Business As Usual

Summer or winter political players play it fine. They know the art of transforming bad things into good in their favour even in adverse weather. Then they resort to time-testing practice of diverting public attention to areas of secondary issues while suppressing the oppressive conditions in which people are being forced to struggle for sheer survival. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] leaders spread lies day in and day out but the perennially divided Opposition fails to respond. Modi’s guarantee of job creation and job distribution is as baseless as anything else. The foremost concerns for voters waiting in queues are rising prices and unemployment, as revealed in a pre-poll survey by the Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

Only a few weeks ago the International Labour Organisation [ILO] stated that more than 80 percent of India’s unemployed workforce comprises its youth. As for the educated unemployed the scenario is horrible. The same report said that the proportion of young individuals with secondary education or higher, among the total unemployed youth surged from 35.2 percent in 2000 to 65.7 percent in 2022—in just two years and that too in Modi’s regime. Tragically enough graduate degree holders are mostly unemployed. What is more, in 2022, women not engaged in employment, education, or training, constituted nearly five times higher than the proportion of their male counterparts. In truth job opportunities at all levels have gone down drastically in the last five years of BJP rule. This is how Modi’s guarantee works in what they call ‘fifth largest economy’ with dozens of billionaires looting natural resources, destroying ecological balance and displacing thousands of marginalised people in the name of development with impunity. Employment or unemployment situation is very critical. Getting even a low-paid job in informal sector without any social security has become much more difficult now. The magnitude of unemployment is so alarming and perverse that the conventional rural-urban divide has become irrelevant. For one thing unemployment crisis is not restricted to any particular spatial location. People find it hard to get economically sustainable occupations in big cities, small towns and even in villages.

The CSDS survey also points out how inflation is ruining middle class families. With inflation soaring, prices of essential commodities too continue to rise in tandem. The rising costs affected primarily the economically disadvantaged—Dalits, Muslims and scheduled caste people. They find it increasingly difficult to maintain minimum standard of living in the ever-changing consumer society of the country.

As for the perennially divided Opposition the less said the better. They are always on the defensive, allowing BJP to set the agenda. Modi’s biggest show-case of democracy is also the biggest prison house in the world. Opposition parties, including left parties hardly find any rationale in demanding release of thousands of political prisoners languishing in jails for years without any trial and develop mass movement against the elected autocracy over which Modi presides. Opposition parties are no less brutal than Modi’s party where they are in power in states. In a way all of them are worshippers of market and allow the invisible hands to control the price mechanism without being opposed in sustained manner. Just on the eve of announcement of general elections drug companies increased prices of 800 medicines, including life-saving ones without any murmur from any quarters. Not for nothing the drug companies purchased electoral bonds in such huge quantities. Again there is no effective protest against surge in prices of drugs.

The only issue that gets prominence in electoral culture is corruption. But no party is in a position to derive extra mileage from anti-corruption campaigns launched by different parties, ruling parties included. Fifty-five percent of respondents to CSDS survey indicated an increase in corruption over the past five years, with 25 percent attributing it to the Centre and 16 percent to the states. So no party is clean and thus anti-corruption agitation in most cases gets bogged down in the quagmire of inactivity. The end result: the status quo continues. The CSDS survey was conducted in 400 polling stations spread across 100 Assembly Constituencies in 100 Parliamentary Constituencies. How far this will affect the voter’s psyche is anybody’s guess because corruption is now a way of life in India’s political culture.


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Vol 56, No. 44, Apr 28 - May 4, 2024