Thursday, March 23rd, 2023 05:08:04

Development Claims Amidst Erosion Of Democracy

Updated: May 17, 2014 2:33 pm

The issue of the dual centre of power in the government and the Congress party, especially its chief Sonia Gandhi and not so strong Prime Minister, is not new. However, revelations, earlier by the book authored by Prime minister’s former media adviser Sanjaya Baru and later another book by former Secretary, Ministry of Coal PC Parakh have once again warmed up these issue in wake of elections. These revelations have brought out the broader issue of independence of decision making by the Prime Minister of this country.

According to the Constitution of India, Parliament is the supreme decision-making body and the Prime Minister is at the centre of the power. Not only the selection of Cabinet, in fact, the appointment of Governors and other constitutional positions are all made on the basis of the recommendations of the cabinet under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. Revelations that important files of the PMO were seen by Sonia Gandhi, in a book authored by past media advisor of the Prime Minister, Sanjaya Baru, not only raise questions on the autonomy of the Prime Minister Office (PMO), but also on the dignity of the Prime Minister.

Those who are aware of the functioning of the government know that PM had been working on the advice of Sonia Gandhi. However, by mentioning the same in the book, Sanjaya Baru has made it a point of public discussion. This is not the first time that such issues have been raised. At earlier occasions too, apart from the opposition parties, even international magazines have criticised the PM by raising similar issues. In June 2013, USA’s The Economist magazine commented on the Prime Minister. Later in its July issue, Time magazine of USA termed Prime Minister ‘underachiever’. US President also joined this chorus by criticising the Manmohan government. Time had alleged that Prime Minister lacks the will to bring the economy back on the track of economic growth. It said, faced with the challenge of slowdown in economic growth, huge fiscal deficit, and sinking rupee, the Congress-led UPA government has demonstrated complete lack of direction. Further the magazine added that investors, both domestic and foreign are depressed. Self-confidence of the Prime Minister has been dwindling in the last three years of UPA-II government. Prime Minister has lost control over his ministerial colleagues. Engaged in the populist programmes, government has failed miserably, in legislating the pending bills in the Parliament, Time complained.

Prime Minister himself has conceded number of times that health of the economy has been deteriorating. According the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), growth rate of GDP shrank to 4.5 per cent in 2012-13.

PMO’s Response

Responding to the criticism that Prime Minister remained silent and has been weak during his tenure, PMO has refuted the same and stated that during 10 years of his tenure as Prime Minister, he delivered 1198 lectures at different occasions and issued 1600 press statements. Rather PMO has blamed the media for not giving due coverage to the achievements of the Prime Minister on the development front. However, the PMO has preferred not to say anything on the duality of power at the centre.

In this context, it is important to underline the fact that due to the existence of dual power centers, the other centre of power, namely Congress president Sonia Gandhi, got more attention in the media. This cements the perception that the government was being run through the office of the Congress president.

Regarding the achievement of the government, an important argument which has been made is that in the last 10 years, GDP has tripled, which is factually incorrect, as during this period real GDP has increased by 107 per cent. Yes, if we take GDP at current prices, the same has nearly quadrupled. It seems PMO wants to take credit of soaring of money GDP due to high inflation.

Veracity of UPA’s Claims

In reality, the last three years of UPA’s rule have been the worst in the last 20 years. During these years, effects of ill-conceived policies and mismanagement of the economy have become perceptible and growth has decelerated to 6.2 per cent, 4.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent (expected) in the year 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively, after reaching high growth rate of 8.9 per cent in 2010-11. It is notable that between 1998 and 2004, positive effects of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) policies brought the economy out of the clutches of syndrome of low growth rate. If we see up to fifth five year plan, GDP growth could not cross more than 5 per cent in any five year plan. Even later plans could not take the growth figure beyond 6 per cent. When NDA took over the reign of power, growth increased in leaps and bounds. Barring a couple of exceptional years, it kept on accelerating, before reaching a high of 8.2 per cent in 2003-04. That means the country could manage to come out of the vicious circle of so-called, ‘Hindu Rate of Growth’, a term coined by American Indian economist Raj Krishna. After crossing the psychological barrier of 5 per cent, growth rate remained high, even during the UPA rule.

