24]

Well, from the time of the British and even in the Times of London, India, you can't talk against the state or you can't talk against the religions in the area. If you did, then you either get booked for sedition or you get booked for violating. I think it's like two ninety five or whatever that code is. So how, how do you have that? I mean, freedom from freedom of speech doesn't exist in India. I don't think it has at least since that time.

[00:33:49]

Yeah.

[00:33:50]

So one of the reasons it's the like I would say and Nehru felt weak at the crucial time during the parliamentary debate when he introduced the raise reasonable restrictions. And the problem with reasonable restrictions are that they are very easy to abuse. So the problem stems from the under a very inefficient court systems. So any Tom, Dick and Harry can raise a partition and political and courts don't function properly. So I guess many other countries, I am not sure whether Britain has absolute free speech, but in practice they have, even if they don't legally have it.

[00:34:30]

So that is down to the law and order and court system. But in India, even if we had absolute free speech, that it would be a problem because people would still find a way to abuse the law because the law and court and police don't work as efficiently as they do in the West. So we have a long way to go on that road. But at least the social media and Twitter atmosphere has given voices to a lot of people and there is a lot more free speech.

[00:35:01]

There is a lot more nasty speech, but at least there is more speech. So I am optimistic five, 10 years down the line, things may be better.

[00:35:13]

So let's ask you the optimism question. What is it that you're optimistic about in for the Indian state and Indian society and even about, let's say, the BJP? Is there anything to be optimistic about in their future?

[00:35:29]

So the most optimistic thing about Indian society has been the slow and gradual erosion of caste. So it is still not eroded to the point we would like it, but people are so there are there is increased number of cross cast marriages. Cost is playing less and less role in politics. So that cannot be divorced from the threat posed to Hindutva or Hindus from Islam and Christianity. I believe, even though if you with a magic wand disappear, those two problems cost will come back.

[00:36:07]

So that is unequal or uncomfortable equilibrium, which we have. So the erosion of caste is, I think, the best thing which is happening. And yet women are also you cannot you cannot call the Modi government anti women. You can call them anti-Muslim, maybe to certain extent anti Christian, anti left. But they are no different with respect to women and castrates than any political party in India. So they have bigots and they have sexist people. But on the whole, it is not very different from the entire country.

[00:36:45]

And some things modernity is here and it is going to expand into the villages, into the same urban areas, and that you cannot stop in a predominantly Hindu society at least. So even the Hindutva crowd will not get much support for Romeo and Romeo squads and all those, so like 10, 15 years ago, there were things like people used to hate couples on Valentine's Day and Bajrang the activist and so on. So that has stopped now. So they know they are making fun of themselves.

[00:37:20]

And even the BJP and RSS people don't support those activities. So there is progress in those years. Certainly. Certainly the Hindutva women's voices were very strong and bellicose and often many times nasty as well. That can also be seen as a positive if you have to be optimistic about it. So that is the kind of women empowerment which was not order previously. To these two points, I feel we are doing progress. What do you think, as in terms of economic development and state capacity, what is the future looking like to you?

[00:38:04]

Economic development I. I am offended. So, for example. I am not very sure what Modi government has done very badly, apart from Demonetization, which is like a no brainer, and anyone about eighth graders should be able to tell it was a bullshit decision. But apart from that, I am not quite sure. Like the guest last guest you heard, he was talking about GST. So the only logical critique I have heard of GST has been from Subramanian Swamy, who says it is anti federalism, which seems to be right, because currently what problem we have is Centre is not passing on the funds efficiently to the states and the states are sort of handicapped in the long run as blacks are not being sold.

[00:38:53]

So they don't have the stamp duty collections. Liquor shops were closed, so they didn't have the liquor excise collections, so they were sort of bankrupt. So that is a problem of GST, which may be, but that was a Congress plan, so Congress would have done the same. So it is not something the BJP government has done.

[00:39:14]

So on the good side, there has been a officiants increase divisions in the Indian state. It is still nowhere comparable to even the states like Pakistan, which people say is more efficient than India, but it has certainly improved in the last five, six years. So, for example, I have a passport appointment coming up next year in 2021 or 2022. I am less anxious about that appointment in 2022 than I was in 2012. So that the low level corruption, the police corruption, the Babulal corruption had gone down and it is visible to people to see, so that can be given more, they can take credit for that so that those things are improving on the large macroeconomics.

