Search for a Hindu Agenda?IV
An economic strategy that serves Hindustan
By Subramanian Swamy
What the Hindus need today is a virile mindset, by which I mean a conscious mental commitment to an agenda of action for safeguarding and consolidating the Hindu foundation of the nation. It is not enough, therefore, for a Hindu to be pious, go on pilgrimages, and celebrate all religious festivals. Today, much more the Hindu needs a mindset that is tuned and committed to making the people culturally united, the nation becoming economically developed, to ensure that it is respected internationally as a global power, and to defend the integrity of Hinduism from overt and covert conversion.
For this, the Hindu needs an Agenda that can serve as his behavioural compass. Such an Agenda the Hindu however lacks today, and hence the Hindu is confused on how to respond to the events that happen every day within and outside the country. Recently, the VHP in it'sDharma Sansad drew up a set of essential commitments for every Hindu. These are in one dimension of Hindu unity, and is commendable.
The purpose of my columns in this weekly is to search for agenda items in other dimensions so that every Indian citizen can claim to be a proud legatee of Hindustan in totality. Such an agenda should be acceptable to those Christians and Muslims who acknowledge that their ancestors are Hindus and feel proud of that lineage. Hindus will enthusiastically stand up for such religious minorities.
Hindus, such Muslims and Christians, and those other religious minorities such as Parsis and Jews who came to India as refugees, together do constitute the Hindustan rashtra. Those who refuse or do not fall into this categorization of Hindustanis may be Indian citizens, but sooner or later we will need a law to bar such citizens from contesting elections at all levels from Panchayat to Parliament.
One can have a strong economy and yet a weak people. Sooner or later, such economies end up in a terrible crisis. Indonesian economy is an example of this.
It is in this setting that I explore in this column here the dimension of economic policy and strategy that is appropriate for a strong Hindustan, and that which enables and qualifies the nation for global power status. In later columns I will deal with other dimensions of the Hindu Agenda for a virat Hindustan rashtra.
I am not arguing here that there is a separate Hindu economics that is different from Muslim or Christian economics. The laws of economics, on the contrary, are universal e.g., the law of demand and supply equilibrium, the effect of a rise of interest rates on investment, the impact of a devaluation of the rupee-dollar exchange rate, etc.. Instead what I propose here is the need for an economic strategy that utilises these universal laws to foster a strong Hindustan. One can have a strong economy and yet a weak people. Sooner or later, such economies end up in a terrible crisis. Indonesian economy is an example of this. Even the Narasimha Rao reforms made the Indian economy strong, but small industry and agriculture suffered. Unemployment was not reduced; in some sectors it had increased. The reduction in interest rates due to de-regulation helped capitalists to earn higher profits but hurt the middle classes and pensioners who had depended on the interest income on their fixed deposits. Hence, the people at large became weaker. To my knowledge, Rao had planned to correct for this, but Congress Party'sinternal sabotage that was led secretly by Ms. Sonia Gandhi, and his party'sdefeat in 1996 general elections, robbed him of the chance to do so. Successive governments also did not address this problem, on how to develop the economy while enabling the people to become stronger.
India as global economic power in 15 years
An economic strategy for solving this problem will have to be focused on income augmentation through employment generation, for skilled and non-skilled, urban and rural workers. The present UPA government plans rural employment through doles and handouts arising from government public works project. This will mean only short-term employment, corruption, dependence of the people on government, and a bigger budgetary deficit. It will increase employment on paper only for propaganda purposes and not in reality.
The economic strategy that will achieve the goal of strong economy and self-reliant people has instead to be agricultural modernization, encouraging outsourcing of manufacturing to low overhead ancilliary but small industry, women empowerment through household e-commerce, a comprehensive safety net, building a national river water grid by interlinking, providing drinking water from solar energy based desalination of sea water in coastal towns, and massive rural infrastructure development including IT connectivity. It may be noticed that each of these will generate permanent assets and long-term employment of labour. Just as software IT development in the 1990s has made many Indians rich without government patronage, the same way the above strategy will make our people self-reliant by providing employment and empowerment.
No wonder multinationals like Pepsi want to export tomatoes and milk from India. It is highly profitable! That we did not design an economic strategy to suit our nation'sendowments is because of the Nehruvian Soviet legacy.
Agricultural modernisation means empowering the farmer to process his output, i.e., cereals, vegetables, fruits, flowers, and dairy products, to package it, and to sell it in far-away markets including those abroad. This would require cold storages, IT connectivity for market intelligence, easy bank credit, and small airfields for freight lifting. Indian agricultural output is produced at the world'slowest cost. Rice price is just one seventh Japan?s. Vegetable prices are a quarter of world average, and milk price is one-fifteenth wwestern Europe?s. Indian agricultural exports is not at all subsidized, in fact it receives negative subsidy according to WTO calculations. By the measurement of aggregate support[MAS] of the WTO, India is entitled today to subsidize agricultural exports up to Rs.50,000 crores! India not only does not, but since 1993, domestic public investment in agriculture as a ratio of GDP has been declining. This gross neglect of agriculture is criminal considering that the sector employs 65% of the working population.
To wipe out rural poverty, there is no better way than to enable the farmer to export his products abroad. The several multiples in price he would get will go into private investment and increase the productivity of agriculture. No wonder multinationals like Pepsi want to export tomatoes and milk from India. It is highly profitable! That we did not design an economic strategy to suit our nation'sendowments is because of the Nehruvian Soviet legacy. We have still not exorcised the dead Soviet strategy from our economic policy-making. Only a Hindu renaissance can.
Agricultural modernisation means empowering the farmer to process his output, i.e., cereals, vegetables, fruits, flowers, and dairy products, to package it, and to sell it in far-away markets including those abroad.
If we do, then we can become a global economic power within 15 years. But India will concurrently need a national security strategy to defend it'sgrowing economic propects.