Wednesday, January 25, 2023
HomeOpinionRam mandir's done, now Modi can't ride more Hindu nationalism as economy...

Ram mandir’s done, now Modi can’t ride more Hindu nationalism as economy is stalling

Modi’s stature could be dented if India’s economy doesn’t break out of its chronic stall. He needs grand ideas to end the slide or risk more emotional populism.

Text Size:

Even the most incorrigible critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi would struggle to find fault with his short-and-sweet address to the nation after the Ayodhya judgment.

It had three strands. One, that the Supreme Court had settled a festering, divisive issue and now it was time to move on, forgetting the “fear, bitterness and negativity” of the past.

Second, that the date, 9 November, was particularly significant, as it was the anniversary (30th, actually) of the fall of the Berlin Wall that divided the world during the Cold War. He invoked this Berlin Wall comparison not necessarily for Ayodhya, but the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, where he acknowledged that both India and Pakistan had worked together, forgetting their differences.

And third, he said, the Supreme Court had already ordered that the Ram Temple could be built. It was therefore an obligation on the part of all citizens to dedicate themselves to the larger task of nation-building. He invoked ‘unity in diversity’ repeatedly (vividhta mein ekta), and concluded with greetings for Eid-e-Milad.

So far, so good. Then, we move to the political meaning of what he said. His third point, ‘Temple done, now is the time for nation-building’, is what indicates the next steps in his government and party’s politics. Also, some important questions.

He swept the 2019 election with a combination of welfarism turbo-charged by Hindu nationalism. With Article 370 and the Ram mandir done, and some moves towards a Uniform Civil Code (banning triple talaq) made, what is left of that agenda? Within less than six months of beginning its second term, the Modi government and the BJP have done almost everything they have been promising on their Hindu and nationalist agenda for decades. Where do they go next?

Modi won 2014 on the promise of “achhe din”, minimum government-maximum governance, growth and jobs. Most of that hasn’t happened. If anything, the economic and employment situation has greatly deteriorated in the past three years. In 2019, Hindu nationalism plus direct benefit transfers to crores of poor enabled him to persuade enough voters to look beyond the economic distress to win a second mandate. What does he do next?

In a more perfect world, his government would need to normalise and relax restrictions in Kashmir, at some point de-escalate with Pakistan and there isn’t another foreign adversary to get people angry with. Some bit of economic nationalism, possibly directed at Chinese imports, could be useful. But it can’t have anywhere near the same oomph as demolishing a mosque, building a temple, bombing Balakot, surgical strikes and so on.

Modi has employed his foreign visits and interactions brilliantly to enhance his political stature and convince his voters that he’s seen by global leaders in a league several notches above any other Indian leader they can remember. He is too smart not to know that this would be unsustainable unless India’s economy breaks out of a stall that’s looking chronic now.

Therefore, 9 November 2019, is also significant for our domestic politics. Because this is when voters would expect Modi to focus back on their economic well-being, redeem his old pledge of “achhe din”.

Of course, if you do not have grand new ideas or imagination to break out of the slide, you could explore more options to fire emotional populism: The other religious sites, NRC, and Pakistan is always next door. But, as the disappointments of Maharashtra and even Haryana show, voters are a bit bored with the same Hindu-nationalist potion now. The BJP performed way below expectations in both states, although the vote took place within 11 weeks of the action on Article 370.

You can take an optimistic view and presume that Modi and his party will now focus on the economy. But then, there is the Jharkhand election next month, Delhi soon thereafter, and so on. And this isn’t a political leadership that takes even a panchayat election lightly.

Also read: Two readings of Ayodhya verdict: legalising Hindutva or separating site from structure


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Aand now Amit Shah announces NRC will be implemented in all country. Not a good indication of any focus towards economy.

  2. Sir Well said and as a opposition leader, great economist of the Nation you have predicted the way the government goes forgetting the promises they had given during 2014 and implemented almost all the promises relates their ideology within short spel of time. Unity among the people and development of the Nation is more important than the populous words and polocy.

  3. The tone and tenure of this article, beginning with the headlines, makes it obvious that the author belongs to the opposition camp. Overlooking the joy and happiness in the minds of a great majority of his own countrymen, the author has reflected the gloom in his own heart and attempted to put Mr Modi in the dock and accuse him of imaginary shortcomings.

