Also a desperate course correction of the PM’s one-track approach!
There is a clear disconnect with rural India as far as the UPA government is concerned.
Yes, there are schemes like rural employment guarantee scheme. So are other schemes focused on the “distribution” of benefits to the rural mass of people? Yes, all the social sector programmes have a rural focus, if you stretch the definition of rural focus. This is in a way, not even well-defined even here, is what the Manmohan Singh-led governance has come to.
There is clearly lots of dissatisfaction with this sort of view.
See what he is speaking about just on day one after the terror attacks which had shaken the very confidence of the Indian people. The Pm is talking about that Indian economy would grow at 7.5 per cent! Is the time to speak such prosaic topics?
Clearly, this government has been found wanting when it comes to agriculture, rural India, the very many institutions that are helping to lift the rural India and help to integrate it with the faster urbanisation process of development.
What about the funds so budgeted for the rural development? For the panchayat raj institutions. Have ever even for once, even for the token sake ever the PM had talked about the panchayat raj? Has the Pm ever talked about revamping the co-operative institutions, from banking to other producer co-ops like the milk unions or other units like co-operative sugar factories or other such innovations that had sustained the rural India, rural Industries etc?
Not for once the PM had shown any visible empathy with the continuing distress in the farm sector. The recent injection of about Rs.750 crores for the distressed districts where the farmer’s suicides took ominous turns is not properly conceived.
The UPA government, the very many luminaries of the regime, the ministers or others, has not shown any interest in any systematic development of all regions. Even in the North East there are issues of great significance, not just economic development, but migration, the great sense of alienation and the consequent displacement of people, the rise in violence etc needs addressing in a big way.
The PM doesn’t seem to have any time here.
When it comes to agriculture and rural India the failure of the UPA regime is very visible.
There is deterioration in the credit flows to this lifeline of the very economic wellbeing of the largest number of people.
The PSB banks are the only ones now left with the job of taking care of rural lending. There are any numbers of issues that cry for attention.
The massive write off of Rs.75,000 crore co-operative credit loan is now forgotten. The new credit targets are all composed by bogus criteria. There are reports about how even investing in bonds for the rural electrification programme is added under the mandatory 18 per cent priority sector lending.
So too the wrong move to amalgamate the rural regional banks with the PSBs.
There are many issues that need critical elaboration and articulation. One, the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) plays a critical role in redefining growth process in a more decentralised manner. SMEs are now part of the agri sector growth momentum. 75 per cent SMEs now hit by economic slowdown. What is Dr.Singh’s special drive here? Second, RBI’s easing of the norms for real estate lending to housing on agricultural land. Co-op banks must be infused with funds so that rural housing activity is pushed up. SEZs are to respect the farmer’s rights. Dr.Singh’s outlook is a bit out of date and out of tune. This needs course correction.
So, you have almost choked the number of outlets for rural lending.
Is this a wise step or a wise policy?
Now, what is really galling, yes, it is the right word, is the fact that the PM, accustomed to some quick-foot in-house file pushing, he has taken upon himself the Finance Portfolio.
This is plainly wrong and also comes at the wrong time.
And much more galling is the news that the Pm would have another functionary in the PMO to help him with the finance portfolio.
This is also wrong. What they, the duo, the heavyweight PM and also a busy person even otherwise and a lightweight MOS to help out with the PM?
What new thoughts would come in such an arrangement.
It would be just a file-pushing activity that wont benefit the vast mass of activity that the key portfolio of a Finance Ministry with its many-fold wider reach of issues and impacts.
Unfortunately, the Indian mindset is such that any expert, like Dr.Singh, is capable of doing any other activity.
This is wrong. The unpreparedness of this government on the security front is clearly seen by the recent colossal tragedy.
And also, the state of distress in the rural and agricultural sector is also an indication of how the Dr.Singh mindset had ruined the farmers.
Doesn’t Dr.Singh think that the future will write him off as one who presided over the largest farmers suicides after the historic Indian famines that killed thousands and millions of Indian poor?
Certainly, we feel it is our duty to remind of the history of Indian famines. Also how ironical that at a time and history when the PM and the former FM took pride in maintaining 8 per cent and even claiming 10 per cent growth and also causing so much misery in the agriculture sector, we have yet learnt any lessons to correct our mistakes.
Also, the Indian media is also accustomed to praise any incumbent ministers sky-high and attribute all sorts of competencies.
At least now, let us hope we become a but skeptical about the claimed or attributed competencies are at best a media-build up or at worst it is sheer opportunism on the part of Indians who enjoy serving any government in any capacity and they willingly come forward to take up any assignments. Including the Prime Minister’s job!
Prime Minister is a highly complex person at any time. We now have it in Dr.Singh a simple-minded person who finds himself in a complex, challenging situation.
The PM has to ponder over his role in the current terror attacks and how unprepared the government was all along.
So, please we ask the PM not to take up the FM’s job. Nor, shall we dare say, enturst the FM’s task to the routine service men like Rangarajan or Ahluwia or other such retired bureaucrats.
Please go for a fresh face or better a political face. Let us even choose a person of some political credibility like, say, Lalu Prasad Yadav or even Sharad Pawar.
So that subsidies, rural credit, rural co-ops ,rural decentralised growth startegies, there are any number of issues and schemes that cry for specialised and politically heavy-weight approach.
A tried and tested face or even a risk taking for a fresh new face or a fresh new talent would energise this otherwise, business as usual routine, governance pattern. Yes, unfortunately, this is what we have come to associate with Singh’s regime.