Can Modi's war propaganda hide real problems for long?

Can Modi’s war propaganda hide the real problems for long?


When paroxysmal rage and war frenzy captivate the consciousness of a “nation” epitomised by its highly mobile, consumerism-driven middle class and elites, the foremost subscribers of political propaganda and chauvinism, then all burning issues of the country like socio-economic issues, political crisis, etc, can be easily thrown into the oblivion. In the post-Pulwama militant strike scenario, every major political and economic discourse in India are overpowered by war rhetoric, muscle-flexing and jingoism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat and all top, mid-level and entry-level leaders of the ruling dispensation have intensified chauvinistic rhetoric to galvanise the image of Modi as a messiah of the Hindu community, who is capable of leading the armed forces successfully against a purported Muslim enemy across the border and within.

According to data shared by the CMIE, unemployment in February 2019 reached a four-decade-high 7.2%, surpassing the 6.1% rate prevailing in last year. When Modi took over the reins of the government in 2014 the unemployment rate was 3.4%. In the last five years, despite intensely-marketed programmes like Skill Development, Make in India, etc, the Modi regime neither created any job opportunity for the swelling number of job seekers entering the market each year, nor did it provide 20 million jobs to the unemployed each year to fulfil its 2014 poll promise of providing 100 million jobs in five years. Rather, according to the CMIE, 3.5 million jobs were lost due to the disastrous demonetisation exercise. In the year 2018, the CMIE data shows, 10.9 million jobs were lost in India, out of which the rural areas were worst hit with 9.1 million jobs lost there and 1.9 million jobs were lost in the urban areas.

There is a deafening silence reigning over the topic of unemployment, which has become a taboo subject in Modi-fied India. Last year, Modi tried to counter the attacks over the unemployment crisis by calling “pakoda selling” a source of employment; he also cited a higher number of provident fund (EPF) accounts as proof of increasing employment. However, the contradicting data released by the EPFO itself negated and exposed the lies peddled by the prime minister over job creation. There is a clear cut dip in the number of EPF accounts that the government earlier showed as a sign of increasing employment in India. Moreover, a Times of India report showed that only 250,000 jobs were created in 2014 and 2015 in the formal sector, where jobs are contracting on a daily basis. A report by The Quint busted the government’s tall claims about job creation in January 2019, which showed that unemployment is currently rising and International Labour Organisation (ILO) has projected unemployment in India at 18.6 million in 2018.

Schemes like MUDRA or Start-up India, etc, too failed to generate employment with loan amounts varying between Rs 7,000 to Rs 10,000 for SME ventures. Despite the BJP’s coverup of the crisis, the scenario is repeatedly revealed by the struggles waged by the youth demanding respectable employment, workers demanding an end to the contract labour system, end of manual scavenging and equal pay for equal work.

Former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who was the finance minister during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure, has exposed how the Modi regime is repeatedly tampering with data to hoodwink the voters. Unemployment data, apart from the GDP growth data, has been an area where the Modi regime is trying to fudge all information to portray a brighter picture. Recently, PC Mohanan resigned from the position of Chairman of the National Statistical Commission (NSC), a government-funded advisory body that checks the quality of India’s official data, along with J Meenakshi, protesting the deliberate delay in releasing a new set of jobs statistics by the NSSO due to the pressure exerted by the Modi regime.

With such a track record, the government’s data has lost all credibility and the real problems of the economy are systematically hidden from the common people and the remnants of the critical press.

Apart from unemployment, problems like a severe farm crisis caused by rising farm loans and falling income of farmers, immense corruption in the banking sector that has paved way for big-ticket bad loan scams, a gigantic defence scam like Rafale Jet scam, lifting of control over fuel prices, rapid disinvestment of the public sector industries, appeasing the big crony and comprador capitalists, helping the big corporate donors of the BJP to plunder the Indian resources, labour and land, and many other issues are plaguing the country reeling under the juggernaut of Modi’s Hindutva fascist regime.

The working class is continuously waging struggles against the Modi regime demanding national minimum income of Rs 25,000 per month, higher spending in public healthcare and higher education, etc. The farmers are struggling for getting higher MSP, real and effective loan waiver, a progressive land reform programme, a pro-farmer agriculture policy, a realistic solution to irrigation problem, and ending corporate aggression on agricultural land, etc. Yet these demands are brushed aside by the Hindutva fascist regime with the hyping of “Surgical Strike 2.0” and hijacking all other discourse using jingoism as the weapon to captivate the politically important urban middle class and elites.

Since 26 February, talking about the unemployment problem, which is intensifying faster than ever, is banned in national political discourse, as the BJP and the Modi regime consider the topic a demoralising one for the military’s spirit. The people are asked to overlook unemployment and rejoice over the fact that Modi and his sycophants are claiming a purported military victory against the arch-rival Pakistan. Without a shred of evidence, the BJP and its sycophant news channels and media houses are spreading the news of immense success achieved by the “Surgical Strike 2.0”.

Whenever anyone is demanding evidence for the same, they are tagged as “anti-national” or traitors by the BJP and the Modi regime. It’s said that demanding evidence of the Modi regime’s success against terrorists stationed in Pakistan or asking for employment, a solution to farm crisis or questioning about the state of the economy will demoralise the soldiers!

