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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 31 New Delhi July 21, 2018

Is the Modi Raj of Today any Better or Worse than Mrs Gandhi’s 1975-77 Emergency?

Saturday 21 July 2018, by Ashok Parthasarathi

Today, June 25, 2018 is the 43rd anniversary of the Internal Emergency which PM Indira Gandhi declared in 1975. That declaration of Emergency by her was fully in accordance with the provisions of our Constitution Moreover, it was precipitated/triggered by a series of speeches and actions of the Opposition leaders denigrating her personally and her rule in general. The most extreme of them was the call by the self-styled leader of the nationwide “Indira Hatao” “Andolan” —the former socialist leader Jaya Prakash Narayan. He started by leading a student agitation in Gujarat called the Nav Nirman Movement. Between June 1974 and March 1975 Narayan addressed no less than 75 public meetings across the length and breadth of the country. The “message” in all those speeches was the same—Indira Gandhi had become an autocrat. She had personalised her policies, her government and the Congress Party as a whole. She had allowed one of her sycophants—the Petroleum Minister, Dev Kanth Barooah—to coin and broadcast nationwide, his “notorious slogan”: India is Indira, Indira is India.

But Narayan’s most extreme remark—clearly bordering on sedition—against the nation and the state, was the call he gave in mid-April 1975, namely, a call to the armed forces and the police to rise in revolt against PM Indira and bring down her government.

We in the country have been repeatedly and vehemently criticised by Western policy-makers, their intellectuals and their media to be quick to blame the “foreign hand” for all our problems. But as a detailed and comprehensive investi-gation of the role of the so-called non-govern-mental organisations or NGOS carried out jointly by our Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing—our External Intelligence Agency—has shown, many of these so-called NGOs actually function as “fronts” for Western Intelligence Agencies. On the night of the anniversary of Mrs Gandhi’s declaration of the Emergency 43 years ago, New Delhi TV (NDTV) had a whole thirty minute programme devoted to recalling and “learning from” the Emergency. The anchor of the programme was the telecaster, Nidhi Razdan. She opened the programme by interviewing the writer of history including books on Gandhi and the independence movement, Ramachandra Guha. Guha’s replies to Nidhi’s questions were as follows:

a) In his Emergency “anniversary” address earlier in the day, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s comparison of Indiraji of the Emergency to Hitler was absolutely baseless and atrocious. Indira Gandhi never did anything to be as close to Hitler’s genocide of six million Jews, that is, the Holocaust, as Jaitley would wish us believe.

b) It is noteworthy that even at the height of the Emergency in mid-1976, Indira Gandhi never even touched the Constitution.

However, having acknowledged the two very important points as above, Guha went on to really repeat the criticisms of Indiraji which so many others have made before—that she destroyed, or at the most nearly destroyed, numerous national institutions—from the judiciary, to the Congress Party and the media. Even loyal supporters of Mrs Gandhi would agree with him, with the caveat that she did not “destroy”—she only “wounded” the Constitution.

Guha then went on to say that what Indiraji should have done was not to declare an Internal Emergency but to have filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court the very next day after the announcement of her disqualification from participating in politics or standing for any elected office.

I would like to give a brief account here which has never been made public before, in connection with that “advice” of Guha. The very next day after the single judge of the Allahabad Bench of the Lucknow High Court gave his verdict, the Supreme Court went into its “Summer“ vacation. The Vacation Judge was the highly respected and experienced Judge, V.R. Krishna Iyer. Iyer studied the Allahabad judgement with a fine tooth comb. His study led him to conclude that “there was nothing in it”. So, he immediately rang up his old friend, G. Parthasarathi (better known as ‘G.P.’), and asked G.P. to come, that very evening, to the house of a mutual friend. G.P., who was then the closest adviser to Mrs. Gandhi on a wide range of matters, did so. When they met, an agitated Krishna Iyer told G.P.: “I have studied the Allahabad judgement very carefully, There is nothing in it. I am the sole Vacation Judge of the Supreme Court. Please ask Indiraji to immediately file a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court seeking total quashing of the Allahabad judgement and I will do so in a ruling merely half-an-hour later. He concluded by telling G.P. to go to Indiraji at once and tell her that she should not delay this for even a moment.

G.P. agreed with Iyer as he (G.P.) was also trained as a lawyer and had read the Allahabad judgement very carefully. When he went to Mrs Gandhiji’s residence and told her what Iyer had advised her to do, Indiraji thought for a while and then said: “G.P., did I tell you what Kao (Indiraji’s intelligence Czar) had told me this very morning?” She disclosed that Kao’s organisation, RAW, had just unearthed a Top Secret plot between two of her top and politically heavyweight Cabinet Minsters—Finance Minister Y.B. Chavan and Defence Minister Jagjivan Ram—under which, if Indiraji stepped down even briefly, or took the route advised by Krishna Iyer, they would jointly get the Congress Parliamentary Party to elect Chavan as the Prime Minister and Jagjivan Ram as the Deputy Prime Minister (with his keeping the Defence portfolio Indiraji had given him!!). G.P. tried his best to hide his shock at what Indiraji had told him. He then explained to her in simple words, how, if she took Iyer’s route, the whole matter would be settled so quickly that the Chavan- Jagjivan Ram plot would just not have the time to be put into force. G.P. also clarified to her that filing a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court would not at all require her stepping down from being the PM even for a moment. But G.P. failed to convince her.

