PC needs reboot – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

PC needs reboot – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is known as a liberalizer in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Though he hasn’t done as much as one would have expected him given the grim economic scenario and the grimmer fiscal deficit, he did manage to curtail some expenditure in the last fiscal; the revised estimate of total government expenditure was 96 per cent of the Budgetary estimate. But he has done too little and too late; his other Cabinet colleagues have either not done anything positive or have actually hurt the cause of the economy (remember Jairam Ramesh?). Yet, Chidambaram seems to believe that he would be able to convince global investors to come to India. He wants foreign direct investment (FDI) to flow into the country. Addressing the international media in New York, he recently said, “We as a country can easily absorb $50 billion investments [in] a year or more. In the hierarchy of foreign inflows FDI ranks first, followed by FII and external commercial borrowings. FDI is important to India too as in any other country.” Did you say $50 billion, Mr. Minister? Well, some reality check is called for. Consider the Posco project in Orissa as a paradigm case—the paradigm of the UPA regime’s perversity. The Korean steel major began its odyssey, or ordeal, around the same time the UPA came to power for the first time. It pledged to invest $12 billion. Typically, a rainbow coalition of professional revolutionaries, garrulous jholawallahs, incorrigible naysayers, and downright Luddites attacked the proposed steel plant. Worse, their opposition to the project does not emanate from a genuine concern for the locals, something that could have been sorted out; their resistance was is doctrinaire: the project is bad because it would ruin the environment, exploit the tribal people, etc. Period. No discussion, no dialogue. Posco has to go. What was even worse was the UPA government’s mollycoddling of the elements determined to drive Posco out of India. Ministers like Ramesh brazenly encouraged the radicals who are hell-bent on de-industrializing India. Then there are anti-business bigots in the Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council (NAC). In July 2010, a 10-member committee under NAC member N.C. Saxena visited Orissa and...

Nitish visits ruins of socialist shibboleths – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Nitish visits ruins of socialist shibboleths – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tried to achieve many goals at the recent rally in Delhi, but the portrait of the ambitious leader that emerges is not very flattering. As we shall see, his objectives, statements, and demands lack any novelty; any chief minister of any state could have said similar things 10, 20, or 30 years ago. It is an open secret that Kumar aspires for the office of Prime Minister, something that is being viewed with expectation by ‘secular’ parties, including the Congress. There were enough hints of Kumar’s ‘secularism’—many Muslim supporters sitting in the front row, an Urdu prayer, a placard thanking the Bihar government for providing land to the Aligarh Muslim University, and so on. The dominant theme, however, was his reiteration of the demand for the special status for Bihar. Unsurprisingly, histrionics were the hallmark of his address: “We are not begging for special status. It is our right.” In a bid to elicit support from Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Orissa and Rajasthan—the states which have earlier sought special status—Kumar said, “We are happy that UPA government has agreed in-principle to grant our demand. But now we want it to be implemented soon. Do it now or it will be inevitable after 2014 elections. Only he who holds the hands of backward states will sit in Delhi.” Kumar’s bombast and symbolism emanate from his dirigiste ideology. The basic premise of this ideology is that only a few divinely ordained Wise Men and Women in New Delhi know what is good for the country and the people. They are in-charge of all the resources; in their wisdom, they distribute or redistribute these resources to states which, in turn, have their own Wise Men and Women. Growth, development, progress—everything is a function of the wisdom of these divinely ordained beings. Problems do arise because of the differences among Wise Men and Women, despite their divinity. But these problems, according to the dirigiste canon, can be resolved by fine-tuning the terms of engagement. The fundamental flaw of this ideology is that the supposedly Wise Men and Women happen to be politicians, bureaucrats, and hangers-on; and one has to be gullible to expect wisdom...

