First 100 days of the 2nd innings by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam September 12, 2019

From the account the Prime Minister gave of his first 100 days in office in his second term (in Rohtak on September 8), it seemed this government has been particularly kind to Muslims and their interests. A few major “achievements” of his government had been Muslim-centered in one way or the other.

He said work had started towards fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir as well as of Ladakh. While he was saying this, life was normal in Hindu-majority Jammu and Buddhist-majority Ladakh, but the Muslim-majority Kashmir had been caught in a lock down, its mainstream leaders put out of commission, life at a standstill for the 35th day.

Among the government’s achievements, according to the PM, was restoration of Muslim women’s rights through legislation, criminalisation of triple talaq, a move that a large number of Muslims think was ill-advised, against Muslim women’s and their children’s interests. The fact that this act of government’s kindness to Muslim women did not extend to the rights of Hindu women made it suspect in the eyes of many beneficiaries.

The PM invoked “ISRO spirit” that sustains the high morale of ISRO scientists and technocrats in the face of a technical snag which caused loss of contact with the Lander minutes before its scheduled landing on the moon. We must all stand with ISRO in its mission of a successful lunar landing in future.

The Prime Minister assured that the government was planning to arrest the economic slowdown with banking reforms. Meanwhile, the Union minister Prakash Javadekar argued that the economic depression was temporary and cyclical and the economy’s fundamentals were strong. He was speaking on the first 100 days of the government and enumerating its successes. He asserted that the economy would bounce back.

However, experts had their own misgivings about these claims. The slowdown had come in the wake of fall in savings, investment, production and consumption. Explaining the recession in car manufacturing, distribution and sales (and concomitant loss of jobs in car companies, ancillaries, distribution and sales), the Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said (to the amusement of media persons) that car sales had dropped because the millennial generation prefered to hire Ola and Uber taxies to owning cars and paying instalments on loans.

Certainly, this fails to explain hundreds of thousands of unsold cars in the yards of companies. Experts think that amid huge number of job losses around them, young people are afraid of buying cars fearing that if tomorrow they lose their job they would have no money to pay the car loan instalments.

The Prime Minister implied that with the buoyant ISRO spirit the country would overcome the depression. However, Congress spokesperson Kabil Sibal said, “There is a deep suspense over whether the economy will recover in near future”. He added that uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir and in Assam had made the economic slump look ominous.

Democratic and institutional procedures were given a go by. “Thirty nine Bills were introduced in the budget session of Parliament, out of which 28 were passed. However, none o these Bills were sent for scrutiny to either Standing Committee or Select Committee”, Sibal said.

Meanwhile, the government feels its special kindness to Muslims will soon be visible in Assam as the NRC takes hold.

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