NDTV News on 25th August reported that Kannan Gopinathan, an IAS officer in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, filed his papers to quit the coveted government job. The reason for his resignation may appear to be strange for many Indians, denial of “fundamental rights” to lakhs of people in Jammu and Kashmir for weeks after the scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir State. "..Not that my resignation will cause anything even worth a flutter. But one has one's own conscience to answer to, I guess," Mr Gopinathan told NDTV. “In (Jammu and) Kashmir, fundamental rights of lakhs of people have been suspended for 20 days. And many in India seem to be okay with it. This is happening in India in 2019. Article 370 or its abrogation is not the issue, but denying citizens their right to respond to it, is the main issue. They could welcome the move or protest it, that's their right," Mr Gopinathan added. The issue "disturbed" him enough to resign and he put his papers on August 21. He also expressed his displeasure over the silence that followed the former IAS officer, Shah Faesal’s detention in Kashmir.
When large majority of the people in India think that the government is doing the right thing in Kashmir, there are a few dissenting voices and Gopinathan is one among them. The “nationalists” and “patriots” who had condemned the 49 enlightened Indians, who wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, requesting him to stop mob lynching of innocent people, may also condemn Gopinathan as an anti-national and demand his incarceration in jail under the sedition law. It seems that these “patriots” have lost their human sensitivity. If they are put under house arrest for more than 20 days without any fault on their part, what would be their feelings? If their State is reduced to a Union Territory overnight and imposed 144 without any hope of lifting it, what will be their sentiments?
As reported by NDTV, Gopinathan was a brilliant and efficient IAS officer who was instrumental in transforming a loss-making government electricity distribution firm into a profit-making one. He had shot to fame during 2018 Kerala flood when he had actively participated in the relief and rescue operations during the floods. He had kept his identity secret until a fellow officer identified him. He had joined the service with a lot of hope of transforming the system, but his experience was very disappointing. “We got into the service thinking that we can provide voice to the people, but then we ended up with our own voice being taken away from us,” said Gopinathan.
The government of India claims that the situation in Kashmir is becoming normal. At the same time the government did not allow Rahul Gandhi and some opposition leaders to visit the area and interact with the people. They were sent back on 24th August from Srinagar airport. Reacting to the government action Priyanka Gandhi tweeted: “ There is NOTHING more ‘political’ and ‘anti national’ than the shutting down of all democratic rights that is taking place in Kashmir. It is the duty of every one of us to raise our voices against it; we will not stop doing so”.
Some prominent Congress leaders supported a recent statement of Jairam Ramesh of the Congress party when he said, “demonizing Modi always won’t help”. There is no point in demonizing Modi, although many ruling party leaders never cease to demonize the opposition leaders. The problem is not with Modi or the Sangh Parivar; but the problem is with the people who, without making use of their critical thinking, blindly believe what Modi and his party leaders declare. The so called educated middle class of India are taken up by emotional issues and they are brainwashed. They fail to analyse the ground realities. The problem is also with the Congress party and some of its members who have proved to be opportunists and betrayers. Lack of unity within the Congress party and absence of ideological commitment have emboldened the ruling party to resort to any undemocratic method. The Congress party is equally responsible for the present situation because of the cowardice of its leaders.
The admirers of Modi and of the BJP and the enslaved media are hesitant to speak about the economic slowdown and the huge loss of jobs. Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has said that the economic slowdown in India is "very worrisome" and has called for a fresh look at the way GDP is being calculated. The real GDP growth has gone down from a peak of 8.2% in 2016-17 to 6.8% in 2018-19, with the fourth quarter of 2018-19 dipping to 5.8%. The first quarter of 2019-20 is expected to dip further to 5.6%. The statement of Niti Ayog Vice-Chairman, Rajiv Kumar on 23rd August is an admission of the seriousness of the issue. “Nobody had faced this sort of situation in the last 70 years where entire financial system was under threat,” he said.
