The victory in Kairana Lok Sabha seat of UP by the combined opposition over the BJP candidate is being dubbed as the victory of Ganna over Jinnah. The opposition had batted for ameliorating the plight of sugarcane farmers, who have been hoodwinked by sugar cane mill owners by Rs 12000 crore. The BJP, on the other hand, had tried to raise the communal flag by drawing reference to Jinnah’s portrait in AMU. And communally singe the Hindus the victory could not have been more talismanic, as the RLD candidate was Begum Hassan. She will be the first Muslim woman MP to represent UP, a state where nearly 10 percent are Muslim women. Her cryptic comment that the arrogance of PM Modi ‘ will be buried in the dust’ takes us beyond Ganna Politics to the larger issues of performance vs promise, as the Modi government completes four years.
This takes us to the macro economic performance of the Modi government at the end of 2017-18, for which official statistics has out of the cupboards. It’s often said that statistics are like a bikini-clad lady; it conceals more than it reveals. Indeed the official peddlers of good numbers often hide the deep furrows of under achievement that India is presently going through. They can be summed up in four areas.
The most distressing story is in the area of generating employment. As against a promise of generating 50 million employment, the achievement during the last four years has been less than 7 million. As per CMIE, there was a loss of 2.1 million jobs due to the ill-conceived demonetisation, which in particular, affected the unorganised sector accounting for 94 percent of employment and the agricultural sector very badly. It’s a sad commentary that despite such glaring setbacks, the Modi acolytes lose no opportunity to defend it! In fact, most of the additional employment generation has been in construction, IT and textiles, while other sectors are languishing.
The other area which is causing serious distress is agricultural production where there is the serious dip in growth to 3.4 percent from 6.3percent last year. The reasons are not far to seek. The Eastern, North Eastern States, UP & MP languish in very productivity due to very poor levels of irrigation. In contrast, states like Punjab & Haryana flourish because of sufficient availability of water. The sharp asymmetry in irrigation availability interstate has been the real bane of India. The overall irrigation availability is less than 40 percent in most states and there is hardly any increase in public investment in irrigation.
Dr. Kalam had strongly advocated for connecting the Deccan rivers with perennially flowing rivers of the North as the long-term solution for bringing prosperity to around 66 percent of the population, who reside in the villages. The present agitation of farmers in MP is symptomatic of this systemic malaise, Waiver of farmers loans will be like applying ointment as a palliative, rather than being a long-term solution to farm productivity, which is contingent on assured irrigation.
The other major sector which has been languishing is the manufacturing where the growth has come down from 5.7percent this year as against 7.9 percent. This sector has the maximum employment potential and the National Manufacturing Policy 2011 had advocated creation of Manufacturing Zones which have the potential of creating 10 million jobs per year.
This visionary policy has not been put in to effect in most of the states. The momentum of manufacturing seems to be confined to a few states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu & Gujarat. Carl Lewis, the economist, was prescient enough to suggest that countries with the large unproductive population in agricultural sector must shift them to nonfarm activities in urban segment. This provided the idelogical ballast to China to opt for creating massive manufacturing hubs and shift large population from the agricultural sector. Post-WWII, Germany in the 50s, Japan in the 60s, China in the 70s followed the manufacturing-led growth path and have become the prime beneficiary of Globalisation. Mr. Modi’s approach has been to promote growth in favoured pockets like Gujrat, instead of looking at the larger mosaic of India. No wonder he has earned the sobriquet of super CM of Gujarat!
Lastly, the social sector (education, health and sanitation) has been given a short shrift during the last four years. Be it ICDS, primary education, primary health or MNREGA, the allocation is either stagnant or reducing. The National Health Policy 2017 had promised the creation of Wellness Centres in each district which will provide holistic health care to the disabled, aged and the vulnerable. Lamentably quality health care at Affordable cost eludes 70 percentage of the population while the dispensary in villages are devoid of basic surgical and diagnostic care facilities. Primary education in government-run schools show pathetic learning outcomes and non-availability of minimal infrastructure and good teachers.
The Modi government has shown acute apathy in ushering social justice, inclusion and empathy for the vulnerable sections of the society by neglecting the social sector. Economic growth without investment in human development can have a long-term crippling and socially destabilizing impact.
Mr. Modi had brought in a whiff of optimism in 2014 by promising development for all as the unique leitmotif of his government. But years have passed by, it is clear that it camouflaged a deeply divisive communal agenda which his acolytes like Yogi Aditya has been trying to foster. The win by a Muslim woman candidate in a BJP bastion would obviously send shivers down the party cadres who are running smock with their agenda on food habits and private lives of citizens’.
Mr. Narasimha Rao did a monumental blunder by not protecting the secular character of India, by looking the other way when the vandals razed the Babri Musjid. The unity of several opposition parties, including Congress, behind a Muslim woman candidate is symbolic of the true spirit of Hinduism, to embrace all faiths and eschew intolerance. The rabid Hinduvta agenda, to divide people on religious grounds should get a red signal. Hopefully, the present victory is not pyrrhic and goes beyond Ganna Politics and looks at growth and development of all as the two wheels of a nation’s chariot.
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