May 24, 2015

Triple Dangers

DURING the course of this one year, Prime Minister Modi has gone on a record eighteen foreign visits. While the country and the people wished that he paid more attention to solving domestic problems, the RSS is elated that through these visits, the PM helped in spreading RSS networks in 40 countries across the world! Clearly, he continues to discharge his responsibilities as an RSS pracharak! In his latest speech to the NRIs in the last country that he visited, he thundered that while the NRIs were ashamed to say that they were Indians during the last six decades, they are filled with pride to declare their patriotism today, because of his government. He and the BJP will do well to elicit the opinion of many a patriotic NRI who stoutly defended their Indian citizenship and retained Indian passports. This apart, during the course of this one year, the country and the world is being told ad nauseum that PM Modi and the BJP government is rebuilding India from the ruins left behind by six decades of successive governments in independent India. In the bargain, they are being most uncharitable by not even recognising the six year long NDA government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee. Undoubtedly, there have been a plethora of unfulfilled promises made to the people, a merciless loot of our resources and growing exploitation of our people during these decades. This, however, is not the point of this Modi government’s public relations exercise. The point is, to portray this government as the only one capable of delivering a resurgent India. On the contrary, even in terms of the broad parameters, it is by now clear that there is a new three-fold attack that is being mounted on both the country and the people. The aggressive pursuit of the neo-liberal policies of economic reforms; the relentless onslaughts on the secular democratic foundations of the Indian republic by the sharpening of communal polarisation and the movement towards an authoritarian rule through the erosion of democratic institutions and methods considered sacrosanct in a parliamentary democracy, constitute the current constellation of attacks before us. This Modi government has relentlessly pursued the neo-liberal economic reforms trajectory followed by Dr Manmohan Singh more aggressively. All key sectors of our economy are now opened up for greater FDI inflows. They are backtracking on many issues that they had opposed earlier like permitting FDI in retail trade etc. On this score, the most brazen U-turn has been the new Land Acquisition Ordinance they have pushed through thrice now negating their own support to the 2013 Bill. The urgency to handover real estate to foreign and domestic corporates for fast profit maximisation is driving this agenda at the expense of ruining vast sections of our peasantry. Natural mineral resources are being opened up to foreign and domestic corporate houses along with ambitious targets of the privatisation of the public sector. Crony capitalism is having a field day. The statistical base year for national income accounts has been changed in order to project the GDP growth rate in a better light. Notwithstanding this, it is clear that manufacturing and industrial growth is just not taking off. Corporates have registered an unprecedented accumulation of inventories. This is leading to a fall in employment sharply increasing the ranks of the unemployed youth. Coupled with the relentless rise in the prices of all essential commodities and successive big hikes in the prices of fuel, this is imposing severe hardships on the livelihood status of the vast majority of our people. The agrarian distress is deepening. For the first time since independence, a fall in the total cultivated area has been reported. With the hike in the prices of inputs and the sharp decrease in subsidies, many farmers are simply finding agricultural activity not providing them enough to make even both ends meet. This is resulting in continued incidence of distress suicides. The state of the workers is no better. The share of wages as a proportion of GDP now stands a little over 10 per cent compared to over 25 per cent in 1990-91. On the other hand, the rich have become richer. As per the Forbes list 2014, the 100 richest people in India are all billionaires ($ 1 billion is equivalent, now, to over Rs 6,400 crore). This is 45 more than the figure of 55 in the same list in 2011. The combined wealth of these 100 billionaires comes to $ 346 billion. The share of top 1 per cent in the total wealth of households has increased from 36.8 per cent in 2000 to a phenomenal 49 per cent in 2014. The promised better days (achche din) for the people by this government are turning from illusions into a nightmare. This one year has seen the hiatus between the two Indias widen sharply. Simultaneously, apart from its ideological conviction, lest these deteriorating livelihood conditions compel the people to strengthen popular protests, communal polarisation is being sharpened through the patronage provided by this government. The BJP, as the political arm of the RSS, is advancing the project of transforming the modern secular democratic Indian republic into the RSS project of a rabidly intolerant fascistic `Hindu Rashtra’. The communal campaigns of ghar vapasi, love jihad are accompanied by frenzied efforts to replace history by mythology and philosophy by theology. This is resulting in the attempts to change the curriculum, the academic research bodies in the country etc. Scientific temper is being seriously assaulted. There are growing reports of communal tensions and even riots from various corners of our country. The attacks on Muslim minorities and particularly, Christian churches have exponentially grown. Prime Minister Modi refused on the floor of the parliament to even assure that action would be taken against members of his cabinet and MPs who continue to violate the law by delivering inciting hate speeches. At another level, using the strength of its simple majority in the Lok Sabha, albeit with a mere 31 per cent of the vote polled, the BJP is attempting to bulldoze many crucial legislations without parliamentary scrutiny and a meaningful debate. These are indeed ominous signals. Bypassing parliamentary procedures is the surest highway towards authoritarianism that can lead to the destruction of the democratic foundations of our republic. Combined with the communal onslaught and the aggressive pursuit of the hardcore Hindutva agenda, which seek to destroy the social harmony of our incredibly diverse society, these constitute a very grave attack on the foundations of our constitutional republican order. Such are the triple dangers that have unfolded during the first year of this BJP-led NDA government. This undermines the very `idea of India’ – the secular democratic republic while imposing a merciless attack on the vast majority of our people. These are the broad parameters of this “minimum government and maximum governance”. Prime Minister Modi and the BJP claim as their triumph, the fact that no corruption scam has emerged during the course of this year. Does anyone recollect any such scam during the first four years of the UPA government? Time will show this government’s record on this score as a result of aggressively pursuing crony capitalism. (May 20, 2015)