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August 26, 2014
Whither India?

Source:  Counterpunch

India, where are you? Are you really in the BRICS camp, fighting for a new, free world,
or are you now in bed with your former colonial master and her mighty offshoot?

India, a BRICS country, is actually nowhere to be seen while Brazil, South Africa,
Russia and China are increasingly facing hostile attacks. India is not helping, as the
United States and Europe are now manufacturing all sorts of ‘opposition movements’
inside countries that are still in the West’s path to total and unopposed global

India, a BRICS country, is silent as both China and Russia are being encircled,
provoked and stabbed; at a time when their neighboring countries are constantly
being pitched against them, ideologically and militarily.

India, a BRICS country, does not seem to mind as the US increases its military
presence in Asia, from Okinawa to the Philippines and Qatar, or when Russia is being
demonized and provoked by insane propaganda and by lunatic sanctions, imposed
by the West which is actually the one that overthrew the Ukrainian government,
putting in place a brutal fascist dictatorship.

And as the Western mass media outlets are now in top gear, spreading propaganda
all over the world; the Indian newspapers, magazines and television stations, are
dutifully reprinting and repeating the many vitriolic lies and fabrications, in exactly the
same way as the Philippine and Indonesian business-owned media outlets are doing.
But the Philippines and Indonesia are the West’s client states, and they do not belong
to BRICS, while India does, at least on paper.

In the Economic & Political Weekly, published in 2013, Atul Bhardwaj wrote:

“India has got itself trapped into an anti-Chinese matrix set in place by the United
States. This has led to a situation where the military is increasing its say in foreign
and domestic policy and pushing aggressive postures on to the civilian government.
Unless India abandons its aspirations to great power status and pursues a foreign
policy which builds on Asian cooperation and strengths, it will continue to become
cannon fodder for western strategic aims.”

That’s correct, but it is not only the anti-Chinese matrix; it is the staunchly pro-
Western matrix that is serving India’s ruling elites, and it is the matrix of disinformation
and ignorance imposed on the members of the underprivileged majority.

I went back to India to see where the country really stands in relation to BRICS. I
opted for a very much unplanned, chaotic, jazzy and spontaneous journey. I wanted
to speak to those of the Indian majority; to people in the villages and towns, to ask
them what they really know about BRICS, about the new winds of freedom and
progress that are blowing all over Latin America, about tremendous social changes in
China, and about their own lives in the country, which the West continually defines as
‘the largest democracy on earth’.


Two village women are covered from head to toe in colorful fabric, and unlike in Saudi
Arabia where only the eyes are visible, but totally. They are carrying huge crooked tin
plates on their heads, and those plates are full of cow dung.

The village is called Karora, it is located almost 200 kilometers north from New Delhi,
in Haryana State.

It is here that, in 2007, a newlywed couple was murdered in cold blood, after the
assembly of village elders, Panchayat, passed ‘the verdict’. Both the girl (18) and boy
(23) were only ‘guilty’ of belonging to the same sub-clan.

The Deccan Herald reported then:

“In June 2007, the couple was dragged out of a Karnal-bound bus by the girl’s
relatives and was brutally murdered. Their bodies were paraded in the village and
then dumped in a canal.”

We did not come here to only discuss honor killing and the horrible lot of Indian
women; we came here to this remote corner of Haryana to discuss what the West
calls ‘the biggest democracy on earth’, and above all, how India really fits into the
BRICS, and to their determined fight against Western imperialism and market

Yes, India is part of BRICS; but it is feudal in the countryside and capitalist in the
cities. It is increasingly close to its colonial master and to the grand Empire.

We could not see the expression on the faces of the two Karora village women when
we asked them about democracy, voting, women’s rights, caste oppression and honor
killing. But the first female began speaking, bravely if reluctantly, in front of an entire
army of onlookers:

“I’m only a poor village woman, how can I know such things? I have to work for 14
hours every day to make out a living for my family. My husband doesn’t have any
regular work, and he is an alcoholic. I’m constantly worried about my children going
hungry. The government doesn’t care about people like us and I don’t know who else
could help. I’m very afraid so I can’t talk more about the caste system or honor
killings. Women have no freedom here. “

The second lady echoes her, and then adds:

“I know the family of the eloped couple who suffered at the hands of Panchayat but I
can’t talk about it. I’m afraid of such things. Women have no freedom here. Most of us
are struggling to survive and I don’t know how things could be better, anytime soon.
About democracy: I don’t know how the election could improve living conditions in this
village and I don’t know about people’s movement in other countries or about things
that are happening elsewhere.”

