For the forthcoming 2019 national election, the ‘Mahagatbandhan’ should adopt development and national integrity as its main plank with a promise that it can not only promise but can decidedly deliver the goods. Let there not be a cobbled up so-called ‘rainbow coalition’ of sorts to end up as a flop show but a strong ‘gatbandhan’ to prove that this India can be taken to heights of progress and nobility.
The flopped development plan of Modi’s previous cream-topped and mouth watering election promises should be a warning bell. The flop show development model should be replaced by a genuine workable gesture. The nation had enough of the window dressing of the Modinomics with promises galore and the delivery of the goods going to the portals of mega-corporate groups and business families.
There was this advice to Mr. Modi from Panos Mourdoukoutas, Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at LIU Post in New York: “India’s Prime Minister Modi should spend less time abroad telling foreigners how well India is doing and more time at home asking people how they feel about his administration.” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/)
It was Modi’s lack of gauging the wavelength of his fellow citizens’ feelings and anxieties which made his development plank a shaky affair even as he tried to sell his ‘Mann ki Baat’ to fellow Indians. Quoting Swami Vivekananda, in his very first ‘Mann ki Baat’ broadcast after becoming the Prime Minister, Modi told the fellow citizens in October 2014: “Awaken your inner self, discover your strength and utilize your capabilities.” If he had practiced it and if his Parivar fraternity had taken it seriously, then there would have been genuine development of peace and harmony, social justice and socio-economic progress in the country. Modi wanted his fellow Indians to listen to his ‘Mann ki Baat,’ but cared little to listen to their ‘Mann ki Baat.’
Modi had enough time to sell India abroad inviting business tycoons to come and invest in India as part of his ‘Make in India’ plan. He aspired to tower over America’s Statue of Liberty by getting erected world’s tallest statue on the banks of Narmada Sarover. He succeeded after displacing a large chunk of tribal population. He invested enough time to cultivate Adani-Ambani like friendship. In the process, did he play the flute like Nero when fellow citizens were drawn and quartered by lynching communal mobs? Not exactly! He reacted late and acted with a whimper. How far was it an act of vibrating with the angst of his fellow citizens? Whose ‘Mann ki Baat’ he listened to?
Modi’s development urge made him spread a red carpet welcome to his business friends whose private kingdoms flourished like islands of prosperity in the midst of India’s hovels, poverty-driven rural folks and suicides of farmers. The Adani Project in Godda, Jharkhand, with central government’s blessings, is a mega indicator of non-development and social injustice. “If you don’t part with your land, you will be buried in it.” This was the thundering threat Adani’s henchman Satnaryan gave to Ramjivan Paswan. People of half a dozen villages are reportedly affected by having their fertile land, their only link to life, forcefully snatched away by the Gujarati business tycoon Adani with the blessing of the central and the state governments and with muzzle power.
Speaking to ABP news, Walis Pandit, an affected villager, says that his living father was declared dead on paper and the acquisition process was made easy. “We are not allowed to enter our own land which they have encircled.” ABP reports that it sought clarification from Adani group and the reply it got was that those who do not want development are putting hurdles in the way. It is good to know that the electricity produced here in Godda of` Santal Parganas, Jharkhand, will be cent percent supplied to Bangladesh and the promised 25% electrify for local use will be brought from elsewhere. So, such is the ‘Make in India’ development model of Modi Government in collaboration with private hands.
No wonder, according to Professor Mourdoukoutas “a Gallup survey finds a big decline in the percentage of Indians who rate their lives positively enough to rate it as ‘thriving’ since Modi assumed office.” Is this the face of development which BJP promised on the eve of 2014 election? “India’s largely rural population initially led the decline in life evaluations, with thriving dropping from 14% to 7% between 2014 and 2015, and edging even lower to 4% and 3% in the years after that,” according to Gallup. “Declines among urban Indians have been much more gradual, although they are down in the past year, dropping from 11% to 4%.” `
The nation had felt encouraged by the courage of a man who dared to hop-step from being a tea vendor (by his own admission) to the throne of India’s Prime Ministership. Hailing from a lower economic stratum he had experienced enough the rumblings of the underbelly of poverty and underdevelopment. So, it was natural that, aspiring to climb the august post, he talked of his ‘Mann ki Baat’, on the eve of 2014 election, as his cherished dream of development which was the need of the hour for his fellow citizens. Bowled over by this self-declared political messiah, people took him as the national wizard who would lighten every hovel with the light of progress. Many prayed: ‘lead us from the uncertainty of the UPA to the certainty of the NDA!’ Modi loved to present himself as a man of dreams. He dreamed and made his fellow Indians dream of Ram Rajya under his leadership.
