We support Prime Minister Modi’s approach
Finance ministers don’t make for economic experts!

modiYaswant Sinha is a senior BJP leader who was once the Finance minister in the Vajpayee government. Now, his family members, many, son a minister, his family members, one an ambassador and another a direct in a high profile IT company and others are all in high positions. In normal times he should not have any grievances at the government. Sinha, the senior, had also been given some high profile assignments as in J&K.

And yet, he had come out with a savage attack on Modi’s economic policies pointing out at the slowdown in the Indian economy. Fine. But then he had taken some personal shots and that had irritated the government. Ironically, this has come to the help of the Congress party from which Mr.P.Chidambaram had come out in support of Mr.Sinha.

Now, Arun Jaitley, naturally had responded with some sharp comments. The point here is that three finance ministers, two former ones, Jaitley the incumbent one are calling names. This is no use.

Let us remember the three ones are not economic experts, one, why the two are lawyers, the third, Mr.Sinha, a former bureaucrat.

Why we say this is that economics is a serious science and expertise in the science doesn’t come easy.

Unfortunately or fortunately, there are too many economists in India and most of them are in academics or in government service.
I studied economics when Dr.Manmohan Singh was a PhD scholar at Nuffield College in the early Sixties.

Dr.Singh’s career is unique. He was government servant and also became the Prime Minister. I think there is unity of view that he was a brilliant economist in government but a political disaster as a politician. Under him we saw unprecedented corruption in government and this decimated the Congress party in 2014.

Now, I studied economics under Sir Roy Harrod who was an associate  of the great Lord Keynes(John Maynard Keynes)and also J.R.Hicks who won the Nobel for economics. But I never became a typical student of economics. I turned to politics at the early age and I have no regrets. I contested for the Madras Legislative Council in 1968, defeated the DMK founder, C.N.Annadurai’s candidate as an Independent. Besides being a colleague of “Anna”, I became closer to Kamaraj. The rest, as they say, is history!

Here is how I see the Indian economy. Economic growth right now is in a slow mode. May be. But India has now become and seen as the fastest growing economy in the world.

Simply because there is a current hiccup doesn’t mean Indian economy is going down. This is where I like to differ from former finance ministers. They seem to want to score points and even create a scare of sorts.

This is simply irresponsible. They should debate issues inside Parliament and try to build public opinion. Now, they want media publicity, in my opinion.

Mr.Modi had done the impossible. He had defeated the Congress and got an absolute majority and in power.

He had in fact, in my opinion, transformed the economy. See the sort of changes in the very many sectors. As for the economic growth, there is every chance the economic growth would pick up seed and momentum once the global scenario changes and some stability come to the world scene.
One can cite the great many structural changes that had been effected in the last three years.

Also, not only in the economic sphere but also in the social and even in the political sphere.

The corruption scare is laid down, the process of poll funding is getting transparent and also the very society and the various classes, upper, middle and the working classes have their outlets to criticise and let out steam, so to say.

Japan, China and even the USA have come in to give us the perspective and momentum, in my opinion.

Some of Modi’s Ministers are outstanding, we can say openly. Chinese economy is now giving competition to India in many areas of economic development, from infrastructure to heavy industry. There is the capitalist mode of development where we have to encourage private sector investments in a big way. We have to motivate and mobilise the big industries, both indigenous as well as foreign companies to come and invest. The GE investment in loco-making is good news.

