Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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Modi makes civil servants pledge ‘One Problem, Total Solution’. But his big test awaits

Modi believes he is completing Sardar Patel’s agenda on Jammu & Kashmir and putting India back on the right path to democracy by scrapping Article 370.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s embrace of technology is well-known. There was the robot ‘Mitra’, which greeted him and Ivanka Trump as they launched the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad in November 2017.

And then there was the robot at Kevadia Colony in Gujarat Thursday, which released a coffee table book as well as the newsletter of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, welcoming the Prime Minister in its USS Enterprise voice.

But Kevadia, circa 2019, will be remembered for other things too. On Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s 144th birth anniversary, Modi not only paid fulsome tributes at the feet of the China-burnished Statue of Unity, the tallest statue in the world at 182 metres. Climbing up a rostrum that reached the Sardar’s feet, Modi stretched his arms and let the wind carry away the flower petals.

Then, 430 officer trainees of the civil services, along with uniformed police and paramilitary, took a high salute pledge of devotion to the country – a straight-arm salute. They were led by Modi.

Not sure any IAS, IFS, IPS and other civil service officers-to-be have ever taken a vow like that before.

Also read: India should join RCEP because it needs more trade, not less

Certainly, Modi has made it clear that he idolises Sardar Patel. Since he came to power in 2014, he has ordered that 31 October be celebrated as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas. If not for Patel who integrated 560 princely states into the Union of India, Modi believes, the country would have fallen apart at the time of Partition. He said as much at Kevadia.

“Centuries ago India was united by Chanakya, and after that Sardar Patel did it,” Modi said.

Meanwhile, Indira Gandhi, who broke up Pakistan and whose death anniversary also falls on 31 October, was dismissed in one matter-of-fact tweet early morning by the PM. I pay my “vinamra shradhanjali,” respectful condolences, to the former PM’s memory, Modi said.

The rest of the day was spent lauding Congress leader Sardar Patel, whose strongarm tactics in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, saved the day for India, according to Modi. Moreover, Jawaharlal Nehru’s absurd notions about giving special status to the Muslim-majority state in 1950, through none other than Article 370, exacerbated the problem. The Sardar died too young, otherwise the character of India’s democracy would have taken a different trajectory. It was now up to him, Modi, to bring the country back to the right path.

Modi clearly believes he is completing Patel’s agenda. That’s why he picked 31 October, Patel’s birth anniversary, to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

But as the historian Srinath Raghavan has pointed out, the truth is quite the opposite. It was Patel, not Nehru, who was the architect of Article 370 in the Constitution. In fact, Patel – not Nehru – had been willing to let Kashmir accede to Pakistan in exchange for Hyderabad, which Patel was eyeing because it was a state located right in the heart of southern India.

Certainly, the relationship between Nehru and Patel depends on the lens it is looked from. According to Vidya Subrahmaniam, the two men admired each other greatly. According to Hindol Sengupta, Patel has not been given the recognition that was due to him.

Modi has been clearly trying to fix that problem for some time. The Kevadia celebration was like an avenging of Patel, especially with regard to Jammu and Kashmir.

Also read: Modi govt is riding a tiger in Kashmir. This will only lead to more Kulgam-like violence

“Article 370 is a wall that has gone now,” Modi said at Kevadia, dedicating the removal of the statutory provision to Patel.

The downgrading of J&K into two union territories also means that Modi wants to retain control over the state’s politics, at least for the time being.

In fact, Modi’s obsession with control, order and discipline demonstrates his need to transform the essentially chaotic nature of India’s democracy into a regulated space; because it’s a short step from democracy to anarchy, and anarchy implies an absence of control.

That’s why Modi leans so vehemently in favour of the “One Nation” formula: One Nation/One Tax, One Nation/One Flag, One Nation/One Language, One Nation/One Election, and last but not least, One Nation/One Ration Card.

It’s perhaps why, at Kevadia, he implored the civil service trainees to employ the “One District, One Problem, Total Solution” method of governance.

Also read: Tough message for Modi: Political winds are shifting, from nationalism to economy, jobs

Clearly, this has been an important week for Modi. But it’s not over yet. In the coming days, India has to decide whether or not to join the pro-Chinese Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) is violently against because it believes competitively priced foreign goods will wipe out Indian products.

Will Modi capitulate to the SJM or will he vote in favour of trimming the flab so that the Indian economy can at least compete with the outside world?

One of the biggest decisions of his prime ministership awaits Modi.

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  1. Your comment that Patel was the architect of 370 is factually incorrect. Kindly read Justice Mehfil Chand Mahajan’s autobiography called ” Looking Back” for a first person account of what actually happened. Justice Mahajan was the PM of Kashmir on Patel’s request and personally oversaw the signing of the accession.

    • You are factually wrong! Sardar was too happy to give J&K to Pakistan, and get Hyderabad for India! This is a matter of record of recent Indian history. “Sardar Patel was the ‘architect’ of Article 370. The very first meeting between Kashmiri leaders and Indian leaders was held in Sardar Patel’s house. Negotiations continued for five months and when the outlines were finalised, the Dewan of Kashmir N. Gopalaswamy Iyenger wrote to Sardar Patel and requested him to write to Jawaharlal Nehru and inform the latter that the Dewan agreed to the clauses proposed. Iyenger wrote that Pandit Nehru would write to Sheikh Abdullah only after Sardar Patel cleared the draft in its entirety. Sardar Patel then wrote to Nehru, who was in the United States on his first state visit, that he had discussed Article 370 with other leaders. “ I was able to prevail upon them…” is what Patel wrote to Nehru.”

  2. RCEP is long term positive for India and Indian industry. However, there’s bound to be considerable pain in the short to medium term. The China led trade deal might spell the death kneal of many a business in India due to flooding of cheap Chinese products. Hence, one expects India to safeguard its domestic industries before accepting any deal.

  3. One Country. One Problem. That problem is Modi. One Country, One Solution. Remove Modi.

    His ignorance of his own country and his own culture is staggering.

    He and his BPP/RSS/VHP are fake Hindus. Let them take UP and call it Gauistan and leave the rest of chaotic India in peace.

    • Just as previous governments were pseudo-secularists the present government is made up of pseudo- Hindus. None of this government’s acts confirm to India’s social, cultural, economic traditions/ ethos Like Shourie said, this is actually a Marxist (a Western import) government being run under the garb of Hindu identity politics.

      • They are destroying what is good about Hinduism. It has a tradition of pacifism that goes back to Ashoka. Modi and company now want Hindus to be like the Europeans of a hundred years ago, not wanting to see what European nationalism brought in WW1 and WW2. About 60-70 million people killed.

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