Is Narendra Modi dangerous for India

Criticism of India's premier modes"A Talibanization of India"

Lucknow. The name of the city may sound German. But it is in India. In the middle of the state of Uttar Pradesh. It's hot, over 40 degrees. It is a few degrees more in front of the Tunday Kebab Fryer. The grill masters celebrate their delicately fried kebabs. They are extremely flavorful, which is said to help fight unpleasant bacteria.

"What is on the grill here is exclusively chicken and mutton. Before we also had buffalo on offer. Not anymore. We have put some vegetarian dishes on the menu instead."

Mohammad Usman is a cozy man, in his early 50s, white linen shirt, neat belly. He is the owner of Tunday Kebab, the most famous roasting shop in Lucknow. When Usman says buffalo meat, he also means beef.

"Our business has collapsed, almost by half"

But selling beef is illegal. Usman's new menu says a lot about the political reality in Uttar Pradesh, the largest Indian state with a population of 200 million. That the kebab king of all people now also offers vegetarian food would have been unthinkable recently.

"Our business has collapsed, almost by half. Sure: One reason is the heat. But the main reason is the fact that there is no more buffalo meat, only lamb. But lamb is expensive and has a lot less taste than buffalo."

Usman adjusted, or rather: had to adjust, its food offering in mid-March. A reaction to the massive election victory of the religious-nationalist BJP of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Uttar Pradesh. She won 324 of 403 seats in the Lucknow state parliament. Modi appointed a Hindu priest as head of government. This man was previously noticed for one thing: extreme agitation against Muslims.

Politics "with the cow which is sacred for Hindus"

For every Hindu murdered, a hundred Muslims would have to die. That is one of the sentences that Yogi Adithyanath, as the priest is called, uttered. His second soft spot is the sacred cow. And so Yogi did not hesitate long. As soon as he was in office, he had all the slaughterhouses in Lucknow closed. Allegedly because of a lack of licenses. But it is also known that the BJP makes politics in the true sense of the word with the cow, which is sacred for Hindus. Beef, which has hitherto been sold secretly in Lucknow, should by no means end up on Indian plates. Not even as a kebab specialty.

And so Kebab King Usman is now in economic trouble. Because there was no meat at all in the meantime, Usman even had to close for a short time. This had never happened before in the history of Tunday Kebab.

"Self-proclaimed cow protectors kill alleged cow smugglers"

Mohammad Sharif's slaughterhouse is still closed. The lean man stands in front of his closed shop. Sharif has tears in his eyes. In anger. He is one of around 500 butchers in Lucknow who are currently not allowed to work. They are all Muslims.

In the meantime, mobs in India attack alleged cow smugglers or Muslim farmers every week who allegedly slaughtered a cattle. In several cases, the victims were slain. The self-proclaimed cow protectors feel empowered by the political hardliners of the BJP. Since his party's election victory in Uttar Pradesh, Narendra Modi seems unassailable.

Some compare his abundance of power to that of Indira Gandhi or her father, the founder of the state, Nehru. Modi has been the head of government in India for three years. Since then he has been the father of the nation.

Indian Prime Minister Modi, EU Council President Tusk and Commission President Juncker meet in Brussels. (dpa / picture alliance / Olivier Hoslet / Pool)

As an incorruptible reformer who wants to lead the country into the group of developed states, attract foreign investors, slim down the bureaucracy and, above all, create jobs. Modi's motto is "Sab ka saath, sab ka Vikas" - roughly translated it means "One government for all, development for all". But in Lucknow, Usman, Faizi and Sharif have doubts whether this motto should also apply to them. An estimated 180 million Muslims live in India.

"The standard of living in India is growing"

Sanjay Malhotra looks with satisfaction through his factory halls. All machines are running, there are boxes with car parts such as fittings in the warehouse. They are intended for export. Malhotra employs 200 people in Gurgaon near New Delhi. Since Modi came to power, the smart man in his mid-forties has been hoping to finally conquer the huge Indian market.

He sells only a fifth of his goods to car manufacturers in his own country. This proportion has not changed much since Modi took office in 2014. But Malohtra's mood is still good. Sales in India are going up:

"Everything is getting better here. So far the market has been very small. Last year, however, we grew by 50 percent in the Indian market, and we are aiming for a further 50 percent this year. The standard of living in India is growing. This enables us too Growth."

