On the 72nd Independence Day, 15th August 2018, we, the people of the country, again experienced a refurbished repeat telecast of the same show that’s going on for the last seven decades, forcefully making each Indian believe that they are “independent” and “free”, despite being knocked down by severe poverty, starvation, lack of health care, unemployment, nepotism, corruption and despite being shackled by the chains of comprador and bureaucratic capitalism, feudalism and foreign imperialist rule. Narendra Modi, the maverick megalomaniac tyrant ruling India, riding on the popular mandate of 160 million out of 1.3 billion people of the country, used the occasion for his mundane marketing experiments, especially keeping in view the 2019 Lok Sabha election and the forthcoming assembly elections in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. The 72nd Independence Day celebration was Modi’s last one in the present tenure, thus, he used the occasion to sell big dreams, like that of a space mission, roll out of a health insurance project that will cover more than 500 million people from September 2018 and of course, the dream of unending “vikas” (development) to transform the lives of the people.
The 80-minutes-long speech by the prime minister from the podium of the Red Fort was full of rephrased rhetorics that he and his coterie have been reiterating since 2014. After promising in 2017 that he will reduce the time of his Independence Day speech and after he delivered a 56-minutes-long speech last year, Narendra Modi reverted to his old self to ensure that the Red Fort podium and the occasion are exploited as a launchpad for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Thus, he reiterated his accomplishments by citing forged data and fabricated information. He skillfully avoided talking about the problems that are biting the economy and the society the most and dealt with those that he wanted to talk about.
The Health Insurance Scam: Ayushman Bharat
Narendra Modi told the nation that his government will roll-out the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme, which is also nicknamed as “Modicare” by September 2018 and that the insurance will benefit 500 million people of India. This scheme was announced by Arun Jaitley when he presented the Union Budget 2018-19 and we have analysed how the health insurance plan is actually an attempt to enrich the big insurance corporations and banks owned by foreign finance capital. What India needs and what the Modi regime is constantly avoiding is a universal, free public health care system that will execute a proactive and preventive health care programme to reach out to the vulnerable sections of the society. But the servile agents of neo-liberal economic programme, like the Modi-led BJP government, will definitely ignore the demand of a strong public healthcare system and would push more private players into a crucial sector like health, where the corporations will make money by selling expensive healthcare, pharmaceuticals and allied services on one hand, and will also earn huge profit by selling health insurances with non-comprehensive covers to the people, on the other hand. While the rich will become richer, 600,000 people will sink into poverty due to out-of-pocket healthcare expenses every year.
Tax Terrorism at Full Throttle
During his constant boasting over achievements that were not, Narendra Modi had spoken at length about combatting black money and improving tax collections by implementing the GST regime. Thanking the 300 million middle-class, whose major section, the upper-caste section, votes for the nefarious Hindutva fascist agenda of the Sangh Parivar, Narendra Modi said that their contribution in forms of direct taxes and indirect taxes has propelled the growth of the country. Modi told the nation that the number of direct taxpayers had nearly doubled and the number of those paying indirect tax has reached 11.6 million from seven million in just one year of GST implementation. However, he didn’t touch the point that while the poor and the lower-middle-class of the society is forced to shell out more money for goods and services due to heightened taxes, his government has allowed immense tax sops to big corporate houses, irrespective of the number of employment opportunities they have created. The huge tax sops offered to the corporate world have been putting pressure on the exchequer, to release which the Modi regime has imposed a most reactionary tax burden on the common people. Everywhere the Modi regime has displayed its loyalty towards the big capital.
