Rising Debt, Deepening Destitution, and Widening Inequalities in India Under Modi

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No amount of propaganda can hide that Mr. Narendra Modi is riding on the rising tides of debt and destitution. The Modi-led Hindutva government of India is pushing the country into an economic landscape that breeds billionaires while increasing the central government debt to 58 percent of GDP in the financial year 2024. Additionally, the general government debt has surged to 82 percent of GDP. There is also a dramatic decline in real wages, incomes, and savings. The rise of household debt, unemployment, inflation, rural distress, and increased inequality highlights the failures of the Modi government. Modi and Hindutva defines deceptive politics for the masses.

Despite promises of economic growth and development, the actual economic indicators paint a grim picture. The wealth gap is widening, with a few individuals amassing significant wealth while a large portion of the population struggles with financial instability. Real wages have stagnated or declined, eroding the purchasing power of ordinary citizens. Savings rates are falling, leading to greater household debt as families struggle to make ends meet. Unemployment remains a critical issue, with many young people unable to find jobs that match their skills and qualifications.

The rising inflation is eroding the value of money, making basic necessities more expensive and inaccessible for many. Rural distress is another pressing concern, as farmers face challenges such as low crop prices, inadequate infrastructure, and insufficient government support. The combined effect of these issues is increased inequality, where the benefits of economic growth are not shared equitably across the population. Modi government’s economic policies have led to significant financial challenges for many Indians, contributing to a more divided and unequal society.

Modi and his Hindutva politics do not address the economic distress of the working masses. Modi government is an utter failure in all fronts.   Hindutva politics and its master manipulators, like Modi, excel at diverting public attention from the everyday material issues people face to reactionary propaganda based on falsehoods. The economic struggles of ordinary citizens, including rising unemployment, inflation, and household debt, are overshadowed by divisive rhetoric and identity politics. Instead of focusing on creating sustainable economic policies that would benefit the majority, the government’s strategy often involves stirring up communal tensions and promoting a nationalist agenda.

Such an approach by Modi led Hindutva government serves to distract from the failures in addressing crucial economic challenges. For instance, while the wealth gap widens and many people face financial instability, the government’s emphasis is frequently on cultural and religious issues rather than substantive economic reforms. Moreover, this diversionary tactic undermines democratic discourse and prevents the development of policies that could genuinely improve the standard of living for all citizens. By shifting the focus to reactionary propaganda, the government avoids accountability for economic mismanagement and social inequalities. The Modi-led Hindutva politics prioritises ideological agendas over the economic well-being of the population, using manipulation and distraction to sidestep pressing economic, social, and political issues.

The World Inequality Database (2024), published by the World Inequality Lab, reveals that income inequality in India is the highest in the world. The Modi government is very generous to the rich, while enforcing austerity and minimal government support for the masses. “The Income and Wealth Inequality in India from 1922 to 2023: The Rise of Billionaire Raj” (2024), also published by the World Inequality Lab, further reveals that Modi’s government has accelerated the concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny class of crony capitalists. Meanwhile, the working masses suffer from hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, and illness.

The data indicates that the economic policies of the Modi government disproportionately benefit the wealthy elite, exacerbating existing inequalities. While billionaires see their fortunes grow, the majority of the population faces severe economic hardship. Austerity measures have led to cuts in social services and public welfare programs, leaving the underprivileged with little support. The report highlights the deepening divide between the rich and the poor. As the government continues to favour business magnates and influential capitalists who funds election campaign of Hindutva politics, essential services such as education, healthcare, and housing remain underfunded and inaccessible to many. This has resulted in widespread illiteracy, deteriorating health conditions, and increased homelessness among the working class. Without significant changes, the economic disparity in India will continue to grow, further entrenching the divide between the affluent and the impoverished. The World Inequality Lab’s reports provide a stark illustration of how current government policies have led to extreme income inequality in India, prioritising the interests of the wealthy at the expense of the broader population’s well-being.

Hindutva politics is designed and pursued for the benefit of crony capitalists. Hindutva only mobilises the masses for its electoral gain by destroying the social, cultural, religious, and secular fabric of India as a republic. Modi’s rule represents lost decades for development for Indians. The political strategy behind Hindutva serves to entrench the power of a select few, fostering an environment where crony capitalism can thrive. By prioritising the interests of the wealthy elite, the government ensures substantial support and financial backing from these influential individuals and groups. This relationship between the government and crony capitalists results in policies that further deepen economic inequalities and undermine democratic principles.

In pursuit of electoral victories, Hindutva politics exploits societal divisions and fosters a climate of intolerance and communalism. This divisive approach distracts from pressing economic and social issues, redirecting public discourse towards polarising topics. As a result, the social, cultural, religious, and secular integrity of India suffers, weakening the nation’s unity and democratic foundations.

Modi’s tenure has been marked by a significant neglect of developmental goals that could benefit the broader population. Investments in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and social welfare have taken a backseat to the interests of the wealthy and powerful. Modi led Hindutva government represents lost decades for the development and progress of the average Indian citizen who are bearing the brunt of Hindutva policies, which augment debts and destitutions. Modi and Hindutva politics is committed to crony capitalism and its growth. The only alternative is to defeat Modi, defeat Hindutva and save India and Indians.

Bhabani Shankar Nayak, University of Glasgow, UK

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