Dr Jay Dubashi
The writing is already on the wall, which is why there is panic in certain quarters. The Congressmen do not know where to look. They know their fate is sealed. Congress spokesmen like Digvijay Singh, who is his master’s voice, makes ten statements a day, only to deny them the next morning. The opposition is so desperate, it is calling for reinforcements from abroad, the last refuge of scoundrels. They are appealing to foreign leaders like Barack Obama to shut the doors on Modi for good, and not let him visit the USA, as it that will diminish his stature. This is what Congressmen have always done-licked the feet of foreigners, particularly Americans and Italians, and save them from a fate worse death.
Now, a man like Amartya Sen has stepped into the breach by calling on Indians not to vote for Modi, and announced that Modi will not get his vote either. Sen is a respected economist —and has a Nobel to prove it— but when did he become a political expert? Whey should we take him seriously on an issue that is more economic than political? To me, the fact that a man like Amartya Sen, who is not taken seriously even in his adopted country where he spends most of his time, should decry Narendra Modi’s candidature for PM is reason enough to vote for Modi. His antipathy to a dynamic person like Narendra Modi is reason enough to go out and vote for him.
Men like Sen do not take Modi’s economic model seriously, because it has worked over the last ten years. Anything that works, anything that improves people’s lives, is anathema to people like Sen. These people are essentially negativists, men who are always looking for faults in everything, and then announcing to the world that the thing doesn’t work. For them, the Soviet Union was wonderful because it was a failure. They decry America because it is successful and rich and because capitalism works, though it has its shortcomings, Had America failed, these people would have taken it to heart, as they once did the Soviet Russia, which has gone up in smoke!
For every Amartya Sen in the United States, there are ten Sens in India. And most of them work in the Planning Commission. This is a totally bogus body of people who fiddle with figures on their computers and come out with just the right sums that please the authorities in South Block, and, of course, No. 10, Janpath.
This is not as difficult as you think. Economics is an art, not a science, and you can play with figures and make complex calculations to please your masters. The present government has messed up the economy to an extent that nobody takes it seriously. Inflation? It has reached record figures. Growth? It has slumped to less than half of what it was under the NDA. Foreign trade? Our exports have tumbled to a point that the fall is eating into reserves and the dollars are vanishing into thin air. But the Planning Commission members are making merry. They keep on reeling out figures which nobody believes, not even when they hold forth on the daily TV programmes, which they do most religiously.
Remember the Soviet Union? There was once a country called USSR, which our leftists in India venerated as if it was God’s gift to mankind. I am quite sure Amartya Sen was, and probably still is, one of them. The country vanished long ago in a puff of smoke, but the Amartya Sens of this world still worship it and what it stood for. And there are quite a few such Sens in the Planning Commission even now.
These men sit down and take a piece of paper and weave wonderful theories about this and that, which only they take seriously. From time to time, they come out with poverty figures—though they themselves are anything but but poor, for a member of the commission makes more then a lakh of rupees a month, on which he ekes out a living. Yet these fat men with fat salaries have the cheek to talk about poverty and destitution.
They have now said that 30 or 32 rupees a month is all you need to escape poverty. This is supposed to be based an some formula worked out by a member of their own fraternity some decades ago. The man is dead and gone, but his brotherhood still continues with the bogus game.
I have a simple solution to this game. Give 30 rupees a day to each member of the commission and ask him to live on that money for six months. He will get nothing else—no house, no car, no dearness, no free meals in he canteen. No tea or coffee, no cashew nuts. Just 30 rupees a day, which he should collect from the office everyday, and try to subsist on it. He will then know what poverty is. Incidentally, how much do commission members get every month by way of salary and perks?
Let me come back to Amartya Sen. He has been carrying on a feud with another economist, who is also settled in the US—why do these Johnnies prefer to work in the west and shun India?—Over what should be the strategy for growth? Should it be growth before everything or equality? Sen is supposed to be a great admirer of the so-called Kerala model, where the accent is on social benefits and this is supposed to have helped Kerala avoid poverty.
Actually, Kerala has achieved neither growth nor equality. More Keralites live outside Kerala then in it. There is virtually no industry in Kerala and jobs are scarce…. So, Kerala has been exporting people for decades, who remit money to their kith and kin back home.
Without growth, India today would be where Cuba is now. A decrepit economy where everybody earns the same —30 dollars a month. The chief secretary drives taxis at night to make ends meet. Doctors too earn the same and run restaurants and work in night clubs. If India had gone the Cuba way, everybody would be poor—except perhaps politicians and members of the Planning Commission- and Tatas and Birlas and Ambanis would have decamped to Singapore or Dubai and made their fortunes there. The streets would be full of beggars and prostitutes, as they are in Cuba and North Korea now, and only people like Amartya Sen living in capitalist countries like America could afford to live in five-star hotels.
Is this what they want? Perhaps they do. They believe only they should enjoy capitalist goodies, while the hoi polloi starve to death in socialist India. And we give such people Bharat Ratna, as if we had nothing, better to do. My friend Chandan Mitra says that Amartya Sen’s Bharat Ratna should be revoked. Why did he get it in the first place?