When A. Raja was caught in the 2G scam, many senior Congress leaders, including even the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh kept saying for two years that no scam had taken place. When Manmohan Singh’s name cropped up in the Coal scam, the Congress Party said that this was a policy decision. The interesting thing is that the opposition parties too did not raise these cases vigourously. It is due to the courts that those involved in such scams are getting punishment. The fact and reality is that political parties are engaged in misleading the people. Leaders are telling white lies. The media is spreading confusion. The drama of there being an alternative is being played out. The root cause of inflation, corruption, hunger, unemployment and farmers’ suicide is Manmohan Singh’s neo-liberal policies. The question is whether changing the Prime Minister is an option or alternative? Is removing the Government of one particular party or parties and bringing another party or parties to power an option or alternative? In the real sense of the word, an ‘option’ or ‘alternative’ means alternative policies. To get rid of the problems of inflation, corruption, hunger, unemployment etc. it is necessary to end neo-liberal policies. Therefore, in the 2014 election, instead of leaders and parties taking decisions, it will have to be the people of the country who must take decisions on economic policy. They must teach a lesson to parties who offer neo-liberal policies as a solution to the country’s problems.
Preparations for the Lok Sabha elections have begun. The lists detailing from where which candidates will fight have been readied. Whether it be the Bhartiya Janta Party, the Congress Party, the Left, regional parties or then the Aam Aadmi Party, they have readied their lists keeping in mind caste equations and the convolutions of Hindu-Muslim votes. The names of many candidates have been announced and several more will soon be announced. Everywhere, a race is on. Rallies, announcements, meetings, money transactions, hoardings, posters, pamphlets, the social media – everywhere an election atmosphere prevails. Mammoth sums of money will be blown away in these elections, but in the clamour and buzz of these elections the biggest question is still a mysterious secret. This question is linked to the lives of the people. This question is linked and connected to development and exploitation of the poor and the destitute. This question is linked to employment for youth. It is linked to the future of the country’s water, forests, and land. This question is linked to the existence of democracy in the country. The shameful thing is that on this biggest question of all, every political party is maintaining a silence.
The biggest problem of this country is that political parties and the leaders who run the country have taken the problem itself to be a solution. The economic policies due to which the poor in this country are becoming poorer, due to which the rich are becoming excessively rich, due to which the natural resources of the country are being plundered, due to which development can be seen only in data and figures, due to which the youth in the country are roaming around unemployed, due to which farmers are being forced to commit suicide, due to which conditions of labourers are going from bad to worse – most political parties in the country have accepted the neo liberal policies responsible for all this to be the only option or alternative. The BJP or the Congress or the newly formed Aam Aadmi Party, there is no difference in their economic policies, because they all say in one voice that it is not the Government’s task to provide employment. Trading is not the Government’s task – it is the task of the industrial world. It has to be understood that these people are intent on making the economy of the country a captive in the hands of the markets. The condition of a market oriented economic system is being seen in many countries of the world. It is India, where the farmers are producing food with their hard work that there is no shortage of food to eat or water to drink, otherwise in the last twenty years the condition of India would have become like that of African countries where people are dying of hunger.
The UPA Government has been engaged for ten years in implementing a blatant, grossly market system policy. There is a cacophony of harassment among the people. The media has also become a part of the market oriented system, so it is incapable and unable to bring out the reality. The fact is that people want to get relief from the market oriented, capitalist system, but there is no alternative before the country. The argument of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi is also strange. Narendra Modi says that the UPA failed because it was unable to properly implement the market economy policies. In other words it means to say that Narendra Modi is making a promise that when he comes to power, he will implement properly the market based economic system. This clearly means that the same inflation and soaring prices, the same corruption, the same dominating reign of a market oriented economy will spread. It is meaningless to refer to other parties, because neither do they have any policy nor do they have any responsibility or sense of responsibility towards the country. It needs to be understood that the market oriented economic policy which the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are championing, that very policy is the main cause and reason behind inflation in the country. All the important goods the Government is putting outside its jurisdiction. When the Government has no jurisdiction, who will contain and control prices and how? Manmohan Singh continuously spoke about controlling inflation, but the Government could never stop it. The reason for this too is that when every thing is given to the market, it is only in debates on TV channels that inflation can be reined in, but in reality in the market the prices go only upwards. If the policy itself is against the people, then who implements or enforces it does not make a difference. Whether it is Rahul or Modi, it makes no difference. This is the reason why when Anna Hazare took up these important issues and wrote to all the political parties, nobody replied.
Not only do neo-liberal policies give free rein to inflation, they also foster corruption. During the ten years of UPA rule there were so many scams that corruption has become an issue in the coming elections. Innumerable scams occurred during this period because the Government, leaders and officials got together with the corporate world and through policy decisions plundered the natural resources of the country. To tackle corruption, curbs should be put without delay on handing over natural resources to private firms. Alongside, black money deposited in foreign accounts should be declared national property and the process of bringing it back should be started. After 1991, the way corruption has completely taken the Government system in its grip has raised questions on the reliability of constitutional institutions.
