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It wouldn't be the first time news stories reporting unfavorably on BJP President Amit Shah vanished from news websites without explanation. At other times, news organizations have been under tremendous pressure to redact stories, transfer editors and otherwise silence inconvenient news from reaching the masses. Here are some notable stories that vanished from several sites without any official redaction or explanation offered:

Journalists and news organizations that faced pressure over journalistic work that shows Amit Shah's potentially illegal dealings:

Please free to suggest stories this list misses in the comments.

In many ways, Narendra Modi’s celebration of three years in power represents what the man and his government stands for.

He inaugurated the Dhola-Sadiya bridge in Assam, which is immediately spun as a great achievement of his, with hints laid out in good measure, that it also means some sort of a challenge to China on our north-eastern borders. As he did at the inauguration of the Chenani – Nashri tunnel, this provided Modi with an opportunity to stride around alone purposefully on the bridge, looking down at the river below, beckoning people from afar, etc, while cameras clicked away. This bridge was someone else’s vision. You know what Modi’s vision is? To spin colourful expansions of the two letters – N and E – New Energy, New Economy, New Engine, New Empowerment, etc. The man can ramble, I will give him that.

Meanwhile, the full-page newspaper advertisements that greeted the nation today curiously do not have even a single woman, in spite of the Ujjwala Yojana (of providing new LPG connections to households) being one of this government’s most far-reaching achievements. Neither did it have a message dedicated to the poor who stood by Modi even after he had sucked out cash from their pockets. The messaging from the government was only about an astonishingly narcissistically named MODI Fest, where we are supposed to believe that MODI just stands for Making of Developed India.

Part of this MODI Fest seems to have taken place at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, where Modi’s monthly monologues were released as a book. I am willing to bet that soon, the book will pop up at a classroom near you as compulsory reading. Amidst all this, BJP President Amit Shah stepped in and explained to a befuddled nation that it was impossible to provide jobs for all, and hence, the government was creating self-employment opportunities – thus proving that even the ‘jobs promise’ was chunaavi jumla. Finally, as is its wont, the government ended the day with a bit of gau seva by declaring a ban on sale of cattle for slaughter.

These events marked three years of Narendra Modi’s prime ministership. At the end of three years, Demonetisation stands out as the symbol of the both the deceit and incompetence that this government represents – that it will inflict havoc on its own people in the pursuit of electoral advantage, and that schemes are spun from harebrained ideas that have no scientific basis. Propaganda trumps all, as concerns of minorities, and political, media and civil society opponents are brushed aside and labelled anti-national.

Meanwhile, the rest of it – lynchings, harassment of critics, crony capitalism, listing fake achievements, dodgy national statistics, using the military for propaganda – continues unabated, and should come as no surprise to supporters and critics alike. These three years have shown us yet again that our institutions are perhaps not capable of withstanding a determined attack by a populist demagogue. These institutions work reasonably effectively when there is a weak government, by propping up the basic structures and ensuring a level of service delivery. But faced with a Modi, our institutions are suddenly found helpless – the press is not free or frank, the Parliament does not function as it should, the investigative agencies are completely state-controlled, the judiciary is soft, the bureaucracy is terrified, the central bank has lost its autonomy, and so on…

Given the corroding institutional safeguards, a thoroughly propagandist government, and an incoherent and weakened opposition, it is hard to imagine that any #AccheDin are round the corner for India. Dark days ahead.

10

This is just speculation, but drastic changes in the BJP's propaganda seem to indicate that a rollback of demonetisation may happen.

We began with demonetisation being Modi's special, secret project. The BJP and its formidable social media machinery has consistently defended demonetisation in the face of increasingly grave reports of losses and worse, nationwide. Even Modi supporters who are fully aware that the demonetisation is a disaster and little else seem committed to going down with heads held high no matter the cost to themselves or others.

