India through its recent legislation has laid to rest its secular credentials and made it clear that religion will be the basis for Indian citizenship for minorities from neighboring countries except for those who are Muslims. India has a population of 200 million Muslims and it is not difficult to fathom the depth of their feelings. The violent protests raging on India’s streets say it all.
Modi is doing what he said he would in his election rhetoric and he is brazenly flaunting his credentials as a hard line radical RSS Hindu supremascist. What is being ignored in India is the downward spiral of the economy with growth at its lowest. Indians wonder if the focus on Hindu nationalism is going to help forge an economic policy that lifts India out of decline?
No amount of distraction can hide the figures that indicate India’s economic state. Growth is averaging 5% and projected to go lower. The policies that were to deliver failed miserably. People are still reeling from the impact of the disastrous demonetization policy and the consumer tax fiasco. “Prime Minister Modi stepped back from the future when he rejected the massive deal to open up to liberalization in Asia through not signing onto the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement in Bangkok in November. India’s Look East and Act East policies have come to naught. The nationalist and protectionist political sentiment overwhelmed the good sense of India’s negotiators in RCEP at Bangkok. India once more appears to be an international trade agreement spoiler with an unerring instinct for self-harm.”
Modi ran for his second term not on the basis of any success in his first term but on his rhetoric against Pakistan. From the earlier boasts of being far ahead of Pakistan Modi effectively hyphenated India with Pakistan. Many believed that the much touted ‘surgical strike’ was a fabricated story but Modi made sure that the Indians lapped it up as a great decisive success. The military went along because it is becoming increasingly politicized and the recent much criticized statements of the outgoing Army Chief have made this plain. He is angling for a second tenure as the First Chief of Defense Staff. The fiasco that was Pulwama was also touted as a victory in spite of the losses by the Indian Air Force. A media that is hungry for anti-Pakistan propaganda went berserk and so this too was sold to the people as a victory. Money from Corporate India that supports the RSS-BJP combine out of fear certainly helped.
“This has been a time of ‘living triumphally for India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its Hindu-chauvinist support group, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)’, says Robin Jeffrey__ ‘Decisive action’ Jeffrey says, was the catch cry of the BJP’s torrential communications strategy. But decisive action to what end?”
And now on the heels of the legislation that has made Kashmir a permanent problem, India has brought in the Citizenship Act. The violence on the streets across India is the response of Indians to this travesty. Earlier there was the Ayodhya Mosque verdict that rankled Indian Muslims.
India much to the disappointment of its strategic thinkers is obsessed with Pakistan and its own Muslims. The RSS-BJP combine is taking India where sane thinking Indians do not want to go. Just as terrorist organizations use technology to swamp the world with their hate filled ideology the Modi government is using all the means at its disposal to further its narrow agenda regardless for what it does to the nation and the region.
(Spearhead Analyses are collaborative efforts and not attributable to an individual)