As Modi government completes one year in office, apprehensions escalate along with the criticisms that the Prime Minister has been running a one-man government with a ‘lot of hype and no work’, glorifying his personal stature and the performance of his regime.
The PM has been in the headlines mainly for highlighting his global image, mooting several people-friendly schemes and programs and for his frequent foreign tours meant for boosting ties with other countries. The Opposition and his critics have slammed the NDA government for being Modi-centric and questioned the role of the BJP Ministers and other Cabinet members in the governance. The Prime Minister’s office is usually known to tread on the heels of the US presidential system and not towards the Indian Parliament. An advantage of the NDA government when compared to the previous Manmohan Singh regime is the existence of a powerful central leadership. A boost in foreign ties is yet another plus during the past year. The presence of foreign leaders at Modi’s swearing in ceremony last year and Obama’s high-profile visit to India have all contributed towards establishing and reinforcing India’s powerful presence among the world countries. Modi’s choice of attire which drew a huge amount of attraction and some notable slips due to his inexperience could be ignored as his drawbacks.
But his deliberate remarks in Shanghai and Seoul that Indians were ashamed of being born in the country before his government came to power’ couldn’t be ignored as his slip of tongue. The PM’s remark had triggered widespread outrage and is a blotch on his image. Modi’s frequent foreign trips have drawn both praise as well as criticisms and ridicule particularly from the Opposition. It seems like Sushma Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs, doesn’t exist for the people of the country as well as the outsiders. He has made 16 international forays in the last 12 months including countries like the US, China, Brazil, France, Germany, and Canada. The tours have strengthened the ties between India and the foreign nations and Modi has signed several bilateral agreements with its leaders. But his critics argue that the foreign tours were just to highlight his personal stature and don’t yield anything fruitful for the country’s foreign ties or trade.
The efforts of India to aid the victims in the earthquake struck Nepal evoked opposite reactions. The country rushed to the rescue of the people which was immensely lauded; but the Indian journalists covering the aftermath of the quake were hugely critisised as "insensitive" and "patronizing". Turning its back on the Rohingya refugees and the soft stand towards Israel’s genocidal approach are other black marks. Modi has excelled in glorifying even the small acts which is the trademark of advertising, beginning since the time of election campaigns. The various schemes and programs initiated by the NDA government might be expected to yield results in the coming years. The Jan Dhan Yojana initiative and other schemes like Jeevan Jyoti Insurance Scheme and Atal Pension Yojana have not been effective so far. Only the clean India mission, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has proved to touch the lives of people at least to some extent. At the same time, attempts are being made to cut down pensions and curtail the rights of the employees. The Prime Minister had said that restoring faith in India after the previous UPA rule was his government's goal. But Modi government is tagging along the same path as the previous regime. Corporate affinity is another trademark of Modi government. Land as well the resources are being gifted to corporate companies including the Adani group despite being aware of the Land Acquisition Act. New laws are passed bypassing the Parliament. The all time record of eight ordinances in eight months belongs to the NDA government.
Besides the corporate dominance in the economic sector, the evasion towards the media and consultation processes with the fellow Ministers and the Parliament, the aversion towards the minorities, the adamancy for bringing about a ‘one-religion’ culture and communal polarization in the social sector also escalates anxiety. The recent beef ban is an instance of the ruling party’s communal stance. Modi has maintained a meaningful silence when incidents like the contentious love-jihad promulgations, the much controversial ‘Ghar Vapasi’, the frequent and inflammable communal speeches of several senior Sangh Parivar leaders increased the apprehensions of the minorities. His silence encourages the communal powers that emerge during the poll seasons. Even though the PM talks about secularism and diversity during the off-poll seasons, he and his government have not been able to overcome its narrow-mindedness. While the Modi government failed to bring about the much anticipated changes that were once promised, anxiety over the foreseeable things are mounting.