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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2706

India: One year of Modi government: Foreign tours to cover up domestic failures?

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

A firm looking PM Narendra Modi with aggressive rhetoric has demolished the innocent looking image of India represented by Dr. Manmohan Singh for 10 long years.


There is general view that BJP rule is slightly better than Congress misrule.

Of course, Manmohan will never the premier again in his life even if Congress manages to come to power again which looks impossible. Corrupt and insensitive Congress lost power even it resorted to all dirty anti-Muslim tricks to keep the Hindutva voters in good humors., like the verdict on Babri mosque that belongs to Islam and Muslims, hanging of prolonging Kashmiri Afzal Guru , offering Bhratatratna to a fake sportsperson, letting media fanatics to insult Islam and threaten Muslims on a permanent basis.

BJP claims the era of eclipse of India is over. The “suit-boot’ government is still busy repaying those funded the elections, as Congress party used to do, and created positive public images in media.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes the BJP victory in the parliamentary poll was his own personal success as a fast rising Indian politician who had high ambitions and he knows he must keep his own image intact.

On issues like Inflation, food prices, farmer causes, economic promises, development works, job creation, PM Modi has failed, though he does not promote corruption as Manmohan Singh did for 10 long years before Modi replaced him. Disillusion has been all pervasive. No Congress era scams as central ministers under tight watch by PM Modi.

PM Modi has not brought back black money from abroad (over 1 trillion dollars) and he has not discussed with leaders abroad in 18 countries he has visited thus far on the issue but he only helps Indian corporates get business there, he has not reigned in on bureaucratic corruption, Lokpal. No taxation relief, . Even many BJP specialists are disappointed that inflation has not come down. Prices of essentials keep skyrocketing. This is the major issue for common people. If 1 trillion dollars money is brought back to India, poverty can be erased with that amount from the face of India once for all.

Instead of getting down to work, the BJP has been on the perpetual election mode, disallowing Congress to recover.
Generally, however, people of India are not happy with BJP performance; they seem to have lost trust in it. This has been demonstrated by the results of polls after the parliamentary poll, like Delhi and Jammu Kashmir.

During the past one year, PM Modi has been able to push himself above BJP, above India. Modi says no corruption in her governance but more than anything else, he has focuses on demise of the corrupt Congress party for which common people in the country has no sympathy.

Instead of governing to fulfill the poll promises, the BJP asks the Delhi’s Kejriwal government to ”perform”.

Progress report

Narendra Modi’s BJP government is completing one full year of office now. Modi assumed power on 26th May last year. PM Modi claims the bad days for Indians are over for Indians and he has busted power circles in Delhi.

Celebrating one year of rule or misrule is a latest phenomenon. Politics in India apparently is no different from films releases and cricket scores as one year celebration of a government is like 100 day celebrations of film releases or hundred runs for batboys in cricket, got on mutual consent between teams.

One year, it is argued, is not enough to judge a government which is mandated by people for 5 years. However, the first full year can give the voters an idea about what the government plans for the people and nation. Indians would now know Modi how sincere the Modi government is on fulfilling the poll promises he and his BJP gave to the electorates.

Indians are fully aware that both the Congress and BJP deceived the farmers, minorities, poor by adopting and pursuing anti-farmer, anti-Muslim and pro-rich corporatist policies over the years. Modi always complains about the shortage of funds while spending millions for foreign tours and advertising his own personal gains and that of the government’s.

PM Modi apparently is a usual hypocrite. Without facing the real media, he is active on social media channels. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and the presence of good economic parameters are existent due to the coincidence of several factors occurring elsewhere, rather than administrative reforms from Delhi, such as the receipt of the largest foreign remittance year after year and the collapse of oil prices, which helped to build a robust economy by reducing the current account deficit.

Unlike Manmohan Singh who was being remotely controlled by Sonia Gandhi and corporate lords, Modi assumes much power and even almost acts like a dictator within the party and enjoys absolute majority in the lower house.

He is not controlled by any other big BJP leader but then he is fully controlled by corporate lords and billionaires.

