Today Narendra Modi appears to be a chastened man
It has become clear that the BJP has let the country down on multiple fronts
- Published 23.01.19, 5:20 PM
- Updated 23.01.19, 5:20 PM
- 3 mins read
Sir — The editorial, “Unbranded” (Jan 16), has rightly raised questions about the leadership of the prime minister, Narendra Modi. After the recent electoral defeats in the state assemblies of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party is in a spot of bother. This is not only because of its failing economic policies. There is also palpable anger among the unemployed youth, who now find Modi’s campaign promises of 2014 to have been a farce. Further, under the present regime, minority communities live in fear of being attacked under the slightest of pretexts.
Today, Modi appears to be a chastened man; his speeches are tempered with caution. There was a time when he was full of sound and fury as he spoke about creating a Congress-mukt Bharat. In fact, people did support his vision for a while. But after four-and-a-half years, it has become clear that the BJP has let the country down on multiple fronts. It is now going to be difficult for the party to prevent political alliances among the Opposition parties before the upcoming general elections, especially with the growing popularity of the Congress.
For all his bravado, Modi now seems to be seeing the writing on the wall. He may rail against ‘dynasty politics’ to score brownie points, but the electorate will weigh its options carefully this time.
Sir — When Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, he was eager to create multiple ripples. Unfortunately, he had a limited vision. After nearly four years, the BJP finds itself out of depth in trying to manage the economy amid a growing global uncertainty in trade, finance and politics.
Modi’s decision to demonetize select currency notes in 2016 had little to do with economics; it was more of a political move to win the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections that followed soon after. The step created a whirlwind that came back to haunt banks, businesses, exports and the value of the rupee. Its shadow continues to loom over every major investment-related decision in India, private or public. In short, the Modi government won the state, but it cost the country its economic growth.
In the eyes of the people, the government has fallen short in key areas. In its hubris, the dispensation at the Centre, with its majoritarian beliefs, rode roughshod over the values of diversity and inclusion nurtured by the country for ages.
Sir — It is lamentable that a new commercial for a brand of men’s grooming products has invited widespread criticism from the public simply because it portrayed how standardized gender roles and machismo contribute to the increase in sexual harassment and bullying. Sections of viewers seem to have taken exception to it because of its alleged ‘vilification’ of men. In doing so, they have ignored the sensible commentary it provides on the ill-effects of inherent patriarchal biases in society.
However, while the commercial presents a cogent and important argument, one should also exercise some caution before lauding the effort. Traditionally, the makers of grooming and beauty products have themselves played a significant role in reinforcing gender stereotypes. While in the past, they catered to the sexist prejudices prevalent in society in order to make profits, the corporations are now learning to shift their alignment to match issues that concern people in the world at present.
This is what some thinkers call ‘capitalism with a humanitarian face’, where corporations manage to earn the support of consumers through a token act of goodwill, all the while keeping them oblivious of their machinations. The problems caused by patriarchy must be taken seriously, but one must also be aware of those that lie unseen.
Sir — The decision taken by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, to revoke the order of pulling down Roxy Cinema and, instead, restore it, is heartening, especially in the light of the fate of heritage buildings like the Dunlop House and the Old Kenilworth Hotel, which were downgraded and demolished in recent years. If a Grade II-A heritage structure like Roxy had been replaced by another generic high-rise, there would have been little hope left for the numerous old houses in north and central Calcutta which are in dire need of attention and preservation.