The first six months of Modi Government has given us a glimpse of his style of governance, which appears to be encouraging double speak to camouflage either its true intentions or administrative failures due to ineptitude. However, Modi has clearly succeeded in confusing the people of India and many in the Diaspora who have pinned their hopes on the much heralded development agenda (Achhe Din) that was promised during the high voltage campaign of 2014. Through their assessment, the Indian National Congress has also accused the BJP Government of taking a U-Turn on a number of their promises, and for renaming and plagiarizing the UPA programs and schemes.
To those who are keen observers of the Government’s programs, ‘Make in India’ was a manufacturing policy that was established by the UPA Government; Jan Dhan was known as Swabhimann for fianacial inclusion, Swachh Bharat was the UPA’s Nirmal Bharat, Deendayal Upadhaya Gram Jyothi Yogana (DDUGJY) was known as ‘Rajiv Gandhi Grameen VidyutikaranYogana (RGGVY) . As Lok Shabha MP Shashi Tharoor stated recently, ‘Modi sarkar is becoming known more as a name changer than a game changer’.
In addition, one can also see no credit being attributed to the previous government for their vision to initiate and fund the launching of Mangalyan Mars Mission or numerous accomplishments in the overall improvement of the defense capabilities or infrastructure development such as railways, roads and bridges. Snatching credit from the previous administration is not new; however this time, it has gone shamelessly too far.
Mr. Modi has made a very deft and effective media campaign portraying the UPA government as corrupt, painting a bleak picture of the economic future of the country during the election time. Promises galore urged the people to put their trust in BJP with their votes. However, one can see the blatant reneging of many of those promises evidenced in black money; escalating rail fares; diesel deregulation; tainted Ministers; a weak stand on corruption and ‘Lokpal’ and the subsidy on LPG cylinders to name a few.
As an emerging economic power, India definitely needs to reach out to its neighbors and other strategic allies around the globe. However, if one closely examines the net gain from all the time Mr. Modi has spent abroad, not much has been accomplished. He seemed eager to speak to the Legislatures around the world and to address the Indian Diaspora and extol the virtues of our values and tradition, and yet, he remains silent in the face of mounting religious tension and rising conflicts at home.
It is obvious to everyone that right wing extremists have seized the opportunity of the BJP victory, and have started spreading communal venom, poisoning the secular and democratic fabric of the nation. A Minister in the Modi cabinet, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti once again proved that her focus is more on provocative rants than effective governance. She has labeled all non-Hindus as ‘Haramazadas’ (bastards) during an election rally in Delhi. Although an apology was extracted, one would wonder how an individual who has disrespected the constitution and violated the laws of the land would be allowed to continue to hold such a position in the Government.
It is time to ask the BJP Government whether it truly believes in the nation state articulated by Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of which Mr. Modi was a Prachrak? Whether it is the advocacy of External Affairs Minister Shushma Swaraj’s call to make the Bhagavat Gitathe National Holy book; or RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s assertion that India is a Hindu Rashtra; or Yogi Adityanath’s vitriolic campaign on Love Jihad; or Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ‘Ghar Wapsi’ program;, an impression is being created that although Prime Minister Modi publicly extols the virtues of inclusion and tolerance, he is either silent or condones the hate mongering from his own rank and file. The recent burning of the St. Sebastian’s Church in Delhi, possibly by the religious extremists, and the Government proclamation of the ‘Good governance day’ on the day when Christians all across the world are celebrating their most important holiday are not only sending negative vibes to the minorities in the country but also conveying a wrong message to the world regarding the direction in which India is headed.
Ms. Smithi Irani, the new HRD Minister, who apparently lacks any qualification to be the overseer of higher education in India, is quite busy implementing the Saffron Agenda using the Government machinery. Her primary mandate should have been improving the access and quality of the Education across the land. Instead, it appears that so much time is apportioned to promoting Sanskrit, criticizing or canceling western education and to the rewriting of the history books. The BJP government has also appointed Professor Y. Sudershan Rao as the head of the Historical research who believes that Hindu epics are adequate to understand the ancient world rather than relying on the evidence of research. According to him, Indians were flying airplanes, carrying out stem cell research and may have been even using cosmic weapons 5000 years ago.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to relish the limelight and undoubtedly is a great communicator, a leadership trait that might have earned him the highest position of the land. The voters appear to have given him the mandate for decisive governance. However, to any independent observer, it has become exceedingly clear that he continues to operate in a campaign mode rather than in a governance mode. Sloganeering and hype have become the order of the day.
It is said that false knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance. The Modi Government so far has succeeded in telling stories rather than facts. It has relied on rhetoric rather than governance; employed optics and hyperbole rather than honest discourse and delivering goods. It may be squandering a great opportunity to serve the nation with efficient governance, as the saffron warriors are stealing the agenda and dividing the nation on communal lines to its possible detriment. Long spells of strategic silence on these critical matters by the Prime Minister is totally unhelpful.
George Abraham, Chairman
Indian National Overseas Congress, USA