A ‘Chatur Bhalla’ resorts to the oldest trick in the book to butter his bread again


The laziest way of explaining why many parts of the world—Britain, USA, Russia, Turkey, Japan, Netherlands, et al—are turning inward, protectionist, nationalistic, and embarking on a slippery slope, is to see it as a response to the rage of the silent masses.

Because the rural masses, because the unwashed millions, because the “silent majority” had been kept out by a selfish disconnected “elite” for so long, they are now hitting back because leaders who could hear their voice and impulses sprung up.

The election of “outsider” Narendra Modi was thus seen as the just marginalisation of “Lutyens Delhi”.

Ergo: The imprimatur of the masses validates everything done in their name.

In the Indian Express, the economist Surjit Bhalla extends the argument to say that this is the reason the  “historic transformation” that is (apparently) taking place in India under Modi’s watch goes unappreciated despite its obvious success:

“The single most critical factor in Indian politics, from its independence in 1947 until the birth of the Narendra Modi administration in 2014, was that the same elite ruled the country.  Regardless of political affiliation, this elite had broadly the same political and economic philosophy, characterised by Western-style social liberalism and Fabian economic socialism. In addition, traditionally, the elite was heavily anti-American.

“The dominant arm of the elite was, of course, the Congress, which was in power from 1947 until 2014 except only for 13 years (1977-1980, 1989-91 and 1996-2004). And except for five years (1991-1996), a Gandhi family leader was the PM or in charge (as was the case during the 2004-2014 period when Manmohan Singh was the PM, but Sonia Gandhi was in control).

“As time went on, however, it became increasingly clear that the old elite had failed to notice and respect that India had changed from the illiterate and feudal order prevalent at the time the Nehru dynasty assumed control.

“There are complex factors feeding into each other to explain the public’s increasing mistrust in the old elite, but it can safely be pointed out that the educational level of average Indians has risen; the old elite mismanaged the economy — and power corrupted the old elite.

“The Indian people are asking more questions and demanding greater accountability from dynastic political leaders. But the old elite — politicians, corporates, left-intellectuals, academics — cannot be expected to give up their privileges so easily. They will try to derail the transformation and object at every turn: If that means fake analysis, they will do so. If that means intellectual gymnastics, they will do so. The key point is that they must do so.”

Never mind that Bhalla himself has long been a part of the old elite.

In that sense, “Chatur Bhalla” has had his bread buttered by different chefs at different times and laughing all the way to the World Bank.

Read the full article: Battle of the elites