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January 9, 2015

Modi sarkar


January 9, 2015


Narendra Modi’s juggernaut reached Delhi six months ago amid excitement and anxiety. In some ways, Modi sarkar has performed as was expected of it – business friendly, imperious and self-righteous.
The catch phrase, ‘Modi means business’ has been relayed from the top, down to state functionaries and even to India’s foreign partners. That too was expected of someone who nursed the ambition of ruling India one day in a more energetic manner than is the norm.
Modi spent decades preparing for that day. It is doubtful he ever thought of having a personal life unless that too was a means to the end. He got rid of the encumbrance of married life by dispatching his wife to the village she came from, and has no children. What remains to be seen is whether ruling India was an end in itself or whether applying Hindutva to a diverse society would be carried through, and at what cost?
Alternatively, the BJP leader may have begun to comprehend that nations or societies do not gallop. If he is aiming at an attitudinal change in a millenary culture, patience will be his greatest virtue. The same applies to relations with other countries, whether it is to attract investment or forge political partnerships.
A former senior Pakistani civil servant, who grew up in undivided India, asserts that the Subcontinent was effectively ruled more often than not by those who came from other places, like the Mughals and the British. There were some exceptions such as the Khalsa raj in Punjab and more recently Modi in Gujarat.
The task of turning around India, as compared to Gujarat, would be like running a ten thousand metre race after you won a thousand metres.
The Modi mantra, as revealed to ministers and top bureaucrats, is akin to that of business corporations – setting goals, taking quick decisions and monitoring progress. Some of the measures like biometric attendance in government offices could pull a slack bureaucracy out of its age-old lethargy. Modi

is also pushing his toilet reforms and has approved a close watch for compliance with the help of information technology.
Six months are not enough to judge a government’s performance. Modi rode on a wave of popularity by promising ‘ache din’ or good days to the electorate. Less inflation, more jobs, and more security for women were some of the slogans employed. These remain pious hopes. What has happened is concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office; as if a country of India’s size needed more centralisation.
The opposition Congress and part of the media are busy highlighting Modi sarkar’s U-turns on black money, subsidies, and FDI. The increase in communal incidents across North India is attributed to the sudden importance assumed by Hindutva hardliners of the BJP. Unhesitatingly, some critics have labelled the Modi government as the most environment-unfriendly ever in the country’s history.
We, in Pakistan are more directly concerned with Modi sarkar’s designs on our country. Here too, it has followed the expected course, accentuating the Congress-led government’s strategic choice to freeze the dialogue with Islamabad. It is ostensibly linked to progress in prosecution of those allegedly involved in the terror attacks of 2008 in Mumbai.
The real Indian motives are more complex. The adepts of Hindutva would like Pakistan to become a pliant regional partner. The second pillar of this strategy is to defame Pakistan internationally. Third, avoid dealing with Pakistan by restricting civil society meetings and sporting contacts. The whole can be summed up as a mix of getting tough on Pakistan, harassing Indian Muslims and manipulating Jammu and Kashmir politics to the extent that the Kashmiri Muslims are left with no option but to accept Modi’s diktat.
Despite claims of a pluralist democracy, the Indian media is helping the BJP push its agenda. The opposition Congress and sections of the media, in knee-jerk reactions, blame the government for being soft on boundary incursions by Pakistan and China. The same media tries to obstruct resumption of dialogue with Pakistan.
Some of us thought that Modi was delaying the dialogue to ‘fix’ Kashmir through early state elections and might become more reasonable after making the BJP a major player in J&K. That is now a done deal but it has embroiled Modi so deeply in Kashmir’s power game that he may just push the possibilities of better relations with Pakistan to one side.
There are still two reasons for India to work for better ties with Pakistan. First, its claim to the high table of global politics sounds hollow while bickering with its smaller neighbour. Modi’s ‘make in India’ call to world business leaders may not have an enthusiastic response if tensions with Pakistan are kept high by killing our soldiers and civilians and issuing incendiary statements.
Second, the Pakistan-India dialogue process is universally backed by the international community. By following Congress’ policy of keeping the process frozen, India will not receive any kudos. Which brings us to the crucial question: who formulates India’s Pakistan policy? Maybe the counterparts of those who determine Pakistan’s India policy. Why not arrange a face-to-face between the two to settle the terms of engagement?
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