When you would be reading this article I don’t know what would be the exchange rate of rupee against the dollar in the international market, as the exchange rate of rupee is progressively plummeting. International rating agencies have not just downgraded major banks but nearly all the big economic institutions of any repute worth the name. Some agencies have downgraded even our country. Some eminent businessmen of India believe that the country is running without a leader and perhaps, this rudderlessness is the reason behind the country’s downgrading. The question as to who or what has caused this dilapidation of our economy is a political issue but political parties are evading rather than facing this question. Either they do not perceive the impending danger or they too are the apologists of the same economic policies that have reduced this country to rack and ruin. A prominent leader of the Opposition recently opined that irrespective of Finance Ministers, India would be in a bad shape today. Why? He did not elaborate upon that. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this response is that all the political outfits have the same economic vision and roadmap which they want to follow.
The question is whether economists have made a mockery of this country in the name of planning and policy making. Has India fallen a victim to the whims and fancies of mainstream economists? Have the poor, peasants, youth, dalits, minorities and workers of this country been denied avenues of employment and livelihood as a result of misplaced policies of such economists?
When in 1992 the erstwhile Finance Minister Manmohan Singh presented the proposal for the economic development of the country in Parliament, he had confidently announced that the country would scale a number of long-standing and recurrently nagging problems in the coming 20 years – the nation would become self-sufficient in electricity production, inflation would be kept under control, production would increase manifold and the country would be on its way to becoming an economic powerhouse amongst the comity of nations. His proposals were opposed tooth and nail by some sections in Parliament and one of the vociferous criticisms came from late Chandrashekhar Singh. He had questioned the very wisdom of the proposed path to development and had with certitude declared that none of the problems of the country would be alleviated. He had declared that given the nature of Indian villages and the plight of Indian farmers, the forwarded policies would wreak havoc rather than do anything good. Chandrashekhar had also suspected that the policies would heighten inequalities, crime and poverty. Narsimha Rao, the then Prime Minister, had interjected and rejected the arguments and apprehensions.
Today our economy is in a shambles, growth and development have got stunted, GDP has plummeted and the bubble of share market has burst. In the time that has elapsed between Manmohan Singh’s finance ministership and his prime ministership till date, around 200 districts have got affected by Naxalism. These are the very districts which are the most backward and have not experienced development worth the name. These are also those kinds of districts where people exercise their vote and uphold democracy in India. In these districts, either people are supporters of the discourse of violence in the name of injustice or have taken to the gun.
Doesn’t this state of affairs warrant that the political leaders of India and those business houses who have faith in this country, who cherish the heritage and culture of this nation, come together and ponder over it collectively? What happened to our country in the last 20 years that we have been reduced to dilapidation from being an aggressively growing economy? None stood to stop the deluge of detrimental economic policies of Narsimha Rao-Manmohan Singh combine nor did anyone bother to ask the rationale of policies during the 7year rule of Atal Behari Vajpayee whose reign was just an extension of the earlier regime, at least, in terms of continuities of policies. Later the Congress returned to power and expanded the regime of economic reforms. But it is verily evident that the country has only gone south since the much touted economic reforms were heralded in 1991. The question is whether economists have made a mockery of this country in the name of planning and policy making. Has India fallen a victim to the whims and fancies of mainstream economists? Have the poor, peasants, youth, dalits, minorities and workers of this country been denied avenues of employment and livelihood as a result of misplaced policies of such economists? Have the mainstream economists lost all sense of responsibility towards the depressed and marginalised? Have they lost all moral compunction? Interestingly, the leader of such economists is Pranab Mukherjee and his leader is an ostensibly world-renowned economist, Manmohan Singh. But do we have any reason to take Manmohan Singh as an economist worth his salt? In our country his policies and decisions have wreaked only pestilence and destruction. These very policies have become fertile grounds for many more nagging problems over and above the stock of maladies we already had and which these policies had
promised to alleviate. They have led to sky-rocketing inflation.
Let’s not draw comparisons with any bygone decade; rather we should do a 6 monthly review of things. What was the inflation 6 months ago and what is it now? What was GDP growth we were clocking 6 months ago and where do the figures stand today? What has been the hiatus in the rate of growth if we see the last 6 months? We are caught in a vicious cycle and neither the leaders nor the economists are ready to look that way. The impending crisis will not endanger our economy as much as it will threaten democracy.
But the question also arises, as to where are the economists who can thrash out an alternative model for India’s growth. Are there such economists who can design such a model of growth for India that can successfully addresses the problems of poverty, malnutrition, hunger and inequality? Can they create jobs for the millions of unemployed? Who can steer the sagging fortunes of the nation towards the right direction? Can they convince capital to change its course and change its investment plan? If there still are such economists then this is the opportune time to come out in the open. If they fail to come to the fore and chose to sit back in the safe confines of their homes, then they too will partake of the same sins as others who are pushing India towards a blind abyss. The time to raise voices has arrived. The responsible and patriotic economists, capitalists and political leaders must come together work out an alternative plan and present it to the government, the opposition and most of all, to the people of this battered and bruised country.