Achhe Din: For Whom?

28 May 2015
THE Modi government completes one year in office on May 26. It is a well-known fact that the national and foreign big corporates spent huge money to bring Modi to power. Though due to the pressure of mass movements the Modi government has not yet been able to serve its masters to their full satisfaction, the general tendencies of the ultra-right government clearly and unambiguously indicate the path of its desire.

Modi promised acche din to the people of the country, if voted to power, before the LokSabha election last year. However, in this one year Modi has plainly revealed that his government is not at all interested in bringing the black money stashed in foreign banks back to the country. What the government is interested in, however, is in grabbing land from the peasants in the name of development by hook or by crook. Peasants are committing suicide all over the country due to the devastation that has beset agriculture. The number of suicide cases by farmers due to agrarian reasons has increased by 26 per cent to 1,109 in 2014, with majority of deaths reported from Maharashtra. While unseasonal rains have ruined standing crops and it is estimated that 180 million hectares of agricultural crops have been affected, the government is more interested in pushing its controversial Land Acquisition Bill rather than respond to farmers' distress and the spate of farmer suicides on emergency basis.

With giant slashes in workers' formal rights, introduced by the Modi government under the euphemism of 'labour law reforms', the condition of the working class is all poised to become more wretched than ever before. Significant budgetary cuts in the social sector have been followed by steep hikes in petrol and diesel prices twice in as many weeks. During its first year in power the Modi government has nakedly pursued pro-big business policies and enticed foreign capital, which Arun Jaitley has famously touted in his Facebook post as "The environment of 'prosecute the investors' has been completely reversed". In the same Facebook post Jaitley has also eulogized the government for putting paid to 'crony capitalism' in its very first year in office, but it is no secret that Prime Minister Modi instructed the State Bank of India to facilitate a loan of $ 1 billion to the infamous businessman Adani for a mining project in Australia.

A consolidated FDI policy document released recently has revealed that the BJP-led central government has retained the previous UPA regime's decision to allow foreign retailers to open multi-brand stores with 51 per cent ownership. This will spell devastation to lakhs of small shopkeepers and traders across the country. In fact, Amitabh Kant, Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), which is also the nodal agency on FDI policy, has declared, "In the last eight to nine months, we have opened up every single aspect of India's economy. We have opened up our defence sector, construction, insurance, medical devices... and other than multi-brand retail, India today is the most open economy in the world." 'Open economy', needless to say, is a euphemism for 'foreign corporate-appeasing economy'.

The overall buying capacity of the people is continuously going down, and hence the home market is shrinking. The only task of the government in this field, it seems, is to continuously pressurize the apex bank to bring down the rate of interest, i.e., the cost of the capital, at the cost of the common people as it will fuel inflation growth.

Assaults on democratic rights and secularism – particularly characterized by vicious attacks on religious minorities – have seen an alarming ascendance ever since Modi took up the reins of government. Forced conversions in the name of ghar Wapsi, increasing communal attacks on Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities, desecration of churches, rape and sexual assault of women in general and Dalit women in particular, hate speeches by prominent leaders, moral policing, attempts at Hinduisation of educational syllabi, attempts at fomenting communal unrest in Kashmir in the name of separate homeland for Kashmiri Pundits – all these are contributing to an atmosphere of communal tension and religious chauvinism, under cover of which the government is pursuing its pro-corporate agenda. The so-called overhauling of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) where internationally reputed Indian historians like Sabyasachi Bhattacharya were forced to quit and others like RomilaThapar and Irfan Habib dropped from the advisory committee of its journal is a clear indication of the sharp right swing in academia that has been the handiwork of the Modi government.

The workers are bleeding, farmers are in distress, communal violence is on the rise, educational syllabus is being rewritten along Hindutva lines and youths are waiting for jobs as there is no sign of a decent life round the corner. Achhe din, for whom?
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