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Editorial correspondence | Back to Politics | Back to the world news
TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Articles on India after 2005
India, not China
The largest (and greatest?) democracy in the world
India abandons Tibet to China
The difference between India and Pakistan
A simple solution to the India-Pakistani conflict
Religious stupidity on a rampage in India
Kashmir = Kosovo?
Not enough Gandhi
Is Atal Bihari Vajpayee the new Saddam, or is he worse?
Should we remove all Muslim monuments from India?
This is how the next world war could happen.
Now may China invade India, in India's own interest
The nuclear race in the Indian subcontinent: a drama of idiots
The problem is India

  • (May 2004) India, not China It is popular belief that China is going to be the next economic giant. In fact, the anti-American wishful predict that China will become the new world power and dwarf the hated USA.
    Surprisingly (but not too much, knowing how westerners have traditionally been racists against everything Indian), very few people predict India as the next world power. I believe that these predictions are flawed on both political and economic grounds.
    Economically, China has a top-down model that has worked amazingly well to transform the country from the starving level where it was left by Mao Tze Tung to the developing level where it is now. But this model has relied mostly on cheap exports to the USA, the good old Far-Eastern model. Worse: it has been largely driven by government rather than by enterpreneurs, which means that China has not raised a generation of enterpreneurs that can take that model and extend it to a domestic market. Exporting to the USA is a relatively easy business model: you simply list all the things that the USA buys, and then make them cheaper. Creating a domestic market is a much more difficult task, because it has to be self-sustaining. Japan went down the same avenue and, despite being a much more advanced capitalist society than China, is still largely dependent on exports to the USA, a fact that causes pneumonia every time the USA economy catches a flue. China, with one billion people and far less powerful companies, is even more vulnerable. One wonders what happens when the USA will force China to let its currency fluctuate (Chinese goods are so cheap because the currency is kept artifically low, something that benefits inflation in the USA but that won't last forever). One wonders what happens when Chinese companies will have to compete free and fair with American, Japanese and European companies.
    On the other hand, that is precisely what India has done. Government has merely enabled the transition to capitalism, that the transition has been carried out by thousands of big and small enterpreneurs, who had to develop skills to compete among themselves and with many other "offsourcing" destinations. India is one huge version of the Silicon Valley, with venture capital initially being supplied, directly or indirectly, by the USA but increasingly coming from inside India itself. India has also managed to capture skills in high technology that China can only dream of: by now, India has probably become the second software power in the world after the USA. Long-term, India's economy is better prepared than China's to compete worldwide. Its success depends less and less on cheap lavor, more and more on infrastructure, skills and, in general, competitivity.
    Politically, it should be even more obvious that India has a great long-term advantage: it had 50 years to experiment with democracy, and it is now the largest democracy in the world, the largest of all time. Despite all the trouble with its Muslim minority and eastern separatists, India's democracy has become more and more stable. Legitimate governments and the rule of law have the advantage that people complain about policy, not about the institutions themselves. On the contrary, China is still one of the most brutal totalitarian regimes in the world. Its minorities have been appeased by the sudden economic prosperity, but discontent is rampant both in the countryside and in the cities as poor masses have to sacrifice for the army (that still controls most of the business) and the corrupt elite of capitalists. The likelihood of a Soviet-style collapse is much greater in China than in India. As the capitalist economy creates a middle class (the thing that communists used to despise as bourgeoisie), the middle class demands more power, something that neither the old-fashioned communists nor the new capitalists are contemplating. Eventually, as Marx taught, this will lead to a class struggle and a revolution. (Right, Mao?)
    Socially, the wealth gap is much bigger in China (that has already created billionaires, mostly corrupt government officials) than in India.
    Demographically, India's population is still growing, whereas China is experiencing the biggest slow-down in the entire world: the number of people of working age per every pensioner is projected to fall from 9:1 to 2.6:1 in the next 40 years. Its rapidly ageing population will soon become a major factor. Today, early retirement is a way for China to avoid unemployment. If China is forced to increase retirement age to 65 or even 70, millions of Chinese will be jobless (they already are, but right now they receive a pension, which basically works like an unemployment benefit). Western Europe and Japan have the same problem, but they got the problem after they got wealthy enough to solve the problem (at least for a while), whereas China will probably get the problem while it is still a poor country. China is getting older faster than it is getting richer.
