Skip to main content

Improved ratings? Modi's top Gujarat babus in PMO "worked out" strategy to lobby with Washington institutes: Insider

By Rajiv Shah
Did Narendra Modi's top bureaucrats from the Gujarat cadre, currently in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), work out a well-planned strategy to lobby with three top international institutes, all headquartered in Washington, World Bank, Moody's and Pew, for ensuring a sharp image make over of Modi ahead of the Gujarat elections, after all three last year seemed least cared to show India under Modi in good light?
It would seem so, if a top insider of Gujarat government is to be believed. According to this insider, he knows how at least one of the closest Modi aides, who is a Gujarat cadre retired IAS bureaucrat and has been one of the most trusted Modi men ever since the 2002 Gujarat riots, was the key person who worked out a complete plan to ensure that the three institutes change their "approach".
"Those who have been in the Gujarat government under Modi have had enough experience about how lobbying works in the US", this insider, who did not wish to be identified, said, adding, "When Modi was Gujarat chief minister, top world consultants would be hired with the financial help of Indian American supporters of Modi in the US."
Consultants hired not just included Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG, all of whom helped Modi in getting publicity for his Vibrant Gujarat biennial global business summits, ensuing appointments with well-known business and political leaders across the world; they included one of the best known American lobbying firms, APCO Worldwide, whose white officials were even stationed in Gujarat and directly interact with Modi and his aides.
Hired by Modi in 2007, APCO established a contact point in Ahmedabad. Considered the largest known foreign agent of Israel, the reason behind Modi’s particularly rising popularity and larger than life image in 2013, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, lay in "dedicated efforts" of this global Public Relations giant, founded in 1984 as a subsidiary of one of Washington’s premier law firms Arnold & Porter.
APCO has been offering “professional and rare expertise” to governments, politicians and corporations, and it's expertise comes from a 70-odd member Advisory Council, which includes a former president, many lawmakers, administrators, bureaucrats and captains of industry from various parts of the world. It undertakes a range of activities meant to influence public opinion and government policy in favour of its "clients".
Media reports say how the top firm in 2010 offered to start an image-improvement campaign for the US finance industry. It and handled grassroots campaign against smoking regulations for tobacco giant Philip Morris, worked to counter the harassment accusations against Hewlett-Packard Company’s CEO, as also Ford’s troubles with Firestone tyres. It also "helped" shield Kazakhstan’s President-for-life Nursultan Nazarbayev from attacks by his former son-in-law, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair gain support for his decision to enter the Iraq war.
Said to be directly involved with the American military-industrial complex and its war machine, in May 2003, APCO helped launched a task force to help American companies win contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq, led by a former US Ambassador to Morocco, Marc Ginsberg; and early this decade it was instrumental in preparing a report meant to provide a legal basis for attacking Iran.
"If Modi could do such lobbying as Gujarat chief minister (2001-14), it is not difficult to surmise what he might be doing, at a much larger scale, when he India's Prime Minister, especially when he found that the World Bank showed, in 2016, India slipping to the 130th position in Ease of Doing Business, Moody's reaffirming its Baa3 issuer rating last year for India, saying the government’s efforts had not achieved conditions that would support an upgrade, and Pew began showing Modi's popularity slowly sliding from 87% to 81% in 2016.

While the Gujarat insider didn't have exact details of who all were hired to lobby for Modi over the last one year for his makeover, he claimed, they got enough indication starting with mid-2017 that "something was brewing". Things began clearer in August with the appointment of S Aparna, an IAS officer of 1988 batch, who worked in the Chief Minister's Office (CMO), as Executive Director, World Bank, to represent the "constituency of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka for three years."
"Aparna was Modi's choice in the World Bank. She wouldn't have got the job without Modi's direct approval", the insider said, adding, "Ever since she was sent to Washington on deputation, the buzz was strong in the Gujarat Sachivalaya that this was done to get a feedback about things happening among lobbying circles around Modi and India in Washington."
"An official close to Modi in Gujarat even commented, the first thing you would notice is: India's ranking in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business would now drastically improve'. This exactly what happens. India's World Bank ranking improved by a whopping 30 points, to 100", the insider said.
As if this was not enough, a retired ex-IAS bureaucrat from Odisha, a batchmate of Modi's top aides from Gujarat in PMO, was given a team of five persons and sent to Washington to ensure that nothing went wrong. Their mandate was, come what may, Modi should get clean chit from international agencies, especially when economists at home had begun to say that the Indian economy was in a shambles.
As expected, following World Bank, Moody's upped India's rating to Baa2 from Baa3, and changed its rating outlook to 'stable' from 'positive', the best in 13 years, going so far as to suggest that demonetization and Goods and Services Tax helped things stabilise. This was followed by 9% jump in Modi's popularity in a Pew International survey, to 90%.
The Pew survey, which has come under criticism for speaking to just 2,464 respondents in India between February 21 and March 10, admits that though it's "primary sampling units are urban settlements and rural districts stratified by region and urbanity", and it's sample was "disproportionately urban.".
As for Moody's, its methodology was questioned by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, it upgraded India's sovereign rating after 13 years as 'belated recognition' of reforms undertaken, amidst facts coming to light that that Moody’s was fined in the US, in Europe and in Hong Kong for ‘rating fraud’ during the last year and a half.
In January 2017 Moody’s agreed to pay a fine of $864 million to escape criminal action for its inflated rating of banks and securities in US. In June, 2017 Europe’s markets watchdog imposed a penalty of 1.24 million Euros on Moody’s for “not adhering to the correct rating protocol”. And in April 2016, a Hong Kong tribunal upheld a penalty of 1.4 million HK Dollars on Moody’s Financial Service for similar reasons.

Comments

Uma said…
This explains a lot. There were people who were wondering about the timing of this announcement but since there isn't a fixed time for any of these rating services to make an announcement no one could say anything for sure.
Unknown said…
Those who areopposing Modi have concocted this story. India deserves upgradation and Modi deserves this recognition . Hats off to Modi and Hats off toModi.

Swaminathanamasethu

TRENDING

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Mayawati's 'success' depends on how BSP taps new crop of young Amdekarite leaders

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Whatever be the election results in Uttar Pradesh on March 10, it is extremely important to understand: that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its leader Mayawati have the potential to rise like a Phoenix any time.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

India's actual Covid death rate about 2500 per million, third highest in world: Study

By Rajiv Shah  There is now well-researched proof, if it can be called that, indicating that the Government of India may have fudged data to show lower Covid death rate. A new paper, published in “Science”, has said that while officially the Government of India’s Covid-related death estimates as of January 1, 2022 – 345 per million population – are one-seventh of the US death rate, the actual analysis of crude death rate in India suggests, this may be a gross underestimation. 

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

Haridwar call for genocide direct result of Modi 'tolerating' Islamophobic policies

By Our Representative  A high-level briefing organised in Washington DC, in which as many as 17 human rights and interfaith organizations -- including Amnesty International USA, Genocide Watch and Hindus for Human Rights, apart from several persons in their individual capacity -- participated, has come down heavily on what they called "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for a genocide of Muslims."