Taimur Khan |
Whether it is hugging different heads of states around the world, performing yoga on the roads of Delhi or making surprise and unannounced trips to neighboring countries, Narendra Modi has certainly fooled the world through his antics, especially the masses at home into believing that he is a fine statesman, a great diplomat, and an outstanding ambassador of India’s interests and values. Back in 2014, Modi came into power by riding the Hindu populist wave that has engulfed India like wildfire. Making big promises of economic progress, social prosperity, strategic dominance and especially that of an “Incredible India”, Modi was able to land himself and the BJP a decisive victory in the last general elections.
And since then, Modi and his cronies in the government and the military have embarked on a myriad of ridiculous claims and farcical muscle flexing, hell-bent on making the Indian public and the international community buy the “Incredible India” hoax. The pet Indian media is portraying Modi as a charismatic, decisive, and an innovative leader who has taken India to new heights of development, progress, and enlightenment while very conveniently ignoring his criminal past as a RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) enforcer and the instigator of the 2002 Gujarat massacre who is nothing more than a loudmouth puppet (of the RSS) who pioneers in the art of pandering India’s history and culture.
The country is on the verge of societal decay with the divide between the rich and the poor increasing at an alarming rate. Latha Jishnu rightly pointed out that India is on a dangerous cusp right now.
If one believes the huge claims made by Modi that are mostly ‘substantiated’ with exaggerated statistics and the propaganda campaign of the Indian media that has portrayed Modi and the current BJP government as the panacea for all ills of the state, it seems that it is all rainbows and sunshine in the country they call India. But how “incredible” is India really? Modi assumed office as India’s fourteenth Prime Minister by promising Indians, “Acche Din”, “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas”, and “Swachh Bharat”. He conveniently blamed the Indian National Congress and Congress-led coalition governments of the past for all the problems of India.
Modi clearly put history’s entire burden on the previous administrations and promised the Indian public the moon. But how has Modi government fared so far vis-a-vis previous governments and what has his administration done to fulfill the promises he made? Has the “Acche Din” (good and/or better days) returned or did “Swachh Bharat” (clean India) become a reality? The globally heard jingle of “Incredible India” bites the dust when, in the words of Ambassador (R) Munir Akram, “the nasty, brutish and short lives of the vast majority of Indians are brought to light.” Modi’s “Acche Din” slogan goes up in flames when statistics surface.
According to a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey, India is ranked as the most dangerous country for women in the world! The ‘world’s largest democracy’ ranks higher on this table than war-ravaged countries like Afghanistan and Syria. According to a 2016 article in The Hindu newspaper titled, “India loses 3 million girls in infanticide”, shows the deplorable state of the female population of India. Two years have passed and the number must have definitely soared higher, judging by the numerous cases of female babies found in dumpsters, cases of female baby disappearances from hospitals and the futile anti-female infanticide campaigns that surface across India on a daily basis.
If the number of medical or doctor-assisted suicides is taken out of the equation and country’s population size is factored in, it is revealed that India has one of the highest suicide rates per 100k people in the world. In terms of cases of rape, India ranks third in the world. Not just that but 60 percent of Indians live on an income lower than two dollars a day, almost 14 million people live in slavery and India is ranked the second-most racist country in the world where even foreign tourists are not safe from assault and open discrimination.
Making big promises of economic progress, social prosperity, strategic dominance and especially that of an “Incredible India”, Modi was able to land himself and the BJP a decisive victory in the last general elections.
Public lynching has become a norm in India, especially after Modi assumed power where Hindu extremists (RSS and affiliate organisations’ goons) torture and kill Muslims and other minorities for inter-religion marriages or affairs, blasphemy, beef eating and even for having a different opinion. The Indian government is very quick to boast about the soaring number of billionaires in the country who built their empires by exploiting the poor. However, the same government of India conveniently ignore the ever-increasing size of slums in India that are the largest in the world and home to a vast variety of illegal activities. The promise of “Swachh Bharat” is also a far cry from reality.
In a country of 1.3 billion, more than 600 million people defecate in the open in India. It has 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. India is ranked in the world’s top 5 highest carbon (CO2) omitting countries in the world. In terms of economy and foreign policy, it might seem that India under Modi has fared well in these domains as Modi has been able to attract a lot of foreign direct investment into the country and secure important strategic deals with the United States, Russia, and Israel but there is more than what meets the eye.
Following the Chanakya school of thought, India under Modi has soured relations with its immediate neighbours in an attempt to appease extra-regional powers and attain the status of a regional watch-dog. Although this policy might seem like a success at the moment but will definitely prove counter-productive in the larger scheme of things as this policy is heading towards the encirclement of India regionally.. India’s hawkish policy towards its neighbours has kicked-off an arms race in the region and has turned it into an active nuclear minefield.
According to India’s own leading economists such as Manmohan Singh, Gita Gopinath, and Rajesh Jain, the economic progress that India achieved during the last two Congress-led governments has stagnated. Modi’s policies like the recent tax reforms and de-monetization drive delivered massive blows to the Indian economic growth. The real brunt of such policies was borne by the poor, unlike India’s capitalists like Vijay Mallya and Nirad Modi. It is shocking to note that in a country where a large segment of the population is malnutritioned, Prime Minister Modi decided to spend a sum of $100 billion in the next ten years on military modernization (this amount is separate from the billions of dollars of defence budget that India already has).
Not just that but 60 percent of Indians live on an income lower than two dollars a day, almost 14 million people live in slavery and India is ranked the second-most racist country in the world where even foreign tourists are not safe from assault and open discrimination.
Analysis of the state of human rights and human development in India does not reveal a rosy picture either. Mob-lynchings, gang rapes, harassment, and communal violence have become an everyday news item in India now. Since becoming the PM of India, Modi initiated a systematic programme of intimidation, violence, and propaganda to impose Hindu supremacy to transform the 150 million plus minorities into second-class citizens.
According to Indian human rights activist Arundhati Roy the main features of the current BJP rule are, “re-Brahmanisation of education, lynching of Muslims, attacks on Adivasis and Dalits, incarceration of millions of poor people, brutal suppression of innocent Kashmiris, intimidation and physical elimination of journalists, the existence of a shadowy, full-blown terror network to target adversaries, dismantling of educational institutions, falsification and fabrication of history, persecution of liberal students and student bodies, and enrichment of corporations close to BJP and Modi”, to name a few.
The BJP and especially Modi in particular have failed miserably (except a few minor temporary successes) in fulfilling all the promises of progress, development and prosperity. This failure has resulted in a dramatic erosion of Modi’s popularity. Arundhati Roy believes that this loss of popularity presages dangerous times. In such circumstances, Modi and RSS will try their level best to divert the attention from their remarkable failures by a subjecting to tricks like bomb blasts, false flag attacks, riots, and increasing tensions with neighbours militarily.
India is more unequal and divided than it was in the past. The country is on the verge of societal decay with the divide between the rich and the poor increasing at an alarming rate. Latha Jishnu rightly pointed out that India is on a dangerous cusp right now. The current political discourse and violent majoritarianism promoted by the BJP has not only undermined logical and pragmatic thinking but has resulted in the polarisation and moral bankruptcy of the Indian society. It is said that ignorance is bliss but in case of India if the public remains ignorant of where Modi and BJP are taking India, it will definitely prove to be fatal for India and very costly for the entire region.
Mr. Muhammad Taimur Khan is a freelance journalist. He holds an M. Phil Degree in International Relations from National Defence University, Islamabad. He wrote many research articles, Policy Briefs, Issue Briefs, Book Reviews and Monographs on topics related to International Relations. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.