On 7 November 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi “adopted” the village of Jayapur under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana—a rural development project that he had launched in October that year. Located around 30 kilometres away from Varanasi, Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, Jayapur, according to the census report of 2011, is home to 2,974 residents. In April 2014, a month before he was elected prime minister, a high tension electric line had fallen in the village, injuring four people. Irked by the time it took for the authorities to reach the village, Modi noted on Twitter that it was “disturbing to know that the injured did not get timely medical attention.” Seven months later, as he announced his decision to take the village under his wings, the prime minister assured the villagers that they would develop a “new Jayapur” together and added, “An MP does not adopt a village. A village adopts an MP.”
Soon after, Jayapur was catapulted into the national spotlight. By 2015, several media reports were heralding the speedy progress that it had witnessed since Modi’s endorsement. Some stories claimed that Jayapur was riding the “crest of the development boom” while others declared that the village had given one year of Modi a “thumbs up.” Indeed, when I visited Jayapur in August 2016, I could not help but notice some signs of this ostensible development: the two banks in the village, an ATM, the solar-powered street-lights, and a solar power plant. However, recent dispatches from early 2016 cast a more sober light on the narrative surrounding Jayapur.
These stories pointed out that the infrastructural projects in the village had been constructed in haste and with little coordinationbetween various officials. In a report published in the Indian Express in August 2016, Vishnu Varma noted that “a majority of the development projects have landed in Jayapur, courtesy of private companies who as one official put it, ‘were inspired by the vision of Narendra Modi.’” (As of April 2015, according toa report by Manavi Kapur in Business Standard, Modi had himself spent only Rs 40 lakh from the Rs 5 crore allotted under the scheme.) During my visit to Jayapur, I learnt that one such organisation is Allanasons, a Mumbai-based food-processing company that claims to be “the largest producer and exporters [sic] of Halal Boneless Buffalo meat.” Allanasons’ product range, delivered to over 70 countries worldwide, includes frozen buffalo meat, chilled vacuum packed buffalo meat and frozen buffalo offal. “Owing to their high protein content and low fat,” the company states on its website, “the offered frozen meat is highly demanded in the market.”