Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint
Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint

As this troubled year comes to an end, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have some concerns. India is looking worse than before on many key indicators, and we aren’t referring to the pandemic year.

Why now, you might ask. There is no particular reason to make an assessment of a government in its seventh year. The next general election is three and a half years away. Nor is there any evidence of an itch rising in the voter’s love affair with Modi. If Modi and his party are winning almost every political battle, what are we complaining about?

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The answer is, because there is more to leadership than popularity. And governance must be more than pure politics.

We didn’t choose the timing. It chose itself. Data points, survey findings, global ratings and rankings have been raining lately. And these give us a pretty good idea of what this government has achieved or squandered well into its seventh year now. The latest, of course, is the government’s own data, from National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 5, Phase 1. It is ugly on almost all parameters.

I recorded an episode of my daily video series #CutTheClutter on this, and you can check it out here for data in detail. But there is a lot more than this. The latest Human Freedom Index report is out, and rudely demotes India 17 places, from 94 to 111. Again, you can’t dismiss this as the work of anti-Modi/India/Hindu, ‘Left-infested’ foundations.

Because this survey is conducted by Cato Institute in Washington, which is as far from the Left as Mukesh Ambani might be from Pinarayi Vijayan. One of the leading scholars on its rolls is also Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar. He has already backed the agriculture reform laws, possibly even more strongly than I. Plus, he writes better.


Also read: Fallacy of too much democracy: No economic freedoms can thrive without political freedoms


The Human Freedom Index arrives at the rankings after assessing 76 parameters. These include mainstream factors such as rule of law, security and safety, freedoms of religion, association and civil society activity, expression and information, quality of regulation and, oops, size of government. Remember, minimum government?

Nobody expected India to be in the top rankings, but an improvement was a fair expectation. The opposite has happened. It’s a bummer to be beaten on the freedom index (including freedom to do business) by Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Mexico, Cambodia, Bolivia, Nepal (at 92, 19 places ahead of us), Sri Lanka (tied for 94), Zambia, Haiti, Lebanon and even Lukashenko’s Belarus, Senegal, Mozambique, Lesotho, Uganda, Malawi, Madagascar, Bhutan (108) and Burkina Faso. Remember its capital Ouagadougou, which Narasimha Rao chose to make his Kashmir peace offer from, probably because Chandraswami found that to be astrologically the most perfect spot in the world?

We might still have the joy of being substantially ahead of Pakistan and Bangladesh, but that is the equivalent to the loser’s joy of winning the ‘wooden spoon’. In fact, we are one step ahead of our old friend Putin’s new Russia. Remember Kazakhstan, which the Borat series of films has painted to be such an authoritarian dump? It is at 75. Thirty-six places ahead of India. The 2020 rankings are for 2018, so don’t blame the pandemic. And the higher rank of 94 was in 2019, based on 2017 data.

Hold your breath now as we figure out how our ranking has moved since 2013. It was 75 for the years 2008-12, 87 for 2013, 102 for 2015, 110 for 2016, improved to 94 in 2017, but has now collapsed to 111 for 2018. Plot this on a graph against politics.

The Global Economic Freedom Index, released in September, had India slide from 79 to 105. That is, 26 places down. Canada’s Fraser Institute leads this, and is by no means Left-wing. In October, globally respected democracy watchdog Freedom House released its Internet Freedom Index, and India marked a third consecutive year of decline, having registered the largest number of internet shutdowns in the world.

The annual UNDP Human Development Report doesn’t bring India any joy either. If anything, we have fallen two places to 131. But, over the past three years, we’ve been laggards, our rankings being 130, 129 and 131 now. In the Modi government’s seventh year with a full majority, we should’ve expected much better.

Are we cherry-picking data? These are the only globally valued surveys and rankings we have seen lately. And I am not even listing the one I do not take so seriously, the RSF ranking of 142 (down 2) on press freedom. While the press surely has challenges in India, how a survey that ranks Myanmar, South Sudan, UAE, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and even Afghanistan, where a brave journalist is unfortunately killed like once in a week, ahead of India, beats me.

So, I leave it there. But not the Global Hunger Index. That is also scientific, peer-reviewed research. India is 94 this year compared to 102 last year. But the whole field has reduced by 10, from 117 nations to 107 this year. Ten nations out, eight ranks up, you are either where you were or a little lower. The Global Hunger Index, however, has one problem. The word ‘hunger’ is a misnomer here. Because this isn’t about whether you go to sleep on an empty belly or not, but mostly about nutrition. Which brings us to our central argument.


Also read: Thatcher or Anna moment? Why Modi’s choice on farmers’ protest will shape future politics


Our argument had started with the data of the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5). The Global Hunger Index (GHI) has consistently seen India struggling despite the largest food security programme in the world. But GHI is not about food grain, roti-rice or a full belly. It is about nutrition. That’s where the NFHS holds up a mirror to us. And what we see is ugly.

