It is not so simple!
Anyway, one hopes our policy makers should focus on GDP as well as on non-economic factors like rule of law, transparency in governance.
Under the BJP government the economic growth rose to 8.5% in 2003-04 on the previous year’s poor 4%. The Singh government promised 7-8 %.But actual growth today is just 6.9%. Singh team is supposed to be clever men, clever economists.
So, can we say Congress-led politics is not as good as the BJP-led politics? Yes, there would be howl of protestations! The point of course is not simple or so simplistic. Yet, we can understand good politics only when we also see the economic strategies, not through particular men in power but by a host of many other circumstances. Vajpayee was lucky. One hopes Singh team will be equally lucky this time!
Yes, politics in India should also be seen as undergoing a cynical turn. It is not one coalition was all no-principles but the other coalition too can be as principles-less as any! The same Karunanidhi and Paswan are now in the new coalition too! Anyway, it is really a worthwhile public education to see how politics and economics interact. How people stand to gain or lose by supporting these cynical politicians!
See the roles of Lalu, Paswan and the Congress men and women themselves! There are no leaders with any serious ideological convictions. Even the venerable Vajpayee seems to be bitten by the unfinished desire to make a come-back. So, his double talk, meaning something and saying something else! This carefully cultivated (?) or the man’s own innate personality traits make him a great leader but not a firm leader with a transparent vision. His RSS links are always suspect and everyone who claims to know him so well, from old friends turned enemies like Govindacharya to journalists like Vinod Mehta of the Outlook reinforce this suspicion of a leader who, when got the chance, did indeed achieve something to be remembered by history. Yes, even if he doesn’t manage to make another comeback, he would be remembered, after Sher Sha Suri, as the one who built the India National Highways to international standards! That is not a mean achievement. Now in India and in Delhi, what is politics is all about?
It is the remix of old upper castes with the lowers castes. See Paswan’s new adherents! The Bhumihars and Rajputs. As one political activist wrote: “When ordinary mortals are at the helm of political parties, money and power generate arrogance, intolerance, immorality, corruption. Arrogance destroys the most powerful empires. The Kauravas were destroyed by Duryodhana’s AICC”!
One cant put it more metaphorically and sarcastically as well! Indian politics had changed a lot now with Sonia Gandhi coming centre stage. The so-called dynastic politics was more projected by vested interests, those who congregate in Delhi, the more politically degenerate these days make up the political causes. The political parties are now financially rich and leaders, coming from various family connections are also devoid of any of the political fights or struggles and thus lack any conviction whatever. They don’t seriously believe in any political ideologies. Thus, a Manmohan or Chidambaram or even lesser “breeds” only provide the political inputs.
In one word, there is no central political belief that drives political parties. The Left is left with only some residue of old Communist jargon. The West Bengal Chief Minister is said to have been doing business with the Prime Minister through the PMO. Communist comrades don’t tell us these truths! They only plead for the urban PSU employees while shedding false tears for the rural poor!
Translated into the Indian context it is now an urban bourgeois comfortable middle class existence for the party leaders, the old and equally the young!
So, what we have is a sort of coexistence with the regional leaders, who like Karunanidhi in the South and Lalu Yadav in Bihar are not serious men but cynical enough to be ruthless when it comes to hard bargains for the sole reason of self-survival.
The tragedy here is the role or the role models the more mature and ideologically reliable national players, the BJP, the Congress and the Left parties. The Congress as the more older party with some historic legacies and fixed ideological positions had now become a victim of the coalition dharma (or adharma? Amorality?). Thus, Sonia Gandhi’s leadership displays all that is rather unwanted in a party of the stature of the Congress. In Goa, Bihar and Jharkhand the Congress conduct was exposed by the Supreme Court’s stinging verdict. So, what have we got? The regional players, Sharad Pawar, Karunanidhi, Shibu Soren, Lalu, Mulayam and Deve Gowda would all be itching for a hard strike at Sonia at the most vulnerable moment. There are rumours in Delhi, reported in one or two news columns, Karunanidhi” is keen on a BJP supported non-Congress government, but Sonia could pre-empt an alternative government by dissolving the Lok Sabha”.
So, economic development, even with the best of intentions by any politician in a democracy is beset with so many unpredictabilities. India is set for such an unpredictability at the present moment. Economic development is a complex process. It has history, politics, society and of course economic processes. Why some economies grow and become rich? Why others, many others remain poor? Economic historians have their own answers. Economists also offer their own explanations. Indian economists are no help here. We are neither growing economically faster than, say, many other countries, including China. Our professional economists, those settled abroad is no help either. Inside India our economists haven’t done us proud, in my opinion. They are another set of bureaucrats. See the long list! They don’t retire! They keep coming back!
In a democracy like ours citizens must be imbued with a shared vision. Rule of law, transparent governance, right to property, a respect for wealth creation, pro-active technological policies. Also we need education, healthcare and a sense of shared happiness.
A new book (book review) I read : Happiness : Lessons from a New Science. This is about economics as promoting happiness in place of GDP! Very unusual book, I thought. It seeks an integration of the latest research in economics and psychology drawing on the work of Daniel Kahneman who won a 2002 Nobel Prize for economics. The author gives enough data to show why in the USA and UK people say that despite their consumer excesses their happiness hasn’t risen as well!