Nationalism a show-stopper on I-Day after govt scraps J&K's special status

Almost 20,000 messages, crowd-sourced as input for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech, seem to reflect the mood of the nation. Nationalism seems to be the most dominant idea of the posts on the NaMo app, more so after the government move to do away with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. In comparison, economy fades in the background, even when companies across sectors are reporting slowdown.                           

When the app opened up for suggestions on July 18, the messages sent out by the masses from across the country were a mix of demands on issues ranging from clean environment to job reservation, education to healthcare, mob violence to floods, corruption to patriotism, idea of new India to social media.   However, Kashmir became the overwhelming theme on the app when Article 370 of the Constitution was abrogated on August 5. 

So, whether or not the PM mentions any of this in his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort Thursday morning, this is what the popular demand is, going by the messages pouring in every minute. Make August 5 (when the Rajya Sabha cleared the Resolution to remove special status of J&K and bifurcated the state into two union territories) ‘Kashmir Diwas’, is among the much repeated demands. Reason: So that people all over the country can celebrate the ‘’unification of Kashmir with India’’ every year.

One of the messages says, ‘’the J&K people want you to hoist the flag at Lal Chowk (Srinagar) this time and not from Red Fort.’’ Another wants Home Minister Amit Shah to be in Srinagar on August 15. Many have even asked the PM to say in his speech that ‘’India and Pakistan should be re-united by removing the border’’. 

Another common wish is that the PM should clearly convey his plan to develop J&K. ‘’Aap hain to mumkin hain (with you anything is possible)’’, is how one of the contributors to Independence Day speech has addressed Modi, and said, ‘’please share your vision and plan for PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) .’’ People have also asked for announcements on at least three to four multi-billion projects for J&K, apart from job reservation for the youth in the union territory.

In the spirit of nationalism, several people have demanded renaming of India as ‘Bharat’. Also, many messages talk about how Modi has changed the way the world looks at India. ‘’Under your leadership, for the first time, now India is recognised by the world.. Every Indian is proud that nobody can threaten us easily…’’

On economy, though such messages are few, the PM has been asked to give reasons for the economic slowdown and when it might end. Demand for relief to the automobile sector, which is facing slowdown and job cuts, also finds mention in a rather sketchy way. And yes, people want to know the plan of action for India to become a $5 trillion economy.

The messages, however, show that Indians believe the country has plenty of work to do on removing corruption.  ‘’Your next step should be on controlling corruption,’’ and ‘’corruption is hindering the progress in India. Bring suitable changes in law to make things better,’’ are among the many advices. 

Swachh Bharat, Jalshakti Abhiyan, housing for all, Chandrayan and doubling farmers’ income are some more topics that the people of the country want the PM to talk about on Independence Day. Among the offbeat demands, there are some asking Modi to talk about the ill effects of over use of mobile phones, online gaming and social media. And another, which says, horses should be brought back for transport in some areas to reduce vehicle pollution. 

What perhaps sums up the messaging this Independence Day is a wish that the patriotic song ‘hum hai kaamyaab aaj ke din’.          

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel