By Mukul Dube
27 March, 2013
Narendra Modi of the RSS is an ambitious man who seems to want to become the prime minister of the country. His propaganda machine never speaks of the violence in 2002 in the state he ruled and rules, but it constantly plugs his hand in its development. I do not propose here to question the claims of development that he makes or which are made for him. Better qualified people have done that and have shown that these claims are based on sleight of hand or on outright lies. I shall only look at the meaning of this development business in Modi’s lexicon.
Modi’s own web site, at http://www.narendramodi.in/media-detail/?gid=11636 declares, “Development alone is the solutions [sic] to all problems: Shri Modi delivers inspiring address at SRCC!” Apparently the man said, “We are not pitching our tent on a single pillar. Our development model is based on 3 aspects — development of agriculture, industry and services sector. We want all 3 sectors to grow where each supports the other so that state economy is never in trouble.” This is typical of his populist demagoguery. A seemingly rational enumeration slips magically sideways and becomes a conclusion.
Here is a better one: “In 2001-02 when I became CM, 23 lakh bales of cotton was produced, today it stands at 1 crore 23 lakh bales. Our next step should be value addition. So we are working on that. We got a new Textile Policy. We have a 5F formula — from Farm to Fibre to Fabric to Fashion to Foreign. Till we do not take integrated approach then nothing will happen.” The reasoning is as devious as the grammar is slippery. The man jumps about like a grasshopper, dispensing wisdom probably obtained from his advertising consultants and speech writers: “We have to adopt ‘Zero Defect Mantra’ and other is packaging. We need to study consumer psyche and then work on manufacturing sector.” Such specimens as Modi cannot be pinned down. It is an established tactic of the Hindutva Brigade to change tack constantly, particularly when in trouble.
In http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/28/india-fantasy-gujarat-modi-hindus Dibyesh Anand writes that “development is not an abstract practice immune from identity. Economic reforms are being used in parts of India to depoliticise development and crack down on the marginalised. For instance, tribal peoples and those from lower castes are the biggest victims of forced eviction by the state for its development projects. Impressive economic figures from Gujarat belie the fact that on the human development index the state remains far behind.”
It was not an accident that economists, the very people who measured development in arid figures, began in the 1980s to look at human beings not as statistics but as the central concern of development. “Human development” has been so described by two of the people responsible for the new approach:
“People often value achievements that do not show up at all, or not immediately, in income or growth figures: greater access to knowledge, better nutrition and health services, more secure livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, satisfying leisure hours, political and cultural freedoms and sense of participation in community activities. The objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives.” Mahbub ul Haq, quoted in http://hdr.undp.org/en/humandev/.
“Human development, as an approach, is concerned with what I take to be the basic development idea: namely, advancing the richness of human life, rather than the richness of the economy in which human beings live, which is only a part of it.” Amartya Sen, same source.
Unlike the old idea of development, from which only the capitalists and the affluent benefit, human development explicitly is concerned with what all social classes get, including the poor and those who are customarily forgotten, the religious minorities and the tribals. On the other hand Modi, the glorious Hercules of Development, starves the Muslims of Gujarat and denies them housing, health care and education. Hardly surprising, because he belongs to the tribe which wants free and secular India to become the monarchical Hindu Rashtra which they believe to have existed in an earlier age.
Mukul Dube is a writer, photographer and editor who lives in Delhi. He can be reached at [email protected]
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