Today, I am writing about the events that have occurred over the past few days or rather; I would say years. At present, it is no secret that political parties in India are more inclined towards their marketing than working for the interests of the citizens. If we look at the case of the incumbent party in power, the BJP, as per information available in public domain, of all the money spent on marketing—especially social media marketing by political parties—almost 50% money was spent for candidates belonging to BJP, followed by regional parties and Congress.
Even if we look into the mainstream media channels like ZEE news or any other news channels in India, we will observe that these news channels always seem to propagate or project a positive image of BJP and will not cover any negative news regarding them. This kind of attitude of the media channels generally shows that it has been likely paid or sponsored by political parties, which creates a bias.
It is a fact that to win elections; political parties have to project whatever work they have done and do their best to ensure they win the elections. Although ideally, this should not be the case, now it has turned into a reality we have to accept. The problem arises when only ‘marketing’ of a political party becomes the basis on which they win elections, and ignore the parameters which actually matter.
For the past few days, the only thing that I have seen, especially in the news regarding the achievement of the incumbent government is Kashmir. The incumbent government’s stance on the issue is definitely a strong action which was required, but again, I hope it is successful and will not end up like demonetization. At the same time, it is also true that when it comes to the economic performance of this government, it is not quite satisfactory.
Although during the term of the incumbent government, there have been a few positive signs in the Indian economy such as: India’s improvement in ease of doing business ranking in which India jumped 23 places and got the 77th rank, the introduction of Make in India program through which the government intended to encourage the manufacturing unit of the country, the GST to bring a uniform tax system for the whole country, it was during this government that FDI (Foreign Direct investment) was at an all-time high, which proved that even foreign companies are banking on potential India has to offer, and also NEIDS, which is North East Industrial Development Scheme, a government objective to bring development and employment in Northeast regions. But at the same time, it is this government under which the Indian economy has suffered tremendously.
Decisions like demonetization have hampered the GDP growth. Although this decision was taken to bring into account the black money holders, as per the RBI report, 99% of the money was deposited back—which means that the main objective was not fulfilled. The only positive thing that maybe this action led to was increased tax compliance, but then the most crucial problem is the rising unemployment. The report from CMIE (Centre of Monitoring Indian Economy) states that nearly 1.5 million people lost their jobs between January and April 2017, even the State of Working India report states “unemployment levels have been steadily rising, and after several years of staying around 2-3% the headline rate of unemployment reached 5% in 2015, and youth unemployment reached 16%. This rate of unemployment is the highest seen in India in at least the last 20 years”.
The problem does not end here; another problem the economy is facing is the declining value of Indian Rupee along with the NPAs (Non-Performing Assets) in the banking system. According to RBI, the gross NPAs in Indian public sector banks are valued at ₹4,00,000 crore compromising 90% of the total NPA in India. Under the incumbent government, NPAs have risen by ₹6.2 lakh crore between March 2015 and March 2018, as per the Parliamentary Committee.
Whatever economic problems are mentioned here cannot be ignored, but still, many media houses refrain from reporting such problems. There can be many reasons for this, but it seems like now the incumbent government has come to its senses that they cannot afford to ignore these problems and they cannot sustain on media marketing forever. Maybe, for this reason, Nirmala Sitharaman, who is the present Finance Minister of India, presented the programs with the objective to tackle the economic problems India is facing.
Only time will tell whether these programs will fulfil their objectives or not, but ideally, it should be the media that should report such problems to the public—so that the people are aware of how the government is tackling them. But the unfortunate reality is that the media houses need money to run their operations, hence, the sources from which they receive finances have the power to influence their reporting, and it looks like those sources have vested interests with the incumbent government.
It looks like the reality will not change anytime soon. I cannot tell about the long term, but my only concern is that the people stop voting candidates just based on their marketing, and instead vote them for the actual work they do. And as far as incumbent government is concerned, it is crucial for them to focus on the economy—because if we keep on focusing on Kashmir and ignore our economy, then the day is not far that our condition will be similar to that of Pakistan’s. They are a living example of what the country has to go through if they prioritise other agendas than the economy.