Justice Markandey Katju: Modi’s economic policies

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju-

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman of Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

Much has already been said and written about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy of religious polarisation of Indian society, inciting and spreading of hatred against the Muslim minority, and ‘saffronisation’ of the Indian state and educational institutions, all with the aim of getting Hindu votes. So one need not labour any more on it.

What needs to be considered now is Modi’s economic policies. Did they benefit or harm India? I submit that they benefited only a handful of big businessmen who became richer, but did great harm to the Indian masses, who became poorer.

Modi evidently believes in the ‘trickle down’ theory in economics (though he has probably never even heard of it). This theory says that the government should only benefit big businessmen, not the poor directly, by giving various benefits, tax rebates and other concessions, deregulation, etc to the former. By getting these benefits the big businessmen will earn more profits, which they will invest in setting up factories and businesses, which will provide employment to the poor, and thus indirectly the poor will also benefit. Also, the rich will have more money to spend, which will increase demand, which will also indirectly benefit the poor.

In fact, this is a heartless theory of heartless people, and I have pointed out its flaws in the article here.

Far from creation of millions of jobs as envisaged by the slogan ‘vikas’ (because of which the Indian youth voted en masse for Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections thinking they will all get jobs), the latest economic figures reveal that far from vikas, the Indian economy is largely stagnant, or even in recession, particularly the manufacturing sector (see my articles ‘Full of sound and fury signifying nothing ‘, ‘vikas’, ‘The dream has evaporated’, ‘ Unemployment in India’, ‘ Thumbs Up ‘, and ‘ Jai Ho’ on my blog justicekatju.blogspot.com). Twelve million youth are entering the job market in India every year, but the number or jobs being created annually in the organized sector of the economy is only about 500,000. Where will the rest go? Become street vendors, hawkers, stringers, bouncers, criminals, beggars or commit suicide?

A lot of claims have been made that during Modi’s rule the Indian economy and India’s GDP has grown a lot. Such claims are laughable.

Moreover, even assuming there was GDP growth, the question to be asked is who has got the fruits of such growth, a handful of big businessmen, or the Indian masses? Under Modi’s rule a few Indian billionaires have become richer, while the poor have become poorer.

Three facts are enough to demonstrate what calamity has been caused by Modi’s rule. (1) Child malnutrition has increased, every second Indian child being malnourished, stunted and/or wasted. India, which was at position number 101 of the 125 countries surveyed, has slipped 6 positions in a few years of Modi rule to position number 107, according to Global Hunger Index, an internationally renowned agency studying hunger in the world, its situation becoming worse than neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

(2) Unemployment has reached record heights under Modi’s rule. If a single post of chaprasi (peon) is advertised by the government, often there are thousands of applications, some applicants holding Ph.D. MA, M.Sc. or engineering degrees, all begging for a chaprasi’s job.

(3) Prices of even essential commodities like food, fuel and medicines have skyrocketed in India. Are these signs of economic progress? From all accounts Modi’s economic policies have been a dismal failure, and a calamity for India.

The economic situation of India can improve only if the economy is rapidly expanding, not by stunts like Yoga Day, Swatchata Abhiyan (cleanliness drive ), cow protection, or building a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

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