The bullet train technology has the potential to revolutionise rail technology.
The competition is severe here. So too civil aviation and also telecom. We have to take a broad view and also an open-minded view.
Our exports too need much acceleration. Private industry captains need to be interacted with.
So, let us create a climate of optimism and also a confidence in the government.
We are from the Congress stable! Yet, how can we deny the reality.
There is an upsurge in the public perceptions, society seems optimistic and people of India seem to be ready and alert to integrate with the outside world.
We learn as we go. The NITI Ayog is reformed and a new economic Advisory Council is constituted.
In agriculture too new ideas are added and we on our part would be contributing new ideas. How for instance, Netherlands, is contributing to the new agri researches in seeds and also in the cultivation and exports of agriculture products and foods. Netherlands is the world’s second largest agri exporter, next to the USA. How the one university there has created a Food Valley, as on par with a Silicon Valley in the USA. These news and agri research developments, we would be bringing to the attention of the government.
In national building, how to combat many of the problems like hunger, abolition of poverty and creating jobs in agriculture, there are so many opportunities.
Modi’s many social reform missions are timely.
People are enthused and that is what matters. After all economic growth must give many of the services Modi regime had launched.
Economics, let us not forget, is to give largest happiness to the largest number of people. In this mission Modi had succeeded beyond any doubt.
So, everyone who is competent and committed can contribute to the growth of the economy.
Yes, we can differ from the government policies but the criticism must be constructive not negative.
And let us remember we have to do things in a spirit of collective endeavour. Narrow partisan views in such a subject like economic growth won’t take us any far.
Let us also remember economic growth is always in single digit only for most of the history. There are no magic wands to accelerate the economic faster. However great an economic expert is he or she can only stimulate the economy only within sharp limits.
Yet, somehow, we have made economic science a mystery science. In the earlier times, economics was used to create awareness of, say, over population (Ricardo) or creation of wealth (Adam Smith) or even government intervention in times of economic crisis(Lord Keynes).Even later, economists like John Galbraith and even Schumacher(Small is Beautiful)made economic to serve the larger public interest.
Only afterwards economics as a science or art, has become an esoteric subject, only legible to fellow practioners of this mysterious world.
Now, as far as India is concerned here economists got jobs first in government or in universities.
So too much theoretical solutions (like for reducing poverty, to accelerating growth) have become fashionable.
But economics is all about people’s happiness and people’s fulfilling their needs, their satisfaction, and their happiness. In this sense, we have to see economics and there is a limit to pure economic reasoning. After all, we should remember that originally economics was called political economy.
Please recall the famous words of Lord Keynes. He said that any politician searching for some light would be seen as a slave of some defunct economist they might have learnt in their student days! The point is that anyone in power or authority must be willing to learn new ideas and new policies from experts. That is the purpose of a Niti Ayog or the Economic Advisory Council.
Please remember economics is a serious science and it is a complex issue to make economic policy that has elements of politics and also social and even ethical questions like equity and justice. So, please don’t expose oneself and lose credibility!

What is its future prospects for power?
Now, it is simply seem as a cash-machine on which a group of discredited men and women are sitting up!

They are hoping against all hopes of standing up to face an aggressive Mr.Narednra Modi!
Rahul Gandhi’s American tour and the image-building can the Congress party revival?

ChairmanAsks one US-based observer, Sadanand Dhume who is a resident fellow  at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington who attended  Rahul Gandhi’s meeting and had seen in close quarters where in New York  at a hotel auditorium  and also interacted somewhat. He has now written an edit-page article for the Times of India, September 21, 2017.

This article sums up what the made-up Rahul image, made up by some interested people like Sam Pitroda, former adviser to Rajiv Gandhi and quite a capable technocrat.

The edit-page article describes with no hesitation as a some sort of half-witted man-child, quoting social media and WhatsApp.

The young Gandhi must prove his capabilities at the elections; no amount of body-building can help. Once he is seen as a loser in the political arena who else can help him to become a leader, a worthy heir. There is no new idea, no credible ideology even when compared with the patch-up Hindutva, right?

Even what the Indian media had reported doesn’t give much hope as far as I am concerned.
Before I proceed further I have to share with readers may own background in Congress party. I had moved closely as a student at Visva Bharati, Santiniketan when Pandit Nehru was the chancellor there in the years, 1955-59.