The only discourse allowed is the praising of Modi and the BJP for daring to attack Pakistan. Perception is created regarding the infallibility of the Modi regime. Jingoism is blistering at an epidemic proportion and all forms of media: electronic, digital and print, are used to build the halo regarding a strong and masculine Modi regime that can take on Pakistan without caring about the international community. The poor workers, the poor peasants, the unemployed youth, the angry students are repeatedly told that they need a war with Pakistan rather than stable income, freedom from debts or unemployment. Television anchors, who have assumed the role of Gadflies, the six-digit paycheque-earning columnists and opinion shapers who have become  éminences grises, the public influencers like film actors, directors, and other celebrities, everyone seem to have joined the Modi bandwagon to heap praises on the megalomaniac prime minister for the purported success in the “Surgical Strike 2.0”.

Due to the incessant, industrial-scale Goebellian propaganda done by what’s called Modi’s lapdog media and the BJP’s IT Cell through the WhatsApp universe, a large number of gullible urban middle class people have started believing in the infallibility of Modi and that he will, along with other utmost corrupt Hindutva fascist rabble rousers, provide security to the Indian upper-caste Hindus. This faith in Modi is manufactured by the servile press at a time, when a large number of Hindu workers, peasants and toiling masses are suffering immensely and are having very difficult times, when arranging a square meal for their families is becoming a tough challenge.

When propaganda over Modi’s purported war on terror and victory in it isn’t giving better dividends and if people are criticising the government over its warmongering or its failure in resolving the economic crisis that has tightened its grip on the country, then the RSS’s goons are attacking them. From BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar to Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal’s Kolkata or Congress-ruled Karnataka’s Bengaluru, everywhere the hired thugs of the Hindutva camp are attacking those who are questioning the so-called “Surgical Strike 2.0” citing lack of evidence or criticised the warmongering by the Modi regime.

The bigger picture that’s concealed from the people, apart from the deepening economic crisis unleashed by the Modi regime, is the complicity of the government in legitimising the gigantic Rafale Jet scam, followed by the handing over of multiple airports to Modi’s donor Gautam Adani’s conglomerate, disinvestment of major SAIL plants and the Supreme Court’s order that endorses the forceful eviction of 10 million tribal people from the forest land under the guise of protecting wildlife. Even the government’s Attorney General’s admission in the Supreme Court that the top secret Rafale deal file has been stolen from the Ministry of Defence, which Modi and his coterie vouches is safeguarding and securing the country, happened during the hullabaloo over the “Surgical Strike 2.0”. The government disclosed this in the court during the post-Balakote phase so that not many people can pay attention and comprehend the gravity of the Attorney General’s submission in the apex court where the government had actually lied during the previous hearing on a PIL filed over the Rafale Jet scam.

It’s evident that the war frenzy and jingoism peddled by the Modi regime and its servile mainstream media have only one goal — distracting and captivating the elites and urban middle class before the crucial Lok Sabha election so that Modi can make a come back in May for his last term as an elected prime minister before changing the Constitution and transforming India into a theocratic fascist Brahminical feudal state. All propaganda have a hysteric content embedded and they are incessantly spewn by the Hindutva fascists to carry out their perception building exercise.

The zombification of the privileged elites and urban middle class Indians, most of whom are from upper-caste Hindu background, through the incessant propaganda they are sold — packaged as news and analysis — has caused a boon for the BJP. From these sections the saffron camp has got a loyal vote bank, which is full of mediocre, uncritical and privileged people, disconnected with the daily struggles waged by 80% of the population for survival. Rather, as parasitic classes that exist on crumbs tickled down from the ruling clique, these classes show servility towards their masters and preach the same doctrine of servility to force obeisance on the poor and the downtrodden masses.

As the conscience and the ability to use rationality and think critically are no more parts of the quotidian existence of these privileged sections of fascism worshippers and Modi disciples, the propaganda and the myths created and marketed by the Modi regime will continue to captivate them for a long time to come. Without worrying about them, their ideological bankruptcy and their subscription to an adulterated version of nationalism, the progressive-democratic, anti-fascist and patriotic forces must build up a larger struggle of the working class, the peasantry and the toiled masses for political power, socio-economic equality, social justice and peace.

Only a strong struggle for people’s democracy can thwart the Hindutva fascist conspiracy of using warmongering propaganda and jingoism to retain power. Only the people’s democratic struggle can bring an end to the anti-people Modi regime. It’s high time now to unite and consolidate the people’s power to bring an end to Hindutva fascist tyranny and free the country from the dark shadow of war, destruction, fratricide and genocide looming large on it. Not only such a struggle will end Hindutva fascist rule on India, it will also free the common people from the clutches of the notorious propaganda machinery of the ruling clique that’s continuously legitimising fascist and reactionary values. It’s a now and never moment for the 80% people — the poor workers, peasants, toiling masses —  who must be organised, united and aroused for the greater goal of establishing a new democracy by smashing Hindutva fascism and its propaganda machinery.

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An avid reader and a merciless political analyst. When not writing then either reading something, debating something or sipping espresso with a dash of cream. Street photographer. Tweets as @la_muckraker

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