In Some Ways, India Is Very Much Like the Us

It appears that in response to advance notice of speeches by Indian PM Narendra Modi bars are scrambling to come up with drinking games:

India’s teetotaler Prime Minister Narendra Modi almost fueled a booze binge on New Year’s eve in the nation’s cities.

As his scheduled speech drew nearer, pubs announced Modi-themed drinking games while Indians sought solace through social media humor. The last time Modi had addressed the nation, on Nov. 8, it had ended with him canceling 86 percent of currency in circulation and unleashing chaos in a country where almost all consumer payments are made in cash.

Modi had likened the move to a bitter medicine to help cure tax evasion and graft. Many saw it differently.

“Come get a drink on us,” pub chain Social, which has 15 outlets across the nation, announced on Facebook. “If we’re going down, we’re going down together.”


Social offered a pint of beer or an alcohol shot for 31 rupees ($0.5) each time Modi uttered “mitron,” which means friends in Hindi. That compares with 85 rupees for a pint of Kingfisher beer it normally charges customers. Mobile wallet company Mobikwik — backed by Sequoia Capital — promised lucky users a 100 percent cashback.

I think that Donald Trump, another teetotaler, will be a similar inspiration for bars in the United States.

On the other hand the recent ruling by India’s Supreme Court banning overtures to religion and caste by political candidates is something unimaginable in the us.

Hell, such a ruling would effectively outlaw the Republican Party:

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that politicians cannot seek votes on the grounds of caste, creed or religion.

The landmark judgment came while the court revisited earlier judgments, including one from 1995 that equated Hindutva with Hinduism and called it a “way of life” and said a candidate was not necessarily violating the law if votes were sought on this plank.

Several petitions filed over the years have challenged the consequences of that verdict. “It is a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption that any reference to Hindutva or Hinduism in a speech makes it automatically a speech based on Hindu religion as opposed to other religions … (Hindutva and Hinduism) are used in a speech to emphasise the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian cultural ethos,” the 1995 judgment authored by Justice J.S. Verma had said.

In its decision on Monday, a seven-judge constitution bench of the court ruled that the relationship between man and God is an ‘individual choice’ and the state cannot interfere in it, Economic Times reported. It added that an election is a secular exercise, and that should be reflected in the process that is followed.

Four judges of the seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur (who retires on Tuesday) ruled that “the constitution forbids state from mixing religion with politics”, Livemint reported. While Thakur and justices Madan B. Lokur, S.A. Bobde, and L. Nageswara Rao formed the majority and hence gave the ruling, the other three judges – Adarsh Kumar Goel, U.U. Lalit and D.Y. Chandrachud – dissented and said that the matter must be left to parliament.

I have mixed emotions on this one, I tend to be absolutist on free speech issues, but the fact that this kneecaps the Indian Fascist party (BJP) is a positive outcome.

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