Soon, the crowd of onlookers begins to participate in the discussion.

The youths surrounded us to find out the reason for our sudden appearance in their

A boy named Biswan, wearing a black T-shirt, explained:

“My impression of what they call ‘Indian democracy’ and of the political parties that are
participating in this game is… that it is a pattern of appealing for votes by some
political party, with the inducement of local liquor by their men to the villagers, one day
before every election day, then disappearing, to be never seen again for the next 5
years. We don’t have work here nor can anyone make a decent living with earnings
here. I don’t feel this type of democracy works for us… We still haven’t got real

Then the village youths begin speaking over each other:

“Money talks here, we are all educated to some degree, but only those who can
afford to bribe some officials manage to get regular employment. We are poor
villagers and unaware of developments in our own country, then how can we know
about China, Latin America or other countries?”

The forlorn expression on the faces of the villagers showed their frustration, even
resignation. Most certainly, we saw no hope and no enthusiasm here.

Our driver, Sunil, appeared to be extremely unhappy to be here. “In these villages,
they have already torched so many cars belonging to those who came to ask

I insist that we have to finish our work here, in the heart of Haryana State. The driver
fumes. He drives us around, missing the motorway a few times, but after we activate
our navigation system, he gives up and just gets us where we want to go.

Later, in Delhi, my good friend and colleague, Anish, calls me and explains:

“Before he dropped me home, he said that he was so mad at you, he was ready to
drive into a tree and kill us all.

“Kill us?” I thought I misunderstood.

“Yes. You may want to know that he was a soldier, serving in Kashmir… He told me
that much, just a few minutes ago. We had a chat… He said he was court-martialed,
because he killed a few civilians there. In Kashmir, in 1996, he was on a mission to
capture members of some insurgency group, but things went wrong and the people
he was after, had fled… So he opened fire on civilians, killing several of them. He said
he used a LMG inside the house, emptying 2 magazines of ammunition, killing at least
3 civilians… Just like that!”

“Why is he driving a taxi?” I asked. “Isn’t he supposed to be in prison?”

Anish just commented, laconically:

“When we discussed this, he was depressed. Not because of what he had done, but
because he was caught and punished. He said to me: ‘was I to have managed to kill
at least one insurgent, then even if I killed dozens of civilians, I would never have got

I wondered whether this approach is one that would really serve as an inspiration for
the BRICS countries.


Some 1,500 kilometers from Karora Village, in Mumbai, a monster building belonging
to the richest man in India, Mukesh Ambani, is allegedly the most expensive dwelling
ever constructed on this planet.

Arundhati Roy describes Ambani’s home in her book “Capitalism A Ghost Story”:

“…The twenty seven floors, three helipads, nine lifts, hanging gardens, ballrooms,
weather rooms, gymnasiums, six floors of parking, and six hundred servants… In a
nation of 1.2 billion, India’s one hundred richest people own assets equivalent to one-
fourth of the GDP.”

But to own all those billions is not enough. In order to rule, in order to fully control
society, this small group of modern day rajas has to always find a way to morally
justify their medieval, feudalist behavior.

The most effective way to do it is through almost total control of the media. Arundhati
Roy continues:

“Mukesh Ambani is personally worth $20 billion. He holds a majority-controlling share
in Reliance Industries Limited (RIL)… RIL recently bought 95 shares in Infotel, a TV
consortium that controls twenty-seven TV news and entertainment channels, including
CNN-IBN, IBN Live, CNBC, IBN Lokmat, and ETV in almost every regional language.
Infotel owns the only nation-wide license for 4G broadband, a high-speed information
pipeline which, if the technology works, could be the future of information exchange.”