    A great leader of India ( Was it MK Gandhi ?) once observed:
    ” If you are a toilet inspector, all you see is SHIT “

  4. The Ram mandir decision yesterday is the first serious blow to a Democratic India. This is the first endorsement by India’s highest court that the Muslims are second class citizens in this country. The same humiliation will be heaped upon them in Mathura and Varanasi. What else can it be, when the SC recognizes that the demolition was illegal and yet hands over the proceeds of the illegal act to the perpetrators of that act!
    Yesterday’s verdict is also the first endorsement by our highest court that India need not call itself a secular country. Here religious sentiments of majority community are more sacrosanct. We are only a short distance away from being branded a banana country which is being ruled by such a massively charismatic leader who can “bend” even the Rays of Justice, just as a massive celestial body can bend the Rays of Light (Theory of Relativity). By a corollary of that, corruption by a favoured group of people will not be called corruption. That will be a second confirmation of Banana Republic of India. And that confirmation is coming soon, something tells me.

    • Well said. We are already there.

      The judiciary is not doing its job. Now only the press remains – actually only a few in the press. How long will that last?

      In my opinion, Taseer’s OCI card was withdrawn not because of his article in Time, but because his mother Tavleen Singh, after blindly supporting Modi and company for years, had started criticising them in her Sunday IE column.

      Chidambram also finished in jail, mainly because of his constant criticism of the BJP government in his weekly Sunday column in the IE.

      Next in the list? The Print team! It’ll be nice to see the Print being published from Tihar…could that explain Shekhar Gupta’s fine balancing act in his articles?

    • India was never a secular country. Just inserting the word ‘secular’, by Indira Gandhi’s illegal government in the 1970s, didn’t make it so. As some wag said, in India secular means ‘pro Muslim’ and communal means ‘pro Hindu’.

    • India is for all Indians with equal rights. Unlike Pakistan Indian doesn’t has second class citizens. However, some Muslims continue to feel second class citizen in India. Pakistan was created precisely for these type of Muslims who felt second class citizen in India. They should leave India and go to Pakistan and take all librandus with them. Let librandus have the taste of living in Pakistan.

      • Some Muslims do not feel second class citizens, some Hindus think they are more than equal citizens. Why don’t they go to Nepal?

        • Nepal was not created from India on the demands of Hindus as Pakistan was created from India on the demand from Muslims. Your argument is bulshit. Get your head treated.

  5. Real leaders take their people forward.

    The present government, instead of taking Ayodhya into the 21st century AD, is taking them back to the 21st century BC.

    What will they do with this Ram temple? Hindus have millions of temples, one in every home.

    How nice it would’ve been if the Supreme Court would’ve mandated that a hospital be constructed there or even better an Institute dedicated to studying pollution and global warming?

    But it is too much to ask this of the current Supreme Court.

    Ram is not the only God in the Hindu pantheon, and surely he’s the most boring one. How about that lovely playful God Krishna? He’s disappeared.

  6. I’m not an economist; however, I’m pursuaded to believe that the current economic showdown is more likely to be driven by consistent drop in consumer spending. Common sense suggests that consumers would spend more when a) those unemployed get employed, b) those already in employment get more wages, c) the personal tax rates drop, and so on.

    Whilst the private sector job creation isn’t in government hands, the government could have directly created more jobs by bringing forward future infrastructure projects or by thinking up new ones. Cash realised by getting rid of its stake in government-controlled enterprises could then have been diverted to those projects. A more liberalised environment for foreign stake in key sectors (of course without hurting Baba Ramdevs) could also have created more jobs. However, this government has so far only demonstrated is talent in political maneuvering and machinations; nothing on the economic front.

    On the tax front, bringing down the corporation tax rates may encourage enterprise, but will not leave more cash in the hands of the consumers. If the rumoured changes to the direct tax laws are anything to go by, taxing dividend income in the hands of the consumers may, in fact, further hurt consumer spending. But then this country’s tax system is a puzzle that even the scholars would struggle to get around..

    • To be fair to this government, they’ve tried many things. But the donkey is dead, and refuses to move. Obviously.

      • Well, being in a Machiavellian mode always (fixing political targets) meant that this government lost focus. Those lower down the political food chain did try their bit to tinker with the economy; dropping corporation tax rates etc. But the economic anaemia runs so deeper that only big bang changes can make any impact. But hang on, when is the next elections?

