George Soros, the billionaire investor-turned-philanthropist, said that he was committing $1 billion to fund “the most important project of his life”, a network of universities around the world to fight authoritarian regimes and climate change and help educate and promote “personal autonomy”.
Soros criticized Prime Minister Modi for creating a “Hindu nationalist state,” calling his government the “biggest and most frightening setback” to the survival of open societies worldwide while also mentioning the Citizenship Act and the shutdown of Kashmir.
In a speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos on January 23, Soros noted what he called the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world which is the great enemy of open society.
The motivation for the commitment, as per him: “It has become easier to influence events than to understand what is going on… outcomes are unlikely to correspond to people’s expectations… this has caused widespread disappointment… that populist politicians have exploited for their own purposes.” “The tide turned against open societies after the crash of 2008 because it constituted a failure of international cooperation. This in turn led to the rise of nationalism, the great enemy of open society.”
“Nationalism, far from being reversed, made further headway. The biggest and most frightening setback occurred in India where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship.”
According to him, “President Trump is a con man and the ultimate narcissist who wants the world to revolve around him. When his fantasy of becoming president came true, his narcissism developed a pathological dimension.” “Xi Jinping has abolished a carefully developed system of collective leadership and became a dictator as soon as he gained sufficient strength to do so.”
Noting that the strongest powers, the U.S., China and Russia, remained in the hands of would-be or actual dictators, he said the ranks of authoritarian rulers continued to grow by the end of the year. “The biggest and most frightening setback occurred in India where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship,” Soros said.
This year WEF’s is holding the 50th anniversary of the event in the Swiss Alps and its theme is “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.” The annual economic gathering ran from January 21 until January 24.
Soros said from an open society point of view, the situation in the world, including in the U.S. and China and other parts, is quite grim, adding that while it would be easy to give in to despair, that would be a mistake.
“There are also grounds to hope for the survival of open societies. They have their weaknesses, but so do repressive regimes. The greatest shortcoming of dictatorships is that when they are successful, they don’t know when or how to stop being repressive. They lack the checks and balances that give democracies a degree of stability. As a result, the oppressed revolt. We see this happening today all around the world,” Soros said.
“It is certainly legitimate for a large investor like George Soros to comment on both India’s politics and economics because they are related. If politics creates unrest and poses a challenge to law and order, then investments are at risk. I do not believe we are at that point right now, but our Hindutva politics are certainly a distraction,” Gurcharan Das, author and former CEO of Proctor and Gamble India, was quoted as saying in The Print.
Soros, who made his billions as a one of the greatest speculators in the financial markets and then running a hedge fund that gave market-beating returns, now uses his fortune to fund education, health, human rights and democracy projects across the world, including India. He has also been a critic of the Chinese government, the US President and big tech companies like Facebook and Google.