The criticism of Indian elites does not only come from the Left. Conservative British
news magazine, The Economist, recently ran its cover story about Ambani: “An
Unloved Billionaire”, asking the rhetorical question “Why Mukesh Ambani, India’s
richest man, needs to reform his empire”:

“Reliance’s relationship with the government is even more troubling. Anti-corruption
campaigners claim Mr Ambani is the power behind the throne of India’s political

In Indian ‘democracy’, the real rulers of the country pay politicians, to get to the top,
while the voters get paid to vote a certain way, which is suitable to the regime. Mass
media shapes public opinion constantly, so it stays exactly where the elites want it to

From an amazing tolerance level for medieval oppressive ‘cultural practices’, to the
gross cruelty towards women and ethnic/religious minorities, India is hardly a beacon
of light for other BRICS nations, or, for the rest of the world. The way its economy,
election practices, foreign policy and government systems are structured, the Indian
state is much closer to MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey – although in this
group, too, there is Mexico, which is, despite everything, culturally and historically, in
the Social Democratic camp), a group which, if allowed to join BRICS, would surely
destroy their political and social direction: (http://www.counterpunch.

But the West is always extremely generous towards its allies and economic cohorts. It
promotes and glorifies those countries that are willing to sacrifice their people,
throwing them on the sacrificial altar of global market fundamentalism.

Therefore, for the West, both Indonesia and India, two enormous and impoverished
countries, are the true democratic and economic stars!


DLF Promenade in Vasant Kunj is a symbol of new wealth, hosting some of the top
international retail brands, from Armani to Prada.

There are literally armies of guards, some in their white butler informs, others armed
with guns. Photographing is prohibited. Surveillance is constant, just as in every place
frequented by the elites.

Situated right near the DLF Promenade is the Khushampur Pahari slum, a place that
is miserable and rough. Children move around aimlessly and barefoot. It is not as dirty
as many of the much bigger settlements in Mumbai or Calcutta are, but still, people
here are clearly desperate and deprived.

Mr. Jagdish is a ‘wage laborer’, not permanently employed:

“I have no regular work and the system is geared for the rich. We, poor people who
form the great majority in India, don’t count.”

I ask him about the mall, but he insists on calling it ‘that huge building’:

“There is that huge building, but I don’t go there. They built it nearby, but I would
never be allowed to enter. I would be beaten up if I try to go there.”

He looks into the distance:

“We are struggling here to meet basic needs. We don’t have clean drinking water and
before each election they offer us free electricity supply and water. Promises that are
never fulfilled; they lie to us. And they have always lied, whether it is the Congress
Party or BJP…”

Electric poles and wires hang loosely above the roofs of the settlement. I ask whether
people here are managing to get free electricity supply, by simply stealing the juice as
they do in Peru or in Haiti, but the answer is resolutely ‘no’. They check on them,
constantly. In fact, people here suffer from gross overcharging by the private
company, Reliance Energy (owned by Anil Ambani, brother of the richest man in the
country, the abovementioned Mukesh Ambani), which supplies power to this entire

“We are receiving a 1,000 Rs (approximately US$16) bill, every month”, explains an
old couple next door. “On top of it we have to bribe employees of the electric
company, to keep the connection. We have to go begging to more fortunate
neighborhoods for water, and it is not always that the people there are willing to help

An old man in the house actually follows what is happening in the world:

“I am aware of changes that are taking place in China, but our government is not
doing the same things for us. Here, things are so bad that if we fall seriously ill, we
simply die.”

“What about democracy?” I ask.

“Democracy is for the rich.”

Mr. Jagdish chips in: “As you heard, political parties come here, and they promise us
free electricity and water, but nothing happens after the elections. Democracy is not
working for us; it is the tool for the people with money to keep in power.”

Down an alley, a lady with a child confirms that there is no supply of clean water to
this settlement.

Eventually, small barefoot children begin begging.


The ITC Hotel manager in Jaipur, Rajasthan, philosophizes:

“Arvind Kejriwal from AAM Admi Party (AAP) was very critical of the private media, and
the mass media got extremely angry with him… You see; Arvind Kejriwal could
become the Indian answer to the Latin American leadership!”

So I go to see him and his people.

