A MOST DISAPPOINTING BUDGET

What is there in the Budget for those 90 per cent people who voted for Narendra Modi because of the hope give in his election campaign speeches? I have the whole Budget document open in front of me and those 90 per cent people are nowhere in this Budget. The youth to which Narendra Modi sold dreams are not in this Budget. Those who are uneducated, for them there is no way to get education in this Budget. Those who are unemployed, no door for them to get employment is there in this Budget and this Budget is from no angle seen to be fighting corruption or inflation.


leadNarendra Modi’s five year term Government has presented its first Budget. When the hike of 14.20 per cent in railway fares was announced without waiting for the Budget, then we thought maybe the Budget would be different from this, but as soon as the argument came to fore that this hike is not our decision but this hike was the hike proposed by the previous Manmohan Singh Government which we implemented, it seemed the Government of Narendra Modi is also trying to trap people in a web of talking in the same way as the previous Government was doing. Stories of various kinds were spread, that the condition of the Railways is bad, the Railways will shut down, that is why increasing fares was a compulsion. Whenever the previous Government talked about increasing the fares the Bharatiya Janata Party used to thump its chest and bemoan and create a scene and say that the UPA Government has no plan, no method of doing work and no vision for the future. It only wants to provide quick remedies. And when at the time of hiking railway fares the Modi Government took the support of the same arguments that were given by the previous Government, even then to we didn’t accept this apprehension as correct.
But when the Rail Budget came, then it seemed to us that our apprehensions were not wrong. Narendra Modi should be given 6 months and the Government a free rein to work, but in between Narendra Modi issued a statement that why are people not giving us a honeymoon period of 100 days. From this we thought Narendra Modi is caught in some dilemma and this dilemma first came to light in the Rail Budget. Amongst the people who travel by train in this country barely 5 per cent are people who travel long distance, sit in air conditioned coaches and want improvement in those facilities which they don’t like. But the remaining 95 per cent people travel by those trains in which there is no water, which are overflowing with filth and which run between a 200-400 km distance. Narendra Modi’s Rail Budget was a Rail Budget of facilities for those 5 per cent people. All the new trains that were started are for these 5 per cent people only. But 95 per cent people remained out of the ambit of any kind of facility or improvement in rail transport. Even then it seemed to us that maybe when the economic draft of the country, that is the general Budget, will come then this situation would change. But now the Budget of the Modi Sarkar has come before the country and the provisions of this Budget have come.
We will not talk about the numbers of this Budget of Modi because they are attached to the life of the people and people will experience its heat or dampness in their lives. But, we will mention that side of it which the Narendra Modi Government cannot see. And if it can see it, then it means the Narendra Modi Government intentionally wants to take the country on the path upon which we are walking, distressed and distraught, and wanting to see a ray of hope. Good days have really come, but good days have come for whom? Over here if we talk about the country or its people then the country is divided into two parts. On one side 90 per cent of the people are there and on the other 10 per cent. These 10 per cent people live in capitalist markets, these 10 per cent people go to malls, and travel in air conditioned trains, travel in airplanes and the shiny big cars on the roads belong to these 10 per cent people. This Budget is the Budget of these 10 per cent people. 90 per cent people are out of the ambit of this Budget. If we consider the whole population living in the country as one unit then 90 per cent of that unit is outside this Budget. It is important for Narendra Modi to remember that his Government didn’t come to power because of the votes of these 10 per cent people, because these 10 per cent people did nothing for Modi except wag their tongues. They didn’t even go for casting votes. The 30 or 32 per cent votes that Narendra Modi’s party got were of those 90 per cent people who got only disappointment from the previous Governments. The hope given in the speeches of Narendra Modi motivated them to vote for him. What is there in the Budget for those 90 per cent people? I have the whole Budget document open in front of me and those 90 per cent people are nowhere in this Budget. The youth to which Narendra Modi sold dreams are not in this Budget. Those who are uneducated, for them there is no way to get education in this Budget. Those who are unemployed, no door for them to get employment is there in this Budget and this Budget is from no angle seen to be fighting corruption or inflation.
