Monday, Jan 22, 2018 | Last Update : 05:51 AM IST
Hindu-supremacist elements act without fear of the law.
India faced problems across the spectrum in 2017. Our people and the government will do well to take considered steps to keep India’s social fabric in a wholesome state. It has turned extremely fragile. Poor Indians, especially Muslims, dalits and Christians, have found themselves under extreme pressure. Hindu-supremacist elements act without fear of the law. Wholesome, non-discriminatory politics, in which all Indians can have a stake, is what we need, above all.
The time is for introspection. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently said that his party was now ruling in 19 states — more than the Congress did in the time of (the all conquering) Indira Gandhi.
However, the Indira era was one of hope, in spite of the serious setback to the democratic ethos during the 19-month Emergency, the 1967 famine, the terrible international oil shock of the 1970s, and the costs that the US and China sought to impose on us for defeating Pakistan and assisting the national aspirations of the people of the then East Pakistan.
In contrast is the national mood now. India is the only large economy in the world that did not register higher growth in 2017 although international commodity prices, including oil, were favourable. Jobs are on a downward curve, there is farm distress across India and its most recent evidence is the Gujarat result which brought the BJP to its senses although the saffron party got through by a whisker.
Industry and business are languishing. The private sector is in poor health. The government is breaching fiscal deficit targets with abandon in order to kick-start economic activity. The return of inflation with a bad bout of temper could be round the corner. None of this augurs well for the lives of ordinary Indians. Economic growth prospects are uncertain.
The state of international relations does not appear too rosy from the Indian perspective. Our leverage in the neighbourhood has received setbacks as many of our friends appear on the verge of succumbing to China’s influence. Relations with Pakistan are in a very bad shape and we appear to lack in energy to fix matters. Our age-old friendship with Russia is in a state of poor repair. China, an important regional and world player, usually speaks like an adversary. The US is friendly but, typically, American friendship is a matter of perpetual negotiation.
To get India back on its feet in 2018, social aggression and chaos must be ended with strict application of the law. Politics must be more democratic and less centralised. This will generate inputs for better policies. We wish our readers a year of fulfilment.