Hence he does nothing for the poor because this gentleman is also being remotely controlled by influential industrial houses in India. PM takes with himself a huge team of business people, among others, at state expenses.

By controlling the ministers PM Modi could claim he contain corruption in the government but the mafias and lobbies are free to get their “works” done from the government.

For all foreign tour expenditures, Modi got one assurance of 10 billion from Korea. The Export- Import Bank of Korea expressed their intention to provide USD 10 billion for cooperation in infrastructure, comprising Economic Development Cooperation Fund of USD one billion and export credits of USD 9 billion for priority sectors including smart cities, railways, power generation and transmission and other sectors to be agreed.

During his tenure as prime minister, Modi posts fewer political statements and more casual messages, such as greetings, condolences and updates of his addresses. Modi uses Twitter as a personal signal than for issues.

BJP claims Indian economy is reviving, but the fact is business confidence, while still positive, is now more muted than it was last year. There is also a sense that luck (especially falling oil prices) helped improve the economy’s performance on growth, inflation, and the twin deficits (fiscal and current account), but the government has not shown enough pluck or the gumption needed to harness favourable winds to put the economy on a much higher trajectory. PM Modi focuses on foreign tours. Luck without pluck is not a combination that can sustain growth.

BJP government has no real, credible achievements but the corrupt Congress record comes to save the Modi government to get away with its own failures. At the end of Narendra Modi’s first year in government, a verdict on his performance would read something like this: He has done better than Congress-UPA, but he has under-delivered on the promises that brought him to power in May 2014 — the promise of bringing a radically refreshing approach to governance and business, employment, inflation, price rise, black money. .

It would be churlish to deny the government some of its obvious successes. The bill to increase foreign direct investment in insurance is law; so are the coal and mining and minerals amendments bills. The spectrum auctions have been a big hit, and the first phase of the coal mine auctions brought in big revenues for states with this mineral in sackfuls. Diesel prices have been decontrolled, and cooking gas subsidies are now paid directly into bank accounts (thanks to the speedy expansion of the Jan-Dhan inclusive banking scheme and the Aadhaar unique ID rollout). Two minor labour reform bills and the Apprentices Bill, make it easier for factories to take on trainees—have also passed their respective legislative hurdles. But the big reforms—the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and land acquisition bills— are still stuck in the works, victims of the Modi government’s political failures. The opposition is in no mood to play ball on these bills—at least not without making the government beg, plead, compromise and mangle the bills out of shape. Getting things done has just gotten harder.

The crux of the problem faced by Modi at the end of his first year in office is simple: His economic agenda is hostage to politics, and it is his government’s political failures that are slowing down his economic agenda. Modi made the mistake of taking for granted the indulgence normally shown to new governments by not pushing the politically difficult bills through in his first six months in office. He will have to pay a high political price for every concession he wins from his opponents for important bills.

Modi government should not invest too much personal capital in schemes like Swachh (clean) Bharat, bullet trains, smart cities, and such nice-to-have ideas that can help the corporates to grow their bad wealth only. Seven months after Swachh Bharat was announced, no city looks any cleaner. Those who travel by trains van see people, men and women queue up for open toilet spaces on both sides outside the tracks. Modi should focus on policies that will make our cities cleaner, by trying to remove the garbage as a local responsibility. Delhi can’t do it by itself. Modi should be clear that what he cannot control, he can only incentivize and exhort. He must spend bare magnum on tour projects abroad and let external affairs and economy ministries deal with the matter. Let corporates and rich spend on foreign tours for business.

Some 62 percent of the country’s tax resources go to states. Modi can fully control the remaining 38 percent. He needs to run a lean, mean, focused and execution-oriented central government. He was elected to do this job—not anything else. His next four years must focus on what the Centre can realistically hope to achieve. And for that, he has to reset the public’s expectations from his rule. He cannot keeps saying he is better than Manmohan because he speaks better than former PM. .

The Modi government now has to accept the reality of compromises in law-making. It also means that the BJP has to be especially nice to its allies. Getting them on board is the key to breaking any logjam created in the Rajya Sabha by a united opposition, though the primary strategy should be to divide and diffuse the opposition.