It indicates that for the first time since 1998-99, India has reversed the virtuous curve of declining child malnutrition. This is Phase-1 of the survey and some major states will feature in the second. But the picture we see is bad enough across major states Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal, where our children under five show more stunting, wasting and underweight status. It gets worse. In most states, the number of overweight children has risen. Now, how can our children be getting feebler and fatter at the same time?

A lot of Modi critics would be reading this with a sense of gotcha! See, Modi is faking all his claims and figures, on Swachh Bharat Mission, National Nutrition Mission and so on. Be prepared for disappointment. The survey shows a distinct improvement in sanitation and also notes that ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) has improved in range, reach and delivery. What’s gone wrong then?

Over the past five years, our economic growth rate has slowed down. At the poorer levels of our population, this must be more pronounced. So, families have less and less surplus for nutritious foods: Milk, poultry, meat, pulses, vegetables, fruits. Read the NFHS results, therefore, with the GHI’s, and it makes sense.

Finally, we need to explore why such a paradox has come about. We also acknowledge that the Modi-BJP combination is continuing to sweep elections.

It can only be reconciled if you accept that Modi/BJP have dehyphenated their vote-catching appeal from economic growth. Nationalism, religion, Modi’s personal popularity and the lousy opposition are enough to keep winning. The data now is a warning.

Because at some stage, this fall in the quality of life will begin to hurt anybody’s popularity. And remember, while you might trash everything else as motivated, or blame Congress’s “70 years”, the children the NFHS surveyed were all under-5. They were all born under Modi government’s watch, and the survey concluded well before the pandemic. There’s no place to hide now.


Also read: How Modi has made a ‘Nehruvian’ half-blunder on China & ignored investing in the military


 

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75 COMMENTS

  1. Modi is popular because of following reasons:
    1. Modi is devoted to the welfare of india, he gives his full mind and spirit on it and hardly anybody doubts on Modi’s sincerity.
    2. Modi is very lucky to have come after a lacklustre PM’s decade when people started to think that the political class exists only to do corruption and loot the country. The emergence of AAP helped Modi immensely.
    3. Modi is doing something and doesn’t fear to take hard deisions.
    4. Modi is great in marketing, selling an idea in a convincing way. If the idea fails, nobody accuses him, as people think he gave his 100%. Today more Indian-origin people feel proud of their Indian heritage than ever. Indian foreign relations have never been better.
    5. Governance structure has become hierarchical and the govt machinery has never been active under Modi.
    6. A few of Modi’s policies are spectacularly successful: (a) Bank accounts for all, making direct delivery of benefits to people (b) Swachh Bharat Abhiyan did change the public mindset.
    Modi has failed in many indices because of following reasons:
    1. Although Modi is devoted, his idea of India is derived from a time in past. For any modern ideas he believes only in a few guys who have more selfish purposes in the new idea.
    2. Although Modi takes hard decisions, he doesn’t realize that a wrong decision can be disastrous for the India. For example, demonitization caused immense hardship to common people without any noticeable benefits. On the other hands it helped convert any existing balck money to white making demonitization a big exercise of money-laundering. A badly implemented GST caused great confusion and made the states bankrupt. The nation-wide lockdown was implemented really badly. The problems of migrant labourers are are became horribly visible that the common people jumped in to help, but the stone-hearted Modi didn’t know what to do.
    3. Modi is autocratic, he doesn’t respect democratic processes; in fact he does everything to undermine independent democratic institutions. Also he puts his energy in annihilating the opposition members rather than by providing explanations of his policies to the public, giving press releases, etc. as democracy requires. His statement that he is answerable to the public looks sham.
    4. Except the 2014 election which he won on development agenda, he has won no other election by using the same development agenda; he won only on a religious plank, by promoting hatred towards a group, a country or a demon. This is opposite of development agenda.

    • Well said and so true. Thank you. Modi is the best for elections and the worst for governing. When will the people learn that he is so bad for India?

    • Thank you. If I may add another point for Modiji. He loves and cares for the Bharat born culture very unlike those from the previous government who loathe it. One cannot smear feaces on peoples’ faces and expect them in return to vote or love you as the left and the Congress and its minions believe.

  2. Sir We talked about HUNGER vs NUTRITION: Cow is our sacred symbol. We enjoy the FREE Milk it produces. Why extra Milk is not distributed for Children As A First right to Children as for the CALF? If the Food and Confectionery Industry needs Milk allow them to import Milk Powder. Rather limit the use of MILK for other than drinking ? Experts must find the right mix here.

  3. Sadly, many of the comments that have come in and to a lesser extent the article itself focus on the personal fortunes of a single individual viz. PM Narendra Modi and a single party, viz. the BJP. Confirming that the upper caste Hindu middle-classes are now devout members of the Modi cult. They religiously believe that the fortunes and future of India depend on a single individual, Narendra Modi and that this Delhi University graduate alone is capable of delivering the goods. And as cult members, they have been conditioned to look past the many egregious instances of gross economic mis-management, sheer incompetence, crony capitalism, corruption, sycophancy, religious violence and subversion of democracy that the past 6 years of the Modi reign have wrought.

