"For whom the Bell Tolls?"

The resignation by Mr Urjit  Patel from the presitigious post of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor has been variously highlighted by the press. But one thing is centain that the Modi government is hell bent on destroying the autonomy of RBI. When the decision of demonetisation was taken unilaterally by the Government, it became clear that Narendra Modi and his acolytes had gone back on its slogan of 'minimum government and maximum governance', because decisions regarding money supply, interest rate, repo rate etc have traditionally been taken by the central bank of the country. What Narendra Modi did was to undermine the authority of the Reserve Bank of India regarding the monetary policy. The differences between Raghuram Rajan, the ex-governor, and the Modi government are well-known. Mr Rajan earned the ire of the government by pointing out the problem arising out of bad debts, which were mostly loans taken by large corporate houses. In a country where farmers have been committing suicides with a most disconcerting regularity, cancellation of debts incurred by the Ambanis, Adanis and similar corporate groups is patently a most anti-national act. Yet Modi goes on repeating ad nauseum his battle cry of 'nationalism'. The cow vigilantes have already taken the lives of some 40 persons, the latest victim being a police officer of Uttar Pradesh. Modi in fact is promoting obscurantism in the country. Cows are valued more than human beings. But neither cow vigilantism, nor empty promises can solve the basic problems of farmers and jobless youths. Hence poor Modi had to fall back on pakoda-making as a method of solving the unemployment problem. Resignation of Savitribai Phule, the dalit MP from the BJP againsat the maltreatment of dalits is another skeleton in Modi's cupboard.

Mr Patel, who faced the possibility of a humiliating action from the Union Government over differences on a variety of issues, preferred honourable exit, citing 'personal reasons'. Mr Patel reportedly carried forward Rajan's war on NPAs and more importantly valiantly tried to guard the autonomy of RBI. The invocation of the never before used Section 7 of RBI Act for forcing down decisions, ignoring the authority of governor, possibly precipitated the crisis beyond resolution. Patel seems to be the fifth governor who has been forced to quit. No doubt Patel's resignation is likely to create more firestorms for the government as it comes on the eve of the winter session of parliament.

Faced with many internal crises, Modi and his mentors are aggressively hastening a communal polarisaion on one hand, and generating a nationwide anti-Pakistan hysteria on the other. The only favourable situation for Modi is provided by the disunity within the opposition and the corrupt practices of many of the opposition parties. The TMC rule in West Bengal is a typical example. What is to be specially noted in this connection is that none of the major opposition parties is in principle against liberalisation, and they are unwilling to try to chalk out an alternative employment oriented path of development and to popularise it. Even if the BJP is unseated from power that will largely be the outcome of a negative attitude on the part of the people. Rahul Gandhi may justifiably speed up his campaign against Modi on various issues, but he as yet has little to offer in terms of an alternative path. Besides, soft Hindutva is a very weak alternative to fascistic Hindutva, just as soft Assamese chauvinism cannot deliver the goods against strong militant Assamese chauvinism. Nor is the trick of distributing drums and cymbals for kirtans an effective antidote to the BJP's communal tirade in Bengal and elsewhere.


Vol. 51, No.25, Dec 23 - 29, 2018