Modi came to power promising ‘Acche Din’ – Good Times. But the four years of his rule has spelt ‘Good Times’ only for India’s richest 1%, whose share in wealth leaped from 49% in 2014 to 73% in 2017, according to Global Inequality Surveys by Oxfam. The gap between the super-rich and the country’s poor has widened vastly under Modi.
Addressing a rally in Ghazipur a week after his demonetisation announcement, Modi had claimed that the Note Ban had “equalised the rich and the poor”. Touting Note Ban as ‘kadak chai’ (strong tea) that the poor relished but the rich could not digest, he claimed that Note Ban would force the rich to throw away their ill-gotten high denomination notes, reducing the gap between the rich and poor. The latest Oxfam inequality survey shows that the Note Ban year of 2017 had the opposite effect. In this year, the richest 1% got much richer, much faster – their share in wealth increased from 58% in 2016 to 73% in 2017. And in the same Note Ban year, the income share of the poor rose by a meagre 1%.
The latest Gallup survey found that “only 3% of Indians consider themselves thriving in 2017 compared to 14% in 2014.” The quality of life of rural Indians has taken the worst beating, while urban Indians too suffered a steep decline in their quality of life: the Gallup survey found, “India’s largely rural population initially led the decline in life evaluations, with thriving dropping from 14% to 7% between 2014 and 2015, and edging even lower to 4% and 3% in the years after that,” according to Gallup. “Declines among urban Indians have been much more gradual, although they are down in the past year, dropping from 11% to 4%.”
Modi is silent on these surveys that tell the story of the impact of his policies on ordinary Indians’ lives and on inequality – he instead boasts of how India climbed from 130th position to 100th position in the World Bank’s 2017 “ease of doing business” rankings. He also ignores facts on rapidly declining employment rates and growing unemployment, breezily boasting that people forced to sell pakodas for Rs 200 a day are also “employed”!
An economist Panos Mourdoukoutas, in a piece in Forbes magazine titled ‘Indians Are Worse Off Under Modi’, remarked: “India’s Prime Minister Modi should spend less time abroad telling foreigners how well India is doing and more time at home asking people how they feel about his administration.
Because as Modi is heading to Davos, Switzerland, to address the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum this week, Indians think they are worse off than they were three years ago.”
The ‘godi’ (tame, cozy) media in India will never ask Modi these questions – it is for the people to call Modi’s bluff and teach him a lesson.