On 3 August 2014, at the ancient star observatory, Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi, Aam
Aadmi party held a mass gathering consisting of around 5,000 local residents, who
were demanding fresh elections. There were fiery speeches coming from the podium
and the AAP’s leader, Arwind Kerjiwal, agitated the dense crowd with anti-corruption
slogans, swearing he would implement reforms, were he to be voted in, back into the
office. He was also promising to improve the lot of common man. The reigning cry of
the day was of getting rid of the oppressor ruling class through the democratic contest
of the ballot boxes.

Here, surely, people knew something about BRICS and the Latin American

But it was not the case. The campaign was almost exclusively about corruption.

Mr.Pawan Das, a cable manufacturer from the Shahdara constituency, spoke about
the impact of AAP and the ex-chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, and his former 49 days
rule in Delhi:

“I noticed the policeman in our factory who used to extort Rs.300 bribe money from
me every month, didn’t turn up for 3 months. I egged him on to collect his extortion
dues on coming across him, and enquired as to why he didn’t come to get the money,
to which he replied, evasively, that he was posted on an election duty. I retorted: ‘were
you really engaged in any election duty or got scared by the fear of prosecution
instituted by Arvind Kejriwal’s strong anti-corruption measures?’

But BRICS or the fight against Western imperialism – definitely not!

“On asking about their stance on India’s strengthening alliance with the American
government and India’s unassuming posture at BRICS meeting, all of them expressed
their unawareness about such matters”, explained Anish, in rather decorative

Then, at Jantar Mantar, we encountered several individuals who clearly demonstrated
the art of sitting on two chairs.

Both Mr. Deepak Lal and his wife voiced their favorable opinion about the
strengthening of ties with America:

“It’s in the interest of India to be a great partner in creating alternatives to the
dominant paradigm offered by the U.S., but at the same time India-US relations
should remain unaffected”.

Another old couple went on in an even more Kafkaesque manner:

“US-India relation is the way to the rise of India along with creating alignments leading
to a multipolar world”.


At the May Day Bookstore in New Delhi, after an avant-garde theatre performance, I
met my friend Sudhanva. Comrade Sudhanva Deshpande, is the editor of LeftWord
Books, as well as a famous Indian intellectual and actor. He explained:

“You are absolutely right posing the question: “Where is India in all this? It is very a
good question because it is well known that for the last several years, a decade or
more, Indian foreign policy had turned more and more towards the US. A few years
ago, India conducted the Indo-US nuclear deal. That led to a lot of opposition back
home, here in India, but the government went ahead with the deal. The Hindu right
became more and more oriented towards the US. The government also argued for
much closer ties with the Israel. As you know, India is the biggest buyer of Israeli arms
in the world today.”

“Earlier this year, in May, in the general elections, the party of the Hindu right, which
is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), came to power. It is led by Narendra Modi, the man
who is widely seen as being complicit in the pogrom of Muslims, in his homestay,
Gujarat, in 2002, when he was a chief minister. His campaign was a very muscular
campaign, a very macho campaign… He presented himself and his party as
aggressively nationalist. The pre-election campaign was marked by anti-Muslim
violence and rhetoric. As for foreign policy, there had been a long-term trend for more
and more orientation towards the West, towards the US. In the current aggression on
Gaza, for instance, the Indian government took the stand of so-called ‘equidistance’
from both Israel and Hamas, and this is really… this is compromising India’s long-term
commitment to the cause of Palestinian independence. And this goes back to even
the 1940’s, when India was not even independent.

The fact that India itself was a colony, and that it fought an anti-colonial struggle – it
all seems now as a distant memory.”

I asked Sudhanva about BRICS, concretely: “Is it even possible that India, where it
stands right now, could and should be considered as a member of BRICS?”

“I think right now, Indian foreign policy is trying to calibrate its position”, he replies”.

And he continued:

“On one hand there is a trend towards more and more alignment with the US, and on
closer and closer ties with Israel. So that’s on the one side. On the other side there
are also hard economic realities. And that is what forced the Indian establishment to
look towards formations like the BRICS. If indeed it so happens that BRICS will not be
just an economic club, but if it starts taking a more determined anti-imperialist
position, then the Indian establishment would have to really decide, where it stands. I
don’t see India taking an anti-imperialist stand anytime soon, beyond some lip service.”

We talk about the past, about India’s determined anti-imperialist stand in its post-
colonial period. Nehru brought this country to Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955, where the
Non-Aligned movement was created.

