The best way to evaluate the year gone by is to ask: Are we ending the year angry about the same things we were angry about at the beginning of the year? It seems most people will say ‘yes’. Most of the woes are related to governance. The Narendra Modi government has entered the last full year of its existence. It came to power with promises galore: ending corruption, bringing back black money stashed away in foreign countries; creation of two crore jobs every year; bringing down prices; ending terrorism and extremism; higher prices for farm products; better relations with neighbouring countries; and more. But on every front, failures have upstaged successes.
The pro-rich policies of the government become clear in the latest World Inequality Report which says that 1 per cent of the population has cornered 22 per cent of the total income in the country. The rural-urban divide is worsening, leading to agrarian distress and increasing farmer suicides. One gets a clear picture from the recent elections where the BJP lost in several rural areas while it maintained its lead in urban areas.
Another serious issue is the bizarre ways the Hindutva groups have unleashed its ‘parallel governance’ in the country. Right wing mobs have gone on the rampage across several States in the name of beef; they have lynched people, raising the ploy of cow slaughter and smuggling. They have gone after Dalits and perpetrated unprecedented atrocities at several places. Many have lost lives in the raging fire of ‘love jihad’. Now v igilante groups decide what constitutes a crime.
Yet another tragedy is that Ministers and ruling party leaders have turned into motormouths preaching the opposite of what the government apparently stands for. Leaders and law-makers like Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Giriraj Singh, Sangeet Som and Sanjeev Balyan have stirred a hornet’s nest a number of times when they used derogatory language against minorities. The latest among the practitioners of spewing venom is Anant Hegde, a Minister in the Modi government, who has punched above his weight stating that the government will change the Constitution to tackle ‘secularism’. It will be naïve to believe that a ‘hapless’ Modi is watching these developments helplessly. It is a diversionary tactics by the government to sweep the real issues under the carpet and bring non-issues to the forefront.
Despite the allegation of policy paralysis, the UPA government under Manmohan Singh had launched several pro-people programmes in contrast to the Modi government which has been burdening people one way or the other. The UPA government’s bold and far-reaching initiatives like National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme; the Right to Education Act; the Right to Information Act; the Right to Food Act; and the Direct Benefit Transfer of subsidies to beneficiaries’ bank accounts have a positive impact on the people. On the other hand, the Modi government’s initiatives like demonetization and hasty introduction of GST have turned the lives of millions of people upside down. Here is an unknown quote which says: Behind every apparent double standard lies an unconfessed single standard. It seems the government is running roughshod over people with the sole aim of creating a Hindu Rashtra.
(Published on 01th January 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 01)