The third round of NDA-2 Cabinet reshuffle may be PM Narendra Modi’s instrument of last resort to aborting the Tsunami of popular discontent triggered by his disruptive economic policies. Forget about the core issue of reforming governance and administration. Gone are those days and gone are those promises. New timelines of 2022 and 2032 are being presented to make people believe that they are on the verge of digging gold.
One look at the new Cabinet makes it absolutely clear that there is no fiery red dawn in the horizon.
Who is there in the new cabinet who can keep NDA-2 poll promises to the farmers, the unemployed, the old and the needy, and the armed forces which, according to successive C&AG reports from 2013 onwards, are dangerously short of war wastage reserves – they can’t fight an intense war even for 10 days?
Since there is none in the new Cabinet responsible to implement those promises, NaMo will have to take the blame as he has taken the credit for everything.
Two years in politics is a short period. So NDA-2 has scrambled to refurbish its image. But the Cabinet expansion looks like too little and too late.
The NaMo model of economic growth has been essentially based on the following linchpins: increased infrastructure spending, lower international crude prices, disruptive measures to hit market prices of essential food items, Messianic intervention in the traditional cattle market, and chasing FDI and foreign capital to keep the stock markets on steroid. And this model has been failing.
The thunderous UP assembly victory might have made the government look unassailable for a short time, but the Golden Law of Karma, from which the Law of Diminishing Return is derivated, is such that it spares no one.
The first quarter GDP growth rate of 5.7 percent is the first manifestation of the gathering storm; it was lower than the past 30 years average of 6 percent. If public spending is excluded, growth in QIFY18 is estimated at 4 percent. Export growth was demoralizing and industrial growth hit the pit – the lowest in five years. For FY18, the government has already run through 93 percent of its budgeted fiscal deficit. Though no empirical study is available on employment elasticity – which is a measure of how employment varies with economic output, reports of trimming of human resources in industry and deceleration in GDP growth rate clearly indicate that both visible and disguised unemployment has been rising for the past three years of the NaMo regime.
There is chaos in agriculture. In the first year of its rise to power, the NaMo administration hit the farmers where it hurt: urea was not imported in time for the Rabi crops; and to add insult to injury, MRP for Rabi crops were left stagnating and states were advised against paying bonuses to farmers for their produce. The result was extreme fluctuation in the prices of wheat, dal, and rice. Further, after asking the farmers to increase Dal production, the continuation of old mechanism to ensure control of Dal prices triggered a crash in Dal prices when the supplies improved from the Kharif 2016. As is well known, riots broke out in MP and other states. Similarly, this year, Rabi onion prices crashed.
As if betraying farmers on the price issue of various crops was not enough, great BJP- Sangh administrators zealously intervened in the traditional cattle market to protect the Dharma from the sins of cow slaughter. And the result was a knockout blow to farmers’ income in certain states and to the people who made a living by cattle trade. Thus, a greater sin was committed to preventing a smaller sin. The Sanatan philosophy, as encapsulated in Bhagwad Gita along with various classical tales, clearly enlightens the Hindus about when Dharma becomes Adharma and vice versa. Wasn’t it an act of Dharma when Arjun killed a defenseless Karna? Wasn’t it Adharma when Prithviraj Chauhan spared the life of Muhammad of Ghor?
The greatest travesty that the NaMo administration has perpetuated like its corrupt predecessors is that even as farmers’ incomes are steadily falling, incomes of companies engaged in the production of agricultural seeds and fertilisers, as also of those (mostly political leaders of Lalu Yadav’s variety) who claim IT exemption for agricultural income, have been steadily rising.
On balance, overall governance, in spite of the successful implementation of PMJDY, several road-building projects, and liberalization in foreign and domestic investment procedures, remains in huge deficit. One example may be sufficient to prove the direness of the situation. Media reported last week that the MoD, on the ground of a single vendor situation, once again declined to award the contract for life-saving basic infantry weapons for the Armed Forces. This was done at a time when the threat of a Chinese full-scale assault wasn’t ruled out. So where does the buck stop in the MoD in this case – at the JS(X) table, departmental secretary, or the RM? Or the PMO, or the PM himself?
Since the Law of Karma has its own dynamics (which are very difficult to factor in), let’s wait for what befalls the NDA-2 in 2018 assembly elections of several states and 2019 national election.
(By M K Shukla & Rakesh Ranjan)