Development and its false notions.

We as the citizens of this country has been aspiring for development, Everybody wants to see our country’s progress because right for a decent living with minimum amenities in place to satisfy our needs is democratic rights of each and every citizen of this country. We vote candidates from different political parties based on plank called “Development”. Have these representatives of the people do justice to their promise to the people, I think this question lingers large on everybody’s mind. The most recent stampede in Mumbai on the railway overbridge proves a point beyond doubt that Govt priorities changes once they are elected to power, they consciously forget their responsibilities towards common people of this country because either they have an agenda to pursue which has been far away from the realities on the ground or a misplaced notion for development . However, they pursue policies to favour the rich and corporates, help them gain maximum profits for the corporates out of it. In today’s environment, it has been increasingly evident that the Govt policy measures are not in sync with the reality, But politicians have consciously tried to pass the message to the larger audience that they are trying to build a new India. what is this new India means to common people, Is new India, govt talking about leave farmers to die because of not able to pay their debts, or children die out for not receiving the oxygen on time , or scores of people are left to die while standing in the queue to withdraw their savings from the bank,But frankly speaking all these campaigns by those in power is nothing but an effort to keep us living in fool’s paradise with hope that sometime someday something better would happen . Now, let’s take the incident happened in Mumbai around 25 valuable lives had been lost in the stampede, it is well known and many times it has been brought to their notice that the railway overbridge is 120 years old with the narrow passage which inadequate to handle the volume of passengers who commutes daily. But on the other hand, we have seen PM launching a bullet train project from Surat to Mumbai with a project cost 10,000 crores. But left to lurch in perennial neglect Do you think it is because of the misplaced priorities and opportunity for photo shots to be in the realm of public life as” Vikash purush “. I think beyond that govt’s has scant regard for the valuable lives of the common people. So it is quite natural to think that launching a bullet train project attracts more eyeballs, improve the optics than the repairing, improving the existing infrastructure of the railways. The major source of income to govt comes from the taxpayers money through direct and indirect taxes, Out of that major source of revenue comes from the indirect tax sources which you and I pay while purchasing our grocery or filling petrol in our vehicles , but the moot question is where do they spend the money collected from us ? Had they been spending the resources wisely frequent occurrence of rail accidents could have been avoided.

Misplaced priorities.

In the last several decades and increasingly so in the last three years, the optics of development for this govt has been through series of announcements of schemes, But very little budget or money has been allocated to improve the situation. Take in the case of rural distress and farmers problem, in the last three years we have not seen any concrete or well thought out plans to address the problem faced by the farmers, Now we have started debating whether the demonetization has delivered its objective , still many argue that the long-term benefits would overweigh the short-term problems. How is it possible when Govt allowed the daily wage workers, farmers to starve and die of poverty. When you have global oil prices at all time low, how can they still allow it to be costlier in India without passing the benefits to the common people? These issues need immediate address rather than ministers after minister trying to justify the move by showing very less importance to issues affecting the common man on the streets.

Optics matter more than the reality.

A responsible government and its administration should be spending the time to address the issues faced by the masses and how they could solve the issues faced by the public at large. In the case of demonisation as the biggest administrative act by the govt has failed miserably, because the reports are out in the open which states more than 90% of the money in circulation came back to the banks. So the purpose of the demo has failed completely. One shock after the other flawed implementation of GST has destroyed the backbone of the economy further, So serious of shocks had already put the ailing patient in ICU, which takes for the patient to come out of the danger. But the optics created by Modi government being that they are sincere in their efforts to attack the black money and GST has been hailed as the biggest reform since independence. If Govt has had any seriousness in curtailing the black money in circulation they should have acted with resilience in bringing the black money stashed abroad, And also should have imposed more taxes on the elites, If they had done any of these it would have signalled some credence to their sincerity in curbing the black money. . Job losses have hit economy badly which really pulled GDP growth down, overall distress in rural economy has taken the situation to such a low, perhaps it takes time to recover.

Inclusive development

You cannot have changed priorities once you get into power Because elected representatives carry the hopes of millions of people who daily fight to survive, lead a life of dignity. So any development for that matter should be inclusive in nature which takes care of the basic needs of the common masses. Take for instances the agriculture’s contribution towards GDP has been declining steadily for couple of decades , Govt, after govt promised to take care of the concerns faced by the farmers, But little has been done to improve the situation, like this many sectors be it education or healthcare which needs a lot of attention and care to improve it. So a real development is nothing but taking everyone together, For the last 3years we have seen hue and cry happening over cow vigilantism and nationalism, Do such priorities of the Govt do any good for the
80% of the population?

