Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed 100 days in office after winning a second consecutive term with a landslide victory. While addressing a rally in Ranchi, Jharkhand, on 12 September 2019, Modi said that the actions of his government in the last 100 days were mere trailer, the film is yet to come. The toady media, Modi’s sycophants and hardcore Hindutva fascists cheered this assertion by him and started heaping praises on the government, which, they claimed, realised many goals of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its mentor organisation — the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — which wouldn’t have been possible without Modi at the helm.
“Modi hain to mumkin hain” (With Modi, it’s possible) has become the warcry of the regime and the prime minister is hailed for whatever is done, except the ignominious faux passes of his ministers and the government officials. Amid this loud cheerleading for the prime minister and hailing him as a change abetter, a concrete and objective analysis of the last 100 days of the Modi regime, seeking truth from facts, is a necessity we can’t afford to ignore at this hour.
If the first 100 days of the Modi 2.0 regime will be remembered for a few things then they will be the following:
The Jammu & Kashmir fiasco
Though it happened at a later stage, if things are jolted in chronological order, yet it’s the most important act of the Modi regime that not only shook India but also had remarkable global ripples.
On 5 August 2019 morning, Home Minister Amit Shah abrogated Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, followed by Article 35A. While Article 370 provided a semi-autonomous status to Jammu & Kashmir, albeit on papers, Article 35A had provided the former Jammu & Kashmir assembly with the exclusive right to decide who is a permanent resident of the state. Apart from abrogating the crucial articles, Shah also declared that Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir will be bifurcated and turned into two union territories — Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh — among which only Jammu & Kashmir will have a legislative assembly with limited power, while Ladakh will have none.
The abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A ended the special relationship that the UN-recognised disputed territory Jammu & Kashmir had with India and formally allowed India to annex it, triggering a diplomatic row. Neighbours, Pakistan and China, vehemently criticised this annexation and the Kashmir row reached the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) nearly after 50 years.
Though the UNSC and all major powers like the US, the UK, Russia, and China have asked India and Pakistan to resolve the issue through bilateral talks, Modi’s hubris won’t allow that happen because India even doesn’t consider Kashmir as a problem in its external communication. It has always considered Kashmir as a major law and order problem, an internal matter, to keep the United Nations and bodies like the UNSC aloof.
Also, the exclusion of the Kashmiri people as a party to the conflict will never bring an end to this crisis. The global community didn’t heed to the plight of the Kashmiri people, agonised by India’s sudden upping of the ante. Without their voice heard in the long-drawn conflict, no permanent solution can be reached on the Kashmir issue. India never wants them to be heard, now the international community’s indifference tolled heavily on the Kashmiri people, who are at present under a military rule, locked in their houses and incommunicado as the Indian government has snapped their mobile, telephone, internet and even cable television connections.
Though the Modi regime and its hyper-jingoistic supporters are hailing the abrogation of Article 370 and the formal annexation of the disputed territory by India as masterstrokes, the ripple-effects of this adventurism, done with the sole aim of changing the demography of Kashmir and turn it into a settlement colony — like the Zionist Israeli experiments with settlement colonies in the West Bank — will be felt for a long time to come. The Kashmiri people’s discontent has reached its peak and the state’s atrocities also increased manifold, which is often exposed by the western press.
While Modi can use the abrogation of Article 370 and annexation of Kashmir for self-aggrandisement and promote the cause of his heir apparent Shah, who is projected as an avatar of Congress leader Vallabh Bhai Patel, internationally it will cost India a lot, as the people’s sentiment will go against India and make it face popular discontent like the Zionist Israel. Militancy, which was limited to 100-150 armed disarrayed youth, is also threatening to reach its peak after 1989-90, as Pakistan harps on India’s audacity and hegemonist approach to sponsor a new batch of militants who will drag on the armed conflict and limit the scope of peace in the valley.
The economic catastrophe
Long before the 2019 general elections took place, the opposition and the economists have been warning the government of a severe economic catastrophe. It was since 2015 when the economy started faltering, yet the government didn’t acknowledge as its audacity never allowed it to listen. The disastrous demonetisation drive hit the economy badly and the unplanned implementation of the draconian Goods and Services Tax forced the economy into ventilator from 2017 onwards.