    China is expanding its sphere of influence, particularly through acquisition of strategic resources such as oil and raw minerals. But this sounds eerily similar to what Japan did in the 1980s, when it created an inflated demand for real estate and then bought real estate at overpriced values. China's booming economy is creating inflated prices for oil and raw materials, which then China proceeds to purchase at these inflated prices. Japan learned the effect of buying in a bubble: when a slow-down occurs, the bubble bursts, and you are left with a net loss.
    Last but not least, China's growth relies on a stable Pacific environment and stable routes from the Pacific to its trading partners (Middle East, Africa and Latin America). Ironically, the peace that China needs is guaranteed by the USA, which China itself sees as a long-term competitor for supremacy...
    On both economic and political grounds, India might be a safer bet than China.
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  • (May 2004) The largest (and greatest?) democracy in the world. The USA has traditionally held the title of most democratic country in the world, both because of the sheer number of voters and for the multi-ethnic representation of its parliament (Congress). The USA used to be the only country in the world in which immigrants had a chance to become political leaders. Two African-Americans (Powell and Rice) are among the closest advisers to the president. An Austrian immigrant has become governor of the most powerful state, California. Senators and representatives are of Jewish, Latino, Italian, Chinese and even Eskimo descent.
    India's 2004 elections involved 670 million electors. They included people who speak 200 different languages, and represent at least four major religions of the world (Hindu, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam). The winner, Sonia Gandhi, was not even born in India and does not even speak good Hindi. Indian elections are never perfect, but the outcome is rarely challenged by the losers, because the election commission is among the most independent in the world.
    India stands as a symbol for the future of the planet. As more and more of the developing countries adopt democracy, they should look up to India as a model of how democracy can work outside the western world. By comparison, Japan's democracy (which so far has allowed only one party to win the elections) and the South-American democracies (always in danger of being overthrown by the generals) look one or two steps behind.
    The 2004 elections truly represented the real will of the Indian people. India now spends 3% of its gross national product on "defense" (the modern euphemism for "weapons"), while millions of Indians still live in poverty. Those Indians do not want nuclear weapons: they want a decent salary. The old government failed to deliver an economy that benefits the masses. Even the few who benefit from India's economic boom are mainly benefiting from India's dramatic trade supply with the USA, something that may not last forever. Parasiting is never a good long-term strategy.
    Hopefully, Sonia Gandhi's Congress Party will now understand that building nuclear bombs when people starve is not only stupid, but even criminal. That is, after all, the message of the people.
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  • (June 2003) India betrays Tibet. Shame on India's prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, who has not missed another chance to prove his ridiculous status as one of the world's least intelligent and most dangerous leaders. During a state visit to China (a country that does not deserve state visits from democratically-elected officials), Vajpayee has recognized China's rights on Tibet in return for China's recognition of India's rights on Sikkim. Now take a map and compare the sizes: Tibet is about 1,000 times bigger than Sikkim. What a deal, Mr Vajpayee! You just sold out Tibet for a pocket of land that probably you can't even find on the map. Needless to say, Vajpayee did not utter a single word for the thousands of dissidents who are rotting in China's jails. This is the same man who complains with Pakistan because the people of Kashmir oppose India's occupation. After all, there is a logic in his madness.
    Now that he has made peace with China (or, better, given China what China demanded), let's see if Vajpayee is consistent: he originally claimed that India needed the nuclear bomb in order to defend itself against China, a nuclear power. Well, now that India and China have become best of friends, why does India still need nuclear weapons?
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  • (October 2002) Elections in Kashmir: a missed opportunity. The first free elections in the history of Kashmir went largely unnoticed. The main reason is that it was already known that violence would continue regardless of the results. India had missed a historical opportunity by keeping in jail two separatist leaders (Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yaseen Malik). Muslim separatists (the so called "Hurriyat Conference") missed a historical opportunity by refusing to participate in the elections. The candidate of the government lost the elections, although there was no real winner: most of the Muslim population did not go to vote.
