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This Editorial in The New York Times avers how under Narendra Modi’s leadership growth has slowed, jobs have not materialized, and what has actually been unleashed is virulent intolerance that threatens the foundation of the secular nation envisioned by its founders.

Narendra Modi’s landslide victory as prime minister of India in 2014 was borne on his promises to unleash his country’s economic potential and build a bright future while he played down the Hindu nationalist roots of his Bharatiya Janata Party.

But, under Mr. Modi’s leadership, growth has slowed, jobs have not materialized, and what has actually been unleashed is virulent intolerance that threatens the foundation of the secular nation envisioned by its founders.

Since Mr. Modi took office, there has been an alarming rise in mob attacks against people accused of eating beef or abusing cows, an animal held sacred to Hindus. Most of those killed have been Muslims. Mr. Modi spoke out against the killings only last month, not long after his government banned the sale of cows for slaughter, a move suspended by India’s Supreme Court. The ban, enforcing cultural stigma, would have fallen hardest on Muslims and low-caste Hindus traditionally engaged in the meat and leather industry.

It would also have struck a blow against Mr. Modi’s supposed priorities: employment, economic growth and boosting exports. The $16 billion industry employs millions of workers and generated $4 billion in export income last year.

More disturbing was his party’s decision to name Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu warrior-priest, as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, and a springboard to national leadership. Mr. Adityanath has called India’s Muslims “a crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped” and cried at one rally, “We are all preparing for religious war!”

This development led the analyst Neerja Chowdhury to observe: “India is moving right. Whether India moves further right, and Modi begins to be looked upon as a moderate, I think that only time will tell.”

On Tuesday, India’s film censor board, headed by a Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart apparently intent on protecting Mr. Modi and the party from criticism, ruled that a documentary film about one of India’s most famous sons, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, cannot be screened unless the director cuts the words “cow,” “Hindu India,” “Hindutva view of India” — meaning Hindu nationalism — and “Gujarat,” where Mr. Modi was chief minister at the time of deadly anti-Muslim riots in 2002.

This might seem like merely a farcical move by Hindu fanatics, if it were not so in line with much else that is happening in Mr. Modi’s India, and if the implications for India’s democracy weren’t so chilling. But this is where Mr. Modi has brought the nation as it prepares to celebrate 70 years of independence on Aug. 15.

After Narendra Modi became Prime Minister and a retired IPS officer was appointed NSA (and made virtual super boss of intelligence and security agencies), the killings have steadily gone up, both in militancy-related incidents and Naxalite incidents.

In Jammu and Kashmir, 198 jawans and 91 civilians were killed in the 35 months of Modi rule, while the figures for the previous 35 months were 103 and 50, respectively. (In the Naxalism-related incidents 442 jawans and 278 civilians were killed in Modi’s 35 months as against 229 jawans and 47 civilians in previous 35 months.)

Former RAW chief A S Dulat, who was Advisor on Kashmir to PM Atal Behari Vajpayee, explains in an interview to Sheela Bhatt in The Indian Express: ‘because of alienation and the anger of youth, young Kashmiri minds have gone out of control. There is a sense of hopelessness. They aren’t afraid to die. Villagers, students and even girls are coming out on the streets. This has never happened in the past’.

He further points out  that terrorism, that intensity of violence and militancy ‘that we saw in 1990 is not there now. There were more guns then… Actual militancy was more then but today the situation is scarier. When stone-pelting is done by youth and girls it’s abnormal… Today, they are proud of being stone-pelters. They are no longer hiding. Schoolgirls and women are coming out to throw stones. The Kashmir situation has never been so bad’.

In a perceptive piece in The Hindu, Radha Kumar says candidly: ‘We have allowed our security forces (Army, Central Reserve Police Force and State police) to be the only visible face of India in the Valley — our legislators and civil government are not to be seen’. Academic and author, Radha Kumar was one of the three interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir  appointed by the UPA government in 2010 The panel was headed by Dilip Padgaonkar, former editor of The Times of India. and the other member was M M Ansari, a former Election Commissioner of India.

In sum, solution to Kashmir problem is not possible without ending alienation of the people there. For that the BJP leaders will have to change their inborn mindset and start trusting Muslims.


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Value of propaganda

Adolf Hitler believed in the use of propaganda as an integral element to seizing and holding on to political power. His maxim was 'the bigger the lie, the more easily it will be believed, provided it is repeated vigorously and often enough'. (Sean Murphy in his book 'Letting the Side Down')

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