Deconstructing the Modi myths

Deconstructing the Modi myths

April 28, 2014

As the 2014 general elections reach a crescendo, the Indian voter is deluged with two conflicting images of Narendra Modi. The battle lines appear to be drawn between those who glorify the achievements of Modi the administrator, and those who view the Gujarat chief minister through the prism of the 2002 carnage. Even if we keep the discussion on 2002 away for another time, the image of an able administrator, who has spearheaded a revolution of progress in Gujarat, may be too difficult for Narendra Modi to hold on to.

His politics of communal hate is not separate from his agenda of development. Together they form the core of a programme in which one becomes a prerequisite for the other. – The Hindu

There are many examples of rapid economic development under authoritarian regimes. South Korea recorded miraculous growth under a military regime, until democracy was established in 1987. Singapore too emerged as an example of a shining economy under authoritarian rule.

There are also cases of democratic establishments sliding into authoritarianism in times of adversity. There is perhaps no example better than Germany of the 1920s. Reeling from the adverse economic clauses in the Treaty of Versailles, particularly in the years of the Great Depression, the Germans elected Hitler on planks of anti-Semitism and Pan-Germanism.

13 scams that Narendra Modi does not want the Lokayukta to probe

It is not unknown to anyone who is knowledgeable in Indian politics that the Gujarat government has been sitting on a proposal to appoint a Lokayukta in the state for almost a decade now. In a recent verdict, the Supreme Court upheld the appointment of Justice (Retd.) RA Mehta as the state Lokayukta (it is a different matter that Justice Mehta refused to take up the position). There have been media reports on how the Gujarat government spent taxpayers’ money to fund NGOs to fight a proxy war against Justice Mehta. But why would Modi, an epitome of a free and fair administrator according to his fans, be so hesitant about appointing a Lokayukta?

Land for Nano plant at low rate
The state government allotted 1100 acres of land to Tata Motors Ltd. (TML) to set up the Nano plant near Sanand. The land was allotted allegedly at Rs 900 per sq m while its market rate was around Rs 10,000 per sq m. Simply put, the government gave Tata Motors a total monetary benefit of Rs 33,000 crore.

Land sold cheap to Adani Group
Land was allotted to Adani Group for Mundra Port and Mundra Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Re 1 per sq m. This is grossly less than the market rate.

Tata Motors’ Nano plant at Sanand in Gujarat is lying idle. Tata Motors has utilised just a fraction of the Rs 2000 crore facility and in the whole of last year, there have only been two months when Tata Motors utilised more than 25% of its installed capacity in Sanand. In fact for the first time this April, the company’s total production of the Nano fell below 1,000 units, utilising just 4.5% of the installed capacity of 20,833 units per month or 2.5 lakh units per annum (CNBC-TV18 report). This is the state of the much touted Nano, despite months of advertising, heavy discounting and offering a first of its kind credit card facility to boost Nano sales. The Nano deal could well be the tip of an iceberg of scams under Modi’s rule.

Cheap land for industry, not for air force
The Gujarat government allotted 3,76,561 sq m of land to real estate developer K Raheja at Rs 470 per sq m, while the South-West Air Command (SWAC) was asked to pay Rs 1100 per sq m for 4,04,700 sq m land.

Agriculture University land allotted for hotel
The state government allotted 65,000 sq m of land belonging to Navsari Agriculture University in Surat to Chatrala Indian Hotel Group for a hotel project despite objection from the university. This deal was allegedly brokered by the chief minister through his office, causing a loss of Rs 426 crore.

Border land for chemical firms
A huge plot of land near the Pakistan border was allotted to salt chemical companies said to be close to BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu.

Essar Group's encroachment
The state government has allotted 2.08 lakh sq m of land to Essar Steel. Part of the disputed land is CRZ and forest land that cannot be allotted as per Supreme Court guidelines.

Land given to L&T
Larson & Toubro (L&T) was allotted 80 hectare land at Hazira at the rate of Re 1 per sq m.

Cattle feed fraud
The Gujarat government had purchased cattle feed from a blacklisted company at Rs 240 per 5 kg whereas the market rate is just Rs 120 to Rs 140 per 5 kg.

Scam in Anganwadi centres
Two bidders apparently formed a cartel and bid for supplying supplementary micronutrient-fortified extruded fortified blended food to Anganwadi centres of the state. One company bid for three zones, while the other for only two. Guidelines were violated, causing the state exchequer a loss of Rs 92 crore.

Luxury aircraft used by CM
Instead of availing commercial flights or using state-owned aircraft and helicopter, Chief Minister Narendra Modi used private luxury aircraft for around 200 trips in five years. The cost was borne by the beneficiary industries.

Rs 500-crore SSY scam
The Rs 6,237.33-crore Sujalam Sufalam Yojana (SSY) announced in 2003 was to be completed by 2005 but it is still not completed. The public accounts committee (PAC) of Gujarat assembly unanimously prepared a report indicating a scam of over Rs 500 crore, which was not tabled.

Indigold Refinery land scam
Around 36.25 acre farm land in Kutch district was purchased and sold in violation of all norms by Indigold Refinery Ltd.

Swan Energy
49% of the shares of Pipavav Power Station of GSPC were sold to Swan Energy without inviting any tenders.

Myth of development
Gujarat was one of the top economic performers much before Narendra Modi took over as chief minister in October 2001. Modi by himself, over the last 10 years, has made little difference to the state's gross domestic product. Again, Gujarat's economic performance went up because of economic reforms, almost doubling growth between 1991 and 1998, before Modi took over in October 2001. 

During 2001-04, the rate of industrial growth for Gujarat was 3.95%, and during 2005-09, it was 12.65%. In isolation, this appears to be a phenomenal jump, but not so when compared to some other states. During these periods, industrial growth in Orissa was 6.4% and 17.53%, respectively.

In FDI, too, Gujarat has not been a leading state. During 2006-10, Gujarat signed MoUs worth Rs 5.35 lakh crore with a potential 6.47 lakh jobs. But Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, with Rs 4.20 lakh crore and Rs 1.63 lakh crore worth MoUs, respectively, expect about 8.63 lakh and 13.09 lakh jobs.

Even in the case of poverty reduction, Gujarat lags behind other big states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

In Gujarat, the percentage of women suffering from anaemia has risen from 46.3% in 1999 to 55.5% in 2004, and amongst children from 74.5% to 80.1%. The conditions of dalits and women have deteriorated during the last decade, while those of Muslims and tribals are worse.

Gujarat witnessed the highest number of strikes and other forms of labour unrest in recent times, said the Economic Survey of 2010-11. Wage and allowance, bonus, personnel, indiscipline and violence, and financial stringency were the major reasons for these strikes and lockouts.

In infant mortality, one of the best indicators of the success of a government, Gujarat enjoys a rank as low as 11th among the states, with 44 deaths per 1000 live births. A Statistical Appraisal emphasised that between 40% and 50% of children in Gujarat are underweight.

The gender ratio was 921 in 2001 but this has declined to 919 in 2011, while the girl child ratio has worsened from 964 in 2001 to 890 in 2011.

Parting Thought

For the past several years, Modi has been successful in projecting his ‘vibrant Gujarat’ as a role model of economic growth, and himself as ‘Vikas Purush’. Though one must give due credit to Modi for his effective skills in making projections, one must also critically analyse this ‘growth story of Gujarat’ based on facts and figures. Regretfully, as one examines the facts since Modi came to power in Gujarat in 2001, the story appears to be hollow and, at times, contrary to what is being projected.

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