[00:40:06]

I would not like to comment because. Yeah, because people tend to bust loose comments and they don't have a robust enough knowledge, so one thing which is preventing people say is preventing India is the labor laws and so on and so forth. But I have heard arguments from both sides, and I am not I'm still on the fence on what needs to be done and not to burden. On the economic front, how do you think the Indian state should handle Pakistan?

[00:40:39]

Yeah, so as I told you earlier, I had written a long blog post, which is like my hardest work I have put in. So I would if you have time, I would like you to read and comment. So my general consensus is we should tone down the rhetoric and. Keep hammering away and hope the idea of Pakistan is somehow defeated. That is the only thing, because I am not a believer of this among Kycia folks who believe that we will have good relations with Pakistan.

[00:41:14]

I find that the framing of Pakistan is essentially A and B Hindu or essentially anti India. So unless the Kashmir problem is solved, even if the Kashmir problem is solved and let's see what the government or Congress government partitions the Kashmir Valley and give some of it to Pakistan, I'm not sure the problem will get solved because then what will Pakistan have to do? Like what will be the next thing which motivates the generals and the mullahs in the country? I am not.

[00:41:44]

So I'm very skeptical about the Pakistan problem. So only modernity time. I think can solve that problem, but I would like to be corrected. Yeah, I mean, on the Pakistan problem, you brought up a wee bit in your statement about how it should be broken down. I mean, what do you mean by that? You mean the state of Pakistan should disappear?

[00:42:08]

The idea of Pakistan, the imagination of Pakistanis? Is that the same thing as the state of Pakistan and India? Pakistan?

[00:42:16]

No, no. The idea of Pakistan is like that from the Tunisian theory that they feel that they need a separate homeland to protect the rights of the Muslims. And they also see themselves as the inheritors of the Mongol and the ultimate. Yes, yes.

[00:42:36]

But that's inherent to the state of Pakistan currently is not.

[00:42:39]

Yeah, but the state can exist without these ideas to which the state can change. Yeah, I agree with Gaurav, actually, I think that the issue is not necessarily that Pakistan has to disappear as a state, it is. But the dominant ideology of Pakistan is something that will need to be modified. And that modification, I don't think it will happen by sort of negotiation in the sense that people meet and talk and decide, OK, and let me change from here to be I think it will happen by force of circumstances very unpleasant.

[00:43:24]

I mean, I agree with you. I'm saying that if the the concept the idea of Pakistan goes away, then the state of Pakistan as we know it no longer exists. Right. It it could have been Islamic State. The way we think about it have to be something else.

[00:43:40]

I don't know. But I think that the possible outcomes are not just you don't have to think in sort of the most extreme binaries. It's very possible. For example, when the Nawaz Sharif was prime minister in his second term, and especially in his third term, he had by then sort of decided that the Pakistan as a permanent state of war with India is always going to be at a disadvantage. It's going to spend all its money and its diplomatic and social capital sort of on trying to sustain this unequal conflict.

[00:44:17]

And it's it'll just keep everybody in Pakistan poorer and unhappier than they will be.

[00:44:23]

So he was, I think, genuinely willing to make a deal with India and say, OK, you know, this is more or less the current borders. We'll stop fighting over it. And he was prime minister of Pakistan. So he's not exactly a fringe voice in Pakistan. Right. But he was thrown out for that. The army kicked him out mainly because they didn't trust him anymore in this matter.

[00:44:45]

But the the the fact that he went that far without having officially given up the ideology of Pakistan or the Islamic State of Pakistan, in fact, at one point he wanted to become the caliph. He actually had Sharia bill in parliament that he didn't do this for a long time ago. But more than 20 years ago, he may have changed his mind about that as well. People evolve. But my point was that it doesn't even have to be like they officially give up everything.

[00:45:14]

Right. They they just have to recognise the reality more or less and settle down to a more normal relationship. Even normal relationships can have a lot of conflict and and, you know, antagonisms and people jumping up and down and saying our cricket team is better than your cricket team, that that's not continue. But the the kind of. Semi heart war that we have for the last 75 years, this has not been good for Pakistan, it's not been very good for India either.