Modi's great economic and social experiment

In fact, India is currently considered to be the fastest growing country in the world, faster than China. According to the latest official figures, the Indian economy grew by seven percent last fall. Hardly anyone expected this number, however, because in September 2016 Narendra Modi dared a major economic and social experiment that aroused great astonishment worldwide.

Modi, completely surprisingly, invalidated a large part of the cash, the 500 and 1,000 rupee bills. He wanted to hit owners of black money with it. India is still considered to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The banknotes that Modi withdrew from circulation made up more than 80 percent of all cash, in a country where almost all business is done in cash.

The result was a sudden standstill in the economy and trade. Demand collapsed in almost all areas - and thus also damaged Sanjay Malhotra's India business, which was still expandable.

"November was terrible. Nobody knew what to do next. It wasn't until mid-December that the situation normalized somewhat, that took maybe six to eight weeks."

Modi supporter: "Reform worked because it made everyone the same"

For a short while, it looked like Prime Minister Modi might have overstepped the curve. Not even the Indian banks were prepared for the cash reform. The bank bosses, like all other Indians, found out about it in the evening from the television. The secrecy meant that all ATMs had to be laboriously reset to the new bills. Something like this takes several weeks.

Black money owners found ways to wash the old bills hoarded in the cellar white. For example, some distributed them to the many relatives of their extended family. Old money could be exchanged for new bills up to a certain amount for seven weeks.

In short, the cash reform seemed to completely miss its target. But there were no uprisings, very few protests, and although the cash devaluation hit him too, entrepreneur Sanjay Malhotra still thinks the decision is the right one:

"The government has always promised to fight corruption and the currency devaluation was a step in that direction. I think the reform worked because it made everyone the same. All of a sudden, day laborers had the same problem as rich landowners. The people liked that, according to the motto: That serves them right. "

Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hold a picture of the incumbent Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. (EPA / Sanjeev Gupta)

Cash reform, uniform VAT, digital conversion

Today hardly anyone talks about the cash reform that paralyzed India for weeks. On the contrary: Prime Minister Modi has been more powerful than ever since the election victory in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh. In the winter he managed to impose a uniform value added tax on India.

So far, each state has had its own tax system. Modi also announced major infrastructure projects such as the construction of so-called intelligent cities. He is intensively attracting investors abroad with his "Make in India" campaign. He wants to streamline the bureaucracy and promote digital restructuring.

Traditional congress party loses "one election after the other"

Rajeev Gowda leads into his party's office in the venerable, British-built Indian parliament in the capital New Delhi. With its large colonnades, it looks like a temple of democracy. But there is not much to be gained for parliamentarians like Rajeev Gowda. Gowda's party, the traditional Congress party, loses one election after the other.

"We lost the general election in 2014 after ten years in government. Before that, however, we gave India an average growth of seven and a half percent for ten years. We lifted 140 million people out of poverty. That never happened before. Then there was." Corruption allegations and people wanted to change. But we are still a long way from disappearing. At the moment, many only have the feeling that our competition can no longer be stopped by the BJP because it is recording such spectacular victories as it is now in Uttar Pradesh. "

Gowda: "No sooner was Modi in power than he took over our agenda"

What makes things worse for the Congress Party, according to Gowda, is the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is simply continuing the economic and social policies of the previous Congress-led government.

"Modi used to block a uniform sales tax when he was prime minister in his state of Gujarat. Now he's enforcing it. He was against an electronic citizen card that we can use to pay out subsidies for the poor without corrupt middlemen. Now he's using this card No sooner was Modi himself in power than he took on our entire agenda - as if the light had suddenly dawned on him. We launched many programs, for example to promote investment in industry. He just kept them on And if he is now pretending that nothing has happened in India for 70 years and only he is reforming everything, then I would say: Prime Minister, take a look at history and books and see what for a foundation that Congress created. You can now build on that. "

Opposition: "Freedom of expression is under attack in India"

Rajeev Gowda and his party friends could not even use the radical cash reform to meet Modi.

