Modi’s eight years: Eight acts of shameful disgrace

Taking stock of how the Modi regime have damaged India’s image across the world

Modi GovernmentImage

On May 28, 2022, the Narendra Modi government completed eight years in power. This was also eight years of unprecedented social unrest and economic disasters, where the Indian economy plummeted and the dollar billionaires surged to capture the top positions in the Forbes list. It was also a period in which Indian polity and society has made disastrous shift towards a Hindutva fascist order in spite of a democratic, secular Constitution.

In fact, Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chose May 28 as the D-day because it on this day their ideological mentor and the proponent of India as a Hindu Rashtra, VD Savarkar took birth. It was a kind of Gurukanike, a tribute to their mentor.

Still, it was during this period that the average rate of consumption of ordinary citizens of this country fell to the level of colonial period, the unemployment rate rose to a four-decade high. It is duringthis period that India was classified as Electoral Autocracy by V-dem Institute of Sweden for the fourth consecutive year. It is duringthis period that India’s ranking in the press freedom index collapsed to an unprecedented 150th position.

In the last eight years, especially in the previous three years the possibility of a genocide in this country has increased say global watch dogs. Genocide Watch, a human rights group, has increased the caution related to India from Genocide watch to Genocide warning. Despite this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had the audacity to declare on the May 28, in his home state Gujarat, that his government has not taken any measures in these last eight years which made the Indians to bow their head in shame before the global community.

This article tries to recap only eight out of tens of such occasions where Indians had to bow their head in an utter shame before the global community.

  1. Demonetisation Disaster: On the dreaded day of November 8, 2016, Modi gave a shock to the Indian people and also surprised the world bydemonetising 86% of the currency in circulation. This was followed by the pompous and theatrical justification as if it was an unprecedented and heroic attack on the black economy etc. In fact, this decision did not evolve out of serious consultation with experts, cabinet or even the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which was kept in dark till a few hours before the announcement. The previous RBI governor had expressed complete disagreement with such shock and awe experiments on the already anaemic economy. The result was disastrous. Even though Modi declared that people may hang him in the public square if the hardship caused due to demonetisation is not mitigated within 50 days, the economic anarchy and decline set in by such a misadventure is still borne by the India’s informal economy where 92% of labour force work, and indirectly by the organised economy also. According to conservative estimates, India has lost 3% of its GDP due to this.

And what about gains? In the beginning Modi government claimed at least 25%(almost 4 lakh crores out of 16 lakh crore) of the demonetised currency will not return, and hence a solid one-time profit of that much for the economy. But by December itself 99.99% of the demonetisedcurrencies returned to the banks, which only showed instead of preventing black money, demonetisation has been used to launder the black money!

Then the goal post changed declaring demonetisation will promote digital transaction and reduce cash economy. But the recent RBI bulletin says that while at the time of demonetisation in 2016, 18 lakh crore currency were in circulation (C-i-C), now after 6 years of demonetisation instead of decrease in C-i-C, it has increased to 31 lakh crores. The other claims like decrease in terror funding etc. have fallen so flat, that the Modi government has stopped talking about it. India has resorted to demonetisation earlier too, in 1947 and 1977. But back then hardly 1% and 5% of C-i-C were withdrawn from the circulation. But Modi’s demonetisation withdrew 86% of C-i-C which was seen as a big economic disaster and misadventure by the global community. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and many credit rating agencies had not minced their words in criticising this act. Thus, India had to stand in shame before the global community for the sheer audacity and pomp of Mr. Modi and his coterie.

  1. GST Debacle: Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Value Added Tax (VAT) are tools of neo-liberal economic order of regressive taxation where people are taxed on their expenditure and not based on their income. The GST elsewhere as such provide minimal tax slabs and maximum technological means to make the compliance easier. Thus, while the GST itself is exploitative tax order, the business prefers it because of the ease of compliance. Hence even the Indian ruling elite had consensus in shifting to GST and were preparing the economy for the same.

But the Modi government implemented the GST even without adequate administrative preparation or required awareness among the stake holders. Apart from this, Modi’s GST made the compliance most complex, since it introduced 8 to 10 tax slabs making it unique and the strangest GST system in the world. In fact, the economy which was already beaten badly by demonetisation, had to face another body-blow in this ill-prepared, regressive GST system hurriedly implemented by the Modi regime.