[00:45:46]

But India is a much bigger state. They have they have many problems. We are not their only problem. But for us, this is like problem number one. And it's we should get solved. But I'm not too optimistic right now. I think longer term, we'll see what. But in any case, for the Indian state itself, forget about Pakistan. I think that the I agree with Gaurav that there is a sort of a self-defeating element in some of what the the BJP government and its supporters are trying to do.

[00:46:20]

You know, when I talk to leftists and I got left is actually in real life much more than I talk to writers, because that's the kind of the upper middle class, westernized Pakistani by default are left liberal or the right. There's no they're not going to be anything else.

[00:46:37]

But the the but when I talk to them, the problem is that they seem to have. Pick up very, very poorly supported arguments and and then look for like anecdotes, you know, somebody will jump up and say, but this man was killed by three. Was there therefore everything we can talk to them or there is no way that the BJP can ever be more or less a normal party? I don't know. Maybe it can. Maybe it can't.

[00:47:09]

But I find their arguments are low on evidence, though. So the same thing happens from the Indian right wing is even more paranoid than that.

[00:47:20]

And they have this vision of every single Muslim spends his whole day sort of plotting how to take over the lands of the Kafar, which is not it's not real. It's not human. It's human beings are not like that. Most human beings are actually not that ideological, no matter what religion they belong to. And just they are just according to circumstances are just according to whatever is possible. And I think that most Indian Muslims that I have met in my life actually in the past, at least I'm not talking about the last two years, but in the past tended to be very patriotic Indians and would in fact get very uncomfortable around Pakistanis who are.

[00:48:04]

Very anti Indian and feel that if you are sitting with an Indian Muslim, you can say all the Indian things because they expect Indian Muslims to be on our side. But that wasn't actually the case. I have heard it from Indian Muslims later in private conversation that they were very uncomfortable and they don't even like. I met an Indian doctor who said he doesn't go to Pakistani parties because it's so uncomfortable in terms of what they say about India, that that's something that that is may change.

[00:48:34]

I don't know. It's not like the every demand that the Muslim. Political leaders in India make is justified. Right, I mean, they have made all this business about minority appeasement, Anderson, that there is some truth in all of this, but only some truth. It's not the the kind of paranoid level to which many wing Hindus take. It seems extreme.

[00:49:01]

So my counterpart that the right wing Hindu point of view is, yeah, even if let's agree, there is extreme level of minority appeasement, Muslims can have photographs, they can go. So how does that impact you? Your society heads as Hindus. Your society has took the turn for the better because the leaders of your community and I count on Birchard as a Hindu community leader, even if he changes to Buddhism, major laws which made your society better.

[00:49:30]

So why are you complaining? Because they are backward. So that's rubbish argument to make.

[00:49:36]

Well, Guriev, I think the issue then would be like I mean, this is the argument I would make. I'm not saying I believe it, but I'm saying this argument I would make is technically speaking, what has happened is the Hindu society just basically adopted lock, stock and barrel what the British said. Right. It wasn't as if they they had their own methodology to figure out what they believe going through their own trousers or whatever it was. They didn't do any of that.

[00:50:02]

They just said British did this will do it. And but this is the problem, I would say from that argument is Hindu SCIAF come back and say, well, we're we're very diverse. We have traditions that have polyandry, that all the ivory we have traditions that are that that worship only this God and this holidays, this that we have certain yachters. We want to go to these locations and government should fund us. We should be able to do all these things based upon our own traditions.

[00:50:26]

And that's the problem, I think, is when you're trying to be you trying to be somewhat secular, but you're not really doing it and you're having one one group of people take the onus of quote unquote modernisation while the other group of people can do what they want. People don't like being forced to do what what what other people tell them to do. If they come to that conclusion on their own, to their own process. It's a much easier thing.

[00:50:50]

That's all I'm saying.

[00:50:51]

Yeah, there are there are legitimate criticism, like people have been going hammer and tongs about the ownership of Hindu temples by the state. So that is a problem. But as a non-religious person, I don't lose sleep over that problem. So there are legitimate points from the Hindu right. I would never deny them that. But the course of action there as opposed to those problems will often lead to bigger problems. And it is leading to bigger problems, in my view, like we have never been like.

