Truth of Gujarat – vis-à-vis Modi’s Fast
The fast by Modi has got an excessive coverage, which defies logic. The critics have rightly projected it as self image building by Modi to project himself as Prime Ministerial candidate and under the cover of slogan of Sadbhavna as an attempt to wash off his sinful conduct in post Godhra period. I am clear in my mind that in the matter of governments complicity in gory happenings like 1984 genocide in Delhi and 2002 Godhra genocide in Gujarat, there can never be a question of forgiveness. There are certain crimes and human Right violations which can never be forgiven or forgotten though no doubt we must learn from them and so modulate our political and social programming, that such like events never shame us again. But that process can only be if the perpetrator of crime is seen as genuinely contrite which alone can create confidence in those who suffered untold miseries. That has not yet happened.
One is sad and amused at the carnival response of Congress in purporting to observe fast at the same time. I wish the congress instead had programmed and brought out the unspeakable condition in Gujarat camps where large number of Muslims are still living in misery. Also Vaghela would have done well if he and his colleagues had chalked out a definite programme to create conducive atmosphere so that hundreds of Muslim families who are afraid to go back to their villages could go back with dignity and assured safety.
The media though somewhat critical of Modi’s Sadbhavana/Secular pretensions have unfortunately swallowed the propaganda of development oriented programmers in Gujarat and ignoring its perversions which have in fact led to greater pauperization of masses, possibly because those policies coincide with the neo liberal and anti farmer policies of the corporate sector. All this information uncomplimentary to Modi was placed in a public hearing when Anna Hazare visited Gujarat in May 2011 (in a report prepared amongst others by PUCL (Gujarat), Socialist party and other concerned citizens of Gujarat.)
Thus 30,000 farmers walked nearly 350 k.m. to protest against the cement plant being set up at Mahuva, which if it happens will lead to a total loss of 25, 000 bigha land on which 1,25,000 people survive. The cement factory would provide direct employment to only 498 persons.
One of the biggest scandal and human Right violation of Human Rights is taking place in the much touted boast of Narmada Dam. Even at present hundreds of families are still displaced though even the award postulated complete rehabilitation of the oustees. The boast of Modi that Narmada was to supply water to the farmers in belied by the established fact that only 29% of the Canal work has been done. As recently as 2009 came Rs. 260 crore scam pertaining to National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
As for Right to Education, a fundamental Right, Gujarat government is ironically closing 3000 primary Schools on the alleged unacceptable plea of lack of attendance and the plan is in fact to lease it to private bodies.
One of the biggest scandals highlighted was the land allotment at throwaway rate to private industrialists in capital Gandhi Nagar, without holding public auction. The beneficiaries are big Builders construction companies and other corporate houses with not so good public acceptability. This has resulted in a loss to Gujarat State as per market Rate allotment of Rs. 5197,1622,317/- i.e. (Rs. Five thousand One hundred Ninety-seven crores and Sixteen lakhs andTwenty-two thousand Three Hundred and Seventeen.)
The labor disputes has increased by 600% in last 5 years, but instead of 100% increase in the labor machinery staff the Government has reduced the staff by 40 -60%.
Regarding expenditure for social sector by 18 large States of India, Gujarat embarrassingly stands at 17th (Monthly Bulletin of Reserve Bank of India February, 2007).
Gujarat stands 14th in infant Mortality Rate (IMR) for 0-1 year and 13th for 0-5 years 47% malnourishment among 0-5 years old children. About 67% women are anaemic and of them 80.1% of girls aged between 6 to 35 months are anaemic.
Global index on hunger reports India with 66th rank, Gujarat is ranking 69th , which is actually as low as Haiti in Africa (International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 2008.
While I unreservedly accept some positive features of Gujarat, like it has 90 percent paved roads to villages, 98 percent electrified villages with 80 percent electrified homes and 18 hours of electricity everyday, 86 percent piped water supply compared to other states, but unfortunately it can not be overlooked that amidst all this, poverty, hunger, lack of sense of security amongst Minority thrive. To gave an instance: to overcome the Muslim deficit in different levels of education, the central government has launched a nationwide scholarship scheme with effect from April 1, 2008. All states have responded favorably, with the only exception of Gujarat which has not implemented even the pre-matric scholarships for minorities. There are 55,000 scholarships allocated to Gujarat of which 53,000 are to be given to the deserving Muslims, but Gujarat has not even cared to implement this program.
Modi proudly proclaimed at his alleged Sadbavana Jamboree that he did not recognize doing anything especially for the minorities but that they are to be treated only as Gujaratis. Modi apparently has not been properly coached about Indian Constitution. Of course all residents (6 crores) living in Gujarat are Gujaratis. That is their one identity. But the Minority have also other identities – they are Indians and Muslims just like Majority – they are Gujarati’s, Hindus and Indians. As emphasized by Noble laureate Amartaya Sen, each one of us has multiple identities and each of it deserves equal recognition and protection. Some body must tell Modi that our constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court has loudly proclaimed that: “The purpose of law in plural societies is not the progressive assimilation of the minorities in the majoritarian milieu. This would not solve the problem; but would vainly seek to dissolve it.”
It is axiomatic that in any country the faith and the confidence of the minorities in the impartial and even functioning of he State is the acid test of being a civilized State – this is accepted wisdom, and was expressed succinctly by Lord Acton thus; “A state which is incompetent to satisfy Minorities condemns itself; a state which labours to neutralize, to absorb or to expel them is destitute of the chief basis of self-government”. Can one hope Modi to so modulate in his future policies in the light of these constitutional and wise pronouncements.