Today, praises of Narendra Modi’s magnificence are being read in newspapers and television, but newspapers and television too have now become of those 10 per cent people about whom they show news, about whose lives they show dreams, and flowing in those dreams, 90 per cent people cast their vote. The first important part of this Budget is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). This Government has started minimising its role and has opened FDI in almost all areas. Its second meaning is that in all Government companies of our country the control of foreign companies will increase, their interference will also increase and they will start searching for ways for money to go out of our country. On opening up the path to 49 per cent FDI, control of almost all production units and organisations managing capital will have to be given into the hands of foreign companies. Earlier, foreign companies used to interfere in our country through NRI’s. Now for this they don’t even need that curtain. They will directly take the first step forward to take over the capital market and economy of our country.
The banks of our country, before nationalisation, used to work for 14 big families of India. The late Indira Gandhi nationalised them so that they could play a significant role in the economic development of the poor of this country but the approach of the subsequent Governments again turned the banks into weapons working for capitalists or the super rich or corporates. As a result all big industries or big corporates openly use banks for their selfish needs and don’t return the money of the banks and the banks too easily write them off, but the recovery of the money or loans given to the 90 per cent of people of this country in which farmers are also included is done ruthlessly. Where on one hand the money given to big industries and big corporate is put in the discount ledger or written off easily, on the other hand the poor are jailed for not being able to return the money. Now by opening the doors for foreign and local capitalists to buy shares in these banks, the plan to put them back under their control has been started by the Modi Government.

Narendra Modi’s plan for 100 cities, which he has named as smart cities, was talked about by him during the election campaign. He said that the increasing burden on cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Lucknow will be shared by these smart cities, in which all facilities would be there, which he will develop. The question is that on whose land will these 100 cities be built, how much land will be needed for these cities, how many farmers will be dispossessed and displaced? Where these smart cities will be built, it won’t be possible to build them without acquiring all the fertile productive land of that area. This means that their fertile productive land would be taken away from farmers and in the name of 100 cities will be given to capitalists and big builders, who on one side will construct cities and on the other side will make such property around the city which can be sold to the people of this country in the future at high rates. For the construction of these cities help will be taken from foreign Governments and a long term deal would be done by giving all the property of these cities in the hands of foreign companies so that land and important economic assets of our country in the form of that snatched from the farmers, can go to these foreign companies. The maximum emphasis of the current Budget is on real estate. The Government says that employment opportunities increase in real estate. When we say employment, then the labourers employed for a few days in this construction is not employment. When we say employment, then irrespective of whether they are educated or uneducated, in their lives a continuous income remains, then it is believed to be employment. But to boost real estate means boosting builders.
When we come to the part about rural development, we don’t find any roadmap for rural development. Rural development means that units for finishing goods produced in villages are set up in the villages themselves, proper arrangements are made to ensure that the finished products from these units reach the market and a strategy be made to store agricultural produce from the farms. But, in the plans for rural development these find no mention. The outlook of this Government is to not view Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, OBC’s and the Minorities section as special. That is why there is no plan in this Budget to economically strengthen the weaker sections of society. There was no hope of it too, but that for which there was hope, why that is not in this Budget cannot be understood. Giving a bitter pill to people does not mean to money out of the pocket of the people and putting it in unproductive facilities. If money is needed then include people in it and in return give them the money that you want to have in the form of commissions. For example, in this country lakhs of tons of food grains gets ruined and wasted, is eaten by rats. For some produce in our country we need cold storage, and the requirement is more for those grains which can be stored at a set temperature so that humidity or moisture doesn’t ruin it. For this the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been given some 100 crore rupees. Everybody knows the kind of care that is taken in godowns of FCI. There, every year, lakhs of tons of grains are deliberately ruined and some amount which has been purportedly ruined is stealthily sold in the open market. If the Government had even a little vision then it would have announced and appealed to the people of the country that we will give you licenses, you build temperature controlled godowns which will be taken care of by the district officer. We will give rent for them as per this much square feet and according to these-these facilities. Then, people would have made crores of godowns for storage in the country. Not even a single paisa of the Government would have gone in making those godowns. People would have built them with their money, given their land and would have installed temperature control equipment at their level. The Government would have had to pay only a fixed rent for it and our grains would have been 95 per cent safe. Currently, only 20 per cent of what is collected can remain safe. If the Government would have made a plan to set up a series of rural industries and would have talked about a marketing unit to bring them in the market then crores of people of this country — and when I say crores I don’t mean 2-3 crore, I mean at least 25-30 crore people — would have got employment opportunities and the villages would have started developing, in return for which schools and hospitals would have come up too in those villages. The beginning of all this could have been made only — and only — with the announcement of setting up of rural industries at ground level. But that 90 per cent that lives in villages, who is their voter is not in the mind of the Government. The Government’s concern is for that 10 per cent which lives on television, in newspapers, the stock market or capital markets.