[00:51:25]

The time I remember we have never been this divided a society, so like these Bollywood stars we have so growing up, I never used to notice that there are few people in Indian cricket team or Bollywood who are Muslims.

[00:51:43]

So even though I was raised in the moderate Hindutva atmosphere, that was never a consciousness that was never discussed, that Khan or American are Muslims. But nowadays that is the overwhelming discussion. So when a person like Aamir Khan says that makes a stupid statement, I have to grant the people. That makes a stupid statement that my wife feels insecure, who is an elite upper class gated community person. I feel insecure and I want to leave the country. That is a responsible statement and I don't condone it.

[00:52:17]

But when Cornelison, who is a secular person who made a similar statement in 2012 when he was facing attacks from the Islamist radicals in Tamil Nadu, he said, I want to leave the country. And then they ended up as a hero or as a victim of Islamist extremism.

[00:52:37]

So you can't have it both ways. So there has to be consistency. People who have Muslim names should not, and they are treated differently. Even the Brown Bendit people will see this like even a person who is a conservative right wing person. Degressive Khan say something. He's often attacked on Twitter because his name is Khan.

[00:52:59]

So I know. I know. It's terrible. It is horrible. And you can't I mean, so this is tribalism at its best, and that is enabling this tribalism, so it must be happening in all other countries. I am not of the opinion that it is only happening in India. As everyone knows, right wing nationalism is rising across the globe. So earlier, I used to, like Omar, has written a brilliant piece on Islam, the rock that broke liberalism, I quite agree with the thesis over there, but I would like to add that there are with all this shit coming up, there are many things which can break liberalism, socialists.

[00:53:40]

So all these strands debate the J.K. Rowling and Steven Pinker banning things.

[00:53:46]

So I more or less now, I feel that religions are better than the other things which we are having. The social justice warrior. I would prefer like a moderate Islamic rule and a social justice where we are at this moment, because at least there is some coherent logic over there. It is not someone just like randomly selecting with just two, but it is not it at least as some I agree 100 percent.

[00:54:17]

I think that, you know, there is a crisis within sort of Western liberalism and it's a very weird crisis because the people who are the most vocal are the most irresponsible evidence free tribal weird groups that you can buy. And that's I don't know. But Kind introduced me to that piece by the same Nicholas Taleb, which is actually a chapter from one of his books about the inflexible minority of the majority. And that, unfortunately, is the case here as well.

[00:54:55]

But these are all sort of human features. They are not particular to Islam or to Hinduism that only in the past they are only Muslims are fanatics. It's like there are obviously variations in in in all religions and all societies and cultures are not going to be equivalent in every way. Otherwise they would be the same culture. They are different. They are different. But the differences are not going to be like between Mars and Venus. It's like the differences are differences of degree.

[00:55:25]

Something is more here, something is less there. But they are all human. They will have very common features also, which are features of human society. Yeah, so, like I have a question for you, if you would like to answer, so I have not been very well read on the Islamic culture, but from the larger contours, I find that the Abbasid and the rational califate, those periods were like the heyday of Islamic culture. And since that was that can be seen as liberal with comparison to the Christendom.

[00:56:01]

At least that is my impression. Then what went wrong after that in the Islamic world?

[00:56:08]

We had we had a podcast discussion on this topic last week, and that's the podcast with Professor Ahmed I listening to that.

[00:56:18]

But I think it's a good discussion, I think. And I think that there's no one theory that is going to cover it all. You can make up you can sort of frame history differently depending on your ideological preferences. And and many different framings will have some evidence in their favor. Right. It's not like hard science. We're not going to reach uniform consensus that two plus two is four. There's a joke going on in America right now where even that is in doubt.

[00:56:51]

But anyway, that's like extreme ism. And we have no business that we can't even argue with something. I'm not even wrong, but the math is racist.

[00:57:02]

I just want you know, math is racist. Yeah, I know. It's like this is unbelievable where we are today. But anyway, if we leave that for another day, but the I think this thing can be framed in many different ways. For example, I have that I remember their conversations with an Iranian sort of it is towards Muslim atheists tend to be not like Hindu. It is like you. For a Hindu to be an atheist is a relatively minor detail.

