Monday, May 26, 2014

Pierre Omidyar's Excellent Indian Adventure

Oh my.

I noted the election of India's Fascist Modi the other day with some passing alarm at the March of Triumph the Fascists seem to be engaged in these days. It seemed awfully convenient in light of events in Ukraine and elsewhere -- note how Ukraine news has all but disappeared? -- and the concerted efforts of neo-con/neo-libs to overthrow every government that isn't aligned with its own Fascistic program of plunder and despair. So the Indian electorate sent the Fascists from Gujarat to New Delhi and a new technocratic, nationalist, and rabidly Hindu-centrist government will be formed, or already has been, to "reform" what's left of India's relatively benign-socialist past.

Little did I know until the intrepid Mark Ames at Pando did some sleuthing that Our Mister Omidyar, "progressive" oligarch that he is, has his hand in the Indian Transformation, just as he did in Ukraine. And where else? one might ask. Of course the Omidyar footprint is at a slight remove from direct implementation, but the closeness of it, through an interlocking matrix is still somewhat stunning.

Ames introduces what happened:

Modi leads India’s ultranationalist BJP party, which won a landslide majority of seats (though only 31% of the votes), meaning Modi will have the luxury of leading India’s first one-party government in 30 years. This is making a lot of people nervous: The last time the BJP party was in power, in 1998, they launched series of nuclear bomb test explosions, sparking a nuclear crisis with Pakistan and fears of all-out nuclear war. And that was when the BJP was led by a “moderate” ultranationalist — and tied down with meddling coalition partners.
Modi is different. Not only will he rule alone, he’s promised to run India the way he ran the western state of Gujarat since 2001, which Booker Prize-winning author Arandhuti Roy described as “the petri dish in which Hindu fascism has been fomenting an elaborate political experiment.” Under Modi’s watch, an orgy of anti-Muslim violence led to up to 2000 killed and 250,000 internally displaced, and a lingering climate of fear, ghettoization, and extrajudicial executions by Gujarat death squads operating under Modi’s watch.
Yes, and? What's the Omidyar connection?

Well, it turns out:
Omidyar Network, as Pando readers know, is the philanthropy arm of eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Since 2009, Omidyar Network has made more investments in India than in any other country in its portfolio. These investments were largely thanks to Jayant Sinha, a former McKinsey partner and Harvard MBA, who was hired in October 2009 to establish and run Omidyar Network India Advisors.
During Sinha’s tenure, Omidyar Network steered a large portion of its investments into India, so that by 2013, India investments made up 18% of Omidyar Network’s committed funds of well over $600 million, and 36% of the total number of companies in its portfolio.
In February of this year, Sinha stepped down from Omidyar Network in order to advise Modi’s election campaign, and to run for a BJP parliamentary seat of his own. Sinha’s father, Yashwant Sinha, served as finance minister in the last BJP government from 1998 (when his government set off the nukes) through 2002. This year, Sinha’s father gave up his seat in parliament to allow Jayant Sinha to take his place.

Oh, but there is much more. The article explains how the Omidyar Network (which is closely supervised by the Omidyars) has used its influence in India, and how Jayant Sinha, now a member of the Indian Parliament, was -- and no doubt will continue to be -- the Omidyar factotum in India as head of Omidyar Network India Partners, responsible for the distribution of some $300,000,000 in Omidyar grants and disbursements during his three plus years at the helm. Compared to the $1.3 million Omidyar spent in Ukraine through Center UA and New Citizen, and all the unpleasantness that has followed, India was probably a bargain.

Yes, Pierre wants something for his "investment" in "democracy" in India. At the very least, he wants the online marketing sector opened to eBay. At the very least. And how much do we want to bet it will happen sooner rather than later?

Meanwhile, the question arises: why the fascination with Fascists among the oligarchy? I assume -- but I don't know -- that Pierre's family were aligned with the Shah in Tehran before the Revolution and their exile to Paris, later to the US. The Shah was pretty Fascist as I recall, though opposed to the Fascism of the Arabs. For all the hooey over the authoritarianism and nationalism of the Iranian Islamic revolutionaries, however, they don't have the trappings of Fascists, and they don't seem to be operating a Fascist government in Tehran. It's in some ways closer to an ideal of democracy as put forth in days of yore -- not completely populist by any means, but far from a dictatorship. I can easily imagine that Pierre's Fascist proclivities are so internalized, he may not even be aware...

With India's government now in the hands of extreme Hindu nationalists and actual Fascists, supposedly with a strongly anti-Russian/anti-Chinese policy, this will certainly put a great deal of strain on the "emerging Russian-Chinese Axis." I would say the "Axis" -- if used as a pejorative -- actually works in the direction of EU/NATO/USA, but that's another topic.

The problem for the rest of us is that Fascism as a rule does not turn out well...


  1. But, but, but, Omidyar is the GOOD oligarch. He's OUR oligarch.

    1. Somehow, I'm starting to believe that there may not be any "good" oligarchs.