    This uncritical worship of a flawed man with a pogrom under his belt reminds one of the 70s when PM Indira Gandhi reigned supreme. Ms Gandhi, like Mr Modi, was surrounded by sycophants, crony capitalists and regional satraps all out to feather their own nests. Indeed, sycophancy hit its zenith – or rather nadir – when Congress leader D.K. Barooah (1914-96) famously said:

    “Indira is India, India is Indira” !!!!!!!

    Today, the Hindu middle classes have an equivalent refrain:

    “Modi is India, India is Modi” !!!!

    But alas, in Modistan, for Modi worshippers, the abysmal performance indicators attesting to the Modi government’s gross mismanagement and wanton destruction of the relatively healthy economy that was inherited from PM Manmohan Singh do not seem to matter. As long as the Messiah thrashes Muslims, organises a pogrom, builds a temple and tells his upper caste Hindu base that everything is hunky-dory, the base does not care. Indeed, after the Godhra pogroms in 2002, an overt anti-Muslim line won Modi a thumping majority.

    The cult worship and sycophancy directed at Ms Indira Gandhi & Modi might remind one of the famous statement by the French journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808-1890):

    “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”

    Which translates to:

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

    There is one major difference though. Under Ms Gandhi, India’s media refused to kowtow to her autocratic tendencies. But today, the complete capitulation of the media to Modi is a fait accompli.

    • Media of the 1970’s had better ethics. Despite India being a poor Third World country our press freedom was hailed in the 80’s and 90’s as a symbol of our democracy, however fragile our democracy was at that time.

      After 2014, most of the media in our country has changed in their value system. They are now more interested in manipulating public opinion. So much so that hardly any media-wallahs want to even talk about the price of petrol today.

      • Thanks for the response Mr Venkatesh T.

        I fully agree with what you write Sir. Indeed, until the arrival of Narendra Modi and the BJP, Indi’s media was lauded as being relatively free, at least by developing country standards. But with the arrival of Messrs. Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, the RSS and the Hindutva crowd, press freedoms are increasingly being curbed and independent, upright journalists have become a rare breed. On the other hand, the BJP government promotes thugs like Arnab Goswami and gives him free rein. Worse still, most media houses and journalists now indulge in self-censorship and refuse to do their duties. India’s journalists have become tacit bystanders when innocent Muslims get lynched, China gobbles up Indian territory, demonetisation ravages the economy, the handling of the Corona virus pandemic is botched and so on. But the most recent and egregious line items must surely be:

        – the construction of the unwanted, ostentatious Central Vista where a ton of Gujaratis stand to make a quick buck
        – The purchase of 1 one but 2 highly customised Boeing 777 aircraft costing about Rs 8500 crores to move Messiah Modi in style.

        Yet, Indian media remains silent. Probably fearing reprisals from the BJP & its lumpen underbelly.

        The Ugandan dictator Aidi Amin (1925-2003) said:

        “There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech”

        Applies to India under Modi for sure.

  4. “Modi is popular, BJP keeps winning, but India’s indicators & global rankings are alarming”
    Because you can fool all the people some of the time and some people all of the time, but not everyone all the time.
    Truth is hidden behind a golden plate, but it always comes out-Ishovasyopanishad.

  5. Being critical of those who are in powers a legitimate right of every ‘ responsible’ journalist. A ‘responsible’ journalist is also supposed to be objective, ballanced and of a positive mindset.
    Finding faults is not sufficient. A responsible journalist goes beyond -to explore possible corrective measures and then applying cold, fact based analysis suggests the preferred path to walk.
    The positive mindset implies that the thrust of most articles and compositions should be to make the reader feel optamistic and hopeful, even in the thick of a deluge of bad news.
    Thank you and good luck !

    • Mr/Ms BBSUD: You pontificate:

      “.. A ‘responsible’ journalist is also supposed to be.. of a positive mindset .. positive mindset implies that the thrust .. should be to make the reader feel optamistic and hopeful, even in the thick of a deluge of bad news ..”

      Well, there is no requirement whatsoever that a journalist must have a “positive mindset – whatever the hell that is.

      A journalist is under no obligation to make the reader feel optimistic if the situation being reported upon leaves no room for optimism. In fact sugar-coating things – or doing the opposite – runs contrary to the very ethics of responsible journalism. Thus, a journalist reporting from a war zone cannot but write about the death, devastation and distress that war creates. A journalist writing about the economy needs to state the economic data as they are. He may perhaps give his take on the numbers, economics being a field where sometimes many interpretations can be derived from the same data. A journalist writing about transportation in India cannot paint a rosy picture of the dreadful roads in the country. Likewise, a sports journalist cannot put a positive spin on the fact that India were skittled out for 36 runs in the First test in Adelaide !

      If you want to come out “optimistic & hopeful”, go watch a Bollywood movie – they usually have happy endings !

      PS: For a description of the ethical values that an established newspaper like New York Times subscribes to, see: Ref: nyti.ms/37B3rHC

    • Govt. does not have experts to take advice from that it should take advice from a journalist? Who told you journalist should give advice? No journalist’s job is to report on the facts. Govt. job is to rectify problems.

