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Modi will stir up communal tensions to maintain popularity if economy fails: Influential UK weekly predicts

Modi riding paper tiger: As seen by "The Economist"
By Our Representative
Top British weekly, “The Economist” has expressed that fear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “will try to maintain his popularity by stirring up communal tensions” in India as the economy begins to falter, recalling his role as as Gujarat chief minister, “when rioting there killed at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.”
Pointing out that “to this day, he has never categorically condemned the massacre or apologised for failing to prevent it”, the influential weekly, in an article ahead of Modi’s US visit, says, “India’s prime minister is not as much of a reformer as he seems”, insisting, “He is more of a nationalist firebrand”.
Published in the print edition of the daily dated June 24, 2017, the weekly says, when Modi became the prime minister in 2014, “opinion was divided as to whether he was a Hindu zealot disguised as an economic reformer, or the other way round.”
It insists, “The past three years appear to have settled the matter… Modi has pandered to religious sentiment at times, most notably by appointing a rabble-rousing Hindu prelate as chief minister of India’s most-populous state, Uttar Pradesh.”
Qualifying the economic reforms Modi claims to have undertaken all as “appearances”, which are “deceiving”, the weekly says, the goods and services tax (GST), “although welcome, is unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratic, greatly reducing its efficiency.”
It adds, “The new bankruptcy law is a step in the right direction, but it will take much more to revive the financial system, which is dominated by state-owned banks weighed down by dud loans.”
Then, the weekly says, “The central government’s response to a host of pressing economic problems, from the difficulty of buying land to the reform of rigid labour laws, has been to pass them to the states.”
Sharply attacking what Modi government considers its biggest economic reform, demonetization, the weekly says, it has proved to be “counterproductive, hamstringing legitimate businesses without doing much harm to illicit ones.”
“No wonder”, it says, “The economy is starting to drag. In the first three months of the year it grew at an annualised rate of 6.1%, more slowly than when Modi came to power.”
Pointing out that “India’s prime minister… is not the radical reformer he is cracked up to be”, the weekly insists, “He has not come up with many big new ideas of his own”, adding, “The GST and the bankruptcy reforms date back long before his time.”
Modi’s reputation as a friend to business rests, says the weekly, more “on his vigorous efforts to help firms out of fixes—finding land for a particular factory, say, or expediting the construction of a power station. But he is not so good at working systematically to sort out the underlying problems holding the economy back.”
In fact, says the weekly, “Modi has been just as careful to court militant Hindus as jet-setting businessmen”, adding, “His government recently created havoc in the booming beef-export business with onerous new rules on purchases of cattle, in deference to Hindus’ reverence for cows.”
Especially hitting out at UP chief minister, the weekly says, “Yogi Adityanath, the man he selected to run UP, is under investigation for inciting religious hatred and rioting, among other offences. ” It adds, “Modi himself has become the object of a sycophantic personality cult”.
Pointing to how “Hindu nationalist thugs” operating under Modi “intimidate those who chide the government for straying from India’s secular tradition”, the weekly recalls now NDTV which “dares to criticise the government has been raided by police on grounds that would not normally attract such heavy-handedness.”

Comments

Anonymous said…
What is really fearful is the possibility that, to create a 'Hindu Rashtra', the ruling BJP with Midi and his stand-up Amir Shah at the helm, will be willing to isolate India even from the world, thus taking us back to an ancient, caste driven idea of India doing its own thing. But with the nuclear capability to maintain its isolation.

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