Namaste! Francois Gautier, who is my guest here in Princeton in our studio needs no introduction. He was a French journalist covering India many decades ago, fell in love with India, relocated to India, got married and settled there. And has done some amazing work. Welcome! -Thank you. -We have had a few discussions before so our audience already knows you. What do you think has been the positive work done by the government in the past five years? What do you think their shortfalls are? What do you think the issues are in this election that would guide or should guide voters? It’s a very crucial election and I think the whole future of India as a super power, you know, as an embodiment of all what the great here Swami Vivekananada, Sri Aurobindo, so many of them said that India becomes the spiritual leader of the world. So, this election will decide whether India or not will become not only the spiritual leader of the world but an economic superpower, political superpower, nuclear superpower, military superpower, a superpower. So, these elections are very crucial. Mr. Modi has shown in five years that if you do hard work, if you are sincere, if you devoted to your country, if you sleep 5 hours a night you can do excellent extraordinary work. So, that has been the positive side. -What are some examples of this excellent work? You know the reform that he has set you know that. Nobody dared to do before him like demonetization, the GST which is needed, difficult but needed reform, you know. That there is a uniform tax all over India like there is in my country. In France we have Tivya which is no more extravagant that in India. It’s been accepted, it is used all the time. but, of course, India is a huge country. It’s a complicated country and another factor which nobody talks about Indians have been used to cheat for many centuries because they were prosecuted, because they were overtaxed. So, this has become something in the genes of India. Yeah. The system was unfair. -Right. -Because it was foreign imposed. Before the British were the Mughals. -Correct. -And so, the way to survive was to do jugad of the system means you improvise your way around it. So, cheating became a way of life. -No. Even Indira Gandhi… -Survival. -taxed you know that it is said that nearly 80% of your income was taxed under Indira Gandhi. -Yes. -So, people continued cheating after 1947. So, cheating has become a way of life and this is one of the obstacle that Mr. Modi met and I don’t think he really expected it that people continued to cheat in India and that is creating a problem. That is creating a backlash against him. Suppose Modi wins adequately to form a government of his own or with some very friendly allies so that he can do what he wants. What should Modi do starting the day he gets elected, if you were giving him advice? For me the first reform is political, constitutional. Because as soon as you are elected in India you have an eye on the next election. There are too many elections in India, they cost too much money, they use too much manpower, you know, it’s a waste of time. So, I have proposed and want your reaction, a presidential system like the US. -Yes. -So, it’s stable. You have… parliament does not elect the president; people elect the president directly. And people elect the parliament separately. -Right -And also, you needn’t have all of these in the same time. You could have some parliament people being elected every, you know, staggering. So, it’s not like one day the whole government is different. -Sure, sure. Or you can have a French system, you know. A president who is elected and who chooses his Prime Minister among the majority party. That’s also a system that works well and that doesn’t, you know, call for so many elections. In India you have governors, you know, and the President and the Vice President who have no power at all, I mean, except a few constitutional powers and cost a lot of money and use a lot of manpower, you know. And they are good people. The President is a good man, the Vice President is a good person. And they are locked in, you know, VVIP security. I mean, the Vice President came for some our program you know, there is so much protocol. He is a RSS guy, you know, a simple guy, you know. So, I ask him, you know, why is there so much protocol? You have to get up when you come and says he says that not say this. And nobody can enter the room, you know. And he says, there is a book and it’s not the green book, it’s some other book called the black book that the congress has made again, you know. And I am bound by it unless you know, there is some, you know, big change and I am bound by it. So, you know, this has to go. This has to go. It is not possible. The governors, you know, are just puppets, just puppets. So, it’s still a system borrowed from the British with that huge palace in Delhi for the President that employs thousand people just to maintain it, you know. It’s the legacy of the British. This needs to be reformed and Mr. Modi needs the will power to do it and also, the majority to do it. So, that’s a very important reform. Second reform I would say maybe even more important education. The education system in India and after five years of BJP there is no difference. Just produce your western clones, you know, who are taught, you know, western values and western …. -For that I think there was no excuse because a good, efficient, enterprising HRD minister could have done it. -No excuse. -Without bothering the Prime Minister. -But he probably didn’t have the backing of his Prime Minister. I mean, Mr. Javadekar is a good man, you know, he is… -He is fairly. -Humble man. -Yes, yes. Good human being. -He is a fairly good… -But hasn’t produced results. -You know, but I don’t think he had the backing of his Prime Minister to do the radical changes that would have triggered massive revolt as when Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi tried to introduce the singing of Vande Mataram, you remember? Yes, yes. -That was so long ago, you know. -It was called saffronization. -Yeah. -That’s when the term started. -And it was a good reform, you know. It