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  • (May 2002) A simple solution to the India-Pakistani conflict is that India abides by United Nations resolutions and by common sense. India invaded Kashmir, deployed its army to suppress the popular uprising, denied any referendum on the future of Kashmir and fought two wars against Pakistan. The whole world, including India, knows what the Kashmiri people have wanted all along: to get rid of India. All India has to do is leave Kashmir and let the Kashmiris decide what they want to be. Then there will be no more use for violence. If Islamic fundamentalists continue attacking India, Pakistan will be the first to help India out. So far, Islamic fundamentalists have a very good excuse: "India is killing our people in Kashmir, why shouldn't we kill Indian people"? Almost each and every country in the world did the same in order to become independent: why shouldn't the Kashmiris do the same?
    Islamic terrorists terrorize the Indian army in Kashmir and Indian politicians elsewhere, but India is terrorizing the entire world with prospects of nuclear war over an issue that is pathetically out of touch with its times.
    See the Indian subcontinent timeline
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  • (April 2002) Religious stupidity on a rampage in India Violence erupted in the Indian state Of Gujarat between Muslims and Hindus after Muslims, in a typical display of Islamic stupidity, burned 58 Hindus alive on a train. Hindus outnumber Muslims, so it is not a surprise that they retaliated and, given that the stupidity of Hinduism is not any less barbaric, they started killing Muslims by the hundreds. All in all, about one thousand people have died since the train incident, mostly Muslims (this keeps happening around the world, from Palestine to Afghanistan: first the Muslims start the trouble, then they are killed in scores, then they claim they are the victims: when will they learn the lesson?) More than 100,000 Muslims have fled their homes.
    The prime minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has merely called the events "unfortunate", thereby legitimizing the violence.
    See the Indian subcontinent timeline
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  • (January 2002) The difference between India and Pakistan is a different conception about what a "nation" is. When British India was split into the independent nations of Pakistan and India, it was not done solely on the basis of religion. In fact, religion was a fundamental factor only for one of the two nations: Pakistan. Pakistan was meant from the beginning as the nation of the Muslims. India was never meant as the nation for the Hindus. As a matter of fact, India still has more Muslims than Pakistan and more Muslims than any Muslim country in the world. As a matter of fact, India has a sizeable population of Buddhists, Christians as well as of many other religions. India was meant as a pluralistic society founded on religious tolerance. Pakistan was meant as a Muslim state. When India and Pakistan faced each other over Kashmir, they face each other over the fundamental notion of "nation": Pakistan claims Kashmir because it is Muslim, but India claims Kashmir because it is part of multi-ethnic and multi-religious India. No question a western-style democracy should listen to the will of the people, and the will of the Kashmiris is overwhelmingly anti-Indian. But it is wrong to conceive the fight between Pakistan and India as a fight between Muslims and Hindus.


    • Vajpayee became prime minister of India, beating the candidate of the powerful Congress Party, with a somewhat nationalistic program and a hard-line profile. He detonated the first nuclear bomb in India's history. Most of his actions are directed towards a turbulent electorate that could switch back to the Congress Party any time.
    • A number of elections are due in the next two months. Most of Vajpayee actions and words, as usual, are directed towards his internal audience. Vajpayee is the kind of statesman who would gladly start World War III if this guaranteed his re-election.
    • In recent years India has enjoyed economic progress and rapid modernization. While still far behind China and immensely poorer than Japan, it has finally emerged as a regional power after decades of being simply one of the world's poorest countries.
    • During the Cold War, India sided mostly with the Soviet Union and engaged a war of words against China over Tibet (an independent country that China invaded and annexed but whose population is much closer to India than China).
    • After September 11, India was one of the first countries to full endose the US campaign against terrorism because India has been the victim of one of the worst terrorist campaigns of all time (see later)
    • India claims Kashmir. Kashmir does not want to become part of India. India fought two wars over Kashmir with Pakistan. Kashmir is currently divided in two. The Pakistani part is relatively calm and integrated with the rest of Pakistan. The Indian part is basically under a civil war, with a number of "freedom fighters" (or "terrorists", depending on which side you're on) fighting against Indian occupation. These groups are funded and trained by Pakistan in Pakistan.
