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This is what stops India from being global leader!

Last updated on: March 8, 2011 08:53 IST

This is what stops India from being global leader!

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Sitaram Yechury


Excerpt from the speech of Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member and leader of parliamentary party, Sitaram Yechury, in Rajya Sabha on February 23, while participating in the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address.


The third priority the President says is, 'to sustain the momentum of economic growth, while ensuring that the poor, the weak and the disadvantaged get a fresh air.'

Now, this is actually becoming a joke that the weak and the disadvantaged will get fresh air. Okay, there is a sense of pride that we are rubbing shoulders with the G-20 in the world and having dinner with those mighty Presidents.

But what is happening at the ground level? Isn't it shameful, today, according to the Third National Family Health Survey, 38.4 per cent of our children under three years are stunted -- too short for their age -- 46 per cent are too thin for their age, 79.2 per cent of our children under three years are anaemic?

This is our country's future. And, among the pregnant women, anaemia has increased from 50 per cent to 58 per cent during the last two years.

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Image: CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury.
Photographs: Reuters
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Today, there is a sense of pride when the people say that the second language in the Silicon Valley happens to be my mother tongue -- Telugu.

There is not a single laboratory in the world today, where the highest level of research is going on, where you do not find an Indian. It is a sense of pride.

But when is it happening? It is happening only when 9 per cent of my country's youth are able to enter higher education today. If you increase this to 30 per cent, who can stop India from leading the knowledge society in the world.

If anybody is stopping us from being the leaders of the intellectual world today, it is we. We are stopping it ourselves because of our policies.

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Photographs: Reuters
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If you stop siphoning off this money and instead use it to provide food security, to provide education for our youth, then, India's true potential can be achieved. And, that is where we want this government to think about corruption, not in terms of moral issues.

As far as the issue of economic growth is concerned, can we not, today, achieve the potential that I was talking about? "Because of the lack of the resources that we have" is what the government of India often says.

But, in the last year's Budget papers, there is a document called, 'Statement of Revenue Foregone'. This informs us that Rs 414,099 crore (Rs 4.141 trillion) was the revenue foregone in 2008-09 and in 2009-10, this figure was Rs 502,299 crore (Rs 5.023 trillion). That is, in these two years, you have foregone something to the tune of about Rs 916,399 crore (Rs 9.164 trillion).

It is very difficult even to estimate how much concessions are being given to the rich. For corporate income tax and higher income tax payees, the concession given was Rs 104,000 and odd crore (Rs 1.04 trillion) in 2008-09 and Rs 120,000 and odd crore (Rs 1.20 trillion) in 2009-10.

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Photographs: Reuters
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That is, nearly Rs 225,000 crore (Rs 2.25 trillion) was given as concession to the corporate sector and higher income tax payees in the last two years. These are the figures from (Finance Minister) Pranab Mukherjee's documents; I am not manufacturing these.

But, unfortunately, instead of doing this, what is being suggested by the President of India? To build our infrastructure, she says, 'The governmental revenues alone are not sufficient. So, we will have to go through the 'public-private partnership'.

Now, this is a very fanciful word. Today, all of us are hopeful that the Metro Line to the airport (in New Delhi) will open. But why did it not open before the Commonwealth Games? Why is it that all Metro lines were opened before the Commonwealth Games, expect the airport line? It is because the airport line was the only PPP project of your Metro.

Now you want to emphasise on this 'PPP.' I must say that this 'PPP' is not really 'private participation in public projects', but it is 'private profit making through public funds' and this 'private profit making through public funds' is something that cannot be allowed and that is how you are again creating these avenues for corruption and graft that are emerging out of this crony capitalism.

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Photographs: Reuters
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We are asking the government to take a serious look at this 'PPP'.

So, it is perfectly possible within the very existing framework that we have, for us to have an alternate trajectory.

So what we are urging this government now is this. What priority the President of India has pointed out in her address, that priority can be achieved if this government changes its policy direction. Instead of providing concessions to the rich, collect the legitimate money from the rich.

I am not saying, 'increase the tax rates'. I am not saying, 'impose greater burdens'. I am only saying, 'collect the legitimate amount and utilise it through public investments to create our infrastructure and provide a better life for our youth.'


Photographs: Reuters
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