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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

My India Has Changed

It is under a regime that thrives on instilling fear, suppressing dissent

Written by Kapil Sibal |
Updated: August 15, 2017 1:36:21 am
hindutva, cow, lynching, modi, narendra modi, independence day 2017, independence day, swatantrata diwas, indian express This regime idolises Mahatma Gandhi but acts contrary to what he stood for (Source: PTI/Shirish Shete)

India at 70 has changed radically. It is not as if communal conflagrations did not happen in the past. Communal frenzy has, however, never been expressed with such violence at the level of the individual. Belief in Hindutva is the centrepiece of the establishment’s credo. Hindutva involves intolerance towards any form of dissent, regimenting people and threatening those who do not adhere to its norms with violence. The “instant justice” of the cow vigilantes instil fear among people.

The cow has become the symbol of Hindutva ideology. For the Hindutva brigade, however, protecting the cow is per se not important. What is important is their message: The cow can be protected by striking the fear of violence amongst minorities.

Acronyms associated with schemes borrowed from the Congress Party, statements unrelated to reality and sound-bytes which belong to the post-truth world are the new weapons of persuasion. Unfulfilled agreements worth billions of dollars with China and Japan, smart cities wallowing in pestilence, the Ganga’s polluted waters and the mirage of a digital economy are today’s reality.

All of this from a PM who says more than what he means and does less than what he says. His sojourns abroad provide lessons in event management. A red carpet welcome accorded to the PM is shown as a unique event — as if such courtesies were not extended to previous PMs. MoUs are publicly acclaimed as milestones. Yet what we get eventually is next to nothing. Instead of getting us something to cheer about from the US, the PM got us a deal on 22 Guardian Drones.

In France, we picked up 36 Rafale fighter jets at prices equivalent to the cost of 126. The bonhomie with our neighbours, touted as a great achievement, has soured. Chinese and Indian soldiers stare eyeball to eyeball in Doklam. Terrorism is targeting innocent victims across the border in Kashmir. In Nepal, Chinese influence is increasing exponentially. China is also gaining a foothold in Myanmar and Sri Lanka and most of our neighbours are embracing OBOR.

Demonetisation has proved to be a setback for the economy. The four objectives announced by the PM on November 8, 2016 have come a cropper. Terrorism continues and so does unaccounted wealth. India is not corruption free as projected. The Transparency International Report released in March described India as the most corrupt country in the Asia-Pacific region. Fake notes are still available for misuse. Demonetisation gave a carte blanche to the corrupt to exchange their unaccounted currency. Surprisingly, the effects of demonetisation were not seen during the elections in UP.

A flawed GST, the result of a compromise to hasten the implementation of the tax regime, has dampened the sentiment for investments. The latest Economic Survey projects the growth rate to be between 6.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent in the year ahead. Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, however, says that this rate is more likely to be closer to 6.5 per cent than 7.5 per cent.

The most significant change has been in the nature of the country’s media. Some have chosen to become the government’s mouthpiece. Channels dare not show events of dissent like the textile workers strike in Surat or the protests by Marathas. They do not highlight the plight of Tamil Nadu’s farmers.

Commitment to a certain political ideology while holding public office is a key prerequisite for a gubernatorial appointment. Schoolbooks are being revised. Public institutions are headed by ideologues who endeavour to shift the milestones of history and replace the icons of the freedom movement with those who opposed it. This regime idolises Mahatma Gandhi but acts contrary to what he stood for.

Investigating agencies (CBI, NIA and ED) targeting the Opposition are perceived to be the long arm of the government catering to BJP’s political agenda. The protector of freedom, the judiciary, which always stood up to the State’s machinations, is faltering and fumbling. My India has changed.

The writer, a senior Congress leader, is a former Union minister

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