It was a long speech that prime minister Narendra Modi from Red Fort on Independence Day. The eloquence that lasted an hour and a half served to reinforce the conceptions of BJP government about the country's future. The focus of the address – punctuated by praises, declarations and dreams - merits particular attention of the country.
Just as the ideas of one economy-one tax and one country in energy sector was realised, the new political agenda of the government consists of one-nation-one election and one-country-one mobility card. He also declared that as a strong step-forward towards a unified India, a chief of defence staff will also be appointed, expressing the hope that it will help the co-ordination of the forces and its empowerment, and also internal security in exigencies. The development part of his speech spelt out a sweet dream of the country celebrating its 75th anniversary of a new India in which the farmer's income will double, even the poorest of the poor will have a home, all houses will have clean water and electricity and every village will have optical fibre network with broadband connectivity. The priority of the previous government was to meet the needs of the common man. That having been more or less met, the attention now will be to fulfil the aspirations of the people. And for this he declared a basic development fund of Rs 100 lac crores. Modi also gave a hint that the participation of the people will be increased in development and the role of the government will be minimised. There is also a call on the nation to honour those who create wealth. There need not be any mistake that it will indeed be a new India, provided the dreams arrayed by the prime minister become reality - including the Jal Jeevan Mission that will benefit the entire citizenry and abolition of single-use plastic.
Unfortunately, the crises faced by the country and their solutions have been concealed even in the I-Day speech. The prime miniser did not utter a word about the country facing serious economic recession or its causes, because the main villain in this is the financial and fiscal reforms brought in by the Modi government. While he referred to GST as a landmark tax reform of united India, he did not care to speak about the impact of the current tax regime. He also glossed over the fact that the GST implemented in the country is not unified either. The voice of dissent recently raised by captains of industry that ambitions that cannot be put in practice will remain pipe dreams, is based on previous experience where actual decisions are taken at variance with words.
The vision of a unified India put forward by the prime minister, is a vision on record of sangh parivar outfits for decades. The united India envisioned by sangh parivar is one that runs counter to the cultural ideal followed by the country all these years, i.e. unity in diversity. What Gandhiji and Tagore had said is that the soul of India lies in diversity. When that India which has been built on cultural plurality, in terms of geography, language, religion and caste identity is made to transform into 'one India', who all will become alien and 'anti-national' is being made clear by conemporary India. When the prime minister drops a statement that small families will be one of the hallmarks of patriotism in developed India and that population control is an expression of patriotism, what he points at is clear to those familiar with the campaigns made by his party. When population conrol and patriotism are mixed up, the resulting social ill-will will not be that small. The decision to have a commander-in-chief and giving more powers to the military in internal security are not minor reforms limited to security, as borne out by the history of 'democratic' countries with military regimes. The building blocks that can lend energy to actualize the dream of a new India, are formed by the recognition and nurturing of diversity. Economic development and social stability are twin brothers. But dreams that strike at the root of social chaos will only lead to the destruction of development and security alike.