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January 21, 2019

Yashwant Sinha and Modi’s India


January 21, 2019

I recall having read an expression about certain ‘fools’ who pretend to be wise, as I quote, “Remembering the childhood and its associated frolics has nothing wrong with it. But what if someone acts childish throughout his life. Some of the people have this self-destruct quality that never lets them grow-up. For them to think is to act, and the consequences be damned”, unquote. As if this wise saying has been composed keeping one particular individual from sub-continent in mind, it sits awfully perfect on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idiosyncrasies in handling the issues of national implications during his last four years in government.

Nothing can be more credible than the facts coming right from the horse’s mouth. This time the beans of truth have been spilled by Bhartia Janata Party’s very own Yashwant Sinha, the ex-finance as well as external affairs minister. Sinha stirred a fire in and around India when he held no bars remarking that ”Over the last fifty-five months, Modi government has dished out a stunning continuum of untruths and boasts about its economic management and accomplishments”. He did not have the qualms while warning his countrymen that "In summation, the Modi government is just about event management. He is the best in creating false impressions. In the process, Modi has given India its 'lost half-decade'. Elect him again and by 2024 it will be a lost decade". Indeed, an alarming prophecy for India.

Eighty-year-old Sinha is revered as one of the founding members of BJP. Although, he zealously supported the nomination of Narendra Modi as BJP’s prime candidate in 2014 general elections and his son Jayant Sinha is still the Minister for Civil Aviation in Narendra Modi's cabinet, yet he recently decided to launch a ‘truth campaign’ on the Centre through a political action group ‘Rashtra Manch’. Once on-road to reality drive and having likelihood to be at loggerheads with the party leadership, the veteran politician thought it better to first relinquish membership from BJP. While splitting paths with the ruling party in April 2018, he declared that “Today I am ending all ties with the BJP because democratic institutions are being undermined by the regime and I vow to now work for the protection of democracy in the country". Even before quitting the BJP, he had created a political storm with a newspaper article published in 2017 indicating that the Indian economy was poised for a hard-landing after demonetization and GST. He followed it up by writing an open letter to BJP MPs asking them to challenge the leadership before the next elections to recover the damages.

For Modi, the real tsunami was in the making elsewhere in the printing press of Juggernaut Publishers. It slammed the BJP’s power corridors through Yashwant Sinha’s recent book titled "India Unmade: How the Modi Government Broke the Economy". The book, co-authored by journalist Aditya Sinha, is a severe critique on the current regime’s economic mismanagement, especially due to Modi’s flawed policies on demonetization, jobs, GDP figures and ‘Make in India’ among others programmes. Sinha justified in his preface that ”It becomes essential to speak truth to power, and so it is my job that this book be a statement of fact". Verily, the book helped expose how Modi has ‘unmade India’. Being a former finance minister, by and large the people in India are taking the economic perception by Sinha as a bona fide analysis on country’s financial condition.

Contrary to what the sponsored media continued to project over the last four years, the state of economic growth and the financial status of the general public in India have in fact gone down drastically during PM Modi’s impulsive rule since 2014. Especially, Modi’s demonetization policy proved disastrous as rightly pointed out by Sinha that "The Modi government's lasting legacy will be the catastrophe that was the demonetization of high-denomination currency in November 2016". Financial experts both inside and outside India consider demonetization as a whimsical decision that served no purpose of governance except providing Modi with a populist campaign platform of having taken tough decisions to nab the corrupt rich. Apart from earning electoral dividends for BJP in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, the demonetization decision was a big zero. According to Sinha, “GDP numbers are misleading, RBI's (Reserves Bank of India) autonomy is in extreme danger and demonetization is the biggest banking scam”.

Besides demonetization, unemployment has already started to scare the eligible youth of India as a result of failed economic policies. Sinha observed that PM Narendra Modi's idea of self-employment is a "distraction from the more serious issue of unemployment and underemployment". A highly considered opinion in India is that with such a sweeping mandate, Modi could raise India from a poor country to a middle-income country, but he squandered the chance, merely because he focused his efforts on promotion of Hindutva, alienation of minority communities and suppression of people in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Being full of unoriginal ideas, India’s growth rates seemed to have been recalibrated to make the government's economic management look healthy. Instead of creating new avenues of employment, Modi bravely puts the jobs like pakora-sellers, auto-rickshaw drivers, tea-stall boys and newspaper hawkers all in the informal employment sector. Sinha sarcastically refers that "India is the only country in the world that grows at 7.35 per cent, without investment, without industrial growth, without agricultural growth. Just like magic". During the last four years, 25 lakh young Indians appeared for a competitive exam for 6,000 Group ‘D’ jobs in the West Bengal government; 12,453 applied for 18 vacancies for the job of a peon in the Rajasthan government; and 2.8 crore applied for 90,000 vacancies for train drivers, trackmen, etc, in the Indian Railways. The frightening fact on the above-referred detail is that the hopefuls for these ‘enviable’ jobs included engineers, chartered accountants, lawyers and postgraduates. Sinha commented in his book that “There is little scope for India’s youth to make even a modest livelihood, as the country is faced with the biggest job crisis, and it takes a very obstinate man to refuse to admit it”. PM Modi not only flatly turned down the public opinion but also stated that “more than a lack of jobs, the issue is the lack of data on jobs”. He had even negated the World Bank statistics on India’s employment rate in 2017 that went down to 51.9%, while as per the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, it further fell to 40% in 2018, mainly due to Modi’s economic naiveties.

The learned opinion within India is that government’s criminal negligence towards economy and employment is caused mainly by its foolish obstinacy. Not only it has failed to create jobs, but its economic policies have also actually led to both unemployment and de-employment. It may, however, be highly safe to presume beforehand that all the sane voices, including Yashwant Sinha’s written effort on how ‘Modi unmade India’, would go unheard in New Delhi.

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