As of now, India is experiencing a unique historical moment. The right-wing Hindu Nationalist, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in a landslide victory in May, 2014 under the leadership of Narendra Modi. The DNA of the country, India has considerably changed in the past five years of Modi’s rule. Soon after he assumed the office, there was a lot of speculation, at home and abroad, about the new regime’s resolve to end the ‘uncertainties’. The expectations were further amplified when BJP came to power in majority of the states after 2014. It is in this regard scholars, and observers’ scholarship chew on how the leadership of Narender Modi mattered for India as a nation. The approaches of all those writers in documenting personal image of the leader (Modi) of ‘world’s largest democracy’ or endeavours to delineate the socio-political landscape of India are praiseworthy initiatives. But at the end of the day, what matters is the prevailing ground reality of contemporary India and people who were promised not only of respite from so-called ‘predominant disorders.’ But also elevation of their state and stature during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections campaign both through affirmative and pro-active articulations of new age BJP leaderships as well as the poll manifestos. The people of India relied on all these, took the promises for granted and naturally expected to achieve and attain Acche Din, the days of prosperity, which remained unaccomplished so far, as per lexicon of BJP’s star campaigner Modi. In this context, new Book entitled “Modi’s Rule and India’s Unbound Opportunities: Narrative of the Substantives and Beyond” by Shibdas Bhattacharjee is a far more pragmatic documentation of Modi-regime.
This Book, comprising ten chapters, analyzes, in detail, the ground reality and the outcome of Modi government’s performance in the fields like India’s Social Sector, Youth Empowerment, Economy, Foreign Policy, Strategic agenda, Security Scenario and other relevant issues in a pragmatic manner and tries to find out what substantives India have achieved or lost during this time. Bhattacharjee’s Book gives an overview and traces the facts, facets and the prevalent atmosphere that provided elevation to Modi’s political career. The journey of former Gujarat Chief Minister becoming the face of the BJP with his companion Amit Shah and leaving behind the legacy of Vajpayee era and combating the political aspirations of BJP stalwarts like Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. In fact, this book tries to shed light on the thin line that differentiates rhetoric from reality in this age of post ‘Social Media Revolution’.
Bhattacharjee raises many significant queries throughout his study. While, he argues that India has been credited with having the largest demographic dividend with almost ‘35% of its population under the age of 35 years he also suggests that the future government must take benefit of it and utilize this enormous energy in a proper ways and means. The author has sum-up the existing policy failures and paralysis in these words, “Indians democracy has remained confined in mere participation in the electoral process as the existing system has utterly failed in ensuring people of this country emerging as the stakeholders of policy-making, implementation and the process of nation building…(p.3)”
The book deliberates on diverse themes of Narender Modi’s regime focusing specially on the comprehensive discussion about the style of governance and trajectory in the government’s functioning. The author argues that reflections are undoubtedly dismal and the gasping agony of Indian masses and increasing disillusionment among the youths can never be covered up under any ornamental term and hollow slogans. In the similar fashion economic agenda of the Modi government has been analyzed to shed light how far the so-called ‘Modi-doctrine of Indian economy’ has delivered to uplift the social sector, empowering youth and overall economic health of India. The Book argues that chest-beating claim of growth-rate, country’s status in global economic standard, report of IMF do not reflect the economic status of the marginalized section who keeps on heaving and staggering to ensure the minimum and basic needs of life in present India.
Similarly, on foreign policy the book deliberates on foreign visits of Narender Modi and discusses both success and failure stories of bilateral, multilateral and summit levels meetings of last five years of the NDA regime. The author is right in pointing out that security scenario of India has not improved under the rule of Modi and expresses concern for India’s insecurities both on internal and external front. The Book in its concluding part highlights predominance of communal-sectarian agenda, saga of divisive politics and how all these put together derail India’s development engine. The author argues “the worst irony that India despite her liberal image and commitment approach for global peace and universal fraternity has been one of the major victims of fanaticism.” (p. 527). Bhattacharjee urges political parties to look beyond and appeals fellow-countrymen to rise so that India truly shines in the days ahead. Moreover, Bhattacharjee also deliberates on Kashmir question and argues that “what so-called democratic regimes of the country have done so far for the people of Kashmir…fact is: politics is being played on the religious identity of the people of Kashmir…This is tragedy of India. All the political parties must give serious pondering to this”. (p. 489)
It is in this context the present volume of the author is a welcome addition that deals with the contemporary debate in Indian politics and set the trend to introspect the Modi regime. Nevertheless, the author presents his knowledge and arguments in a clear and candid manner. The book is handsomely produced, with simple language and sourced from the most relevant documents on the subject and is essential reading for all interested to understand transformation of India’s last five years politics. In fact, the book has the potential to initiate a fresh constructive/critically academic debate in India for further analysis and assessment of Modi’s rule. However, what is absent in the book is theoretical usage. The book would have been more constructive had the author dealt with theory. Besides, the price of the book is too high amounting Rs 1995 that obviously is a hindrance to reach out to the larger community of readers.
Title of the Book: Modi’s Rule and India’s Unbound Opportunities: Narrative of the Substantives and Beyond
Author: Shibdas Bhattacharjee
Publisher: Overseas Press India, New Delhi
Year of Publication: 2019
Price of the Book: 1995
Javid Ahmad Ahnager is Doctoral Fellow Department of Political Science, AMU, Aligarh