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Modi government’s forgotten promise

In 2014 when the bjp-led nda government was swept to power in New Delhi, one of its major campaign promises which struck a chord with the electorate was ‘minimum government, maximum governance’. Right-thinking people interpreted this promise as reduction of red tape and intrusion by government into the lives of citizens and sharp focus on the core functions of government, i.e, maintenance of law and order, easing the rigours of doing business, decreasing regulation of the lifestyles of citizens and autonomous academic institutions. 

Almost three years later, more than half way through the term of the BJP/NDA government, this promise of minimum government has been turned on its head. There is no discernible movement towards reduced intrusion in the lives of citizens. On the contrary, under the Finance Bill 2017-18 pushed through Parliament as a money bill, the power of income tax officials to intrude into the lives of citizens has widened. Soon, IT officials will have the authority to raid the homes and offices of citizens without judicial search warrants and seize books of account and documents, and “provisionally” seize the property and assets of suspected tax evaders and defaulters. 

Meanwhile in the country’s streets, cow protection, love jihad and moral police vigilantes with the tacit support of BJP governments at the Centre and in several states are running amok, imposing Hindu revivalist manners and mores upon the populace. And for a professedly right wing economics party, the BJP is curiously reluctant to privatise the country’s mammoth loss-making public sector enterprises (PSEs) to release resources for redeployment in human capital development, i.e, public education and health. Nor does India Inc report any progress on the ease of doing business under the watch of the three-year-old Narendra Modi government. 

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the priority of the BJP/NDA government is consolidation of the Hindu majority vote by keeping anti-minority rhetoric, Ram mandir and hindutva vigilantism in the media headlines. Moreover, by neglecting the vital issues of liberalising business and industry and free markets while indulging in pro-poor rhetoric, prime minister Modi is following in the footsteps of former prime minister Indira Gandhi (1917-1984) who squandered a huge electoral victory in 1971 by stifling private enterprise and introducing a slew of populist policies which released the genie of inflation and devastated the economy. 

Half way through his term in office at the Centre, this is a good time for prime minister Modi and the BJP to shift their focus to firmly improving the law, order and justice machinery, meaningfully privatise PSEs and slash red tape and improve the ease of doing business to enable job creation on a massive scale. The BJP/prime minister seem unaware that the national mood pendulum could quickly swing the other way. 

Indian society has lost its ethnic pride

Shocking but true. the poison of atavistic colour prejudice which one would have thought had died a natural death in the globalised economy of the new millennium, seems to be spreading again in several countries around the world, and even in our own rainbow nation. 

The spread of this contagion is manifested by the rising number of unprovoked assaults on African students across the country by ill-educated, lumpen elements multiplying at alarming speed under the benign watch of the BJP government at the Centre and in several states across the country. In a nation in which identity, politics of caste, community and religion are practiced continuously and unapologetically, it’s inevitable that the ill-educated majority has begun to think in terms of stereotypes. In this type of simplistic thinking — the natural outcome of a continuously neglected education system — all Africans are drug dealers, Muslims are actual or potential terrorists, businessmen are crooked and all north-easterners are Chinese agents. Conversely, the majority Hindu community is projected as a victim of the evil machinations of these communities. 

Such absurd simplification and orchestrated denial of the individualism of citizens to consolidate the Hindu majority identity is the logic and driving force behind the election campaigns of the BJP, RSS and sangh parivar nationwide. The depth of identity prejudices embedded within the constituent units of the sangh parivar (RSS/BJP family) was recently revealed by Tarun Vijay, a former long-serving editor of Panchajanya, a BJP mouthpiece and RSS/sangh parivar intellectual.

According to Vijay, the fact that relatively light-complexioned north Indians “live with” i.e, tolerate, dark-complexioned south Indians of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu etc, is sufficient proof that the majority of Indians are not colour prejudiced. Surprisingly, Vijay’s (tweeted) observation that south Indians are dark-complexioned aroused widespread indignation in peninsular India with the self-evidently dark-skinned leader of the Congress party in Parliament, Mallikarjun Kharge, describing Vijay’s rationalisation as an “insult” to south Indians. 

Curiously while there has been all-round condemnation of Tarun Vijay’s patronising remarks about peninsular Indian citizens who incidentally, despite their smaller number, contribute a larger share of the country’s GDP, no politician, academic or media pundit has questioned why the charge of being dark complexioned is an insult. 

It’s a measure of the extent to which — because of poor education and widespread poverty — Indian society has lost all pride in its ethnicity and uncritically accepts the white-is-beautiful myth as gospel. Befooled by Bollywood and comprador businessmen hawking fairness creams without let or hindrance, the country’s weak-willed academics and intelligentsia routinely fail to condemn lumpen politicians and faux intellectuals of the likes of Tarun Vijay who spread the poison of racial, religious, caste and communal hatred to divide and rule. Grim days ahead for this divided republic. 

290 Views  | Posted on:10 May,2017 Add Comment  Show Comments (0)