Time To Redeem Honour And Economy Of The Nation

Turbulent , frustrated and anguished masses in the country are already writing a new script of Indian politics and that is why we are witnessing 70 per cent voting in areas far flung where it used to be merely 40 per cent. Over all 10 per cent increase in voting is sign of change. One thing is clear that young people have come out in droves to bring a sea change in Indian politics. That always was the case with youth but they knew no change is possible and had become indifferent. Now the transformation of the fortunes of the country appears possible due to many developments following Anna’s crusade and especially the rise of Narendra Modi who has virtually swept the country with his mission to win masses and change the face of India rather than fight negative battles of defeating targeted persons as followed by AAP and others. AAP came close on the heels of Anna’s crusade, generated hope of change but its leader Arvind Kejriwal demolished his own party due to his high ambition to quickly rise to the top although professing that he does not want to be a Prime Minister. He has totally lost his credibility by telling lies and even in violation of his public swearing by his children announcing that he would not take support of both the BJP and the Congress— he formed Delhi government after his conditions were accepted by the Congress. It was clear that he was seeking power at any cost and his mask of honesty and transparency had vanished. After 49 days he left on one point, not bothering about the rest 18 points in his agenda. We thought he was different but he was like other greedy politicians who indulged in double-speak and while posturing simplicity was hoodwinking the masses. One Congress leader remarked aptly: “We exposed him completely by offering support and proved his lack of will to govern but only agitate”. A taxi driver who had voted for him said: “Ham sabne uspe vishwas kiya par unhone to hamen dhoka diya.” No wonder later he received slaps from his own men. Now he is fighting Narendra Modi in his epic battle of negative politics.

Indian politics changed a lot after Anna’s crusade and public anger got consolidated. 2014 Elections have provided a way to express it as both Anna’s fast and AAP drama did not succeed and now masses are eyeing a decisive and credible leader who can give them good governance. Electorate is fed up with indecisive, unimaginative and weak leadership of the country. Sanjaya Baru’ book accidental Prime Minister and Parakh’ narration of coal scandal went only to reveal how mafia and scams were perpetuated by a proxy leader. The tragedy is that even senior editors of respected media stand exposed when details are given as to how they were manipulated for what is euphemistically called paid news. What more is left in the nadir of degeneration of our political and media nexus when the country faces unparalleled economic and developmental challenges!

In this context Narendra Modi stands as the beacon of hope and has promise to deliver since he has a track record of excellent performance in his own state. There are critics who do not accept Gujrat performance. Data is positive overall but let me illustrate it with power problems. In 2003 the state electricity board was incurring loss of Rs 2,500 crore. Today it is in profit of 550 crore whereas all the states are floundering in this vital area. There was more than 30 per cent loss in transmission in most of the states in India but he controlled it and stopped the theft by establishing five police stations only for eliminating thefts. The state is now providing three phase power to 18000 villages round the clock. It is benefitting farmers and industry. He promoted even salt desert as tourism spot and roped in Amitabh Bachchan who branded it which resulted in increased employment and control of border areas where tribals lived without much resource. What else is good governance?

By all accounts Modi in my assessment is likely to get support of over 290 members in the new house. Old politics is out and new politics is in. It is not politics of capitalism or socialism or secularism but politics of humanism, good governance and economic reconstruction.

By NK singh 


Twin Deficit

It is notable that the economy has been facing huge fiscal deficit as well as deficit on current account in balance of payment (CAD) for the last more than three years. The result is soaring internal and external debt, depreciating rupee and high prices. If we look at the NDA rule, in the last three years of the NDA regime, balance of payment had gone into surplus zone. Surplus in balance of payment comes when our receipts of foreign exchange exceed those of payments. Though we continued to have some deficit in the balance of trade even during the NDA regime, surplus on invisibles, primarily due to receipts from software exports and NRI remittances had exceeded the deficit in the balance of trade.

Though the UPA government does not leave any opportunity to pat its back, it is a fact not only that our growth has started decelerating, many people started saying that we are approaching back to ‘Hindu Rate of Growth’. Inflation which had dipped to 3 to 4 per cent during the NDA regime has again reached double digits. The common man is under deep distress.

Rising inflation is causing rising interest rates and high interest rates in turn are pulling the economy down. Continuously high rate of inflation in the last few years has started eroding the competitiveness of Indian economy. Costs are rising, both consumer demand and investment demand have come to a standstill. In the recent quarter, industrial growth has gone into negative zone, which implies that industrial production instead of rising has actually started going down.

There is a general perception that corruption during the present regime is not only causing inflation, it is blocking the road of development and also making the people poor and jobless. For all this, weakness of leadership is responsible.

By Ashwani Mahajan



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