Actually, it is economic policies themselves that reflect in a Budget. The economic policies of our nation are not in favour of 90 per cent of people. They are totally market based and particularly in favour of those people who support the markets. Those who cannot support the market or those who don’t have money in their pockets, the Budget is indicating ways or signs of extracting money from those pockets as well. Our country is a country of the poor, in which it is the Government’s responsibility that it keeps the market in check so that money doesn’t get out of the pockets of the poor. And those who are hungry, are naked, are provided with basic necessities to live till the time they are not themselves included in the process of generating basic necessities to live. The Government has distanced itself from this situation. Now the Government has left all responsibility in the hands of 10 per cent people, those 10 per cent whose representative, the Finance Minister, wants to even withdraw help given to the poor by the Government in the name of subsidy and wants that also to be included in the category of 10 per cent of people. Those who are in power, they make plans of all kinds to extract money, but they don’t make plans for development, then a fear comes to the forefront. That fear is the fear of discontent in the country, fear of agitation, fear of anarchy, fear of rebellion of the poor and fear of opposition from the youth.
No policy for education is seen in this Budget. There is no provision for improvement of primary level and middle level education in this Budget. How and in what way can everyone avail medical benefits, no outline for this is there in the Budget. How will people get water for drinking and irrigation no outline for this is there in the Budget. Only this has been said that 20,000 habitations affected by arsenic, flouride, extremely poisonous substances and pesticides will be provided clean and safe drinking water through community water ‘strengthening’ plants in the next 3 years. Actually, the drinking and irrigation water that has been ruined in our country in the past 60 years and for which no plans were made, plans should have been made afresh to make it people oriented, of which there are no indications in the Budget. School education, higher education, information technology, urban development etc are such issues which are seen to be less in the favour of common people and are seen to be more in the favour of 10 per cent of people. The whole focus of the Government is on the welfare of 10 per cent people of the people. The whole focus of the Government is on foreign capital.
Now in this Budget the most important matter is that of agriculture loans. Yes, the interest rate for agricultural loans has been reduced to 7 per cent and 3 per cent rebate has been given to farmers returning the loan on time, but how can the whole agriculture sector become profitable, no plan for that is there in the Budget. Agriculture, which means the life of a farmer, is now going to become more worrisome because the market for farmers produce, be it cotton, wheat, potato or any other farm produce is going to stay on in the hands of the middlemen. Farmers sell their produce cheaply buy all other things for considerably more. The same story has been going on for the past 60 years and the same story is going to continue for the next 5 years. The most important part of this Budget should have been power but in the Budget no emphasis is given to power. Solar energy should be widely used in this country but the Government is seen allocating only 500 crore rupees for solar energy. Solar energy is the answer to power generated by petroleum and natural gas, of which we have a source like none other, but we are not utilising that source. In totality if this Budget would be giving most happiness, it is to the Ex Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, who was mentioned a lot of times without taking his name directly, by the current Finance Minister in his speech. Like he had said, like he thought, like he made provision for, we are taking forward the same. Chidambaram had left no stone unturned in making life in this country poisonous and weak, because he put all his power behind making the market oriented neo liberal economy more tough, more ruthless. Our current Finance Minister is doing the same and he is forgetting what promises Narendra Modi made during his election campaign.
In the end we are making this criticism with the request that Mr. Narendra Modi, if anywhere you don’t see any logic in our criticism, and that result that we are foreseeing is not going to come, then we will support your view, because we don’t want our apprehensions to come true, and instead we want that all your promises come true that you made in the name of ‘acche din’ or good days. But, till now we are not able to understand how will your Budget curb inflation, let alone curb how will it reduce it, how will it remove corruption, how will it remove unemployment? Disappointment has arisen in the hearts of 90 per cent of the people in this country, whom you had assured in your speeches that as soon as a new Government was formed, new doors will open for them, but these doors are looking closed behind stronger locks. You must have given permission to present this Budget in Parliament after giving it due thought. It will be interesting to see what effect this Budget will have on our lives or on the life of this country in the next two or three months. ‘Life of this country’ does not mean 10 per cent of people but it means the lives of 90 per cent of people.

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