    • presswalas are only commentators.
      They cannot suggest ways to solve problems confronting the nation. They are not experts.

      It is the job of those elected to govern the country and solve the country’s problems. They have been given all the power, facilities and bureaucratic setup to find solutions. Politicians and bureaucrats are funded by taxpayer money, not journalists.

  6. I think India is stuck with a leader who beats everyone in popularity and this can do no wrong and reality which no one accepts.

    So China can occupy acres in Ladakh, our neighbours might not trust India, due to our bad policies or state policies, demonetisation is a disaster and in fact can’t think of one great idea, perfectly executed by Modiji. In fact even the attack against Pakistan came after so many deaths and attacks in Kashmir. Yet, we continue to live in LaLa Land ruled by the benevolent emperor, in the opinion of most.

    • Excellent comment Mr Ram !

      Modi’s 56 inch chest does not swell when being reminded of the débâcle in Galwan and the annexation of Indian territory by the Chinese. And of course, Amit Shah who bragged in Parliament in 2019 that the Modi government would unite the whole of Kashmir and re-capture Aksai Chin is quiet as a mouse !

      Meanwhile, whilst India is reeling from a pandemic and government coffers are empty, 2 brand new, highly customised Boeing 777 aircraft costing Rs 8500 crores have been ordered. Covid or no Covid, PM Modi has to travel in style hasn’t he ?

    • The Jan Dhan account scheme, gas cylinders, toilets and direct transfers is the number one reason for Modi to emerge unscathed. Poor people who vote for Modi (even those who were affected by demonetization and lockdown) don’t really care about China, 370 and these indices. Only the salaried urban middle class has time for these things.

  7. As long as temples are being built with tax money who needs hospitals.
    As long as Gaushalas are being built with tax money who needs Schools.
    As long as PM is promoting Hinduism
    who needs lower petrol prices?
    who needs lower food prices?
    who needs more take home salary?
    who needs jobs?
    who needs economy to grow?
    who cares if rape victims are burnt?
    who cares if laws are bent and made to promote just 2 businessmen?
    who cares if black money came back?
    who cares if New parliament is built when parliamentary sessions are cancelled?
    who cares if farmers have income?
    who cares if China captured Indian territory?who cares if we have 2nd highest covid deaths?
    who cares if environment is destroyed by EIA?

    We are becoming Pakistan, Just replace the temples with mosques and gaushala with madrassas, Hinduism with Islam.

    • Mr/Ms Krn: An outstanding comment indeed!

      You capture almost all of the deadly problems that the country stares at – the bulk of them Modi made. And yet, tragically, India’s middle-class Hindu Modi worshippers refuse to read the writing on the wall and think that everything is hunky-dory in Modistan. Instead, they place their trust on the mediocre governing abilities of a Delhi University “graduate” with a pogrom under his belt and little else to show. Of course, as members of the Modi cult, they firmly believe that their Messiah is God’s Gujarati gift to India and is not only infallible, but also ir-replaceable. Never mind the fact that the Messiah lives in luxury; has ordered not 1 but 2 customised Boeing 777 aircraft for Rs 8500 crores; builds a new Parliament when there really was no need for one, the government coffers were empty and the country is reeling under the COVID pandemic and China is gradually eating up Indian territory.

      But then, as you wisely point out, as long as the PM demolishes mosques and burnishes his anti-Muslim credentials and touts his saffron credentials, he is very likely to get the vote of Hindus. Sadly, the BJP propaganda machine and a timid media have helped churn out the narrative that Hindutva is Hinduism. And as a Hindu – albeit a lapsed one – I hang my head in shame when I see Hinduism being hijacked by a bunch of semi-literate, itchy-testicled fascists from North India.

      You say that India is slowly becoming a Hindu Pakistan. I would say that with the saffron Taliban running amok in many states in the North, India is fast becoming a Hindu Afghanistan. After all, even before the Muslim Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001, the saffron Taliban destroyed the Babri Masjid in 1992 didn’t they ?

      Hope to read more incisive comments from you !

  8. Why Should Modi care about these rankings? He is winning elections & that’s all what matters to him, and that’s the only thing about democracy he loves. Now his priority is Winning Bengal, Maharashtra & Rajasthan, holding fort in Assam & MP, doing well in Telengana, Tamil Nadu etc. etc. and constructing Central Vista. These rankings might matter to a few journalists but not to Modi and his bhakts.

  9. Guptaji, with all due respect, leave Modi alone. Very humbly I might say, he persona and intellect is beyond your analytical ability. You are an experienced journalist. There is Carlson in chess- you don’t analyze him- you just enjoy the chess he plays.

  10. In 1991 Manmohan Singh took just six weeks to change the direction of 40 years of Congress rule. GDP rate continuously rose for the next 5 years. In the directionless Modi’s six years of rule GDP rate is going down.

  11. Shekhar Gupta left out the most important drop in India’s ranking due to Modi: India was number 1 in the world in terms of people practicing open defecation in 2013 with 550 million. It is now at most 50 million, one of the biggest drops in the world, and one of the greatest achievements of India
    in the last 5 years. First we need freedom from open defecation.