"Modi just came at a time when the country wanted a populist, a strong man. And nobody seems to be questioning the details, the truth behind the facade. But I think the reality will catch up with the government. We need one stronger growth, more jobs than before and social peace. We have blocked parliament because, in our opinion, freedom of expression is being attacked in India, because students who have only exercised their right to demonstrate have been attacked. Minorities are under pressure to be told what they are allowed to eat and so on. This is a Talibanization of India. It makes us angry. "

Threatened journalists and party-controlled "cyber warriors"

Journalists are under pressure in India. Anyone who is not nationalistic enough or is considered liberal is even insulted by the BJP federal ministers as "Presstitute" - that is, as a kind of media prostitute. The dirty work on the Internet is done by so-called "cyber warriors" on behalf of the party. Journalists receive threats. Students who address the Kashmir conflict with Pakistan, for example, are quickly seen as anti-national.

"I sometimes ask myself whether the people here are not too quick to fall for Modi's sayings, his pictures, false stories, whether they are too uncritical. We should make sure that the parliamentary system in India remains strong and that we don't lead the way like Turkey. I don't think it will come to that. But we have to make sure. "

"Hindutva - the supremacy of the Hindus"

The Hindu nationalist program that the Congress politician Rajeev Gowda is so on the stomach is called roughly summarized: Hindutva - the supremacy of the Hindus. This term comes up again and again in connection with Narendra Modi and the BJP. But: What does Hindutva actually mean in a country where people of many religions live together?

The whistle sounds, the saffron-colored flag is hoisted, the young men stand to attention, bamboo sticks slung over their shoulders like guns. Saffron is the color of the Hindu nationalists. A wiry, older man shouts commands, then the group begins with a mixture of shadow boxing, military drills and warm-up exercises.

"National Volunteer Organization" RSS as a superstructure of Modis BJP

All of this in the middle of a public park in Lucknow, the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh. The group belongs to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS for short. The name translates as "National Voluntary Organization". The RSS is the ideological superstructure of Narendra Modi's BJP.

"We call this the art of fighting. It keeps us fit so that we are prepared for the challenges of everyday life. We also do other exercises on the side, for example yoga. The saffron flag is sacred to us, it is like a guru Teachers to us, this flag guides us. "

Antriksh Tripathi, a man around 30, fine, friendly facial features, reserved demeanor, wears the uniform of the RSS - brown, long trousers, white shirt. Since Narendra Modi was in power, the RSS has gained considerable popularity, including in Lucknow. Modi grew up in this organization.

Supporters of the Indian Prime Minister Modi at an election rally in Ghaziabad in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. They hold up flags of the right-wing Hindu national Bharatiya Janata party. (picture alliance / Siddhartha Kumar / dpa)

RSS: "Orientation towards right-wing extremist movements in Europe"

The RSS was founded in colonial times. At that time, the organization was oriented towards the right-wing extremist movements in Europe. The members of the RSS say they work as social workers in 50,000 villages.

Recently, RSS medical professionals made headlines because they claimed that the ancient healing art of Ayurveda would be able to breed tall, fair-skinned people based on the German model. The Nazis' Lebensborn projects were meant. Tripathi, who doesn't seem like an agitator at all, sums up the mission of the RSS as follows:

"We dream of a successful and peaceful India where there is work for everyone. We want India to be the best country in the world. Our prime minister is working very hard for this. The majority should rule us. And the majority, these are Hindus . Muslims are actually Hindus too, they only converted a few generations ago. If they accept that their ancestors were Hindus and that they are actually Hindus, we have no problem welcoming them into our community. "

RSS vision: minorities should subordinate themselves to Hindus

The minorities in India are said to be subordinate to the Hindu community. That is the vision of the RSS. The organization regards Narendra Modi's BJP as its political arm.

But for many there is a red line that the BJP government should not cross either. This includes not only the butchers from Lucknow or Mohammad Usman, the kebab king, but also the entrepreneur Sanjay Malhotra, who manufactures auto parts near New Delhi. For him, Modi has so far been the right man at the right time, but despite all the optimism, a little bit of skepticism remains.

"The government's mission is to develop our country and its people. If it neglects that, if it turns too much towards the far-right Hindutva or other radical ideas, be it from the right or the left, then it will lose its power. It works us here about economic development, and the rest is unimportant. "