I was greatly attracted by Pandit Nehru and also later when I registered my name as an ordinary member of the Congress party in 1962,I went on to work with great Congress leaders, then, K.Kamaraj, the Congress President who made both All Bhahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi in 1966.
I worked at the AICC, then at 7, Jantar Mantra Road and thus I came to know most of the then leaders, from Morarji Desai and others.

I contested for the Madras Legislative Council in 1968 and was a member for six years.
I had remained in the Congress party ever since, perhaps the only Congress man in India who had not changed parties!

Now, I can bear witness to the fact, the harsh reality that the AICC over which Sonia Gandhi had presided for 19 years is as good as dead! There are office bearers like Gandhi, the president for years and years, for 30 or even forty years!
The party had not even changed peon. All the member of the Working Committee are family retainers only and they too haven’t changed for all these years. First, my question is what sort of a political party is the Congress where one family and its family retainers continue to remain there, how any change can take place either in terms of new ideas or new policies.

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is a mere figurehead and she doesn’t bring any new energy to the party. She is sick and tired and doesn’t even care to receive visitors. There is a corrupt coteries that operates behind her and any hint of rebellion is nipped in the bud!

As for Rahul Gandhi, even now, the writer Mr.Dhume pays not a compliment but a devastating comment comparing his “intellectual stimulation, the Twinkle magazine”.
Most of his reported speeches, dutifully some TV news channels broadcast them, show they, some portions are carefully written and vetted for publicity only.

For instance, what does job creation Mr.Gandhi know about?
So too the polarisation, economic development etc.

Not one line or one word or one observation shows his maturity. To compare Mahatma Gandhi and at the same breathe Nehru and Ambedkar and Moulana Azad as NRIs, Non-Resident Indians is a joke and might even hurt the sentimental of the people.

What such descriptions and such observations could help to revive the Congress party in the country. The Congress party is losing, steadily, some of the senior states in many states, the latest being Narayan Rane in Maharashtra. Many had left in Karnataka, Gujarat and other major states.
Also, the mother-son duo are simply cut off from the ground level realities.IN many major Congress bastions like Tamil Nadu, the leadership had chosen film actresses, party defectors as key office bearers.

I myself had tried to revive the party in TN where the great Congress leader Kamaraj was the most popular. But no way. Today such a great nationalist party had pledged itself to the rival DMK in whose alliance the very 2014 general election was lost owing to charges of high corruption like “2G,coal scam” etc.

And yet the cynicism of the Congress leaders based in Delhi is such they bring in Dr.Manmohan Singh under whole leadership the party lost so heavily  often to sit with Sonia so that the image of things are normal. This is a great self deception.

There has never been a genuine international party election. Nor its funds are accounted. The Election Commission too got frustrated for the party not submitted its audited accounts.
So, a big deception is sought to be played. No state level leaders are even chosen by any consensus.
So, the whole atmosphere in the Congress party ranks is the senior leaders behave like sultans when the very sultanate had gone!

Politics is perhaps the most high priority pursuit of those who are already in it.
It is the most ambitious pursuit of the good and the bad, right?
Who said politics is the highest public morality? Whoever had said it or not what we see today, more so in India, is that politics as perceived at the top of the society is not ethics or ethical pursuit.
We may not be wrong if we say, in the pregnant phrase of Hannah Arenddt (1906-1976), it is “the banality of evil”.

The Congress party can be revived only on basic ethical basis.
There must be a honest self introspection.

Dynastic succession under the present mindset is a sure way for further disaster. No amount of outward tricks would do. Rahul Gandhi has to work under some other senior leaders for some more time if he still wants to continue as a full-time politician.

There has to be change in the mindset of Sonia Gandhi and her close associates. Most of them I have met them, they are all very dedicated Congressmen but they all seem to imagine that to keep quite is the only way to their own survival.

We met for instance one lady Congress leader who served as a successful Chief Minister of the Union territory. When we asked for her ideas she gave the impression she only was waiting for some “job” from Sonia Gandhi.

The same too we found from most of the senior leaders who prefer to continue in Lutyen’s bungalow zone, rather move out to their respective states!

