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writing for godot

Intensive Economic Crisis Threatens India’s Federal Union

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Written by Sajjad Shaukat   
Tuesday, 31 October 2017 16:12

One of the important causes of the disintegration of the former Soviet Union was that its greater defence expenditure exceeded to the maximum, resulting into economic crisis inside the country. In this regard, about a prolonged war in Afghanistan, the former President Gorbachev had declared it as the “bleeding wound.” However, militarization of the Soviet Union failed in controlling the movements of liberation, launched by various ethnic nationalities.

Learning no lesson from India’s previous close friend-the former Russia, Indian fundamentalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leader of the extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is acting upon the similar policies. Modi has remained obstinate in his policies to make India an economic power, implementing aggressive strategy against Pakistan and China, including other South Asian countries, increase in defence budget and escalation of arms race which has given a blow to regional balance of power.

However, intensive economic crisis has started threatening India’s federal union which comprises 36 states and seven union territories. Acceleration of the economic crisis has not only increased poverty in India, but also resulted in to multiple problems and crimes which have exposed the myth of so-called “Incredible India.”

In this respect, India figures among top 10 countries where highest number of rapes are taking place every year. In 2015, as per National Crimes Record Bureau, 34,651 rape cases were registered in India. The year also witnessed registration of over 327,000 all sorts of crimes against women.

The counterfeit drug industry is estimated to be worth $200 billion a year and has been defined as the “The crime of the 21st century.” India leads the 75% of counterfeit drugs supplied world over. For Dr Pascoal Carvalho, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the figures show that “India lost three million girls due to female infanticide.”

Indian farmers are paying the price of apathy of Indian government to their sector. Past three decades have witnessed an alarming increase in the suicides of Indian farmers and farm workers which stands around 300,000 since 1995.

In this context, a former Manipur state policeman told journalists that he had been involved in more than 100 extrajudicial executions in the state between 2002 and 2009. The Supreme Court, hearing a case related to over 1,500 extrajudicial executions in Manipur, ruled that armed forces personnel should not enjoy “blanket immunity” from trials in civilian courts.

India constitutes 40% of the world’s 800m malnourished population and the highest rate of underweight children. 17% of India’s total population is undernourished. According to official statistics, 29% of children below the age of five are underweight in India. How can it be that close to 60 million Indian children are underweight even though India is a member of the G-20, the group of the economically most powerful countries in the world?

India has by far the largest electricity access deficit; exceeding 300 million people out of the 1.2 billion people worldwide.

Besides, India is becoming a nightmare for journalists, lawyers and human Rights activists, as Hindu extremists under Modi have unleashed terror against them. In the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, India sank three places to position 136 (least free). The 2017 India Freedom Report, published in May by media watchdog The Hoot, spoke of “an overall sense of shrinking liberty not experienced in recent years”. It counted 54 reported attacks on journalists, at least three cases of television news channels being banned, 45 internet shutdowns and 45 sedition cases against individuals and groups between January 2016 and April 2017. In October 2016, “the Kashmir Reader”, a prominent English-language newspaper, was asked to stop publication; it returned to newsstands in December.

India has become world’s 2nd ‘most racist’ country, which has also exposed the myth of Indian claim of secular state and the largest democracy.

It is noteworthy, on October 16, 2017, in an article, under the caption, “Sleepless in Modi’s economy,” which was published by the daily Dawn, Delhi-based Indian journalist Latha Jishnu wrote, “Who is sleeping well in India in these days of economic gloom and the terrifying spectre of joblessness that is spreading across the country? It’s an intriguing line of inquiry sparked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s astounding response to worries articulated in public by elder members of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as economists and commercial organisations. There are some people who sleep well only after they spread a feeling of pessimism. We need to recognise such people…a decline in growth to 5.7 per cent in the last financial quarter was unwarranted since it had fallen to much lower levels below that during the previous Congress rule. Modi is right about that. But his response is revealing of the way he and the BJP regime deal with criticism even within the party…Firstly, it uses fudged facts—the decline in the growth has been consistent over six quarters—and neatly sidesteps inconvenient truths (such as the lowering of growth rates by everyone from the IMF to the Reserve Bank of India). However serious the issue, the doctrine of denial and deflection relies on ad hominem attacks and uses the abrasive language of the hustings to demolish critics. Above all, the rhetoric is dangerously delusional and sinks to ludicrous levels as when the BJP party chief claims the dip in growth rate is due to ‘technical reasons’ without explaining what these could be. As growth rates dip and industries fold up, unemployment remains a terrifying prospect for young India… From being the poster boy of the big economies in 2015 when it was the world’s fastest-growing big economy India is turning into a laggard, problem child whose fundamental deficiencies are coming into the spotlight. These deficiencies have been made worse by the economic disruption caused by the chaotic demonetisation exercise last November and the near standstill resulting from the GST, a poorly planned and implemented national tax system. If one needed a strong pointer to the consequences one has to look…Modi’s home state Gujarat where entrepreneurs are pulling the shutters on industry and putting their money into speculative finance…The growth rate of 5.7 pc in the second quarter of the 2017 financial year is not a bad thing as Modi claims, but as Yashwant Sinha, a former BJP finance minister, reminded Modi uncomfortably in a recent newspaper article, the current figures of growth are all based on statistical fudge by changing the methodology for calculating the GDP. If the earlier method was used, the actual growth rate in the last quarter would be a mere 3.7pc!

