By Jonathan Power
October 2nd, 2017
Recent reports estimate that India’s annual economic growth rate is now down to 5.5%. The government of Narendra Modi which until recently seemed to be on a public opinion roll could fall off its log – but that depends on the Indian electorate ending its self-deceit.
Three years ago Modi at the helm of his Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, gave Congress a thumping defeat. Suave and persuasive on the podium, Modi rammed home a simple message – that in the state of Gujarat where he was the chief minister more had been achieved in a short space of time than anywhere else in India.
It was industrializing fast, building more roads, modernizing its ports and communications and helping the poor.
There was some element of truth in this and few doubt that Modi is an effective administrator who is strong on productivity and hard on corruption. Nevertheless, when it comes to the poor the record is by no means as good as he preached. Hunger in his state only fell slowly, no faster than the Indian average. Two-thirds of Indian children received vaccinations but only half in Gujarat. 33% of its children were underweight whilst the Indian overall rate was 30%.
Modi with his silken songs of achievement put the Congress Party in the shadow. Never mind that the Congress government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chairwoman Sonia Gandhi had reduced the number of poor by 135 million, the poor gravitated towards Modi.
Congress seemed unable to persuade the media – and this was true of the international media too – to give it a fair hearing on its successes. Read More »