A sort of rebellion would break out once in 2019 Rahul Gandhi doesn’t win. In such a post- 2019 scenario, we feel that that there could be an internal party revolt.

There are as of now one or two faces, like the Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr.Siddaramiah, who could even emerge as an alternative leaders, even an alternative Prime Ministerial candidates the guts to!
Yes, in today’s Indian politics, it is money and social caste power matter. Mr.Siddaramiah too has the guts to take on Modi.  No one as it is dares to question Mr.Modi. It is the contest of personalities that would matter as long as Mr.Modi continues on an aggressive path.

Of course there are other contenders. Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sharad Yadav and others from others states too could emerge.  The present day silence of conspiracy might disappear once it becomes clear that Rahul Gandhi’s artificial propping up doesn’t work. Comments welcome.

Election Commission is weak! How to make it an anti-corruption machinery?

The image of leaders is critical!

ecThere is a widespread perception that India is becoming prone to corruption increasingly. This issue we have to face boldly and talk about it. It is our view that the public at large is not prone to giving bribes. Nor, we dare say, that government servants are also prone to corruption. There are still, today, many highly upright officials.  At the same time we see the most powerful; the most popularly elected leaders end up in courts and jails too!

India is a traditional country given to much traditional beliefs of right and wrong and people are ethical when it comes to organise their lives and life styles.This ethical attribute of the Indian people we have to recognise and start analysing the corruption issue from then on.

It is the politicians of the new generation and also the businessmen, the two most emerging powerful segments of the population   that are the sources of corruption of all types.

Corruption has to be faced straight its face and people, civil society and NGOs have to be strengthened and the larger social evil has to be fought.

Luckily, there have been many efforts to combat this evil. There are already many NGOs, think tanks and other efforts that have largely contributed to arrest the spread of this evil.

But what we like to highlight here is the reality that also by and large the larger segments of the common man are free from this temptations.

The way elections are run, the way the large and small political parties are organising themselves, more and more as family parties, as family heritages, accumulate large cash hoards and also assets and how these large assets are progressively hidden from the declarations of the EC submissions that lead to further deterioration in the quality of public life.

Even the larger parties are now doing politics not for public service, though the outer face is a pretension, it is a reality that big party leaders are not themselves clean, transparent, and sorry to say, that they are first of all not really qualified to lead the parties.
They get into the leadership slot by accidents.

Either as an inherito, wives or relatives and also some social segments also give opportunities, because of caste and communal tags, as we have been witnessing lately.

One more source of doubtful big money is through spiritual and god men activities/..It is unfortunately, that some of these doubtful god men end up in jails, while others have also been cultivating politicians who identify themselves either innocently or through known connections.
Let us at least take a pledge, all political leader should do this, not to associate themselves with god men for political clean image sake.
If the political leaders, at least one prominent leader, are clean and stick to some values, then, we are sure the entire political and social system can be made clean.

It is time we face the issue of corruption and do the right thing in the interests of the nation.

Political stability is critical for good governance!
That is what is the common ground between the Governor’s strategy and the Edapppadi government.

05THCMPHOTOThe factions within the ruling AIADMK government in TN and also the other stakeholders, including the people are showing unusual patience in testing the majority of the ruling combine.

As it is, the perceived instability of the current numbers of MLAs, with the Speaker’s disqualification of the 18 AIADMK MLAs under the anti-defection law. The action has been routinely criticised by the political parties and even constitutional and legal experts. But then the current political situation is rather very unusual.

Constitutional principles are very important. But then the ground level realities are often unprecedented. Here is a political party founded or inherited by J.Jayalalitha   and shaped in her own image of supreme leader and also with utter disregard for any norms and restraints of a political party in a democracy without any norms like party discipline, party democracy, elected executive or run on democratic lines.

It was a party that didn’t follow any norms of internal party democracy. Where also the party was run like a total autocracy with party members, why even the ministers and seniors prostrating before the supreme leader.

