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HOWDY, INDIA!

Modi told Indian-Americans “everything is fine” in India in nine languages. But is it?

U.S. President Donald Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi participate in the "Howdy Modi" event in Houston, Texas, U.S.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
All is well.
  • Manavi Kapur
By Manavi Kapur

Reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Prime minister Narendra Modi proved again, at the Howdy, Modi! event, that he is a true showman.

On Sept. 22, after an over two-hour-long cultural extravaganza and sharing the stage with US President Donald Trump at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Modi’s speech was dedicated to telling the massive gathering of Indian Americans how everything was just fine in India.

Turning the title of the event into a question, the prime minister responded, “Bharat mein sab achha hai (Everything is great in India).” He then proceeded to repeat the phrase in eight other Indian languages—Punjabi, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Bangla, among others. (Never mind the fact that his government in India believes that all Indians should use only Hindi as their primary language.)

Data, which Modi called the “new oil” in his address, though, prove otherwise.

The Indian economy is currently battling a debilitating slowdown. The automobile industry has been one of the worst-hit sectors, with sales declining for the 10th straight month in August. Domestic passenger vehicles saw a decline of 31.57% in sales as compared to the year-ago period.

Though the government had estimated GDP to grow by 7% for financial year 2019, the growth rate fell to a 20-quarter low in April-June. Financial services firm Credit Suisse has said that the FMCG segment could possibly see a steep decline in sales, making 2019-20 the sector’s worst year in 15 years. To boost the industry sentiment, Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of reforms, one of them being a reduction in corporate tax.

The unemployment crisis in India also doesn’t seem to be getting better.

In February, Business Standard newspaper reported that joblessness in India was at a 45-year high. According Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, a business information company, unemployment rate for the month of August stands at 8.19%.

And those are not the only issues ailing the Indian government.

The restive northern Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir is still reeling under an internet and communications clampdown, in place since Aug. 5. After the Modi government abrogated Articles 370 and 35A in the state and bifurcated it into two union territories, several political leaders have been under house arrest and there are severe restrictions on civilian movement.

Kashmir is a bone of contention between India and its neighbour Pakistan, and is a sticky subject for the US. President Trump has offered to mediate the Kashmir issue in the past, which India did not accept.

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