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Modi’s domestic barbs abroad could undermine his dignity

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source: zeenews

It has now become almost a routine feature of Narendra Modi’s trips abroad to take a dig or two at his opponents back home. True, he generally does so while addressing the Indian diaspora who are able to understand his references to a controversial “damaad” (son-in-law) or the sarcastic linking of Sanskrit with secularism.

Even then, his jibes have disconcerted the Congress to the extent that it is considering asking its spokespersons to tail Modi on his journeys with ready ripostes to his taunts. It is worth examining, however, why the prime minister has taken a path where none of his predecessors had gone before since they scrupulously adhered to the unwritten code of not washing the dirty linen of domestic politics outside India.

However, by breaking with tradition, Modi has embarked on an acrimonious course in which he may not always emerge with flying colours because, in politics, no one’s hands are clean.

There are probably two reasons why he has ventured into this new territory. One is that he hasn’t forgotten the constant sniping from his critics for nearly a decade after the 2002 Gujarat riots. It has taken considerable grit for him to emerge from the effects of the scorn which he faced when even the mild-mannered Manmohan Singh said that he wouldn’t care to have a “strong” image if it meant presiding over the massacre of innocent citizens.

Having routed his adversaries politically, Modi is apparently unable to resist the temptation of occasionally having a go at them. However, there is possibly another reason. It is that notwithstanding the Bharatiya Janata Party’s majority in the Lok Sabha, there is still a feeling in the party and among its leaders that they are seen as interlopers by the so-called left-liberal chatterati who ruled the roost for decades after Independence.

It is this sense of being outsiders which is apparently behind the frequent claims that the new dispensation intends to rescue the nation not only from the clutches of what remains of the ancient regime but also steer the country away from the flawed paths which the old order took in communal and cultural matters.

Since this “battle” relating to changing directions is already being fought at home, the need to take it abroad may be questioned. Doubts about these tactics are likely to be all the greater since at least for the present, Modi is far better placed politically than his enemies.

To a considerable extent, the latter are down and out. The Congress, for instance, evidently has a leadership problem with neither Sonia nor Rahul Gandhi being able to perceptively climb the popularity charts or articulate policies beyond the cliched one-liners about the government being pro-rich and anti-poor.

While the Congress is unlikely to bounce back in the near future from its 2014 drubbing, the only party which gave the BJP a scare in the Delhi elections – the Aam Admi Party – has dissipated much of its energy by tilting at windmills inside the party – Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan – and outside, Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.

Arguably, Modi doesn’t appear to have any worthwhile opponents with even his ostensible adversaries like Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Communists coming to his rescue by scuttling the anti-BJP “secular” alliance in Bihar by setting up their own candidates.

Even inside the saffron brotherhood, Modi has been having his own way. He has placed his Man Friday, Amit Shah, at the BJP’s head, breaking the practice of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) choosing the party president as it once did with regard to Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari.

Few leaders of democracies can expect a political climate as propitious as it is for Modi at present. His only difficulties are economic because of the roadblocks put up by the Congress through its disruptive tactics in parliament in the matter of pro-reforms laws like the amendment of the land acquisition act and the goods and services bill.

But he may be able to get around some of these hurdles by leaving it to the states to woo investors. As an ad by the Uttar Pradesh government says, the state is facilitating a one-window Nivesh Mitra, or investor-friendly, clearance for industrial projects. Punjab, too, is holding an investors’ conclave in the last week of October.

News about the high inflow of foreign investment will also dispel the gloom from the economic scene at a time when the IMF chief, Christine Lagarde, sees India as the only ace “bright spot” when the global growth is slowing down.

For Modi, therefore, to flog the proverbial dead horse of his opponents seems unnecessary and can even undermine his dignity, especially if the Congress takes to criticizing him on foreign soil.

Hinting that the prime minister may have violated the Lakshman Rekha of restraint, the BJP’s ally, Shiv Sena, has pointed out that Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, too, were popular abroad even in times when there was no social media.

The normally irascible Sena has words of praise for former Congress prime ministers, PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh, as well for laying the foundation of economic progress. Will the BJP heed these “home truths”, as the Sena calls its words of advice?

(by Amulya Ganguli, IANS)

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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.”

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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 .