Ruling Party avoids debate on economic issues

The Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is at war with official agencies  as far as economy of the country is concerned as both do not agree on numbers and the result is either Government challenges them or buries the reports. In case the agencies point out that that demonetisation  led to large scale unemployment  and closure of units, the Government claims  that  GDP growth was highest in that year.

If the economists say that  Unemployment  has touched record number, the Government spokesman claim that  numbers  point out otherwise like creation of jobs in large numbers. The dispute goes on like change of base year for calculating  GDP numbers. The two Reserve Bank Governors left because they did not agree with move to demonetise high value currency notes.

The same story goes on for agriculture  where the Government claims that farmers are getting the highest  price for their  produce  while farmers claim that they  are selling the same much below  the procurement price fixed  by the Government  to private traders  because machinery for procurement has  not been put in place. The story is endless sugar cane  farmers are  not being paid . As such we are witnessing agitation  by farmers who has been forced to knock at the doors of rulers or commit suicides in drought prone areas in different  states .

The ruling party  is avoiding any debate on economic issues like distress in agriculture  in rural areas or lack of jobs  in urban areas. The result is that  many communities who were well off in past because they owned  agricultural land are now  agitating for reservation  of jobs quota to overcome  distress. Prime Minister and other leaders are speaking about  temple in Ayodhya, statues of other heroes to be built at cost of hundreds of crores, Pulwama attack or on the ownership of title Chowkidar.

In such a situation there is no time for widespread d malnutrition in the country insurgency in parts of North East, Naxal affected area and Jammu and Kashmir. In case of Jammu and Kashmir E.C has decided to close its eyes  as the state held  Panchayat elections and will hold elections to Lok Sabha but can not hold elections for Sate Assembly. It is unfortunate  that in a country which lacks basic health facilities and drinking water there is no debate on these issues relating to life

Long ago the theme in general was that polls are fought on issues of  roads, water, education and health. Instead we are now contesting on the issue of who is a nationalist, saving cows, temple and caste. We are also in a phase even  if you can loose in polls you can  make the number by inducing the members from opposition  by offering them berths in Ministry  or other inducements. The best example of it is  Goa, a small State  which elects two members only  for Lok Sabha  has one Chief Minister, two Deputy Chief Ministers  and all members of ruling party hold some office .

It is unfortunate that in a country we have  issues dozens of issues relating to life  and health of people  we are allowing leaders to debate  on emotional issues diverting attention from economic issue. At a time when the world is  facing depression Indian public is being fed  with doubtful  numbers. It is for the first time that the Government has been accused of either  hiding  numbers  which show poor health of economy  or disputing them.

At best it is a war between  academics and civil servants  which is creating a situation where the numbers put across on various subjects by official agencies of India  will not be believed as was the case with many communist countries. To hide numbers  or to dress them up  only leads to fooling our self for which a heavy price has to be paid as was the case with countries like  Russia.

India did adopt the model of Planning Commission  like Communist countries , but its numbers put across by professional bodies were never in doubt. There is need to find out why Reserve Bank of India could not come out with numbers after  demonetisation of high value currency notes  or the growth of NPA with nationalised banks in last four years. In a democracy there is need to be transparent  and not to bury the figures or hide them.

 

(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)