Ever since he occupied the throne of New Delhi, Narendra Modi is accused of being media-phobic by the near-extinct scribes with their spine intact. Narendra Modi reaffirmed this truth that he can’t stand critical questions by refusing to meet the press for the last four years. Sheer monologue and utter disregard for two-ways communication prevailed as the dominant theme of the prime minister’s communication in these four years. He chose Twitter to express his views on issues he felt comfortable talking about and he also opted for radio to broadcast his “Maan ki Baat” programme, where he would deliver a lecture on chosen topics. Narendra Modi’s choice of media and his reluctance to face real question answers prove beyond doubt that he and his dispensation want to control the press according to their whim and would not allow the press to hold the government accountable for any issues that the country face.
So far, Narendra Modi gave “exclusive” interviews only to his lapdog tv anchors and toady “news” channels owned by BJP leaders and Hindutva-inclined corporate media groups like the Times group. The interviews conducted by Hindutva fascist rabble-rousers like Arnab Goswami, Sudhir Chaudhary, Navika Kumar and Rahul Shivshankar were more of sessions where these servile agents of the saffron terrorist camp heaped their praises to flatter Modi and express their absolute loyalty towards his regime. Without breaking the pattern, Narendra Modi recently agreed to give interviews to the Times of India, Hindustan Times and the news agency ANI, however, through emails only. Obviously, after the first set of answers, these media organisations didn’t even attempt to send follow up questions to seek clarity on the issues the prime minister addressed.
In these interviews, transcripts of which are published by the trio, the prime minister gave ambiguous answers to the questions that are raised by the opposition and used the occasion before the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha election and the forthcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, to propagate utter lies on development and employment to deceive the people. Modi unashamedly used absolutely fabricated information to showcase himself in a stronger position and pave the way for a secure comeback of the BJP next year. In these interviews, Narendra Modi blamed the opposition for everything wrong and boldly placed the government’s views – there is nothing wrong with the economy.
“Rather than the so-called failure of this government to create jobs, I believe the shortcoming lies in the absence or lack of a streamlined database of jobs. Naturally, in the absence of information, our opponents will exploit this situation and blame us for not creating jobs.”
Narendra Modi responded with the above lines while answering a Times of India question over the failure of his government to create the promised 25 million jobs per year. His regime came under severe criticism in the last few years for failing to create employment opportunities for Indians despite promising it during the 2014 general election campaign. Modi’s attempt to change the narrative over his government’s failure couldn’t impress the people or the opposition at all and the lies were exposed in no time.
According to an ILO report, the unemployment rate will rise by 3.5 per cent in 2018-19, the number of unemployed will rise to 18.6 million in 2018 from 18.3 in 2017 and the number will reach 18.9 in 2019, the year Narendra Modi will hit the electoral arena to retain his rule. A report of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) surpasses the ILO estimate and claimed at the beginning of 2018 that 31 million people are currently unemployed in India. Add to this the fresh batch of graduates and high school passed out youth who have entered the job market in search of employment in May-June 2018. It’s estimated that only 600,000 jobs will be created this year, which is too low to address the crisis.
This increase is due to the lack of employment opportunities created by the government to accommodate the high amount of employment-seekers entering the job market every year. A survey by Teamlease, a top recruitment firm, reported in 2017 that the Modi government is far away from providing 10 million jobs in a year, forget the 25 million jobs in a year that the BJP promised during 2014 general elections, which was supposed to give employment to 250 million people in a span of 10 years. Rather, under the BJP’s misrule, there has been a major fall in the number of jobs in the fast-shrinking manufacturing sector, which used to be the largest employer apart from agriculture and service sector. Those who have lost their jobs in the manufacturing sector finds it too much difficult to get another job elsewhere because they gain special skills usable in only one particular type of job and their experience may be rendered absolutely useless if they change their industry or trade.
While nearly 17 million people enter the job market every year in search of employment, only 5.5 million jobs are created to accommodate the job seekers. As the manufacturing sector suffered a slog despite government’s “Make in India” initiative, which attempts to woo the big foreign corporations to open their manufacturing units in India with less manpower hired in lieu of a paltry sum and more technological investment, the unemployment problem is taking an epidemic proportion. This crisis is severe at the bottom of the food chain- the labour in the small towns are worst-hit due to closure of many manufacturing units that are unable to stay competitive in the market due to rising costs of production, strong challenge from foreign corporations and draconian taxes burdened on them while big corporate houses enjoy immense tax sops. The job loss in these many small towns and tier II and III cities is forcing migration of both skilled and unskilled labour to metro cities.
It’s evident that Narendra Modi and his government are not willing to resolve the bottleneck and provide relief to the manufacturing sector and other employment-oriented sectors, especially the SMEs and MSMEs, because that will hurt the interest of the big corporations, foreign and domestic, which his regime represents with utmost loyalty and sincerity. As big comprador and crony capitalist-led corporations and their foreign masters- the big multinational corporations and foreign banks, are able to loot Indian labour and resources with total impunity due to the favourable conditions created by the Modi regime and the entire Hindutva camp for them in India, the small and middle business units are facing severe crisis and it’s resulting in large-scale job cuts and subsequent economic crisis. While Reliance Industries owned by Mukesh Ambani and Adani Group owned by Gautam Adani, two top sponsors and patrons of the Modi regime, have filed highest profits in these years of Modi’s rule, the small and medium scale enterprises, small manufacturing units have faced a severe financial crisis. To cover up this gross and intentional sabotage of the macroeconomy, Narendra Modi has started speaking on changing the data collection and computation methods so that his regime’s total failures could be portrayed as a success by tweaking the figures and the unsusceptible and uncritical minds can be impressed with the hallucinatory information.