When LPG prices were at Rs. 450/- during the UPA rule, the BJP bandwagon was on the street drumming empty cylinders to make fun of the UPA dispensation. Today, when the cylinder price has gone beyond Rs. 1,000/-, not a whimper from the saffron Family. People under BPL were enticed into the LPG racket by the Modi government by promising them 50% discount and free installation. But, now such beneficiaries are cursing their fate of having had the misfortune of falling into the LPG net. They do not have the purchasing power to get refills. This is development according to BJP dispensation.
Prices soar every day. The common man and woman are finding it difficult to tend their families even for basic needs. The farmers are on a warpath. The corporates and the business community have no problems, no qualms. They suck from the common people and thrive in their business and are, therefore, not affected by any price rise. What a magnificent face of development!
The development agenda of the ‘Mahagatbandhan’ should not end up as a flop show. The parties involved should enter into a churning of their conscience and vow not to repeat their past mistakes nor imitate NDA’s manner of governance. Corruption has eaten into the very marrow of our nation. Neither UPA nor NDA has addressed this issue squarely. If the undercover money is not brought back from Switzerland to make it white for the good of the nation, political parties across the spectrum have something to hide. We don’t need just promises but prompt action for the sake of the integrity of the nation.
If we expect our citizens to contribute towards the integrity of the nation through their behavior and relationship, then all the more the politicians and legislators should be transparent and live exemplar lives. If the nation has to progress on the road to development, those in charge of governance should have service-mindedness at heart.
The road to development should be paved with intentions and efforts to uphold the values of the constitution. Any effort to derecognize national integrity through nationalistic tendencies should be condemned outright and trampled under foot.
We don’t need megalomaniac leaders who play super hero roles. Nor should they be by globetrotting agents to sell the nation to corporates and international tycoons. We need men and women to act as our leaders who can gauge the feelings of the people at large and vibrate with their anxieties and hopes. We do not need heroes from family circles because the nation cannot be sold out to family ‘parampara.’ Second line leadership should be cultivated so as not to surrender the nation’s fate to one man or to one family. India’s future has to be placed safely in the hands of those who are honest, efficient, service minded and truthful. Only such people can listen to the yearnings of fellow citizen and think of genuine development.
The development arena has also to do with its human and spiritual aspect. The ruler of the nation has the responsibility to create an atmosphere in which the citizens develop their human and spiritual capacities and contribute them for the general welfare of the nation. Only in such an atmosphere Ram Rajya can be a reality. Here one would ask, has the Modi dispensation facilitated such an atmosphere for the citizens to act, react and respond to one another in a humane and spiritual manner or it made them behave like cats and dogs. The records we have do not match our expectations. We have seen communal passions escalating and venomous bile poisoning the hearts and minds of many Parivar Bhakts. Such forces have indulged in creating hate walls between people and communities, between religions and minorities. This is not the face of a genuine development towards national integrity.
In the new dispensation to come let there be no daughters of farmers to bewail over their parents’ suicide. Let there be no political windbags to tilt the balance of the Supreme Court’s sense of righteousness by wanting it pander to popular feelings and private devotions or unscientific customary practices. Let no scoundrel go scot-free with the nation’s looted money. Nor do we want bureaucrats and politicians paving a safe path to economic criminals to melt away beyond the seven seas.
The sense of national unity has been severely wounded by communal attempts to highlight a particular community’s imagined devotional feelings in order to convert the national feelings into nationalistic sentiments. With such attempts were added plots to undermine the sacred constitution or even to change it into a religion-based script interlaced with mythological meanderings. No political dispensation shall ever attempt such destructive methods to negate the secularity of the nation or to turn the nation into a majority-minority divide.
We Indians aspire for freedom, socio-economic justice, national integrity, independence of the judiciary, transparency of politicians, impartial service of the bureaucracy, honest civil service, abolition of class worship and caste discrimination, religious freedom, poverty eradication, a full stop to communal frenzy and an atmosphere of peace and harmony. If parties aspiring for power have the courage to face the electorate with their begging bowls, let them keep in mind such national aspirations of us nationals for genuine development and healthy national integrity.(Published on 7th January 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 02)