[00:57:32]

And like you said, your life hasn't changed because you are an atheist, but a Muslim atheist either they're they're private. They kept their patriotism very private or they become extremely confrontational against Islam and Islamic society. This Iranian atheist was arguing with me and saying that the whole golden age of Islam is really the golden age of Iran. It's really Iranian or Persian, that kind of culture that produced all those scientists and philosophers that everybody is proud of. And the reason it died out is not because Islam got worse, but because Islam finally succeeded.

[00:58:16]

Now, this argument is sort of unanswerable, right? That's the point about history that you can make up and you can frame it in different ways. And it seems that. It can be it can seem plausible either way, right, it can be read either way. I think that that's an unfair assumption on his part. I thought that the I think that the earlier rulers were the earlier time was the time when it was not completely settled into Orthodox form yet, and that there were also most of their population they were ruling was non-Muslim and it was an imperial project.

[00:58:59]

There was an empire. They were ruling an empire. And empires have to have some practicality to them. They employed Christians as their accountants and tax collectors in Syria, and they employed Persians who had not yet converted to Islam as the same thing in Persia. So the practical things that happen in any religion and it can happen in any empire, you can either give them credit for it or discredit for it. You can give them credit for being at least as capable as imperialists as any successful imperialist should be.

[00:59:32]

But within the empire, obviously a very large empire creates the opportunity for people to travel, to trade, to interact. And there was a lot of explosion of knowledge and creativity. It died out later or didn't die out. That's another controversial thing, that people will then jump up and say nothing died out because it's all a colonial construct of the Western. People have forced us to believe that. Which is also with that point, I think is empirically sort of wrong.

[01:00:00]

It did it did fall behind. There was a relative decline. But what it seems like the orthodox classical form of Islam that fully matured by the 10th, 11th century developed such good defenses with blasphemy and apostasy and all that, it became almost impossible to step outside it publicly. And that has been a dampener in the Muslim world. We'll see what happens in the future.

[01:00:29]

Well, I think that's one of the theories I've heard about even why Hindu society remains so pluralistic and open was because when a when a country is pluralistic and has no particular majority, then they're forced to deal with all the different groups that appease them all. So in that sense, they tend to be much more open, liberal and innovative. Right. And then but if there's a mechanism, the I guess the the major. The major power there is to to solidify their power then then you end up having the stagnation, which is where you end up seeing with Abbasid and then, you know, the centres in Baghdad and so on and so forth, when they are when they start becoming a multicultural place, it became much more rigid.

[01:01:19]

And then in that kind of solidified what we see now.

[01:01:23]

Yeah, with respect to the Hindu pluralism, it can be traced to the earliest part of Rigveda like the 7th Mandala, which is the scene which is attributed to register.

[01:01:37]

He had some of some poems about how India is not only Gordon Brown is also Gordon Agnese also equally good? Yeah, yeah. That kind of pluralism exists in even the earliest Rigveda.

[01:01:51]

And so he comes to her. That's the ACMS that is in the 10th Mandela. That is the that that, that the scholars believe what. Added later, but the family books, the two to seven, the family books which talk about the areas and the wars and the Soma and all the children, even though they have the pluralism which has later come to define the Hindu society.

[01:02:18]

So they and that maybe like that may be natural with the polytheistic society that may have remained in the Greek or Roman religions as it did.

[01:02:30]

I mean, we saw that with the Roman, even with the Romans during the times of Christians, before the Christianity took over the Roman state, which is also partially the religion, had the ability to adapt, include and then be a bring in new new ideas, new ideas, new gods. And they would just kind of like make them their own in some way. That happened across India to. Yeah, yeah, but you win some, you lose some, right, there's a reason why a large proportion of the world is now either Christian or Muslim.

[01:03:04]

There is a sort of a simplicity and uniformity, I guess has its own advantage. The Christians, all the Christian Christendom in Europe sort of broke apart, didn't have the same uniformity anymore after the Protestant Reformation and everything, or even before that. It started before that, I guess the Reformation itself as an outcome of that.

[01:03:31]

I mean, you had the great to. Right. And there's a lot in history. I mean, the way we think about history, we think it's like some sort of fluid thing. But I think a large part of it just it just stop and go stop and go stop and go constantly.

