India moves to ‘right’

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 3/18/2021 1:15:30 PM IST

 Both Indira Gandhi and Narendra Modi are considered to be India’s two most decisive prime ministers in their own eras. However, in ideological terms both represented opposite sides. While Indira was left of the Centre; Modi is considered to be right of the Centre. Indira’s economic policies were tilted towards socialism when she nationalised 14 major private banks and also abolished privy purses of erstwhile princely states. Modi’s government moved to the right or from nationalisation to privatisation. Successive finance ministers – be it in the UPA regime or NDA rule – have talked about disinvestment. The term ‘disinvestment’ was consciously used by them to avoid any possible backlash while selling government stake in public enterprises. For the first time perhaps, a finance minister has used the term ‘privatisation’ in a budget speech. Nirmala Sitharaman has indicated that two public sector banks would be privatised. This is by far a significant announcement, giving a clue or two to the shape of things to come in the coming days, months and years. Typically, privatisation policy in India has been motivated by the need to raise resources in tough fiscal conditions. This is evident in the choice of the word ‘disinvestment’, as opposed to ‘privatisation’, which implies that the ownership and management of companies or assets move to private hands. Privatisation, as a means for improving efficiency and hence achieving higher productivity and improved allocation of resources, has not been the guiding principle in earlier Budgets. Prime Minster Modi had said that his government was committed to privatising all PSUs barring four strategic sectors -- atomic energy, space and defence. Famously, Modi said “The government has no business to be in the business,” and that it will follow the motto: Modernise and Monetise. As much as Rs 1.75 lakh crore is being targeted from the sale of government stake in firms such as India’s second-biggest oil firm BPCL, national carrier Air India, largest shipping line Shipping Corporation of India Ltd, helicopter services company Pawan Hans, IDBI Bank and Container Corporation of India in the next fiscal year beginning April 1. This, along with an initial public offering of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and sale of two public sector banks and one general insurance company, will be the largest disinvestment drive ever. A two-day nationwide strike by bank unions and federations paralysed banking sector from March 16 to 17 against the move to privatise some PSU banks. Soon to follow are LIC unions which have also threatened to launch nationwide strike for the same issue. In September 2020, the government sold its entire 52.98 per cent stake in India’s second-largest fuel retailer and third-biggest oil refiner BPCL. The government also plans to privatize airports as it seeks to accelerate efforts to boost infrastructure development. In July 2020 GMR Infrastructure Ltd, the company that operates Delhi and Hyderabad airports sold 49% stake in its airports’ business to France’s Groupe ADP. The government said airports were being sold for a fixed term of 60 years and that after the period, the two airports along with six others will once again be back under the authority of Airports Authority of India (AAI). The Modi government has also decided to increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence from 49% up to 74%. Despite protests, Modi isn’t going to change the course his government has set for putting India on a high-growth trajectory.

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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