Empty Vessels make more noise

Modi Interview

In a recent monologue morphed as an interview, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke for more than an hour with Smita Prakash, a friendly journalist that made no attempt to hide her sycophancy. With no tangible achievements to boast of and rather several skeletons to hide in the closet, Modi resorted to hyperbole, self-aggrandizement and vague broadsides. The central theme was that Modi is a superhuman that makes the impossible possible. Viewers should be content that he didn’t claim to be an air-bender or earth-bender.

He exhorted people to celebrate the election as a festival of sorts. This love for the election ritual is understandable for a person who has continually held elected office either as a Chief Minister or Prime Minister for the past 23 years and counting. He proclaimed that he lives and breathes democracy. This rings hollow because he, along with his trusted lieutenant Amit Shah have been directly responsible for toppling at least 9 democratically elected state governments in the past 10 years. For a leader of the house that professes his love for democracy, the way he choreographed the expulsion of Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra from Lok Sabha for asking tough questions on Adani will forever remain a blot. This self-professed worshipper of democracy also remained a mute spectator when a record number of 92 MPs were suspended in Lok Sabha on a single day in December 2023. While touting his democratic credentials, he in the same breath proudly took credit for abrogation of Article 370 thereby demoting Jammu & Kashmir to an Union territory. This is such a paradox exposing Modi’s double standards in denying democratic rights to the people of Kashmir that are still wallowing in darkness with internet shutdowns, movement restrictions and livelihood limitations.

Modi has the knack of magnifying the role of customary events and turning them in to glitzy and glamorous occasions infused with patriotic pride. Goaded by amiable media, he spoke of the G-20 summit as a feather in his cap. In reality, this is a summit that has been held in several countries since 2008 pretty much on a rotational basis. Humility has never been his forte obviously. A mere perfunctory program is blown out of proportion while at the same time our G-20 counterpart China created history by negotiating peace between steadfast enemies Saudi Arabia and Iran under its aegis. When fellow BRICS nation South Africa took the momentous step of bringing Israel to the International Court of Justice on charges of genocide, Modi chose the wrong side of history by standing with a perpetrator of war crimes. He toots his own horn by publicizing the multi-trillion dollar Indian economy all the while causing unprecedent economic distress to small and medium enterprises in the country with successive policy disasters such as demonetization, draconian COVID lockdown and GST. What good is a behemoth economy that only seems to widen the gap between rich and poor churning out billionaires that seem to gobble ever bigger piece of the pie while leaving crumbs for the rest. It is estimated that the top 1% cornered 73% of the new wealth generated in recent years.

Perhaps with an ardent desire in his heart to become the longest serving Prime Minister of India, Modi spoke about vision 2047 setting his aims on the centenary year of Indian independence. He is enamored by naturally occurring milestone events and tries to wheedle a grand narrative to fit his imagination. He alluded to the next 25 years as being decisive for the bustling young people of India. It would be justifiably refreshing if there is a sincere effort on his part to steer the youth towards a bright future. But looking back at his 10-year stint at the helm, that would be a tall order. Even by official estimates, almost 1 in every 4 of India’s youth are unemployed and the overall unemployment rate did not fall rather rose during Modi’s rule. There are some disturbing trends noted recently. According to the International Labor Organization, jobless rate for graduates in India now stands at a staggering 29.1%. Even graduates from premier institutes such as IITs and IIMs now fail  to get jobs with one report quoting that 36% of IIT-Bombay pass-outs failed to land a placement this year. About 1.5 lakh junior doctors are apparently unemployed at any given time in the country while India ranks number 85 in the world on the Global Health index. If that is the situation for the most qualified cream of the crop, one can only imagine the travails of the millions of youth that possess basic educational qualifications. With nothing concrete to offer in terms of a roadmap, the man at the helm offers eternal hope, brute arrogance and foolhardy patriotism as alternatives to tangible results.

The one area Modi can be genuinely thrilled about is the conquest of majoritarianism under his watch. He can pat himself rather bang himself on the back for the sheer pomposity of Ram Mandir inauguration in Ayodhya at the site of infamous Babri Masjid demolition that he was able to accomplish with near complete silencing of any opposition to it. Such is the totality of his success in this endeavor that he is able to mock the few opposition leaders that dared not attend the ceremony leave alone protesting it. His rule has been able to extend this majoritarian rampage to the North East in the ignominious pogrom targeting ethnic minorities in Manipur that resulted in unspeakable horrors of cold-blooded murder, molestation and naked parading of hapless women on the streets. He retained his inimitable style of remaining mute and abdicating his constitutional responsibilities in the midst of such carnage, a skill that he mastered from his Gujarat Chief Minister-ship days. Yet he claims unflinchingly that the constitution is his guiding light.

In essence, Modi’s talk is all bluster with no perceptible progress that he can show to back it up with. After having seen enough of this for 10 years, it is the people’s turn now to judge his deeds and hope they don’t fall prey for his words yet again.

G Naveen has been writing articles pertaining to politics with emphasis on social Justice for more than 20 years on various platforms. He is a physician by profession. Email: [email protected]

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