The main reason behind this urgency and the way parliament session was held in the midnight to pass GST amendment to the Constitution, seems to be Modi’s insatiable hunger for establishing himself as the sole game changer and as if Indian economy was having tryst with the destiny. The economist of all hues and many governments expressed their scepticism about the Modi government’s repeated theatrical acts which was proving detrimental to economy. India was shamed globally by these impetuous theatrics.

  1. The (allegedly) False Claims aboutBalakot Air Raid: The dreadful Phulwama terrorist attack on the CRPF convoy on Feb 14, 2019 changed the course of the last general elections in favour of BJP. The attack itself relegated all the socio-economic agendas that were debated in the electoral discourse. The BJP used this situation, and was successful in portraying the need of strong state and a strong leader. Following the same mood and sentiments nurtured in the country there after, Prime Minister Modi ordered an attack on a terrorist training camp across the border in Pakistan. On Feb 24 2019, Modi government declared that the India has successfully conducted air raid on a terrorist camp in Balakot, destroyed it by killing hundreds of militants.

Immediately after this declaration, different cabinet ministers in the Modi government and various BJP leaders were in competition in claiming the number of militants killed ranged from 100 to 600. A Cabinet Minister even went to the extent of claiming that a military officer of Pakistan has accepted that more than 300 militants are killed in the attack. Even though this helped in achieving spectacular electoral victory for Modi’s BJP, the claims of Modi government and BJP party about Balakot was reported to be completely false by the independent and western media.

The media and even the US espionage agencies released satellite images which showed the Indian missiles which fell at least three kilometers away from the terrorist training camps, causing no damage to even to the trees in the vicinity. A Fact-Check site also proved wrong the claims of the cabinet minister regarding the Pakistani official’s acceptance of the loss. Thus, the Modi governments claims were proved untrustworthy before the global community.

Apart from this, the Pulwama incidents itself is wrought with many unanswered questions like:

a) how was the RDX was smuggled into interiors of Kashmir valley

b)how did a car carrying RDX remain unnoticed when such a big CRPF convoy was moving

c) the role of Dy. SP Davinder Singh who was arrested a few months later when he was escorting three Hizb militants helping them to cross the border.

  1. The Galvan Misadventure: One of the biggest shames that India had to face under the Modi regime of last eight years is the India’s misadventure and shifting claims in the Galvan stand-off with China. India lost its soldiers in the skirmish between Indian and Chinese soldiers at the Galvan valley. Though there were competing claims about the first transgression between India and China, Modi government has been unsuccessful in providing the global community with sufficient proof of its claims.

While the Modi government claimed that the skirmish itself was to stop Chinese inroads into Indian territories, in the final outcome, India was compelled to change its original guard posts and bring them further into the interior, thereby surrendering the post originally held. Of late, there are also reports that Chinese are building second bridge on Pangong lake and a permanent village and highway near Arunachal border. Though Modi government made lot of noise about Chinese incursion and even banned few Chinese gadgets, China remains to be the one of top two trading partner with India and Indian imports from China exceeds Indian exports by four times. Thus, India under Modi failed in establishing its stake as a morally rightful contender in the geo-politics of Asia and provided China another opportunity to prove its domination.

  1. The Bhima-Koregaon and Pegasus spyware: The Bhima-Koregaon arrests, instead of providing the conspiracy of the accused has been proving the conspiracy of the Modi government against political dissenters. The institutional murder of Fr. Stan swamy, one of the elderly people accused, by refusing to even provide a straw to an 83-year-old man suffering from Parkinson, and accusing him of conspiracy to kill the prime minister has brought India a great shame before the world. Even the UNHRC, Amnesty International and many democratic governments have condemned the way Modi government is dealing with BK-16. All these went to new height when the media houses like The Wire, Forbidden Stories, institutions like Amnesty brought out their report based on their one-year long investigation about the unconstitutional use of military grade Israeli espionage software, Pegasus, against its own dissenting citizens, press, and the activists from BK 16.

