Browncast Ep 38: Indian Elections

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunesSpotify,  and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above.
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Razib & I played host to MJ, Kushal (Carvaka Podcast) and Vidhi.

It was a very long podcast (1hr 40 minutes) and it was really entertaining. Kushal & MJ are BJP-lite while Vidhi (if she was forced to vote) is Congress. We skipped the technical discussion since we will serve that after the elections.

Kushal was awesome and impassioned but he was schooling the Devil’s Advocate (me). Razib joined at a certain point and in these intense podcasts he provided a good balance.


Mrittunjoy and Vidhi approached the matter as scientists. Mrittunjoy gave an overview of how caste dynamics still plays a role, the emergence of BJP in West Bengal and Odisha and decimation in Uttar Pradesh, nuance of how personality politics may hurt BJP in the long run and how communalism is used by parties other than the BJP as well, if not more.

He did a great analysis of the BJP manifesto, comparing it with the other parties’, including speaking about ‘Beti Bachao, beti padhao’, ‘Swach Bharat’ and decentralisation (and federalism) under the BJP.

MJ did a great analysis of the BJP manifesto and was consistently factual. He mentioned how Dharmic politics is all about the multiplicity of voices, perspectives and possibilities and he hopes that the winner of the election will upload the same.

I’ve also promised MJ that in part 2 of the podcast after the results, we can do a detailed state breakdown of the votes. MJ presented a balance and comprehensive viewpoint that was not cynical but hopeful for India.

Vidhi had very incisive points about Modi and the BJP. She mentioned Modi’s approach to rape and she has written a pretty powerful essay on it.

By and large I’m an outsider to this discussion; I don’t have strong opinions. I do think that India has to worry about having a charismatic leader (inadvertently I claimed Rahul Gandhi was the sexy face of India aka Imran Khan).

I also did the *desi* thing (metric wetric or shetric) of “deification” “reification” where I got schooled by Razib.

Basically I got schooled by everyone on this podcast 🙂

I had alot of fun doing this podcast and I’m proud of how balanced it was. We represented all perspectives and got some very profound insight by our 3 guests. It’s also important to hear the good work BJP has done in India (courtesy of Kushal).

Jai Hind!

Also I’ve made this post sticky until Thursday; please leave *polite* comments in the thread.

We would definitely appreciate more positive reviews. Many of you listen to us, but don’t leave any reviews!

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H. M. Brough
H. M. Brough
4 years ago

Will listen when I can, have some reservations about BJP, but it’s the best shot we have for India. Let’s hope May 23rd goes our way!

4 years ago

My unscientific anecdotal observations of this election cycle suggest that people who voted for Modi did so even more enthusiastically than they did back in 2014. It’s an enthusiasm that is incomprehensible to me, but I’ll listen to the podcast as soon as I get time to hopefully spark some insights.

My guess is that a combination of strength (or even the perception of it) in a leader and pandering to common prejudices is catnip to voters. On the other hand, many common people being interviewed claim that the Modi government has made material improvements in their lives and surroundings. The city I live in looks in worse shape than it’s ever been, so I’m not sure what exactly is going on.

4 years ago
Reply to  Numinous

” It’s an enthusiasm that is incomprehensible to me,”

One of the reputed polling agency CSDS head Sanjay Kumar said , he found a curious type of voter of Modi who he hadn’t met in any of the last elections he had covered. Whats that type?

“I am voting for Modi, and i dont really know why” 😛


[…] I woke up this morning to commentary on Episode 38: […]

4 years ago

Finally listened to the podcast. Excellent conversation, guys!

It was good to have someone like Kushal talk about his first-hand experience with how the administration has made progress on rural development. I’ve been critical and skeptical of this government’s record on infrastructure, but I’m feeling quite relieved now, given that it’s almost the BJP will return to power.

On economics, agree completely with Kushal and Razib. India needs a free market and high levels of decentralization, but the BJP is probably the least worst option available at this time from that perspective.

