Not stable but a pro-people government
Dr. Santosh Kumar Mohapatra*
Recently, while interacting with the Indian diaspora at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India had ended the politically unstable atmosphere of the past three decades with the push of a button. He also said that after 30 years, a full majority government was elected in 2014 and the people of India strengthened the government in 2019.
What is reprehensible is that social discord is the order of the day. A socially unstable atmosphere prevails today. Society is torn apart by the hatred created against critics and underage communities. People are made greedy, arrogant and callous, hedonism replacing sacrifice. The intellectuals are divided into certain sections defending the evil deeds of the ruling class. There were conflicts and rifts between family members based on political ideology. People are more unhappy than before.
But he probably forgot that with a raw majority, his government tramples the masses and serves the interests of the wealthy and corporations in order to maintain power for longer periods of time. Absolute power makes one insensitive, arrogant and insensitive. India is now witnessing growing oligarchy, despotism with the concomitant brutal annihilation of independent media and emasculation of intellectuals.
This is reflected in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index published by global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders. India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index has fallen to 150th from last year’s 142nd out of 180 countries. From a rank of 133 in 2016, India’s ranking fell to 142 in 2021 before slipping to 150th position in 2022.
The organization has published the World Press Freedom Index since 2002. This 20th World Press Freedom Index reveals a two-fold increase in information chaos-amplified “polarization,” that is, media polarization fueling divisions within countries, as well as polarization between countries. at an international level.
The situation is so precarious that on World Press Freedom Day (May 3), Reporters Without Borders and nine other human rights organizations deemed it necessary to call on the Indian authorities to stop targeting journalists and online critics for their work, in particular to stop prosecuting them under anti-terrorism and anti-sedition laws. .
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Indian authorities should respect the right to freedom of expression and release all journalists detained on false or politically motivated charges for their critical reporting and stop targeting and muzzling them. independent media.
Responding to the RSF World Press Freedom Index 2022, three Indian journalists’ organizations said in a joint statement: “As job insecurity has increased, attacks on press freedom have increased exponentially. .
“Journalists have been incarcerated under draconian laws for flimsy reasons and on some occasions their lives have also been threatened by so-called law keepers in the social media space,” the Indian added. Women’s Press Corps, the Press Club of India and the Press Association. . Noting that press freedom is integral to the functioning of a vibrant democracy, they said the media must unite “to claim their role in achieving this goal”.
The drop in the global press index is corroborated by a drop in the democracy index and other related indices as well. The US-based nonprofit “Freedom House” has downgraded India from a free democracy to a “partially free democracy”.
In February 2021, India, described as a “flawed democracy”, slipped two places to 53rd position out of 167 countries in the Democracy Index 2021 published by The Economist Intelligence Unit. In the 2022 Democracy Index, India’s ranking improved slightly to 46 due to year-long farmer protests that eventually forced the government to repeal the farm laws it had introduced. in 2020. But India continues to be an “imperfect democracy”. regime, India’s world ranking rose from 27th to 53rd.
According to the report, the Indian government‘s failure to crack down on the persecution of religious and other minorities by Hindu nationalists continues to weigh on the country’s democracy score, which has fallen significantly in recent years.
In his report titled “Autocratization Goes Viral”. The Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) institute at the Swedish University of Gothenburg had downgraded India from a democracy to an “electoral autocracy”. The latest edition of Democracy Report titled ‘Democracy Report 2022: Autocratization Changing Nature?’ classifies countries into four regime types based on their score in the Liberal Democrat Index (LDI): liberal democracy, electoral democracy, electoral autocracy, and closed autocracy.
It classifies India as an electoral autocracy, ranking it 93rd on the LDI, out of 179 countries in the “bottom 50%” of countries. According to a report, India is one of the top ten “autocratizers” in the world and part of a wider global trend of anti-plural political party leading to the autocratization of a country. India has fallen further in the electoral democracy index, to 100, and even lower in the deliberative component index, to 102. In South Asia, India is ranked behind Sri Lanka (88) , Nepal (71) and Bhutan (65), and above Pakistan (117) in LDI.
The Prime Minister also said that today India is making progress in all areas including quality of life, quality of education etc. But the number of recorded deaths occurring without medical care has increased from 10% in 2011 to 45% in 2020. India’s health sector is one of the most privatized and health expenditure as a percentage of GDP is one of the lowest in the world. India’s Covid death toll is the highest in the world at around 47 lakh, ten times higher than the official figure of 481,486 between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021. Indians have not forgotten how many people died due to lack of oxygen and hospital bed during pandemic.
The Prime Minister also spoke of the capabilities of the millions of Indians and sang their praises. But his anti-people policies devastated the economy in such a way that the unemployment rate hit an all-time high and consumer spending fell for the first time after independence. The situation is so pessimistic that the problem of job creation in India is turning into a greater threat: an increasing number of people are no longer even looking for work. According to the CMIE, now more than half of the 90 million Indians of legal working age – roughly the population of the United States and Russia combined – do not want a job,
The Prime Minister has probably forgotten that Bangladesh has overtaken India in terms of GDP per capita. Bangladesh’s GDP per capita was only half that of India in 2007, just before the global financial crisis. It was around 70% of India’s in 2014 and this gap has been rapidly closing in recent years. India ranks catastrophically 144th (i.e. behind 143 countries) in terms of GDP per capita. India not only ranks poorly in all indices, but also has the ignominy of having the highest number of poor and hungry people in the world.
The Prime Minister talked about minimum government and maximum governance. He also said that the country, the bureaucracy, the government offices are the same, but now we are getting better results. In fact, India has worsened under Modi across a spectrum of governance, in noticeable and objectively measurable ways.
In December 2021, Akar Patel cited 53 indices to measure India’s performance. According to him out of 49 of them, India has declined; his performance only improved on four. The record leaves little room for debate or challenge. The magnitude and speed of the decline in governance after 2014 is evident. India was struggling to keep pace with the world and was falling on several fronts. The door was shown to bureaucrats who opposed the government’s anti-people policies.
Contrary to its arguments, the coalition government has more success and a more pro-poor approach. India had performed wonderfully in the UPA-1 coalition government when the left had certain influence. India had the highest growth rate ever and exceeded 9% three times. Savings and investment rates had reached a record high. The National Rural Employment Security Act 2005, the Right to Information Act 2005, the Right to Forests Act 2007 and the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013 were enacted which had a huge positive impact and saved the Modi government from the cataclysmic impact of Covid19.
Speaking to an audience in Washington on September 27, 2017, former RBI Governor Yaga Venugopal Reddy also said coalition governments in India had produced better economic growth rates over the past three decades ( from 1990 to 2014) than a government with a strong majority. Mr Reddy, who served as Governor of the RBI from 2003 to 2008, said: “What is remarkable is that despite a volatile political situation, they managed to achieve political consensus on everything that needs to be taken. to manage it successfully.
Therefore, India does not need a government with a rough majority, but a government that is pro-people and sensitive to the opinions of the people, and cares about the suffering of the masses.
The author is a prominent columnist/economist and social thinker based in Odisha. He can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected]
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and in no way represent the opinions of Sambad English.