I have narrated all this only to point out that Guha’s idea, which he expressed in his interview to Nidhi Razdan, that what Mrs Gandhi should have done was to step down from the position of Prime Minister for “around a month”, did not provide for the internal machinations within the Congress Party.

And then as the Emergency progressed, so did the most serious “excesses” of the Emergency:

Those were implemented under the provisions of the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act or the dreaded MISA, under which persons could be detained and put in prison for the smallest of crimes. Actually MISA was not something which was brought in as part of the Emergency’s provisions. It was promulgated in mid-1974 to combat and break the Railway Strike and the Strike by the employees of Central Public Sector Enterprises.

However, when one goes deeper into those strikes as the RAW and the Intelligence Bureau did towards the end of 1974, it was found that those strikes were the handiwork of the CIA of the USA, its British equivalent M16, the German External Intelligence Organisation, the ISI of Pakistan and the Chinese Intelligence Agency which were also financing Jaya Prakash Narayan’s de-stabilisation of the Indira Gandhi Government. The real trigger for these strikes was Indiraji’s peaceful Nuclear Explosion Experiment (PNEE) of May 18, 1974 which announced to the world the emergence of a sixth nuclear weapon power.

Misa and its abuse was certainly a major area of criticism of Indiraji and the Emergency but the real “core” of the criticism was without doubt, the “muzzling” and harrying of the media —almost totally the Print Media at that time. Editors and journalists, in general, “chafed at the bit” about prior-to-publication “screening” of news reports and articles by ham-handed “censors”, mostly Intelligence Bureau officers, sitting in the offices of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in Delhi, the arbitrary cuts they made to reporters’ news items. And the total blanking out of editorials even mildly critical of the regime led some upright and courageous editors not submitting their editorials to the censors and leaving the editorial pages of their newspapers completely blank or all in black. Whenever and wherever journalists or academics, students and activists met, the subject of discussion was inevitably that the “Freedom of the Media” was being given “Body Blows” every day by the Indira Government.

But let us go into this matter in some detail. What happened in “normal” times? To answer that question we have to note, first of all, that practically all the major English language newspapers and magazines were owned and their editorial and reportage policy made by their overwhelmingly

Private Sector Business / Industrial Houses;

for example—The Hindustan Times by the Birlas, The Statesman by the Tatas, The Times of India by the Jain Brothers and The Indian Express by the redoubtable press baron, Ram Nath Goenka. Did the business interests of these owners not shape, indeed control, not only the overall editorial policy but even the news reporting? Of course it did. Was such control not compromising Freedom of Speech? Of course those did so. The proposition was: “If the newspaper owners censor, it is okay. But if it is the government which does the censoring, it is not okay!!” This is totally untenable!

But there is more to the matter than that. From the names of the owners of the major newspapers as indicated above, it would be clear that they were all big business houses. So, those big business houses used

“their”

newspapers, and often brazenly, not to inform and educate the average citizen of our country but to advance their business interests, which included criticising the government of the day when it introduced laws or made policies which adversely affected the owners’ interests. So, where was the Freedom of Speech or the Freedom of the Press?

The best example of this in recent times is the case of Mukesh Ambani. As Mukesh expanded and deepened the sale of the Fabric Producing Company carrying the Brand Name VIMAL, launched by his father, Dhirubhai Ambani, and launched the global giant Reliance Petro by setting up two giant 25 million tonnes per annum capacity petroleum refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat—one meant for the local market and the other for 100 per cent export, he and Reliance Petro were mercilessly attacked by the largest English language newspaper chain—The Indian Express, wholly owned by the business baron, Ram Nath Goenka. It carried almost daily, well- documented, well analysed and well-argued articles and editorials by the formidable journalist, Arun Shourie, then Executive Editor of the Express chain (that is, the No. 2 Man in the paper as Goenka himself was the Editor-in-Chief) and by the equally able but pugnacious Special Assistant to Goenka, S. Gurumurthi.

Mukesh took the body blows from the Express for seven long months. Then, by 1981. he could take it no longer. So, in early 1982, he made a Rs 200 crore investment and launched only in Delhi and Mumbai a daily newspaper of his own called the Business and Political Observer (BPO). What is more, for the first six months, he distributed all the 70,000 copies free, to a carefully selected list of influential persons in government, Parliament and academia. This may seem a huge expenditure. But Mukesh was being “pinned to the wall” by Goenka. He was literally fighting for the very survival of his huge business empire. It was a case of succeed or die. The BPO’s mandate was to answer/rebut the attacks on Mukesh and Reliance Industries by The Express by then joined by The Times of India as well. Mukesh poured huge amounts of money into the production and distribution of BPO. He went on for two whole years—1982 and 1983—by which time the opposition had mellowed somewhat. So much for “Free Speech” and “Freedom of the Media” outside the Emergency.

