Modi was chosen as the 14th Prime Minister of India with great aplomb and his elevation was finally seen as the return of a strong PM after ten years of weak-kneed Manmohan Singh in PM’s chair. While it was common knowledge that MMS was driven by the kitchen cabinet of National Advisory Council (NAC), it is far from clear who is running the current PMO. Is it the same strong willed Narendra Bhai from Gujarat or just a faded copy of him? While there are some areas where Modi and his ministers are doing well and deserve rightful credit, but there are a large number of issues which his govt. has not touched even with a bargepole. There are a host of secular issues like repeal of RTE, freeing temples from govt. control and illegal immigration of Bangladeshis where his government has shown absolute silence or disinterest. But what is more worrying is that now the government has also started playing to the gallery and win over city-bred liberals, who were never his core supporters.
The TRAI ruling on Net Neutrality yesterday is the latest gaffe which can be added to the list of policy blunders under Modi’s watch. Once again, Modi government caved in to pressure and tried to please the generation of urban activists, the same crowd who held monopoly over public policy under Congress. If the rural areas had been so happy with Congress top-down policy making, Modi would not have got the massive mandate that he got from the hinterland. In one blow, the minuscule population who has grown up on regular facebook feed, decided that such low(free) prices for consumers would be bad for poor people because their western masters, who they like to ape, said so and forced their own government to do away with free basics. While there are many articles which shred to pieces the arguments of Net Neutrality supporters, the below Facebook discussion precisely shows what is really wrong with all these activists.
The last line gives away the superiority complex of the urban activists who are more than happy to use all these services themselves but have a problem if they get extended to the poor, even if for free. Sadly, they have found support from Modi to pursue these initiatives which in the long run will hurt the rural folks simply because they could not register their voice through online activism. It is unfortunate that this socialist malaise which has destroyed the Indian economy since independence raises its ugly head time and again as Indians have failed to learn anything from past mistakes.
But Net Neutrality is not the first issue where Modi government has tried to woo the city bred liberal crowd. The decision to induct women in combat duties in IAF is another appeasement policy by the government. It has been a failed and controversial policy everywhere in the world, but the MoD justified this decision by citing the trends in other developed countries. Since India has many other pressing issues, it is a big mystery why Modi agreed to pursue this issue when it hardly comes up for debate in India. Is it just another attempt to play to the liberal gallery by picking up some of their pet issues?
The solar energy initiative is another wasteful effort by the Modi government and can seriously jeopardize the energy security of the country by diverting investments away from serious and time-tested energy solutions. While most developed countries have failed to cash upon solar energy because it is expensive and inefficient, it is surprising why Modi is still pushing for it. While it would have been understandable if private or public sector made R&D investments in solar energy, but given the current technology it does not make sense to set up expensive solar plants when other cheaper options are available. So, it would not be far fetched to say that PM Modi is trying to court the environmentalists i.e. another group of liberals, who again derive their inspiration from the west.
These are only three policy initiatives out of a big list of policy blunders which show that Modi is trying hard to win the sympathy of the liberals, while ignoring his core support base. Sadly the issues raised in this article do not even cover the so called Hindu issues like temple management, which are actually secular issues, where Modi has maintained complete silence. If Modi continues to go down this path of appeasing non-entities, it would be a great waste of the historic mandate that he got in the summer of 2014. Unlike Vajpayee, who ran a coalition government, Modi would not even have the excuse of blaming coalition partners for his mistakes. It is high time that he wakes up and stop taking the endorsement of his core supporters for granted.