  12. As a PhD scientist from global top ranked university, I an vouch that these indexes Shekhar Gupta mentioned are biased and manipulated especially because those have been infiltrated by the “Regressive Left” and Muslims funded by the Zakat Petro dollars and grants to these institutes which produce these indexes. Just look at Pakistan’s current NSA, he was was part of one such institute in USA. This is all part of FIFTH and SIXTH GENERATION WARFARE by POLITICLA ISLAM against the rest of India, in this case it is manifestation of HInduphobia against Modi led kafir India. Shekhar watch the video on your own youtube channel by General Penang on FIFTH and SIXTH GENERATION WARFARE. Stop writing such cherry picked article based on manipulated Indexes.

    • It’s strange that you are a well educated scientist which means you should exhibit rational thinking and disregard for beliefs/claims of any kind but you seem to have lost the ability to question your own political beliefs.

  13. Shekhar Gupta coined the silly term ‘povertarianism’ to attack anti poverty programmes of Sonia Gandhi as being inspired by Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz and Jean Dreze. Modi mocked NREGA as evidence of Congress’ failure. So the poor have to wait indefinitely for the benefit of trickle down of economic growth, while fat cats businessmen lap up the cream. Meanwhile Modi goes in for more and more of his vanity projects: Sri Ram temple; largest statue; bullet train; Central Vista. He also implements anti people demonetization, senseless lock down, CAA, anti farmer Farm Bills. And others in his retinue take up anti cow slaughter, love jihad, all targetting Muslims of the country. The people have no nutrition or jobs or health? Let them eat Modi’s speeches and slogans.

  14. Most comments on this piece were written by people who have put wool over their eyes.
    Folks these rankings MATTER.
    If you do not believe me then look at the FDI outflow in the same timeframe. Cow will not make India prosperous only a free, equitable and open democratic society can.

    • Mr/Ms KK: I agree with you when you say:

      “.. Cow will not make India prosperous only a free, equitable and open democratic society can. ..”

      But alas, people in UP vote for thevery idiots who believe that the route to prosperity goes through the cow. And as far as I know, quite a bit of prosperity has come to Baba Ramdev through the sale of his gomutra and gobar products …

      Alas, the scientific temper that Nehru tried to instill in the country has been replaced by saffron temper !

    • So what according to you is the truth Mr Pankaj? Are you accusing the government of lying ? Most of these figures come from the government itself.

  15. Why Should Modi care about these rankings? He is winning elections & that’s all what matters to him, and that’s the only thing about democracy he loves. Now his priority is Winning Bengal, Maharashtra & Rajasthan, holding fort in Assam & MP, doing well in Telengana, Tamil Nadu etc. etc. and constructing Central Vista. These rankings might matter to a few journalists but not to Modi and his bhakts.

  16. Excellant article…. since 2014 this imposter, liar has done nothing and all his promises were like the bubbles… If this crap continues, as pm with fanactic view India would be at the brin destruction….

  17. Typical cherry picking Left Prapoganda , mastered by so called journalists like Shekhar Guptha, Burka Dutt, Ravish Kumar and Raj deep sardesai, conveniently ignoring only 2018 fallen to 17 points in one year !!! No curruption and scans in 7 years , no bomb blasts , Indians can’t be fooled by these Leftists anymore.

  18. Intelligence is “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills”. It is a catastrophe if you “apply” without “acquiring”. Just saying
    Disclaimer: Not a statement of offence or in defence.
    I suppose SG is once again come up with some statistics by way of information. Whether and how the Government should react to these statistics is a moot point. We are now in a world where linear reading of data is passe’. We have technology to quickly process raw data with many variables peculiar to particular situations and geographies. You can’t expect that similar data from Bangladesh (a small largely homogenous Nation) and India (a vast heterogenous federal state), can be handled with the same logic. The variables that affect the raw data will be different in each case.
    Also, do you think that the Indian media in India has a propensity to ignore the Governance in the states, except when politics to freebies are involved.
    As an example of differing situations et al…
    Something to chew on: A n extract from Ruchir Sharma’s book “The 10 Rules of successful Nations”
    “When massive credit binges start to unwind, and credit growth falls below the rate of economic growth, the result is often a painful recession. But this is necessarily a cleansing step”.

  19. human freedom index may be coming from “right ” infested foundations. but much of it looks like perceptions that reality.
    first of all there is emough freedom of express to criticize modi and the govt and enough and more is being done in this reagard. as regards personal retaliation from modi/shah, we all know that india and gujarat is not india. the spotlight of not only the national media but also the international media is on them. so there cannot be any gujarat like encounters. further modi genuinely seems to have left behind that phase and looks like he wants to work for the national good.
    another concern for “freedom” seems to be kashmir – abolition of article 370. most of the indians know that the aboliton was needed to settle the matter once and for all. the curtailment of some freedom there may be harsh but necessary.
    the next matter CAA . that is a policy decision for the country .here again the majority may not want to grant automatic citizenship to muslims from other countries for various reasons. if other countries do not like it so be it. they are welcome to give the citizenship to them.
    finally, any index whether it is sensex or human freedom index is a distorted index and does not give the whole truth.
    we should always discuss enough specifics and not generalities and then decide if there is trend.
    there are no specifics at all. how about publishing specifics which affected their rating so that every individual can decide for himself.

