After the unprecedented mandate obtained by one man and one man alone, the ordinary citizen (obviously not part of the pro-Modi 38%) must be wondering how to interpret Narendra Modi’s eye-popping triumph. With hope and expectation, or fear and apprehension? I suggest both responses are called for.
The stock market and the business community can hardly contain their jubilation. India’s messiah with the magic wand has arrived. If I read the words, "tectonic shift" or "paradigm shift" or "the new 21st century narrative" again, I might need to see a shrink. Caste, I understand, has been annihilated, vote-bank politics has one foot in the grave. A new pan-Indian Hindu has been created by team Narendra Modi. The RSS dream of one-tent Hindus is being realised. My note of caution, tinged with a bit of sarcasm, is needed in order to bring the country back to earth. Bring it back to Planet India, which is not the same thing as Shining India.
Mr Modi’s market-friendly economic programme is not the worry. We are told by Right-wing, two-handed economists (President Truman once confessed he was looking for a one-handed economist, someone who did not use the phrase "on the other hand") that strong medicine is required to revive the paralysed Indian economy. Prof Amartya Sen may not receive such a warm welcome from the new regime, but his bête noire, Prof Jagdish Bhagwati, can expect bouquets of roses.
It is not Prime Minister Modi’s economic agenda which worries me. Although there is a troublesome silence on what the Prime Minister designate and his advisers plan to do with the "jholawalla schemes", like the NREGS and the Right to Food, etc. Will they be dismantled? No doubt, these schemes, dubbed as "the politics of entitlement", have been plagued by inefficiency, corruption and pilfering. Yet they have provided livelihood and sustenance to a quarter of India’s population, i.e. 35 million. The Prime Minister, while abolishing Sonia Gandhi’s exorbitant ‘welfarism’, will need to tread carefully since his ideology mentions "inclusion".
Truth be told, the incoming regime’s plans to create consumer confidence and a favourable investment climate are not the principal concerns of pseudo-secularists. It is the kind of social environment Mr Modi might promote which is their main anxiety. At this point, some readers of this column might throw their hands up in the air with exasperation and say, "Oh, not that again". As old chestnuts go, this it seems is an especially old chestnut.
What the Prime Minister has cleverly done is to leave past concerns on the table. He does not address them, nor does he like talking about them in the various interviews he has given recently. He just ignores them. The past may be another country but it does not vanish with benign neglect. Brushing things under the carpet is no substitute for a clean sweep.
I will not be revealing any secrets when I say that while Narendra Modi’s own campaign may have concentrated on "vikas" (progress) as the sure remedy for all of India’s problems, his lieutenants did not hesitate to play the communal card. Indeed, two concurrent strategy strands were visible—one underground and the other above ground. To deny the underground tactic amounts to wishful thinking. In fact, when instances of rank anti-Muslim prejudice became available, the alibi forwarded said "he is a minor person". Do you condemn what he said? "Yes, we do not approve." Has he been reprimanded or disciplined? "Let’s move on. Don’t stick to one subject." Thus the charade continued.
At Ahmedabad, in his victory speech, the Prime Minister designate made some fine noises about "Taking everyone along". Alas, he has not spoken a word against Baba Ramdev’s appalling casteist remarks against Dalits, neither has he spoken a word against the habitual offender and now MP, Giriraj Singh. In fact, no senior BJP leader has bothered to even tick off the Muslim-baiter. In the euphoria of welcoming a decisive and stable government, the question of reassuring the minorities has got lost. The celebrated British conservative economist Edmund Burke had warned, "You cannot plan the future by the past." But there is also the American philosopher, George Santanya, who countered, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it."
In his campaign speeches, Mr Modi pleaded with the audience to give him "one chance" for 60 months. The electorate has responded by giving him infinitely more than he asked for. So does Prime Minister Modi feel the need to give something back?
Even if you have 336 seats in Parliament and 38% of the vote share, that still leaves a vast chunk of the electorate that did not endorse Modi’s candidature. Narendra Modi is the prime minister of these citizens too. While I have conducted no opinion poll, a majority of these non-Modi voters are minorities, specially the 170-million-strong Muslim community for whom the option of "going to Pakistan" is not just preposterous but an insult.
