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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Bridging North-South divide

India stands at a pivotal juncture where its economic prowess contrasts sharply with the divisive forces of identity politics. The dichotomy between development and cultural nationalism, exacerbated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, has laid bare a noticeable schism between the northern and southern regions of the country. While India basks in the glow of its burgeoning economy, currently ranked as the world’s fifth-largest, and boasts a soaring stock market, the rift between its prosperous south and less affluent north looms large.

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India stands at a pivotal juncture where its economic prowess contrasts sharply with the divisive forces of identity politics. The dichotomy between development and cultural nationalism, exacerbated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, has laid bare a noticeable schism between the northern and southern regions of the country. While India basks in the glow of its burgeoning economy, currently ranked as the world’s fifth-largest, and boasts a soaring stock market, the rift between its prosperous south and less affluent north looms large. Prime Minister Modi, a figure of immense influence, has steered India towards economic growth while simultaneously promoting a Hindu-first ideology, often tinged with chauvinism and authoritarianism. The southern region of India emerges as a beacon of modernity, with vibrant startups, esteemed educational institutions, and cutting-edge technological facilities.

However, intriguingly, Modi’s party finds minimal traction in this thriving hub. Instead, it draws significant support from the economically disadvantaged rural areas of the north, where Hindi reigns supreme. This geographical disparity assumes paramount importance as India braces for the upcoming elections in April and May. Modi’s anticipated third term hangs in the balance, contingent upon navigating this delicate divide. Failure to address these fissures could precipitate a constitutional crisis, imperilling India’s unified market. Conversely, effective management holds the promise of mitigating the harsh realities of identity politics, fostering a more cohesive future. To comprehend this division, one must delve into the economic dynamics. Historically, the southern states have outperformed their northern counterparts, propelled by effective governance, robust education systems, and secure property rights. This economic chasm has widened since independence, with the south now contributing significantly more to India’s GDP.

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The southern region not only serves as India’s economic powerhouse but also stands as a bastion of political divergence. Unlike the north, where the BJP’s agenda finds resonance, the south gravitates towards regional parties championing local languages and advocating moderate Hindu values. However, the BJP’s strategy faces resistance in the south. Despite Modi’s vision of a technologically advanced and unified nation, he grapples with a lack of mandate from these states. The BJP’s recent electoral setbacks in Karnataka underscore the prevailing disconnect. The increasing inter-state trade underscores the imperative of fostering a robust national market. However, achieving this necessitates bridging the geographical tensions and fostering greater integration within the country. Skeptics warn of the potential disruption to the constitutional equilibrium if Modi secures re-election. Allegations of bias against the southern states and apprehensions regarding the imposition of Hindi as the national language fuel anxieties.

Nevertheless, there exists a glimmer of hope. By embracing a more moderate stance on Hindutva, curtailing the emphasis on Hindi promotion, and prioritizing economic development, the BJP could bridge this gaping chasm. Recent indications from within the party suggest a willingness to embrace these shifts. India stands at a crossroads. The south offers a glimpse into the future of the country’s economy and politics. Modi and his party must heed the lessons from the south and navigate the path towards a more harmonious and prosperous India.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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