  20. I have stopped believing in all the “freedom” rhetoric as we all know deep inside what our “freedom” is being used for. Internet shutdowns are not done for fun but because they are necessary. Easy to write articles than to go and fight terrorism.
    But yes, Hunger/Malnutrition issue must be addressed. Though only for those who don’t reproduce like a machine.
    On other parameters, internet availability has quadrupled, corruption almost finished on top level (according to former US NSA), ease of doing business ranking jumping every year, FDI almost near doubling than 2011-2014, unemployment was lower than UPA till 2017-18. Also, as the govt. has specified spending 6-7 lakh core in FY22, I hope economic growth will also kick in double digits from then onwards.
    “Lousy Opposition” did get many opportunities to prove that they have changed, but everytime end up blowing their own cover

  21. I have stopped believing in all the “freedom” rhetoric as we all know deep inside what our “freedom” is being used for. Internet shutdowns are not done for fun but because they are necessary. Easy to write articles than to go and fight terrorism.
    But yes, Hunger/Malnutrition issue must be addressed. Though only for those who don’t reproduce like a machine.
    On other parameters, internet availability has quadrupled, corruption almost finished on top level (according to former US NSA), ease of doing business ranking jumping every year, FDI almost near doubling than 2011-2014, unemployment was lower than UPA till 2017-18. Also, as the govt. has specified spending 6-7 lakh core in FY22, I hope economic growth will also kick in double digits from then onwards.
    “Lousy Opposition” did get many opportunities to prove that they have changed, but everytime end up blowing their own cover

  22. Modi has as little clue how to tackle this state of affairs (if he cared), as Shekhar Gupta, the famous coiner of the silly expression ‘povertarianism’, with which he ridiculed anti poverty programmes he said were inspired by Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz. Modi and Gupta both believe economic growth will ‘trickle down’ to the poor and take care of the persisting problems of hunger, nutrition, mortality of mothers and babies, education, employment, and health in general. Pure poppy cock. Modi’s favourite ‘wealth creators’ (i.e. fat cat Gujarati and other money bags) will get richer all the time, and the poor will remain where they are. Even neo-liberal economists speak of ‘infant industry’ and its need for protection. What then of protection for the most poor ? Look up NY Times ‘https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/15/world/asia/india-coronavirus-shramik-specials.html?referringSource=articleShare and esply see the photographs accompanying the article, any Indian will hang his head in much greater shame than the cricket carnage in Australia.

  23. This article is cherry picking. As usual it typically takes its cues from vague institutions based somewhere in the US and Canada. As for Mr. Swaminathan A Iyer, whether left or right, he is as anti- BJP as anyone else. So expecting him to be non- partisan is a pipedream. The NHFS had also revealed that neonatal mortality rates and those under 5 have reduced which the author conveniently ignores. Possibly this could have lead to greater rise in malnourished, because earlier this set was dead. Now they survive and next need to be well nourished. One needs greater scrutiny of the data rather then a knee jerk reaction like this. The greatest endorsement is that which is made by the Indian voter not by ivory tower researchers and academics sitting abroad and completely clueless about ground realities in India. Whether one is a fan of this regime or not it is to be admitted that it’s understanding of the Indian voter and his/her needs is far greater then armchair advisers like this author.

    • Agreed totally. Another important point is that the msp-based staples procurement system has skewed India’s food production system to produce low quality, urea-infested staples and disincentivised the production of fruits, vegetables, poultry, etc. This has grossly damaged the quality of the food plate and made these produce types too expensive not just for poor but also middle class Indians. The farmer reforms are required urgently to address this nutrition imbalance.

      • Nutrition is about making choices based on health awareness, not based on what farmers grow. Farmers will grow whatever food there is a demand for. The actual problem is the average Indian even well educated Indians have poor understanding of nutrition, let alone the health aspects of the human body.

    • Elections can be won by populism.
      Does not mean the voter is always right.

      Psychology and sociology research has shown that humans have a fundamental need to belong to a group and that feeling gives them great security. Populists exploit that weakness in us.

  24. Listen just close your selective secularism. I feel good that in Modi government there hasn’t been terror attacks in big cities unlike pappu’s congress. Covid 19 has slowed every country economy. UNDERSTOOD

    • Mr Shivam: Your ludicrous, asinine and utterly bonkers claim:

      “.. I feel good that in Modi government there hasn’t been terror attacks in big cities unlike pappu’s congress ..”

      is actually refuted by the Government of India’s own figures ! See ref: bit.ly/3rcQZ8D

      Additionally, the independent South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) completely debunks the notion that terrorism has diminished under the Modi reign. Indeed, in 2018, one witnessed 88 incidents, in 2019 there were 55 incidents and in 2020 there were 89 incidents. (Ref: bit.ly/3pdECYd)

      Don’t take Modi worship to these preposterous heights Mr Shivam. You are merely making an ass of yourself with your ridiculous claims.