    • Kashmir separatists have killed thousands of people in India over 50 years. Many more Indians have died of terrorism than Americans. In december 2001 terrorists attacked the Indian parliament itself.
    • Paraphrasing George W Bush, India claims that it is entitled to strike the terrorists and those who harbor them. It is well known that Pakistan harbors them. If the USA can bomb Afghanistan because it harbors anti-American terrorists, why can't India bomb Pakistan that harbors anti-Indian terrorists?
    • Pakistan has been traditionally a US ally in the region, especially after Iran became an Islamic republic.
    • Pakistan was used by the US to help "freedom fighters" fight the Soviet Union when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Among those "freedom fighters" were thousands of Arab volunteers, led by Osama Bin Laden. Pakistan provided logistic support and channeled money and arms to these fighters.
    • After the Soviet Union was defeated by the "freedom fighters", Pakistan helped the Taliban, Islamic fundamentalists whose origin is to be found in the religious schools of Pakistan ("taliban" means "students"). Pakistan helped the Taliban restore order and seize power in Afghanistan's civil war that followed the retreat of the Soviet Union.
    • The ISI (the Pakistani equivalent of the CIA) has maintained strong ties with Osama Bin Laden's forces and with the Taliban.
    • Afghanistan, as ruled by the Taliban, was basically a Pakistani colony.
    • Pakistan developed nuclear capabilities to respond to India's nuclear bomb. Pakistan is the first and only Muslim country to become a nuclear power.
    • Scientists of the nuclear program were close to the ISI and therefore to Osama Bin Laden
    • Musharraf became prime minister of Pakistan after seizing power in a military coup that was widely approved by the people because it replaced a series of corrupt and incompetent leaders.
    • Both the ISI and the religious extremists pose a threat to Musharraf's program of political reformation. While neither controls any major party, they can both exercise power: the ISI could stage another military coup and the religious groups could stage a popular uprising.
    • After September 11, Pakistan has again become a close US ally, despite the opposition of several millions of Pakistani who closely relate to the Taliban and the oppositions of pro-Taliban elements in the ISI who helped create the Taliban.
    • Musharraf has opted for the all-out against the very forces that his country helped install in Afghanistan, but the liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban has cost Pakistan its "influence" on Afghanistan and this could undermine Musharraf's power.
    • The liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation is a holy cause for Pakistan. It is probably the only cause that unites the entire country: ISI, military leaders, religious groups and the middle class.
    • Musharraf seems determined to change the fundamental problems of Pakistan, including the influence of the religious schools and of the ISI, but he cannot change the fact that the people of Kashmir do not want to be part of India.

  • (March 2000) Clinton mistakes Pakistan for India. America often does this: support the wrong one and thereby create a bigger problem than the one it was trying to solve. During his visit to the Indian subcontinent, Bill Clinton was obviously trying to appease India and distance the USA from Pakistan. After all, Vajpayee is the freely elected leader of the world's largest democracy, whereas Musharraf is a military dictator. After all, the USA's business interests lie in India, certainly not in Pakistan. After all, India is strategically far more important than Pakistan. In doing so, Clinton is forgetting that principle does matter, and eventually principle does come back to haunt the USA's foreign policy: India is the one that annexed Kashmir against the will of the population, India is the one that has refused to allow any referendum in Kashmir, India is the one that has been repeatedly accused of all sorts of human rights abuses in Kashmir.
    Nobody even in India doubts that most Kashmiris truly despise India and want to secede. It is just that Indian politicians have assumed Kashmiris' opinion does not count. The USA will pay a dear price if it fails to realize that Kashmir is entitled to self-determination just like Bosnia, that Kashmir is entitled to protection against an arrogant imperialistic power just like Taiwan against China.
    See the Indian subcontinent timeline
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  • Kashmir = Kosovo?(June 1999) If we had to judge based on facts and not on public hysteria, India and not Serbia ( see previous reports) would be a target of NATO's bombing. After detonating nuclear bombs to prove how mighty the poorest country in the world is, the Indian government has decided to complete their ethnic cleansing of Kashmir, a region that never wanted to be Indian and that has been fighting far longer than Kosovo to gain its right to self-determination.