I now turn to the period immediately after Indiraji lost power in the General Election she herself announced for March 1977 after lifting the Internal Emergency in January of that year. On ceasing to be the PM she left the official residence she had occupied at 1, Safdarjang Road ever sirce she became PM in January 1966; and moved to a smaller house at 11, Willingdon Crescent. By then I had become Chairman of the Electronics Commission and Secretary of the associated Department of Electronics with her successor as PM, Morarji Desai, the leader of the Janata Party continuing—like Indiraji—to be the Cabinet Minister for Electronics.

We—she and I—then set up a practice where-by I would go to her new residence on the first Monday of every month and have a chat with her over tea.

At our very first meeting in May 1977, I found her in a good mood listening to a beautiful musical piece by the flute maestro, Bismillah Khan. After some small talk relating to our respective families, I asked her straight: “Madam, in your 11 years as PM—1966 to 1977—what do feel were your most serious mistakes?” She practically immediately replied: “I made three major mistakes. The first was “not to ‘go to Peshawar’ in December 1971 and take back from Pakistan the parts of Jammu and Kashmir which the Pakistanis had taken by force in 1948, namely, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and the Northern Areas of Gilgit, Baltistan, Skardu and Hunza. Had we done that, and there was nothing to stop us doing so at that time, we would have had a key route into Tibet. All of you were right and I was wrong.” I then asked her whether she did not do so because of US pressure—a view widely held in many quarters, both at home and abroad. Her response was instantaneous: “Rubbish! Our position at home was so strong, the Soviet support abroad was so massive and US President Nixon had, by then, been so discredited everywhere that the USA dared not even try to put pressure on us.” I then said: “Since that was the case why did you not take that one step which would have made us instantaneously a major power not only in South Asia, but in Asia and the whole world?” She thought for a while and then said: “You know Ashok, I really do not know. That is why, I call it my first mistake.” I then asked her what her second mistake was. She said: “Without doubt, it was the declaration of Emergency.” I asked her: “Why did you not accept the excellent ‘formula’ which G.P. and Justice Krishna Iyer had worked out?” She thought for a minute and then said: “Yes, I should have. That is why I call it my second mistake.”

I was deeply impressed by her frankness and her willingness to take the blame without any shirking. I then raised with her the delicate issue of Sanjay Gandhi and his role in the Emergency. She again thought for a while and then said: “He was not bad. He had many good qualities. A key among them was his enormous courage even in the face of great adversity. For example, his Five Point Plan, which included Population Control was basically a good one. The problem was in its implementation. We should never have set targets for the Vasectomies.”

At this stage in the conversation I thought I had discussed enough subjects for one sitting and so I asked her if I could do or get anything for her. She said: “Yes, Ashok. You can bring me when you come next, a copy of my Special Address to the Stockhom UN Environment Conference of 1972. I want to refresh my memory regarding what I had said on that important occasion.” I said I would definitely to do so. As I got up to leave, she asked: “How is G.P.? Please tell him that I would like very much to see him frequently as I do with you.” I promised to do so and faithfully and immediately on my return to my office in the DoE. No mention of Haksar or P.N. Dhar or even her Information Adviser, H.Y. Sharada Prasad. Only G.P.

The Morarji Desai-led Janata Government, which had defeated Mrs Gandhi’s Congress Party Government of 1971-1977 quite decisively, was determined to get her convicted for her excesses of the Emergency. So, they appointed a senior retired Supreme Court Judge, A.B. Shah, as a one-man Inquiry Commission to go into those excesses in June 1977. The Shah Commission interpreted its terms of reference very widely and took testimony from a wide range of persons. Mrs Gandhi herself appeared 15 times before the Commission which grilled her mercilessly, Finally, in mid-June 1978, the Commission announced its findings in open court. The Commission had found Mrs Gandhi guilty of having authorised/approved all the excesses of the Emergency. The sentence made particular reference to her and her government’s major efforts to suborn and “bend” the Supreme Court and the High Courts and for having introduced the concept of a “Committed Judiciary” and defining such “commitment” not to the Consti-tution of India but to her government. It also sentenced her for “muzzling” the press and other media for all these crimes. The Shah Commission banned her from participating in elections and holding any public office, including being an MP or an MLA, for six years and to spend those six years in prison.

Accordingly, the Delhi Police filed an FIR against her and on June 23, 1977 a squad of the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch came to her residence, 11, Willingdon Crescent, to arrest her and take her to Tihar Jail. However, at one particular point on the road, she saw two small children fighting with each other on the roadside. So, she got the police to stop her car at a culvert near where the children were fighting, got down from her car, pacified the two children, got them to stop fighting and then picked each one of them in her arms, kissed them, then found out from the group of women sitting on the side of the road, who were the mothers of the children and put the children in their respective mothers’ arms. At this, the approximately 200-strong crowd, which had assembled by then, clapped vigorously and shouted: “Indiraji ki Jai”.