Sudhanva explains:

“India abandoned the Non-Alignment movement, effectively, in the late 80’s. In some
sense you can say that it happened in Delhi, in the early 80’s, that it was the
swansong of the non-alignment movement… The fact was that India became more
and more ambivalent towards the idea of non-alignment, which helped to terminate
the movement, because India was such an important part of it.”

And then India took a neo-liberal turn, in the early 90’s, and even the past was


What can be expected of the present nationalist government of Narendra Modi, in
relation to BRICS?

Benny Kuruvilla is from Kerala, a recognized expert on BRICS, and political lead at the
‘South Solidarity Initiative’. I met him, and his Chilean wife, Susana Barria, a labor
organizer, after a demonstration in support of Palestine, in front of the Kerala House,
in the center of New Delhi.

Benny readily clarified:

“Modi and his government would be happy to be part of the Western alliance and of
the BRICS… This is really an ultra-nationalist government, and it has to reassert its
ideology… In the past it was all very different: during the Cold War, India was very
close to Cuba, and to the USSR. Now that India has a very pronounced right-wing
government, it is very reluctant to side with the anti-Western block. I don’t think India
will go along with the idea that the Western concept should be cancelled. Indian Left-
wing forces are very weak now, and this government is so happy to be part of big-boy’
s club; for them it is the place in the sun! What is happening in BRICS and in Latin
America is mainly monitored by the local intelligentsia; mainly by the upper class.”

Susana appeared to be more optimistic and hopeful, believing in change, and in a
way she echoed what Noam Chomsky told me about the Arab world, several years

“Look, some 5 years before Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela, everything
was bleak, in many parts of Latin America. We did not think that everything would be
reversed so fast. We should not underestimate that things could change very fast.”

But India is not Venezuela. All three of us agreed that the Indian Left is too ‘purist’. It
is stuck in theoretical definitions of what Communism or Socialism should be. For its
taste, China is not socialist enough; most of the Latin American countries are not
really purely Marxist. In the end, much is being discussed here, but very little achieved.

The next day I asked my friend Anish Gopinathan, a former international banker who
spent several years working in Dubai, before returning, disgusted, back to India and
began studying the Chinese language, and culture, whether all that I asked and
heard so far made any sense. He replied:

“Yes. In 2002 MP Modi was the Chief Minister in Gujarat, during the pogrom. For
years, there was a US ban on him, a refusal to issue him an entry visa. That ban was
lifted around the time of elections…”

The same happened in Indonesia, against Prabowo, an ultra-nationalist who was
accused of crimes against humanity in Indonesia and blacklisted by the US
Department of the State, but was quickly rehabilitated when he almost won the
presidential elections earlier this year.

Anish concluded:

“Modi is pro-business and pro-West. But in a way, he can also sometimes stand
against the West, and for India. You often mentioned the Indian colonial hangover,
when Indian elites shamefully idealize the colonial era. Well, Modi is one politician
who does not have this hangover… For instance, he insists on using Hindi at
international meetings. All our elites were conditioned in the West: Nehru, Indira
Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Manmohan Singh… But not Modi! In fact he represents a big
break against that colonial hangover… But the price is – he wants his Hindu state!”


Hindu state… We flew to Varanasi, to the ‘holy city’ built on the banks of Ganga River.
It is a depressing, oppressed and miserably poor city, but at the same time it is the
place that the current MP – Mr. Modi – was elected from.

We went to Kashi Vishwanath Temple, to talk to Brahmin priests, about their vision for

The results were shocking.

Mr. Pandey spoke to us in front of two military sentinels guarding the entrance to the
temple. He was a Brahmin priest, associated with this place of worship since his

“I am here, I am a priest, because… actually… I couldn’t get a job anywhere else.
Really, no regular employment for me… And so, this is how I make a living… To me,
religion is important, because it gives me some income… I like Americans, because
they come here, and give us money… Somehow I sense that they feel good, giving us
money… I have no idea about the developments in China, Russia or Latin America… I
really don’t care.”

Mr. Shyama Prasad Sharma who also works for the temple, clarified his views:

“Latin America? BRICS? No, we don’t have time for stuff like that. We are busy here,
at this temple, with business, with trade.”