was…So, he didn’t have the backing of his Prime Minister, I think. That’s the main problem. -But, you know, at least they could have developed the new text books pending acceptance. You were involved in that. -No, no, no. I was not involved. I wish I were. I mean, they never consulted me on that. They, there is, I mean, they did not say, here are the text books from the Kindergarten all and here is the reform of the UPSC exam and here is the reform of all the different types of curriculums. If they had it on the table, then in the second term he could start off by implementing. -But, will he? Because if he didn’t do it in the first term… So, the material is not ready. The subject matter required, the research required takes years. You don’t sit one day and write up a book. -No. -So, that has not been developed. -No. -And for that there is no excuse. -No excuse. -Because that does not, it’s not necessarily policy, -But the fault is Mr. Modi not Mr. Javadekar. I mean, after all you know, if you employ me, you know, and if I have your backing, you know, and the backing of your power, you know, and your financial means the backing of your manpower, I can do it. But unless I have your backing difficult to do. -Well, the boss has to specify what your goals are. -Yeah. -Boss has to say, that’s your goal. -Yes, but I don’t think it is. It’s like the gurus in America, you know. They yoga in America you know. They the gurus have dissociated it from Hinduism from where it came, you know. So, the same thing happened with Mr. Modi, you know. When he came to power, he wanted to take a distance from Hinduism. Because he felt that he was labelled as a, you know, as a radical Hindu or right-wing Hindu or fanatical Hindu. So, he wanted to take the distance through his ministers also. -He wanted to become globally acceptable. Yes. Yes. And that you know I wish he was the Putin of India, you know. Putin doesn’t care if he is loved or not. But he is loved by the Russian. -Or Trump doesn’t care. -Or Trump. Yeah. -I mean, It seems that Modi got elected by the people who are very proud of heritage, identity, nationalism, -Yes. -patriotism, similar to some of these people in other countries. And to be successful you got to cater to your base. You should never forget who got you there. -Never. He has forgotten that. And education is so important, you know, it’s I mean we keep telling about rewriting history. This is a massive task, you know. -Yes. -But, it’s there, you know. Like the Aryan invasion theory which is the basis for every history book whether western or whether Indian, you know. has been proved false long ago, you know. -Right. -And so, Mr. Modi could have done that, you know. -Right. -Rewrite the history books, rewrite the curriculum, take out the Aryan invasion theory. That’s the first step. -Yeah. Yeah. So, and the UPSC exam and the way they are training all these… so, also when you we talked about constitutional reform, there is other things like Uniform Civil Code. -Yes. -There is things like Article 370. -There is a third part. Right, right. -There is all those, you know, making just like GST makes India unified as a from a financial standpoint. You also need to unify it in terms of the rights of people go to any part of the country buy land. -Yes. -I mean A person from Delhi cannot buy land in Kashmir. So, it needs to be unified in that sense also. -No, I mean… -And the unified… Unified Civil Code, UCC, also is something along the lines of the GST in terms of culture and identity and equal law for everybody. So, maybe he thought that he would do that in second term. I mean I still have lot of admiration and lot of, you know, respect because I know governing India is such a complicated and such a difficult and it’s a headache. But still, you know, what he promised when he was Gujrat minister, when he campaigned for becoming Prime Minister, none of it has being implemented. And the Kashmiri Muslims, you know, are all over India, you know. They have taken over the souvenir trade in Auroville for instance, you know, which is such a far away place from Kashmir, you know. Even far away from Pondicherry. They are there. They pay double, you know, they pay double the amount of rent that other people so they get, you know, they get the shop, they get the thing. We don’t see, I saw some articles you wrote about it, you know. We don’t see them selling anything but still they survive, you know. So, we don’t know what they do. They are all over India. But for an Indian, for a Hindu not able to go to Kashmir and do the same things is totally unacceptable. -That is the land of Shiva. Yeah. -That is where Shaivism starts. -Yes. -I mean that is the all these sacred rivers. -Yes, Mr. Modi should have done immediately. You know, the whole Saraswati Indus rivers and all that. So, I mean there is so much…-It makes no difference in Kashmir, you know. Kashmir is ten times worse than it was during the congress. -Yeah. -What difference did it make he made alliance with the PDP? which is huge mistake. What difference does it make he went there and went on the Dal Lake? It made no difference. If he had implemented that there would have been as much river there is now. Kashmir is worse, you know, than under the congress. Many things are worse than under the congress. The visas are worse than under the congress. Banking is worse than under the… for a foreigner, you know. Because I live in Auroville also. It’s worse, it’s more difficult, you know. People get thrown out of Auroville for no reason because they do little business. He makes some rules against missionaries and NGOs which was warranted. There are many NGOs which are hostile to India and it was warranted. But the bureaucrats are applying it to everybody. You know, the RRO the Visa officers in all the small places like Pondicherry, Chennai, you know. They use it on any foreigner, you know. People, good people in Auroville who have been for 30 – 40 years are getting thrown out of India because they sold one shirt, sold one photo. You know, he doesn’t know that, you know. But he doesn’t want to know also. -A good friend of mine Vladimir lives in