Mr Modi and his supporters urge his critics to make a fresh beginning. All the discredited verities of caste, religion, community, language and region need to be binned. I agree. But for the discredited verities to be discarded, one has to start with a clean slate. Mr Modi’s slate is not clean. John Kennedy advised, "We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes."
But we are talking of existential fears. They will not easily go away. Here is a thought. If after taking the oath of office, Modi issues instructions ordering the expulsion of Giriraj Singh from the party, then we can all celebrate the election of a new and visionary prime minister.
This piece first appeared in the Hindustan Times on May 18, 2014.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Congress ran the economy into the ground by minimizing (FISCAL DEFICIT + TRADE DEFICIT) as appropriate to a gold standard economy instead of maximizing ( FISCAL DEFICIT - TRADE DEFICIT) appropriate to fiat money economics.
Modi is repeating the same mistake. India is out of luck!
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it." Is right. Taxes are not needed to fund the federal govt. It only helps if the govt can increases the tax at the high end which is impossible because the rich own the govt and bribe the politicians and the people are too stupid to object.
For a money creator, DEFICIT means created money. At one time the govt and private sector were on the same side of economic balance and if the govt were in deficit, so did the people. Not any more. The new balance is
FISCAL DEFICIT – TRADE DEFICIT = NET PRIVATE SAVINGS, where FISCAL DEFICIT is created money, created at zero cost and zero interest rate and no debt payments. The fact its name is DEFICIT scares people. Note that FISCAL DEFICIT is the prime mover of the economy. It is supposed to be invested in all commons.At neutral trade, one dollar DEFICIT
adds one dollar to PRIVATE SAVINGS and One dollar of wealth.
This is shown by data in
Comparing the BJP with MIM? You are on to something!.. Anwar.
It is this sort of statements which polarised the Hindus. Muslims terrporise the hindus and all political parties support them. Hindus try to reciprocate, and they become Sanghis. It is time Muslims learn how to behave.
How do we know that Narendra Modi is a visionary leader ?
P.V.Narasimha Rao as Chief Minister of AP proved to be inefficient ,lack luster chief minister who became famous for his flying to Delhi for every single decision ! He sought help from Indira Gandhi for every issue concerning even state administration !!! For example he did not know as to how to handle an issue like separe Telengana state.
But later on, by the end of his political career and his life as well he became Prime Minister of India.
He proved be a visionary beyond criticism. He liberalised economy.Appointed Man Mohan Singh as finance minister. Did away most aspects of licence raj. And ignored Gandhi or Sonia parivar completely and along with them all of their boot lickers and sycophants.
Now Modi became PM on the projection of himself as a great man of development !! and also an euphoric clean administration.
I have great doubts about Mr.Modi's vision of India and his future plans for younger generations of India.
A Prime Minister need not be a great administrator . But he must be a great visionary. For example he or she must be a great visionary to bring administrative reforms rather than being a great administrator himself.
Indira Gandhi thought that green revolution was the key. She went on with nationalisation of banks, achieving self sufficiency in food production early on to her credit. She could also divide a nasty enemy neighbour Pakistan in to two pieces. She thought of making an atom bomb and satellites when people were practically starving for lack of food grain and even when milk production was absymally low.
So was Rajiv Gandhi with his vision for software, super computers when commuinists and BJP argued in parliament against computerization for fear of increased unemployment !!! but he did not listen.Today we know what it means a visionary when so much money is coming in to India because of our younger generation skills of software. We caught it early on, much earlier than Germany ,U.K. or China for example.
What could be the vision of Mr.Narendra Modi? I think he must forget Gujarat Model of development and the hype woven around it. There was no vision ,nothing.
A village sarpanch like strict administration is not an answer for future of India. In a developing country , corrupt administration of Govt. is a necessary evil. For example N.T.Rama Rao came to power on the plank of corrupt free administration and made blunders like early retirement for govt.employees and other blunders like terrible caste riots in Vijyawada etc., He completely lacked a vision and proved himself as a person who lacked dignity.
What was the necessity for Mr.Modi to call Sri lanka PM or Nawaz Sharif ? This was like Modi appreciating genocide commited by Sri lanka on Tamil minority !
Within 100 days I think Mr.Modi will execute biggest blunders.
At 41-d ; Do not write about stupids.
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