Expressing his concern over the severe condition of Kerala caused due to incessant rainfall, the rise in water levels and landslides, Narendra Modi said his thoughts are with Kerala and those who suffered the wrath of nature in the southern state. However, the prime minister and his regime dodged the real issue pertaining Kerala with aplomb. When Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan requested ₹12 billion from the Modi regime as flood relief, New Delhi only allocated ₹1 billion to Kerala, while it has paid a huge amount of relief to Gujarat recently, which shows the nasty partisan attitude of the Modi regime over issues as grave as a flood or other natural calamities. While delivering his speech on the occasion of Independence Day, the prime minister didn’t mention this vile attempt by the centre to discriminate against states, even when the southern states are the highest contributors to the tax coffer of the Indian ruling classes.
Hoodwinking the Farmers
Trying to act pro-poor and as a pro-farmer prime minister, when thousands of farmers are forced to kill themselves every year, Narendra Modi highlighted his government’s achievement in increasing the MSP. Aiming at 2019 Lok Sabha election, Modi tried to package it as an unprecedented gift for the farmers, while actually the MSP rise was more or less a measure of hoodwinking the farmers by providing an MSP that will be only 50 per cent more of the input costs calculated on A2+FL and not on C2, the more comprehensible input cost calculation as per the Swaminathan Commission Report. We have analysed the MSP increase hoax here and the prime minister didn’t feel any guilt to package this utter gibberish offer as a “pro-farmer” measure to cheat the farmers.
Space Mission of a Hungry Nation
Aiming the sky, Narendra Modi claimed that India may send a manned mission to space on its own before 2022, which, according to him, will take India higher on a global scale and earn it laurels of fame. Narendra Modi must have considered sending a space mission as a matter of pride, but he must have also overlooked the fact that his four-year-long reign has pushed the economy at the brink of a severe catastrophe, increased unemployment to 31 million and still no sign of curbing, farm crisis worsening, higher education becoming dearer to students, workers are getting lower wages, rupees crumbling before dollar and fuel prices skyrocketing. Rather than resolving the basics, the basics that help people survive on a square meal a day in a country where a majority earns less than $2 every day, the focus of the government on its fetish to be a space power is not only ridiculous but extremely gory as well.
The Worsening Situation for Women
Despite making India a rape capital of the world, Narendra Modi took the chance to shed crocodile tears for the women. Narendra Modi claimed that by allowing death sentence for rapists of children, his government is bringing a revolutionary change and that now the rapes of children will come down. However, he didn’t speak on the low conviction rates in all courts and how there are lapses in the prosecution process, which help the accused to get out of imprisonment and then exert pressure on the victim. Narendra
Modi regime and the other BJP governments in different states of the country didn’t do anything to improve the scenario for women and from the third most dangerous place for women on earth in 2014, India climbed to number one position this year. Though the number of rapes and gender abuse incidents could not be brought down, forget stopping them, the BJP, emboldened by Narendra Modi’s patronage, showed exemplary performance in aligning with those criminals who commit crime against women. In Chandigarh, Vikas Barala, the son of the BJP chief, was caught harassing a woman and later, after filing a case against the man, the woman, Varnika Kundu, was constantly threatened by the Sangh Parivar.
In Jammu, the BJP’s former ministers and leaders came down on streets and organised massive rallies with tricolours in support of those who are accused of gangraping and murdering an 8-year-old Muslim Gujjar girl. In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP men came out in large numbers to support the BJP MLA who was accused by a girl of raping her and murdering her father through police persecution. Throughout India, BJP leaders are either found complicit in rape cases or they are found involved in women trafficking.
Narendra Modi’s symbolic pro-women stance didn’t help anyone even when he declared permanent commissioning of women in the armed forces. The Indian military establishment is extremely patriarchal and male chauvinist in nature, allowing few women a stable career in non-combat roles will not change its true character or curb the violations of human rights and sexual abuse of women by its men, especially in territories where they enjoy utmost impunity under draconian laws like AFSPA.
