By Arun Srivastava
India is passing through the time of newness: whether it is new culture, new economy, new education, new labour or New India everything is being projected as the archetypal of novelty.
This novelty is the innovation of the creator of modern BJP, Narendra Modi who has been striving to evolve his own model of governance, different from the model practiced by the Congress. For more than four decades the BJP has been contemplating to have its own model. Some time they talked of Swadeshi. They even felt the necessity of Gandhian model. Unfortunately these attempts could not acquire a philosophical shape.
After BJP’s Modi government replaced the Congress as the natural ruling party, the leadership became active to evolve its own socio-economic policies. An insight into the Modi government’s policies and programmes would reveal that baring a few policies, it adopted almost all the policies and programme of the Manmohan Singh government.
The intelligence quotient of the saffron leaders ruling the country can be judged from the remarks of a minister on Maths and Einstein. He had observed, “Maths have never helped Einstein discover gravity.” It is historical fact that Maths helped Einstein; it will help the economy too. The theory of relativity is regarded as the pinnacle of mathematical elegance, more than a century since its formulation. Can policymakers plan to make India a $5 trillion economy in five years without worrying about the basic mathematics of economic growth?
It is worth noting that in sharp contrast to minster’s narration, the senior BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy holds that only experts in macroeconomics can revive economy. Swamy has always been critical of the Modi government’s economic policies.
Today, the economy suffers from clueless economic stewardship. On Friday, the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman stunned the country by giving domestic manufacturing companies the option to pay corporate tax at the rate of 22 per cent without any exemptions while freeing them from the rigours of the minimum alternate tax (MAT) regime that P. Chidambaram famously introduced in the budget for 1996-97.
This is her panic reaction, certainly not a seriously thought out action. This move of Nirmala will simply serve the corporate houses. While the economy weakened by serious multiple structural flaws, that caused the current slowdown, needs a comprehensive reforms, the government is only concerned to help corporate sector as this would make the people that country was in the safe hands.
Swamy rightly observed that many members of Modi government’s sub- committees have no formal training in quantitative economic logic to be applied in a macroeconomic framework. One wonders how could a government celebrate slowing of inflation as an achievement in the absence of robust demand signals and weak purchasing power of the masses.
Any prime minister who derides his predecessor for not having a sound economic or domestic policy must have a sound alternative economic policy and programme. But in case of Modi it was no so. He simply borrowed the ideas. Undeniably the economic condition of the country is in complete disarray. The Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman avoids a direct answer when she is confronted with questions on the deepening economic slowdown. The retail inflation has already started inching up and touched a 10-month high of 3.21 per cent in August.
Though public memory is proverbially short, it is tough to reject the confession made by former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian that the government’s growth claims are overestimated
The ‘mesmerizing’ slogans of ‘One Nation, One Constitution’, ‘One Nation, One Tax’, ‘One Nation, One NRC’, ‘One Nation, One Language’, would certainly electrify RSS and its affiliates to resort to lynching against the Dalits, Muslims and other minorities but these will certainly not ameliorate the economy of the country.
Creating a media hype by repeating $5 trillion every day and managing headlines will not trigger economic reforms. It is also a fact that sponsored events in foreign countries do not bring investors. The so called economic policies initiated by the Modi government on various occasions simply underlines the fact that the government does not have a clear idea.
An insight into the economic policies would unravel the fact that Modi government has borrowed them from Dr Manmohan Singh. Modi government’s patch work of economic programmes, stitching various programmes together to present a façade of concrete economic policy resulted in slowdown of economy.
The economic slowdown is a speed breaker in the path of becoming an economic superpower. Manmohan Singh has blamed the “all-round mismanagement” by the Modi government for the economic slowdown and urged the government to put aside politics of vendetta and reach out to all sane voices to steer the economy out of this “man-made crisis”.
The lack of new idea to take the situation head on was clearly manifest in the remarks of Sitharaman; “Millennials’ preference for Uber and Ola cabs over committing money to EMIs for new cars had contributed to the slowdown of the auto sector.” (IPA Service)