However, unlike the supporters conditioned to sacrifice all for the greater good, there are increasing signs that the BJP would like survival for itself and Modi. There are subtle signs that Modi is increasingly being distanced from the mess and the missing RBI governor, Urjit Patel has manifested out of nowhere as well.

Reading the writing on the wall, I think demonetisation has failed and will soon be rolled back.

Here are the things I noticed.

  • Starting from last week, almost all talk of black money and terror funding and what not died down and the new focus is on a cashless economy - not so surprising since people have to survive the cashless situation created by Modi and given that there are no arrangements for required within a short time, the only alternative is to minimize damage. What likely was expected to be a bonanza for Fintech companies has now turned into the government's lifeline.
  • While the BJP may dismiss losses and deaths suffered by the common man, there are increasing signs (and they were there all through - no idea why BJP didn't expect them) that business losses will be staggering. The last week has brought news of massive layoffs, flight of foreign money and entire fortunes wiped out in the stock market. This sort of pain registers on a party that has basically floated to power on money from such very sources.
  • SBI head Arundhati Bhattacharya (also being considered for a nomination to the World Bank) has been the weather cock on the demonetisation all through to the point where a lot of ignorant citizens probably thought SBI handles national currency and RBI just prints it or something. Statements endorsing the demonetisation, even as the Banker's Association was talking of 11 employees dead in 10 days of work. Parroting the government line on plenty of cash being available even as banks and ATMs ran empty on a daily basis in the organization she heads. Today she demanded that banks should be compensated for the losses they suffered.... because of *cough* "RBI's move".
  • Increasingly, extremely "planted" news points to the RBI and Finance Ministry for the demonetisation. A notable example being (note the language emphasized - this is classic BJP propaganda):
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working “more than ten hours a day” just on ensuring that the 8 November money measures announced by him ensure a smooth landing for the economy rather than turbulence. This despite the fact that the plan actually owed its origin to the Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Finance, who persuaded the PM to go forward with an idea which will affect (and has affected) over a billion citizens of this country. Prime Minister Modi showed moral courage in coming forward and accepting ownership of the currency swap scheme announced on 8 November, and has since then publicly backed every twist and turn in that policy by the monetary and fiscal authorities. Senior officials say “Prime Minister Modi was presented with the issue in such a way that turning down the scheme was out of the question”. Through the plan, concerned officials wished to “shield those in high positions in banks across the country from the consequences of the crony-oriented lending that they had been doing, specially since 2006”, the year when Narasimha Rao’s liberalisation policy was fully substituted by the UPA into a faux Nehruvian economic policy that combined Fabian socialism with Wall Street ways. “Officials argued that a windfall of up to Rs 550,000 crore would flow to the banks through the enforced extinguishing of currency notes issued by the RBI, and that this would recapitalise several banks that were in effect bankrupt, thereby allowing them to lend again”. The Prime Minister was assured that “steps would be taken to ensure that the common man suffered minimal discomfort” and that “the informal economy would accelerate its absorption into the formal without jobs being affected”...

      Needless to say, this is the line that will now be taken by the party. Such stories don't reach journalists via anonymous "senior officials" and "sources"by coincidence. So the strategy seems to be to downplay the fact that Modi announced the demonetisation and to present it as something he was reluctant to do but compelled by other forces covering up Congress actions. He himself is hardworking and has citizen interests in mind. Etc. This is a big gamble to play if he people pointed out as real culprits aren't seen to suffer some consequence. Thus, I think Jaitley and Urjit Patel are now the scapegoats. In completely unrelated news, around the same time these developments happened, there was a photo of Amit Shah holding a goat, which I found totally hilarious.

This is a development. RBI is increasingly blamed for the demonetisation and any overflow perhaps to hit Jaitley while Modi is the great humanitarian who reluctantly was compelled to announce it and is now shouldering the responsibility, etc.

This wouldn't happen if the BJP were planning to go through with the demonetisation - it would want to be seen in solidarity with RBI to instill confidence in the success of the demonetisation. Also would be too much risk of the RBI saying inconvenient things that could still nail Modi if demonetisation stress continued.

