Today’s Hindu newspaper carries a number of articles on the one year of Mr Modi as Prime Minister. Except the one BJP supporter, none of the other writers has anything good to say about the year that India passed through. I found it an interesting exercise to take the major arguments of the BJP spokesman, Ravi Shankar Prasad, and rebut them with the arguments given by the other writers. Here’s a discussion I fabricated out of the views expressed by the four writers.
R S Prasad: In just a span of 12 months, the NDA government has succeeded in restoring India’s image as a fast-growing economy.
Sitaram Yechuri: The statistical base year for national income accounts has been changed in order to project the GDP growth rate in better light. Despite this, it is clear that the manufacturing and industrial growth are just not taking off.
Yechuri: The share of wages as a proportion of GDP now stands a little over 10 percent compared to over 25 percent in 1990-91.... The rich have become richer. As per the Forbes list 2014, the 100 richest people in India are all U.S.$billionaires, i.e., 45 more than the figure of 55 in 2011. The combined worth of these 100 billionaires comes to $346 billion.
Prasad: The NDA government has restored governance and transparency in decision-making.
Pankaj Mishra: I think one has to think of Mr Modi along with Suharto, Lee Kwan Yew, and the CCP provincial bosses... These are all control freaks supported by the corporate and technocratic classes who prefer top-down solutions and rapid decision-making, and have contempt for anything that doesn’t directly advance their interests. So the rise of the middle class in Asia has assisted the growth of authoritarian populism rather than democracy.
Prasad: Under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, India has become a country of hope. There is no gloom and despair, no apprehension...
Kapil Sibal: Agriculture is in distress. The growth rate in agriculture has come down to 1.1 percent from 3.7 percent in 2014. More farmers are committing suicide than ever before. The average debt of 52 percent of all agricultural households is Rs 47,000 of which 26 percent is owed to private moneylenders – the root cause of farmer suicides.... The average price of select items consumed daily by people is higher than today than a year ago.... The promise to put Rs15 lakh in every citizen’s bank account from the recovered black money was an unethical and dishonest attempt to garner votes.... The Prime Minister appears to have forgotten about the issue of corruption and the Lokpal...
I would like to give the final words to:
Pankaj Mishra: Modi should learn from the Chinese their deliberate rejection of self-promotion.