Having done all this and through it caused quite a sensation, Indiraji walked to the culvert, sat on it and told the Senior Superintendent who was leading the Delhi Police squad which had come to arrest her: “I am not moving from this culvert. You can do what you want to do!” At this, by then the 500-strong crowd chanted: “Indiraji ki Jai”; “Indira Gandhi Amar Rahe”. The terrified SSP did not know what to do. So, he spoke to the Commissioner of Police of Delhi for instructions. Apparently the Police Commissioner was also flummoxed and spoke to the Home Secretary of the Government of India (under whom law and order in Delhi comes). The Home Secretary sought the direction of the Home Minister who, after talking to the then PM Morarji Desai, sent the instruction “down the line” to the SSP. That instruction was that Indiraji should be carefully escorted by the Police squad back to her residence. The next day not only did all our newspapers carry the story on the their front pages, but there was considerable coverage in the international media as well.

That evening two very different meetings were held. The first was an Emergency Meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs—the “Inner Cabinet“ of the PM plus the top five Ministers—as to what the government should do “about“ Mrs Gandhi. After a two-hour session, no clear decision was taken. The other meeting was at Mrs Gandhi’s residence at which she, her sons Rajiv and Sanjay, and several top criminal and constitutional lawyers were present. How-ever, though this meeting also lasted two hours, at the end of it a concrete decision was taken. Indiraji should immediately file a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court seeking the quashing of the decision of the Shah Commission. Accordingly such a petition was filed by Indiraji’s lawyer the first thing the next day. It was seen by the concerned Supreme Court judge and admitted for hearing 14 days later.

Mrs Gandhi had guardian angel “Luck” with her. In the second half of June 1978 all the main newspapers—not only those in English but also in Hindi and other Language Press—carried on their front pages, a detailed story of how the notorious “Ranvir Sena“ of Rajputs in Bihar had almost burnt to the ground a small Harijan village in Darbhanga district of Bihar, one of the poorest in the country. The village, called Belchi, was so poorly connected road-wise that it could be reached only by a two-day ride on elephant- back. Mrs Gandhi took an immediate decision. She would go to Belchi at once. Necessary arrangements were made. She would fly to Patna the next day. From Patna, she would take a helicopter to the point in Darbhanga district of Bihar where the elephant-ride started. At that point she would start her two-day elephant- back journey to Belchi.

Indiraji’s swift and decisive action electrified the nation. Again it was front-page news both at home and abroad. That the 60-year old Woman PM of India should, at the very time she was being attempted to be put in jail by her political opponents, undertake a two-day elephant-back journey, in very hot and humid weather to reach and condole with the poorest and lowest caste men, women, and children is the stuff which sends hearts thumping across the world.

By the time she reached Belchi late on the afternoon of the second day of her journey, the whole world media were there to welcome her.

On arrival, Indiraji had a quick wash and then went and sat on the (dirty) ground with the women and children—15 in all—of the only three surviving Dalit families of Belchi while the only five remaining men stood and watched. She listened with a face visibly filled with sympathy as the women related to her in poor Hindi interspersed with words from the local dialect, the harrowing experience the whole village of 50 inhabitants had gone through three nights earlier as 30 Ranvir Sena Rajputs heavily armed with guns and knives just burst into the village and without saying a word beat up the men, raped the women, and torched the huts. Having undertaken their totally unnecessary and unprovoked dastardly attack of rape, pillage and murder they were gone as swiftly and silently as they had come.

Indiraji distributed two complete sets of new clothing to each man, woman and child and Rs 30,000/- in cash to each of the three remaining families. She also put a kumkum tilak on the foreheads of all the fifteen.

She then made a short speech. She said: “You, my daughters, sons and grand children, have been through a terrible ordeal. I have come all the way from the Rajdhani of our great nation to be with you, share your grief and console you as best I can. Though Delhi is very far away, and you may not have even heard of it, the dastardly Ranvir Sena who perpetrated this horrible crime on you have not done it on their own. They have powerful politicians with lots of money and a horrible policy of the terrible sarkar in both Delhi and Patna. If their total support were not available to the Ranvir Sena, the murderous Sena would not have dared to do what they have done to you. She went on to say that all of the Patrakars not only of Bharat Desh but Videsh as well had come to record your tragedy and then the whole world will know about both your tragedy and your bravery. When my Congress sarkar comes back to power soon, I shall see to it that you never go through such ordeals again.” As already mentioned, this whole historic visit of a Prime Minister sought to be besieged and victimised by a ruling coalition devoid of legitimacy was seen and heard around the world with great admiration.

The rest of 1978 progressed with Indiraji appearing before the Supreme Court from time to time on her Special Leave Petition which made steady progress through the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, with every passing day not only the effectiveness but the legitimacy of the Janata Government went from bad to worse. Then, by early 1979, the internal tensions within the different factions of the Janata Party became so bad that in June 1979, there was a “coup“ in which Morarji Desai had to step down as the Prime Minister and was replaced by his own erstwhile Home Minister, the Jat leader of Western UP, Chaudhury Charan Singh. But Charan Singh only lasted four months before his own government fell.

Indiraji and the Congress took full advantage of this major development to bring about a situation in which a General Election had to be called in December.

Indiraji galvanised her party to face and win the election. As she usually did at election time, she undertook whirlwind tours of every State addressing, on many occasions, as many as nine-10 election meetings a day. Everywhere she went—from the north to the south and from the east to the west—she received rousing welcomes from the people, who in the by then 32 months of Janata non-rule and misrule had come to realise that Emergency or no Emergency India and her people could be properly governed only by the Congress Party under the leadership of Indira Gandhi.