It further pointed out, “Sinha’s article encapsulates what economists have been pointing out over the past year. “Private investment,” he says, “has shrunk as never before in two decades, industrial production has all but collapsed, agriculture is in distress, construction industry, a big employer of the work force, is in the doldrums, exports have dwindled, sector after sector of the economy is in distress.…So who is sleeping well in India?...Admittedly, there are deep structure problems in the economy which have resulted in the economic mess. But what is also undeniable is that Modi’s capricious economic policies, such as the pointless demonetisation exercise, coupled with his government’s inability to implement the long planned GST—it has been in the making for 16 years—have come as severe blows to the economy and the hopes of a demographically young country. Joblessness is looming large over India keeping awake millions of desperate young people who are finding jobs disappearing at an alarming rate. In industry after industry, from banking to capital goods, in premium sectors such as IT, the job losses are of staggering proportions….For much of this year, farmers have been kept awake by policies that are positively inimical to their well-being, forcing them to agitate continuously, regardless of the bullets and indifference they have met with. So while economists, industry experts and government official slug it over the figures of economic decline and job losses, academics, parents of the young and society in general are losing sleep over the fallout: the strains on the social fabric of India which has been rent by Hindutva politics. As violent young men, presumably of no fixed occupation, roam the streets looking for soft targets to vent their rage, cattle traders of the minority community and the untouchables of Hindu society have already seen their livelihood disappear in the name of religion. The official crackdown on abattoirs has had a serious impact on the economy with export of leather goods, an important foreign exchange earner, taking a beating.”

It is notable that Indian defence expenditures have no bounds. In the past decade, India has spent billions of dollars on purchases of arms, planes, radars and ships from the US, Russia, Britain, Germany, Israel and France including other western countries.

In the recent past, in its report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) disclosed that India is the world’s largest recipient of arms.

It is mentionable that India test-fired its longest range surface-to-surface nuclear ballistic missile Agni-5 on December 26, this year, which is capable of striking a target of more than 5,000 km away. The missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tone. It can target almost all of Asia including Pakistan and China and Europe, while, the Agni-6 is reported to be in early stages of development, with a strike-range of 8,000-10,000 km.

Nevertheless, New Delhi has initiated a deadly arms race and also compelled Islamabad and Beijing to follow the suit.

While, an estimated 30 major armed insurgency movements are sweeping across India, reflecting an acute sense of alienation on the part of the people involved. Broadly, these can be divided into three broad categories; movements for political rights i.e. Assam, Kashmir, South India and Khalistan, movements for social and economic justice i.e. Maoist (Naxalite) and North-Eastern states and movements based upon religious grounds like that of Laddakh. Tamil Nadu is another area where separatist movements are haunting federation of India.

And, illiteracy, poverty and lack of economic opportunities have fueled the natives’ demand for autonomy and independence.

Notably, Indian Minister of External affairs Jaswant Singh who served the BJP for 30 years was expelled from the party for praising Mohammad Ali Jinnah (Founder of Pakistan) and echoing the pain of the Indian Muslims in his book, “Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence.” While pointing out the BJP’s attitude towards the minorities, Singh wrote: “Every Muslim that lives in India is a loyal Indian…look into the eyes of Indian Muslims and see the pain.” He warned in his book, if such a policy continued, “India could have third partition.”

Nonetheless, poor economic policies, heavy defence spending, neglected social development, growing serpent of radical Hinduism and pressure politics are just few triggers of these secessionist movements, while Modi’s flawed policies have culminated into intensive economic crisis which threatens India’s federal union. Consequently, like the former Soviet Union, these policies will culminate into disintegration of the Indian union.

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