[01:03:45]

It may also be that we over estimate the I guess the the importance of the story you're trying to frame history with these framings can change. And, of course, and people and most of it most of the argument is really about contemporary issues. Right. You can say that the Hindus and Muslims are fighting over over land resources or power today. They fight about history is really more about today and that the the historical background is a weapon that everyone is using.

[01:04:21]

And there's some truth to that as well, although also there is there is part dependence and there is there are things in history that led to what is happening now. So it's not irrelevant, obviously, but we'll see anyway. I think that there is. This comes up a lot with me because obviously I have a lot of my Muslim friends would consider any kind of dealing with this war with India, for that matter, if you're a Pakistani, to be sort of treasonous.

[01:04:53]

And the the argument when you when you have an argument like this, it can be very difficult because there are always going to be examples where somebody in your tribe was unfairly treated by someone from the other tribe. And if you defend them and you don't stand for them, then are you abandoning your own tribe? Yeah.

[01:05:15]

So that was the exact accusation that I had faced like you when you asked me who did I vote for? So I voted for the nationalist Congress Party, which has been accused of having significant anti-government sentiment in them. So I come from a family. I have not done any rituals. I don't wear the sacred thread and I don't follow any any of the grammatical thought. But the counter by my peers is that how can you vote for a party which is.

[01:05:46]

Provocatively and debridement, or at least, as they call it, a. Romanism, but for for P for all purposes, even if people are saying we are anti Islamist, they actually mean anti-Islam. So that is what is about anti pragmatism. So if a party says we are anti Romanism, I feel that they have a certain anti-government sentiment as well.

[01:06:09]

So I also have to fight with that, like in my.

[01:06:16]

Yeah, but that's just the human condition. I mean, we are always going to be in this position, people, if different, many different kinds of people have to live together. There's always going to be room for misunderstanding and for for people hating each other and so on. But there's also room for compromise and room for coexistence. It's a case by case thing. Can it be done or can it not be done? I think the to me, at least as an outsider and obviously I've ever lived in India, I've never been to India, but as an outsider, I think that there was a possibility, at least a good chance that India could carry it off.

[01:06:54]

That doesn't mean there's zero conflict. There's going to be a lot of conflict, but that you can manage it and you can work with it and still succeed. And I think that the liberal project in India was was a doable one. I think they themselves made mistakes, obviously, and they are suffering from those because of those mistakes. And whether they will survive or not. I don't know whether they're the current on current form. I don't see them doing that great.

[01:07:24]

Because they have ideologically or intellectually seem to be like almost SJW level that sometimes sometimes, which is a very bad way to be heard. But on the other hand, in in real life, people are worried about the economy and about their own expectations and actual achievements can be so different that people can become angry and upset. It's very conceivable that the BJP will lose. The next election is not out of the question. Right. Even with the liberal intellectuals being as bad as they are, things may not be going well in the economy.

[01:08:04]

Things may not be going well in the state in other ways. And if that's the case, they they could still lose. Yeah, I am.

[01:08:12]

I'm not very confident of that aspect because just now we heard the old survey. Modi enjoys 78 percent approval ratings. I don't trust polls to a large extent. But when someone says he enjoys 70, 80 percent approval ratings, that is like really astounding. And that I feel the cult of Modi is larger than the Hindutva project. So when somebody retires, we may see that it's coming up because the cult of Modi is certainly larger than Hindutva, because a lot of people who are not in England have been voting for BJP last six years just because they trust and love the prime minister.

[01:08:57]

So that cannot be ignored. For Indian politics, why do you think that is, what are the what are the sort of secrets of his success? I am so like first of all, he comes from recess, so whatever be their faults, RSS people have an impression of hard work and dedication in their life and people don't accuse them of being lazy or something like that. Then there was the Godhra incident. So for better or for worse, there is support in the Hindu community for the good writers.

[01:09:40]

It is not it is not as bloodthirsty a community as liberals would like to believe, but there were immense tensions in Gujarat before 2002, every one or two years. There used to be small riots in October to that and so on and so forth.

[01:09:57]

After the carnage of 2002, Modi was able to reign in the extremists in his party as well.