To demonstrate that she was a truly national leader, Indiraji decided she herself would stand for election not from her usual constituency of Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh but from the dominantly Dalit and Adivasi constituency called Chikmagalur in Karnataka. She won by as large a margin of 200,000 votes.

An interesting aspect of her election and the Congress Party’s winning the election by a huge margin, was that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the “mother”of the Bharatiya Janata Party which was a key constituent of the Janata Government of Morarji Desai, went all out right across the country to support not only her personally, but Congress candidates everywhere.

It was thus that Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister of our country again, with the Shah Commission’s largely fabricated supposed “strictures” against her lay buried in the roar of crores of our countrymen and women: “Indira Gandhi Zindabad, Indira Gandhi Amar Rahe”.

I now come to our present Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

On the campaign trail for the 2014 general election and in the Manifesto of the BJP, Modi made several promises to what he was very fond of saying were the “Baara so Pachas crore Mere Desbasiyon”.

To give just some examples:

That he—he never says “we“ or “my government“—would give farmers prices for their agricultural produce not just the normal Minimum Support Price (MSP) but 50 per cent of that MSP as well. But what has occurred in practice? Farmers have been getting 30 to 60 per cent lower price than even the MSP itself—forget Modi’s 50 per cent bonus!

He promised to make all Indians literate by May 2019—the end of his present term of office. He has failed to realise this promise as well.

All his countrymen and women would have toilets and so the whole of the country would be Open Defecation Free or ODF, by the end of his five-year term, that is, by May 2019. How would we achieve such a remarkable objective, when after 70 years in power (as Modi himself has said many times) the many Congress Governments had taken such pledges in the past but failed to fulfil them? Through his Rs 10,000 crore over 2014-19 Swachch Bharat Mission (covering both urban and rural areas) and for which no less than the greatest film actor of our time, Amitabh Bachchan, had agreed to be the Brand Ambassador at no cost to the government.

However, a recent (May 2018) in-depth study of the Mission by the highly rated National Sample Survey Organisation has shown that only 40 per cent of the rural and 50 per cent of the urban population had toilets and so their habitations had become ODF areas! The rest remained where they were, that is, with open defecation continuing.

Then there was the key issue of achieving 100 per cent electrification of the country. As of the time Modi came to power in May 2014, past governments had left only 18,000 of our 6.5 lakh villages unelectrified. But those governments’ definition of an “electrified village” was merely one in which 10 per cent of the households had electricity! Modi explained to the common people that even this preposterous definition had not been achieved by past Congress governments. His objective, he said in public meeting after public meeting, was for every home in every village, town and city to have electricity. But what does “Modi’s report card” show? That he has failed miserably with “all homes electrified” having been achieved in the case of only 13 per cent of the villages and that too after the Modi Government had invested around Rs 20,000 crores over the last four years.

A major promise of Modi in 2014 was to make our country an “economic power house” by the end of his term of office in May 2019. He even specified that over his five-year term 2014-19 the average annual rate of growth of the economy would be eight per cent A “reality check” reveals that the corresponding figure for the first four years is only around 6.5 per cent Much more worrying are that

(i) Agriculture has grown at only 2.5 per cent—way below Modi’s target of four per cent

(ii) A source of great anxiety is that industrial output has grown at only 1.5 per cent to two per cent compared with the seven-to-nine per cent of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance I (2004 to 2008). Even more serious is that in the last four years, manufacturing, which is he heart of an industrial economy, has grown only at the minuscule rate of 1.0 to 1.5 per cent.

A major programme of Modi in the industrial, and particularly in the sub-area of manufacture, was the much touted “Make in India” programme. That this has been a total failure is borne out by the minuscule manufacturing sub-sector of industry. Why has the “Make in India” programme failed so badly? There are several reasons for it. But the most important and inter-related reasons are:

[[<> (1) The Modi Government’s failure to create a positive industrial climate—the large national private sector has built up huge inventories of their products because of a “lack of demand”. This is most surprising given the Modi Govern-ment’s claim of a 7.1 to 7.5 GDP growth. Clearly, that GDP figure, as already stated, is way off the mark. The real situation is that Industry, both public and private, is running its plants at very low capacity utilisation figures of around 50 per cent. This then hits back in terms of a cutback of large industries on their medium/ small scale and vendors/subcontractors throwing not only unskilled labour but highly skilled and trained personnel also out of their existing jobs, leading to large scale unemployment. In fact, we have come to a point that demand for a key and basic input into industry, namely, electric power consumption, has fallen, leading to even large power generation companies like our largest generator—the public sector National Thermal and Hydro Power Corporation having had to “back down” their generation and yet Modi—and even the World Bank and IMF—say totally erroneously that “India is the fastest growing economy in the world”. To this highly adverse situation must be added the huge imports of manufactured products from abroad for two reasons:

(a) The very steep reductions in import duties brought about not by GST itself but in the slab rates import duty levels,

plus

the complex procedures for industry to pay those duties. (b) With all the major industrial economies of particularly Europe, Japan and South Korea, growing at annual growth rates of only one to 1.5 per cent, they have to “load” their production plants only with external demand and so imports from the developed countries are pouring into our economy at a huge rate.

