Out of my mind: A roller-coaster year

Twelve months on, there has been no nuclear war between the US and North Korea.

Written by Meghnad Desai | Published: December 31, 2017 1:22 am
donald trump, north korea, kim jong un, india, china, doklam, gst, bjp, gdp, nda, indian express Twelve months on, there has been no nuclear war between the US and North Korea.

When 2017 began, the air was thick with worries. America had been shocked by the success of Donald Trump, and many were in denial. They demonstrated against him at his inauguration, marched in many cities complaining about his misogyny, his habit of tweeting and abusing his detractors. Even before he had assumed office, there were talks of impeaching him. Worse was to come when he got into a provocative tweet contest with Kim Jong-un. He withdrew America from the Paris treaty on climate change and told his NATO allies that they better pay their dues. When he railed against free trade, the allies of America, especially in Europe, were in despair.

It looked like the global liberal order would be redrawn with Xi Jinping pitching for free trade. Angela Merkel was seen as the best new leader for the Western alliance.

Twelve months on, there has been no nuclear war between the US and North Korea. Trump has survived much better than people expected. He has his tax cut, which is a monumental achievement given that the US Congress had not passed a single Bill since 2010. The liberal media are still hoping for an impeachment but that is a pipe dream. Merkel has in the meanwhile been grounded due to the difficulty of putting together a winning coalition. Europe has its own resurgence of right-wing nationalism in Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary. Trump was just the harbinger of things to come.

At home, it has been a world of small surprises not major earthquakes. India and China had a standstill in Doklam but did not go to war. Neither demonetisation nor the GST did much damage to the BJP as was predicted. The BJP won UP massively. In Gujarat, there was a reality check and the Modi magic was needed not for total triumph but for decent survival. The GDP growth numbers have lost their shine and inflation persists.

A remarkable change has come in Rahul Gandhi’s performance. If it were to persist (and RaGa is notorious for losing enthusiasm for his causes), it will be a test for the BJP. When Nitish Kumar broke the Mahagathbandhan, it seemed like 2019 was in the bag for the BJP. Even now, the BJP/ NDA looks like it will repeat its victory. The crucial question will be whether the BJP will win a single-party majority. Modi will have to work his magic through 2018 and then till general election in 2019 to secure a second majority term. Gujarat shows that in elections, nothing can be taken for granted and the Past is no guide to the Present.

Curiously it still remains the case that people think of the government as a one-man band. This is not just in a general election but every state election as well. The issue every time and everywhere is Modi.

BJP president Amit Shah apart, there seems to be no one else in the party who can share Modi’s burden. Every gau raksha vigilante attack, every love jihad episode, every attack on Dalits by caste Hindus is laid at Modi’s door. Indian politics has never been so centralised since Indira Gandhi’s days. In 1971, the cry was Indira Hatao. In 2019, it will be Modi Hatao. Not much progress in that respect. Happy New Year.

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Meghnad Desai
  1. Seshubabu Kilambi
    Dec 31, 2017 at 7:21 pm
    Year has been in an 'emergency - like' ( LK Advani) condition ...next year may be similar ...
    1. Ajitpal Singh
      Dec 31, 2017 at 3:09 pm
      Indian Express, why do you get Meghanand Desai to write? There is hardly any insight in his words. I could have summed up the 2017 slightly better than him. And it's not just this, every sunday I read him and wonder why is he writing.
      1. Bargotrah Adi
        Dec 31, 2017 at 8:42 am
        Well it seems that world and global elite is coming politically to terms with the Great Recession now and wrong choices that were pushed . It is 10 years and it seems that binge of 2005 to 2007 will now get digested in a year or so. It could be couple of more years (conversely it could have been less) becacuse the liberals and moneyed put money and mouth in wrong place. Despite customary or educated disapproval, China was and is the darling as far as trade is concerned but it is no new America where Royalists would be able to recyle the previliged wealth. Thus the problem remains. Western alliance with Petro Islam and dictators was opportunistic to start with. Thus the poster boys of world order have not changed and will not change despite the cash pumping and priming . It is not that they are wrong by much but say 10 wrong for 20 years means you are far away from where you wanted to be. Same in India UPA was in 8 years and second term it was 30 percent wrong so long way to go
        1. achal pandya
          Dec 31, 2017 at 7:01 am
          The war cry may remain Modi Hatao but winnable majority will still do 'Modi Modi'. Modi has really brought India on track. Financial and social laws are in place. Work on roads, power, infrastructure is discernible. Efforts to bring North East India in the mainstream were never of this vigour. India looks like a global giant. Modi will have no problem in sailing smoothly in 2019 in Parliamentary Elections. Beti Bachao Beti Padao, Swach Bharat, Jandhan Yojna, Demonetization, GST will take India on the path of becoming a developed world.
          1. sudhir baloni
            Dec 31, 2017 at 8:08 am
            I am not agreed with you and I have a few solid reasons for that. 1) Modi and BJP don't have a solid plan more specifically they don't want to do the homework on most of the things. Particularly when we talk about corruption and black money. Who you think has told them that demonetization will be a solution? what was the proof or guarantee of taking such a harsh decision without knowing the facts and what India got out of it? It was definitely a failure and hurt a lot of people but more specifically it shows government mentality of putting the country at first place but my someone should have told Modi that people are important and are the first priority in a republic nation. what they did feels like a publicity stunt for UP election. And the remaining fight against corruption we are looking around. Lot of other things like job creation, agriculture, environment etc. What they are doing is just creating policies, we already have a lot basic worry was and still is their implementation.
            1. Pramodkumar Kulkarni
              Dec 31, 2017 at 10:22 am
              Sliding GDP growth, ballooning fiscal deficit, job losses, agrarian distress. Great strides Mr. Bhakt
              1. Samar Pahari
                Dec 31, 2017 at 3:18 pm
                As if these things didn't exist earlier!We have seen them.Why did Raja Sekar Reddy had to tour rural Andhra with post mortem cheques? Only morons never remember. By your argument Up didn't have any rural Distress and happily voted Modi. Eh?