India’s Politics and Demonetization: Guarini Institute Welcomes Professor Pratishtha Singh
The Guarini Institute for Public Affairs held an event on India’s politics and the impact of demonetization on February 20, 2018. Professor Pratishtha Singh, the guest speaker, talked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his political strategies. Among the participants were students, professors, as well as guests from other institutions. Professor of Political Science Bridget Welsh was the moderator of the event.
A lecturer of Italian language and literature at University of Delhi, in New Delhi, India, Professor Singh earned her Ph.D. with a thesis on the representation of Mussolini in Contemporary Italian Literature. Singh also completed the prestigious Lok Sabha Internship Program at the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training in the Indian Parliament and submitted her dissertation on the privileges of the members of parliament in India. She has worked for the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation studying resolving water problems of women in Rajasthan villages. In 2015, she traveled alone across Bihar during the assembly elections to talk to women voters. Her travel experiences and conversations have recently been published in the form of a Hindi and Bhojpuri book by Vani Prakashan. Additionally, she writes a weekly column in The Telegraph in India.
Professor Singh began by declaring that she was in strong opposition to the divisive right wing fanaticism represented by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Throughout her presentation, Singh criticized India’s Prime-Minister Narendra Modi. First, she talked about Modi’s failure to establish efficient foreign policy despite his “hug diplomacy.” Professor Singh also discussed how Modi’s statement on why people should stop differentiating between “soft” and “hard” terrorism is a justification of the actions of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for mob-lynching and torturing Indian Muslims. RSS stands for “National Volunteer Organization” in Hindi and is a right-wing organization which also serves as an ideological representative of the BJP. Professor Singh went on to analyze the impacts of sudden demonetization. The measure was primarily aimed at combating terrorism funded by black-market money, but led to the death of thousands of people who survived on daily wages and had no savings. Finally Singh examined the implementation model of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) that failed to replace the multiple taxation system. On the contrary, it created an even more fragmented tax system with multiple GST. Professor Singh discussed the unemployment rate of 3.5% in India and how bank frauds have provoked cases of suicide among Indian farmers. At the same time, Singh demonstrated the government’s use of threats and political assassinations in order to stop any kind of opposition. Finally, she expressed her thoughts on the upcoming 2019 Indian elections, stating that because of electronic voting machines, the elections risk being easily manipulated.