Apart from his false claims over the creation of 10 million jobs in a year, Narendra Modi also quoted the figures of MUDRA Loan disbursement to validate his claim that self-employment and the subsequent “setting up of enterprises” have addressed the employment challenges. Narendra Modi answered ANI:
“More than 13 crore MUDRA loans have been given to our hardworking entrepreneurs. I have been told that over 3.5 crore of these loans have been given to first time entrepreneurs. Does every loan not create additional employment opportunities?”(sic)
(3.5 crore is equal to 35 million)
According to the financial reports given in the MUDRA website (PDF), the average of total loans given in financial years (FY) 2015-16 and 2016-17 are ₹39,405 and ₹45,472 respectively and out of which 45.25 per cent in FY 2015-16 and 40 per cent in FY 2016-17 were disbursed to new entrepreneurs. With spiralling inflation, rising cost of living and a complicating financial crisis, it’s evident that a paltry sum of ₹45,472 can’t found an enterprise that will provide employment to others as well. Even former finance minister and BJP’s ex-stalwart, Yashwant Sinha criticised the inefficiency of the MUDRA loans earlier. By picking up the faulted MUDRA scheme as a saviour, the prime minister himself exposed how his government is cheating the people by using money from public exchequer.
Another attempt by Narendra Modi to quell criticism of the opposition was to cite the rising number of provident fund accounts. The prime minister answered ANI by referring to the rise in EPF member accounts to imply that employment is rising.
“Employment generation is also evident from 45 lakh new subscribers in the Employee Provident Fund and 5.68 lakh people joining the New Pension Scheme in the last nine months.”(sic)
(45 lakh is equal to 4.5 million and 5.68 lakh is equal to 568,000)
This reference by the prime minister is absolutely misleading. A Live Mint analysis earlier showed that with new rules, companies with 20 or more employees now come under the EPF scheme and thus, the subscriber base of EPFO increased. Ironically, it was last month that the EPFO revised down the net enrolment numbers for September-April by 395,000 or 9.6 per cent to 3.73 million from its earlier estimate of 4.12 million. It’s not sure where the prime minister found his 4.5 million information from; such “slip of the pen” is very surprising, especially when replying to questions by email. According to the EPFO, out of 170 million accounts that it has, only 50 million are active accounts and even after losing job an individual can retain the EPF account. Thus, using the EPF account details to show that the target of 10 million jobs is met by the government, manifests utmost frustration and disarrayed state of the Modi regime, which is trying to divert the people’s attention from the burning questions of economic crisis.
Though he promised 25 million jobs a year to unemployed youth, Narendra Modi’s government has not even filled more than 400,000 vacancies in the central government. More than 10 per cent of the 3.6 million-strong central government positions are lying vacant for years. In Indian Railways, more than 150,000 security-related positions are vacant since years. No efforts are taken by the Modi regime to address the issue of such huge vacancies in the central government, rather it has ordered departments to wind-up such positions that are vacant for more than five years. This decision that was made public earlier this year, clearly narrates the intention of the Modi regime to not provide employment in government or public sector to the unemployed. The Modi regime will play absolutely no role in providing employment to a large number of unemployed people throughout the country.
Rather than using the public sector to drive the much-hyped “development” cavalcade, Narendra Modi depends on the private players to provide employment opportunity to the people. With the most horrible working conditions, pure disregard for labour laws (which Modi regime is attempting to change to serve the interests of the big capital, foreign and domestic) and zero job and social security, the private sector jobs create a pool of unorganised slaves who are exploited severely by the unscrupulous capitalists to multiply their dirty wealth. The unorganised workforce is barred from forming trade unions to fight against injustice and exploitation. This gives ample room to the comprador capitalists and their foreign corporate masters to exploit the labour with utmost impunity without fearing any repercussions. For Narendra Modi, serving the big comprador and crony capitalists, to help the big corporations with tax sops and to dilute labour laws to help the corporate houses to suck more blood of the working class are principal roles of his premiership, which he is trying to fulfil every day.
The misinformation spread by Narendra Modi while answering the questions on the performance of the economy is not an isolated incident or something new; it’s a part and parcel of the RSS’ Hindutva fascist enterprise that is trying to revive the corpse of the neo-liberal economic order controlled by Wall Street and its global lackeys. Under the obligation to serve the World Bank-IMF-WTO troika, the Hindutva camp is fuelling communal disunity, hatred and violence in India under Narendra Modi’s watch to prevent the people from recognising their true enemies – the big foreign and domestic corporations, feudal landlords, feudal usurers and the bureaucratic capital. To keep the people in dark and to rule over the unsusceptible and uncritical urban, upper-caste Hindu middle-class, Narendra Modi and his coterie will keep fabricating information and spread lies in the days to come. It’s an imperative task for all anti-fascist, democratic and progressive media organisations and people to expose these lies and explain the real scenario so that the BJP can’t gain any more ground in India.