A recent RTI query revealed that the Modi govt. had spent Rs.4806 crore on publicity of its achievements in its four years of rule, from 2014-15 to 2017-18. That’s more than double the amount spent by the UPA 2 govt. This barrage of publicity through all media platforms is meant to create the illusion that the Modi govt., which won the 2014 election promising Achche Din for Indians, has fulfilled its promises.
This is beginning to sound like the Shining India campaign carried out by the first full term NDA govt. led by Atal Behari Vajpayee during 1999-2004. If you believed in that campaign then India had suddenly transformed in those five years. The common people however thought differently – they booted out the Vajpayee govt. in 2004.
The list of promises that the current Modi govt. has not fulfilled is long and shocking. It ranges from 1 crore jobs to giving farmers 50% more above their cost of production, from sabka sath, sabka vikas to building a vibrant democracy, from 33% reservation to women in Parliament to ensuring health and education. But the consequences of this Great Betrayal have damaged the country in a thousand ways, pushing people into poverty and destitution even as the super profits of the rich, corporate class have grown. Here are a few glimpses of what the Modi govt. has done to India.
73 percent of the wealth generated in 2017 went to the richest one percent of the population, while 67 crore Indians who comprise the poorest half of the population saw one percent increase in their wealth. In the last 12 months the wealth of this elite group increased by Rs 20,913 billion. This amount is equivalent to total budget of Central Government in 2017-18. Indian billionaires – there are some 101 of them – accumulated Rs. 4891 billion in just the last year.
Under Modi’s rule, rich have become richer while poor have become poorer. In 2014 when Modi assumed office as Prime Minister, the top 1% of households in India accounted for 49% of all household wealth. By 2017, this figure had risen to 58%.
In 2013-14, the last year before Modi took over, corporate profits were Rs 3.95 lakh crore. By 2016-17, corporate profits had risen by nearly 23% to reach Rs 4.85 lakh crore in 2016-17.
Clearly, Modi has been very kind to the corporate houses. What about working people? A Labour Bureau Report revealed that 67.5 per cent of self-employed workers earned up to Rs 7500 per month, 57.2 per cent of regular wage/salaried workers earned up to Rs 10,000 per month, 66.4 per cent of the contract workers and 84.3 per cent of the casual workers earned up to Rs 7500 per month. These average earnings show that a majority of working people are not even getting enough to sustain themselves and their families because even govt.’s own nutritional and other expenses norms put the minimum wage needed at Rs.18,000 per month.
Privatisation of Public Assets
The Narendra Modi govt. and his party, the BJP, proudly claim to be ‘nationalist’ and ‘patriotic’ but simultaneously they have set a record for sale of national public assets to private tycoons. According to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) under the finance ministry, in four years the Modi govt. has sold off a staggering Rs.1.96 lakh crore worth of public sector assets till end of March 2018. The preceding Congress-led UPA govt. had in its ten years of rule sold off some Rs.1.08 lakh crore worth of public sector assets, showing that such policies that are integral to the neo-liberal dogma are followed by all bourgeois parties. But Modi has beaten the Congress by selling off more in just four years. Such dilution will not only allow foreign companies to grab shares of highly profitable govt. companies but also lead to job losses. The Modi govt. is also trying to sell off mineral resources, land, rivers and lakes, forests and even schools, health centres and hospitals, even historical monuments to private companies. From defence production to oil production, from medicines to school education – everything may become privately owned if this govt. continues. Never before has any country seen so much talk of ‘nationalism’ and ‘Motherland’ accompanied by shameless sale of the same motherland to profiteers, both domestic and foreign.
Incidents of communal violence have increased by 28% between 2014 and 2017 (for which official data is available). In these three years, there have been nearly 3000 communal incidents which have taken the toll of about 400 lives and left nearly 9000 people injured. Officially registered cases of inciting communal violence have gone up by 41% in this period from 366 in 2014 to 475 in 2017. An estimated 700 attacks have taken place on churches, clergy, carol singers, Christmas and Easter events and missionaries across the country in the past 4 years.
Since coming to power four years ago, BJP and its associates of the Sangh Parivar have unleashed a wave of violence against minority communities fuelled by incendiary statements from leaders, shielding of criminals from legal action, and a poisonous campaign of lies and hatred carried out amongst the people. Hindu festivals have been turned into armed celebrations that viciously target minority communities. Hindu fanatic elements have used ‘cow protection’ as a pretext to attack Muslims and Dalits. All elections are vitiated by communal propaganda both overtly in public campaigning and covertly through hate-filled social media messaging. As the chilling abduction, rape and murder of an 8-year old Bakarwal girl in Kathua, J&K, showed, rape has also been used as a tool to advance this poisonous agenda, as it was in Gujarat (2002) and other places.
Dalits and Adivasis
According to the NCRB data released in November 2017, total of 40,801 cases of crime against scheduled castes were registered in the country in 2016 compared to 38,670 cases in 2015, an increase of 5.5%. Similarly, atrocities against adivasis were recorded at 6568 in 2016, compared to 6276 in 2015, a rise of 4.6%. These two most oppressed sections of society together make up about 25% of India’s population. The manuvadi and Brahmanical approach of the Sangh parivar towards these sections is primarily responsible for their increasing marginalisation in the years against Modi rule. This has led to rising discontent and anger, expressed explosively in the 2 April countrywide bandh observed to protests against dilution of laws that protect Dalits and adivasis from atrocities.
Seen along with the increasing religious divide, this growing caste violence and the widening chasm between oppressed castes/tribes and upper castes is a dangerous portent to the future if the present dispensation continues. Add to it the growing inequality and the rising tide of struggles by farmers and workers against economic distress, and you will see why Modi is sitting over a volcano.