“All the promises have been betrayed,” read the introduction to the book, The Crooked Timber of New India: Essays on a Republic in Crisis.
The launch of the book is no music to the BJP-led dispensation at the Centre. The author, Parakala Prabhakar, former spokesperson of the party in Andhra Pradesh, is the spouse of Nirmala Sitharama, the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs.
The book was launched on 14 May, a day after Karnataka rejected the BJP in the Assembly polls, thereby ejecting the saffron party from South India.
The Bangalore International Centre at Domlur — where Prabhakar chose to release his title — was packed. The book reflected his criticism of the Narendra Modi government, and his thoughts and views on the BJP that sailed to power in 2014, and retained it five years later.
Prabhakar is a widely-respected political economist, writer and social commentator, who has a doctorate from the London School of Economics and an M.Phil from the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The launch event was themed ‘Decoding Our Republic’s Crisis: The True Picture of New India’, a catchy title in an age in which propaganda and false information gain currency over facts — othering communities and even states.
Voodoo economists, shattered hopes
“A new era began in May 2014, or so we were told,” Prabhakar said in the introduction to the book.
“Delivering his victory speech in Vadodara, Mr Modi declared that good days were upon us, and promised a shining India; in his Lok Sabha address, he referred to his party’s victory as a ‘new hope’ and dedicated it to the poor and the disadvantaged; in his Independence Day address three months later, he resolved to take everyone along and deliver good governance through hard work and consensus.”
“Over the eight years since all the promises have been betrayed,” it added.
Substantiating arguments with facts, Prabhakar has delved deeper, noting that, for the first time since the 1990s, the number of people who are below the poverty line in India has increased.
The book argued that the country added 75 million to the world poor in 2021 alone, and slipped to the 132nd position (out of 191 countries) in the UNDP Global Human Development Index for 2021-22.
Unemployment, especially among the youth, is somewhere over 20 percent — alarmingly concerning, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. The country’s unemployment rate shot up to 8.3 percent and the labour market shed 2.1 million jobs. By March-end this year, the unemployment rate was 7.76 percent.
In the absence of organised economic thought and competent economic advisers, “New India” fell prey to voodoo economists who could easily convince a clueless government to take disastrous measures like demonetisation, which broke the back of the country’s economy.
“Between two to three crore farmers quit unsustainable agriculture. The food inflation is high, and the rural distress continues unabated,” Prabhakar argues…