[01:10:06]

He sidelined them, the Toguri, US and the other people who were much more extreme than Modi. And he also zylon the Islamic fundamentalist mentalists.

[01:10:19]

So Gujarat since 2002 enjoyed comparative peace, and many Muslims like even today, the highest amount of Muslim. What get is from Gujarat. A lot of the Muslims are still I mean, it is not a lot. It is still in the mid 20s or early tense, but it is significantly higher than the rest of the country.

[01:10:41]

So that was the bedrock of his charisma. He's a wonderful orator in Hindi. And there has been a carefully cultivated personality development which has been going on since 2007, and retrospectively we can see this was this was point a point to point C, so I think that is the reason even Congress were skeptical of modern day. They did everything they could to put him down and. As happens with all tyrants, that has made him stronger. And. Then there is the image of the yogi or the SADHU, which is a very revered concept in Hinduism.

[01:11:28]

People like to think of the leaders of something beyond themselves. So they like the fact that he doesn't have a family. That he doesn't sleep, so that is an image created that he doesn't sleep more than three or four hours, he works 24 by seven. So these things are and when they are contrasted with Rahul Gandhi, they appear extraordinary almost gaudily. And then there is corruption, low level corruption, which people felt every day they nailed, which had reduced certainly to an extent.

[01:12:03]

And then you can also contrast Narendra Modi with the previous prime minister, who was a very weak speaker and a very dim personality. So people were craving for a grandiose figure to love and to put on a pedestal, and that is what they got. And he's very smart, his dog is very smart. So, for example, people I know who are not Modi's supporters, but when Narendra Modi makes a point that you are taxpayers, it is your money that is serving the country or something like that.

[01:12:40]

So he's addressing the middle class and the middle class things that they are the taxpayers, whereas the taxes, the middle class is one third of the total tax collection. Everyone, even the beggar on the street who buys a boligee, pays the GST on it. So everyone pays because everyone pays tax on petrol. But the middle class feels that they are the only ones who are getting the load of the country on their shoulder. And Modi presses this buttons perfectly well.

[01:13:08]

His speeches are carefully thought out and perfectly executed, and they hit those nerves. Even as a person who is not a supporter, I can't but admire his control over the narrative of the country, even though in the neck when he gave his first speech, I was hoping that it would be a success. Yeah, but then reality, I just said, we are out of time, but I wanted to ask you this question since we are on this topic, I have had this discussion with an Indian friend.

[01:13:42]

And the question was, is, is Modi very smart? And the Indian friend who was a liberal was is very intimate. He would sort of look at Modi as being this demagogue and everything, but at the same time, he's not ready to credit him with any smartness. He thinks he's not smart at all, but he's just sort of to demagogue or whatever. On the other hand, what you are saying implies that whatever demagoguery he does is done smartly, that you can be a smart demagogue.

[01:14:18]

Right. What do you think actually in that sort of intellectual sense, like people who read a lot of books and have a lot of knowledge and have their own opinions about things easy, that kind of person.

[01:14:34]

So I would think his upbringing has been different. And I don't like to judge people on their upbringing, the things which are out of their control. So if you are raised in a lower middle class family with RSS shachar, you would not be going to libraries and reading books and so on and so forth.

[01:14:53]

So that is not a fair critique of Modi. That is like the typical Malaysian carrier Scotch eating, drinking liberal critique of calling him a jibla, which does a great disservice to liberalism in my view. But he is very calculative, very smart.

[01:15:11]

He understands his audience. He understands his party. And he has people who he trusts with his life, like he has a major and what their vision is, we will know after 10, 20 years when someone writes a book after that, they are retired or not. But that relationship is extremely fascinating. Hit me up to my perception completely. And few other people, like he used to trust Arun Jaitley, Ahmed Shah and Ahmed Shah is a brilliant tactician.

[01:15:44]

So there is an image of him that he knows, like there are 550 Lok Sabha constituencies. He has four contact numbers of all constituencies, and he calls these people randomly and ask them things. So that is the kind of micromanagement damager that an election campaign. And Modi has chosen Ahmed Shah.