    In 1948 India refused to allow a plebiscite over the future of Kashmir, a plebiscite called for by the United Nations. War between India and Pakistan erupted.
    In 1987 India rigged the local elections and spawned the guerrilla movement. Pakistan has consistently helped the rebels (and added its own "volunteers") but there are no doubts that they took up arms only after the 1987 elections, when it became clear that India would never let Kashmir separate.
    Since then, 80,000 people have died in one of the most senseless wars in the world. All sorts of human rights abuses by the Indian army have been documented, from rape to torture. Why this is any different than Kosovo?
    See the Indian subcontinent timeline
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  • (May, 1998) The problem is India. Pakistan has reacted to India's nuclear explosions by detonating some of its own bombs. Pakistan can be forgiven. Pakistan is a deeply insecure nation, surrounded by enemies (India) and rogue states (Iran, Afghanistan) and nuclear powers (China, Kazakstan, Russia). They have been pretty much abandoned by the USA (since Congress blocked delivery of the jet fighters that Pakistan ordered and paid for 20 years ago). Of course, Pakistan would have rather used the money for other purposes, but the world really left them no alternative.
    How would your country react if it bordered on a country of a billion people, which over the last half century engaged in more wars than any other country in the region (3 with Pakistan, 1 with China and 1 in Sri Lanka), and now is run by a megalomaniac nationalist?
    Pakistan's erratic behavior and the whole instability of the Indian subcontinent is a consequence of that problem.
    The simplest solution would be for the United Nations to dismantle India's nuclear facilities.
    Indians often claim that they suffered one injustice after the other. This is even more worrying. Germans used to say the same and eventually elected the man who promised revenge: Adolf Hitler. He was a nationalist and set up exterminating the race/religion that Germans considered their enemy.
    The parallel does not end here. Germany was uniformly despised by all its neighbors. Today, thanks to Vajpayee's leadership, no other country is so uniformly despised by its neighbors.
    As a Pakistani said: "The real strength and honor of a nation lies not in the arsenal of murder and destruction it possesses, but in the prosperity and welfare of its people." Does India really think that the USA is feared and respected worldwide because of its nuclear arsenal rather than because of its gross national product? Doesn't India see that China has been admitted to the club of world powers only now that its economy has started matching Western standards, even though for decades it had many more nuclear weapons than India will ever dream of? Wasting money in nuclear tests will only delay the day that India can be treated as a meaningful country.
    See the Indian subcontinent timeline
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  • (May, 1998) The nuclear race in the Indian subcontinent: a drama of idiots. If India claims that it had to detonate five nuclear weapons in order to assert its (laughable) superpower status, then what should Japan (the world's second largest economy) and Germany (the world's fourth largest economy) do? How many nuclear weapons are they entitled to detonate? Five hundred? Five thousand?
    The difference between Japan and India is very simple: Japan "is" one of the world's power, and has no need for this kind of idiotic bravado. Only pathetically poor and backwards third-world countries in the hands of irresponsible and incompetent nationalist leaders feel that urge.
    These nuclear explosions bring India very close to war, for at least two reasons. First of all, such a technologically inferior country will probably make a mistake and explode a weapon against its own desire. Second, even if it is lucky and it does not, its arms race will have so much impoverished its own people that its leaders will have no choice: declare war or admit that they were fools. For the West, this situation projects two specters: first, that nuclear radiations will spread around the world; second, that China will easily win such a war and therefore rule over most of Asia. The Indian leader is a serious threat to the West, not because of its power or ambitions, but simply because of his stupidity.
    Incidentally, the news of India's coming nuclear tests was published days ago by a right-wing magazine, "Organizer", the mouthpiece for the neonazist National Volunteer Force. If they knew, they must have known from the highest ranking officers of the government, the only ones who knew of the coming nuclear tests. Vajpayee has admitted being a member of the group in the past. Now we know that he never severed the links. Rajendra Singh, the leader of this organization, has repeatedly asked the government to conduct nuclear tests, and, from what we see, he had it his way. Who is really ruling India?