As the GDP growth fell considerably, Modi changed the computation method to show his achievements higher than that of the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime. Though the economy went on a decline during the last leg of the UPA II regime in 2012-13 and 2013-14, Modi’s reign ruined it and made it impossible for any revival. It lived in a denial mode and declined the existence of a four-decade-high unemployment rate until the election results were out.
Now, in these 100 days, the GDP of the first quarter (Q1) of the financial year (FY) 2019-20 grew at only 5%, which is a historic low since the last 27 quarters. Earlier economists predicted it to fall to 5.7% from 5.8% achieved in the Q4 of FY 2018-19. As the computation method is changed, the real fall can be far more severe and be around 4.5 to 4.7%. What’s the reason for this fall? Unemployment can be the only issue that has resulted in an unprecedented economic crisis, which is a structural crisis rather than what the government’s lapdog media is portraying as a mere “slowdown”.
During his first tenure, Modi promised 20m jobs a year to provide 100m jobs by the end of the tenure. The job creation never reached that level. While each month India experienced the entry of millions of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled people in the job market, it couldn’t create adequate jobs to absorb them. At any point in time, the job creation during the reign of Modi remained historically low, rendering the unemployment at a historic high in four decades.
Not only did the unemployment increase due to unavailability of jobs, but also due to the massive layout across industries like automobile, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), and other industries facing demand crunch. Moreover, burdened by a heavy load of non-performing assets (NPA) due to debts appropriated by big corporate houses, the public sector banks (PSB) have adopted a conservative approach towards lending to maintain the NPA levels. This affected new business plans and also, the corporate sector, which found the Modi regime being biased towards a handful of crony-comprador capitalists, became gradually sceptic and pessimistic, which also affected the scope of new employment generation, as the government has long passed on the role of job creation to the market.
As the economy crumbled, the corporate houses became wary, the novice finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, tried to do some cosmetic surgery to fix the grave cancerous tumour and, after failing in it, she and her colleagues are now trying to find out a way to distract people’s attention from the sinking economy. In the meantime, the Modi regime usurped Rs 1.76 trillion from the Reserve Bank of India’s surplus and contingency funds. It’s not clear where this fund will be used, whether it will be used at all for demand generation at the grassroots or for Modi’s propaganda campaigns. Even after all these, the Modi regime has been pushing the $5 trillion-worth economy goal, which it wants to achieve by 2024, without addressing the burning issues of the present.
The rural distress
Modi’s several promises to farmers waded during his first tenure itself. The major demand of the farmers regarding a better price for their produce, land reforms, irrigation projects, subsidies for fertilizers and support in marketing the products, are left in the oblivion. Modi’s much-advertised decision to hike the minimum support price (MSP) on Kharif crops came out to be big propaganda with no real benefits to the farmers.
Plus, the ambitious plan of late Arun Jaitley, the former finance minister, to double the income of farmers by 2022, still remains a distant dream as neither the farm sector is growing at 12.5% required to reach that goal nor is the economy in that vibrant mood that such optimism can be hosted for some time.
Farmers and villagers in most of India’s agricultural hubs like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, etc, have seen a severe fall in their real income and have been toiling severely. Rural distress has deeply entrenched in Jharkhand as well, where, ironically, the prime minister was delivering his tall talk on trailer and film.
The downfall in the demand of Parle G biscuit, one of the oldest biscuit brands that produce glucose biscuits, shows how rural distress has affected people’s purchasing power. As no corrective steps are visible on the horizon, it’s well-expected that the suffering will continue during the screening of the film.
The NRC exclusion in Assam
After a four-year-long exercise, finally the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is published in Assam and 1.9m people are excluded. Though this inhuman exercise to single out purported “foreigners” in Assam, followed by the building up of large concentration camp-style detention centres across the state, was carried out by the Assam government under the aegis of the Supreme Court, adding a legal validity to it, the Modi regime has already declared that none of the Hindus in the 1.9m people excluded from the NRC will be disenfranchised or detained.
