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