Columnists

Rewriting economy

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 3/31/2019 1:05:13 PM IST

 The basic rural issue is destruction – of their homes, hearth and jobs such projects are to cause for the benefit of real estate developers and middle men. Development is mindless, most in the thickly populated rural areas say.

This election is about PMP – poverty management programme, an economic agenda that is unclear and all political parties apparently are looking for an issue.

Post-election the nation is likely to have a new economic path as there is going to be one or the other coalition-led government. It suits the country as decisions are the result of confabulations and more transparency that is likely to benefit the people. 

Yes, the campaign trail has brought the common man at the centre of the political spectrum. There is, however, little clarity on how to remove poverty, a nagging issue since the days of garibi hatao of Indira Gandhi.

The campaign has brought to the fore the pathetic state of the country where still 25 crore remain absolutely poor and affluent politicians are keen on luring them. Congress with its Rs 72,000 crore offer – many may call it a bribe – is keen on bagging their votes.

It may cost, if implemented about Rs 18 lakh crore a year. Total tax receipt in 2018-19 is estimated at Rs 17.05 lakh crore. It may reduce next year as about 2 lakh crore taxpayers would go out of the net. 

The BJP has pitted Rs 6,000 a year for farmers. It is harping on pension for different classes of people. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi has indirectly challenged it by saying that her party would restore pension abolished by NDA-I. It is a Congress way of trying to solve a crisis of the retired. Or is it a narration of non-success of the 2004 national pension scheme?

The aggressive BJP is harping on 431 programmes of the Narendra Modi government. Party workers, however, mostly are not aware that their government has such large number of people-oriented programmes. They are finding it difficult to argue with the voters on ujjwala, ujala, MUDRA, skill-India, toilets and valour of the government in tackling Pakistan and nationalism.

The last one has silenced the voters. They are apprehensive of expressing themselves. The youth in particular is in a daze. The job data puzzles them. As you move through the universities and educational institutions, the 4.5 crore new voters are wondering whether there is any forward thinking process. Loud campaigns put them off as do the family-held parties or jingoism. 

The youth wants a new political course, dispensation and approach. They are confused that even after 70 years, religious divide that had led to Partition, is still wide; caste sways the political choice and most of the candidates are not aware of the economic issues. 

Doles do not attract them and jobs, despite offer to be pakorawalla, are not to be found. Rather in states like Kerala, the sinking fortunes in the Gulf countries and job losses are becoming an issue. Corruption bogs them but the refrain seems that it has become part of the nation’s culture despite vociferous post-demonetisation claims. The small traders, salaried and others find terrorised by the tax administration and higher rent seeking. The cash is a critical issue in rural and trade sector. Bankisation of the economy has put more costs and inflation. 

The figures of petrol prices and inflation, unfortunately, have become suspect and so are the growth figures. Many ask if there is growth, why disparity has increased between 2006 and 2015, why more people have sub-standard jobs, why reservation is not working, why rural distress is growing and why farmers despite doles continue to commit suicide.

The issue of “chowkidar” is discussed. They discuss whether such allegations be leveled against top persons or not. 

The village chaupals in western UP give partial answers. Many septuagenarians recall that in the 1962 election, the opposition had given the slogan Pt Nehru chor hai but Nehru not only ignored it but never even raised his voice against such perceived indecency. 

During 1974, Indira Gandhi, amid such onslaught in 1974, merely said, “Haathi chalaa jaata hai”, at a rally in Lucknow. The villagers say that Hinduism is about tolerance and the big ones must have large heart.

Cash is significant but silent issue in the villages of western UP, Haryana, MP and Bihar – the BIMARU states. Poll managers need to understand. Banks are being considered oppressive. The poor are wondering why banks should penalize those who cannot maintain minimum balance.

The villagers, domestic maids and the poor are losing and criticizing over Rs 5,000 crore earnings by SBI and other government banks. They question whether the banks are for the rich only and why they are in huge losses.

More the parties want to address PMP more they are getting into a vortex. The roads and airports are not enthusing voters. Village elders say such mindless road constructions and airports, an obvious reference to the Jewar in Bulandshahr, would lead to desertification of the fertile regions.

Political workers fend off such “unwise, anti-development” questions. Even the opposition parties are in a quandary on the development issue. 

The basic rural issue is destruction – of their homes, hearth and jobs -such projects are to cause for the benefit of real estate developers and middle men. Development is mindless, most in the thickly populated rural areas say.

This raises a vital question. The institutions like NITI Ayog that replaced Planning Commission or NIPFP are clueless or not. 

These stark questions expose the hollowness of the political system. Have the leaders drifted away from the people? 

The rural discussion exposes that political leaders have lost the touch. The rural mass wants comfortable life but not at the cost of basics. Land holding still is crucial for them not as a family pride but to protect the nature as well.

They don’t want doles. They have self-pride and want that their sugarcane dues be paid by the mills on time. The potato farmers want that they should get their price and not be hounded by tax marauders.

These are strangely enough not points of discussion by leaders at rallies. People have a feeling real issues are not being touched and loud campaigns are aimed at junking it.

The PMP is not working. Clueless political parties are not connecting with the masses. Elections are likely to spring many surprises and post-election India may rewrite its economy.

Shivaji Sarkar

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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