Modiji Smiling and Parle-G Crashing: Indian Economy on a Ventilator

Parle-G is reportedly the world’s largest selling biscuit brand. It is so cheap. When I was a kid, all my “makhkhi choos” uncles and aunties solemnly presented me Parle-G biscuits packets. Now, I know why. It was so light on their pockets. Till recently, a Parle-G packet cost Rs 4 and had 16  biscuits. Then, the management did something drastic. It hiked the price to Rs 5 and reduced biscuits’ number from  16 to 13! All hell broke loose. Consumers hit back with a vengeance. The sales plummeted and now the biscuit company is laying off thousands of labourers. I was reading a report from Sahibabad, an industrial hub near Delhi. Sahibabad is teeming with poor workers who bought hundreds of Parle-G packets daily. Cheap biscuits with morning tea gave them energy. After the price hike, they are boycotting Parle-G biscuits. Because they have so far not received Rs 15 lakh in their accounts as promised by Mr 56-inch, even one Rupee hike matters a lot for these poor guys.

This is Narendra Modi’s “New India”. You can eat neither beef, nor biscuits. The poor have no right to complain. If they criticize Modiji, they will be dubbed “anti-national” and asked to go to Pakistan! In Modi’s Bharatvarsh, the poor have only one choice. When hunger pangs become unbearable, have a plate of “surgical strikes” and a bowl of “Article 370” with some chutney of NRC! And the poor can tell their starving kids that they need not cry. They have no milk, but they can always buy land in Kashmir. India is now a Vishwa Guru.

The Indian economy is in a shambles. And the decline began on the 26th May, 2014. The day Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi was sworn in as PM. Modi is basically a Sapno ka Saudagar (a dream merchant). He promised that he would bring back black money stashed in Swiss banks within 100 days. Then every Hindustani will receive Rs 15 lakh in his account. But no black money was brought back.

Instead, robber-barons began to leave the country with their loot. First went Vijay Mallya, the King of Good Times with Rs 9000 crore. He was followed by the mama-bhanja duo, Mehul Choksi and Neerav Modi. Mehul Choksi is Narendra Modi’s Mehul Bhai! Amit Shah called the Rs 15 lakh promise a “jumla“.

Then came the double whammy: “Notebandi” and GST. In announcing “notebandi“, Modi again played the black money card. But according to Reserve Bank’s own admission, 99.3% of old currency notes came back to banks! And the GST, aptly called Gabbar Singh Tax. The GST played havoc with petty shopkeepers. So many tax slabs. Nobody understood what GST was. Confusion and chaos ruled Indian markets. Then Reserve Bank of India was targeted. Two Governors resigned in protest. Raghuram Rajan and Urjit Patel. The RBI credibility hit a new low.

And then a series of scams with mind-boggling numbers. The Raphael Scam allegedly involves Rs 30,000 crore. But Narendra Modi refused to set up a JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) to probe the scam. Remember, a JPC was constituted to probe the Bofors scam which involved a meagre sum of Rs 64 crore. When the CBI Director Alok Verma started studying Raphale papers, he was sent on forced leave at midnight! Crony capitalism became the order of the day. Reliance Defence, owned by Anil Ambani, was preferred over the HAL in the Raphael deal.

And now, we are witnessing a free fall of the Indian Rupee. Even Bangladeshi Taka is stronger than the Indian Rupee. India played a midwife in the birth of Bangladesh. And now, Taka rules over Rupee. Guru, gud aur chela chini!

I can write on and on. But I will not be able to list Indian economy’s woes. The list is long and growing. And Narendra Modi is smiling from ear to ear. Shooting for a wildlife programne on TV. The Soviet Union, once a Super Power, collapsed in 1991. The Soviet Union had only missiles and no breads. India under Modi faces a similar situation. Only Raphael aircraft, no Parle-G biscuits. When Modiji smiles and Parle-G crashes, India faces a catastrophe!

(Mr. Amitabh Kumar Das is a 1994 batch IPS Officer. His views are personal.)

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