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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 8 New Delhi February 10, 2018

The Castle in Davos

Tuesday 13 February 2018

by Binoy Viswam

The reasons are yet unknown but Prime Minister Narendra Modi did open his mouth against the policy of protectionism in the World Economic Forum meet at Davos. Of course without mentioning the US by name he tried to express the resentment of the developing world on the question of protectionism. This change of tone must be part of a calculated move to impress upon the participating nations that India under his rule has the capacity to voice their concerns. In order to add credibility to his claim, the Prime Minister was anxious to tell the story of Indian development in various fields. As it always happens, GDP was the main plank of the growth story.

In his one-hour-long speech, while eloquently narrating India’s advancement in various sectors, he purposefully closed his eyes to the other side of the Indian reality. His narrative of ’heaven of freedom’ might have impressed some of the participants but the fact remains that such a heaven is quite far away for most of the men and women in India. He called upon the heads of states to fight the threat of global warming, looming over the globe. But at home his government is busy with imposing heavy burdens on nature in the name of develop-ment. Laws and regulations meant for protection of environment, forest, water, air etc. are on the verge of extinction. In its place his government attempts to bring some stop-gap arrangements, not to protect nature but to ensure ‘ease of doing business’. The Davos speech once again proved that for Narendra Modi words and deeds would never go together.

In the city of Davos, the Indian Prime Minister was keen to promise the red carpet for global investors. To serve his purpose he painted a rosy picture of India which, according to him, has only records of achievement to present. The years since 2014 has made wonders—was the impression that his rhetoric was trying to create. In his typical style Narendra Modi assured the business tycoons, who were present at the inaugural session, that India had shifted from red tape to red carpet. He was trying to use the international fora to propagate his political standpoints coupled with the imaginary Indian glory under him.

Wherever he is, the Prime Minister has his favourite show-piece projects to market. They are mainly make in India, start up India and skill India. Though too much propaganda hype is built around them their results are quite disappointing. Still based on such illusory images Narendra Modi invited global investors to India saying that it is a place where they can do business with peace and harmony. He spoke a lot about the word ‘fracture’. He said the very word itself frightens. Explaining that there are fractures in individual, social, national and international life he underscored the need to overcome all fractures but consciously the Indian Prime Minister hid the fact that he was presiding over a government that had ruthlessly fractured the socio-political fabric of India. Unending incidence of atrocities against minorities, Dalits and women itself proved how divided the Indian society is.

Surgical strikes like demonetisation and GST were glorified along with the so-called growth in GDP. While going through the Davos speech of the Prime Minister one would be astonished to see his Hitler-like abilities. It was on the previous day, that Oxfam, the well-known voluntary organisation, published its report that unveils the real face of growth under capitalist mobilisation. It specifically mentioned about India and the conditions of its poor which was diametrically opposite to what was claimed by Narendra Modi. Seventythree per cent of the total wealth is concentrated in the hands of one per cent of the population. In the Oxfam report last year it was 58 per cent wealth controlled by one per cent. It again drew our attention to the Global Hunger Index where India stands at the 100th position. Recently the Global Democracy Index has also been published where India fell down to the 42nd position from the 32nd position last year. The findings in the Oxfam report are based on the data produced by Credit Suisse International. Credit Suisse International is considered to be an authoritative agency by governments and academics alike. Modi went to Davos in consolatory note provided by the rating agency Moodi’s. With that he was trying to build a castle like a merchant of dreams. But his castle is based on a foundation which is so weak and unstable; unending flow of words and hollow rhetoric!

Tailpiece:

While Narendra Modi was the ‘star’ at the inaugural session in Davos, at the valedictory session it was Donald Trump, the ‘star’! In his speech, Trump made some fascinating political comments with certain arithmetical “innovations’! Trump says: Yes, America is first; but not the only first! How many ‘firsts’ are there? Only Trump knows it!!

The author, a former Minister of Forests and Housing in the erstwhile LDF Government in Kerala, is a member of the National Executive of the CPI.

ISSN : 0542-1462 / RNI No. : 7064/62