Cost of Bullet train

The project cost is expected to be Rs.110,000 crore ie is which works out to be Rs.217crore per km. In 2016 Indian railways reported 186 deaths which go up to 325 deaths, why Modi goes for this expensive project when the entire railway infrastructure meddles with problems of long-term neglect. so it has been the classic case of misplaced priority.

Source:  Frontline October 13, 2017.


Remonetization still a distant dream?


PM’s 50 days timeframe  is over  which had  started on  November 8th  and ended on December 31st midnight , when the nation watched and listened carefully his public  address that 500 and 1000 rs  currency was no more a legal tender, People waited and clapped both their hands that  demonetizing  high valued currency was a good move to address the plaguing issues like  black money, counterfeit notes, and terrorism funding . Yes well said  Mr. PM, We all believed that by all accounts those menaces should be addressed hands down, the action by Modi, in fact, was a step in right direction.  But people were expecting the announcement from PM on the December 31st, 2016 that PM will address the nation with actual facts and declare the success rate in countering the issues for which people have waited patiently in queues n spite of the difficulties by keeping the national interest in mind. Now the deadline announced by PM has passed, still, the cash crunch is continuing unabated with no respite on the immediate horizon. But carefully worded PM minced no words on the success of his massive reform. Instead as usual at his best, he eloquently announced several sops to divert the attention from the core issue. The last 50 days more than 100 lives have been lost while standing in the queue to draw and exchange money which is legitimate right necessarily to buy things like medicine, groceries and pay their rents. But no word of assurance from PM when the crisis is going to end, and how far they have to wait in long queues to get to their cash lying in their respective bank accounts. People have patiently digested the change in rules which roughly got changed more than 15 times in last 50 days.

Carefully catapulted narrative to shift the attention to digital transactions

The war cry to address the black money is slowly pushed to backburner , and new found enthusiasm to promote the cashless transactions had started finding more traction , the most visible attractions is the launch of Bhim App which is linked to adhaar, everybody in govt and others who supports Modi started favouring the use of digital transactions as the best possible remedy to tide over the crisis which was self-inflicted by the elected govt  who is supposed to take care of the people’s wellbeing . Now the government being tactical is puts the burden of its own decision back to the same people who had voted them to power.The irrational responses from the ministers without understanding the hardships of the informal sector is the biggest despondency shown by the ruling government.I think those rich and elites are watching the hardships of the common man on the streets laughing at the plight of the poorest of the poor.  In the last 50days, we have seen how bad and severe was the impact of demonization on the informal sector. The livelihood of the casual laborers, small farmers who depend on cash to manage their daily household expenses was left in the lurch, Govt is busy vouching for cashless transactions through mobile wallets and electronic banking, a complete insensitive approach to common man’s sufferings.

 Push for a digital  economy with no logic

I am not qualified economist nor having any deep understanding about the undercurrents of our macroeconomic system, But as laymen, if I apply simple and straight forward logic of how a normal consumption happens in the economy, especially in the rural sector, one should really find the economic logic of demonetization falls flat. The cyclic effect of such a large disruptions even if for a shorter duration has the potential to create large ripple effects which might pull down the economy to a state of decline. Like adding woes to the injury, this massive reform is going to severely hemorrhage the country’s economy in the months to come.  Last week I was having a word with one of my friend who is a wealth manager in one of the leading financial conglomerate  , he is of the opinion  that economy would pick up in the long term and what telling effect it had on the economy takes more time to judge, I asked him how his wealthy customers are responding to the demonetization ,he laughed  and said my customers don’t keep anything in cash their money is held in other various asset classes other than cash.  He also admitted that  a lot of consumption has been displaced because of this move, but somehow  due to the relaxation in taxable income, salaried class, and middle-income groups would be left with more disposable income than usual which will fuel more  consumption, in the  hindsight spending will pick up, I asked him about the state of informal economy  , he has no answer to that specific question . I think I felt the same when PM or FM speaks to media on demonetization.   It remembered me the act of robin hood who stole from the wealthy and gave to poor, But here PM  sucked  in what little is left in the hands of the poor and passed  the benefits to mobile and E-wallet companies, certainly provided on a platter   a real harvesting time for the many of the startup wallet companies. Last but not the least if the govt is so serious about curbing black money, the first step should have been on  addressing the issue of political funding  manner of spending it during elections, But no serious attempt to address the donations to political parties, but if they had shown some spine in  addressing the  naked truth with seriousness then the whole demonetization drive  would have created some  semblance of credibility.