Monday May 27, 2024

Modi’s disastrous policies

By Shah Fahad
September 05, 2020

From the anti-Muslim rhetoric to the press gagging and belligerent attitude to the economy, the policies of the Indian prime minister seem to be moving in a disastrous direction. His communal approach has alienated not only Muslims but various small nationalities and lower class Hindus as well.

Modi had promised to create 20 million jobs besides vowing to drastically improve the infrastructure but the much-vaunted programme for employment generation seems to be on paper only while the infrastructure promise has not been kept either. Although the official figures look fancy, according to a survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO-India) for FY 2017, the unemployment rate stood at 6.1 percent, the highest in the last 45 years. The labour participation rate declined to 37 percent during the same period, some 3.5 million people lost their jobs, mainly due to the botched demonetization policy of the government.

The current economic outlook is not rosy either. GDP growth has been slashed by 23.9 percent for the first quarter of the current fiscal year. Modi supporters claim the coronavirus outbreak was the major reason behind the diminution but experts assert that the Indian economy was faltering even before the outbreak. For instance, the growth rate fell from 8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, to 4.5 percent that was much before the contagion hit the country.

The major setback came from the demonetization and the rising Non-Performing Assets in the leasing sector that led to the collapse of Infrastructure Leasing and Finance Services Ltd, a major lender to many businesses that defaulted on their debt obligations. The increasing borrowing cost in the market contributed to the lower private demand. The lockdown further exacerbated the problems for the already dilapidated markets; thousands of manufacturing units are idle and awaiting to be rescued by the government.

The months long lockdown failed to stop the coronavirus infections with the country witnessing 78,761 fresh cases in a single day recently. The government is being criticized for its mishandling of the outbreak. The country failed to announce any substantial relief package for common Indians, which led to anger among the people.

The Modi-led government has also been accused of employing sledgehammer tactics to gag the media and crush dissenting voices. It unabashedly allowed RSS goons to intimidate journalists and harass critics, prompting global media bodies to condemn such attitude. According to the World Press Freedom Index, India ranks 142th among 180 countries on press freedom. Apart from that, the administration has cut advertising to those who support the Muslim population in India. The bigotry and fanaticism of the Indian establishment led to the killing of 11 journalists and 46 attacks on media persons in the year 2017.

The government is also trying to tear apart the social fabric of Indian society by damaging its secular credentials. It seems to have a dogged determination to distort Indian history in a bid to demonize minorities and create an impression that they contributed nothing to the progress of the country. For that purpose top slots at universities and cultural institutions are being doled out to communal-minded people. Such individuals are trying to create communal frenzy that has already led to a number of lynching of Muslims and other communities’ people with the security agencies turning a blind eye to these brutal acts of violence.

Senior leaders of the BJP are spitting venom against Muslims and other communities. Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath referred to Muslims as a “crop of two-legged animals” and publically promised to “wage a religious war” against Muslims. According to a New Delhi based television, the use of communally divisive language has increased by 500 percent since the BJP came into power.

The Citizenship Amendment Act is also threatening to damage social harmony. Experts believe that the strong public sentiments against the citizenship bill and the overall organized oppression of minorities is giving new life to secessionist movements like the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), Khalistan Movement and the National Liberation Front of Tripura, Nagaland. When people from marginalized communities or small nationalities are humiliated on petty issues, they prefer to join the secessionists to protect their rights. According to some estimates, the movement for Nagaland alone has some 5000 recruits, while the Maoist insurgency is also attracting disgruntled Indian youth.

Modi’s hegemonic policy is also creating problems for Indians and the region, forcing New Delhi to allocate a huge chunk of the budget for militarization and defence. India has picked fights with China and Pakistan and alienated its traditional allies like Bangladesh and Nepal. Indian’s hegemonic attitude under Modi is also being resented by Sri Lanka and other states in the region. So, if the BJP-led government does not change its disastrous policies, it will have serious ramifications for India and the region.

The writer is a Karachi-based freelance journalist.