In his remarks on the Gandhi birth anniversary celebrations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to two indications in one sentence. He said you can abuse me as much as you want but don’t give up in campaign for the clean India. He thus indicated his awareness for a highly abusive campaign running against him on social media. He also indicated he would not change priorities of his rule.
His promises and his apparent efforts to woo foreign investors to bring capital and production machines to India, for four months after he took over reigns of India as the Prime Minister generated a new hope of a golden dawn. Youth of the middle class was convinced that he was a man of action and not only words. He has capacity to take India forward.
Social media was then filled with messages of hope and praise for him. In every social circle, with a whisky glass in hand or without it, every one showered praises on the Prime Minister whose approach was different from all previous incumbents of the office. Indians settled abroad thronged the venues in large numbers for celebration of his visit and to welcome him with loud slogan shouting.
However, notes of his public addresses began to undergo a perceptible change after 18 months in office, particularly after his failure to win power in the Bihar assembly polls. His campaign with the economic development as the central theme failed to yield results. Others may not be cognizant of the message delivered from within but he could not have missed it. As Prime Minister he knew what pushed even the Dalit voters to the opposite side.
He also could not blame his colleagues in the party or his cabinet for he had reduced their political stature even before his first meeting with the cabinet colleagues. Few ministers had made statements related to their departments or their intentions in the first month. They stopped to speak in public from next month onwards.
For performance of his government he cannot share credit or blame with anyone else as he ran the affairs as one man show for forty months. There is no doubt that the decision to demonetize the high value currency notes was his and his alone. His cabinet colleagues came to know of it when he sought their sanction in the cabinet meeting only hours before he announced the decision. The real intent of the decision remained shrouded in the three goals he intended to achieve through his crucial but sudden step.
He wanted to bring out black wealth, block financing of terrorism by private persons and eradicate influence of the fake notes put in the circulation to undermine the Indian economy. Experts agree that none of three objectives were realized at the end of three months.
Whatever may have been the unstated reasons for such a drastic measure but net impact was misery of middle class for three months and closure of several industrial and business units where there was a practice of giving payment in cash. Restrictions on cash withdrawals for three months did not allow continuation of their operations, leading to unemployment and also drastic reduction in productions. Figures of both losses have not been released, perhaps, to avoid embarrassment that the authorities did not anticipate the consequence.
As if it was not enough to disturb the employment and reduction in production, the government cancelled licenses to two lakh units as they were illegally obtained as the Prime Minister said. It was obvious that they had to stop their operations leading to unemployment and cessation of production.
Again no one bothered to release figures of impact of the step aimed at halting dishonest operations. But major industries have come out with details of their down-sizing of staff resulting in retrenchment of nearly three lakh employees. The main reason was obviously the deceleration of the economy since demonetization.
One need not need even a close look at the steps initiated in the last eight months but the pretext is apparently to iron out dishonesty from business world. The cost of it is not resultant unemployment or reduction in productions affecting the economy as the slowdown of growth rate below six per cent a year, lowest in recent years, indicate but in the message it conveys to the world.
For eighteen months the Prime Minister appeared to be striving to lure in foreign capital and production mechanism to India and grandiose scheme of Make In India. Three years later he is now going out to prove that the Indians can be dishonest. India is still reeling under the similar message that the then finance minister Vishwa Nath Pratap Singh had conveyed in 1985 with his intense campaign against industrialists of India to prove them to be evil incarnates.
In three decades, few major industries have turned their eyes to India for parking their capital and bringing their latest technology to India. In the same breath, NaMo also conveyed his intent not to give up his priorities of his initiatives for welfare of classes other than the middle class. Is it a challenge to all those hurling abuses at him for what he has done or does he genuinely intends to stay on his chosen course. But then he had chosen to lure in the foreign investments but ended up in driving in the opposite direction.
Who can depend on what he says today?