It unambiguously pulled the cat out of the bag and made it visible to all that the entire NRC was an exercise to weed out and disenfranchise Muslims, especially Bengali-speaking Muslims, in violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution that guarantees equality before the law. The complex issue of immigration in Assam and the northeast is blended with Islamophobia by the RSS and the BJP, which has helped them fan communal discord at the ground level.
The NRC happens to be the goriest exercise a persecuted minority community has been subjected to in the post-second world war scenario. The replication of the Nazi German concentration camps is so evidently visible. The success of Modi in thwarting the international criticism of the project can be called his achievement from the RSS’s point of view.
This NRC menace will not end now. The Modi regime will use it as a weapon to persecute the oppressed Muslims throughout the nation and fulfil the RSS’s vision of making the Muslims and Christians second-class citizens with no voting or other fundamental rights in the Hindu Rashtra (Hindu theocratic state).
The official unveiling of the fascist state
The foremost achievement of the Modi regime in the first 100 days is the unveiling of the Hindu Rashtra project, which it wants to accomplish by 2022 through a drastic change in the Constitution and transformation of all institutions.
Beginning with the draconian amendments to the existing laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Right to Information (RTI) Act, and by bringing a law that can arbitrarily declare any Indian citizen or foreigner a terrorist and allow the Indian security agencies to arrest and torture them without caring for any evidence, the Modi regime opened the doorways to the Hindu Rashtra, where only the rulers and their coterie will have the exclusive rights to talk.
Many activists, journalists and politicians, including those in Kashmir, are jailed, muzzled and are even charged with sedition and other draconian laws like the UAPA. A former student activist, Shehla Rashid, is charged with sedition for merely speaking up against the Indian Army’s atrocities in Jammu & Kashmir. Others, like the anti-caste activists, human rights activists and lawyers languish in jail as they are accused of being Maoists trying to kill Modi. Many intellectuals are regularly harassed by the police state for speaking against the system, while many like the prominent lawyer and activist Indira Jaising, even faced intimidation through raids and false cases against them.
The arrest of former home minister P Chidambaram, Karnataka Congress leader DK Sivakumar, and house arrest of Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu by YS Jaganmohan Reddy — a close associate of the BJP in Andhra Pradesh — prove that the Hindutva fascists are not even in the mood to allow other representatives of the ruling classes have a say. These incidents have sent a shocker, cold shivering down the spine of the opposition and many, including the Congress party’s prominent leaders, have chosen to scale down their tonality fearing a backlash.
If these 100 days were merely the trailer of what’s in store, then definitely India hasn’t seen the worst yet. The unveiling of many horrors, state terror and gloating of the Hindutva fascists at the agony of the poor, the oppressed and the persecuted minority communities will become the collective image of future macabre India.
The rule of Modi is not only bringing immense hardships on the shoulders of the poor and toiling people, but it’s also widening the scope of a massive struggle between the overwhelming majority of the exploited and oppressed poor, mostly from the Dalit, tribal, backward classes and minority communities on one hand, and the rich, the super-rich, the elites and urban middle class from the upper-caste Hindu society, who are supporting the Modi regime for its atrocities to derive sadist pleasure from them and to drive their roller of exploitation unchallenged, on the other hand.
Which among these two forces will win the battle, in the long run, will decide the future of India. The first 100 days of Modi were horrible and the coming days will be severe as well. The only way out is to leave all reluctance behind and join the dots of opposition to form a major power bloc, a formidable force at the grassroots upwards to reckon with. Modi’s gloating over his 100 days of tyranny and autocracy comes from his hubris backed by the brute majority the BJP enjoys in the parliament. The scope to defeat Modi lies outside the parliament, in the vast fields and narrow streets of India, in the granaries and factories, colleges and hospitals, which can be done only through a focused, dedicated, united and strong anti-fascist opposition. The national duty of each anti-fascist and democratic human being is to work towards the building of such a national anti-fascist and progressive front.