Saturday, 15 September 2012

Pushed to a corner Manmohan does a do or die again

Friday the 14th has been a momentous day in more ways than one. Not only were several huge policy decisions on foreign direct investment in aviation, broadcast and multi-brand retail made, it is also quite clear that the Monmohan Singh government has taken this decision without support from its allies. Essentially what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has conveyed to everyone is that you have pushed me to a corner and made me take this decision and I don't care whether you like it or not. If these decisions are palatable to you then accept them if not then I dare you to take me down.

Now one can go on arguing about whether these policies are going to benefit us in the long run or not but what is quite clear is that they have been undertaken in desperation, perhaps to ward off the immediate troubles that UPA has been facing. One economic decision after another taken by the government has taken us from one scam to another. The nuclear deal with the US, and the decision to build large number of nuclear power plants with foreign investment has faced immense opposition from people. The government tried its best to dilute the national nuclear liability bill but could not do so to the extent it wanted. The telecom scam highlighted the crony capitalism that prevails in our country. Common wealth games scam left us with a huge bill to the exchequer with no real economic benefit.

The coal allocation scam has finally pushed Manmohan Singh lead UPA government to the brink. Sitting on one failed policy after another, the coal scam has finally pushed the government to a desperate situation. It first decided to bring in the caste reservation in promotions bill and now has brought about these economic policies on foreign investment. That the prime minister is ultimately responsible for the failings of his government can not be denied. It has emerged that when it is convenient for the present government, then they would sight lack of political consensus as a reason for not taking a decision, as in the coal allocation and mineral mining acts. But in the case of FDI in retail they have gone ahead with the decision fully aware that people are opposing it, their allies are opposing it, and state governments are opposing it. There was no need for broad based consensus now.

I personally do not see the merit in the arguments how FDI in multi-brand retail will necessarily benefit us. There is no denying that our public distribution system is in shambles, but then which government department is functioning efficiently and not mired with corruption. What the political leaders of our country need to understand is that the problems we face are of our own creation and no amount of foreign investment will root out the real problems we face. These are the problems that are fully in our control and are squarely our responsibility. How much of the exchequer is being negatively affected by these scams and by wrongly conceived, poorly implemented welfare policies? How much of the public funds, are being eaten up by unsustainable PSU's like Indian Airlines? Is FDI the only source of foreign exchange and capital, what about increasing exports, and reducing reliance on imported fossil fuels for our energy requirements?

These are some of the issues that the central government should be occupying itself with, but unfortunately they have found themselves cornered with scams, specifically the coal scam and have chosen to fight back with a potential political hara-kiri, rather than address the problem of political corruption and a series of scams that citizens have witnessed in recent years. We will come to know in the coming weeks if the congress government survives. Either way my prediction is that we will be witness to several turmoil in our national politics in the days to come and next general elections will be fought on all the issues covered in this article including and most importantly political corruption.

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