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Decade long Modi rule 'undermines' people's welfare and democracy

By Ram Puniyani* 

Modi has many ploys up his sleeves when it comes to propaganda. On one hand he is turning many a pronouncements of Congress in the communal direction, on the other he is claiming that whatever has been achieved during last ten years of his rule is phenomenal, but it is still a ‘trailer’ and the bigger things are in the offing as he claims to be coming to power yet again in 2024. While his admirers are ga ga about his achievements, the truth lies somewhere else.
His acolytes have been claiming his achievement in the form of providing increased use of internet, increase in air travel, 420 million more bank accounts, 110 million more gas connections, 220 millions being covered by insurance, increased rate of making of highways, more taxpayers and export of anti Covid vaccine to so many countries leading to increase India’s global prestige. And of course provision of free rations to 800 million people.
These, in a way, are not true reflectors of the welfare of the people or the state of democracy and freedom in the country. Many major changes have taken place which have undermined the welfare of the state and abolition of democratic freedoms in the country.
Since he came to power in 2014, gradually the Cabinet system has been undermined and power is concentrated in his hands, in all the possible ways. He is the decision maker in most of the cases. Two glaring things brought by him were the demonetization and handling of the Corona epidemic. 
Demonetization was done solely by him on the claim that the illegal money will be retrieved. What happened was the severe hardships to average people, nearly 100 people died while queuing up in the banks for change of notes. The final result was that 98% of the currency is back in circulation.
The Corona epidemic was the great tragedy, worst compounded by his decision to impose a lockdown at a few hours notice, there are tragic tales related to the exodus of people from urban centers to their native places. And the number of bodies floating in Ganga, and scattered on its banks tell the tale of hardships suffered by the people.
At the administrative level the Constitutional bodies’ autonomy suffered a setback with most of them doing the bidding of the Government, rather Modi himself. The impartiality of ED, CBI, IT and Election Commission has been compromised a lot. Many Judicial decisions also seem to be tilted in favor of the executive.
On the scale of democracy, as per the V Dem, the autonomous institute monitoring the index of democracy, India has been labeled India as ‘one of the worst autocracies’ (2024). As per the report there is a downward slide in this as in 2018, it was labeled as ‘electoral autocracy’. As per this “India, with 18% of the world’s population, accounts for about half of the population living in autocratising countries,”
As far as Press freedom is concerned, the average person can see the media being controlled by the corporate sector, close to the Modi regime. As per ‘Reporters Without Borders’ (2023) India has slipped down to 161 out of 180 countries studied. Just in one year, it has slipped from 150 to 161! 
The freedom of expression and criticism of the Government is labeled anti national and many of our dedicated and committed human rights activists are in jail for years, without even charges filed against them.
Modi promised 20 million new jobs every year, but unemployment rate reached  highest at 8.3%
This is what the United States Commission on International religious Freedom says on Freedom of Religion Index:
“Throughout the year, the Indian government at the national, state, and local levels promoted and enforced religiously discriminatory policies, including laws targeting religious conversion, interfaith relationships, the wearing of hijabs, and cow slaughter, which negatively impact Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and Adivasis (indigenous peoples and scheduled tribes)…”
Human Rights Watch summarizes the condition of Muslim minorities in India thus: 
“Authorities in India have adopted laws and policies that systematically discriminate against Muslims and stigmatize critics of the government. Prejudices embedded in the government of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have infiltrated independent institutions, such as the police and the courts, empowering (Hindu) nationalist groups to threaten, harass, and attack religious minorities with impunity.”
Economic conditions and employment situation is worsening by the day. While Modi had promised 20 million new jobs every year, what has been observed is that the rate of unemployment is the highest now at 8.3% as per the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy. This eased a bit in March 2014 but still remains the highest such rate in the last forty years.
The hunger index is a good barometer for assessing the nutritional levels of society. India has fallen to 107 out of 121 countries assessed. This is worse than the prevailing situations in neighboring countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
On the top of all this the Oxfam India report (Survival of the Richest) finds that just 5 percent of Indians own more than 60 per cent of the country’s wealth, while the bottom 50 per cent of the population possess only 3 percent of the wealth.
The economic Dlight of dalits has worsened during the last ten years in particular. Sukhdeo Thorat, a prominent academic, states:
“Dalits are employed in manual, unskilled labor jobs in urban areas. Given these facts, only 5% of the working Dalit population has actually benefited from the Indian reservation law… while GOI poverty alleviation programs help Dalits, the government does not strictly monitor them and many are never implemented…and the vast majority of Dalits…”
Education and science research is being downgraded with the faith based knowledge being given precedence over rational thinking. With the Prime Minister claiming that India had plastic surgeons in the past who could plant the elephant head on head, or that due to clouds our planes will not be detected by radars, what direction science and education will take?
If the last ten years were a trailer, and Modi claims that he is coming back with an increased majority, India will give a tough competition to Pakistan in the retrograde direction of the social, economic and political situation of the country!
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*Well known political analyst. Youtube, Facebook, InstagramTwitter, Pinterest, My Website, My App

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