What about something higher, more enlightened than that?

He walks away.

Anish is outraged:

“This is like some market place; market mentality. It is like some fish market or
vegetable market, or stock market! No time for any big questions in life! This is what
BJP is fighting for. Hindu state… It is exactly what the mullahs in Pakistan are trying to
create in their madrasahs. A cold, religious society; the code of primitive society…”

Desperate, we approach a simple man, a vegetarian food vendor. His name is Mr.
Anoop Upadhyaya and he somehow brings things into perspective:

“I voted for Modi because my parents ordered me to do it. I don’t expect much
improvement from his government. If they deliver even some 25% of what they were
promising us, I would be satisfied. We are always ‘Bhajpa’ (BJP)… That is what we
are. We don’t think about it, don’t question it.”

We ask about BRICS.

He does not react, as if we were talking about some distant planet.


At some point I had had enough and I expressed a desire to visit some old-fashioned
school to talk to teachers who were already there, teaching, before India entered the
pragmatically-oblivious realm.

I was taken to Bhigan, just across the border from the capital, on the very edge of
Haryana State, to a well-organized, clean and optimistic looking primary school.

I don’t know if what I saw was true or whether my friends were just being too kind to
me, creating a spectacle, similar to that in the film ‘Goodbye Lenin’.

The educators and the principal – Mr. Kuldeep Singh Chavhan, as well as the history
and physical education teacher – were extremely kind, knowledgeable and supportive.

We all expressed our admiration for the Soviet Union, and then we condemned
Western imperialism.

“Friendship with Russia!” Screamed one of the teachers.

“Israel is the oppressor! US are behind Israel!”

Then the Principal spoke:

“We are very well aware that the US is trying to buy India through its multi-national

Then I spoke.

It all felt like a scene from a long time ago, even before I was born…

We did not hug, kiss or embrace. We did not sing. But it all felt fantastic.

A dog barked outside.

Children began leaving the school. We were still speaking.

Then I asked about BRICS.

“There is an issue,” the Principal admitted. “I am not really aware of the BRICS’s
cooperation with India.”

“But…” I howled: “India is member of BRICS.”


“But Modi went to Brazil!”

“I don’t know”, said the Principal, sadly.

‘It’s better if we sing!’ I thought.


From the other geographical extreme of the country, in the poorest Dalit villages
around Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, my dear friend Venkat (he wanted to use only his
first name for this report), a Cambridge-educated Brahmin, who was so appalled by
the helplessness of the poor people, that he went against all that the upper cast and
the elites represent, wrote to me:

“The Indian social and political landscape hasn’t changed in years. Like the distant
mirage, new governments come and go giving hope to the parched souls who are
soon left out to die with still hope in their eyes!

The new middle class, thanks to the growth of IT, has often been praised and written
about but this is only a small percentage although in a country of this size even such
small percentages works out to be huge in numbers!

An average rural person is still struggling to make ends meet and still hoping for the
“paradise’ that every politician promises! There is no time to read, think, discuss about
other issues that affect the nation or the world. Cricket stars, film stars and sleazy
politics fascinate conveniently Indian media, as the mass media are only concerned
about TRP ratings and not about what people think and want!

So, discussions about BRICS or what happens in Syria or Iraq doesn’t really matter.
Many villagers accept the stereotypes that the western media has painted. For
example – the US is the land of wealth; China means cheap goods, Latin America –
Che on your T-shirts and Cigars, Africa- famine and dangerous diseases, Middle
East- only war!

The education system is being so commercialized that Indian youth are actually
produced in large numbers, lacking even the skills that Industry wants!

Unless ‘real’ education is given to our children, we may not have a ‘thinking’
population in the future. But only if people are educated, can we hope for a greater
critical mass of intellectuals who can guide the country.”


After having our boarding passes scanned at the gate and before entering the
airplane, passengers had to go through three more military checkpoints! The entire
state of affairs appeared to be thoroughly Kafkaesque. This confused, frustrated
‘police state’ was using its military, cops and other armed forces to intimidate and to
keep at bay its own citizens. It has been doing it, for decades, in the most open and
despicable way.

