The noted political analyst, Cho Ramaswami, of Chennai, while replying to a question, as to who can be a better Prime Minister, LK Advani or Dr Manmohan Singh, said, ?My vote is for LK Advani whereas Manmohan Singh can be a good personal assistant to PM.?
Why he said so? There are many serious problems confronting people and the nation. Every well informed, citizen would come to the conclusion that Dr Manmohan Singh'sgovernment is a failure on many important fronts, like rural development, fiscal management, internal security and diplomatic dealing with the neighbouring countries.
Rural development did not get as much attention as it deserves. About 70 per cent of India'spopulation lives in villages. That rural India accounts for 48 per cent of country'seconomy. Village produce wheat, rice, pulses, oils, vegetables, fruits, milk etc. and give them to urban nourishment. The blood of the village is the cement with which the urban edifice has been built. But the Indian farmers, who produce surplus food grains, are unable to feed their own children. Farm income has declined. Rural India is in tears.
UPA'sperformance on rural development front is abysmal. A fund called (RIDF) rural infrastructure of development fund was created in 1996 by the government of India. The disbursement of this fund sharply declined in UPA'stenure. In 2003-04, during NDA regime it was 60.5 per cent. But in 2004-05 it dipped down to 35.8 per cent and in 2005-06 further down to 9.5 per cent. If UPA had spent the sanctioned RIDF the farmers suicide would have been drastically reduced. In 2006 the number of farmers suicide was 17,060. In 2007 it was 16,632 nation-wide. In Vidarbh'ssix districts alone 1,139 farmers committed suicide in 2008. It was here that PM Manmohan Singh made the first loan waiver disbursements in early 2008. The money accumulated from the unspent RIDF reserve was disbursed as ?Farmers? loan relief to the tune of 71,000 crore by the UPA government in the middle of 2008. It was more an election stunt. This loan ?sops? benefited only those farmers who have accessibility to the banks. Most of small, marginal, tenant farmers and agriculture labourers were not benefited by this election time loan cancellation.
The incoming new government should concentrate on generating opportunities in non-farm employment and also in rural areas, apart from ensuring 24 hours electrification, primary health centres, rural banking, better roads etc. The CSIR (Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research) suggested many initiatives and schemes. New techniques in post-harvest processing, value addition, biomass utilisation, organic farming etc. would help to generate more income and alleviate rural poverty. For that synergy is necessary among agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries and industrial technologies.
The failure of UPA government in fiscal management has resulted in an unprecedented inflation which causes great concern to all the citizens. The government claims that inflation has fallen to six years low. But the prices of groceries are galloping. Women find if difficult to manage their grocery budget. They complain sourly. Lower middle class people have been pushed down to BPL status. Moong dal sells at Rs 56 per kg, tuar at Rs 60 per kg, urad at Rs 56 per kg, arhar at Rs 60 per kg and basmati rice around Rs 60 per kg range. Prices of vegetables and oils have also shot up drastically.
Government is blaming the fluctuating price of dollar for this phenomenal price rise. Some pulses like moong and oil are imported and are paid in dollars. The government imposed heavy duty on export of basmati rice to check price rice. Still prices soar. The government blames the exporters who buy to hoard the stocks in anticipation of price rise. A question naturally arises that ?What the government is doing?? Economists accuse that the government has been encouraging forward trading in pulses and rice for the past two years which is why the prices have been the highest ever. The accusation is reasonable but the government has no answer.
Internal security is a nagging problem that the UPA government has failed to address effectively. The Home Minister, P Chidambaram, said on 27-2-09, ?It is a matter of grave concern that against a sanctioned strength of 3,889 Indian Police Service Officers, only 3,332 were in service as on January 1, 2009, a gap of 557.?
The above statement from the Central Home Minister reveals the condition of Police force which is expected to fight terrorists, Naxals, insurgents and also to maintain law and order situation.
The present UPA government at the Centre is very lackadaisical in it'scommitment to fight terrorism. The Home Ministry in consultation with Intelligence Bureau formulated ?Draft national counter-terrorism doctrine? in 2006. The doctrine recommends use of pre-emptive strikes, covert action and adequate force to combate terrorism. The doctrine emphasises to employ diplomatic, economic, administrative, legal and military means to eradicate terrorism. But UPA regime'ssoft pedalling towards terrorists defies all logic.
