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The Guardian's take on India's elections: the audacity of Narendra Modi's hatred | Editorial

The Guardian's take on India's elections: the audacity of Narendra Modi's hatred |  Editorial

 


NOTo the party or candidate must involve himself in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic. SO bed the rule book for Indian elections. Did anyone tell this to Narendra Modi? India's prime minister has used openly Islamophobic language during his two-month campaign, portraying India's 200 million Muslims as an existential threat to the Hindu majority. It is ridiculous that the body responsible for conducting free and fair elections has issued a feeble call for restraint. star activists. With Indian election results next week, commentator warned Mr. Modi has targeted the backs of India's Muslims, diverting anger from poor and marginalized Hindu communities away from crony capitalists and privileged upper castes.

Mr Modis tirades aim to distract an electorate suffering from high inflation and a lack of jobs despite rapid economic growth. His Bharatiya Janata Party's political strategy is to emphasize the threats to Hindu civilization and the need for a united Hindu nation against Muslims. However, Mr. Modi has fused this Hindu nationalism with the idea that it was sent by God. Rahul Gandhi, his main opponent from the Congress party, suggested that anyone else making such a claim should consult a psychiatrist.

Religion, wrote Karl Marx, is the opium of the people. This thought still resonates in places where organized religion remains a powerful force. That is why Donald Trump also claims to be doing God's work. In India, the poor often see politicians as gods who relieve the pain of reality. By claiming to be divine, Mr. Modi turns voters into followers, encouraging the belief that God's purpose is to target minorities, prohibit dissent and flout constitutional protections. It is depressing to think that Mr. Modi will achieve a third electoral victory. It is hardly reassuring to think that the BJP is unlikely to achieve Mr Modi's target of winning almost three-quarters of the country's 543 parliamentary seats. Foreign investors are withdrawing their cash from the Indian stock market, quoting uncertainty about the results.

Ten years ago, Mr. Modi promised that jobs would be his top priority. However, unemployment has barely changed, although India is the most affected country. Fastest-growing major economy in the world. Four-fifths of the unemployed are young people. More working-age women are employed as a percentage of the labor force Nepal and Bangladesh than in India. The fruits of growth fall into the lap of wealthy Indians, drawn almost exclusively from the country's upper castes who support the BJP. Unsurprisingly, under Mr. Modi, Indian inequality has reached its highest level on record.

Reducing these gaps is not only a moral imperative but a necessary condition for economic growth. Human development is the result of social cooperation, which is made more difficult in a stratified society where divisions are encouraged. A report Thomas Piketty's World Inequality Lab has suggested an annual wealth tax and inheritance tax on the 370,000 Indians earning 1.2 million euros a year, who currently hold more than a quarter of the world's total wealth. country. According to the authors, this should be used to double current public spending on education, which has stagnated at 2.9% of GDP over the past 15 years. Reduce inequality was an element, to his credit, of Mr. Gandhis campaign. The problem for India is that Mr. Modi has a knack for turning anger and fear into political power.

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