Corruption also became an issue because in 2011 Anna Hazare began a countrywide movement against corruption. The entire country picked up the tricolour and wearing ‘I am Anna’ Gandhi topis (caps) poured onto the streets. The people supported Anna because during UPA rule, for the first time, corruption reached the level of Panchayats and villages. The awakening among the people that took place through Anna’s movement and Jantantra yatra had an effect and ultimately the Lokpal law had to be made by the Government. However, there are several laws which still have to be made. The demands of the people of the country are not too many and corruption can be reined in to a large extent, if there is transparency in official work transparency, the Citizens Charter Bill and a Bill for the safety and security of Whistleblowers can become laws. Alongside there is a need to bring electoral reforms in the country, such as the Right to Reject and the Right to Recall. Leaving aside foreign affairs and matters of security, making the file of every decision of the Government public after 2 years can end corruption at the apex level. But it needs to be understood that if a Government championing a market oriented economy comes to power in 2014, then neither will transparency ever come in and nor will corruption be eliminated.
The Congress and the BJP, both parties pursue such economic policies through which disparities and inequalities are created in the development of towns and villages. Till now, these disparities and inequalities have been ignored in India, but if they continue to be by passed or ignored, the country can move towards chaos. Even otherwise, after so many years since Independence, the time has now come to take democracy to the ground level. The time for empowerment of rural India has come. The villages need autonomy in local administration. A beginning can be made in this by making the Gram Sabhas responsible for their respective Panchayats. This system should be similar to the manner in which the Cabinet is responsible to the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies. Empowerment of villages can prove to be the strongest step and with it, not only will democracy be strengthened in India but the burden of the Government will also be reduced.
Along with political empowerment, it is also the responsibility of the Government to stop the exodus from villages. Currently, farmers are not benefiting much from cultivation, they do not get proper prices for their produce, and they are suffering. The farmer is compelled to sell his land and move to the town or city for work. For the security and welfare of farmers in the country, first of all a stop will have to be put on snatching their fertile lands and giving them to private companies, and alongside, it is necessary to modernise agriculture and link it with industry. The biggest problem of the farmers is that they do not get water on time. To deal with this it is necessary to put a stop, a ban, on the privatisation of rivers and lakes and at the same time, by operationalising water harvesting schemes, along with cities, provide drinking and irrigation water to the villages. In addition, by considering the village as a unit, schemes of agro-based industries should be made operational so that employment opportunities can be available in the villages themselves. If the country’s villages become prosperous, if the exodus of people from villages stops, many of the country’s problems can be solved in one stroke. It is regrettable that the national parties are not holding out even false consolation about policies that will make villages prosperous.
There is a big drawback in the mindsets of political parties. They think that the best way to make people happy is by giving subsidies or money directly to the people. In the absence of policies, political parties play the game of giving rice at one rupee a kilo, or giving TV sets, or sometimes there is a loan waiver. This time there has been an attempt to lure or entice people through a policy of depositing money directly into bank accounts. Now who will make these political parties understand that if this money had been used for creating an ultramodern infrastructural and logistical framework, then the people of the country would have become self reliant on their own, without help from the Government. If instead of populist electoral policies, this money had been used for improving health services, then in every village of the country health services would have become available, but this is not the priority of the Government. Today the situation is such that in several district headquarters in the country facilities for getting even a CT scan or an X-Ray done are not available. Government resources should be used for improving the system. If the money that has been ruined in schemes like MGNREGS had been used to set up units of solar energy in every village, then lakhs of villages in the country would have become self sufficient to a great extent in the field of energy and there would have been no damage to the environment either.
Apart from all these, there is a need to make a special package for the oppressed class in the country. The condition of Muslims in the country has become worse than even that of the Dalits. In every election, the Congress Party gave – before the election – a lure to Muslims, and misled them by holding out reservation in jobs, and after every election, forgot the Muslims and the lures held out to them. To give reservations in the name of religion is wrong from a constitutional standpoint, but it is the responsibility of the Government to help the poor and destitute in every community. Inspite of this, the Congress and the BJP have so far complicated this matter in such a manner that it takes on communal colour. There is a need for an education policy not only for the minorities, but for the entire country which is linked directly to employment. To have an education policy which makes you ‘educated’ yet unemployed is not of much benefit for the country.
In a democracy, elections are held from time to time so that the people can decide which policies the Government should follow. The people make their own assessments about the way political parties have ruled or governed. Those Governments which do not succeed in finding a solution for the problems of the people are rejected and removed from power by the people. The role of the media is to bring forth the truth, so that it can be known what work the Government did, but in the election of 2014, the media and the political parties are working to mislead the people.
India is quite different from European countries. India is different too from African and American countries. Here, the economic, social, political and cultural environment is different, therefore, by applying policies and schemes of other countries with closed eyes is not a good decision. There is loss and damage due to it. Because of Manmohan Singh, India since 1991 is blindly following the policies of international organisations like the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) and the World Bank. Some people feel that development is happening in several areas, this is the only way for development. This assessment is wrong. The problems of the country are becoming more complex than before. India is getting caught in an economic and social vortex. Some signs of the crisis can be seen, and some, like the signs of cancer, are hidden. It is after 1991 that the Naxalite movement picked up strength. Beginning from 40 districts, it has now reached 250 districts. The number of youths in the country is increasing, at the same time unemployment too is increasing. The minorities, especially Muslims, who were already adrift and isolated from the mainstream of the country, are now becoming economically weaker as well. Atrocities against of women are increasing. Violence is increasing. The Government machinery is failing. The credibility of political leaders is being eroded. The reason for this is that the problems of the people of the country are assuming monstrous proportions and those who are running the country are proving to be dwarfs. No thinking, no ideology, no policy, no faith and no vision. Every Government is running the same policy. No new thinking is being created to tackle and end problems. Problems do not disappear by changing faces, nothing changes by changing the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister. Therefore, in the elections of 2014 the people will have to make their decisions on the basis of economic policies. This is the only remedy, the only course, for saving the country from anarchy and civil war.