The first hundred days of UPA-II passed off without much fanfare though the government had launched its 100-day agenda with great flourish. The establishment would feel too uncomfortable to be reminded of its utter failure on all fronts and that all the grandiose promises made three months ago now sound hollow.
The security environment of the country has only worsened in these 100 days. Sugar is sold at Rs 40 a kilo and rice and wheat cost equally high. A commentator characterised it as 100 per cent inflation in 100 days. The clouds of scarcity and scandal are gathering thick with the nasty odour of import-export scams involving thousands of crores. Another aspect that hit headlines is the brazen partisanship and corruption exposed in open corporate warfare that tumbled out of the UPA closet.
We may not have written this editorial but for the contrived target of hundred days set by the UPA Prime Minister. That he has nothing substantial to show as an achievement is proved by the lacklustre response of the media to the deadline that passed off unnoticed but for the lavish government advertisements to mark the occasion.
The pre-poll promises of generating jobs, improving law and order, streamlining infrastructure with special emphasis on roads and power generation, ensuring food security, bettering environment for health service and education, all to be fulfilled within the first 100 days have proved no more than tall talk. In fact, nobody expected the UPA to achieve any of this. Hundred days are not enough to achieve these targets. But the government has failed in taking even the first step in this direction. The price rise has made things worse for the commoner.
The Prime Minister while commending the Food Security Act claimed that nobody would go to sleep with empty stomach. The fact however is that at least one-third Indians go to bed hungry. India still is home to the largest number of poor in the world. The spiralling price rise in essential commodities during this festival season will further make life miserable for the poor. The government cannot be blamed for the drought condition in many parts of the country. But the lack of preparedness on the part of the government has made the situation grave. Ministries of agriculture, education, and rural development reportedly prepared ambitious plans but the implementation report card is not very encouraging.
The agriculture ministry has declared 171 districts the drought hit and the kharif crops are lost. Now the only hope is the rabi crop. The government has hiked the minimum support price for food procurement which is likely to further push the cost of essential items.
The government has resorted to making false claims on the price line quoting outdated data of the Whole Sale Price Index and the fall in inflation rate. This is a crude joke. For over a year now, prices of essential commodities are jumping from one peak to another. The cockamamie claim of the government spokesmen is that the people are paying less than before for items of daily use. For this they quote WPI and inflation rate. This campaign based on WPI, which actually fails to reflect the real price rise in the market, is deceptive and misleading. The falsehood of the government claims can be easily exposed if one is to refer to the Consumer Price Index, which is a more reliable indicator of market price. Price rise is a real assault on the livelihood of the ordinary people. The government has again proved that it is more at ease with big time-bound agendas and heavy rhetorics than sincere efforts to ameliorate the suffering of the people.