[01:16:05]

He has backed him against the attack of Congress on the rather than encounter and whatnot. He was also to depart from Gujarat for some time, if I'm not mistaken. But he has backed his horse and he's giving him militant. So he is a very smart person. So it does that smartness extend to. Sort of national affairs, like, would you say that he has a smart or deep vision, at least for get smart of what India should be and what India is to sort of knowing where you are and where you want to go?

[01:16:43]

I feel he has, but some of his foreign policy has not been the best like what was imagined of him, so he has made mistakes time and again, like people of the liberal position say that he has trusted Xi Jinping a lot. He has put a lot of eggs in Donald Trump's basket. And if Trump loses, then we will be in a mess. But he has reached out to the Arab countries and he has made good relations with UAE, Saudi Arabia, so that that has to be given to him.

[01:17:18]

But how that is affected with the anti-Muslim incendiary rhetoric in the Hindutva movement is something which he will have to face, I feel.

[01:17:29]

But that I'm just I'm more curious about, you know, there are people who have, like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan, had this kind of an image that he was a very intelligent man, very ambitious, had very detailed ideas about what he thought Pakistan should be, but also at the same time had very detailed knowledge of where we are. He was not a dumb person. Right. And so going from A to B now, you may not like whatever wherever he wanted to take Pakistan, but he had a vision.

[01:18:04]

Not everyone does. It's clearly the case that there are people in politics who don't seem to have that kind of a vision or that kind of you don't even seem to think that much about these things. I'm trying to just get an idea of where you think Modi falls in this. Does he have a vision in his head, at least, whether it's the right vision or the wrong vision, but a vision that is detailed and deep, the artist in the vision?

[01:18:31]

I think it's fair to assume that Modi holds on to some of that. So that vision is that they envisage a strong country, a muscular country which has Muslims. I'm not of the opinion that RSS doesn't want Muslims. I don't even say that they want them as Muslim me. They want Indian Muslims to be Hindu. If that is the controversial term, they want them to have a sort of go to website where they also respect from and do their time numbers and all those things.

[01:19:03]

So RSS doesn't mean people, Indian Muslims wearing burqas and not being liberal. That is not their project. Their project is to make them respect Hinduism or accept the Hindu past.

[01:19:18]

And the other vision which Modi has, which is in contradiction with RSS in my belief, is to make India an economic powerhouse.

[01:19:28]

Which contradicts, to a certain extent, the Swadeshi and leftest train of thought in a crisis. So that is a conflict which has been going on for six years with the right, the economical right of Modie and the economical left of our resources. So that conflict, how that resolves and how they want India to go ahead is something which will be interesting. But I, I would like to make any speculations of what the prime minister himself feels. But the RSS doctrine and the BJP right wing doctrine is pretty clear.

[01:20:06]

So it is fair to assume he had something along those lines in his mind. Well, we could have talked about many more things, and I would love to do this again at some point. I say that to a lot of the guests because we do actually have more to talk about than we can cover in an hour. So we hope we'll have come back. And I hope I'll when I put this up, I will put the links to some of your articles and and blog posts so people can read them and sort of form their own opinions and go and join the conversation and go to the country.

[01:20:40]

Great having you here. Thank you. And and and we hope to do this again. And we'll talk to you. Yeah, thanks so much. It has been a great experience. I have been following your blog and podcast for years on End Off, and of all the podcasts I follow the diversity of views which you guys challenge and the way you ask your interviewers tough questions from the left or from the right is really commendable. And don't find them even in print journalists.

[01:21:14]

So, yeah.

[01:21:16]

And it's allowable. Yeah.

[01:21:21]

Even Rajib, I been looking forward to some health related podcasts from you, as you have already done on South Indian Health and those problems. So that is also something which is our topic, which is very dear to my heart. And if you happen to do something, I would be very interested in listening.

[01:21:42]

Oh, well, I am myself. The main research interest was obesity and genetics of obesity. We can talk about obesity. We actually did one podcast about it.

[01:21:52]

I heard a couple of podcasts. Yeah. Yeah. But another rather is of course very knowledgeable about genetics and about history. So either of those topics can be well, we'll see what we can do. Somebody we can do where somebody interviews us. Yeah, but we'll talk about it. Thank you very much. We're out of time, so we'll have to stop here. Yeah. Thank you. Tune in next week for Brown just.