18 November, 2019

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Modi – A Magic Wand?

By Hameed Abdul Karim

Hameed Abdul Karim

Hameed Abdul Karim

I was with an Indian HR guy a few days ago and quite naturally the topic of Narendra Modi’s massive victory crept into the conversation. This Indian Bhai was quite ecstatic in his praise for Modi. ‘Already the stock market has hit a new record high’ he gloated and I thought to myself ‘Right: the capitalists are already raking in the shekels while the poor are wondering whether they will get the toilets Modi promised them’. But courtesy prevented me from giving expression to my thoughts.

More than 60% of India’s teeming population doesn’t have toilets and quite happily they resort to the great outdoors to defecate. Sometimes they do it quite openly and if this ‘exercise’ can be turned into a tourist attraction, India will be full of tourists without bothering about seasons. Don’t get me wrong. This exercise is not quite all that bad. Why, it provides employment opportunities. Over a million Indians make a living by carrying human excrement on their heads for disposal at some dump or another according to the celebrated social activist Arundathi Roy.

So Modi’s promise of providing toilets for every home was not at all misplaced. It may have brought in many votes, but then you will have to wonder how the million excrement carriers (and that’s old stats) are going to make a living in Modi’s toileted India!

Pardon me, did Modi say ‘homes’?

Those of who were ‘zombified’ by the various News Channels may have seen pictures of houses (fleeting though they may have been) in Gujarat. What passes for ‘houses’ were actually hovels and huts made out of scraps of polythene, cardboard and corrugated sheets. These ‘houses’ were so tiny that only a visionary like Modi can see the space where a toilet could be built!

Poverty Increase

The talking heads on NDTV and other pro Modi corporate owned media invaded Indians’ minds in the run up to the election circus in the ‘largest democracy in the world’ which happens to be India’s brand name. They made them believe Modi was a doer and Gujarat was a happening place. They didn’t need proof. What the media said they believed. Even the mass killings of Muslims in Godhra were dismissed as an aberration.  ‘See, since 2002 Muslims, have been spared, now doesn’t that speak volumes for Modi’s kindness and compassion, huh?’ was the underlying message delivered ever so delicately.

ModiI am sorry to strike a sour note but much of Modi’s claims are fibs. Facts are hidden elsewhere. The United Nations’ Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index in 2013 indicated that under Modi’s rule 41% of Gujaratis were poor and out of this number 18.5% live in abject poverty. Statistics can be misleading, I know. This figure suggests that 59% of Gujaratis are rich. But hang on a while, the Gujarat population is a little over 60 million according to 2011 stats which would mean that those living in poverty amount to nearly 25 million.  Not an ‘achievement’ you can brag about! Oh, but I am getting ahead of myself. There is another thought that we have to chew on for a while. There is a Modi way to reduce poverty levels unique only to him. It’s not by increasing wealth but by reducing the poverty index levels. Modi’s BJP government calculated that if any Gujarati earned more than IR 10.80 a day he or she becomes disqualified for state benefits. Voila! There you are that’s Modi’s way of making Gujarat a rich state. Now ponder a while, how many of those who earn more than 10.80 a day constitute the 59% of ‘rich’ Gujaratis that we were talking about? But that’s too complex a calculation for our ‘televisionised’ minds to fathom out so let’s leave it to the pundits on TV, shall we?

By the way, I am told a beggar could easily rake in a minimum of IR 50 a day. So according to Modi’s thinking he would be classified as filthy rich.

Despite fantastic claims by Modians, facts on the ground indicate that poverty had actually increased in Gujarat under Modi’s watch. The number of poor families in Gujarat’s villages, according to the state government’s own data, had shot up by 30%. In April 2000 over 2.3 million families were categorised as being below the poverty line. The number increased to over 3.4 million by June 2012. But you can be sure ‘Modians’ will tell you some Walt Disney story or another to make you squirm and follow it up with yet another highly exaggerated feel good Modi story.

Moneybags

Narendra Modi literally spent billions of rupees on his campaign. One report said that as much as 100 million bucks were busted only on nomination day alone. The many parades and pageants we saw on TV were so colourful that they captured the imagination of those of us who were glued to the idiot box. For a moment we forgot what the circus was all about. In the minds of the many who watched with fascination all that was dished out on TV, Modi was the new messiah. He jetted around states like nobody’s business. Yet no TV pundit ever asked where the moolah was coming from. Social activists like Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal or their supporters were conspicuous by their absence in the media.

