By Kamal Morarka
Two years have passed since this government took over. I personally feel it has done reasonably well as a central government supposes to do, but the problem is the claims being made by the various ministers are quite wrong and in some cases laughable. For instance Mr. Piyush Goyel keeps on saying that 7,000 odd villages have been electrified which had not got electricity even after 67 years of independence. That is what he says. What he means is out of six lakhs villages total of 18,000 villages are still without electricity that means 3 percent, and out of that 7,779 they have electrified (i.e. 1.3 percent). In two years they have electrified 1.3 percent of villages of this country. All work is good work, but the tone of the message is as if since independence nothing has happened, and now they doing something. Ninety seven percent of villages have already electrified before this government took over. They should also do that. There is no harm in that. But more important than that is nobody tells us that in the villages electrified who is getting electricity? Maybe some government building, maybe some privilege officials. What about the poor? How many hours of the day does electricity come? How many houses have taken electricity? There is no survey on that.
Similarly, under Jan Dhan Yojna 36,000 crores have been put into bank accounts. They conveniently omit World Bank’s estimate that 43 percent bank accounts in India are dormant. Here somebody goes to a village take one villager’s signature and open an account in a bank. He does not know what it is about. He never uses that account. What is the purpose of wastage of stationary is for the government to decide. But I think whatever program they must undertake should be focused and should bear some results.
Another government scheme is of Toilets. It is always welcome to have Swachhya Bharat and toilets, but there are some 15 lakh schools in India and they need at least 30 lakh toilets. Alright they have made an effort. The point I am trying to make is achievements are good but they should be kept in proportion. You cannot claim that in 67 years nothing has happened, and in two years you have changed the whole thing around. Apart from being a blatant lie, it does not carry conviction with anybody not even with village people who know the truth.
Another portal they have made for scholarship out of the 25 crore of students in the country 1.6 lakh are registered and 50 thousand have applied. WHY? So all these tall claims are what they are. The fact of the matter is India is a continuing entity whether it is in the foreign policy where the prime minister is visiting people which is good. He is being criticized for going abroad which I don’t share. He is trying to do his bit. But again by the same token, if the Sangh walas say that Jawaharlal Nehru did nothing, we are doing nothing except carrying on the policies set by Jawaharlal Nehru and that is the right thing to do. Of course after 1991 there is liberalization and Soviet Block is not that important. So everybody is tilting towards America, but the way this government is acting, you have to be very careful. You cannot go into American block otherwise it does not take time to slip into becoming another Pakistan.
Subramanian Swamy has done yeomen service to the country by pointing out that two people may good, intelligent, everything but they are not Indian enough. To be Indian enough you have to be from the homegrown variety who is in touch with reality, the field reality. RBI always had a governor with some diginity and knowledge and personality. Raghuram Rajan was not that person. I am one of those who believe individuals come and go, institution stay forever, in India all the more so. We are not like one of those small banana republics where one change can change the whole thing. They are very much there. And Reserve Bank of India is an institution before Independence. Mr. Rajan was23rd governor, if I am not mistaken. Another governor may be appointed. This is not the matter of public debate. It is an administrative decision taken by the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister. I am sure they will find a competent person who will take the decisions according to the requirement that circumstances require. For instance business industry is angry with Raghuram Rajan because he did not reduce the interest rate. That by itself cannot be criterion; mere reduction in interest rate does not solve the problem. It is the government economic policy that matters. What is the total mindset of the government, what is the policy we do not know? After 1991 the impression we got was that you were trying to decriminalize the economic laws. FERA was replaced by FEMA, license control raj was removed, income tax rate was brought down. The impression was the ease of doing business as business friendly atmosphere was being created. Last two years what do we see? Every a law there is imprisonment added; every a law there is criminalization added. I am not against it that was the socialist thought, but you cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Make up your mind. You want foreign investment to come in. For foreign investment the first condition is what is you infrastructure in place. Not the roads or airports but judicial infrastructure. Will you get a fair deal?
If your own MP is running to London to save his life, why will foreigner come here to do business? They go Srilanka, Philippines, etc. there are lot of options near India. So I think serious thought is required. I don’t know what was the role of Raghuram Rajan or anybody? The Prime Minister has got enough people and he can get enough intelligent people to find out how the business environment can be improved; Subramanian Swamy is one of them. He has always had views which are quite radical, which I did not agree with. He wanted income tax to be abolished. I did not agree, but today whatever he is saying is definitely more sensible than what Raghuram Rajan was following. Now he has picked on Arvind Subramanian. I don’t know these people, but I think there should proper scrutiny and they should sit down with the prime minister to chalk out the direction in which economy has to go. You want business you don’t want business; you want foreign investment, you don’t want foreign investment. Make up your mind and the laughable part is whatever the BJP has oppose in the opposition is what they are implementing and now the Congress is opposing it. Both are giving no credit to themselves or each other. When they wanted FDI in retail you opposed it; now you are doing FDI they are opposing it and that goes for most things. For MNREGA, you said MNREGA is the most corrupt scheme and now you now find other way except to encourage MNREGA, because it is only scheme which really touched the poor. So I think high level of thinking is required more than anything else. You have ad hoc decision every day that confuse the people and do not encourage anybody, either local or foreigner.
By Kamal Morarka