John Eric Gomes
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi states that during the 8 years he has been at the helm he has done no wrong and his mantra has been “sab ka saath, sab ka vikas, sab ka vishwas and sab ka prayas” (Everyone’s support, development for all, everyone’s trust, everyone’s efforts). Nobody knows what the truth is! There must be some unbiased fact checking done about all the propaganda and hype where politics trumps everything including economics. The BJP has decided to deny and answer with scorn every dissent/blunder, intensify propaganda to project this decade as India’s finest, targeting the next election. Having been a live witness from my school days, I distinctly remember after 1947, when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru addressed us at a jam packed race course stadium in Poona (now Pune) warning of attempts to create a mirror image of Muslim Pakistan! In those days there was only the radio! No television, computer, mobile phone and comparatively primitive means of transportation for the common man. The derogatory comments blaming Nehru for all present ills is ridiculous.
Communal forces were even then conniving to grab power. Rumors of enmity between our nationalist leaders were spread. Mahatma Gandhi eliminated by fanatic Hindu forces had chosen Nehru to be the PM of India who with full support of Sardar Patel banned the RSS. Nehru represented the core values of the Indian national movement which Tagore called the idea of India, which were sovereignty, self reliance, democracy, secularism, modern scientific temper and pro poor orientation. It is widely recorded history which vehement efforts are on to change and distort. He valiantly fought the British colonial powers, spending 30 years of his life, nine of them in jail. He converted the first general election into a nationwide referendum as to whether a secular or Hindu nation should prevail. There were wide democratic civilized discussions and no bulldozing! There was a stunning defeat of the Hindu communal forces and our Constitution reflected the idea of India with unity in diversity, which is once again under severe threat. It pains me to hear our rulers arrogantly boasting of India moving productively only from 2014 and worse, demonize and denigrate those on whose groundwork they are reaping the benefit, be it in the spheres of nuclear, education, infrastructure, digital facilities etc. It was Rajiv Gandhi with Sam Pitroda who were responsible for the basic modern all India communication network. The IITs, AIIMS, BARC, NPL etc and steering a broken, confused and floundering India on course to become a strong parliamentary democracy admired by the world was no easy task. Let us acknowledge nobody is perfect.
The founding fathers knew that permitting communalization could disguise itself as nationalism and could become the Indian version of fascism. In those days Parliament functioned with dignity and responsibility and even good humor, a big contrast to today’s unparliamentarily noisy behaviors and bulldozing. We are now a nation deeply polarized, with one section of economy and people doing extremely well whilst the majority are struggling to make both ends meet. They are certainly not happy as their earning capacity is on the downward spiral, savings being wiped out with inflation and high prices, unable to buy or invest, employment with adequate salaries is difficult to get, good hospitals and schooling getting monetarily out of reach, safety and security in jeopardy with violent religious and caste polarized mobs becoming common. Politicians are blaming everyone else, Covid and Ukraine war, but never themselves.
The Modi government has changed the narrative of India with bold decisions many of them much needed like Swachh Bharat, emphasis on housing and toilets for all, bank accounts for poor and DBT, improving the work culture, being harsh on terrorism, targeted welfare schemes and corruption (not to say this has practically improved), biggest asset being the Prime Minister. He seems dedicated to the prosperity, welfare and progress of the nation as a world power. No one can deny that he is admirably hard working not scared of taking many bold decisions. However, done rather undemocratically and hastily, without transparency and accountability
inflicting disastrous consequences on many. The reality of minority persecution overshadowed by diplomatic rhetoric, necessitated suspension of BJP national spokesperson and media head as fringe elements only when Gulf countries and reportedly 16 nations put pressure. They threatened to boycott Indian goods and OIC approached the UNO for action. United States observations “abuse of human rights violation” was vehemently denied.
Since 2014 disasters including demonetisation, lockdown, the migrant exodus, the initial bad handling of Covid with oxygen shortages resulting in numerous deaths with bodies floating on the Ganga, cemeteries and hospitals full, increasing custodial deaths, polarizing using emotive issues like caste and hate speeches, lynching and violence by communal forces with state patronage, incidents like Unnao, Hatras, Lakhimpur Kheri, the over a year long farmers agitation, tremendous hardship and deaths, etc.
The nation is plagued with lack of required reforms and is being bulldozed. Misuse of power to destroy and eliminate all opposition, wasting time and precious resources in religious bigotry, burdening courts to adjudicate historical wrongs and continued minority persecution fanning communal flames. India needs a sensible strong Opposition. We are a polarized nation with Hindutva forces dominating, increasing unlawful politics without morality and now apolitical defence forces mixing in political matters. Are all the above true or fiction?
(The author is a retired naval officer, freelance writer resident in Porvorim)