After 26/11 Mumbai attacks, killing 164 people, the government enacted NIA (National Investigation Agency Act) in December 2008 to tackle terrorism. A measly rupees ten crore was allotted for it'sfunctioning. The agency'sguidelines are still in making. Along with setting-up of NIA, government decided to strengthen NSG (National Security Guards) as well. It requires 570 officers and 11,400 soldiers. The government has not made provisions to fulfill these posts. Only God knows how this government will fight terrorist menace.
Naxal menace is a serious threat to the internal security of the country. Naxalism started as an agrarian rebellion by the Santhals of Naxalbari in West Bengal in 1967. The lack of reforms in agrarian sector, has failed to curb this menace.
The naxal insurgency gained a momentum in 1980s with the rise of people'swar group and Maoist Communist centre. Both merged in 2004.Gradually the tribals who were displaced from forest areas swelled the cadre of this outfit. Presently Naxals are present in 253 districts spread among 18 states.
One does not need to go into the distant past for the Naxal'sdisruptive activities. On the eve of first phase of present 14th Lok Sabha elections, they killed 29 people on April 17-18, 2009. They called for a statewide bandh on 22-4-09 in Jharkhand. On the same day they torched 11 trucks and blew up a BDO office in Bihar and they hijacked a train with nearly 700 people as hostage for few hours in Jharkhand. They showed to the country how helpless the government is.
A major task to be under taken on top priority for the incumbent new government is tackling aggressive neighbours.
China'sgrowing power and influence in Asia poses a strategic challenge to India. China'ssixth white paper on national defence released in January 2009, lays emphasis on modernisation drive of it'snavy. Increasingly, larger number of Chinese naval vessels are plying in the Indian Ocean. For the berthing facilities of its Navy, China is developing deep sea ports for Pakistan at Gwadar. Some other ports developed are at Sittwe in Myanmar and Hambantota in Sri Lanka. These could be upgraded to bases for the Chinese navy in future.
A new navel base at Sanya on Hainon Islands could house a large fleet of surface warships and serve as an underwater naval base for submarines. The expansion of this base will eventually enhance Chinese maritime power in northern Indian Ocean.
Chinese help to Pakistan missile programmes are well known. Border dispute in Arunachal Pradesh has been dragging on for the last 45 years. China opposes Security Council seat for India. The researchers at Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto exposed on 29-3-09 a Chinese cyber spy network. The exposure reveals that Chinese cyber spies have infiltrated government and private computers of 103 countries including those of Indian embassy in Washington. It shows the Chinese government is stealing secret documents of India. As a cap, Home Minister of India, P Chidambaram in an interview given to Hindustan Times, on 24-4-09, accused China of fishing in troubled waters in Sri Lanka. He said that ?China is encouraging Sri Lankan offensive against the LTTE. China is acting with clear agenda.? They want to secure sea-lanes of communication in the north of Indian Ocean in order to build defence ties with Colombo. China is spinning a web of navel command and defence alignments around India. It is high time that incumbent new government at the Centre take appropriate diplomatic and strategic measures to check the neighbours from fomenting trouble for India.
It would be very appropriate to talk here about the inept handling of Sri Lankan affairs by the UPA. The ethnic strife in Sri Lanka, since 1983, is almost coming to an end in a brutal way. In it'sfinal assault on LTTE, the Sri Lankan government bombarded civilian areas also. In past three months, as per a UN private document circulated among diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka, 6,432 were killed and 13,946 wounded. The rebel'sradio blames that more than 5,000 women were raped. The video footage provided by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji shows that Tamils are treated badly by the government. The UPA government feels satisfied by issuing a statement through Pranab Mukherjee, who said ?We are very unhappy at the continued killing in Sri Lanka.?
The performance of the UPA is most dismal in every department of administration. They have betrayed people'sfaith. They have exposed country'svulnerability to terrorist attacks. They have allowed the neighboures to treat the country contemptibly. Every citizen should vote decisively to oust this government if not the future looks threatening and bleak.