Auroville, -Yeah, Vladimir has been thrown you know. -He is in exile after living for decades in Auroville. -He speaks Sanskrit fluently. He is one of the great Sanskrit scholars. I have done lot of work with him. We are still collaborating. -Yeah, I got an email from yesterday. -Because he, Because he taught some… -He taught in Ahmedabad Because he taught a small course somewhere. -You know. Ahmedabad. -And you are not supposed to get a job and he did it, he was teaching Sanskrit, you know. So, they just applied this law against him and kicked him out. Now he is sitting in Finland or Norway somewhere. -There is a Brazilian lady in Auroville, she speaks fluent Sanskrit, you know. She knows the Vedas by heart, you know. She has two small children. She taught online course to six Portuguese on the Vedas. She got thrown out. She is separated from her children. So, you know, if people lacked depth, depth of understanding, the complexity they can’t figure out, they will apply rules in a very simplistic way. And that’s counterproductive. -Yes. There is no simple commandments, do’s and don’ts, you know, thou shalt do this and not do that, 5, 10, 20 rules, it’s not so simple in India. -Yes. -So, you need people are more intelligent. And so, every ministry, every bureaucracy needs somebody who is trained in our civilization. There needs to be a civilizational expert like there is a chief financial officer. There is a chief technology officer in all these organizations. There ought to be a chief civilization officer in every part. This would be one of my proposals. -Yes. -If you ever get a chance. -Yes. We should get a chance. -We should… there should be a think tank that develops civilizational studies. That’s a training mechanism that trains people at all levels from top to bottom whether they are school teachers, whether they are judges, whether they are lawyers, policemen, media people, foreign affairs and there ought to be, they ought to groom and train people who become chief civilizational officer in every single department. -There are enough people like you and so many people, you know, around the world, you know, are lovers of India know But Mr. Modi needs to call them. You know, he needs to listen to them. What I wanted to say also that this third important reform is decentralization. India is a very very centralized government. Again, it’s a congress inheritance. Delhi up there in the north, you know, where you have no touch what’s happening in the centre and the south, you know. It’s also a British legacy. You need to decentralize the power in India. -And the PMO’s office has got few hundred people deciding everything in one… -Yes. So, it’s still a Congress, you know, it’s still a congress. And it’s no fault of Mr. Modi. He has to function in that system unless, you know, he breaks it, you know, and shatters it you know. So, the way to, in my opinion, the way to break that bureaucracy whole is to move out the capital from Delhi to the centre of India. I know it’s a huge task, you know. But if Mr. Modi does this, you know, he will break the bureaucratic whole otherwise I don’t see he can break it. -But if he relocates from Delhi to some location X, -Indore, Pune, you know. -Okay. But then if he takes the same bureaucracy, it doesn’t change. Nothing changes. So, you need to change the human resource. How they are selected, how they are trained. -Sure. -How they are managed. -No, no, that’s also very important and this is where you could bring a huge contribution. You could make a huge contribution on that, you know. But the reforms are so wide and so enormous that, you know, some divine grace has to be there. We need the divine grace, you know. -So, but the first prerequisite is to have a stable government, strong, stable, single party government. -Yes. -Comes back and then all these things are possible. And Mr. Modi to become a little more ruthless, you know, little more ruthless. He has to become, you know, either Putin or Trump. And the fourth reform, of course, is the judiciary in India. Because we have seen that many issues which are very crucial to heart, you know, and to Mr. Modi’s heart, you know, like Ram mandir or … -Sabrimala. They don’t know. -Sabrimala. And the supreme court, you know. They have no clue these people. -They are not well-educated on the subject matter and I have always said like suppose you were discussing an issue with nuclear policy. Then your job is to get nuclear experts to brief you. -Of course! -If you are discussing making a you are adjudicating a case on a very complicated medical issue, You could get medical experts to come and give you the background. -Absolutely. Absolutely. -You have to do that because being a good judge doesn’t mean that you know all the topics in the world. So, but in this case, issues concerning Sabrimala for instance required good understanding of what is deity, what is this temple all about, and and… -People do go there. I have been there. And so, he didn’t, the supreme court didn’t bring in Shankaracharyas or people like Sri Sri or you know people who are modern gurus or traditional gurus or anybody. They should have brought in a panel of experts and asked to be educated. -Of course. -And they should have kept them as advisors on the case. -You are talking about humility. You are talking about humility. -Yes. That requires humility knowing that we are the supreme court judges but we don’t know certain things. -But they don’t have that humility. I think the Chief Justice is a son of a congress, you know, chief minister, Gogoi. -Yeah. -He was the chief minister of Assam for many many years. I know him. You know! So, his thinking is, you know, whatever, you know, he has that atavism, you know, he thinks like that. He is not going to think, you know, Hindu, you know, he is going to think… -So, the four areas of reform one, -Constitutional. -Constitution, second, -Education. -Education. -It is the decentralization, the bureaucracy… -Decentralization and bureaucracy. -The reform of the bureaucracy and of the Indian Civil Service and the fourth, of course is… -Judiciary. -Judiciary. 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