Critical reports

Print edition : October 31, 2014

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Subhav Shukla/PTI

TERMING the 100-day good governance claims of the Narendra Modi government as hyperbole, several organisations have released their own report cards on the period.

“100 Days Under the New Regime: The State of Minorities” edited by activist John Dayal and published by Anhad (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy) collated data from newspapers and other resources to expose “unprecedented” violence against Muslims and Christians. The report noted the occurrence of over 600 incidents against religious minorities between May and September across the country, especially where byelections or Assembly elections were due. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju stated in the Rajya Sabha that 113 communal incidents took place during the first few weeks of the new government, in which 15 people were killed and 318 were injured.

The patterns of violence are familiar, states the report. “A multitude of ever-growing Hindu nationalist organisations—some mainstream, some fringe—deploy and refashion small local disputes to spur rage and suspicion against the Muslim people, each time reviving and fuelling old stereotypes. The manufactured flashpoints are also familiar: disputes over land for shrines and graveyards, an offending loudspeaker in a place of worship, charges of young Muslim men sexually harassing hapless Hindu women in a sinister campaign of ‘love jehad’ sometimes with the added twist of forced conversions....”

The report has documented instances of social exclusion, attacks on church leaders, police inaction and 35 cases of anti-Christian violence in, among other places, Udupi, Kishanganj, Murshidabad, Sirisguda and Bastar.

The report has also recorded numerous instances of violence against Muslims and also documented 115 instances of hate speech and action, a couple of them being: “facebook user facing jail for anti-Modi holocaust comment in Goa” and “book on sexual violence in Ahmedabad riots set aside by publisher”.

Another report by Ghadar Alliance, “Fast Track to Troubling Times. 100 Days of Modi - A Counter Report” attempts to assess how Modi’s policies will impact the majority, among them farmers, autorickshaw drivers, salt pan workers, teachers, tea stall workers, livestock rearers, factory workers, fisher people, working classes, mothers and children.

According to the report, despite what the new government says, the development agenda remains subservient to corporate interests.

It claims that mechanisms of public deliberation are being suppressed. As a telling example, it notes the government’s July decision in which coal mine projects above 16 million tonnes per annum capacity were exempted from seeking the consent of local communities affected by the project. Besides, it removed the condition that gram sabhas should give their consent for prospecting for minerals in forests. The Forest Rights Act, a law designed to protect the rights of Adivasis has thus been stripped of its powers, according to the report.

Analysing the new administration’s economic policy, the report claims that expenditures that benefit the vast majority of the poor were being slashed (in the name of managing the fiscal deficit) even as massive amounts of public funds were being transferred to the rich (in the name of stimulating growth). Corporate acquisition of land was being eased even as millions faced the threat of eviction and dispossession as a result.

The report claimed that the Modi Budget sought to raise $13 billion from selling state assets, which was more than four times what the United Progressive Alliance government was able to raise.

“While numerous discussions of cutting subsidies littered the campaign trail, only those subsidies that flow to the 70 per cent of Indians who live on less than $2/day have been cut, unevenly impacting those already disenfranchised. Corporate subsidies and tax credits for the wealthy, on the other hand, have not experienced cuts,” states the report.

Meanwhile, the Congress, too, released a booklet, “100 Days of BJP Misrule”. Insisting that the results of the byelections after the Lok Sabha election reflected “the people’s anger” over “hollow promises of a useless government”, it said, “The story till now is only of slogans and more slogans. The nation is worried at what lies in store for India for the remaining tenure of this government.”

Divya Trivedi

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