One Year Later

Modi’s India is in a constant state of flux, for the worse. This moment in India’s troubled history seems to be more regressive and dangerous than any other moment in history. But the mainstream media is driven by vulgar commercialism and whatever idealism is maintained is due to questionable reasons. So the saffron family has reasons to cheer about Modi’s one year in office. What they have not accomplished in one year will be done in the remaining four years. This is what they are saying in so many words to create more illusions instead of removing them. But the ‘policy paralysis’ which was precisely the allegation of corporate India against the Congress, Sonia Gandhi–Manmohan Singh team to be precise, continues to persist despite so much propaganda blitz about pending projects. No doubt they have so far passed 30 bills without much impact on the chambers of commerce. The bone of contention is, however, Land Bill. If they fail to deliver in favour of domestic and foreign investors by allowing them to loot land and nature, all in the name of ‘development’ and progress, without further delay, all their tall talks of ‘Modi in Action’ will vanish in the thin air. Is there progress? One year later ordinary people and those who are against people’s interests are questioning ‘‘progress’’. It is publicity gimmick to always remain in focus. But their fire-works generate too much heat without smoke.

The replacement of Planning Commission by an amorphous body called NITI Ayog has hardly improved the financial situation, particularly of backward states though it was one of their ‘precious’ arguments sold to public when the ‘Nehruvian antique’—Planning Commission—was disbanded.

Before elections the Modis promised to bring back Black Money which somehow is synonymous with Congress culture, albeit top business houses are mainly responsible for continually generating Black Money through unfair and dubious trade practice. They have been doing it since the days of Nehru and they will do it even if there is no Modi. It doesn’t matter who wins elections or loses them. The main culprits will always remain invisible to the people while there is no party that can really give a poignant voice to the otherwise voiceless. After one year they are reiterating the same swan song—their government ‘would not allow even a single penny to go out of India’. They are actually mocking at themselves by proposing something that is not achievable. If successive governments have not been able to wipe out the scars of Black Money in the last 60 years, the Modi dispension is unlikely to do it in the next four years. The disclosure of names of a few persons without any substantial political or economic clout was so insignificant that nobody took this Black Money drama very seriously.

Unless they succeed in getting Land Bill passed Modi’s rating in corporate circle is unlikely to improve. And they can have the Bill passed only by registering the support of Congress. The carrot and stick policy towards Congress is actually aimed at making it a partner in crime. But Congress party’s foot soldier—Rahul Gandhi has only this issue to keep the saffron family harassed and make a case out of Modi-corporate nexus.

The launching of DD Kisan Channel with a lot of fanfare to mark ‘Modi 365’ was a nice public relations gimmick. But gimmicks cannot stop farm suicides. Their claim of bringing back the degraded economy to the track seems too clever by half. It’s a kind of self-congratulation for which there are not many takers. The much talked about transparency in policy making doesn’t really sell. The jobless want jobs, not jobless growth. The underprivileged want privilege that is denied to them despite promise to root out corruption.

Maybe, it was a mere coincidence that eleven central trade unions including the Bharatiya Janata Party controlled Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh announced a one-day nationwide general strike for September 2 to protest against the government’s unilateral labour reforms at a time when the saffron brigade was in a festive mood to celebrate the first anniversary of their government. It is one way to show the world what transparency in policy making means.

In essence the new Industrial Relations Bill—a corporate scripted exercise—makes firing of employee easier and forming of unions difficult. Apparently what they say is it—Industrial Relations Bill—is merely merger of 3 acts—Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, Trade Unions Act 1926 and Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946. Merger it is but with more harsh and stringent clauses. They have reframmed many a section to deprive workers of their basic rights.

The New Bill will subsume 44 labour laws into five broad codes, dealing with industrial relations, wages, social security, industrial safety and welfare.

After farm suicides, India will soon witness factory suicides in large members if they succeed in forcing labourers to be governed under the new reformed law. For all practical purposes they are trying to drag labour relations back to the 19th century. Labour-bashing is the buzz word, not Labour Welfare.

Vol. 47, No. 48, June 7 - 13, 2015