And god forbid the party and the government machinery was run like one unit and also the governance norms were thrown overboard and that led to unprecedented corruption too.

It is an open secret that unaccounted funds for the party flowed like water. When the supreme leader passed away suddenly the party had no one left to take over in any semblance of an orderly succession.
So, the confusion started. O.Pannnerselvam was taking over with the obvious outward approval of the late leader.

But once the leader is no more the party was taken over by the friend of the leader who was utter novice and what she did was there for everyone to see.

She inherited the party machinery by the simple norm of an existing political practice of simple sign by hand! She called back the nominal CM and asked him to hand over the resignation. In the circumstances he had no choice and thus EPS was handed over the regins. So, EPS became the CM.

Very soon, as bad launch would have it, Sasikala the then defacto leader was convicted and she had to go to jail.

So, new complications got in. EPS had one more hitch. That was TTV Dinakaran who was nephew of the jailed leader and who had his own ambitions. Some MLAs, now spotted as 18 MLAs sided with him. So the ruling regime fell short of a majority.

So also the date of proving the majority was also proved a ticklish issue. The Governor also played a role. It is widely suspected and perceived the Centre too was having role in determining the date of a vote confidence.

The Chennai High Court too played a role. There was no decisive role for the Opposition, the DMK, which didn’t show much activism in such a situation. May be the DMK was not sure of playing a role to topple the ruling party.

As we write the Assembly seems unlikely to meet and take the vote of confidence. So, the vast majority of the people are really confused.
There is political instability in the state. The governance norms are utterly neglected. There is strictly no stable administration.

It is an open secret there is vast corruption at all levels. Even some of the incumbent ministers are facing IT raids and even FIRs have been filed. Who would take action in such a fluid situation? None. Even the Centre seems to be not clear about what to do in Tamil Nadu, a state once known for the best administration tradition. All gone now!

It is not going to be simple affairs, to run the state government and deliver a clean government. It would be a totals irony to say that a clean government can be delivered in such a situation.

But then democratic government or governments face similar situations. Why TN alone? What about other states? Corrupt governments, bending laws, favouring the most corrupt and also the most powerful, dynasts and others with connections, from Bihar to UP and many other states need  some back approach like introducing Lokpal and L0k Ayukta  can only be the starting point.

But the Centre seems to have other ideas. There is not even a full-time Governor for the state. Also, with the absence of a BJP party unit with any strength, the Centre seems to be watching the state political scenario while the deterioration in administration is running non-stop with all the consequences left to everyone’s imagination. Woe befalls the state of Tamil Nadu!

The Dravidian dreams turning a nightmare!

Sociological realities of rural India!
Please don’t play caste politics! In the name of OBC quotas!

INDIA-POLITICS-BJP-COUNCILThese are old hats. The politics of OBC castes. Right now, the Modi government has come out with a much more narrow mindset than what was prevalent in the Mandal report days.

Now, castes are dissolving owing to several new socio-economic changes in the rural areas. Even in such an advanced state like TN, where the original sin of caste-based quotas came into prominence, the talks now turned to more liberal or call it more populist politics. The poor and the weak, the SCs and STs have gone over to the populist politics. They voted solidly for the Dravidian parties without thinking about issues in terms of castes.

So, please this time, we request the Centre not to stoke the caste flames by creating sub quotas within the dominant castes like the Yadavs and the farmer’s community!

How many of us, the leaders and thinkers and businessmen and others living in the urban areas think of farmers as producers of food and wealth?

Or, do we always see the famers in terms of their numbers, in terms of their castes, caste groups, backward or forward, SC, ST and vote-banks?
You have to see the political and election issues in terms of the castes and sub-castes only. So, this is, in our opinion, the significance and  relevance of the Modi-Sha duo’s new OBC politics and a revival of the old wounds for the new situations. More so, in terms of how the two major dominant caste leaders, the Yadav knight, Mulayam Singh Yadav and the redoubtable Lalu Prasad Yadav!