It seemed like the demonetization discussion got cut off a bit towards the end. (Probably because of Razib’s preemption, when he inquired about the economic backgrounds of the participants.) I’d love to see you guys close this issue out in your next podcast, as this was strike #1 against Modi in my book.

Strike #2 was something you guys did not touch on (but hopefully will in the future) was the seeming politicization of education and the propagation of unscientific views, notable in science itself as well as history. It seems to me the BJP (and Modi himself) is reactionary and somewhat clueless when it comes to what modernity is and the role scientific analysis has played in humanity making such great strides in recent centuries. And paging Kushal: there are many examples here of Modi and his cabinet members saying utterly daft things.

4 years ago
Reply to  Numinous

“India needs a free market and high levels of decentralization, but the BJP is probably the least worst option available at this time from that perspective.”

Both of this wont happen, because it will be political suicide for whichever party does it. Be that as it may, what i dont understand that even people like us who have very rudimentary understanding of Indian politics know that BJP is the least “worst”/least left of center political party in India when it comes to economy. It pushes one and half “free market” reforms vis v Congress which pushed no reform in 10 years (under Economist PM), but still people who are paid to write about Indian politics regularly conflate the BJP with Congress as being as “socialist” or left on economic issues.

I feel its just to show the Congress in a better light , trying to say , hey BJP is as left in economy as Congress , so might as well vote for the Congress for same economy as well as a bit better social environment.


[…] joined by MJ & LV (this is part 2 of Episode 38; I plan to do part 3 with Kushal of Carvaka) as we discuss the ramifications for India; it was a […]

4 years ago

Finished listening to the podcast. Too many observations to comment on. Some major points:

On economics:
1) Most if not all participants agreed that India needs continued neo-liberal reforms. This is correct. The BJP is by far the most neo-liberal, pro business, pro globalization movement in India . . . but as Kushal says the BJP isn’t nearly good enough.
2) I would say that a major priority of India should be to improve the marginal product of labor or labor productivity of Indians. How to improve the capacity, competence, and merit of Indians?:
2a) Increase Bahu Balam (physical health), Chitta Shuddhi (mental health broadly defined), Buddhi (intelligence) of the Indian public . . . including the poor
2b) improve the quality of education (especially the tertiary educational institutions)
2c) Research the intersection of science and religion and use these technologies to sharply increase mental health and intelligence

On rape:
1) I think Modi is taking this issue more seriously than any other PM in Indian history. This requires several stand alone posts to discuss in detail. Much needs to be done. However we should remember that for all India’s problems India has far fewer rapes per capita than Europe or America even if we generously account for under reporting:
Sweden and America in particular have massive rape epidemics and neither Swedes nor Americans discuss their catastrophic rape crisis in public. Such discussions are dangerous and risk subjecting people to charges of patriarchy, white supremacy, racism, bigotry, Islamophobia, exploitation, hegemony, oppression, nazism etc.

The UK also has a worse rape and under age molestation crisis than India.

Having said this rape is correctly one of the top 5 political issues in India. India needs to do far better. Rape is a national disgrace in India.

On Islam:
PM Modi is close friends of many muslims, including major muslim leaders. I regard Modi as one of the two most pro muslim PMs in Indian history. Modi at long last is trying to protect Bharatiya muslims from Islamist threats . . . and facilitate Indian muslims having some partial freedom of art and thought. Modi publicly eulogizes Mohammed pbuh as a great spiritual master.


“there are many examples here of Modi and his cabinet members saying utterly daft things.”

Numinous, can you provide any examples?


Finally I agreed with 100% of what Kushal said. I can’t remember anything Kushal has ever said on any podcast or article that I did not at least partly agree with.

On the question of caring what foreigners thought . . . . it more valuable to be respected than liked and vastly more important to do what is right than be respected.

Vidhi, should we not be inspired by the last three beatitudes of Jesus from Sermon on the Mount:

Mathew 5.10-12:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Brown Pundits