        • Modi will spend a lot of time in the coming elections in some states. And when is Modi’s next foreign trip? And his attention will be taken up by when to restore Internet in Kashmir. And the next OCI card to be annulled. And the next Maharashtra government to be formed by enticing Congress MLAs.

          He leads a charmed life.

          When does he have time for his primary responsibility: governing India?

  7. Honestly u guys have made Modi stronger n he would forever be thankful to you..LOL.see i have been a Congress supporter for several years now, but i think focusing on finding negative news on Modi will never bring back Congress to power…Congress should focus on strengthening it’s ground level workers, which is the biggest strength of the BJP…u have to make some changes in the way u write ur articles, times have changed n being too critical about Modi or BJP will not help at all…now a days people get irritated…ur article first of all should make some sense n criticise the Govt on sensible reasons with proper legit sources n not just for everything…. remember this is a democracy n we must respect the people’s mandate…if they have elected this party for some reason, u can’t pretend be oblivious to the entire fact n continue to criticise…

  8. They kept saying this and Modi came back with stronger majority. Let them keep ranting and Modi would be there forever. The public ire for Libtards has to be sustained.

  9. Shekharji. You, RaNDTV’s Prannoy et al were shouting at roof top on how free LPG scheme hasn’t made much difference; on how very close the elections were in 2019; how Modinis not invincible; how BJP is vulnerable; how they would lose more seats in Karnataka because of the Cong-JDS gatthbandhan etc.

    Finally you had to eat the humble pie and admit that you were taken off guard and that you didn’t realise the ground level vibrations and thoughts.

    The same way, you will retract the above statement saying that you failed to understand the smartness in BJP’s think tank. Waiting for that day.

    At least now, realise that you left leaning guys don’t have any support and BJP/Modi just steamroll you in a jiffy

  10. It is entirely a foolish thought that Indians were driven by religious feelings when they voted Mr. Modi to power.
    It was infact his Gujrat model of development that enticed people to vote for him. If it is not replicated to atleast 50%, then Mr. Modi is bound to lose.
    Considering the global slowdown,it seems to be an impossible task.

  11. If Modi knows how to reach here from a tea seller, he surely knows how to move forward also. Don’t need any advice from Mr Gupta

  12. Failing economy needs large doses of free market capitalism but sadly Bharat is allergic to free trade. People are made to pay expensive Indian products and are denied access to cheaper imports.

    • TESCO sells schools shirts for two pounds UK money. That translates it Indian rupees 170. You cannot buy anything in India with that money. But should India ask TESCO to flood the Indian market with cheaper shirts? What will happen to the livelihood of millions of tailors in India.

      • They learn to make better shirts. Or they change jobs. You SHOULD protect your nascent industry, but only up to a point. Air India is an example: it should’ve been sold off many years ago.

      • Don’t underestimate Indian ingenuity
        Indian tailors will make better shirts at lower prices. India was a world leader in textiles for centuries. It’s discomfiting how Indians have developed this deep inferiority complex, constantly whining and feeling defeated even before they start playing the game. If free trade is allowed, more Indians will start trading,
        then manufacturing and so on. There will be exposure to better technology, management, materials etc. helping Indian industry and consumers. Else all we have is this stunted industry constantly looking for protection, bailouts and subsidies.

        • Indian textiles are simply the best in the world, both in their use of color and the designs.

          Some examples of silk sarees are so beautiful that you can hang them in your drawing room as pieces of art. Banaras, Pochampalli, Chanderi, Kanjivaram, to name a few. Eye-wateringly beautiful.

          But these artisans need help to modernize the production and distribution process so that the majority of the profits flow back to them. As I understand some outfits are trying to help (e.g. Fab India), but the general impression is that they keep most of the profits.

          India needs its Armanis and Guccis to make world-class clothing from these pieces of art. And to export them all over the world.

  13. Despite all out attack on Modi by left liberal pseudos (including Shekhar who glides on the other side at times), Modi has managed to achieve major points on BJP’s much hated, so called Hindutva agenda. He has shown to the country and to the world at large what a decisive BJP government backed by majority in the Parliament can achieve. It now looks as if there is a sudden calm and political vacuum! UCC and other issues will happen in due course but impossible ones were Art 370 and Ram Temple, which Modi Shah duo swiftly handled. Many issues like Kashmir will linger for next 5 to 10 years, as stability returns but that is work as usual.

