With the UPA government now still in power after six long years of turbulence is it not time to assess some of its “achievements”—such as they are? As The Times of India rightly noted, all these months it has been raining scams.
It started with 2G spectrum allocation and Commonwealth games, continuing to Adarsh Housing allotments, coal allocation bungling, misuse of discretionary quotas and the list is endless. But what has largely gone unnoticed is the collapse of law and order and the delay in delivering justice. As of December 2011 as many as 4.322 million cases have been pending before the country’s High Courts. The situation in the lower courts is truly horrifying with pending of 26.8 million cases of which 19 million are criminal cases and 7.8 million civil. It may take over 300 years to dispose of all the pending cases, presuming that no further cases are filed in any of the courts.
Even as things are, the ratio of conviction are as low as 6 per cent which means that 94 per cent criminals go scot free. That should partly explain why crime is increasing and criminals get elected both to the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies. And to think that Salman Khurshid was till recently the Law Minister! Wasn’t he the one who literally told Kejriwal that if he dared to visit Khurshid’s constituency, the possibility of his leaving alive was doubtful? The approved strength of appointments of Judges to 21 High Courts and the Supreme Court is 895. As of now, 22 vacancies remain to be filled. This, in the field of law. In the field of Education, according to the Department of Education there are 5,23,000 vacancies for school teachers at elementary school level and, to fulfill the pupil-teacher ratio laid down by the Right to Education Act, an additional 5,10,000 teachers will have to be hired. That adds up 10,23,000 jobs lying vacant. At the Secondary School level there is a crying need to freshly appoint 1,79,000 teachers. Why have these jobs gone unfulfilled? To the best of one’s knowledge, it is not because of lack of financial availability. And yet, Naxalism with as many as 270 districts affected.
In the field of international affairs we are doing no better. India’s closeness in recent times to the United States and Pakistan’s importance in Central Asia have brought Russia closer to Pakistan, unbelievable though it may sound. Wasn’t it Pakistan which for decades was a declared enemy of the Soviet Union and its violent opponent, with Islamabad, actively supported by the United States, financing jihadists hired from all over the Islamic world, to get rid of Soviet influence in Afghanistan? If any one country can be held responsible for the dismemberment and the break-up of the Soviet Union, surely it is Pakistan? For all that, Moscow now is looking away from Delhi and Russian President Vladimir Putin is hesitant to visit India as was once scheduled. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh obviously does not know how to differentiate between friend and foe. We are even losing out to China in Central Asia to which the External Affairs Ministry is giving low priority.
As a former Indian Ambassador to Uzbekistan MK Bhadrakumar recently noted “Eurasia sticks out like a joker in the pack”, even when leaders of every one of the six Central Asian countries come to Delhi to seek cooperation. Trade with Tajikistan, for instance is near a paltry sum of £10 million which is roughly 9.6 per cent of China’s £1.5 billion. Why doesn’t India take a more active role in the development of all the Central Asian states, which are economically, strategically and geo-politically of major importance to India? And to think that of all nations, far away South Korea has signed economic deals with Uzbekistan alone worth $4.2 billion! We are slipping, slipping, slipping. We are slipping so badly that according to Indiaspend, if there are 406 Public Sector Units (PSU’s) in India, 378 of them are in operation with a government equity investment of Rs 1,88,661 crore and again, out of the 406, as many as 127 have reported a loss of Rs 23,264 crore! Over 75 of these are “legally sick”, with an accumulated loss of over Rs 1.80 lakh crore. This is a staggering cost to pay for neglect and indecisiveness. These PSUs have hardly any managerial leadership. While global prosperity levels have increased over the past three years, despite the financial crisis, India comes 101st, slipping from 78th position three years ago, dragged down by government indicators, according to a new report by a London Think Tank Legatum.
Then again India has slipped four places in a ranking of 62 leading financial systems and capital markets because of institutional and business environment, according to a report of the World Economic Forum. India is now ranked 40th in the fifth edition of the Forum’s Financial Development Report 2012. India’s overall score was pulled down by low scores on financial sector liberalisation, contract enforcement, infrastructure and cost of doing business.
And finally, another indicator, to show where we stand. A report by Tax Justice Network estimates that the amount of black money deposited by ‘Global Super-Rich Elite” in Swiss banks is of the order of £13 trillion. Indians are major depositors among developing nations and “the value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since 1970 would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world”.
How’s that for governance of India by UPA-II? There is a lesson here for the Congress to learn: Simply put it means that it has to re-invent itself if it wishes to survive. It maybe that it has to dissociate itself from the family and the very concept of dynasticism that has now become the bugbear of the party with descendants or close relatives of former leaders treating Parliament as their natural heritage. The people have to takeover the Congress if the Congress wants to takeover the people.
The lessons of the 1967 fourth General Elections have to be absorbed if the Congress does not want to be penalised and treated as an organisation that has long passed its relevance. The Gandhis will not leave their chairs on their own; But they have to go. The reasons are there for all to see, but, as the saying goes, who is there to bell the cat?