Effective media management

Success story of BJP and Hindutva allies owes a lot to their highly effective media management. The destruction of Babri Mosque offered them the opportunity to project themselves as the real national forces that the governments ruled by Congress party also supported: Congress cannot afford to offend Hinduism/Hindutva or much worse, support Islam or Muslims. While passively supporting Hindutva ideology, Congress knows too well that the insulted Muslims and other minorities have no other option than standing behind it. For the first time in recent times, Congress got disillusioned with its understanding of Muslims.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as part of BJP media strategy, has successfully used social media to shape his public image as a tech savvy leader, according to a study. Modi uses social media as a personal signal than for issues. Modi is the world's No 2 most popular politician in the Twitter sphere after Obama. During his campaign, Modi's account was more about his political vision. In the months leading up to the general elections, he tweeted to a list of some of the most widely followed celebrities, including film stars, cricketers and spiritual figures, urging them to get young voters to register.

Modi and his party president, Amit Shah, spent the first six months trying to win state elections to increase the BJP tally in Rajya Sabha and their political success brought them the undying enmity of ally and enemy. However, this does not mean the Modi government cannot recover much in the remaining four years. The mistakes made over the last year can be corrected this year, but only if the government learns to talk a different language with its allies and opposition.

Media management, however, does not solve all problems India is facing. The strategic change in approach must begin from the top, with Modi himself. It cannot be left to assorted lackeys and sidekicks to negotiate with the opposition. The government’s success from here on depends on making course corrections—and stronger follow-up action. Foremost, it has to distance itself from the cacophony of discordant sectarian noises coming from his own party’s right-wing and the larger Sangh Parivar. Modi has to separate government objectives from party goals as the government’s job is governing. The Shrill and politically embarrassing rhetoric from RSS and Co is unique to the BJP.

Modi has to assert himself with his own loudmouths and take control of the narratives surrounding his party’s programmes. To get key bills passed, Modi and his corporate lords will have to personally reach out to many opposition party leaders, and especially the Congress and big regional players, to contain the damage done by past arrogance and triumphalism after May 16, 2014.

PM Modi has to re-examine his own predilections on the public sector to serve the common people and poor, not only for the rich and corporates who accompany him in his foreign tours. Corruption and inspector raj are not going to go away by bringing in more laws; they need to be eliminated by making government decisions transparent, keeping interactions between citizen, business and bureaucracy minimal through the adoption of IT in all fields, and simplifying rules and regulations so that compliance is easier.

Modi has to break up his to-do list for the next four years very carefully. He must do away with Congress era massive dose of privatization; bring back all types of black/grey money back to India. Bring down regulate all key prices; help poor with more subsidies; and ease rules for poor and the average citizen consistently and continuously. His focus must be on building a high-trust society, where the government is not suspicious of everything a citizen does. If this means acquiring the tag of being pro-business, so be it. Modi should not shy away from being called pro-poor. That was partly why he was elected in the first place.

PM Modi should know BJP’s media management can fail, leaving his government in darkness, exposing hollowness of his politcal premises..

Hindutva ideology and minorities

Mahatma Gandhi said the importance of a nation is gauged by the number of billions a nation posses but by the way minorities are treated by the government. Of course, unlike Congress, BJP is not a great admirer of Gandhi. BJP governments, more than Congress ruled states, operate against the constitution by targeting Muslims in all walks of life, making their lives miserable. Apparently, the Congress party does not even allow Muslim leaders to approach the courts against Hindutva harassments.

Today, Indian minorities are at crossroads as never before. They feel more and more insecure, although Washington has reportedly asked PM Modi to adopt inclusive governance and don’t target minorities. No confidence has been created among minority communities, especially Muslims. Every effort has been made by the government that only Hindus and pro-Hindus would be helped and protected by the state. That is to say minorities Muslims, Christians, Sikhs have to change their mindsets to accept Hindutva ideology as their own.

One gets the impression that it is not PM Modi who rules India now but, like the Sonia-Manmohan regime, by corporates and RSS ideologues and so their joint target remains minorities and poor.