  25. genesis of this low ranking is in our mega population. you will of course have conveniently forgotten that nehru is mainly responsible for this. mr. karve was pleading with nehru to bring population control law and that was easily possible then given the brute majority he had, but modern tughlaq that he is, he kept saying-with one mouth come two working hands!

    • Mr Sanjay Pataskar: I was amazed to read your ludicrous rant:

      “.. nehru is mainly responsible for this ..”

      Accordingly, Jawaharlal Nehru (189-1964), who died more than 5 decades ago is responsible for all the ills that India faces today, including the many Modi made afflictions facing India. Is that what they taught you in the RSS shaka Mr Pataskar? WOW !!!!!

      With leaders like Modi and blinkered, blind Modi worshippers like you, I am quite sure that India is well on its way to becoming a Vishwaguru !!!!

    • Most south Indian states esp. Tamilnadu, Puducherry and Kerala slowly controlled their populations without laws right from 1970’s. So did they not heed Nehru?

      I think the real issue is people of Northern and Central states ( with exception of Delhi, Himachal, J&K, Punjab) still have higher fertility rates. Also Gujarat and Assam. Inadequate governance of public health infrastructure regarding maternal health care maybe the real problem in these states.

  26. A well written article. My only lament is that while the present NDA Government has done a lot to improve India’s future by well thought of long-term planning, strategic (immediate) concerns have not received prompt attention. Shaheen Bagh remained disturbed for 100 days and now the Farmers’ agitation is going on with no early signs of a settlement. JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED. There should be immediate and urgent attention to problems, brewing of which be not allowed by taking required actions at the onset. Long term planning should not be at the cost of what is happening to create mayhem. By repeatedly blaming the Opposition, nothing is going to be achieved. We must understand that oppositions will always behave that way.

  27. Truly a warning bell.
    Somewhere I read no. of millionaires in India are increasing.
    The country in my opinion is going in the right direction because indexes like less
    corruption, voting turnouts in polls, and governance efforts may be good.
    Now each party is reexamining itself and trying to modernize.
    The direct benefit schemes and private sector encouragement may help wealth creation.
    this may help reduce skewed wealth distribution problems.
    There is a national outlook on policies, rather than regional focus.
    During Pandemic time .we have come off well than most of the well placed index countries.
    you should thank that infrastructure lake digital facilities are getting a bbost.
    Rain gods have been good, no talk abut cauver water,
    Are you serious about these global indexes? will be good if we develop our own Roti,Kapada,Makan
    and entertainment indexes.
    good Article.
    .

  28. Wait till 2030 – give us 2 more terms of Modiji / Amit Shah / Yogi. They need time to set right decades of Congress and Left misrule.
    You wait and see India will be a superpower and we will reclaim the glory of Bharat.
    We don’t care what Westerners or Western media think of us. We are confident our leaders are on right track.

    • Mr Aman D: You bray:

      “.. Wait till 2030 – give us 2 more terms of Modiji / Amit Shah / Yogi ..”

      Well, you need to ask yourself whether India will exist as a united nation under the fascist rule of these semi-literate North Indians ..

      Just take a look at how things went in the former Yugoslavia or the former Soviet Union …

  29. More than these rankings, ratings and indices, the threat to the government and Modi’s popularity emanates from the farmers’ unrest and inflation. Past experience shows that Indian voters are not bothered about any of the economic indicators, except that of rising inflation. GDP target of 5 trillion dollars is just an illusion, Atmanirbhar Bharat is one of the many slogans. Consumers are bothered about prices and farmers about MSP. Modi should resolve the farmers agitation on the topmost priority basis and control inflation. Furthermore, it not factual to say that BJP has won every election. It lost in Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Jharkhand. Victory in Maharashtra was converted into defeat due to bad politics and ego. BJP should have offered CM post to Sena before Congress was persuaded to join the alliance. This opportunity was lost due to inexplicable confusion and inept handling. Losing power in an industrially developed state and commercial capital of the country has hurt BJP immensely. More importantly, it can pave the way for new alliances under the able leadership of Sharad Pawar, the shrewd tactician and a mass leader. Though age is not with him, a combination led by Pawar can unite opposition parties and pose a credible threat to Modi.

  30. It is not applicable to only India but for thewhole world.There are two attributes ,one a ruling government of country and second is underlying Society. While government acts with certain pace, society always moves with slower pace relatively. Most of the parameters of the indexes of such kind of surveys depends on the response by society. Take example of ongoing agitation at Delhi border. Here u see the kind of response of society towards changing itself from current level. Even if it get accepted,also one can imagine the pace of adoption or rejection for such changes and it’s reflection in indexes.So largely, it is society which weighted more in such kind of surveys rather than govt. China , France are acting at society level to bring the changes via policies. In indian context,just imagine, what would happen if any Indian govt adopt such measures ?

