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Method in Modi’s 'directionless' economic governance: Manipulating public mind

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The world is heading towards worst economic recession in its history. The governments are worried about their citizenry and future of their country. But Narendra Modi cares little as long as his popularity and electoral victory remains intact. Modi fiddles with the future of India and Indians by manipulating the public mind with the help of mass media.
The Modi government spent over Rs 3,800 crore on publicity in print and audio-visual media, according to Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting in Modi government. According to the Centre for Media Studies, Modi led BJP spent nearly Rs. 27000 crores in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, which is about 45% of the total electoral expenditure in India.
This is the cost of maintaining Modi’s image in public with the help of propaganda when the Indian economy is going down in drains. Economists in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are projecting a gloomy economic scenario for India. It is worst economic growth since the 1991 economic crisis and liberalisation.
In December 2019, Arvind Subramanian and Josh Felman in the Center for International Development at Harvard University published a working paper called “India's Great Slowdown: What Happened? What's the Way Out?". The paper outlined the causes behind the slowdown of Indian economy.
It argued that adverse impact of demonetization and GST shocks, unsustainable credit boom in real estate market, fall in consumption expenditure and demand shortages are some of the causes behind the collapse of economic growth in India. The alternatives offered in this paper follow the same old neoliberal paradigm that led to economic chaos in the first place.
All major economic indicators in India look extremely miserable now. Indian industrial and agricultural growth was in a downward spiral well before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The manufacturing and service sector is contracting. Unemployment is at forty-five years high last year.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the employment rate fell to an all-time low of 38.2% and unemployment rate rises to nearly 9% in March 2020 which is highest in last 43 months. There is also sharp fall of the labour participation rate which is a very worrisome sign for Indian economy. The formal and informal sectors are both sputtering in Indian economy.
It is political arrogance and economic ignorance that define the everyday economic policies pursued by Narendra Modi-led Government in India. The Indian economy and its development processes are at a crossroads. 
The centralisation of power and directionless of governance undermines well established constitutionally mandated institutions of policy, planning and economy development that firefights crisis in India. The net outcome of such a process is loss of credibility and public trust on the abilities of state and its institutions. This is the dangerous outcome of populist promises and politics of Hindutva in India.
It is myopic to expect that the Modi government will follow revolutionary economic policies and political economy of development which can permanently emancipate people from hunger, homelessness, poverty and unemployment. The modest liberal and Keynesian approach to Indian economic growth depends on stimulation of growth of internal markets and business competitiveness in the world markets.
This twin project of economics depends on the political abilities of state and government in creating favourable internal economic environment by empowering labour forces both as producers and consumers. But Narendra Modi led Hindutva government pursues every economic policy that disempowers producers and consumers in both formal and informal economy. 
Indian industrial and agricultural growth was in a downward spiral well before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic
The asymmetry of economic growth is pursued to empower both Indian and foreign capitalist classes. Hindutva forces and their myopic economist clans have little understanding that capitalist economic growth does not depend on concentration of capital accumulation in the hands of few. Such a process establishes a rent-based economy that destroys economic growth and development.
So, Keynesians argue that economic growth depends on expanding demand, investment spending and enabling employment for higher consumption. This is not possible in a stagnant economic environment of jobless growth that defines Indian economy led by Modi government.
The Modi government has failed to mobilise India’s internal resources to face and overcome the economic crisis. It is possible to overcome the economic crisis by mobilising human, technological and natural resources in India. State intervention in the interests of many and not few is the way forward to revive Indian economy.
But the Modi government has already abandoned its responsibilities for the recovery of Indian economy after the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not taking any initiative towards the economic recovery. It is madness when a government abandons its citizenry.
It looks like there is a method in Modi’s directionless economic governance in India. The Modi regime is accelerating economic, political and social disasters in India. It is a method of shock doctrine that inflicts extreme violence and pain on majority of population in pursuit of power.
The economic policies pursued by the Modi government is a shock therapy that helps Modi’s crony capitalist classes whereas majority of Indian population suffers under hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, unemployment, ill health, deaths and destitution. Drunk with power, the cocktail of ignorance and arrogance keeps Hindutva ideologues in RSS and BJP in a state of bliss when the entire country cries for help.
Hindutva can never offer any alternative to the people of the country because Hindutva is neither politics nor economics. It is a constructed cultural logic of perverted upper caste capitalists in India. Their political and economic demise is the only way forward.
Resistance is the final and only alternative for the survival of India’s democratic and secular traditions of economic growth and development. The defeat of the ruling classes represented by Modi is written in history. Indians must fight this government to write history and reclaim their republic for social harmony, peace and economic prosperity.
There is always time for songs and poetry in dark times. It is important to remember and recite the last paragraph of the prophetic poem called ‘The Masque of Anarchy’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley:
“Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many—they are few!”

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Senior Lecturer in Business Strategy, Coventry University, UK

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