Narendra Modi- led union cabinet has suddenly setting up a commission to examine  whether sub-quotas within the existing Mandal led quota in government services, including education quotas would pay electorally? In the coming next Lok Sabha elections!

It is evident that the while issue arise out of the anxiety of the government whether in the next elections the UP and Bihar-centric Yadav dominance in politics, more in particular, the two unbending leaders, namely, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav domination can be broken and subdued by creating sub quotas for the so-called marginalised castes in the central list?

What else is there to speculate beyond this narrow mindset?
Is this one more attempt to further intensify the existing caste oppression in the existing Hindu society’s traditional hold on the mindset of the Indian people, with all their existing superstitions and caste and other ritual prejudices. Political parties too keen only playing caste and electoral politics!

You have to see the many coincidences and other unstated moves and speeches and the actors in evolved in this game. Also, raising the creamy layer ceiling to Rs.8 lakh! Even this new emphasis on creamy layer, allows the castes to stay on, almost forever. This is not liberalism nor enlightenment. Let us look ahead, outside the country, at the world and learn to learn with the international trends.
These are very narrow mindset’s considerations, we feel.

Of course there is much that we need to do if we want to open up the villagers’ mindsets. For this we have to try measures like raising the democratic rights of the villagers, the powers of the panchayat authority and allowing the villagers too jointly to do things under the various Pradhan Mantri schemes.

Including doing many community works like digging and deepening the community tanks that were once the sure security for droughts in India. We just now read that India has an abundant village water tanks in TN alone something like 16,000 PWD tanks, the TN government for instance has allotted Rs.100 crores to rejuvenate the tanks.

But then who would actually take steps, given the large scale corruption in administration. The sociological realities in the rural hinterland are such that none in the villages these days, either the old or the younger generation is willing to join any community effort to change things. Take the PM’s sanitation programme.

We, in our own village couldn’t succeed to abolish the misuse of the latrines. No one uses the government ones!

The panchayat raj authorities too couldn’t do more even at our own enlightened efforts, if we can say so. The point here is that no serious attempt to eradicate castes and corruption in election politics. So, we see in the current buzz about OBC reforms is only an eye-wash and any attempt to further subdivide the castes would only encourage much more smaller and more number of new caste parties!
Caste is a highly complex subject.

Better you reform the election-related issues like more stringent election-funding laws. Also the EC much be reformed so that it can further consolidate the powers to strictly monitor how funds are collected and also accumulated and therefore there is no incentive for the political parties to become more internally accountable. See the major parties today.

Do they want to conduct internal elections? More dynasts would become more attached to the parties where more number of heirs is a sure way of continuing the dynastic politics. So too at the grassroots level.

You have to also account for the existing inequities and inequalities in the traditional privileges for the landowning classes and other intermediary and landless classes. Can anyone leader raise his or her hand and say the inequities and inequalities can be abolished in a day?
No, no, no!

Actually the urbanisation process is doing that task much more economically and more rationally. The educated rural youth don’t want to stick to the traditional occupations of their own forefathers.
This is effecting a new rational equalisation of opportunities and creates new social status group. Also, the trend to migration to the US shores has also played or still playing a role in bringing a new sense of belonging in the depleted current rural li8fe scene.

The more likely recurring drought conditions would also further expedite the land consolidating process and more and more small land holders to abandon farming altogether and migrate to the nearby urban areas.

So, what we say here is that Mr.Modi and his colleagues must start thinking about politics in a more open-minded manner. More liberalisation of the political structure, be it parties or policies that would encourage the villages to get more powers, be it panchayats or elections to the state Assemblies that would encourage villagers to come forward to have a say in the selection of the candidates also not based on castes but on the public recognition of the candidates for elections based on their public record of service.

Sociological realities would prevail as long as the democratic politics is seen only through the narrow prism of the exisiting corrupt political system.