What policies needed in the current situation?
Good governance is a top priority!
There are worrying signs!
There is an economic slowdown, no doubt. There are some unprecedented indicators. For one, the auto industry is in serious crisis. Unsold vehicles are piling up. Maruti, the major player with a 50 per cent of market share saw a decline of 33.5 per cent. As we write some 2 lakh jobs are laid off in the last 3 months in thus sector alone. This deceleration is very likely to lead to other complications and the slowdown might become very serious. Education in GST is one first cry. One can’t be sure of government’s response given the sort of mind set of the ruling combine.
Industry captains, some respected faces have come out to voice concerns. Deepak Parekh, Rahul Bajaj and A.M.Nayak have come out with concerns. Others, more vocal voices and familiar faces on the TV screens have been warned by the government t not to speak further on such concerns like tax raids and the word tax terrorism has become a bad word!
There are other indicators.49 public figures have written to the PM warning about mob lynching and hate crimes and other social issues like rape etc. Against this 62 odd intellectuals have opposed such a narrative. This clash of narratives is good for educating public opinion.
Of course the (so-called) public opinion today is very much confused and splintered into various managed and manipulated streams. There is no coherent body of opinion makers, even the highly placed and much respected voices of dissent are sought to be silenced. There are widespread panic and even terror-like fears. Instead of a free and vibrant public opinion we have a widespread public disturbance of am n eerie silence!
The law and order situation in some states, including the largest state, UP is widely commented in a negative manner. The Supreme Court’s intervention in transferring the cases outside to Delhi speaks for itself. The question of governance is uppermost in the minds of the citizens. The very general situation in the country is far from normal and there is widespread sense of insecurity over raids and other acts. New legislations in the Lok Sabha and the passing of the same legislations without much discussion and debate are a new phenomenon in legislation-making. It is sad development, the way the Rajya Sabha members walked out to enable to get those legislations passed without discussion. This is very new development and might lead to set a bad precedent.
In the atmosphere prevailing in India, the current trend of an economic slowdown with major sectors, core sectors, also reporting very low growth rate is something about which the government can’t remain silent for long.
Industry captains would always choose to be circumspect and that is their tragedy! While those close to the ruling regime might find benefit to remain silent and invisible, those who who have credibility might also have some visibility and others among them might be really honest to the core and even give some inner urges to speak out in the greatest good of the greatest number. It is these really public good-makers who would at times invite the wrath of the government. This has happened already as the public might have noticed.
The media, print and visual, in India is in a real tragedy. The print media, in particular the high-end class media really faces an existential crisis. The really ones that are dedicated to the public good has to be very very careful. Some really choose to write not on what is good for the countrymen and they write some educaitual on the US Fed, not on the Indian RBI! Why invite trouble!
The others sometimes take some risk and do indeed comment freely. As for professional economists, they were very prominent in the past. Not anymore. Has any competent economist has come out to enlighten the current economic phenomena?
Economists like Dr.Manmohan Singh could do a great deal of good. As a man of authority he must voice his views, give a statement and enlighten the unfortunate public about what are at issue. Only we have seen Bimal Jalan, a former RBI Governor and a professional have given us hope of citing the current phenomenon as a cyclical turn and in one or two years ,growth will pick up.
As to what the government does in a variety of ways is first to revamp the 100 days work a year scheme, formerly known as Mahatama Gandhi a national Rural Employment Scheme, aims to pull out 10-12 million rural families out to impart skills and create durable assets.
This is a very weak construction. There is no real insight here. Rather this assertion is very vague. There are of course much more than tinkering with the existing schemes. Mr. Amitabh Kant, the CEO of NITI Aayog has come out with a series of reforms and ‘to dos'(that makes much sense given the current context.
The Economic Times,August5,2019).Of course he goes far and wide taking on from Lord Keynes’s own prescription for unleashing ‘the animal spirits’ and stimulating the aggregate demand. Revving demand is the key. For this to happen he has outlined many of the schemes and reforms.
Kant’s list is rather very long. As it should be. The very title of his article says much: It reads:”Gotta Grow, Grow Up, And Go”. Fine. Very inspiring.
However, in a sober reflection, we have to warn and alert. There are so much otherwise worrying problems. The arbitrariness in governance. The UP state, as an example, the many happenings and the top court’s interventions in ensuring good governance. Should we need to spell out what is reported in the daily press?
Then there are many major reforms like LokPal and LoK Ayukta. Tax collection is sluggish. The deployment of raid and tax agencies and the very rise in crime and criminal cases are ominous signs.CJI has noted that one crore criminal cases are pending.
The way the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are functioning. The Deccan Herald captioned one editorial as” Subversion of legislature”. The image of India abroad. We are a democracy. But then democracy demands high moral standards. The way we play with the anti-defection law. Dr.S.Radhakrishnan, the first chairman of the Rajya Sabha said : The Rajya Sabha is not just a legislative, but a deliberative body. The outside world would be watching how India runs its democracy. Short-sighted tricks won’t make India great. But only observing a visionary moral code!