The Road from Here by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (May 26, 2014)


Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam

It is a great tribute to the country’s democratic institutions that despite a charged atmosphere the Lok Sabha elections have been conducted peacefully and a peaceful transfer of power has been effected. Most Afro-Asian countries are not as lucky.

Now that Shri Narendrabhai Modi is our new Prime Minister, we wish him well and hope that his tenure in office will be more fruitful than UPA’s. The UPA is going to be a tough act to follow as its ten years in office have been marked by a dramatic reduction in poverty and rise in incomes, a performance that no other country, except China, and to a certain extent, Brazil, could match.

When the world economy was in a tail spin the Manmohan Singh government managed a remarkable 7.5 per cent growth, a rate beyond the imagination of most other countries. At that point the West was growing at zero to one percent. As the Modi government is said to have better growth-oriented economists in its stable we will not be unrealistic if we expect an eight to ten per cent growth right away.

We also hope that poverty will be reduced at a faster clip under Shri Modi than Shri Manmohan Singh. In any case, this government has been dedicated to, among others, the poor.

For this to happen Shri Modi will have to steer the course set by the UPA, at least on issues like subsidies to the poor and myriad uplift programmes for the poor. It is these programmes that have enabled the poor to gradually lift themselves out of poverty and become more productive part of the new economy. The “entitlements” of the common people, as Amaratya Sen would put it, must never be taken away from them. It will not be helpful for the economy. Yet, the corporate sector would like Shri Modi to take away these entitlements. Shri Modi should resist the pressure manfully.

The BJP has got 31 per cent of the vote share in the recent elections. That means 69 per cent have voted for others. I must confess that I have been among the 69 per cent. However, today Shri Modi is the Prime Minister of the whole of India, the entire 100 per cent of us, not just the 31 per cent who voted for him. All of us have the right to expect fair play and evenhanded treatment from him.

We expect that he will not stop the investigations or manipulate the cases against people responsible for the mass murder of Muslims. We expect that Gujarat 2002 will not be repeated and the anti-Muslim fever built up by campaign 2014 will be cooled.

Recently, the Institute of Objective Studies commissioned a study on the access of Muslims to the basic civic amenities in Delhi. The study found that Muslims had inadequate access to civic amenities across the capital. It figured in a special report of The Times of India for five consecutive days and in an op-ed in The Indian Express later. Such issues of inequity have to be addressed seriously everywhere in the country.

It is good to see the top SAARC leadership’s presence at the oath-taking ceremony. South Asia is the common home to all of us. The entire region is part of a single civilisation and the people are from a common stock. As a leader aspiring to be a statesman it is incumbent on Shri Modi to keep the South Asian neighborhood peaceful and prosperous.

With this we extend our good wishes for the new government.


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