True to its name, the media in Gujarat vie with one another in calling the ensuing jamboree a ‘vibrant’ one! Banner headlines in almost all newspapers this morning in Ahmedabad scream as though it was the most important event on earth! Remarks and comments by captains of industry and even from representatives of foreign countries made it appear that this was the ultimate for business and for development. Hoardings all over Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad and advertisements in the newspapers brazenly portray the face and figure of just one man!
One definitely cannot overlook the flag-waving, the cheering and the adulatory speeches made — from anointing the CEO of Gujarat as the “king of kings” to comparing him with Mahatma Gandhi! But then as Shakespeare would say in his ‘Hamlet’, “there is something rotten in the State of Denmark”.
Why is it that NO ONE has the courage to ask or say:
- why the CEO of Gujarat and his party have vehemently been opposing the Central Government in its Foreign Direct Investment plan but have gone all overboard to woo foreign investments for the State?
- that real development is not about money but about people?
- why a huge wall has been constructed just opposite the Summit venue so that no one can see the miserable conditions of the people who live in the slums there?
- why justice in Gujarat is a far cry for the poor and very specially for vulnerable groups like dalits, adivasis and minorities?
- why the CEO presided over the killing of hundreds of innocent people and the marginalization of many more, in the State?
- why some of his closest aides have been indicted or charge-sheeted in the annihilation of minorities?
- why the State is the worst performer in malnutrition with 69.7% of children upto the age of five, anaemic and 44.6% malnourished?
- why according to the Global Hunger Index Policy Research Institute India ranks 66 among the 88 countries listed; and Gujarat happens to be among the five worst performers?
- why the literacy rate in Gujarat is marginally above the national average but extremely low in the tribal areas; primary education in Gujarat is in the doldrums and the worst sufferers are the poor and the marginalized?
- why just 3.1% of the MOUs signed during the Summit in 2011 are actually under implementation?
- why female foeticide is high in Gujarat and today the Gujarat sex ratio has a skewed rate of 918 - making it one of the worst States in the country?
- why unemployment is rampant in Gujarat and that the average daily wage for casual workers in Gujarat is just about Rs.83 in the rural areas and Rs.106 in the urban areas?
- why large sections of the minority communities are confined to ghettoes and cannot live in neighbourhood of their choice?
- why Gujarat has the most draconian ‘Freedom of Religion Law’ in the country which necessitates that the person has to seek the permission of the civil authority before they can convert to a religion of their choice?
- why three of the top 10 polluted areas in the country are in Gujarat?
- why rampant corruption in the State is never allowed to be made into an issue?
- Real development is ultimately about people. PR firms contracted on large retainers are certainly adept at fudging figures and turning myths, half-truths and lies into something believable. But since fear and fascism, rule the roost, no one has the courage and honesty of the little child to loudly cry, “the king has no clothes on!”
(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)