    Economy is a major issue and it is surprising that Modi has not taken it seriously. His real legacy will not be the achievements of these political issues but his contribution to building a strong, vibrant economy unshackled from the past mistakes of Nehru Indira days. There is almost near unanimity on the major reform agenda for the government. But Modi has to use his political capital to get on with the reforms, be in agriculture, industry, labor laws, real estate, infrastructure, finance, governance, sale of PSUs and PSBs etc. Of course, he will continue to get majority in Lok Sabha even if he continues to run his non-corrupt, honest and pro poor government but that will leave the economy in a weakened state. Hope Modi delivers!

      • Dear Ashokjee- Economic issues will continue to crop up from time to time Even in USA or China, similar issues are there all the time. What we need from Modi at the strategic and political level is a direction for fundamental/foundational changes in the way we manage our economy and policies, so that we have a clear break from the past socialistic control minded economic governance. Once we unshackle ourselves from the past “steel frame” , we have better tools to attack our economic issues. This will be the job of FM at tactical and operational level

        And there is a broad consensus on what these reforms should be like in agriculture, infrastructure, finance, manufacturing, etc etc. I trust you will agree and look forward top building a New India under Modi!

        • Yeh Modi se na go payega. Modi himself is an extreme left wing Marxist. There can be no New India, with the same old failed socialist policies of the past. Modi is exceptional at sloganeering, coining acronyms, event management, winning elections but building a New India is beyond his imagination and capability.

    • Difficult to be sanguine about your parentage from your choice of words. However, will now spend a little time on the News Minute site, if it is as good as the Print.

      • Ignore the choice of his words. Definitely these spread negativism. Shekhar himself has always been presenting a pessimistic outlook towards Modi/BJP. Pl go through his articles. You would come to know

  14. Modi has some tough political decisions to take to spur the economy. The interest rates have to be lowered. Labour laws must be relaxed. Land acquisition must be made easier. Modi must bite the bullet.

  15. The title “Ram mandir’s done, now Modi can’t ride more Hindu nationalism as economy is stalling” indicates that Shekhar Gupta has accused Hindu nationalism for stalling India’s economy. Is Shekhar Gupta gone insane? No No certainly not. He is the most respected journalist over jealous of giving sermons to Modi.

  16. The first item on the agenda now should be to dismount the Kashmiri tiger. Fine column by Shri Ramchandra Guha in the Telegraph, holding that the experiment has failed badly. Not just Kashmir, even Jammu’s economy has been shattered. There are vast unpaid bills, as Mr Nina wrote, and they are coming literally and figuratively due. Wholesale recast of the team is required.

  17. “Modi’s stature could be dented if India’s economy doesn’t break out of its chronic stall” statement by Shekhar Gupta is essentially is a mask to saying “Modi’s stature can be dented if India’s economy is portrayed in bad shape.”. That’s the reason of one librandu after another is joining the propaganda of defaming India worldwide and lobbying alongwith India’s enemies to show Indian economy in bad shape even though Indian economy is growing faster than those countries that give space to librandus to unleash the propaganda against India with the assumption that it will dent the stature of Modi. This attempt is no different from the failed attempt of “Modi Chor hai” propaganda except that this time librandus are trying to use the economy to beat Modi. Librandus have not succeeded in the past and will not succeed in the future also as this a fight between that Modi’s moral strength and librandus immoral propagandas.

    • Do numbers mean anything to you or your ilk? Can you read, analyze and understand various reports on the economic downturn? Did you read about the Moody’s downgrade of economy? Or maybe you as an individual can and do understand, but if one is just doing ones job with some IT cell, then whats more to said?!

      • If Infosys is laying off 10,000 educated, qualified employees, just a matter of time before the IT cell starts handing out pink slips to its semi literate trolls.

        • Mr ashok-know-all, Infosys performance reflects global economic situation & and not domestic. U guys in ur modi hatred miss the wood for trees, the global economy is tanking for past 2-3 yrs due to slowdown in demand and friction in trade-flows, India is but a reflection of that trend. That said, India has to take steps to minimize the -ve impact of that. Opp to govt has right to be critical, however, analysis has to be right. Right?

Comments are closed.