  31. Shekhar Babu, a useful metaphor for the current times is that it is similar to when a person who normally exercises and eats right has decided that it is not worth his while to do so and has decided to eat as he pleases and forsake discipline. He has decided to entertain his baser instincts and justifies to himself that others are doing so and now he will do so as well – consequences be damned. He may enjoy this phase for a while but sooner or later his heart will give way. Similarly many of our voters seem to be indulging their baser instincts and buying in to the govt’s justification that one can continue to gorge on fake nationalism, minority blaming and opposition bashing. Sooner or later the consequences will bite everyone and by then there may be no Rahul Gandhi to blame as well! We are forever doomed to be a low-income country because we are blowing our economic dividend by neglecting our economy and the future of the country’s youth. If people keep voting for current policies, they will keep getting the same – you can hardly blame the govt. Just take away the govt’s single party majority and send a message to this govt that focus on economy should be paramount – everyone will fall in place. We must not let anyone take us for granted.

  32. We don’t give a rats hindquarters about what “international” rankings say about India. It is common knowledge that they are biased against India. There are millions of homeless starving people in USA, their education system is garbage, but do you see anyone downgrading them? It’s a ll a political ploy to keep India down by guilt tripping us about our illusory failures. Remember the Ease of Doing Business Ranking that was pulled because China fudged its data? Lets stop seeking firangi approval for every damn thing we do and develop some self respect.

  33. With super popular leader like Nehru and Indira Gandhi in power for years did India stand at the pinnacle of, India’s indicators & global rankings? Or they are alarming under the watch of Modi only?
    Very true, there is more to leadership than popularity and governance must be more than pure politics and heavy corruption.
    DO not understand why are people shying away giving Modi the credit for his clean image and scam free governance ? Is is because of the fear that he will come back to power again?
    We are in a tight grip of brokers which prevents the growth because an unregulated broker is taking away the cream, this is what was the governance model since independence and any change is bound to face stiff resistance.

  34. Complete nonsense. Swaminathan Aiyar is a most biased, anti hindu, anti bjp, anti modi person. These rankings must be taken with a bucket of salt. There is an effort by traitors within India to run down bjp & modi. I sure Govt knows what this is & will tackle it. We must look inwards, introspect, improve. Should stop reacting to such propaganda be leftists and bjp haters like shekhar & swaminathan aiyar. Modi owes it to the nation to improve. He will.

  35. Alarming. Nutrition decline was a completely avoidable decline. The rest of the indicators seem to be linked with politics. May be a revamp of PDS is needed to make sure we give nutritious food to our people. What baffles me is that even those who can afford nutrition choose to stick to unhealthy food. A reform of our judiciary to make sure our rights are not infringed, cases are decided quickly, contracts are enforced properly might help us. But I don’t expect much from the politics. India’s politics were never about data / tangible outcomes. Across parties and their faithfuls, no one offers tangible outcomes.

    • Mr/Ms Harsha: You write:

      “.. A reform of our judiciary to make sure our rights are not infringed, cases are decided quickly, contracts are enforced properly might help us ..”

      Wow !

      The phrase “wishful thinking” springs to mind !!!

  36. Shekharji a free media is afraid of talking of how INDIA’s uncontrollable POPULATION GROWTH might actually be responsible for this state of affairs.

    Aren’t we going to the nation with the HIGHEST POPULATION or already are.

    Don’t you SHEKHARJI believe in population control. By strict POPULATION CONTROL MEASURES .

    With meagre resources and 80 percent or more surviving on government hand out how are we supposed to improve.

    THE biggest enemy of the country now is ultra left wing radicals and religious fanatics who would oppose POPULATION CONTROL.

    • Where have you studied political science? If anything history has taught us that ultra left wing support population control. Look at China which does measures to decrease the rate, Russia does measures to increase it. This is because they prioritise society and community before individual hence society and communist. Your supreme leader and many of his devottees have been proponent of Hindu population increase measures.

    • Where have you studied political science? If anything history has taught us that ultra left wing support population control. Look at China which does measures to decrease the rate, Russia does measures to increase it. This is because they prioritise society and community before individual hence ‘socielist’ and ‘communist’. Your supreme leader and many of his devottees have only been proponent of Hindu population increase measures.

    • Most of te population growth ia coming from UP,bihar and other poor states

      It is both poor hindus and muslims who contribute to this and the TFR is decreasing

      Please try to come up with a better response to justify your governments failure.Dont act as if only muslims are responsible for population growth.

      Get your head out of your ass.

    • Listen just close your selective secularism. I feel good that in Modi government there hasn’t been terror attacks in big cities unlike pappu’s congress. Covid 19 has slowed every country economy. UNDERSTOOD

    • Hello genius. India does not need laws harming people, we need better education and access to contraception. India’s fertility rate (Babies per household) is less than 2, which suggests that The population would shrink to 1 billion with good education. And high population is not a valid argument, its just an excuse.

    • Mr Shailesh: perhaps you could start by informing how many siblings you have and how many you have fathered. Of course, I assume that your intellectual impotence is only restricted to your brains….

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