Why PM Modi is failing India

Even a casual observer of the Indian political scene can discern that communalist utterances and violence have been on the rise ever since Modi regime took power in 2014.

Written by Ujjal Dosanjh | Updated: March 5, 2017 10:22 am
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the inaugural function of Annual International Yoga Festival at Rishikesh, through video conferencing, in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI Photo/PIB(PTI3_2_2017_000097A) Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the inaugural function of Annual International Yoga Festival at Rishikesh, through video conferencing, in New Delhi. (file photo)

Dear readers,

Don’t be offended. Have the courage to face the stark truth: Modi is failing India. With the exception of the Emergency years under Indira Gandhi, his regime is the most acquiescent and complicit in the most widespread denial, ever, of the basic rights and liberties of people disagreeing with the governing party or its ideological guru and mentor — in this case the RSS; there has never been so much divisiveness in India. There is rampant suppression of free speech on university campuses. Modi’s ministers openly support the violent disruptors’ rationale for interfering with ordinary students’ right to free expression, and that too on university campuses, which ought to be the most sacred shrines of free, open and respectful debate, no matter how extraordinarily disagreeable the expressed views might be. His ministers and their inspired disruptors speak the language of narrow nationalism –the kind that brooks no disagreement or difference of opinion on such things as their view of patriotism — shades of serious and virulent authoritarianism. Things have come to such a sorry and dangerous pass that mere disagreement is treason.

This clear and present threat to the core principles of secularism and freedom upon which the Indian Republic was founded didn’t manifest itself overnight. The process has been long. But this dangerous trend toward the communalising of Indian politics, fragmentation and diminution of it into us and them has been there for some time, for all to discern if they at all cared.

The freedom movement had embodied and espoused the dream of a secular, harmonious, peaceful and prosperous India. Despite his own religiosity Mahatma Gandhi, the non-violent commander in chief of the Independence movement, was an ardent votary of a thoroughly secular India that allowed its citizens the fullest possible freedoms including those of expression, conscience and religion.

But it didn’t take long after the deaths of Nehru and Shastri — both steeped in the secular ethos of the freedom struggle — for politicians to begin accentuating differences among Indians by pandering to regional, religious, caste and other identities. The Congress can shout itself hoarse about its commitment to secularism but its record of years of pandering to castes and communities is damning –perhaps not as inelegant and disgraceful as that of the BJP via its embrace of RSS’ Hindutva. The Congress has implicitly fuelled communalism for several decades by the way it has been selecting its candidates for elections — based not on merit but on the largest caste or faith in a particular area. It chose to play up the differences rather than rising above them. Of course the BJP has taken pandering to another level. It has honed to the hilt its communalising skills and developed communalist campaigning into a fine art — whether it is Modi’s shamshan versus kabirstan comment or others like it or Amit Shah’s jumlas designed to sow divisiveness and polarisation amongst Indians along caste, regional or religious affiliations.

It is clear that even the Election Commission can’t completely and satisfactorily police hate speech during elections. While it has done exemplary work in ensuring free and fair electoral process, it has been a completely toothless tiger in the prevention of poisonous communalist hate and rhetoric during the elections. The EC can’t do it all. The responsibility to improve and raise the calibre of the political discourse in the country falls squarely on the shoulders of the political leadership — the very people that often thrust it into the dark alleys of hate, divisiveness, parochialism and narrow nationalism.

Even a casual observer of the Indian political scene can discern that communalist utterances and violence have been on the rise ever since Modi regime took power in 2014. Several BJP MPs and supporters, the RSS and its followers and some members of the other parties such as Azam Khan of the Samajwadi Party have been vitiating the political and public environment in the country with their dangerous communal vitriol. Good on the RSS for expelling the Ujjain sahparchar parmukh Kundan Chandrawat for placing a bounty of Rs 1crore on the Kerala Chief Minister’s head but BJP’s Madhya Pradesh Home Minister who blatantly offered an obscene justification of Chandrawat’s criminal threat rather than condemn it as he should have is still the home minister. Why? This is just the latest example of the RSS’ and BJP’s supporters’ open season of hate and violence. This heinous behaviour certainly takes its cue from Modi’s silence on these matters and finds inspiration in his communalist political digs of the shamshan-kabirstan variety.

It is quite clear and sad that at this crucial moment in its politics and history, India finds itself without a Prime Minister unreservedly and unhesitatingly prepared to stand for communal amity, secularism and harmony. It is the duty of the Prime Minister to stand ever vigilantly for the communal peace and harmony of his country, particularly a country that is inherently, ethnically, religiously, linguistically and otherwise diverse. He may not know or respect it, but above all he is the guardian of all that is valuable and good in India. He is the chief trustee of its peace and harmony. When he is the Prime Minister, Modi is not just a politician. He is the protector of its national and public interest. Indisputably India’s communal peace, harmony and basic freedoms are its priceless assets; it is therefore his solemn and bounden duty to safeguard and enhance them — in the national and public interest.

