Nice rhetoric, but where is the substance by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (August 19, 2017)


Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

The Prime Minister’s speech on Independence Day was, as usual, full of rhetoric and flourishes, but short on specifics. Some of his assertions were too good to be believed. Hence, it is of interest to look at the speech closely, which was his shortest till date.

The irony was not lost on anyone when they read in the next morning’s newspapers his grandiose claim to a “New India” that was being built by him. The New India looked so promising that he mentioned it 10 times in the short speech. This New India had no place for “communalism and casteism.” It was precisely at this point that the irony hit home.

The same day’s newspapers carried the findings of the US State Department’s Religious Freedom Commission’s latest report that was a ringing indictment of the NDA’s policy on goonda attacks by cow vigilantes. The report said the government had not punished the vigilantes for murders and lynchings of Muslims and Dalits. In the New India, where there was no place for communalism and casteism, according to the PM, people were systematically murdered and lynched precisely for these reasons.

And, how do we explain the fact that whether it was the 2014 parliamentary election or the more recent UP Assembly election, BJP won its impressive majority by stoking communal passions and forging new caste equations. So, how does it all square up to the PM’s fantastic claims?

If communalism has no place in India, how do we explain the ludicrous demands from madrasas to produce videos of their Independence Day Celebrations before authorities. And how else can we grasp the official affront to Vice-President Ansari?

And if casteism does not exist, how were Dalits beaten up for skinning a dead cow in Una? And how did 27 Dalits die in one month cleaning sewers? Can’t they get even the minimum protection gear in this “casteless” society?

The PM also had grand claims to make about demonetisation’s “success.” Yes, it was the same demonetisation of last November, announcing which he had claimed that at the end of that ordeal Bharat would “glitter like gold.” Whether Bharat glittered like gold or not is still a question to be answered honestly, but it surely led to the death of many Indians shocked by this brutal attack on their right to property.

Many dropped dead in serpentine queues outside banks, others were ruthlessly lathicharged right as they stood in queues trying to get a small sum from their saving accounts. Far too many daily-wage earners lost their livelihood and smaller business operations closed down because of lack of cash. Even larger groups like Larsen & Teubro shed thousands of engineering jobs.

The job market is yet to recover from the shock. The job market is, in fact, the worst victim of the PM’s policies. He had announced that his government would create 10 million (1 crore) jobs a year. On the ground even five percent of it has not been achieved.

The PM regretted the loss of “innocent” lives in a hospital. And, that was that. The man responsible for this mess, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, has not been even reprimanded and publicly shamed, much less summarily sacked.

The PM also talked about the “pure hands” and “pious hearts” of farmers. That praise was all that the country’s distressed farmers got. It would not reduce the number of farmers’ suicides, nor will bring solace to the families of the six farmers killed by police some time ago in Mandsaur of Madhya Pradesh for demanding remunerative prices for their produce.


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