-Dr Satish Misra
A close look at the performance of the six years of BJP-led NDA government at the Centre turns out to be a list of loud claims propagated through captive media machine that are attractively packaged for a gullible audience.
Amidst tall claims, facts on ground reveal that country’s GDP growth has slowed to a 11- years low of 4.2 percent as the fourth quarter of 2019-20 financial year that had just a week of the national lock-down slumping to mere 3.1 per cent. Unemployment, even before deadly corona virus had hit the country, was the worst in last 42 years with joblessness hitting hard in the rural country side most. National lock-down has only worsened the situation as lakhs of workers have been displaced because of Covid-19.
Ignoring the horrible conditions prevailing in cities, towns and villages, the Modi government and the ruling BJP is trying to spin tales of country’s greatness and recognition that may please grief-stricken countrymen and women like a good entertaining Bollywood movie.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and his cabinet colleagues have captured big spaces in the media through their writings leaving little rather very limited space for any other view to appear that may be challenging the loud claims made by them. Majority of these writings that have been carried on the edit pages of the print media and at prominent places in other media forms are understood or believed to have been ghost written.
While Modi through his letter to citizens of India has written big words evoking their sense of duty towards the nation that calls for sacrifices from them. Taking a cue from one of the most popular US President John F Kennedy who had asked his countrymen and women “ Ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country”, Modi has been using it in different forms and words whenever a crisis confronts India.
The Prime Minister is not tried of telling citizens as how the world is admiring India and its leadership and has reminded us that we gave him a second term to realize our dream of “making India a global leader. How far have we reached? We have very few friends in our neighborhood or internationally or is not the fact that New Delhi has been forced to issue a denial of US President Donald Trump’s claim that Modi had expressed concern over border stand off with China.
If the US had even iota of admiration or respect for India, then he would not have publicly offered to mediate, arbitrate or play a role of broker knowing fully well that New Delhi does not accept any role to a third power in any bilateral dispute. Trump has openly defied India.
Tragedy is that main brunt of burden is being borne by the poor, lower middle class and middle classes whose savings are financing the government’s financial package. In last two and half months, the total combined reduction in income of over 30 crore depositors in saving accounts of State Bank of India and saving schemes like PPF, NSC is a whopping sum of Rs 44,670 crores. This huge sum has come through reduction in interest rates in saving accounts, fixed deposits etc.
Thus Rs 44, 670 crores constitute 24 percent of the actual fiscal stimulus measures amounting to Rs 186, 650 crores, according to a statement of the Congress. It means that the government has fleeced the savings of the common man to finance one fourth of the package. If one was to add the savings of depositors of other public sector and private banks, amount collected through reduction in interest rates would be at least three times higher.
Notwithstanding the in-numerous sacrifices and hardships faced by poor, lower income, lower middle classes and middle classes at the time of the national lock-down, Modi is talking loud of their “resilience”, confidence and collective strength at a time when the number of Covid-19 infected patients has crossed 1.7 lakh leaving behind China, Iran and Turkey attaining 9th position.
Instead of managing the corona virus crisis efficiently bringing the least burden on the country’s citizens, not only the Prime Minister but his cabinet colleagues and party leaders are giving struggling nation high verbal doses of patriotism and nationalism.
In his edit page main article in one of the country’s highly circulated newspaper, Union Home Minister while putting the blame for the woes of the country to earlier six decades of governance on the doors of the previous governments, goes on to claim that “the public has seen the ability to reach targets ahead of time” unlike in previous years.
“Making India the world’s foremost economy from the “Fragile Five”, taking India out of the shadow of terrorism and preparing the country for a decisive fight against this menace , making sanitation a habit and culture of every Indian, pledging to transform the villages and lives of the poor farmers in the true sense, India has now seen its ability to convert challenges into opportunities in the very first term of the Modi government”, writes Shah presuming that none knows the reality on the ground and none would dare to challenge him on facts.
“Undoing 6 Decades in Six Years”, title of Shah’s piece possibly points out to what the Modi government has done as it has destroyed Constitution, undermined autonomous institutions including judiciary and education, politicized armed forces, ensured negative economic growth bringing recession and depression inside and widened the gulf between Hindu-Muslims and sharpened inequalities.
In short, six years of Modi government is a tale of a local who has gone vocal manufacturing tall claims creating sound and fury signifying nothing in words of a famous English poet William Shakespeare.
(Dr Misra is an author, researcher and senior journalist)