Is this the Budget we want? – Pankaj Bhatiya

Is this the Budget we want? – Pankaj Bhatiya

This budget has once again amply proved the fact that with changing economic scenario the annual budget has lost its prestigious status as the most important annual event in terms of economic policy announcements by the government. Nowadays it is just a mere briefing on income expenditure statement of the government in current and coming financial year. On one hand the economic value of budget is going down, the political value is becoming much more significant. How else can we explain the over emphasis on the women in this budget after the inhuman act in national capital few months back? The victim’s family in this case is yet to get the due justice but the central government seems to have already done its part by naming the proposed Rs. 1000 Cr fund for women security & safety after Nirbhaya. Was the Delhi gang rape case a result of insufficient funds allocated for women security in India? Even a lay man can answer this correctly. Another women centric announcement of setting up India’s first women PSU bank with a capital of again Rs. 1000 Cr in the same budget is clear indication that the congress party is trying hard to retrieve its much battered image after Delhi gang rape as otherwise there is no viable economic reason behind this announcement. Shouldn’t lot of other more pressing issues in banking sector have got precedence over a Mahila PSU bank?  Are women of this country not getting desirable banking services by existing so called male dominated banking sector? Is the fairer sex being discriminated in access to best banking services? We are living in an India where some of the biggest private sector banks are being successfully headed by women and there is no dearth of women in senior executive ranks in PSU banks as well. Moreover all these banks are there in market for the business and to make profits (I assume this is true for PSU banks as well in changed competitive scenario) and why and how the hell any of these banks would like to discriminate on the basis of gender. One of the major cheer factors of this budget is the containment of...

The rape of reason – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

The rape of reason – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

The sentimentalist orgies our political masters indulged in following the rape and battering of a young physiotherapy student inside a moving bus in Delhi highlight their own insincerities and hypocrisies. Instead of coming up with something solid to make the country safer for women, they took recourse to tokenism, made stupid statements, and tried to derive political mileage from the agony of a tormented girl. Leading the pack was Congress president Sonia Gandhi who visited the hospital where the 23-year-old medical student is fighting for life. Sonia also wrote two letters to Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, in which she expressed indignation at the incident. “It’s a shame that these incidents recur with painful regularity and that our daughters, sisters, mothers are unsafe in the capital city,” she wrote in her letter to the Delhi Chief Minister. The letter to Shinde also echoed similar sentiments: “It’s a shame for all of us who are responsible for security of our cities. This monstrous crime deserves not only universal condemnation but also the government’s most urgent attention. It is imperative that the police and other agencies concerned are sensitized to the danger our daughters, sisters, mothers face every day. The security agencies must be motivated, trained and equipped to deal with this menace.” You are right, Mrs. Gandhi, but why the passive voice? Why “security agencies must be motivated, trained and equipped…”? Why not specify the subject―who’ll do this? How’ll they do this? And by what time they will be able to do this? After all, you have a tremendous say in the state of affairs; your political opponents even call you ‘super-prime minister.’ You wanted the rural employment guarantee scheme―it was chalked out and implemented. You want the food security legislation―and the government is furiously working on it, despite the reservations of important functionaries about it. You wanted reservation for Scheduled Castes and Tribes in promotion―and it’s there; even the Bharatiya Janata Party found it politic to support it. You just have to order; the government will do anything to please you in earnest. Thy will be done. Now that the gang rape has attracted “the government’s most urgent...

Vote and watch in Gujarat – Priti Jain

Vote and watch in Gujarat – Priti Jain

Accusations, allegations, denunciation, vituperation and defamations shun our politicians to the greatest abyss of their careers. They are highly talked about in the media, their parties become busy cleaning their mess up and they start measuring their words before speaking in public. And when the elections are nearing be it regional or national the action is manifold. With the upcoming elections in the state of Gujarat, taking place in two phases on the 13th and the 17th of December, the political one upping is in full swing. The popularity of the Modi government has been castigating the ill-efforts of the Congress party for a decade now. His new technological sprint in the form of 3D speeches and Google+ talks with the common man has certainly given him an edge over the opposition. No doubt this received a mixed response but somewhere down the line his experimentation is commendable. The congress may scream all it wants, disgracing him as a distant politician having no time for direct contact with the people; things are changing, unlike the wasteful tactics of Congress. If they believe in the mettle of direct contact, why have they been unable in stirring the masses? Narendra Modi has won over all the business tycoons and turned his state into an industrial haven. His state being greatly dependent on the agricultural and manufacturing sector, he took the right step in bringing in investment opportunities. Gujarat is a businessman’s land, so inviting potential investments is simply sustaining the statehood of Gujarat. Leadership can never be confined to giving speeches and setting goals, being an opportunist is equally important. A conventional economic model does not allow a state to continually depend on its primary and secondary sector. An increase in the tertiary sector is an indicator of development and growth. Modi did realize the urgent need to shift to this sector. The main and the only problem then becomes the inevitable prioritization of the latter. The failure lies in the balancing act. India itself has failed in the commensuration of the former sectors; let alone Gujarat. For one to be happy, the other person automatically has to be sad, so then what is this inclusive...

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