India needs and deserves a Prime Minister who will, in all his actions and words, without fail and always, place country before religion, caste, region, ethnicity, language or any other differences among Indians; and above all India deserves a PM who will invariably and always place India above Party; as parties come and go but great countries live on and India has lived through several millennia; and India is great. In his 2014 national campaign, in his over two years in government and in the state elections now happening, Modi has clearly shown he is not that Prime Minister. Time and again he has proven that India can’t depend on him to take the high road in political debates or show leadership in elevating the political discourse in the country. Quite tragically for India, he readily reverts to being just an RSS Parcharak he once was, often descending into shamshan ghats and kabirstans; such jumlas do not a great prime minister or a greater India make. So clear, Modi is failing India.

The views expressed by the author are personal. Dosanjh is former Premier of British Columbia, and former Canadian Minister of Health. He tweets @ujjaldosanjh

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First Published on: March 5, 2017 10:10 am
  1. A
    Abhinav Gour
    Mar 5, 2017 at 9:43 pm
    very true modi is a "zumlebaaz"
    Reply
    1. A
      anonymous
      Mar 5, 2017 at 7:52 am
      Ch***ya
      Reply
      1. A
        Adi
        Mar 6, 2017 at 1:43 am
        You are just a stupit modi hater
        Reply
        1. A
          Anand
          Mar 6, 2017 at 2:06 am
          Very powerful and exllent mòdoji
          Reply
          1. I
            indian
            Mar 5, 2017 at 12:03 pm
            What utter rot.
            Reply
            1. S
              Sunil
              Mar 5, 2017 at 6:14 am
              Very nonsense article. The reason why this will be my last viewed article on this site.
              Reply
              1. B
                Balaji
                Mar 5, 2017 at 8:16 am
                Only the name is Indian. Otherwise Indian Express is always anti national. So no surprise to see such heavily biased article.
                Reply
                1. J
                  Jai Hind
                  Mar 6, 2017 at 10:13 am
                  Does the author know where the mouth is and where the ars is? What this arm chair critics / journalist have qualification to critisize PM of India. We in England value his very much and his work. Think and research before writing and wasting your time.
                  Reply
                  1. विद्रोही भारतीय
                    Mar 5, 2017 at 5:31 am
                    India needs and deserves a (Journalists and thinkers and everyone) who will, in all his(or her) actions and words, without fail and always, place country before (ideological biases,) religion, caste, region, ethnicity, language or any other differences among Indians; and above all India deserves (journalists and thinkers and everyone) who will invariably and always place India above (petty ideology); as ideology come and go but great countries live on and India has lived through several millennia; and India is great.lt;br/gt;Unfortunately many of us are failing India. And if there is one man who is not failing India, I can proudly say that, it is PM Modi. More strength to him.
                    Reply
                    1. B
                      Bindra
                      Mar 5, 2017 at 5:59 am
                      Many Indians are comparing themselves to worse than 3rd world countries and feeling happy instead of aspiring to be in the top bracket.
                      Reply
                      1. B
                        Bnm
                        Mar 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm
                        This man does not know what is free speech,express ideas,fine,but not call for break up of India,free speech comes with responsibility
                        Reply
                        1. A
                          Albert Colaco
                          Mar 5, 2017 at 8:28 am
                          Anti govt is not necessarily anti Indian.
                          Reply
                          1. A
                            Albert Colaco
                            Mar 5, 2017 at 8:32 am
                            Don't be blind to what is happening in the country. President Mukherjee has rightly warned against the anti tolerant spirit rising in the country.
                            Reply
                            1. A
                              Albert Colaco
                              Mar 5, 2017 at 8:26 am
                              Ujjal Dosanji is to be commended for his fortnight views about the prevailing state of affairs in India under the Modi govt.
                              Reply
                              1. A
                                Ashok
                                Mar 5, 2017 at 10:58 am
                                Really sad, very sad that Indian express owners have sold themselves for a hefty price to Congress. Sad to see death of a paper.
                                Reply
                                1. A
                                  Ashok
                                  Mar 5, 2017 at 10:55 am
                                  ullu ka pattha hai ye. Samjhata hai hum Indian E hain. Tere jaise logon ki game samjhate hain ab hum, Bahut moorkh ban chuke 70 sall tak.
                                  Reply
                                  1. V
                                    Varun
                                    Mar 5, 2017 at 8:29 am
                                    Freedom of speech is not about supporting terrorists and anti-national elements. In campus, Why can't you debate how to eradicate poverty in India Or many social issues. Can't understand your logic mate! Go and wash your brain.
                                    Reply
                                    1. G
                                      GPlavix
                                      Mar 5, 2017 at 12:30 pm
                                      HUNDRED PERCENT CORRECT.lt;br/gt;Stop this BULLYING, otherwise it will be TOOOOO.........lt;lt;lt;lt;lt;lt;lt;lt; LATE and impossible to UNDO the DAMAGE DONE. Please please please for the same of Younger Generation.
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        Sk
                                        Mar 5, 2017 at 3:14 pm
                                        I love my country I love MY PM
                                        Reply
                                        1. S
                                          Sk
                                          Mar 5, 2017 at 3:18 pm
                                          Wohow.. fantastic article .. here is your reward...lt;br/gt;BABA JI KI THULLU.. lt;br/gt; I am more interested to read comments section for these kind of articles.
                                          Reply
                                          1. M
                                            Modi
                                            Mar 5, 2017 at 7:53 am
                                            A non sense article!
                                            Reply
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