When Narendra Modi was elected to come to power and hold the country’s reigns and became the prime minister, at the helm of Bharatiya Janta Party in 2014, people rejoiced, for here was someone who had done wonders for the state of Gujrat.
Narendra Modi, for his home state of Gujrat, headed over an economic growth spurt, and he promised to do the same for the country when he came to power.
Under his promises, he shared his agenda with the rest of the country – revive and boost the manufacturing sector, revolutionize the financial sector, and had spoken extensively on Congress Party and the capitalism associated with them, a party that had ruled most of India through the post-independence era.
While the country looked forward to a ‘new wave’ to start under which India and its citizens would have the sunshine on them, it was, in fact, and as it turned out, quite the opposite.
Modi’s first term was more misses than hits – a botched rollout of sales tax and demonetization that hit the country and its citizens hard.
We remember how the citizens, particularly those who had limited incomes and the old, were worried about how their meager incomes and savings would be hit.
We witnessed serpentine-like lines outside banks wherein people, distraught with how to handle this situation, and the impact on their lives, stood for hours to get their banknotes changed.
Many lost their lives, many fainted and hit their already poor health, old, young, poor stood for hours for many days for this exercise and had little to show for this exercise at the end of the day.
The old and the poor were particularly vulnerable. This hastily, unplanned activity hit the citizens and the country’s cash-driven economy hard.
However, Modi was re-elected in 2019 and came back to power with a huge majority.
Modi continues his onslaught.
Modi, even when re-elected with a vast margin instead of focusing on the increasing economic challenges, however, thought it more prudent to double down on ‘Hindutva.’ He revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomous status, Changed the country’s citizenship laws, and tried to enforce Hinduism as central to India’s values and identity.
From 2019 to Covid -19 Pandemic, Economy, Elections
The Bharatiya Janta Party and its leader Narendra Modi came to power with a strong promise of making India into a $5 trillion economy by the year 2025, which is just five years away.
However, the start of his tenure was marked with a ‘boom to dust’ wherein the signs in the country pointed to economic decay, India’s banking sector and especially public banks are groaning with lack of reforms and the weight of non – performing assets and the debt issue was further highlighted by the pulling out of banknotes from circulation previously.
In the recent past and the banking sector’s current situation wherein several banks have gone bust, leaving a line of depositors crying over their bad luck.
The signs that all was and is not well with the country’s economic conditions are visible in commercial hubs in all cities.
Even before the Covid -19 pandemic hit, the commercial activities in major cities had hit a low. Even the demand in Tier I and Tier II cities, as well as the countryside, had majorly dipped.
Demand for big-ticket purchases and a sign that the Agri sector is not doing well was highlighted by the dip in sales such as tractors. At the same time, sales of even the cheapest food items were also weak.
From residential to automobile sales, consumers were pulling back to making any big-ticket size purchase. In fact, car sales hit a record low in the quarter of 2019.
Covid -19 pandemic beginning and ongoing
The start and the ongoing Covid -19 pandemic has only deepened the slash and the resulting pain in both the economy and the daily lives of people.
With not much option but to order a lockdown to prevent the infections further, it resulted in more pain.
Even as the world came to terms with the onslaught of the virus and how to deal with it both in terms of individual lives and the resulting economic impact; between all this was caught the migrating work population – the migrant workers – who had no idea how to handle the situation and with no means to earn, no money and downright panic-stricken thrown out from one state to another, wanting to go back to their homes and villages, children, pregnant women, and men – young and old – walking in hordes towards their respective destinations.
However, in all this, the Modi Government, even after a couple of months of the onslaught of the Covid -19 pandemic, has fallen short of any blueprint as to how this massive blow is to be handled.
Understandably, all economic activities came to a stall, but even after the lifting of the lockdown, the economy and the citizens of the country have been left in a lurch, left to pick up the pieces and figure out on their own as to the path of slowly building up from where they left.
Instead of a solid plan of action, the country is currently dealing with the Covid -19 pandemic, bust banking system, the collapse of the economy, inflation, technical recession, high unemployment rate, and little cash reserves with the government, and the looming elections.
A very toxic and potent mix of politics and emotions. Team Modi, on its part, did not shy away from spinning a narrative that showed that it was doing everything right!
Modi launched the ‘Made in India’ campaign, which again is typical Modi narrative was lapped up by the general public tired with the uncertainty due to the pandemic, exhausted with the massive economic slowdown and loss of jobs, saw this as a perfect way to get back on their feet, be self-dependent and way to boost the economy with – we manufacture – we consume narrative.
But where has the ‘Make in India’ campaign gone, and if it is still in the works – what has it achieved so far? Where is this campaign headed, where is the plan of action?
Add to this the elections in Bihar – wherein the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman released a manifesto in Patna, announcing the distribution of free coronavirus vaccines in the state.
Why just in Bihar? Are we so foolish that we do not understand the little shallow games that political parties play in India only to win and come into power?
BJP very sadly played with the sentiments of the citizens of the country and took the people of Bihar on a ride by this trick, using the pandemic and stroking the fears of the general public in Bihar and promising them free vaccines to strengthen political gains.
Incidentally, all major vaccination programs – right from polio to Smallpox has been free for the citizens of this country and not a paid service. So why has the vaccination drive for Covid -19 to be free only promised to one state?
The Modi government has also shown its highhandedness in handling the current Farmer’s Crises. The farmers have been protesting against the farm bills passed by the government. They have been demanding to be heard regarding their reservations, primarily concerning abolishing the minimum guaranteed price for their produce.
The apathy with which the Modi government has and is handling the farmers’ protest is for all to see. With national highways in and around the national capital dug up to stop the farmers’ advance, protest is a very foolish idea indeed with the infrastructure already in the doldrums.
The farmers and agricultural sector is the backbone of the country and the economy. With a massive population to feed and the current economic conditions, and the Covid -19 pandemic in full swing, the government needed to handle this issue both with urgency and sensitivity.
It is indeed a let down by the Modi government whether it is unfulfillment of the promises and the vision that it showed the country and its citizens, or the handling of the Covid -19 pandemic, lack of plan and confused outlook towards the country’s economy, or the indifference with which it has handled the farmers protest, the signs are not good.
We as a country and its citizens should brace ourselves for more potholes, rocky roads, and a challenging climb to come out of all our misadventures to a place where the sun shines again.