India's Modi marks his first year in office

India's prime minister promises reforms and economic revival, but many people debate his success

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already completed one year in the office and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrates the anniversary with a week-long campaign of rallies, despite criticisms of his policies and performance.

There will be 200 rallies across the country during the week called “Jan Kalyan Parv” or “People’s Welfare Festival” and that Modi has addressed the first meeting in ideologically significant Chandrabhan village, the birthplace of Jan Sangh's ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay.

According to the local media, Modi mostly talked about economy during the rally, as this is being his first and most important promise during the election, vowing once more to get rid of poverty and make India economically stronger.

He praised small traders, saying "big corporates do not generate a lot of employment," while accusing opposition parties of politicising farmers' suicides.

As he made similar promises of economic revival, reforms and fight with corruption after a year in office, analysts debate his hits and miss on previous ones.

Many people criticise Modi for not delivering his promise on youth employment, and despite his effort to build stronger economic relations abroad, his Make in India campaign to remake India as a global manufacturing hub, reflection of these bids was minimal.

Modi visited 18 countries in his first year as a prime minister, including the other Asian power China, making many agreements for future.

The problems in agricultural sector and recent surge in farmers' suicides also worry Modi, as dozens of poor and debt-laden farmers have killed themselves in the past two months after heavy downpours flattened rice, wheat and potato crops.

Anger has also been mounting in rural areas over Modi's land reform bill, which the government says is needed to speed up economic growth but political opponents say it favours big business at the expense of struggling farmers.

Meanwhile, the biggest criticism against Modi is his position on India's religious minorities and treatment they face under the right-wing Hindu nationalist government.

The BJP and its right-wing allies, such as the hardline Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), were accused of "violent attacks" by the US this year in a congressional report, also pointing out forced conversions by Hindu nationalists groups.

At least 4,000 Christian and 1,000 Muslim families “reconverted” to Hinduism in Uttar Pradesh as part of a so-called “ghar wapsi” (homecoming) programme in 2014. The report also said Muslim communities have been facing undue scrutiny, arbitrary arrests and detentions under the Modi government. Eleven churches in the capital Delhi have been attacked.

Modi, who is a former RSS youth member, has long been accused of inter-communal riots in his home state Gujarat in 2002, when he was the state's chief minister.
About a fifth of India's 1.27 billion people identify themselves as belonging to faiths other than Hinduism.

TRTWorld and agencies