The reluctance and virtual refusal of Modi government to give answer to a simple question asked by the Supreme Court, as to whether Indian Government purchased Pegasus and used it, has completely exposed the culpability of the Modi government before the world and has brought India a great shame.

  1. CAA,abrogation of Art 370, and hardline Hindutva: The ‘second coming’ of Narendra Modi government in 2019 was on an exclusive agenda of a strong and security state and a strong leader ostensibly to protect India, that is Hindu India. Thus, the state under Modi has become a pro-active Hindutva state and has unleashed legislative, executive and also extra-constitutional arms to exclude, marginalise and exterminate Muslims as citizens, and destroy their political and cultural existence and identity. Unfortunately, judiciary is colluding in this anti-constitutional project either by its silence or by Judicial endorsement.

Thus, equal citizenship, the founding principle of Indian Republic was undone by passing Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC. Muslims were targeted. The State, at all levels, behaved completely biased against Muslims during the protest against the same. Article 370, the bridge and not the wall, that was connecting Kashmiris with India was unceremoniously abrogated, Kashmir was brought under President rule, the political leadership was put behind bars and the internet was virtually banned for more than an year.

All these draconian and blatantly fascistic measures were condemned by even the US and Canadian governments and even European parliament. India under Modi was downgraded to an Electoral autocracy from an electoral democracy for the first time after India resolved to constitute itself as a secular democratic republic!

  1. Tool kit fiasco, Covid mismanagement and Covid Death denials: During the Modi regime, India also had a great pride of historical farmers movement which is one of the most significant success stories of a wonderful people’s movement. It braved all the chicanery of Modi government, its draconian police repression, its attempts breed in feuds from within, its attempt to demonise the movement through its paid media etc.

In fact, it obtained thundering response from the global community including many western governments and civil society. International singers like Rihana, activists like Grata Thunberg and many more campaigned for the farmers. In one such attempts, Thunberg and her Indian associates created a tool kit of explanations about the reasons and goals of the farmers. Modi government tried to demonise these attempts as if the tool kit is anti-national, dreadful intended to violent overthrow of Indian government etc. Disha Ravi one of the activists associated with these efforts was arrested under sedition charges. All these draconian and autocratic measures of the Modi government made a greater damage to Indian image as democratic and responsible country.

The Covid mismanagement and the irrational and autocratic lockdowns and complete denials of the impact of the same by the Modi government also has spoiled Indian reputation. While Covid pandemic was unforeseen and the initial disorder, deaths and pains were inevitable, the countries which had strong and longstanding public health system and a responsive democratic governance could cope up in a short time and arrest further impact on their societies.

India which lacked both, had to further receive a beating by the irrational and autocratic lockdowns strictly implemented by the Modi government. Still Modi had the audacity to claim in WEF meeting in 2021, that India has emerged victorious in its battle against Covid and thereby saved not only India but also the whole world. But just two months after this pompous statement, the second wave of Covid engulfed the country. The impudent, myopic and the unscientific approach in dealing with the second wave of Covid, cost India more than 50 lakh lives. But the Modi government instead of mending their approach, is in a perpetual denial mode and is in verbal battle against the WHO and Lancet accusing them of exaggerating Covid deaths in India. This has once again brought India a great shame.

  1. Ab Ki Bar Trump Sarkar: Probably the biggest disrespect Modi has shown to Indian sovereign Republic is when he campaigned in US for the Trump, giving slogans like “Ab ki bar TrumpSarkar”. By this Modi acted as a governor of one of the 50 provinces of USA and not as a head of an independent sovereign State. No prime minister from India or from any democratic sovereign country had overtly shown their state support to a political party in a country which is in the midst of electing its leader. This was widely condemned within the US and also all over the world and brought India the biggest ever embarrassment.

These are only eight examples of hundreds of episodes of international shame and disgrace the Modi government has brought to India in his brief eight years of misgovernance and pompous autocracy.

*Views expressed are the author’s own.The author is an activist and freelance journalist who was also a columnist for Gauri Lankesh’s publication.

Other pieces by Shiva Sundar:

How a state suffocated by Saffron got a new breath from Blue
Never Ever Forget



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