THE singular feature of the completion of four years of this BJP central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the near complete reneging of the promises made to people in 2014, on which basis, this government assumed office through a majority of their own in the Lok Sabha.
The country was promised `achhe din’. The country was promised development and prosperity. The country was promised to be converted into a strong nation capable of rising to heights that were inconceivable during the last seven decades since independence. The country was promised `sab ke saath sab ka vikas’. Everyone of these slogans have shown themselves to be hollow. All promises stand betrayed.
These four years have seen an unprecedented assault on India as a country and the livelihood of our people. There has been a four-pronged attack that continues to intensify by the day during these four years. These four arms of this assault are: (a) aggressive pursuit of neo-liberal economic reforms ruining the lives of a vast majority of our people (b) sharpening communal polarisation leading to ruptures that is tearing asunder the social fabric of our country (c) an all-round attack on parliamentary democracy and constitutional authorities and institutions and (d) completely surrendering India’s independent foreign policy and our sovereignty to the dictates of US imperialism. All these four put together constitute most serious of assaults on both our country and our people.
These four years only confirmed that the future of both the country and the people can only be safeguarded and improved with the ouster of this government.
ECONOMIC ASSAULTS ON THE PEOPLE
The strength of India’s economic fundamentals has been virtually shattered by the twin assaults mounted through demonetisation and GST. These two together have ruined the economy to such an extent that we have not been able to regain the lost economic activity due to them. India’s informal sector that contributes more than half of our GDP and providing employment to the highest number of people outside of agriculture is in virtual shambles today. The GST and the way it is being implemented has virtually paralysed India’s micro, small and medium enterprises that provided the lifeline for crores of our people. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is being allowed to every sector of our economy. FDI has virtually entered to capture India’s retail trade through the back-door. Retail trade sector in India provides direct employment for more than four crore people. This means that nearly fifth of our population is affected by the takeover of India’s domestic trade by big multinational giants. The recent acquisition of Flipkart by international retail giant – Walmart – has legalised foreign capital’s entry into the retail trade.
The agrarian distress of the country is alarmingly worsening. The real wages in rural India declined to lower than subsistence levels. The refusal to implement its own promise of a minimum support price to our farmers, which would be one and a half times the production cost, is leading lakhs of farmers to commit distress suicides unable to service the debt that they have incurred. A onetime debt waiver to the Indian farmers has been refused, while lakhs of crores of rupees worth of loans taken by big corporates are being written off. Profit maximisation avenues for foreign and domestic big corporates have been enlarged to an extent that there is an alarming growth of inequalities in the country. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. 73 per cent of the additional wealth generated in the country in 2017 was garnered by a mere one per cent of our population. The country’s resources are being looted in an unprecedented way. Crony capitalism is ruling the roost. Over Rs 11 lakh crores worth of loans taken by the corporates, mostly from nationalised banks, is not being recovered. Every fundamental economic indicator shows either a decline or stagnation. Thus, for the people these four years have been years when their livelihood conditions have sharply deteriorated. The worst form of crony capitalism is being practiced by the government, while the people are increasingly burdened.
The relentless effort to polarise our rich and unique diversities among the people is leading to murderous assaults on dalits and Muslim minorities. Private armies in the name of `gau rakshaks’ and moral policing squads through outfits like the `anti-Romeo squads’ in Uttar Pradesh are dictating to our youth what to eat, what to wear, whom to befriend etc. The poison of the communal virus has reached levels of dehumanisation of our society. The recent brutal rapes and murder of our young girls is a case in point.
ATTACKS ON HIGHER EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
This dehumanisation of our society is taking place along with an assault on reason and rationality being mounted by the efforts to doctor higher education and research along communal lines. The effort is to convert Indian history as that narrated by Hindu mythology. This communalisation of the thought processes of our people is to lay the basis for the acceptance of the RSS’s effort to convert our secular democratic Republic into their version of rabidly intolerant theocratic, fascistic `Hindu Rashtra’. This is an assault that destroys India as all of us know of it today. Instead of `sab ke saath’, what these four years have seen is the growth of Hindutva assaults that lead to the exclusion of large sections of our people like dalits and religious minorities from national discourse.
`SAB KA VIKAS?
These four years have seen a steady decline in central governmental expenditures in all social sectors that relate directly to the health of our people’s livelihood. This Modi government assumed office promising to raise public spending on education to 6 per cent of the GDP. Instead, what has happened is a decline from 0.55 per cent in 2014-15 to 0.45 per cent in 2018-19 as a percentage of GDP. In terms of percentage of union budgets, it fell from 4.1 per cent in 2014-15 to 3.6 per cent in 2018-19.
Despite the promises and much tom-tomed sloganeering of `swach bharat’, providing drinking water and sanitation to the whole of India, the reality is the opposite. The budgetary allocations for National Rural Drinking Water programme decreased from Rs 10,892 crores in 2014-15 to Rs 7,000 crores in 2018-19 – a decline of 36 per cent. The National Sample Survey Organisation’s survey in 2015-16 showed that six out of every ten toilets built under the Swach Bharat Abhiyan had no water supply. These slogans have, along with all others, remained mere jumlas.
Likewise, the allocations for MNREGA, the health sector etc are inadequate. The worst being the allocations for the sub-plans for SCs and STs. The budgetary support for sub-plans have been thoroughly inadequate.
ATTACKS ON PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY
All institutions of parliamentary democracy are under severe attack during these last four years. The parliament itself is being reduced into an ineffective check on the government and its task of making the government accountable. Previously unheard of things are happening. No-confidence motions are not allowed to be discussed. Far reaching legislations are being smuggled in through the Finance Bill in order to escape the scrutiny of the Rajya Sabha. All other constitutional authorities like the Election Commission etc are facing many a question mark for their role. A case in point is the recent meeting of former Chief Election Commissioners that has asked the current Election Commission to restore its credibility of fairness and neutrality before the people. All investigative agencies are working as the political arm of the government.
Through a combination of massive use of money power, along with threats, intimidation and harassment, the BJP is able to form governments even after losing elections like in Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya and later in Bihar.
The promises of establishing a government that is accountable and non-corruptible is being thoroughly undermined. The prime minister waxes eloquence of his government’s commitment to eradicate corruption. Till date, the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act passed by parliament in December 2013 and notified in January in 2014 has not been operationalised. The Prevention of Corruption Act was weakened through amendments proposed by the government in 2016. The Whistle Blowers Protection Act remains unimplemented. This has led to many whistle blowers paying the price by losing their lives to vested interests. The Modi government has failed to re-introduce the Grievance Redressal Bill, the Right to Information law has been amended. The Central Information Commission has four vacancies in a strength of 11 commissioners, four more are due to retire in 2018 including the chief. Clearly, the government is rendering the RTI ineffective.
The Modi government has virtually legalised political corruption by making drastic changes in funding to political parties. With the introduction of the electoral bonds, instead of greater transparency and accountability, the government has introduced greater opaqueness making accountability the casualty. These changes in political funding smuggled in through the Finance Bill legitimises the use of massive money power in politics, in general, and in elections, in particular.
FOUR YEAR’S EXPERIENCE
This BJP government must go. On all counts, apart from the betrayal of every single promise they made to the people, the efforts to undermine the effectivity of parliamentary democracy and the secular democratic character of our Republic, while, at the same time, mounting an unprecedented assault on the living conditions of the people, this Modi government has shown itself to be both anti-people and anti-constitutional. On all these counts and many more, the priority task before the Indian people in the coming final year of this government is to mount the groundswell of people’s protests against all these attacks to ensure that this government is ousted.