Four years of Modi rule: Intrusive Mind Management by a government influenced by its ideological mentor

By Lubna Sayed Qadri*

A pertinent question, as the NDA government completes four years in office, is: Has it kept up to the promises it made to the people of India? "Citizens’ Report on the Fourth Year of the NDA Government 2018: Promises and Reality" is an anthology of reviews brought out after due consultation and inputs by the civil society and the citizen of the country by Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA) a platform of over 4,000 civil society organisations and individuals with its core focus on ‘governance accountability to eliminate poverty and social exclusion’.
The report has reviewed the electoral and other promises and performance of the NDA government in the last four years. The Annual Citizens’ review of the Union Government and its promises to the people is a continuum of previous such reports – beginning from the first review of the UPA I government held in 2005.
This year report has been accompanied with short, mobile-friendly audio-visual clips on thematic subjects that the report has touched upon.
Briefly, the findings done by the WNTA draw attention to the following facets of progress in the development sphere in the country:
  • Only 9.4 % schools are RTE compliant 
  • Child Health Budget is less than 2% of the GDP 
  • Education and Health Cess is now 4% which used to be 3% earlier 
  • Only 4.69% of the total workforce in India has undergone formal skills training compared to 68% in UK, 75% in Germany, 96% in South Korea. 
  • NARSS confirmed the ODF status of 95.6 percent of the villages which the state governments had declared ODF. 
  • An amount of Rs 1,00,447 crores has been allocated for SBM-G for five years till 2018-19. Of this, 48 percent has not been released as yet. 
  • Decrease in allocation towards drinking water. From 87 percent in 2009-10 it has dropped to 31 percent in 2018-19. 
  • According to data presented before the parliament by the Ministry of Home Affairs, communal incidents increased 28 percent over three years. 822 “incidents” were recorded in 2017, which led to as many as 111 people being killed and 2,384 others were injured. 
  • The long awaited 'National Tribal Policy' (2008) which at one point of time was viewed as a ray of hope for getting their rights is completely forgotten and not even mentioned in the political manifesto. 
  • Only 16,54,462 houses were built as against the target of 50 lakhs, by October 2017, according to PMAY. 
Review have been done on all-round development, employment generation, improved health and education, strong economy, enabling environment and equal opportunities for marginalised communities, social justice and social harmony, protection of human rights, land rights and environment among others.
Much of the discourse around governance over the past years has revolved around governance and inclusive development. In this view, report has attempted track the government’s progress in translating its ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ slogan of taking each one in its fold into action. There has been a sharp rise in inequity as governance and inclusive development remain the NDA’s un-kept promises. The report argues that the government must make stronger budgetary commitments to make the slogan real.
“The report reviews these very issues from the lens of the vulnerable and marginalised populations and constitutional mandates. While much has been promised and popularised, the report finds many gaps and much more needs to be done,” opines Amitabh Behar, Former Convenor of Wada Na Todo Abhiyan.
There is a marked new push to what can perhaps be called ‘Intrusive Mind Management’ by a government influenced by its ideological mentor. This has been aided and catalysed by instant technologies and social media. The fake news is spread with the aim to create communal hatred among people.
Stressing on an environment where questioning the government is not taken in the spirit of democratic citizenship, Annie Namala, the Convener of WNTA pointed to the disturbing disappearance of the Doubting Thomases from some of the most visible sections of mass media. “This isn’t a good signal for preserving the plurality of Indian society. Civil Society partners are concerned about the co-option of the minds in the media, particularly in the electronic variant of it,” according to Annie.
The Report has attempted to discover factors that have led to a well-calibrated tendency in the direction of converting the vibrant Indian society into a monochromatic inanity.
On the free speech front too, the government seems to have fallen short of the high degree of tolerance it is expected to display. Anti-government statements have been braneded as anti-national. In the long run this would prove to be counter-productive for society at large and self-defeating for the government of the day. Unfortunately, the BJP-led government has failed to generate enough confidence on this crucial count.
The undeterred violence against the Dalits and religious minorities and an apparent silence/inaction by the establishment has created an environment of awe and fear among these groups who dare not appraoch any instituion for grievance redressal. This marks a extremely disturbing situation of a near-collapse of the system of “Checks and Balances” in a democracy.
The basic concerns of privacy and data leak have been associated with the compulsory use of the Aadhaar-based biometric identity system on everywalks of public interface. Moreover, the mandatory linkage of this system with the delivery of welfare schemes has led to more exclusion of the old, and socially and economically highly vulnerable groups.
Yet another trend that became evident in the fourth year of the NDA government is the fast shrinking space of the voluntary sector.
As Thomas Pallithanam, WNTA’s National Convener pointed out, “In a democracy, every political leadership has a right to make strategies for winning elections, but in this race, the basic tenets of the Indian constitution, pluralism, secularism, fraternity are being compromised.”
As the government ends the current term in office and all political parties prepare for the next general elections, this report is a call to keep the people’s concerns and aspirations at the heart of governance, in particular of the excluded and vulnerable sections.
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*National Campaign Coordinator, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan

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