(c) The third reason is simple “dumping”, that is, selling below cost to get access to markets to keep their plants running and their specialised work-force retained to the maximum extent possible. China is, as we all know as consumers, right at the forefront of such “dumping” into our market to enhance demand from external source. All countries led by the USA have stringent “anti-dumping laws and, equally important, effective and speedy procedures” to bring those into force and applying huge “countervailing import duties” to stop such dumping in order to protect their own industries. Our anti-dumping laws themselves are archaic and antiquated and equally important, the “Anti-Dumping Cell” in our Commerce Ministry is totally ineffective. Above all, Modi has not appreciated the problem and its seriousness and so huge swathes of our industrial sector are “gasping for oxygen”. This kind of large scale damage to our industry has never been allowed to take please by the pre-Modi Governments.

I now turn to Modi’s Foreign and Security/ Defence Policies.

(A) Foreign Policy

Modi inherited a fairly sound and balanced foreign policy from Manmohan Singh’s UPA-2. Our relations with almost all our neighbours, other than Pakistan, were good. So were our relations with the USA and Russia, Europe, Japan and South Korea. Within barely two-to-three years (putting it generously), Modi got them soured. Internally, the appointment of Ajit Doval (a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau) whose only exposure to foreign affairs was being posted in Islamabad for some seven years, as the nation’s overall Intelligence Czar with a large say in not just Foreign Intelligence as well, did not go down well either with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj or the Foreign Service officers of the MEA. Tensions also began to build up between Doval and many other intelligence agencies, notably the head of the formal External Intelligence Agency—the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)—which also comes directly under the PM.

Modi started his tenure as the PM with an innovative flourish. He invited heads of state/government of all SAARC countries to attend his swearing-in ceremony in the magnificent Darbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. A second innovative flourish was “dropping-in un-announced and even uninvited to the wedding of the daughter of Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan”. It is a well-worn adage that in the contemporary world, all Prime Ministers are also their Foreign Ministers. But Modi has taken this adage far, too far. As a result, the Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj, despite being a full Cabinet Minister and a full Member of the Cabinet Committee on Security “the inner Cabinet” composed of only six Cabinet Ministers and chaired by the PM, was de-facto sidelined to deal with cases of Indian nationals in distress in foreign countries and the Indian diaspora in West Asia. The fact that Doval reported directly and only to the PM, that he had the rank of a Minister of State and, above all, that he interpreted his charter as the National Security Adviser (NSA) very broadly and that he has recently formulated a “Doval Doctrine for India in the 21st Century” has ruffled the feathers of many heavyweights—political, administrative and military.

Modi made it clear to one and all from the very outset that he greatly enjoys

a) visits to as many countries as possible, the relevance or irrelevance to our foreign, security and military policy be damned;

b) addressing large gatherings of the Indian diaspora in the foreign countries he visits;

c) hugging in an all-embracing bear hug and extracting from his host or even hostess a substantial kiss.

However, when it came to substance, let alone policy-making and even policy-planning he had little time for substantial issues.

From the word go, he failed to make any real effort to get to know or build a relationships with his opposite numbers in key countries. What is more, Modi clearly did not have nor was able to acquire a “feel“ for Foreign or Security Policy issues.

It was not surprising, therefore, that as the second half of 2014 and the whole of 2015 went by there was no initiative by us to deal with the admittedly knotty problems we have with Pakistan or China.

As regards Pakistan, the infiltration into J&K of terrorists armed, equipped, trained, assisted, financed and injected into J&K by Pakistan continued apace. Both Modi and Doval seemed more and more to regard the unrest and fatalities of both men in uniform and civilians as a military and not a political problem. Modi started out with and continues to be, to this day, of the view that so much by way of political methods and approaches both in regard to the people of J&K and the Pakistani state and its accomplices and so little has been achieved after decades of effort, that the Pak-J&K-India problem is not amenable to political solution and so should be left to the security forces.

On China, Modi has a rather different tack. He starts from the premise—which is also the reality —that politically, economically, technologically and militarily China is so much more powerful than us, that we have very few cards in our hands. His recent “one-on-one”, “informal“, “unstructured” talks with Xi Jinping in Wuhan let the above cat out of the bag. It is well known by now that Xi Jinping finally agreed to the Wuhan meeting only after months of repeated knocking on the closed Chinese door by our government. There are those, and I am one of them—who are of the view that Xi finally agreed to receive Modi only after the intervention of Vladimir Putin, the Russian President. As many analysts have written, Modi’s visit was basically to get Xi’s agreement that Doklam-like incidents on the border would not be repeated. Modi pleaded with Xi to keep the border quiet and official statements by both countries should not be offensive, at least until our upcoming General Elections are over, is also a widely held view.

