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Sunday, April 11, 2021

One year of Modi 2.0: The hits & misses in 6 points

India undoubtedly is passing through its hardest times ever as the one year of Modi 2.0 ended. The Centre’s path ahead is riddled with various challenges. Are they doing good, bad or just okay? Let’s find out.

The PM spoke of impending “victory” against Covid-19 and acknowledged migrants’ unspeakable suffering in his open letter to the nation on the first anniversary of Modi 2.0.

We saw how Modi 2.0 began with a stupendous victory. The journey from “Abki Baar, Modi Sarkaar” to “Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkaar” was of a juggernaut. The Opposition was decimated. But does the stronger, the bigger mean the better? Not necessarily, especially for a democracy.

Let’s flag the major developments in Modi 2.0 first year

We are not going to argue/judge the Centre’s decisions. Rather raise the issues that created headlines and let you reflect upon them.

1. Article 370 abrogation

By annulling Article 370 and Article 35 of the Constitution, the Centre brought Jammu and Kashmir under its direct governance. The government claimed that the step gave a befitting reply to separatists, terrorists and Pakistan sympathizers. And development will follow. However, the valley witnessed widespread protests following the Centre’s move. Former J&K chief ministers faced house arrest.

Constitutional experts remained sharply divided in their opinion. While some said the step was constitutionally sound, others found it to be  an “illegal decision that can be challenged in the Supreme Court”. Abrogating Article 370 stripped J&K of its autonomy, its own Constitution and freedom to make its own laws.

Only a Kashmiri who live in the valley can say how good or bad the decision was for the state. There are some pertinent questions that we can hardly overlook.

  • Can the Centre impose its decisions unilaterally on Kashmir?
  • The Centre wanted to change the demography of J&K by this step?
  • Did communal politics play a role as J&K is a Muslim-majority state and we are all aware of the BJP’s “Hindutva” agenda?
  • Did the government consider the valley residents’ demands and sentiments before taking the final decision?

2. Banning triple talaq: Good move but…

The Centre brought in the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, to nullify the age-old practice that allowed Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying “talaq” thrice. No doubt the sexist practice left millions of women in the lurch for ages. Many Muslim leaders, womens’ rights groups and activists among others hailed the Modi government’s move.

Many found the Centre directly interfering in the religious practices of a particular community. Some argued that the percentage of divorce is very less among Muslims compared to other communities. The biggest bone of contention between the Centre and the Opposition was that the Triple Talaq Bill makes Muslim men criminals under the new law. Well, both partners are equal in a marital bond. Therefore, though good verdict, but the law could have been better implemented. What do you think?

3. Ram temple verdict

We saw that the Supreme Court of India resolved the 27-year dispute over Lord Ram’s birthplace in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, in its November 2019 judgment. Another major milestone in Modi 2.0’s first year. The epic episode that began with a communal riot in 1992 finally ended. Phew! The Supreme Court showed archaeological evidences to support its judgment and the Muslims got an alternative piece of land for a mosque to be built. Everyone seemed to be satisfied with the judgment.

Just two observations

  1. Do we really need our government to solve a temple/mosque row in 2019? Maybe the Centre’s same diligence could have brought better results if invested to upgrade healthcare or educational infrastructure. No offense to any religion, just a thought.
  2. The very foundation of the BJP is built upon the Hindutva ideology. The party got its full-fledged political shape during the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement. We hope all people irrespective of their religious identity live with independence and dignity.

4. Citizenship (Amendment) Act

It was the Centre’s long-standing contention to provide citizenship to those who entered India before December 2014 after facing religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The amended Citizenship Act that offers legal citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Paris and Christians came into existence in December 2019.

But there is no provision in the act for the Hindus from Sri Lanka or Muslims from Myanmar to apply for Indian citizenship. Why?

The BJP said Muslim migrants can settle in several Islamic countries, while Hindu migrants has only India to seek shelter in. Does that sound convincing enough?

Besides the act created massive unrest across the city, involving all leading educational institutions in India. Assam, in particular, witnessed violence during protests against the act. The Assamese population thought the law would erode their indigenous identity as it welcomes migrants from neighboring countries.

5. The foreign media loves NaMo!

Yes, it’s true! Our NaMo is hailed by the international media. Recent survey suggests that his popularity has even soared even faster than the coronavirus’s spread in India!!! LOL, Modi’s got high approval ratings which increased to 90 per cent lately when the world almost collapsed following the Covid-19 outbreak. Modi’s two other competitors are Vladimir Putin of Russia and US President Donald Trump. So far, India’s early lockdown, HCQ supply to countries and low death rate have worked in Modi’s favour at the global platform.

6. Covid-19 challenge & economy revival for Modi.20

This is undoubtedly NaMo’s biggest challenge so far since his first term and guess what he has done quite well, suggests numbers. India’s death rate so far is lowest in the world with at 2.85 per cent. Our recovery rate is almost 50 per cent, a great relief for such a huge populated country. Though our economy is gasping for breath but we have started small yet important steps towards resuming our economic activities.

According to reports around 62 per cent Indians support the Centre’s way of handling the Covid-19 crisis. Though we have crucial days ahead, the situation so far is under control. Fingers crossed!

However, the Opposition has criticized the Centre for extended lockdown and its “failure”. A lot of debate is on about the Centre’s Rs 20 lakh crore package. Many opine the package hardly has anything for the poor. They said the Indian economy was already downhill before the pandemic and the country lost its “inclusive character”. Critics faced the government’s wrath for sharing free opinion.

What’s the alternative then?

Many of these claims are perhaps true but unfortunately we haven’t yet found any other strong leadership from any of the Opposition parties. The Congress is struggling to prove its relevance, while other non-BJP non-Congress parties are busy with their state politics. India at present doesn’t have a strong Opposition platform that can challenge the hegemony. Certainly not a good sign for the world’s largest democracy. So you like it or not, until a strong Opposition comes, Mr 56-inch is here to stay!

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