Corridors of Corruption Leads to PMO
When the prime minister claimed that the country is purged of corruption and power brokers are not seen anymore in the corridors of North and South Block, then he behaved as if the country is not aware of the Rafale deal, which helped Anil Ambani to prosper as a partner of the MoD for maintenance of Rafale Jets throughout their lifecycle. The mammoth Rafale Jet scam has dwarfed all previously known defence scams due to the huge amount of money involved and the direct, visible and assertive role played by the prime minister in pushing aside a reputed public sector aeronautics company – Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) – to allow Anil Ambani’s novice firm get a big-ticket contract. Forget cracking the whip on the scamsters, the prime minister was found photographing with one, Nirav Modi, before he fled India along with his uncle Mehul Choksi, whom the prime minister once praised and called “Mehulbhai” at an event in the PMO. Scams like Vyapam, which took the lives of nearly 50 people, are still unresolved and those who are accused in it are still holding high offices in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.
Crocodile Tears for Muslim Women
Even though Narendra Modi showed his concern for the Muslim women, especially the victims of Triple Talaq, to whom he and his administration periodically show extreme concern, he didn’t utter a word regarding the rise in lynchings throughout the country under the patronage of his regime and the RSS, the Hindutva fascist fountainhead to which he and his regime swear allegiance to. Poor Muslim men are killed randomly, especially in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan under the pretext of saving cows. In India, the cow never had been positioned before human beings like it’s done now, even with the shameless endorsement by celebrities seeking BJP tickets. Narendra Modi had no words to console the widows of those Muslims who were killed by the cow vigilante thugs or Gau Rakshaks.
These Muslim women are nowhere on the sympathy radar of Narendra Modi and his regime, whose minister would felicitate the convicts of mob lynching and photograph with them. The RSS-led Hindutva camp is openly advocating for bloodbath of Muslims throughout India and it had fuelled several communal riots throughout India in the last four years, in which a lot of Muslim women were affected, for whom Narendra Modi had no words to spare; just like he never uttered a word for those Muslim women of Gujarat who were raped, whose bodies were mutilated and from whose womb foetus of unborn children were forked out by the Hindutva thugs to be burned in fire. Narendra Modi’s sympathy is only for the Triple Talaq victims because that gives him political mileage in wooing the hardcore Hindutva fanatics and upper-caste Hindus who have been suffering due to Islamophobia.
Independence is an elusive thing in India and moreover, the word “freedom” is much despised by the present regime as it goes against their fascist doctrine. The unbridled fascist rule, powered by the huge support it receives from the big foreign monopoly and finance capital, the Indian comprador and crony capital and the big feudal landlords, has rendered “freedom” into an illegal, seditionary concept and people are cajoled into believing that absolute freedom is a bad thing and the state must have an absolute right to not only control the lives of the people according to its whims but also poke nose into the private lives of citizens by using their data to snoop on them and build their profile. The Narendra Modi-led BJP regime has turned the concepts of independence, democracy and freedom into their opposites and it has established a fascist rule all over the country taking advantage of the absence of a strong and vibrant opposition.
It’s time that the people of the country unite against the narcissist prime minister and his fascist regime to start a strenuous and arduous struggle to bring a transformation in the country. In a stage of an undeclared emergency, Narendra Modi and his regime have slowly started demolishing the last remnants of a quasi-democratic structure, which at least allowed people to express their views and fight for their rights. Now the Modi government is trying to make a comeback with a greater majority in 2019 to ensure a total change is brought in India by doing away with the concept of a democratic republic and replacing it with the tyrannical rule of Brahminical Hindutva fascism. To stop that catastrophe and to protect their democratic rights and assert their birthright of freedom, the common people, the overwhelming masses of the workers, peasants and labouring masses must be awakened to play their historic role and achieve victory in their anti-fascist liberation struggle. Independence can be truly realised only when fascism, Brahminical supremacy, apartheid against Muslims, Dalits and tribals, unrestricted loot and plunder of resources by foreign capital and its local comprador lackeys, feudal production relation and social order are demolished and a new democratic, truly republican and socialist egalitarian society is built on the ruins of the old reactionary one. For that goal of freedom and independence, the people must struggle.
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