Category Archives: General

BJP in Power Only to Mock at Gandhi Family, Not for Governance

What a big loser Nirmala Sitharaman is proving to be! Her spontaneity, during an address relayed by TV channels tonight, was evident only when singing the glory of Modi and Amit Shah.

Otherwise, every 20 seconds, she was looking into documents on the table to attack the Gandhi family and say “the Congress always mocks at Hindu rituals and cries over the bodies of terrorists.”

This has been the BJP’s warcry, its electoral mantra, the last few years – consigning governance to the flames. Its consistent trumpcard is rhetoric on religious oneupmanship, Pakistan, Kashmir, the military and terrorism.

She, Modi, Shah and the entire BJP machinery have no time for governance as they assume they have been elected only to destroy the Congress and anyone opposed to the party’s divisive politics.

G Joslin Vethakumar


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Laughs for Readers, The Straits Times Style!

Light laughs are always there to be had when reading The Straits Times. Reports and analyses featuring local developments are particularly fun.

So it was today with a piece that started off with the proclamation that “the first salvos in Singapore’s next General Elections have been fired.” The headline: Battle Lines for Next GE Drawn.”

With an opening like that it is hard to suppress a chuckle.

What “battle lines” and what salvos in a country where the ruling party is a constant, as I had brought up in my post here two days ago.

World of Imagination: If anyone in Singapore thinks that the PAP will have it tough at the hustings he must be living in some imaginary world.

Having beaten the living daylights out of a barely-there opposition, the ruling party is sitting pretty and will be comfortably perched for decades to come.

Even the shortchanging of Singaporeans, from education to employment, has hardly had any impact on its vote bank.

Insult to PAP: Saying the battle lines are drawn is an insult to the PAP, and that from The Straits Times!!

Worse, it is such a poorly written piece that even a cub journalist will be looking for a place to hide his face.

We read in one place that someone told the writer something “gleefully.” In the clinching paragraph, we find again that “salvos have been fired the past week.” Conjectures from the blurb to text and cliches complete the piece.

And it is one of the newspaper’s premium write-ups that cannot be read free online!!

In a monopolistic world, merit is often the casualty.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Rahul Trumps Singapore!

The man who tried to embarrass The Congress President has Shown the Negative Side of Singapore – by threatening to sue India’s opposition party in Singapore Courts! Unwittingly bringing up the culture of defamation suits and bankruptcies!

So, the man who tried to embarrass Indian National Congress president Rahul Gandhi at a Q&A session in Singapore and embarrassed himself wants to sue the political party. Why? Because he thinks the Congress dabbled in a “classic fake-news video.” He tells the Congress: “You are using my image to falsely advertise your politician, showing a sequence of events that did not occur.”

The Congress posted a video that captures the highlights of the session. What is fake about it?

But, wait, it gets better. Basu goes to threaten to sue the party in Singapore courts.

Why Singapore Courts?

Why Singapore courts? He must be aware of how liberal the Singapore judiciary has been in defamation suits against some opposition leaders.

Or, is it because he thinks Indian courts do not always toe a pro-Modi line?

The Fumbling Author’s Question is: I also Teach Political Economics

Take it to The Hague, Mr Author, you will get global publicity that may push the sales of your book.

Let me get to the video now. He begins his question by introducing himself.

“My name is P.K. Basu, the author of a book called Asia Reborn, the first comprehensive history of the economic and political history of Asia.

My question is this: I also teach economic history to students in several business courses.”

Funny fumbling with his question as his intent appeared to be on marketing himself and his book.

He finally got to his question: “Why is it that during the years your family ruled India, India’s per capita income grew less than the world average. And yet in the years since your family relinquished the Prime Ministership of India, the per capita income started to grow substantially faster than the world average.”

Go Read My Book, Basu Tells Rahul

Unfazed, Rahul asked: “What is your hypothesis?”

It was Basu who was taken aback: “I asked you a question. My hypothesis is in the book. Go read the book.”

How clownish can it get? Here is a guy who asks a question and then wants the responder to read his book to understand it better!

Rahul handled the questions with grace, equanimity and responses that caught the rude questioner offguard.

It is Singapore that stands embarrassed!

– G Joslin Vethakumar

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Near Blackout of Rahul Gandhi’s Singapore Visit

Is Modi’s Agenda of Majoritarianism Finding Resonance in Lion City?

The ruling party in Singapore is a constant. Not so in India where governments change periodically. Today, the BJP and Narendra Modi are at the helm. In 2019, it may be the Congress and Rahul Gandhi.

Perhaps this possibility is not lost on Singapore with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong having met the Indian Congress party president yesterday when the latter wrapped up his three-day visit to the country.

Poor Coverage in The Straits Times: That brings me to the poor coverage, possibly deliberate, of the visit in The Straits Times, enjoying a media monopoly in Singapore. It was a near blackout.

Today’s edition of The Straits Times has more than 100 pages for news content – i.e. pages excluding the supplements for advertisements.

Still, it had no place for Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with Prime Minister Lee.

Enamoured of Modi?: Whether it was because it is home to a number of journalists enamoured of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his politics of majoritarianism is not something I can say with a sense of authority.

