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Does BJP’s beef ad betray its desperation to win Bihar polls?

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New Delhi: Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s staunch critics would second him when he, during his whirlwind election rallies, aptly emphasizes that development ought to be the way forward for India and Hindus and Muslims, instead of fighting each other, should wage a war against poverty.

‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas (development for all)’ is the motto of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Well, who doesn’t want development?

But, alas, there seems to be a dichotomy between the thoughts and actions of the ruling party and the Prime Minister. For, while PM Modi talks of ‘vikas’ in Bihar to woo potential and existing voters, the BJP seeks to polarize the society along the lines of religion by placing full-page advertisements in leading newspapers featuring a girl hugging a cow and lashing out at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on his “silence” over statements made by his allies on beef just on the eve of the final phase of Bihar assembly polls.

This apparent attempt to polarize Bihar by the leading party to score political points over the Grand Alliance in an election that is being seen as a verdict on PM Modi’s 17 months in power reeks of nothing but the desperation to win the polls, by hook or by crook.

Beef has always been a sensitive issue for India’s Hindus and Jains because the Holy cow is revered as ‘mother’. But what is condemnable is to seek votes in its name by pitting one community against another, thus sowing the seeds of hatred among people who, more or less, have same issues.

I am a non-vegetarian Hindu and I have never had beef in my life nor do I intend to have it in the future. But that’s my choice. At the same time, it will be sheer hypocrisy on my part if I, despite being a non-vegetarian, condemned someone for having beef. What others eat and believe should be none of my concern in a democratic country like India.

But beef is no more about the religious aspect of the populace; rather it has quietly, with intended negativity, wandered into the cheap political theatrics.

Doesn’t polarization help when it comes to polls? Oh yes, it does. It surely does, in every single election. Can anyone deny that there was polarization in Gujarat following 2002 riots? Can anyone dispute the fact that incidents like Muzaffarnagar riots polarized people in Uttar Pradesh before Lok Sabha polls?

Bihar has a literacy rate of 63.82% and has long been considered among the ‘bimaru’ states. Verily, there is no dearth of issues that people of Bihar face be it unemployment, poverty, ignorance, lack of good roads, schools, and hospitals. And it was expected that just one day prior to the day of voting, the leading parties in the fray would talk about the real issues. But, it is a pity that the ruling party, rather than talking of the ways to deal with the abovementioned problems chose to spread hatred in the name of Holy cow and thus indulged in the politics of polarization.

Is this a ploy to influence an uneducated person’s uncultivated mind? An educated youth of Bihar, I am convinced is mature enough to make his choice but what of the former. Arousing his passions and love for the religion could just do the trick.

In the words of Karl Marx,

“Religion is the opium of the masses.”

Next Story

Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

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VOA
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. Pixabay

For people streaming in from rural areas around New Delhi, the first stop is a collection of busy city intersections where contractors select daily wage labor from the crowds of young and old waiting every morning to get work.

Many standing at these intersections say they get work for barely half the month. “I have the ability to work hard. I never turn down any work. But I would prefer to get a cleaner, permanent job,” says 29-year-old Tek Chand. “The problem is one day I have money to buy rations, the next day I don’t.” Like millions of others, he migrated from his village three years ago to seek work and a better life in the city.

FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019. VOA
As India prepares for general elections on April 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being attacked by opposition parties for failing to make good on a promise he made in 2014 to create millions of jobs for India’s huge young population. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party rebuts that criticism and says India is generating new opportunities as it becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies.

Job creation is a massive challenge for a nation with one of the world’s youngest populations — half the country’s 1.3 billion people are under the age of 25.

Recent data shows that joblessness has soared to record high levels. Opposition parties have made joblessness one of their principal election planks and have accused the prime minister of failing the estimated 8 to 10 million young people who enter the workforce every year.

The independent Mumbai-based Center for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that unemployment reached 7.2 percent last month and that 11 million jobs were lost in 2018. With a working population of 500 million, that translates into more than 30 million people waiting for jobs. An unpublished official survey that showed unemployment at a 45-year-high has also been widely quoted by Indian media.

India's main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019.
India’s main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019. VOA

On the campaign trail, the head of the main opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as Modi’s principal challenger, talks repeatedly about a “jobs crisis.”

“Our government is refusing to accept that we have a massive crisis and potential disaster in front of us,” Gandhi told a group of university students in New Delhi recently, many who will be first time voters.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. It points to a recent industry report that jobs have been created in the medium and small sectors.

The BJP says millions of people have found work in the transport and infrastructure sectors or as delivery boys in booming online businesses as India becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. They point out that the issue is not jobs but livelihoods, and point to millions of people who are not counted in job data.

They are self-employed people like cab owner Chain Pal Singh. As the app based taxi business boomed, Singh’s friend, who operated a cab, persuaded him to quit his job and take out a loan to buy a car. His decision has paid off — in four years he has earned enough money to invest in two more cabs.

Singh says he is much better off than when he held a job. “I used to earn about $225 dollars a month. Now in some months I can earn almost double that amount. Its beneficial for me.”

Following defeats in key state elections in December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told parliament last month, “This truth has to be acknowledged. The unorganized sector has 80 to 85 percent of the employment.” He pointed to millions of commercial vehicles sold in recent years and questioned if they had not generated jobs for drivers.

Economists admit India’s large informal sector has made it difficult to calculate employment, but they say joblessness or underemployment remains the country’s biggest challenge. While scarcity of jobs is not a new problem, two disruptive economic steps in the last two years exacerbated the problem.

In 2016 a sweeping currency ban meant to tackle the problem of illegal cash, dried up jobs as it created huge currency shortages, particularly in small businesses and in the countryside. A poorly-implemented tax reform known as the Goods and Services Tax a few months later was another blow to businesses.

Meanwhile, Modi’s “Made in India” campaign, which aimed at making India a manufacturing hub like China, has made a slow start and sluggish labor-intensive sectors cannot cater to growing numbers of job seekers.

“We can’t keep patting ourselves on the back that we are the fastest growing economy specially if all these other indicators are not growing at a rate that will absorb the growing labor force,” says Santosh Mehrotra, a human development economist at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

Also Read: The Mental Health ‘Epidemic’: About Six in Ten Teen Say, They Feel A Lot Of Pressure To Get Good Grades

He points out that exports, another sector that created a number of jobs has also not been performing well.

As the campaign heats up, the opposition will try to keep the spotlight on jobs, or lack of them, even as the BJP tries to focus on national security following a recent confrontation with Pakistan. The final verdict on whether to give Prime Minister Modi a second term in office will be delivered by millions of voters when they cast their ballots. (VOA)

One response to “Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?”

  1. If the employment picture is bleak despite the construction of so many more Kilometers of roads, railways, air ports, bridges, toilets and other infrastructures compared to the five or even ten years of UPA government, imagine where we would be if we had UPA III government .