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

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Contempt of court? UP CM taking 'personal vendetta' against Dr Kafeel Khan: Activists

Counterview Desk
Demanding that the Uttar Pradesh government immediately release well-known paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan, a group of more than 100 academicians, activists, researchers, doctors and lawyers have said in an open letter that he is being “targeted at the behest of the chief minister”, wondering, “When is an act of challenging the government a threat under the National Security Act (NSA)?”

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.

ASI has 'no funds' to protect five centuries old Goa church, a World Heritage Site

Counterview Desk
The century-old All-India Catholic Union (AICU), the largest Laity movement in Asia, has blamed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for neglecting the historic Bom Jesu church by keeping its ceilings  open to the vagaries weather, with no steps  taken to protect the five century old monument from damage on account of impending rains on the lame excuse that there are "no funds". In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, AICU simultaneously asks the Government of India to devise a "comprehensive" national social security safety net, universal health Insurance and medical Infrastructure so that the “calamity” that has befalenl millions of migrant labour and jobless rural and urban poor in “the Covid pandemic-driven lockdown is “never repeated.”

Withdraw sedition charges against three young women activists: 1100 feminists

Counterview Desk
About 1,100 feminists from all over India – organisations and individuals across religion, class, caste, ethnicity, ability, sexuality and genders – have issued a solidarity statement condemning what they have called “the targeted crackdown on Muslims and women activists in Delhi”, who were at the forefront of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).

Will Govt of India, ICMR end 'perverse' practice of extracting profits from ill-health?

By Asmita Verma, Surabhi Agarwal, Bobby Ramakant*
The Epidemics Act, 1897 gives the central and state governments authority to impose any regulations which may be necessary to contain the outbreak of a disease. Some state governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh have already used this power to bring private healthcare facilities in their state under government control.

Coping with Covid-19? Options before small, marginal farmers of rainfed regions

By Biswanath Sinha, Kuntal Mukherjee*
The global crisis due to Covid-19 has hit after reaching in western Europe. India’s response to curtail the spread of the disease was quite decisive. It announced a Janata curfew on the March 22, followed by a complete national lockdown from the midnight of March 24.

Tablighis or Namaste Trump? Rupani must 'clarify' on origin of Covid-19 in Gujarat

By Mujahid Nafees* In his video communication on April 24, 2020, chief minister Vijay Rupani informed us that in the month of March the Gujarat government had quarantined 6,000 people returning from abroad in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. He further asserted that the spread of Covid-19 was caused by the tablighis returning from Nizamuddin in Delhi. His statements were widely publicized and given front page coverage by some local dailies.

'Violation' of migrant workers' human rights: Legal notice to IIM-A director, govt babus

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the police action against protesting migrant workers off the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on May 18, senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik, in a legal notice to the IIM-A director "on their behalf" has said that the workers had only been seeking to to go back to their home states, Jharkhand and West Bengal, for the last more than 20 days because they were not paid their “earned wages because of the lockdown.”