The automobile industry is the worst affected sector with the sales of passenger cars crashing by 30% in July 2019. India's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. posted a steep 36% decline in sales in July 2019. According to the media reports the job loss in this sector is between 2.5 and 3.5 lakhs. If the slowdown continues even 10 lakh people may lose their jobs. The automobile industry supports about 3.7 crore direct and indirect jobs and contributes over 7% of the country’s GDP. Not only the automobile sector, but the entire economy is in doldrums.
Shivam Vij in an article titled, “ India’s economic crisis has only one root cause” in The Print, has asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot escape responsibility for India’s economic slowdown caused by his acts of omission and commission. He has listed 15 reasons for the current economic crisis: Letting bank crisis fester, Not moving projects, Gimmicks as policy, Demonetization, Vilification of business, Messing up GST, Unprepared for Non Banking Finance Institutions (NBFC) crisis, Keeping inflation too low, Not making disinvestment a priority, Valuing bureaucrats over economists, Commanding heights mindset, Tax terrorism, fudging data, Living in denial and finally Indifferent budget.
PM Modi and his acolytes have been in a permanent denial mode about the evil effects of demonetization. “ Demonetisation killed the informal economy, disrupted age-old economic systems and caused job losses. We are still facing its consequences and it brought no benefits at all. The government did what it does best: suppressed a report that showed corporate investments dropped by 60% in the demonetisation year,” writes Shivam Vij.
The Outlook magazine in its August 14 issue highlighted various aspects of the nutritional status of the people of India. It is, indeed, frightening.
· One third of world’s malnourished people live in India.
· One third of India does not have enough to eat.
· One third of India has unhealthy food.
· 11% anaemia among women of reproductive age in the US; 53% in India.
· 30% stunting rate among the children in Sub-Sharan Africa, 38.4% in India.
· 21% or one in five children in India is suffering from wasting.
· 38.4% or one in three children in India has stunted growth and 3 in 10 stunted children in the world are in India.
· 35.7% or one in three children below five in India is underweight, the world’s highest.
· 50% GDP rise in India since 1991; yet India has one of the lowest per capita calorie consumption.
· 103 is India’s rank out of the 119 countries in 2018 Global Hunger Index; yet one in five is an obese adult.
· 11% is the GDP loss from malnutrition, yet India spends least (1.4%) on public health care.
· 281 million tonnes is the annual food grain production in India; 14 billion dollar worth food grains is wasted annually. Yet 194 million Indians go hungry.
Those who beat up persons who are unwilling to shout Bharat Mata Ki Jai are least concerned about millions of malnourished and emaciated children of Bharat Mata. They have become blind to the poverty, hunger and joblessness in the country because of their prejudice, hatred and revenge.
While 194 millions of people are hungry, the Indian leaders have no prick of conscience to spend billions of rupees on erecting statues: Cost of the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat was 2989 cores of rupees; the estimated cost of the statute of Shivaji in Mumbai is Rs. 4,000 cores; Ayodhya’s Ram statue will be the tallest in the world and it will cost Rs. 2500 cores. If anyone speaks against this ostentatious spending on the statues, he or she will be targeted as an anti-national and dozens of cases will be filed against him/her for “hurting the religious sentiments”. That is the greatness of present day democracy in India and that is the meaning of secularism in India today.
The poor as well as the rich in India are brainwashed and majority of them have become blind to the ground realities in the country. The rich are intoxicated with the drug of “aspiration” and the poor are drugged with the opium of religion. Against the backdrop of a kind of helplessness, a person like Kannan Gopinathan inspires hope. Persons who have the courage to speak and act against the brute majority are real prophets. They believe in the dictum, “One man is a majority”. "My other question is: when freedom is being curtailed in your own country, when people aren't being allowed to express themselves freely, shouldn't it affect you?" asks Gopinathan. This statement of Gopinathan should disturb every Indian citizen to respond to the present scenario in the country.
(Published on 02nd September 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 36)