Has Narendra Modi really made it large in the ‘Hindutva Laboratory’?

‘Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.’  or  &  ‘tell a lie a thousand times and people will believe it is the truth!’—Joseph Goebbels.

If we just spend sometime, scratch the surface a bit of the Gujarat Shining tag, we would realise that plenty that is being flaunted about the so-called progress and prosperity of the State is merely due to a propaganda blitz – through ‘paid media’ and through a Washington based publicist company ‘Apco Worldwide’ which boasts among its clients several dictators and fascist regimes from across the world. For Indian Diplomat Lalit Mansingh is in the Global Political Strategists list of Apco. Below Narendra Modi‘s “Hindutva’s laboratory” one finds a reality which will make one grimace and even struggle for breath! Has Modi really made it large?

The hard fact is Gujarat has not been able to bag top position for even one of several key socio-economic indicators: life expectancy, infant mortality, nutrition, literacy and investment – although in 2001 when Modi took charge, Gujarat was already a well developed state, holding 4th state rank for per capita net state domestic product in mid-1996. Currently Haryana holds top rank, while Gujarat is at 6th position as it has mostly been since 1970s.

One could be forgiven for mistaking Modi’s new mask to be his real face, for had not ‘Time’ magazine’s Asian edition cover story on Modi last month endorsed him as the new ‘vikas purush.’ Indian media institutions have made it a habit to praise Modi for efficient governance, as have corporate honchos, who hail him as the most investor-friendly of all chief ministers. Modi was the winner of ‘best chief minister’ title in a recent Mood of the Nation survey by India Today-Nielson. He was declared the favourite for the prime ministerial position in 2014.

The Vibrant Gujarat as it is pictured today by media, has the following stars on its shoulder too:

These include:

  • a Government of Gujarat profile of 18,066 villages of the State has revealed that a significant percentage of the villages of the State do not have potable drinking water, toilets or educational facilities.
  • the gap between the rich and the poor grows wider and wider
  • cosmetic development policies help a few but are detrimental to the large majority, very particularly the poor and the marginalized
  • environmental laws are blatantly flouted
  • adivasis, dalits and other sub-alterns are denied basic human rights
  • Muslims and Christians are treated as second-class citizens – many of them do not have access to quality education, good employment and other basic amenities needed for a citizen
  • most of the victim-survivors of the Gujarat Carnage 2002 are still struggling for justice
  • a good percentage of the Muslims are confined to ghettoes in urban and rural Gujarat
  • corruption is highly institutionalized in the State
  • the recent report (March 2012) of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Gujarat revealed a Rs. 17,000 crore loss to the State exchequer due to corruption and financial irregularities
  • “encounter” deaths are rampant in Gujarat besides there have been more than 180 other custodial deaths in the last few years in the State
  • salt-pan workers in the Kutch area have to travel 15 to 20 kms away to get potable drinking water
  • the clear nexus between Government and some of the corporate sectors raises serious issues with regard to land acquisition, displacement, tax-payer’s money being used for the purpose of industries, etc.
  • thousands of fishermen all along the coast have lost their livelihood because of certain ports and other mega-projects
  • In the first three Vibrant Gujarat summits: 2003, 2005 and 2007, a total of $186 billion was garnered as MoUs for FDI, the official website claimed. Of these, 84 per cent proposals ‘had been implemented or were under implementation,’ it said. In the next two biannual events, MoUs worth $240 billion and $450 billion were signed taking the total to a staggering $ 876 billion! If 60 per cent MoUs had materialised — not 84 per cent as claimed – Gujarat would have matched China’s FDI inflows of $600 billion plus! Such extravagant claims were punctured by the Reserve Bank of India: a total of $7.3 billion was all that flowed into Gujarat in this period, a mere 5 per cent of total India’s total FDI. As against this, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka cornered 6 per cent of the national pie, while neighbouring Maharashtra garnered a massive 35 per cent.
  • the 2011 Human Development Report of India states that hunger and malnutrition (are) worse in Gujarat than in India’s other large states.  According to the report, almost 45 percent of children in Gujarat are malnourished.  A larger percentage of children go to bed hungry in Gujarat, one of India’s richest states, than in Uttar Pradesh, one of its poorest.
  • the 2011 Human Development Report of India states that hunger and malnutrition (are) worse in Gujarat than in India’s other large states.  According to the report, almost 45 percent of children in Gujarat are malnourished.  A larger percentage of children go to bed hungry in Gujarat, one of India’s richest states, than in Uttar Pradesh, one of its poorest.
  • in terms of infant and maternal mortality, Gujarat’s record during the decade that Modi has run the State is poorer than that of the country at large.  In 2006-2010, life expectancy in Gujarat was two years shorter than the national average (about 66 years).  Gujarat ranked 17th among all Indian states in terms of literacy in 2001, the year Modi took over.  Now it ranks 18th.
  • child labour is rampant in Gujarat with thousands working in the cotton fields of Sabarkantha, the brick-kilns, in the ‘kitlis’, and in several other areas of the unorganized sector.
  • sex ratio has dipped to a new low with just 918 females to a 1,000 males as against the national average of 940 (female foeticide is rampant)
  • the Sabarmati River “is one of the most toxic rivers” in the country,
  • a recent report ranks Gujarat 18th in the increasing crime graft making it one of the least peaceful States of the country
  • Gujarat ranks a poor 12th in the country in issuing forest land to the tribals.
  • a fairly significant sections of the population is still involved in manual scavenging

 The list is endless indeed, and one can go on listing the many human rights violations and injustices which abound in the State of Gujarat…..!

The question is: has he made Gujarat shine? Is Gujarat shining more than Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Haryana or Karnataka? Has Gujarat under Modi achieved something that no other state has? Has Modi really made it large?


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