08 Jun 2017 04:40am IST
John Eric Gomes
The Modi Fest is being held by the BJP from May 26 to June 15. Here Modi literally spells “Making of Developed India”! Around 450 BJP leaders, which will include 330 Parliamentarians, 13 CMs and 5 former CMs will fan out over India to propagate the achievements of the government and project their vision. Brand Modi looms large despite the pangs of demonetisation, the polarization of this nation, the rise of Hindu fundamentalists, Gau rakshas and mob violence. The lynching of people merely on rumor, beatings and cow frenzy, moral policing, high prices etc has all been neutralized by the victory in Uttar Pradesh where he has boldly installed a Yogi as CM. BJP national Spokesperson Sambit Patra in Panjim recently dodged questions relating to Beef controversy.
Modi reportedly was a good communicator from a young age and holds a MA degree in political science from the Gujarat University. He joined the RSS at the age of eight, and was assigned to the BJP in 1985. It was under Modi’s watch that the horrible Gujarat communal riots took place in 2002. It was reported that Prime Minister Vajpayee wanted to sack him, but he was saved by Advani. By his workaholic zeal, economic growth and development mantra he was able to remain as CM of Gujarat from 2001 for fourteen years being re-elected in 2007 and 2012 to 2014. He became the 14th Prime Minister of India on May 26, 2014. There is a lot of criticism of his Gujarat development model as regards poor social indicators of human development, human rights, poverty relief, nutrition and education.
It must be appreciated how quickly he has learned the ropes of governance as PM of India, his mastery of the English language to be able to confidentially speak at length at foreign high level meetings with the political elite, without notes or prompter in many cases. In fact the rock star greetings he received during his first visit to USA surprised and awed everyone! Being a good orator and able to gauge what the audience wants and satiate their needs with promises is one thing, but walking the talk on the world stage and keeping peoples hopes alive is quite another! Let us try to dispassionately look at some pros and cons.
PROS—Admirers of Modi would see him as Baahubali, standing triumphant with sword, atop a rogue elephants head as depicted on the front page of a local daily. The PM is the undisputed leader of the NDA with the full backing of the RSS. He is a savvy media and internet user, has the gift of oratory, hardworking, not afraid to take risks or be decisive. Demonetization and surgical strike are examples. He is very fond of deep meaning slogans which overwhelm the people. The most effective is “Sub Ke Sath, Sub Ka Vikas”. He has given birth to Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, Stand up India, Start up India, Smart Cities, Swatccha Bharat and so on. On his first visit to the Lok Sabha, he bent down and kissed the steps signaling his commitment to democracy!
The “Modi Sarkar” was voted for change and decisive government. We have also generally improved our world image. Corruption in high places appears reduced, middlemen cut out, back on the path of growth with GST, and inflation under control. Digitisation and cashless transactions are fast forwarding India into modern e-governance. These are good initiatives but unfortunately leading to CONS as follow up policy and implementation leaves much to be desired. For example token red beacon ban is touted as “VIP culture done away with!”
CONS— India does not need to be divided on religious, caste or any other grounds or enslaved by our own government. We want to live together in freedom, happiness and harmony as per our Constitution, encompassing “acche din” for all Indians. Demonetisation caused tremendous collateral hardship, threw hundreds of people out of jobs and many small industries had to close down. Achieving aim of dealing a blow to black money generation and counterfeit currency are debatable. The poor may have bank accounts, but probably unable to sustain them with the high food prices and costs of going cashless. Those not getting a pension added to lowered bank interest to make it easy to fund industries and corporate, is questionable policy for India, ignoring 80% of the 1.1 billion people who earn meager salaries compared to the bloated, comparatively pampered government employees. Labor appears at the service of capital instead of capital at the service of labor! Every institution especially CBI and RBI seem puppets of the government. The polarization of the country with unjust structures has the minorities fearful. The long silence of the PM on the repeated vigilante atrocities is not a good sign.
The demographic dividend is in the doldrums today as big job providers like Wipro, HDFC, Cognizant, Tatas, Startups etc are laying off employees whilst job creation promised is far from satisfactory. Corruption, hoarding and black marketing still exist at all levels and government has been very tardy in appointing a Lokpal.
The handling of farmers, Naxalite, Maoist, Kashmir problem are big blots on NDA government. There is noticeable imposing of Hindutva ideology and inspector raj. All Opposition is overruled or decimated. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is the greatest danger!
(The author is a retired naval officer)