The anti CAA protests and the recent JNU violence is definitely not a good way a country would prefer to begin New Year. The later part of 2019 was quite tumultuous and crisis-ridden. Be it the removal of Article 370 of the CAA Act, the Govt showed a paunch for taking controversial decisions in quick succession. The aftershocks of the last year’s decisions will be felt this year too and it will take quite a time for the dust to settle down. It is safe to assume that the year 2020 may be full of surprises, both good and bad. There are five challenges we will have to face in the year.
#Ram Mandir Construction
The decision on Ram Mandir has been delivered, but the central Govt is yet to implement it to completion. The Govt has to appoint the trust and begin the actual construction of the temple. The construction can only take place after the demolition of the earlier structure which may cause heartburn to a lot of people. Seeing the recent anti CAA riots in which people took to streets without even knowing what for they were protesting, proves people can be misled and provoked very easily. The only respite the Govt has here is that the decision was delivered by the Supreme Court, which makes it acceptable in the eyes of the public even if it is uncomfortable to some.
#NPR, NRC exercise
The country is yet to come out of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 which caused large scale destruction and damage to public property all across the nation. The spontaneous flare-up of sentiments of a particular community against the CAA is in a way a show of strength.
It is now clear that the Left is running in cohorts with the radical Islamists in opposing the CAB amendment. But these two factions cannot run in parallel forever. Eventually, one of them will overdo the other. The same happened with the CAA opposition when the face of Liberal Muslims such as these displayed their true antics.
Here another one can be seen justifying clarion calls for Islamic identity assertion as the new normal when the CAA Act does not affect Indian Muslims in any manner.
The violence we have seen in the last month is just the precursor to what is to come when the Govt moves to implement NPR or NRC. NRC though is to happen only after the central census which is due in 2021. But NPR in all probability will be done in 2020 only. Because it is logical to do the NPR exercise before the census so that the Govt has an accurate picture of the population of the country. But seeing the destabilization caused during CAA suggests it is not going to be an easy task.
The ongoing JNU violence is not something that happened for the first time, or won’t happen again. JNU is notoriously known for the clash between two opposing ideologies of Left vs Right-wing. Especially after the growth in popularity of ABVP in JNU and the appointment of the current V.C who is known to be close to RSS, that the violence has shot up. Nevertheless, one can safely assume these incidents will continue to happen and JNU is going to remain in news frequently for the times to come. Our TRP hungry media also likes to lap up any incident that happens in JNU because political support pours over instantly. JNU and a handful of such institutions have become the sole representative of the entire education system of the country, with people easily forgetting that there are hundreds of universities and colleges in the country where studies are going on seamlessly. JNU is just one example. There may be many more instances in the offing which will be blown out of proportion to project Modi Govt negatively and the same “Fascist “narrative will be played out. Bhima Koregaon, Farmers agitation, Jat & Gurjar agitation, anti-SC’ST Act agitation are just a few ones that took place during the first term of Modi Govt. One can expect more of such “revolutions” in 2020.
Amidst the internal upheavals, we should not forget that Pakistan is like always itching for a fight. A stronger intelligence network has reduced the incidence of terror attacks in the country and the situation in the Kashmir valley also has improved a lot. Sure, this won’t be to the comfort of our western neighbor who would like to reignite terrorism in the valley. The changing geopolitical scenario in the subcontinent and the Middle East may also prompt a hostile action from Pakistan disrupting the peaceful situation in the state of J&K. However, last year’s Balakote strikes have changed the dynamics totally and should an untoward incident happen, the retaliation will be disproportionate and guaranteed.
The economy has remained a big headache for the Govt in the last year. With the economy showing signs of a slump, growth has largely hovered around 5% figure. Declining savings, low Industrial growths, poor employment generation, are all pointers towards a sliding economy. The efforts of the Govt have failed to raise the investors’ confidence and the more needs to be done on the economic front. The only silver lining in the gloomy economic scenario is the reduced retail inflation which has kept the middle class satisfied to a large extent. But sudden bumps such as a hike in onion prices gave a shock to the household budgets and the Govt alike. With incessant rains affecting most of the crops of the last year, one can expect similar price shocks to arrive in 2020 too. The current economic situation makes the2020 Budget all the more important and quite a test for the Govt.
How Modi Govt takes on these challenges, only 2020 can tell.