However, what I have missed both on the part of our government itself by the so-called China-specialising think-tanks and the media, is the urgent—indeed long overdue—need for us to study the current and projected even short-to-medium picture of our relations with China and, to use a well-worn cliché, “prepare a road map” to advance our interests vis-à-vis, and in China. For instance, are we just going to leave bilateral trade in the appalling state in which it is with little change in the colonial pattern of that trade? This country has lost billions of dollars in Sino-Indian trade since it really began in the early 1980s. We just cannot go on selling raw material, for example, iron ore and low value products to China and

a) buying manufactured goods from China

b) allowing four major Chinese electrical power plant suppliers to operate here and sell such plants to our Electricity Boards/power companies with no advantage at all by way of better technology and ruining BHEL, Larsen and Toubro and Walchand Industries every minute those Chinese companies operate here.

c) We cannot accept the one-decade-old situation whereby the Chinese Government has been, and is continuing to prevent/block our superlative world class Pharma and IT companies from operating in China on specious WTO-non-compliant grounds.

Of course, moving to redress the imbalance and bring about at least some modicum of fair and balanced trade will not be easy. But it does not have the character of addressing the Sino-Indian Border or

Sino-Pak Colusion to our large scale detriment

—Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles or Nepal. So, let us

begin

.

However, while doing so, we must be vigilant and ensure that China honours its commitments.

(B) Defence and Security Policy

I now turn to the issue of Defence and Security policy. Let us begin by noting the actual ground position along the border. Both we and the Chinese each have about 2,00,000 men strung out all along the border from Western Tibet abutting Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh in the east. We both have approximately equal numbers of Mountain Tanks and Mountain Artillery, Fighter Bombers, and Short and Medium Range Missiles. Except the Doklam stand-off last year, the border has been relatively peaceful for many months now. However, on the other hand within barely ten days of the end of the Modi-Xi “one-on-one” talks in Wuhan in China, our Army detected both from our Satellite Imagery and on the ground that practically all along the 1000 km China-Arunachal border several thousand technical workers, engineers and a large amount of surface Mining Equipment were working 12 hours a day mining Gold, Silver, Rare Earths (a key material used in Electronics and even Coal, barely five kilometers from the border. This major development undertaken openly by the Chinese clearly shows we cannot trust them

at all. 

Another instance relates to China’s current position on the ownership of Arunachal Pradesh —they have even given it a specific name on their maps—South East Tibet. This is a gross violation of the Deng Xiaopeng-Indira Gandhi agreement regarding border delineation signed in November 1982. What is more, that agreement has been honoured by all of Deng’s successors as the President of China until Xi Jinping became the President some three years ago. Yet Modi has not said a word about this development, let alone lodged a formal protest with the Chinese Government. Such cowardice will only embolden the Chinese to undertake further violations. Indeed, that is already happening—China poured a billion US dollars into Nepal to ensure that the Nepalese Communist Party won the recent national eelctions in that country and consequently that Nepal now has a Communist Government. Secondly, it has put pressure on the Sri Lankan Government to introduce a tough new visa system for Indian nationals. Only China brought down an India-friendly government in the Maldives and is now working overtime to install a pro-China government in that strategic island country. As if that were not enough, Xi Jinping has himself issued a warning to India to “stay out of the Maldives”. All this for an island-state which is barely 300km from Cape Comorin and which was once a part of India. Finally, China has worked with the USA and France to put so much pressure on the government of the small but very strategically located island state of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean that the country has just recently abrogated an agreement with us signed as recently as end-January this year whereby we would be building a vital naval base on that strategically critical island.

All these developments represent major failures of the Modi Government’s security and defence policy for which the country will pay a heavy price and which would have been unthinkable if a Manmohan Singh Government, let alone an Indira Gandhi Government, was in Delhi.

A final word about the Defence Sector more narrowly than the broader term of National Security. Under Modi, the nation’s investment on defence has decreased from the 1.6 per cent of the GDP invested by the Manmohan Singh-led UPA-II Government in its last year in office, namely, 2013-14 to 1.2 per cent of the GDP by the Modi Government in 2017-18. When one takes into account that the rate of growth of the GDP under the Modi Government since it came to power in May 2014 has, over 2014 to 2017, been at least 40 per cent lower than that of the UPA-II over 2009-2014, the fall in investment in defence becomes even more serious.

Another crucial non-performance indicator of the Modi Government in the Defence area is the fact that in that crucially important organisation, the Defence R & D Organisation (DRDO), 40 per cent of the posts of R&D scientists and engineers have been vacant for the last three years due to severe budget cuts.

I now come to the crucial Social Sector:

“There are many elements to Modi’s Emergency” as sketched out below:

(i) Massive Hindutvaisation of all areas of policy, particularly education and religion.

(ii) “Traditionally”, that is, up till now, the thrust of Hindutvaisation was confined to the Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis. However, in recent months indeed over 2016-17 and 2017-18, even the Christian community’s leaders have come out openly to criticise the Modi apparatus’ attacks on that community.