So my guess is Urjit Patel is the fall guy, Jaitley will be thrown under the bus in some minor way if that is not enough (many say he is too big to be a fall guy), Modi will go scot free after rolling back the demonetisation to save country from these two.

2

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted from his personal account, a request asking people to vote about the impact of demonetisation on his app. The link provided leads to his personal website page for downloading the app.

narendra-modi-survey

The profile of the app on the google store however describes it as the "Official app of Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi" (screenshot kindly provided by Shamim Chowdhury)

official-app-pm-modi

The survey in question was an extremely poorly designed one, with a biased sample of smartphone users who are likelier than the rest of the country to be able to conduct cashless transactions and thus have been least impacted by demonetisation. Additionally, the userbase of this application is majorly fans of Modi and framing of questions that does not cover views of dissent - that the demonetisation has proved harmful to people or that it was a bad idea. The results of the survey in question display an overwhelming support for demonetisation.

A pliant media does not appear to be asking enough questions about manipulated data being used as a cover up about impact of such a drastic action that is leading to increased loss of life, livelihoods and economic well being by the day.

However an unverified RTI response indicates that this is not an official app developed for the Prime Minister of India as its profile claims.

modi-app-rti-response

The application profile itself shows the owner as Narendra Modi (and not Government of India - as is the case in the other official applications) and the developer information is:

Developer

This is a blatant attempt to manipulate the minds of Indian citizens into believing that their distress is isolated and that the vast majority of Indians actually are exceedingly pleased with the demonetisation. A perception management exercise that would discourage dissent through misinforming the masses who would believe it to be a properly conducted survey representative of the Indian population at large.

Additionally, the quality of the app is questionable. We have, in the past found vulnerabilities in the app that revealed private information about users installing it and had a very difficult time reporting them and getting them fixed with no clear developer or maintainer information provided that responds to vulnerability reports.

The misleading description of the application must be corrected. News media must disclose that the results of the survey represent a very specific profile of users who are likely to be less than 3% of the population of the country.

It is even more shameful that the Prime Minister of the country, after initiating an exercise invalidating most of its currency had skipped off to Japan where he joked about the unfolding plight of Indians, then he has been addressing public rallies and televised addresses to the nation on a routine basis. However he has not seen fit to address his responsibility as the elected leader of the country by being present in the Parliament to be accountable for the increasingly apparent adverse effects of his allegedly well planned action threatening lives, economy and the well being of citizens nationwide.

The Prime Minister does his office great dishonor.

The Indian Express, in collaboration with Le Monde and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has published a list of a hundred account names (yes, the Ambanis are there) leaked from HSBC bank in Switzerland that have Indian addresses.

Rigid laws protect Swiss banks and the HSBC bought out an existing bank in 1999. In 2007, its IT expert, Hervé Falciani, hacked 30,000 accounts and escaped to France with the data. The data was reconstructed and distributed confidentially around the world by the French Tax Authorities. Read more about this background of misconduct in The Guardian.

Here is the first ten names out of a hundred:

1. UTTAMCHANDANI GOPALDAS WADHUMAL/family $54,573,535

2. MEHTA RIHAN HARSHAD/ family $53,631,788

3. THARANI MAHESH THIKAMDAS $40,615,288

4. GUPTA SHRAVAN $32,398,796

5. KOTHARI BHADRASHYAM HARSHAD/ family $31,555,874

6. SHAUNAK JITENDRA PARIKH/family $30,137,608

7. TANDON SANDEEP $26,838,488

8. AMBANI MUKESH DHIRUBHAI $26,654,991

9. AMBANI ANIL $26,654,991

10. KRISHNA BHAGWAN RAMCHAND $23,853,117

Indian Express recommends related post: HSBC sheltered murky cash linked to dictators, arms dealers

Additionally, I'd like to remind of Cobrapost's expose Operation Red Spider showing HSBC and Standard Chartered banks among banks offering money laundering services.