14 March 2019, Thursday

VS Achuthanandan - What is this "development" that Modi is offering us?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to Kerala for election campaigning. His followers are claiming that they will change Kerala into a promised land like Gujarat. Modi can speak eloquently. But beyond the eloquence, what is this "development" that they have done in Gujarat?

The Human Development Index is the best way to gauge the development of a society and the living standards of the people. Kerala occupies the first position in the country in this index. Gujarat is ranked 12th. What do those people who boast of making Kerala like Gujarat mean by their claims? The average life expectancy of a Malayali now is 74 years. They will instead have to die at the age of 64, for Kerala to be like Gujarat! Some of our children will have to stop going to schools and colleges and will have to do child labour, for Kerala to be like Gujarat. If the percentage of those experiencing poverty in Kerala is 7 percent, in Gujarat it is 17 percent. In Kerala, 95 percent households have toilets. But in Gujarat, only 43 percent households have toilets. This is the state of Gujarat, Modi's "Promised Land".

They are using the growth rate to project Gujarat as heaven. Yes, it is true that some money has come to the state. But, these have been filling the pockets of the Ambanis and the Adanis alone.

Many industrialists have been flocking to Gujarat not just because the Government there will aid them in exploiting the people and the environment, but also because any kind of air or water pollution is never questioned there. In pollution, Modi's Gujarat occupies first place. Three rivers of Gujarat, including Sabarmati, are among the most polluted rivers in the country. The Adanis and the Ambanis who are polluting these rivers bring water from Himalayas to drink for themselves and force the native people to drink the polluted water. The low life expectancy there is a result of this, among other things. This "development" is what they are offering us.

To divert the youth who are disillusioned with this state of affairs, they inflame communal passions. They divide them and make them fight each other. This is a great chance for us to hit back at the BJP, which is trying to spread this communal poison here and make people fight over caste and religion, and the BDJS, which has tied up with them to hide their corruption.

Let us come together to protect the progressive, enlightenment values pioneered by reformers like Sree Narayana Guru and Ayyankali, and taken forward by the left movement.