Fading fables as facts surface

| | in Oped

Even as the discourse on feared economic depression refuses to die, what's intriguing is the inability of the skeptics to comprehend what cuts ice with people

This could have been a pure coincidence, but the Saturday edition of a leading business daily had many accounts of what ailed the Indian economy, and politics. Elsewhere also, there were murmurs of disappointment over the state of the economy. Suddenly, the interest in economy seems to have overpowered all other concerns — of intolerance and the likes. Some call it an orchestrated outcry by the perennial skeptics who can’t fathom Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and the slew of far-reaching social and economic reforms initiated by him.

Therefore, the recent outbursts are best seen as part of a continuum, a sustained and designed attempt since 2014, to manufacture fables to dent the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its two mascot leaders Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah. Despite this, the BJP has continued to expand its footprint, surely and substantially, all these years.

Even as the discourse on feared economic depression are likely to rage for some more time to come, what’s intriguing is the inability of the skeptics to comprehend what cuts ice with people, and what doesn't. One need not go too far back to understand this.

The demonetisation move was termed by many experts as a gigantic blunder, and the party was predicted to bite the dust in the Assembly election to Uttar Pradesh. The results stunned those who celebrated this strategic ‘misstep.’ The BJP registered a historic win and it proved beyond doubts that unlike manufactured belief, at least as portrayed by the mainstream media, the bold move by the Prime Minister had paid handsome dividend. Soon, the disgruntlement over demonitisation faded into oblivion.

The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was derided with equal intensity, despite its clear advantages. That this major structural reform of a unified tax regime was beyond doubts, going to benefit the country in the long-run, was gloriously ignored and, instead, narratives on how this would destabilise the economy were floated with utmost ferocity.

The skeptics feasted on John Maynard Keynes dictum ‘in the long run we are all dead’ and instead chose to highlight the pains of short-run. They seem to celebrate a manufactured depression.

    The fact is that these narratives only influence a tiny few even as majority relish Prime Minister Modi’s ideas on ‘New India’ and his programmes. The empowerment of the poor through programmes like the Jan Dhan Yojana, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, rationalisation of stent pricing, Ujjwala Yojana, Amrit centers providing discounted medicines and Beti Padhao Beti Bachao resonate well with the masses. Manufactured chills in the air evaporate faster than those who designed it, would want.

  Did not similar narratives — on intolerance and Modi’s obsession with the foreign tour — fade into irrelevance sooner than expected? Indeed, it did as they were devoid of substance — and a hollow vessel can only make so much of noise. This left the perennial skeptics sulking and yet looking for cooking more stories to corner the Prime Minister. In fact, it is not difficult to comprehend that there has been a  pattern and a sustained effort to deflect attention — and dent image of Modi and Shah through manufacturing fables — of being communal and intolerant, pursuing wrong economic policies, not giving attention to jobs and so on. The Godhra ghost continues to reappear in different avatars for the skeptics.

The attack on Jay Amit Shah, son of BJP president Amit Shah, based on mindless distortion of facts, is yet another desperate attempt of this group to attack Modi. While facts are floating in plenty about the so-called golden touch, what’s intriguing is that in this age of high public gaze, one tries to get away with such innuendos.

 Those who may have read the story in The Wire would recall the mention of a jump in turnover of Jay’s company to 16,000 times in 2015-16 — and the insinuation is clear. That the company also made losses of Rs 1.48 crore was smartly skirted.

 An attempt was made to distort representation of facts — so while for three years, the company’s profits and loss were exhibited, for the crucial year 2015-16, its turnover was brought into reckoning. There are many similar and glaring distortions and it’s out in public domain.

Naturally, this tiny yet powerful lot is not impressed with or interested in what the Prime Minister had to say on the economic health of the country during an event at the Institute of Company Secretaries of India recently. But the fact is that skeptics must look into these facts listed out by the Prime Minister as it would hugely comfort their anxiety.

If still not convinced and moaning about the killing impact of GST, look through newspapers on Tuesday — Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers posted impressive figures on growth in sales of vehicles of all kinds. India is riding rather smartly, than many would want us believe. To borrow another popular quote from Keynes, “Nothing mattered except states of mind, chiefly our own.”

(The writer is a strategic communications professional)

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