Harish Khare emphatically wrote that statement on March 1, 2002. Even as the riots were on, the then senior correspondent of The Hindu (who later went on to become PM's media advisor in UPA) told us that attracting foriegn investment can be forgotten. While the riots were on, Harish Khare thought about foreign investments (whatever the context is).
And at the end of his article, he asks:
Gujarat was in quotes because he wondered if the riots would happen again? He also wondered that if riots will repeated "all over North India".
I want to meet Mr. Khare now and ask him - now that Gujarat attracts perhaps the maximum foreign investment; now that 'Gujarat' was not repeated; now that it not "allowed to be repeated" - will he write another article mentioning these points?
Every single time a discussion on Narendra Modi came up, I was always stuck at the point of trying to seek answers to the 2002 riddle. "But there has been a lot of development" argument didn't sound convincing enough to myself. What use of development when there is no security? - was what I always thought. The election victories of Mr. Modi in 2002 and 2007 told a totally different story. A story that made little sense to me earlier.
And as we approach another election in Gujarat this year, one of the most striking aspect of the last 10 years has been both development and security. Now, we have states wanting to emulate the Gujarat success stories. A state that is known for its gory history of communal clashes hasn't seen as much as even a curfew in the past 9-10 years - shouldn't that be counted as an achievement in itself?
The victims are still seeking justice, no doubt about that. Some of them have already received justice. Others hopefully will, but an administration cannot be seen as not wanting the state to move on. I know "move on" is easier said than done, but my intention here is to not advise the victims to move on. The riot industry expects the state of Gujarat to remain mired in these controversies and any attempt by the government to make the people more secure (through jobs, schemes, visions, programs etc) is unfortunately (or understandably?) downplayed.
Over the years, we have also heard of many innovative programs on the agriculture front in Gujarat, thereby achieving a growth that is way above the national average. Disgruntled media outlets also could not escape this fact and had to do stories on this growth.
And then we heard of 24 hour power supply to villages in the state. To ALL of the villages in the state, through Jyoti Gram yojana. I don't think it is necessary to discuss how big a factor this 24 hour power supply.
And the scheme where we learnt that the entire state machinery will go to town every single year, trying to enroll children, convince parents etc. The result - dropout rates are amongst the least in the country.
And lest Mr. Khare brings up "foreign investment", a Vibrant Gujarat summit that is held once every two years (this is the only event that the entire "national" media focusses on). In the latest summit in 2011, a mere 7,936 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed for just Rs. 20,83,000 ($ 450 billion) crore. Even if 25% of these materialize, that's significant.
The above schemes/programs are just a few that I am writing about here. There's the focus on solar energy; there's focus on infrastructure; there's focus on irrigation; there's focus on law and order etc.
All the above development schemes would mean little if there was no security. But now we have seen how there is security and development. On a personal front, many of my doubts have been cleared on Narendra Modi ( and also BJP in general). Take a look at the discourse in most of the BJP (and NDA) ruled states - it's primarily about development (perhaps we will discuss more on that some other day).
The choice is to trust the courts, the investigation agencies and lawyers (appointed by SC), the police and the elections; or to trust the "riot industry". I have finally made my choice.
And with that, I end this six-part series on "2002 & Narendra Modi".