Memory trick: Editorial on Modi’s long list of broken promises
India marking its 75th year of Independence is, indeed, a glorious occasion. The fervour among the people and the government is warranted.But the celebration should not deflect public attention from a fundamental concern. The septuagenarian nation seems to be at risk of forgetting some of the pledges made by its tallest leader — Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr Modi’s long list of broken promises is certainly unenviable. August 15, Mr Modi had thundered,would mark India’s triumph over a host of challenges. By today, India was supposed to have achieved the milestones of building pucca dwellings and providing uninterrupted power supply, the doubling of farmers’ income, ending malnutrition as well as — the irony must not be missed — the decimation of the spectres of caste and communal under Mr Modi’s watch. It would be instructive to examine what the prime minister has achieved on these fronts in his eight years in power. Sixty-two lakh houses have been built against a target of four crore; parts of the hinterland remain in the dark while power outages continue in cities; the farmers are on a warpath with Mr Modi over his double speak; India, with burgeoning cases of malnutrition since the pandemic,ranks poorly on the global hunger index; caste remains central to electoral mobilisation; worst of all, Mr Modi’s stint in power has coincided with some of the most explicit instances of communal polarisation.
Mr Modi is certainly not the first politician to have painted castles in the air for Indian voters. Neither is he going to be the last. What is worrying,though, is that his reign has coincided with a discernible weakness in the culture of accountability.Despite his significant failures to meet goals — among other policy howlers, especially those on the economic front — Mr Modi’s popularity remains formidable. The contradiction of a prime minister retaining the people’s confidence in spite of flattering to deceive repeatedly can be explained by his expertise in shifting the proverbial goal posts. Thus, the memory of unkept pledges is erased by the announcement of new lofty targets. Of course, an entire institutional eco-system, including the media, is complicit in whitewashing the blots of the regime. Perhaps there is a case for India, on this auspicious occasion, to make anew tryst with public memory and the accountability of its leaders. The country must remember not to forget.