Modi has ruptured the lethargic legacy of the last 60 years

Discomfited left-liberals of the JNU variety may denounce this as right-wing — but the change is irreversible.

Written by Chandan Mitra | Updated: December 27, 2016 5:25 pm
Modi, Narendra Modi, Modi government, narendra Modi government, Modi government policies, Modi government progress, Modi govt, Narendra Modi govt, India news It is far too early to compare Congress governments of yore with Narendra Modi’s BJP regime.

Some decades ago, on the eve of the 1991 general election, posters came up in different parts of the country, reading: “40 saal banam chaar mahine — faisla aapke haath” (40 years versus four months: The verdict is in your hands). Issued by accidental Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar’s political outfit, it sought to compare his government’s non-existent achievements (barring the mortgaging of gold, if that can be called an achievement) with successive Congress governments.

The comparison was laughable since the maverick pseudo-socialist had very little to show in the brief tenure bestowed upon him by Rajiv Gandhi, who cruelly used him purely to remove V.P. Singh from office. It is far too early to compare Congress governments of yore with Narendra Modi’s BJP regime. First, Modi has been in office for 31 months, although his clear majority in the Lok Sabha will ensure he completes his full five-year term. The time for comparison will come two years down the line.


Second, achievements of the Modi government must be seen in continuum to Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s six years in office. That too was a BJP-led government and the first non-Congress regime that completed its full term. The principle milestones of Vajpayee’s regime were, first, the launch of the ambitious highway development project linking the country’s four metros and another road-building programme to connect villages with a population of 1,000-plus to the nearest highway. Second, by undertaking an expanded nuclear programme, symbolised by the Pokharan blasts of May 1998, the first BJP government put Indira Gandhi’s half-hearted 1974 nuclear implosions to shade. Modi has pushed the envelope further on both counts. Highway construction is proceeding at a rapid pace while India’s missile programme, with satellite development projects, places the country in the big league.

Also read: India needs change by conversation, not audacity alone, writes Rajmohan Gandhi

Locating spellbinding achievements of the Congress era is actually a difficult proposition. The country faced near-famine conditions in the 1960s, thanks to Jawaharlal Nehru’s blind faith in the Soviet model of industrialisation, to the detriment of agriculture. Only the Green Revolution of the late ’60s pulled India out of the abyss. But the Indian farmer remained dependent on the monsoon’s vagaries, with little economic security.

Although bank nationalisation in 1969 freed agriculturists from usurious money-lenders, the Congress never conceived a scheme to insure farm incomes. The Modi government’s Fasal Bima Yojana (crop insurance scheme) finally secured farmers against periodic crop failures.

Barring bank nationalisation, it is difficult to think of any grand, game-changing scheme initiated by the Congress. After all, it was a status quoist organisation backed by rich farmers and big industrialists. Indira Gandhi may have tried to project the image of being a messiah of the poor but the slogan of Garibi Hatao remained just that — a slogan.

The BJP, however, has slowly developed a social base very different from the Congress’s upper caste plus minorities. The BJP has systematically weaned away upper castes and assiduously built a backbone of empowered Other Backward Class (OBC) sections in the post-Mandal era. Hindutva may still be the party’s ideological mainstay (which presages the party’s rejection by minorities by and large), but the BJP’s social phalanx today is much more inclusive than the Congress’s.

The Modi government’s successful social engineering is steadily altering the composition of India’s ruling groups. This perhaps is the most significant difference the Modi regime has brought so far. The Congress is paying a heavy price for not fostering an OBC leadership, despite post-Green Revolution and post-Mandal economic and political power in rural India tilting heavily in favour of OBCs. If the BJP continues to promote this section, it’ll bring about a tectonic shift in power equations in India. Other OBC-dominated parties, like Mulayam Singh’s and Lalu Prasad’s, failed to develop a pan-OBC character, remaining confined to certain pockets.