I still remember how in Gujarat, after that horrid sectarian pogrom of 2002, the
Akshardham Temple killing and both (then) Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and
Sonia Gandhi, decided to visit the area. A huge crowd gathered, to welcome the
politicians. It was a very peaceful crowd, consisting mainly of poor onlookers. But the
police began beating the people with batons, savagely, just ‘preventively’ I was told, as
if it were the most natural thing on earth: ‘The largest democracy on earth at work’.
Nobody dared to protest against such treatment.

After talking to many, it appears that the poor see it all very clearly now: in the villages
and in the slums, they laugh and cry or gesticulate angrily whenever the word
‘democracy’ is uttered in front of them. Most of the poor (that is the great majority of
the country) have no doubts that they are living in a country whose rulers and
oligarchs, backed by the security apparatus, are alimenting on their sweat, misery
and blood.

Those ‘educated classes’, including most of the intellectuals from the Indian ‘Left’, live
in a continuous and great deception. Most of them are desperately clinging to the
notion that has been spread by the old and new Western colonial masters: that India
is actually the largest democracy on earth.

Even those individuals in India who see clearly that both European and North
American ‘democracies’ are increasingly becoming nothing else other than a grand
farce, do not dare to admit that their own, Indian, multi-party system (aped from the
West) in which all major political parties are controlled by corporate interests, as most
of the mass media is, have been totally failing to represent the interests of the Indian

‘Democracy’ is not a secretive and complicated scientific formula. It only means, in
Greek, ‘the rule of the people’. And it goes without saying that most of the long-
suffering Indian people that I spoke to, do not feel that they are ruling their own


Just before I took off from Delhi, I found myself sitting right next to a member of the
new local elites. A Sikh man, who began with the usual line of interrogation: where am
I from, where do I live, what is my line of work? Dutifully and calmly, I replied. Then he
offered his short biography: he was a manufacturer and owned 3 homes in 3 different
parts of the world: one in India, one in Bangkok and one in Vancouver. “I am taking
my family back to Bangkok, now”, he explained. “I have a wonderful house there. It is
such a great place to live.”

“It is quite complicated there, lately”, I suggested, neutrally. “After the coup…”

My statement shocked him: “Why do you say that? It is all very simple. One and a half
months ago it was complicated, but after the army took over, everything is great.”

“For you, maybe”, I said, “And for the Thai elites, as well as for their Western

He gave me that look, indicating that I was actually nothing more than a piece of dirt
to him; that very look, which has increasingly began appearing on the faces of the
new Indian ‘elites’, in those 5 star malls and hotels, in both India itself, and in
countries like Thailand and Malaysia, which are now inundated by corrupt Indian
officials and businessmen.

The conversation ended: from then on, arrogantly, he refused to reply to anything
that I uttered, ignoring my attempts to be at least essentially civil and polite to
someone who was occupying the seat next to me.

I did not ask about BRICS. I knew what he would reply: “They should all go to hell!” or
something of that nature.


BRICS countries have to maintain high standards, if they are to make a significant
difference in this world. Their determination to fight against colonialism, imperialism
and for true freedom for countries worldwide cannot and should not be diluted.

If states like Indonesia, with governments full of war criminals and mass murderers,
and one of the most inhumane economic/social systems on earth, are allowed to join,
if Turkey, a member of NATO and one of the closest allies of the West in the Middle
East, with several Western air force and military bases, is allowed to join; if India,
which is openly and shamelessly collaborating with the West while sitting on two chairs
is allowed to maintain its membership, then BRICS will soon lose all of its clout as well
as its moral upper-hand.

If such a scenario takes place, the world will lose an alternative, and that would be an
enormous tragedy.

India matters. Its people matter! It is a great and important nation. It used to be ‘our
nation’. It used to stand firmly against colonialism and imperialism. In many ways, and
in many of its parts, it still does.

India should wake up. It is needed. It should rebel against the oppressive system,
both domestic and global. And it should become a proud BRICS nation: with all its
heart, and not just on paper!

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars
and conflicts in dozens of countries. The result is his latest book: “Fighting Against
Western Imperialism”. ‘Pluto’ published his discussion with Noam Chomsky: On
Western Terrorism. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is re-
edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific.
His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist
model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. His feature documentary,
“Rwanda Gambit” is about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living
for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in
East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.