As we approach towards the end of UPA’s inclusive growth regime, people are cajoled by the mirage of moderate progress in Gujarat as a possible role model for India. Countrymen should also be cautioned that BJP is trying to sale under false color of secularism & pushing the nation to the brink of divide using religious affiliation. But anyone keeping track of Indian politics for last two decade would know that BJP has been doing a flip flop between religious sentiments & development in its quest to form the government and 2014 would be no different.
Ram Vs Roti
The early nineties have been a turning point for the Indian democracy for two reasons. First – L.K.Advani organized Rath Yatras, which deeply divided the people based on religious affiliation. This polarization from the Rath Yatras quickly expanded BJP’s base and later helped the party clinch power. Second – In parallel the then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh was busy orchestrating economic reforms, which brought India back from the verge of bankruptcy and set it on a course that made it one of the world’s fastest growing economies. But because people were deluded on preference of “Ram” over “Roti” & impact of these economic reforms were not immediately felt by the common man, BJP got an opportunity to form a coalition government. By the end of NDA’s regime the nation was aware of BJP turning a blind eye on the religious hardliner stand the party took to get in power. Also by then the impact of Manmohan Singh’s economic reforms was touching the lives of millions consequently increasing their appetite for development hence people opted for change vis-a-vis inclusive growth.
After being ousted from power for a decade, BJP has realized its unacceptability amongst the minority community and hence is painting a rosy picture of its secular credentials. A case in point is a recent rally in Jaipur addressed by the BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi. Apparently, Muslims in the region were asked to wear their religious dress code of burquas & skullcap to drive home the idea of Modi’s popularity amongst the minority community. Furthermore, they were even asked to sit in a group, which would limelight their appearance evermore. Modi has been clutching the straws of secular image to overshadow his hypocritical & anti minority image. But what could explain Modi’s ignorance towards the killing of at least 1000 minority community members in Godhra riots? What explanation does he have to use double edged stereotypical comments like “Burqa of Secularism” & “Pagadi Uchal di”etc., which targets the dress code of the minorities? Why there is a rat race between his contemporaries in Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh to wear Muslim skull cap and show their acceptability among the minorities?
The Growth Fable
BJP’s opportunistic shift from temple issue to development also failed miserably as the nation completely rejected the BJP’s idea of “India Shining”. This idea of growth and development focused mostly on urban areas & failed to connect the dots of true India.
Secondly, Modi also boasts about Gujarat as a role model state, where as in reality despite the high growth rate of the state the benefits are not percolating to the people. Gujarat is ranked 12th in pulling people out of poverty as indicated by the planning commission estimates. A closer look at other social indicators of Gujarat shows that state has high disparity in the Male – Female ratio with 918 women per 1000 men compared to the national average of 940. Notably this gender gap has widened in the state in last few years. The state is witnessing 29% average dropout in the upper primary level schools as compared to 6% nationally & in states like Maharashtra, Kerala & Tamil Nadu the number is less than 2%. The state is ranked far below in providing rural health infrastructure with shortage of health centers in the rural areas. Finally, Gujarat has a very high rate of malnutrition and even more among the ST community. The Raghuram Rajan committee report based on Multi Dimensional Index termed the state as “Less Developed” ranking it way below Haryana, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Kerala & Tamil Nadu.
The world is walking on the tight rope of global economic meltdown and India has also been marginally impacted. It is imperative that nation continues to focus on economic growth & human development as done in UPA’s regime. UPA’s vision and work can be narrated by Gandhi Ji’s quote in short “If the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to poorest and weakest man (woman). In other words will it lead to swaraj (Freedom) for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and yourself melt away.”