The name of one of Modi’s financiers that cropped up once or twice was that of Mr. Gautam Adani. But in an interview on NDTV he said he would not like to comment on political issues thereby skipping the question rather adroitly. The anchor did not pressurise Adani like you would have expected him to instead he went on to ask questions, and innocuous ones at that, on issues like the environmental damage that his project in Katch might cost. He thus subtly deflected the crucial issue of campaign funding and managed to give the viewer the impression that his media outlet had given ‘both sides of the story’.

There is speculation that other corporate bigwigs bankrolled Modi’s campaign but you didn’t hear their names on TV or in the print media. This is because it’s they who own the vast media networks and its affiliates in Mother India. And big money wanted Modi in the seat of power for ‘business purposes’. Approximately 40 % of India’s children are malnourished and if huge corporations are going to rule the roost, like they were doing under Congress, you can be sure the figure is only going to rise – like the stock market in the first flush of Modi’s victory.

Recently a friend in Sri Lanka had visited Gujarat because this was where he was born and lived as a youth. To him it was like going to the ‘green green grass of home, old oak tree’ and all. The lure was nostalgia and that too in an era where even nostalgia is not like what it used to be. But he returned a bit disappointed.  He told us that the story of Gujarat booming under Modi is a fib and the media hype about it all is just that – media hype.

As we speak we still see jubilant dancing in the streets, papara bands fully employed for a few days celebrating BJP’s landslide victory. But you can bet it won’t be long before Prime Minister Narendra Modi finds out that there are limitations to imagination and reality is a factor you have to contend with never mind what the HR guys say. Modi is no magic wand. But that will take time to out.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    Its nothing new that capitalists bankroll politicians, this happens in every country, so India the largest democracy is not an exception. Most important thing is where will Modi lead India? During the Congress rule India lost badly to China and even a small country like Sri Lanka was able to bully mighty India. What will Modi do to correct this sad situation? Yes toilets are important, this may be the gift to every household for electing him as the PM, but most importantly how will he establish the correct place of India in South Asia and the world? We have to wait and see and trust his abilities.

    • 2
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      So, who bankrolled the thief of Lanka – Mahinda?
      We also need to know about this fact.
      Once the Stupid A/H Mahinda got elected, he made his money through crooked means to fund his future endeavors with his OWN (corrupt wealth) Money.

      Yellow robed Mafiaso is helping all the way for his Pied Piper end game.

      We are waiting to see MAHINDA in a coffin lying pretty….

  • 2
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    Mudslinging anti-Modi article.

    Here what “The Economic Times” is saying in their word :

    NEW DELHI: Narendra Modi will move into 7 Race Course Road, the official residence of the Indian prime minister, this weekend but he’s not asked for any changes to be made before he shifts, something that’s surprised officials who are used to incoming occupants of government homes seeking several modifications.

    A PMO official said the residence, vacated by former prime minister Manmohan Singh last week, needs only a coat of paint and some cleaning of the furniture and curtains. No new furniture or decor is required. “It is ready to move in. Modi believes in spartan living and will continue to do so.”

    In that at least, he shares a trait with predecessor Manmohan Singh, who’s also known for his simple lifestyle. Officials in the special team at the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), which is entrusted with getting the PM’s home ready, haven’t been asked to make any changes. Some surmise this could be because Modi’s a bachelor. Families of ministers and parliamentarians who move into Lutyens Delhi bungalows usually come up with special requests for changes, from the colour of walls to upholstery, furniture and fittings. “Maybe because the new PM comes without the baggage of a family, this time it’s different,” said one official. “We are painting the house now and we may change upholstery if needed.”

    A senior official at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), which loans artworks to the PM’s house, said there had been no communication from the PMO for any changes. Modi’s residence as chief minister of Gujarat was minimalist in nature, with the living room having just four chairs and a small centre table. That home in Gandhinagar is in a compound shared with the governor of the state and nestles in a grove inhabited by swans, peacocks and other birds.

    7 RCR is actually five bungalows — Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 — spread across 12 acres on Race Course Road, which has been blocked off for the PM’s house and offices for the past three decades. These bungalows were originally designed by Robert Tor Russell, who was part of British architect Edwin Lutyens’ team when he was designing New Delhi in the 1920s and 1930s. Russell also designed Teen Murti Bhavan, Connaught Place and the Eastern and Western courts on Janpath.

    After the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi at her 1 Safdarjung Road bungalow in 1984, 7 RCR was chosen as a more secure location for son and successor Rajiv Gandhi. Today, 1 RCR is a helipad, No. 3 is where Manmohan Singh stayed with his wife and No. 5 was the guest house, and possibly where Modi will choose to stay. 7 RCR, which lends its name to the entire complex, is where the PM has his home office. The last bungalow, 9 RCR, is occupied by the Special Protection Group that guards the PM.

