Economists also can’t promote economic development!

We are having an economic expert as the Prime Minister. Is it an advantage or a disadvantage? A big question indeed! But we feel a time has come to ask such big questions. At least, for the sake of getting some clarity. Clarity on what is being aired everyday in the public realm as well as what is in fact the basic thrust for much of our economic development. The PM often, nay, in fact routinely talks of achieving an economic growth rate of 8/10 per cent. The Planning Commission Deputy too talks this way. Mr.Ahluwalia too is an economic expert in the mould of the PM.

Now, what is the reality, after the UPA headed by the expert PM in the job?  Our economy is growing fast in some sectors. IT is a good example. So too in some manufacturing sectors, in some critical infrastructure. The services sector is also witnessing some boom. But then in the more critical social sectors? Much more critically in the agri sector?

As we write there is news that on the food grains sector, on the wheat front there is cause for worry. Though the total food grains production is projected to 209.32 mt, there is a slippage on the wheat front. Wheat estimates had been pruned to 73.06 mt, which is lower than the official estimate of 75.5 mt. Even in rice, though there is a rise, 87.86 mt as against last year’s 85.31 mt, this is no big deal, considering our export market commitments. India should be seen as a reliable exporter of major food grains, in order to gain a place in the world agri trade.

Now, we see the agri GDP is at best expected to grow by 2.3 per cent; our PM’s hopes for 4 per cent performance are doomed to be a non-starter. So much for talking too much on macro economic growth rates (and that too is picked up by amateurs like P.Chidambaram).

There are much more worries on the coming coalition season, specially after the many State Assembly elections that could have an impact on the government’s many other social sector schemes. Sonia Gandhi taking the cue had made a big speech and issued to the press her well-written ‘agenda’. She wants the FM to find the funds for implementing the many pet schemes.

She should know only too well that the schemes are unlikely to take off, given the state of finances in the States. Most, why, all are over-spenders. Thus, Maharashtra has no electricity enough. TN is all populism, no real social sector funding. The Congress-ruled States it seems are most unwilling to lap up the new schemes. The PM must surely know in his inner heart, the schemes are only election-eve gimmicks, in the absence of funds to implement them.

And we don’t want to pick up other names or other schemes, some are really worthwhile doing. For instance like implementing the Integrated Co-operative Development Projects. The FM says unless co-operative credit system becomes into a workable structure, not much can’t be done for farmers. Then, why don’t you implement the co-op restructuring with all your skills?

We read that in Karnataka the Integrated Co-op project is taken up seriously. Even the Nabard doesn’t have a head. Doesn’t the FM know these are serious lapses on his Ministry’s part?  The latest report comes about Employment Guarantee Act. No takers, says a report! The employment guarantee scheme, known by its acronym, NREGA, seems to have been launched with some fanfare in early Feb.

There are news reports to the effect that a full week after the three leaders, Sonia Gandhi, PM and Rural development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has launched the scheme in AP, “what is evident is not an early enthusiasm about implementing the scheme, but a near total lack of it”(Deccan Herald).

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