Or was it at the behest the Government with Singapore firms looking at business opportunities in India? I cannot say even that with certainty.

Building Amaravathi as Capital of Andhra: Singapore is involved in the building of the capital city of Amaravathi for Andhra. Its chief minister Chandrababu Naidu shared a friendly bond with Modi until they fell out recently over funding for the new State.

Singapore Minister Iswaran maintains close contact with Andhra in particular and with India in general.

Singapore claims the Amaravathi project is going on track but, according to recent reports, it has been bogged down by controversies and design changes.

Or is there any ideological synchronisation between the two countries in the new dispensation?

Whatever it may be, if Singapore and Singaporeans are not alert, the divisive agenda that Modi represents will seep into the country and put the prevailing communal harmony in jeopardy.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Singapore Market Analyst’s Rude Poser to Rahul Gandhi

P.K. Basu gets Glorified in Modi-Obsessed Junk Indian TV Channels!

In 1994, the year I moved to Singapore, then Indian prime minister P V Narasimha Rao visited Singapore and had to face a nasty, lengthy comment on Kashmir by Pakistan’s High Commissioner.

Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who had called Rao a statesman and equated him with Deng Xiaoping, quickly stepped in to silence the Pakistani diplomat with the counter: “What is your question.”

The diplomat was giving a discourse and the no-nonsense Singapore leader told him to “take your seat, you have put your question.” For his part, Rao told the Pak envoy: “We also have a high commissioner in Singapore, go talk to him.”

While we have no Lee Kuan Yew now, there is no dearth of people like market analyst P K Basu who, at a university event addressed by India’s Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi yesterday, thought he had grilled the latter with the poser: “India’s per capita income grew much slower than the global rate when your family ruled the country.”

Political Prejudice

Just the rude words, “your family”, betrayed Basu’s political prejudice. He then went on to add: “The per capita income started to grow significantly faster than the global average only after your family relinquished power.”

There was no moderator of the stature of Lee Kuan Yew to shut Basu off for his wild diatribe. It was left to Rahul to gently rebuff Basu with the quip: “You are giving a lot of power to one family.”

India’s Success is Because of its People

When another questioner said that India’s growth was due to Nehru and Congress governments over the years, Rahul quickly pointed out that these were two extreme viewpoints. “One gentleman is saying I am the source for all problems while to another gentleman I am part of the solutions. Give me something in the middle. The truth is India’s success is because of its people.”

He went on to say: “If anyone in this room thinks the Congress had no role in that success – that getting freedom, green revolution, telecom revolution, rights-based laws and liberalisation are not part of that success, he must write a new book.”

Funny, a so-called Economist thinks Income Growth Can Happen Overnight!

I am surprised that a man who calls himself an economist does not understand that per capita income growth cannot happen over just a few years of rule by one party. It takes decades of game-changing groundwork. If the decades of liberalisation and governance by one of the world’s respected economists had nothing to do with today’s higher per capita income, then someone has to write a new book, as Rahul joked.

While Rajiv Gandhi was the last of India’s Prime Ministers from “the family”, the opposition position has consistently been that Sonia Gandhi was calling the shots.

The Nehru and Indira eras were focused on nation-building with focus on education and science and technology that served as the foundation for today’s India.

Basu Threatens Legal Action, Singapore Style

But jokes aside, Basu today threatened to sue the Congress party if it does not withdraw the video doing the rounds in various portals.

That is a true Singapore-style legal threat! He says the videos were doctored when what was posted just had highlights of the question-and-answer session in Singapore.

Today, Basu has been busy giving interviews hitting out at the Congress to India’s pro-Modi junk TV channels such as Times Now and Republic TV.

It looks like Singapore is becoming a platform for some to launch their careers in other countries through vile ways.

Moreover, The Straits Times appeared to have downplayed Rahul’s three-day visit, possibly because it has in its fold a Modi-glorifying journalist brigade.

Somehow, I have the suspicion that Modi’s divisive, communal politics resonates well with some in Singapore.

Is Singapore bracing up for India-style communalism in the country by encouraging people gravitating towards politicians with a dangerous agenda in a country not within the ASEAN framework? Will Singapore, for instance, allow its residents to poke their noses into politics in Malaysia? Or Indonesia?

— G Joslin Vethakumar

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1886 Bottle With a Scientific Message

Discovered in an Australian beach and handed over to a museum there by the conscientious, responsible finder, this is a bottle with a scientific message and historical significance.

More than a 120 years old, this also brings up the farsightedness of scientists and the creative extent they go to for mind-blowing discoveries.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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A Touch of Melbourne and Sydney in Canberra!

No Darling Harbour Bridge or the Great Ocean Road drive, but Canberra has its own uniqueness – a quiet, quaint charm with natural and manmade (Lake Burley Griffin, for instance) splendour with a dash of art and history.

The two photographs here present a sight that caught my eye on my first day in Canberra (last Saturday) – with Sydney Building on one side of the road and a similar Melbourne Building on the other.

On a cab ride, the driver told me that both Sydney and Melbourne were in the race to be named Australia’s capital city.

Canberra, just as picturesque, trumped the two!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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