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Mainstream, VOL LX No 25, New Delhi, June 11, 2022

Capitalising On The Greatness Of Modiji | T J S George

Saturday 11 June 2022, by T J S George



There is something phenomenal about the way literature is building up on Narendra Modi. There is only one viewpoint that is presented in all these books: The greatness of Modiji as prime minister and as leader of people. Typical is Smriti Irani’s thesis: How Modi empowered India’s women in just eight years.

Modiji, given his background, is unlikely to be embarrassed by the way he is projected for posterity. Former Union Minister Vijay Goel described him as a "maha manav" (great man) and says the great man is working for the welfare of the country all 24 hours. Anurag Thakur, perpetual Union Minister, says that, thanks to 20 years of Modi in public life, there is a new, rising India that is leading the world. We, citizens, should be proud that we are showing the way. At long last, the world is safe.

Some of the book titles leave nothing to guesswork. One study is titled: "Aaj Ke Shivaji: Narendra Modi" written by Maharashtra BJP’s Jay Bhagwan Goyal. That was a tactical mistake by Goyal. As a man from Maharashtra, he should have known that Shivaji’s name was not to be used by all and sundry for all and sundry. Both Shiv Sena and the NCP objected to the presumptions in the book, thereby reducing its effectiveness. Indeed, devout Maharashtrians could well have developed objections to Modi on this account alone.

Proclaiming himself as the representative of 300 million poor Indians, Modi launched three schemes for the poor. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Prime Minister’s Jan-Dhan Yojana, and Ujjwala Yojana were given wide publicity. If properly implemented, they would have benefitted the weaker sections considerably. But there was always a gap between Modi’s proclamations and Modi’s actual scorings. That is usually the case with prime ministerial proclamation these days.

Take just one example. A grand scheme for latrines was announced — 66.42 lakhs to be built in urban areas and 924 lakhs in villages. The Government even said that the targets were achieved. But actually as much as 64 percent of the latrines proved useless for the simple reason that no water was available. Latrines without water may be like a cabinet without a prime minister. But they still play a role. Even without water, latrines can fill statistical data to the benefit of those in power. That is enough for those in power.

A causal look at the internet will show Modi being in commanding position everywhere. How lucky the world is that there is an internet alive to the patriotic work done by popular leaders.

There is something called "Morning Consult" that puts Modi on top of everything everywhere. He is given accolades with enthusiasm — highest approval rating in the world, the most powerful leader in the world, etcetera. Alas, there is no company called "Evening Consult" to show us that the morning picture is not all that complete.

Take a basic thing such as starvation. In the list of the world’s starving nations, India has a disgraceful position, 101st out of 116. That means there are only 15 nations in the world where more citizens go without food. Any national leader would see this as a whiplash and proceed to do what has been neglected all along. Not to take that kind of action is tantamount to accepting inefficiency and irresponsibility as the norm. Dubious approval ratings are no substitute to satisfactory results on the ground.

An informed score-card on the Modi regime has been put out by Salman Khurshid and Mohammed Khan. Both are Congressmen, no doubt, and therefore both must find pleasure in attacking the Modi regime. But their list of "the ten big failures" of the Modi Government demands attention.

Demonetisation of course heads the list. In dillydallying with the issue of minimum support price, there was a betrayal of farmers. The scandal over Rafale still remains an astonishing one, with India bargaining to get fewer jets for three times the price — all to satisfy a powerful friend of the Prime Minister. Institutions like Parliament, the CBI and Lok Pal have become less meaningful in the Modi years. "The cultivation of hate" is listed as the biggest achievement of the government. "People who are blessed to be followed by the Prime Minister" are "defiantly communal and abusive." Other failures include "the erosion of India’s influence in Asia," changing the methodology of calculating GDP "to make its numbers appear artificially higher" when "capital flight on an unprecedented scale is taking place."

It has been a case of showmanship amidst losses and chaos. When showmanship wins in a fight, is it victory or loss?

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