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Rating self is being a novice!

Posted in View Point

Published on May 30, 2015 with No Comments

The ruling BJP has been celebrating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s one year in office with a week-long campaign called “Jan Kalyan Parv” or “People’s Welfare Festival” in an attempt to highlight the achievements of the government in last 365 days. Narendra Modi got active for celebrations only when his government got flooded with charges that its policies are ‘pro-corporate’ and ‘anti-poor.’ The party has been holding 200 rallies across the country with Narendra Modi too holding a rally at Mathura. One year celebrations have been converted into a festival with all  Union Ministers, BJP MPs, party Chief Ministers and MLAs, besides Central and State office-bearers  travelling across the country to highlight the government’s achievements.  Besides rallies, about 200 press conferences have also been planned to talk about the initiatives of the government, and various ministers can be seen hopping from one TV channel to another. Narendra Modi is still in the election campaign mode where as he is expected to be India’s Prime Minister. It seems the celebrations of one year in office of Narendra Modi would last for another one year, many rationale Indians have expressed at social networking sites.

Well, concern can’t be undermined. Perhaps Modi government doesn’t believe in the famous quotation by Frank Ocean, “Work hard in silence, let your success be noise.” While Narendra Modi has gone all out to send a message that his government has been able to deliver change, Indians do have certain reasons to be cautious. Government’s first budget reduced funds for higher education to the tune of Rs.3,900 crore in its revised budget estimates for the financial year 2014-15. The government has revised the figure to Rs.13,000 crore, as against Rs.16,900 crore for the plan allocation. Not only the overall education budget of the Modi government is down from Rs.82,771 crore to Rs.69,074 crore, but leaders of the BJP are on record announcing their intention to change the textbooks and syllabus also. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is spearheading this agenda of the present government. Even though the right-wing intelligentsia has failed to provide a credible account of India’s past and present, the Sangh Parivar is nevertheless busy reorganising educational syllabi to reflect a view of history and society gleaned from mythology and religious texts, in effect giving an open licence to fantasise history. Within weeks of forming the government, the RSS held a meeting with the HRD Minister where it pushed for “correcting distorted history” and   introduced moral education in a disguise where only Hindu scriptures dominate. No wonder HRD minister Smiti Irani is facing flak for “saffornising education”.

When BJP won by a massive majority in the general election last year, one of the key election promises that brought it to power was transparency and accountability in governance. A year later, many of the electoral promises made on that front remain on paper — the Lokpal Bill and the Grievance Redressal Bill, key transparency and accountability legislation, did not reach Parliament at all. Even the functioning of the Central Information Commission has come to a virtual halt without a functioning head.

The BJP’s 2014 election manifesto said: “We will set up an effective Lokpal institution.” However, a year later, efforts are under way to rephrase the law in such a way that the families of civil servants will be left out of mandatory financial disclosures. Isn’t Modi government not making it harder for the anti-corruption ombudsman to track transfer of illegally amassed wealth to the family members of corrupt civil servants?

Managing to score only three seats in Delhi Assembly in Feb 2015 does fit into the narrative. Was that a vote against the lack of reform and the growing disillusionment with Mr. Modi? The answer to the question isn’t so obvious. However, the voters within one year of second term of Manmohan Singh had come to realise that Congress was deep into corruption. And within one year of Modi’s governance the voters have begun to get a sense that this government is not sincere about handling corruption.

Narendra Modi has a decisive political project coming up in the second year in office — the Assembly election in Bihar in September-October 2015. That is another State where the BJP hasn’t had a Chief Minister and has been in government previously only as a junior partner in a coalition. BJP would want to change that, and other parties would like to put their best foot forward to stop BJP. The voters’ mood in Bihar would give a verdict on the performance of Modi’s government.


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