The changes that have taken place in the country have compelled one to ask a basic question. The question is: whose country is this? The economic policies of the country and the political atmosphere formulated and created by the Government should be for the benefit of which segment of society? The proper answer should be that the Government should take care of all segments. Even today sixty per cent of the people of the country depend on agriculture. In the main, the unorganised working class in the public and private sector is important too. Unfortunately, after the economic reforms of 1991, the entire focus of the Government became centralised on the corporate sector, foreign companies and foreign investment. The agricultural sector was continuously neglected and if this trend continues for the coming 20 years, the way the population of the country is increasing, there will be huge shortages of food grains in the country. It may be that the population growth rate may be reduced, but it will still increase and sufficient food for it will not be available. When you cannot fill the stomachs of your own people, then no development and no amount of money from any country can help.
When Jawahar Lal Nehru was alive, then Congress Party had passed a resolution at Avadi near Madras (now Chennai) in Tamil Nadu, in which it was stated that national policies should encourage the principle of socialism. Manmohan Singh was the Finance Minister in 1991 and he had said then that with these policies the people of this country had not benefited and he overturned all the policies. His main argument was that during license raj some people got all the licenses in their hands and later on sold them at a higher price to others, which was unfair. If he had ended license raj, then perhaps many people could have opened factories or done something else which could have increased competition, prices would have fallen and the people would have benefitted.
What has happened in the last 21 years? Inflation and prices have increased, there is no competitiveness anywhere. In sectors like telecommunication and electronics where work has been done, it has been due to technical development, not because of Government policies. If IT (Information Technology) companies performed better, then the reason was techniques and changing times, and there was a price difference between America and India. Wherever Government was included, there was no real progress.
This is the time to return to the Avadi resolution of the Congress, in which it has been said that we must construct a society based on the principles of socialism, care and attention should be should be paid to the poor. Nobody has said, not even the Avadi resolution, that the corporate sector should be closed or the private sector should not have any rights. All have said that care should be taken of the poor, the public sector should be made strong. Here many paths have opened for the private sector where it can display its ability and power and can do its work. Making MGNREGA operational was an important step by the Government. 100 days of employment was provided for poor people. It is a different matter how this scheme was implemented and how much corruption is spread in it, but it was a correct step.
How much money is spent every year in MGNREGA? Let us suppose it is forty thousand crores, but this money must come from the corporate sector. The rich people should pay for the poor. The Government should increase Corporate Tax by 5 per cent. Take money from rich people and distribute it amongst the poor, but this Government can never do this, because it seems to it that the share market will come down. America will say why are you ruining the corporate sector.
Now, will care be taken of the interests of the poor and farmers in the country or will care be taken of the happiness of American officials? This subject is before us today. To please America you passed the Nuclear Liability Bill, allowed Foreign Direct Investment in the retail sector to make America happy. What has happened to the poor of this country? For example, there is no tax on profit here. If the owner of a company announces a profit and has got money in the form of profit, he will not have to pay any tax on it. Who gives tax? Companies give tax. For bringing about parity, the least that should be done is that those who work in the company should be kept outside the purview of the tax. Whatever the tax of employees, the payment should be made by the company. If the company can pay the tax of its owner, it can pay the taxes of its employees as well.
If poor employees who have a fixed income are paying tax, prices are increasing, they do not know what will be the solution, the owner is getting dividends without payment of any tax, then are we living in a clean and just society? The need has come to ask this basic question. The next elections will be on the subject of whose country this is. Whether this country belongs to a handful of business houses or it belongs to crores of farmers and labourers who work in the fields and factories? This is the biggest issue of today’s times. It is not a matter of one lakh eighty thousand crores or of one lakh seventy thousand crores, the matter is of the integrity and honesty of those who are ruling, the matter is of working correctly, of transparency. The Government is chosen with the votes of the poor, but it serves only the rich. For how long will a ‘democracy’ like this last? Our democracy has become like that of countries which I do not want to name, where elections are held but people do not have freedom. In India too we have reached a level where our entire independence, our freedom has come to an end.