    In the 1980s, when 7 RCR was being set up for the new PM, his office was restored and designed by noted interior designer and architectural restorer Sunita Kohli. In 2005, she also restored No. 5. Over the years, many changes had been made to the houses — ceilings were lowered, rooms were divided and some structures were altered. All this had to be redone when it became the PM’s residence.

    Upinder Singh, the historian-daughter of Manmohan Singh, said: “The nicest aspect of the house was its lovely garden with its peacocks and many other birds. It was lovely to sit there under the sun in winters.” Her father also didn’t seek any alterations in the home he’s moved into — another sprawling Lutyens bungalow that’s just a kilometre or so away.

    The three-acre bungalow on Motilal Nehru Marg was earlier occupied by former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and is much larger than the bungalows on RCR. The home has four large bedrooms and a separate office block while the bungalow in which Singh was staying — 3 RCR — had two bedrooms. “These houses look the best when restored to their original form, just like the British imagined them. That is what we are doing at 7 RCR,” said a CPWD official, who did not wish to be named. The NGMA official said the house also has some of the finest pieces of art by Indian artists, which have been loaned over the years.

    Read it on:
    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/pm-narendra-modi-to-move-into-7-rcr-with-no-requests-for-any-change/articleshow/35741307.cms?curpg=2

    • 3
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      Not merely mud-slinging but wishing ill as well at a time when India and the world rally round Narendra Modi to wish them well.
      While his HR friend from Gujarat speaks of the Stock Markets hitting high indexes in Karim’s warped brain – as images of Gujarat flow in – what this prejudiced mind sees is “millions of Gujarati’s” carrying night soil. The warped mind has not heard more of Gujarat – it’s tremendous success in the public transport sector, the growing the auto industry, the development of 80% of the world’s diamond-cutting industry etc. What Muslim bigots are taught to home on are the deaths in the 2002 Gujarat riots, where thousands of Hindus also perished in the hands of savages working in the name of religion.

      There is no denying the fact all over India there is an urgent need for basic washroom facilities, even in humble homes. Indians – starting from the Ambanis downwards – should feel ashamed about this. Gujaratis particularly because that great Gujarati soul – the Mahathma – said India cannot be considered free unless every Indian is free from the scourge of hunger, finds decent housing, good health and education – among many other. Bad news for Karim and fellow travellers is Modi, since he became head of the State over a decade, is traversing a different path. Now he is PM of the whole of India that gives him much more space to change the equation. Soon Karim will realise whether his newly returned Colombo Gujarati friend if Modi’s
      BJP Govt is “fibbing” Let this Modi ill-wisher learn the new PM and colleagues of his like the Muslim Ms Najma Heptulla, Cabinet Minister, have publicly pledged to change the face of poor Indians in a changed scenario that has shifted from a familial oligarchy that concentrated on building the image and fortunes of a single family to that of a group of convinced Nationlists to build a stronger india on a foundation where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis and everyone else will pull in one direction to make India shine once again.

      Karim and fellow-travellers failed a decade and half ago in their campaign “Muslims will be slaughtered to chased to Pakistan” as Vajpayees BJP Govt came in. They failed then but are arduously working now to create the same bleak picture. They will fail again.

      Backlash

  • 2
    3

    Muslims are doomed with Modi.

    No point sugar coating it.

    Doomed!

    Now listen to Srilankans and shut up or else they will hand you over to Modi.

  • 1
    3

    I think it will make no difference to the tamils in [Edited out] nadu . they will still defecate in the beaches.

    cheers

    Abhaya

    • 1
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      These is how you discriminate other folks.

      • 0
        1

        Sama

        True mate , other indians will most likely use the toilets when they are made .

        Cheers

        Abhaya

  • 1
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    Racist regimes neither prosper nor survive their elected term.

  • 1
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    Karim’s diatribe is clearly by a muslim aggrieved by the Gujarat massacre of more than a thousand muslims,when Modi was Chief Minister.

    The world’s largest slums are in Calcutta and Mumbai – but these are a feature of most Asian nations.
    Bombay’s Kamathipura area has the largest concentration of brothels in the world – a legacy of the Falkland Road brothels established by the british to service their troops.

    But these should vanish gradually with an increase in national income.

    But,the largest social disability in India is the “caste” system,with “dalits” at the bottom of the ‘caste ladder’.
    Mahatma Ghandi called them “Harijans” but failed to eradicate their social ostracism.

    The new government under Modi is expected to tackle these along with corruption, endemic in the public service.
    Modi has a monumental task ahead.

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