IS the UPA determined to make India a country of beggars? The aphorism might sound a little too harsh, considering that the country boasts of being one of the booming economies in the world, growing at over eight per cent and one of the largest, young, working, middle class population with purchasing power boosting the consumer market.
The biggest drag on the economy however is the UPA’s burgeoning subsidy bill. Only on two of the pet schemes of the ruling party, the NREGS and Right to Food, the country is footing a bill of over rupees two lakh crore. The health, education, fertiliser, fuel and other subsidies take away another substantial chunk of government spending. What has happened to the reform promise of down-sizing the government and curtailing administrative spending and unproductive subsidies?
Two decades after liberalisation, the irony is that the man who initiated the economic reform, Dr Manmohan Singh is being charged with killing the India growth story, by his mis-governance and non-governance. The tragedy is that he not only looks helpless but totally inadequate to deal with the looming crises ahead.
That he is heading the most corrupt government ever in history now looks less startling when we see the mindless mismanagement of the economy.
It would seem as if everything has been turned upside down in the 20th anniversary of reform. India today is in the grip of a double digit inflation and the government is unable to tackle the problem. Keeping inflation low and stable was one of the early successes of reform. Now, for the last two years not only food inflation, but overall inflation has remained stubbornly high. As a consequence, the Reserve Bank of India increased interest rates 11 times in the last 15 months, in its effort to contain inflation, but to no effect.
On the other side investment has been declining steadily. While we are witnessing an unprecedented flight of capital, with all major corporate houses taking away their production units abroad, the 25 per cent decline in FDI inflow in the same period has created a national panic. The latest reports say that India has slipped to 14th spot in global FDI inflows. Analysts blame it on negative sentiments prevailing in the country.
But is anybody bothered? Sonia Gandhi, who is remote controlling the Manmohan Singh government is the real culprit undermining the emergence of India as a major economic power. Her pet schemes are designed to bleed the country by a thousand cuts. It is not the love for the poor or concern for rural poverty that is driving her to create a drain on the economy through fancy schemes like right to food, right to education and right to information. The schemes by themselves will not deliver.
In 1971, Indira Gandhi won the election on the plank of ‘garibi hatao’. Has poverty been reduced? Sonia Gandhi offered to look after the aam aadmi if voted to power in 2004. The condition of the aam aadmi has gone from bad to worse. Now his only hope being getting enrolled in the NREGS as a card holder Congress supporter. Those who care for the nation would rather than perpetuating poverty, invest in building the nation.
Why does not Sonia Gandhi ask her government to invest in rural roads? Why not build village schools and colleges in thousands? Why not create jobs for every able bodied man and woman, instead of encouraging them to live on sarkari alms? The people living below poverty line, dependent entirely on NREGS and RTF will constitute a dependable vote bank for Sonia Gandhi. But their productive energy is wasted for ever, contributing to a serious decline in the gross national product.
This is the challenge the Sonia regime has posed to every nationalist. For every citizen who care for his motherland.There is a clamour to get free food and free pension. There is a controversy on the number of the eligible poor—some argue 70 per cent of the population—as if it is a matter of pride.But who will foot the bill? The helpless tax payer, who happens to be a miniscule minority in a population of 1250 million—who sweat, toil and contribute to keep the growth rate and GDP high.
Why is it that Sonia and her minions in the NAC are not bothered about the shift in the condition of the nation from India shining to India weeping? Why are they not bothered that in the last seven years, every infrastructure project has languished, roads are not being built, train journey has become a hell, air travel unaffordable. Aviation sector has, from a period of pristine growth under the NDA turned sick under Manmohan Singh.
If you build roads, hospitals, schools, airports and rural infrastructure you create jobs, remove poverty and contribute to the future of the nation. If you try and create a population hankering after freebies and doles you create a nation of beggars, squander away precious national resources, you make a nation of plunder and rapine. You prove yourself the enemy of the nation’s destiny.