(iii) The election and appointment of the Head of the most conservative Hindu Muth of Gorakhpur, UP, Adityanath, as the Chief Minister of UP, has led to numerous Hinduisation measures in that largest and perhaps socio-economically poorest State in the country. The fact that Adityanath was not the choice of Modi, but of the RSS was also a slap in the face to Modi. Within six months of becoming the Chief Minister, Adityanath started building up a Vigilante Group called the Hindu Yuva Vahini. From small beginnings, the Vahini has grown to be a State-wide 50,000-strong force directed and controlled by Adityanath. From being a force initially armed only with sticks it has grown to be one with guns. Such is the power of this private army of Adityanath that even when its members are beating to death a Dalit right within the eyesight and hearing range of policemen, the latter do not intervene.

The interesting thing relates to how the Vahini is financed. According to inside sources, the finances for the Vahini are provided partly by the Gorakpur Mutt and partly from a cess which Adityanath levies from every shopkeeper in UP. Why do the shopkeepers pay?. They do so because if they do not do so, their shops are gutted by the “Shock Troops” of the Vahini. Shades of the combination of Hitler’s Gestapo and Secret Service (SS). But this is not all. When UP is desperately short of funds for major public programmes, such as education, health, water supply and sanitation and when five infants die every day in UP due to diarrhoea, Adityanath is using public money to repair, rebuild and beautify hundreds of Hindu temples all across the State. Who is to stop him? The people are outraged but dare not open their mouths given the state terror which prevails in the BJP-ruled UP.

Needless to say, not a week passes without not only Aavadyanath himself but all members of his 40 strong Council of Ministers holding huge public meetings all over the State chanting: “The Ram Temple at Ayodhya will definitely be built before the next General Elections. That is the vow we have taken.” On hearing such “wonderful” news, the impoverished and un-healthy crowd roars in approval!. As for the estimated approximately Rs 2000 crores needed to build the grand Ram Temple, it is to be raised to the extent of 50 per cent by the impoverished coffers of the UP Government and the other half partly by temples and mutts all over the country and partly from the impoverished people of the State—people who have only one meal a day will pay for the temple in the totally unscientific belief that they will go to heaven if they do so. What about the Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis who together constitute 25 per cent of the 100 million population of UP? They live in constant fear of being attacked, raped and killed by the many vigilante groups like the Vahini who have sprouted like mushrooms all over the State.

Another major feature of the “Modi Emer-gency” is the massive assault he and his government have unleashed on the media— both print and electronic. What is particularly serious is that it is undertaken in a much more subtle and institutionalised manner than was the case in Mrs Gandhi’s Emergency. Typically it goes something like this:

An externally not good looking building is chosen and a couple of floors are converted into a “War Room”or an “Intelligence and Monitoring Room”. About 100 persons are seated on each floor. They are provided the latest computers and communication and surveillance equipment. They scan all the daily newspapers and magazines and all the 300 TV channels. When they come across a news item or article or a TV programme which is critical either of Modi personally or his government, they note the name of the persons involved. They then scan their huge computerised data base to locate the mobile phone of the person involved. They then ring up the person and, say, entirely without revealing their identity: “We have seen your article in the concerned newspapers of the concerned date. Do not write such articles/carry such news again or we will get your Press Accreditation Card revoked and you will be unable to go to the offices of any Ministry/ Department or the concerned public sector enterprise.” The “we” then just hangs up! Yet another feature of the Modi Emergency is the massive amounts of all forms of power—dominantly political—which has come to be concentrated in Modi himself and in his “Right Hand Man”, that is, the President and Treasurer of the BJP Amit Shah and Modi’s “Left hand Man”, the National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval.

Both these top Modi cronies are answerable to nobody except Modi. There were very few such persons in Indiraji’s Emergency. They and they alone advise Modi on all top policy matters, appointments, transfers, postings and promo-tions from the three Chiefs of Military staff to top officials such as the Cabinet Secretary, the Defence Secretary, the Home Secretary the Finance Secretary and the Foreign Secretary and the heads of all Intelligence Agencies, political, financial or otherwise. The same applies to a small coterie of top businessmen and Industrialists.

I will end this section on a broader note. As a result of such malgovernance ironically one of the very first slogans Modi was to coin and say everywhere was that the policy of his govern-ment would be “Less Government, More Gover-nance”. However, his actual record has been: “Huge Government (he has created six new Cabinet level Ministries in the past four years) and Malgovernance”.

I will close close by pointing out that due to his malgovernance, a major economic and social polarisation has taken place. The southern States, which are not BJP-controlled, have achieved a level of economic and social development much higher than the northern BIMARU States, namely, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh. In the case of some of these BIMARU States the socio-economia gap has reached very high levels. Consequently, the integrity, cohesiveness and unity of the country have been seriously and perhaps even irreversibly impaired thereby jeopardising national security as a whole.

To conclude:

Modi as a person, a political leader and a Prime Minister has a so-called “track record” which is not just a massive disaster but a monumental one. So, he has, above all, no basis or “leg to stand on” in comparison with Indira Gandhi. Modi’s Emergency over the last four years has

a) been all pervading;

b) lasted already for 48 months and shows every sign of lasting till the next General Election whenever it is held. Indiraji’s Emergency lasted only two years and 10 months and was never as severe or all-encompassing.

So I say: “Modi, you are a case of ‘the kettle calling the pot black.’”

Prof Ashok Parthasarathi is a former Science and Technology Adviser to late PM Indira Gandhi.

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