Alongside this, the Modi government is systematically promoting post-modern neo-capitalism by economic integration through digital technology — the biggest takeaway of the demonetisation gambit. Overnight, it’s catapulted India into the digital age, a big jump from the induction of computerisation by Rajiv Gandhi. When demonetisation is evaluated some years down the line, it’ll be clear Narendra Modi integrated cities with towns, salaried middle classes with upwardly mobile rural communities and engendered a national market (with the forthcoming GST), which neither the British, nor the Congress had the vision or wherewithal to accomplish.

Another major break with the past is young India’s changing mindset. Young people no longer hanker after government jobs; an entrepreneurial mindset is taking over. The era of doles, which peaked during Indira Gandhi’s years and was continued by her Congress successors, is slowly ebbing away. A fundamental restructuring of the Indian mind is taking place. Discomfited left-liberals of the JNU variety may denounce this as right-wing and ultra-nationalist — but the change is irreversible.

The politics of hand-holding, practiced by the Congress, with its post-colonial variant of mai-baap sarkar, is over. Modi has fostered the age of the confident Indian cutting across economic and social strata. Having ruptured the lethargic legacy of the past 60 years, this is the fundamental difference Modi is making, creating a new fabric of Indian politics and society.

The writer is editor of the ‘Pioneer’ Group of Publications. He was a Rajya Sabha BJP MP till recently

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  1. C
    Jan 1, 2017 at 1:24 pm
    "The politics of hand-holding, practiced by the Congress, with its post-colonial variant of mai-baap sarkar, is over". lt;br/gt;Yes, over, and replaced by Dada-giri in its place. In a representative democracy, there is no provision for forcing or selling anything to the public that is a form of rationing but through the floor of the parliament. This excess was committed once in 1976, and hope people remember those days. Mr. Modi has had a clear majority and to use the excuse that he can't get anything done through parliament is a clear signal of his inability to get anything done and so, he switches to the application of executive orders. An emergency could be better for the country if he had the guts to do so. But to force a unilateral dictat without any parliamentary or consutional green light is a pure display of authoritarianism which is anti-democratic. Quoting John Madison, one of the founding fathers of US democracy, "Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide".
    1. I
      Dec 27, 2016 at 7:29 am
      Look at the kind of Modi haters and baiters slanging without any rhyme or reason the writer;br/gt;What he says is perfect and this Mai baap sarkar since 1947 have been a bane for indians poor and;br/gt;Who wants this corrupt and communal freebies doling congress. They should be decimated in order that india is fully developed and digitised in poorest and poorest villages
      1. Haradhan Mandal
        Dec 27, 2016 at 7:15 am
        A 100% LOKPAAL ACT was ped 3 long year ago with lots of drama - that nobody in India fears. Example: The bold and brazen statements like 'An Earthquake was averted" - can be made in India (but not in any developed country/economy). 2.5 years - and there is no LOKPAAL. Is it lethargy? lt;br/gt;Is om (and crazy) motion/movement ACTIVITY? Is activity action? Does Action bring Result? And is the result desirable or futile and costly and WASTE? worse is it destructive? The govt is using the same machinery that was built BRICK by brick in the last 60 years. Example PAN CARD, KYC compliant Accounts, Computerization of PSU banks in the last decades.
        1. Haradhan Mandal
          Dec 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm
          In my observation (specially ) in India, every road has it "average speed". You can not beat that speed. If you try to beat the speed and go fast - you hit other guys and run them over. If you are too slow - you may sometimes get hit and run;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Much of UPA-2 scandals and scams were largely due to the impatience of Dr. Manmohan Singh to speed things up and "show result" in GDP and ratings and INFRA. (and off course his blind faiths in Privatization in the name of REFORM ) . His discretionary distribution of COAL ALLOCATION (largesse) brought in Kronies in hordes (most of them were fly-by-night operators and deal fixers) and it did not speed up POWER GENERATION than it was before. It only brought down the Congress out of POWER :)
          1. M
            Dec 27, 2016 at 2:51 pm
            Good post. Balanced. Appreciate the info.
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