While BJP depends for its survival on Hindutva slogans and threats to Muslims, Congress government is bent upon misusing Muslims for political and poll ends. One example o is how Congress played dirty politics by targeting Muslim pundit turned politician from Kerala Abdul Nassar Madani to win poll in Karnataka state assembly where it defeated the ruling BJP by booking wrongly Madani with the help of communist government of Achuthanandan. Without any valid sound proof Karnataka government still wants to keep Madani in jail who is not let live on bail.

Hindutva governments at the centre and in states pursue the discriminatory anti-Muslim projects as a favorite hobby. Congress, other so-called secular parties including communist outfits seem to enjoy the national development. Muslims are denied seats in educational institutions, in job markets, both in government and private sectors.

Like in educational and job sectors, Muslims are discriminated for rented houses/flats even in so-called highly educated, civilized cities like Mumbai, Gandhi Nagar, and Delhi, being Muslims. Muslim women are driven out of rented homes for being Muslims wearing Burkas. The finding rent houses is more difficult with BJP came to rule Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, etc. The so-called secular Congress party supports the trend and never raised the issue in parliament or state assemblies. Congress leaders want BJP to harass Muslims more and more so that they get the Muslims votes to win polls as before. .

Both BJP and Congress must know denial of homes to Muslims for religious reasons is against Indian constitution and a serious punishable crime.

Last word

If anyone asks about the PM Modi’s development agenda, the answer is zero, except that he did not stop the usual development process in India that every globalized country witnesses.

The people of India had great expectations from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Modi government pursues a continuation of the Manmohan Singh-led Congress government, with several U-turns in policies. The people of India gave Modi a massive mandate because of two main attractions. First was the anti-incumbency factor of the ruling Congress government and other was the pro-Modi wave towards the so called Gujarat Model development. But, every hope was shattered within a year.

BJP government could not keep its electoral promises and the party began losing elections in states. PM Modi’s foreign trips – perhaps the fastest tourist PM, are indeed meant to make up for the demotic failures. He never speaks about foreign money Indians have carried abroad so as to not to offend the Indian financial offenders - indeed the international criminals.

India promised 10 billion dollars to Mongolia. But South Korea announced to provide 10 billion US dollars to India for infrastructure, development of smart cities, railways, power generation and other diversified areas as the two countries agreed to upgrade their bilateral relationship to a "Special Strategic Partnership" today.

As if he is in a hurry, PM Modi toured many parts of the globe accompanied by hoards of top business people, media lords, among other virtual state guests at the state expense. It looked PM Modi has a point to prove that the victory by BJP in the general election last year under his leadership is valid.

The Modi government also feels insecure as it could not deliver on its promises. His decision to compensate for his domestic failures by touring as many countries as possible along with a hundreds of businessmen and media lords burdening Indian state, looks rather impressive, though bold figured Modi , like an innocent looking Manmohan Singh, refused to bring back the foreign money home as he promised to Indian electorates .

That is because those involved in the money laundering crime belong to BJP as well as those corporate lords who also fund BJP, rather liberally.

BJP, true to its media policy tactics, would not concede that it failed on many fronts, employment, black money, economy, inflation, corruption, price rises, communal tensions, Hindutva threats to minorities, to mosques.

All said and done, one thing is certain: PM Modi remains the tallest leader of India today and he faces no challenge from a weak Congress, a disunited third front, an aimless leftist front. His only nightmare continues to be Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi CM and AAP supremo who now eyes on Modi’s high seat.

Congress betrays Muslims. If Muslims continue to ignore the Congress signals, stop voting for Congress they would get due place and respect in India. The plight of Muslims cannot go still worse. Congress leaders, even President Pranab, a senior Congress man, who hanged Kashmiri Afzal Guru so that Congress could somehow win parliamentary poll on anti-Muslim platform, could also ask judiciary to deliver a judgment against Babri mosque. One, however, has to wait and see how the Hon Supreme Court deals with the issue being manhandled by RSS, BJP and Congress jointly.

- Asian Tribune -

India:  One year of Modi government: Foreign tours to cover up domestic failures?
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