Modi euphoria continues

Modi euphoria continues

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has completed six months. Six months is too short a time even in a nation fond of observing anniversaries of all kinds.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has completed six months. Six months is too short a time even in a nation fond of observing anniversaries of all kinds. While his supporters continue to sing his praise, his apologists are stressing that he is “not a magician” and that he does not have a magic lamp a la Alladin. And the trollers on the social media are hyperactive, demolishing Modi’s critics, as this anniversary dawns.

Without doubt, a prolonged “honeymoon” period is on because of the decisive victory in the Lok Sabha polls in May, decimating any serious challenge. To use another term, the TINA (there is no alternative) factor is at work. Yet, criticism is coming in from various quarters, ours being a democracy of argumentative Indians. Part of the problem, in a manner of speaking, is the huge public expectations created by Modi’s poll-time promises. His articulation as the PM on many of the issues, taking actions and announcing the intent on many more through various high profile media engagements, has also added to the expectations.

Ground reality may differ from place to place. But onions are not selling at Rs 80 per kilogram. Going by published statistics, prices of most essential commodities have fallen after years of double-digit inflation. Food items are cheaper, partly due to the fall in fuel prices governed by global deceleration. Indeed, the Modi government is boosted by many lucky strokes. Investments worth $ 30 billion have come in and the stock market is booming. But the industrial output, the exports and some other major economic indicators have fallen short of raised expectations. The GDP itself has been a poor 3.5 per cent. It is a mixed bag and from now on at least, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley cannot blame his predecessor for economic woes. To Modi’s credit must go a pro-active, even assertive, foreign policy. With Pakistan and China, the government has displayed confidence, not confrontation, which is wise. Smaller neighbours are at ease. Modi has wowed his hosts abroad and reached out to the diaspora.

Lokpal, eliminating graft, bringing home black money and legislating on long-term issues remain non-starters. The perceptions – and they do matter – are worrying and alarming in parts. Naming and renaming of places, schemes, programmes, even while re-packaging old ones, sadly, fall into that negative we-will-do-it-because-you-did-it list. While Modi has been correct in what he has said or done, by and large, the same cannot be said of his ministers and party leaders. Some have betrayed a sense of triumphalism. Trying to demolish Jawaharlal Nehru, replacing German language teaching with Sanskrit and ‘Indianising’ history books are some of the measures that do not match Modi’s modern approach.

Moral policing by the Sangh Parivar affiliates has caused serious apprehensions. A government and a party firmly saddled in power, even if trying to stay on long term, ought to do better.

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