    See the Indian subcontinent timeline
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  • (May 1998) This is how the next world war could happen.. It is not the superpowers that are to be feared, it is the poor, backwards, third-world countries. They resemble Hitler's Germany more than the USSR or the USA ever did. They are frustrated, depressed, impoverished. It only takes a crazy nationalist leader to propel the enthusiasm of the population for a massive war. Once an arms race is started, it would be difficult to stop it. If India goes ahead and mounts warhead on its missiles, then it is likely that Pakistan will retaliate by exploding its own nuclear bombs and by aiming them at India. If Pakistan does it, why shouldn't Iran? And why not some other Central Asian country? Suddenly, we would have a dozen or so nuclear powers in a highly unstable area of the world, generally ruled by less than competent (and, in India's case, less than psychologically stable) politicians.
    See the Indian subcontinent timeline
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  • (Apr 1998) Is Atal Bihari Vajpayee the new Saddam, or is he worse? Is Atal Bihari Vajpayee the new Saddam? This idiot, leader of the Hindu nationalist party, who became prime minister only because voters were fed up with the Congress Party, has nothing else to do in his agenda than conduct nuclear tests (in the highly populated region of Rajastan, by the way). Indians are dying like flies of all sorts of deseases and enjoy the lowest standard of living in the world, but Vajpayee seems to think that these are minor details. What really matters is affirming India's supremacy as a world power. Mr Vajpayee: India has become the laughing stock of the whole planet. You watched too many Mussolini speeches.
    Even more laughable is the your statement that "there was no release of radioactivity in the atmosphere". Any tourist who has traveled on your trains or visited your cities knows how reliable such a statement can be. You are lucky if you know where the bombs detonated and how many of them actually went off. We would be very surprised if you had any way to detect radioactivity in your own palace. Somebody should explain to this idiot that any terrorist is capable of building a nuclear weapon: that does not require scientific skills, only reading skills! What sets powers from terrorists (or idiots) is that powers have the means to control the nuclear weapons they build. India has no such capability, and it won't until it becomes something more than a pathetic collection of unsolved social problems.
    The international community should cut off all aid to India and try to explain to the Indian population that India is one of the poorest countries in the world because that is what its leader want it to be.
    Let us not forget that India is the biggest borrower in the world, having begged the World Bank for $44 billion so far ($1.5 billion only this year). Now we know where that money (our tax money) went. The World Bank should immediately request India to return the money, as we can't expect India to have the decency to do it after having outraged its creditors.
    See the Indian subcontinent timeline
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  • (April 1998) Not enough Gandhi. The nationalist party BJP has won the 1998 elections and is now in charge of forming a new government. This has scared the huge muslim minority, not to mention catholics and buddhists. The problem is that the only alternative to this party was the old, corrupted, inefficient Congress Party, founded by the Mahatma Gandhi and mostly run by the Nehru Gandhi's entourage and family.
    This time it was Italy-born Sonia Gandhi's turn to take the lead of the party and save it from an almost-sure debacle. Notwithstanding Sonia's popular appeal (which can be compared to Princess Di's in Europe), Indians voted against the Congress Party, and rightfully so. The Congress Party is responsible for the miserable state of the Indian economy and society, fifty years after independence. There are no excuses for the prolonged state of poverty and inferiority of this huge country. A comparison between China, the worst dictatorship in the world, and India, the only true democracy in Asia, makes communism look much better than democracy. The average Chinese citizen is five times richer than the average Indian citizen. China has become the third economy in the world, and will soon pass Japan's, while India is still ranked 11th, even if it has one sixth of the world population. Any tourist has had a chance to look at the pathetic state of cities, at the widespread social injustice and at the terrible conditions of women. While the hinduist religion is to blame for many things, that is no excuse.
    Hopefully, when Indians voted against the Congress Party, they voted against all that is wrong with India today, which is precisely all that would not have changed had the Congress Party won again.
    It may be worth noting that, historically, India has been under Muslim domination for eight centuries and then under British domination for two centuries. This is the first time in a long time that India can reaffirm its hindu legacy.
    See the Indian subcontinent timeline
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