India’s disenchantment with Modi

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Sultan M Hali

NARENDRA Modi took oath Sultan M Haliof office as India’s 14th Prime Minister on 26 May 2014, thus he is more than half way through his term but unfortunately he has little to show for it. His much publicized election slogan “Achche Din” (Good days) and “India Shining” have come to naught and he is being criticized even by his own party stalwarts like BJP’s firebrand Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy and many others. Modi’s campaign of intolerance towards India’s minorities, targeting Muslims, Christians, Sikh and even low caste Hindus—the Dalit—has irked human rights activists internationally and at home.
Over a hundred irate writers, artistes, filmmakers, historians and scientists including some of India’s top nuclear physicists, space scientists and mathematicians expressed their anguish at the rise of Hindu extremism and Modi’s tacit approval of shunning secularism. Indian intellectuals, artistes and scientists have returned their national awards and medals as a mark of remonstration against Modi’s divisive policies encouraging hate and prejudice. The chorus of Indian intellectuals protesting religious bigotry and communal violence and Modi’s comments asserting Hindu pride and superiority has prompted international academics and litterateurs to join the protest campaign. Over a thousand renowned professors and teachers including Noam Chomsky have signed a petition addressed to Modi beseeching him to shun his tyrannical policies of oppression of minorities including the reign of terror in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Muslims have been especially targeted for sacrificing cows on the occasion of their religious festival Eid-ul-Azha. Hindus, comprising more than 80 percent of India’s population of 1.25 billion, consider cows to be sacred, and Modi’s government has also visibly promoted Hindu pride and practices, such as calling for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter. There have been horrifying incidents of beating Muslims to death even on suspicion of partaking beef.
The policies of economic revival of India have failed to take off or achieve the desired results while some radical fiscal decisions have caused widespread pandemonium and riots. Eminent Indian lawyer, author and columnist, A. G. Noorani, in his scathing Op-Ed titled ‘The decline of Narendra Modi’ states that “Narendra Modi is not a strong leader. He is an incompetent one whom failures drove to dwell in a bubble.” Writing in the cover story for the Frontline news magazine of 20 Jan 2017, the veteran author and legal luminary cites the 8 November 2016 decision of Modi to demonetize rupees 500 and 1,000 Indian currency notes without prior warning. According to Noorani, Modi hugely personalised demonetisation but the gamble failed, and the slide downwards has begun, exposing that “The Emperor has no clothes on him.”
Modi’s problem is that he is still caught in the web of his fanatic past which helped propel him to fame. He continues to be a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is infamous for its anti-Muslim activities both before the partition of India and after it. Its radical leaders did not refrain from assassinating India’s founding father Mahatma Gandhi, because he had opposed the massacre of Muslim refugees heading from India to Pakistan. Modi is subservient to Mohan Madhukar Bhagwat, the current RSS chief. During the 2014 election campaign, Modi had reached out to his parent organization RSS for support. After being declared successful, RSS demanded its pound of flesh and sought high positions in the government for its operatives as well Modi enforcing extremist Hindutva policies. It may be recalled that the RSS was banned once during British rule and then thrice by the post-independence Indian government — first in 1948 after assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, then during the emergency (1975-77); and for a third time after demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992.
Narendra Modi confessed on the floor of Bangladesh Parliament on June 06, 2015 that he had fought alongside Mukti Bahini guerrillas, trained by India for the secession of East Pakistan and “liberation of Bangladesh” in 1971. Modi was the Chief Minister of the Indian Province of Gujarat, where under his watch, militant Hindus mercilessly slaughtered over 2000 Muslims in 2002. Reportedly, state police and law enforcing agencies either stood watching amusedly or aided and abetted raiding Hindu marauders, who raped, looted and murdered Muslim women, children, youth and elders.
Modi has taken Hindu chauvinism to new levels. Sensible Indian scientists as well as historians have stated that they are increasingly alarmed by their government’s attempts to rewrite Indian history by distorting facts about a glorious Hindu past. Last year’s national science conference, an annual gathering of the country’s top brains, devoted an entire session to discussing ancient Indian technology with claims that jumbo airplanes and organ transplants were common in India thousands of years ago. Some went to extent of claiming Hindu elephant god Ganesh proved that ancients had mastered plastic surgery.
According to Modi’s govt’s diktat, even the history of the 1965 Pak-India war has been rewritten to prove that India won that war. In the above quoted article, A G Noorani has quoted Modi’s speech of November 8, announcing the demonetization of Indian currency. Modi uttered phrase ‘black money’ 18 times in this speech. He mentioned ‘fake currency’ or ‘counterfeit’ five times in same speech. “It was unambiguously clear from PM’s speech that primary motivation for the sudden withdrawal of nearly 86 per cent of the country’s currency was the evil of black money….”
The scheme backfired terribly and was not thought through since neither were new currency notes available in banks or ATM machines nor the provision made to entertain long queues attempting to exchange the revoked currency notes. Hundreds of people died in ensuing riots and scuffles with bank personnel. To make matters worse, Modi has announced the advent of a cashless economy featuring only plastic money or transactions through cell phones. The beginning of Modi’s downfall is near if only he can read the writing on the wall.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.
Email: sm_hali@yahoo.com