By Antony Clement*
Modi, Modi, Modi…. (this) was the slogan gracing the ears of participants across the country during India’s 2014 general election campaign. From cab drivers to highly paid officials, endorsement for Modi as their Prime Minister across the classes was strong. The youth and the new voters of India voted for Modi’s party the Barathiya Janatha Party (BJP) with belief of his magic word ‘development’.
Since Modi has taken office, the main opposition(the Congress Party), nicknamed Modi’s administration the ‘U-Turn government’. The Congress Party’s policies during the 2014 election campaign are criticized and regarded as failures; from ‘foreign policy’ to ‘Adhar Card’, Prime Minister Modi’s table was given more priority. His phrases would not give enough support to digital India, start up India, stand up India and other programmes. With the BJP completing almost its two years and six months in government, the part is now receiving more pressure from the voters. Particularly amongst the young graduates and job seekers who are eagerly expecting and waiting for Modi’s model of ‘development’ and his ‘good days’. Will Modi deliver by his promise?
People of this country are so patient in regards to Modi’s election dance because they still believe that he could deposit 15 lakhs in their bank account, a statement promised during his election campaign. The patience of India’s people should not be taken for granted by the BJP, however it should be acknowledged, understood and appreciated. Modi now has no way to turn, and has gave his attention to the slogan of eradicating the black money from India. But, with the question of disclosing the name of Swiss bank account holders, Modi is following a meek and tight lipped policy. Following this, in dictator-style decision making, the Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world announces the demonetization decision of withdrawing Rs 500 and Rs 1000 from the public domain starting on November 8th. In the last 42 days the RBI has changed the rules of withdrawal limits 65 times. The ordinary people, from the daily wage workers to the middle class are enduring excessive queues to take Rs 2000 from the ATM for their daily survival. More ATMs are closed due to insufficient funds during this Christmas season causing public commotion and disruption in many areas across the country. Bank employees are also suffering with the unexpected burdens of work resulting in a scheduled strike.
The TV panelists of the BJP can be seen shifting uncomfortably when asked difficult questions from the anchor. They have no other reason to tolerate these interviews than defending the egoistic order of their prime minister. The BJP leaders and the cadres also sat through the effects of the economic disaster imposed on ordinary citizens, but did not speak out and voice their concern for the common people. Demonetization also hit Modi’s own minister in turmoil. The Union Minister DV Sadananda Gowda’s brother passed away, but the Kasturba Medical College (KMC) in Mangaluru denied the release of the body “until the bills were settled either through the new notes or through a cheque.” Despite repeated requests from the ministerial side, he pours out his anger and wrath in front of the public, stating “If this is how you behave with a central minister, what happens to the common man who comes for treatment at a private hospital like KMC?”
On average, demonetization kills around 100 people (forbes.com). These are the very common people of India. India currently has 85 percent of unorganized sector employees, and to these people Modi is asking them to buy smart phones to help make the Indian economy cashless. The US got its independence 240 years ago, and yet around 50 percent of their transactions are in cash today. Around the world 85 percent of people are using cash for their transactions. Why is India expected to become cashless overnight? None of the people who use black money are suffering hardship, or waiting in seemingly endless queues or risk losing their lives. Through the bank officials and agents the black money is mostly converted into the new Rs 2000 notes easily. Modi is batting for the rich not for the deprived sections of the society, this rhetoric is the oppositions currents remarks against the prime minister. Ragul Gandhi rightly says: “You can make fun of me but kindly answer to the people’s questions”. This may be a sentimental statement by the opposition leader of the grand old Congress Party, but it reflects the public’s mindset.
Currently, the whole of India is suffering. Ordinary people gave their life because of the idiotic, short-sighted order of this one man. But the BJP party did not have any interest in lending their ears to the individuals who voted for them, the people on the ground. This is natural because any one in power always relays or backtracks. Modi claims that he got 93 percent of the people support, but who is this 93 percent? Modi forgets to correctly research the reality he is facing which shows the majority of his supporters are in the organized sector and already have smart phones in their hands. The ground zero report suggests that how many of the farmers, daily coolies, etc must have smart phones in order to participate in this survey in support of Modi.
P. Chidambaram the former Finance Minister of India recently said that Modi should apologies to the people of India for making them suffer. Well, by following this path the BJP has a chance to rectify the mistake but it seems this will not happen. The BJP ministers are not able to open their mouth. They don’t have any voice under the Modi’s dictatorship. Many scholars say that enacting demonetization in the hope of eradicating black money is delusional. “Demonetization in a booming economy, like shooting at the tyres of a racing car”, says an Indian development economist Jean Drèze.
Dr.Manmohan Singh, the former Prime Minister of India says, “Demonetization is an organized loot, legalized plunder”. The ruling elite of this country can take Dr.Singh’s statement as political; however, the prudent Indians should not go in this direction. Dr.Singh is a noble economist turned politician, and according to him the demonetization effect drags the GDP down by two percent. A two percent loss of GDP means losing the productivity of three lakh crore rupees and has a direct impact on India’s employment. But Modi is fiddle like the King Nero. The demonetization is not an economic policy to curb black money or fake money. It is a blind attack on the poor people of India and will be remembered as India’s biggest comedy of the year 2016. The broken egg cannot be get stitched back together, and unfortunately poor Indians have no other choice and no other way to go but accept and face the consequences.
About the author:
*Antony Clement is currently a student of the International Relations program at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
This article was published by Modern Diplomacy.