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'Crores spent on populist schemes hits the economy'

Last updated on: September 02, 2013 18:12 IST

Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters Sudhir Bisht

In a veiled reference to various populist schemes of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, “When crores are spent not on asset creation but on populist schemes, it disturbs the economy of the country.”

Delivering a lecture on India 2020: Challenges Ahead in New Delhi, Jaitley in his mostly scholarly and non-partisan style spoke about the challenges that India faces today.

Key points

He said that having a vision of 2020 is great but not factoring in the current realities is akin to day dreaming.

The 2014 elections are parliamentary elections but it will have shades of Presidential contest.

Today’s generation wants the Head of Executive to be not just the Leader of his government but also the leader of his party and of the country.
In 2013, the Advisory Bodies (an obvious reference to Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council) with no accountability to the Parliament are imposing their view on the Executive, he said. 

This culture is one of the biggest challenges being faced by India today. I am confident that in 2020, this shall cease to be the case, he added.

Former President Kalam had said that by 2020 India must become a fully developed country and not just remain a developing one. The policy paralysis in the government has impeded the march towards attainment of that objective.

In the last few years, ‘I’ that represents 'India' in BRICS appears to be fading away.

'Crores spent on populist schemes hits the economy'

Image: Shoppers check out products at a shopping mall in Noida.
Photographs: Kamal Kishore/Reuters

Vision of Developed nation

“What’s a developed nation?” Jaitley pondered.

And he said, “A nation where the villages have urban-like facilities is a developed nation”

“Since Independence, India has grown but some parts of India remain extremely backward. The central Indian districts, about 200 of them, that are afflicted by Maoists and Naxal groups have lost out. The North east region too has remains undeveloped. The North-East leg of Golden Quadrilateral that NDA had completed was not supposed to have stopped at Eastern India. It was meant to have gone all the way to Northeast. Unfortunately this wasn’t followed up by the successive governments.”

'Crores spent on populist schemes hits the economy'

Image: A traffic policeman walks past a signage decoration for BRICS Summit.
Photographs: Jason Lee/Reuters

‘I” that represents ‘India’ is BRIC seems to have missed out

“Many economists who coined the term BRIC (Mr. Jaitley didn’t include South Africa to make it BRICS) feel that ‘I’ seems to have lost the plot.”

“The investors, some observers opine, may be looking East wards to countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia for investment. This is because of setbacks like 2G license cancellation where the court was forced to cancel license as the government followed the wrong process of selling 2G licenses in 2008 at the price of 2001. ”

“The courts were right in cancelling the licenses but the foreign investors who thought that they were following a Government process now feel cheated by the faulty process followed by the government which led the Court to order cancellation of their licenses.”

“Even the coal scam has resulted in power plants remaining shut due to non availability of coal at some plants.”

'Crores spent on populist schemes hits the economy'

Image: A traffic policeman walks past a signage decoration for BRICS Summit.
Photographs: Reuters

On corruption and 5 mistakes in recent developments of coal scam

“Last 9 years have been years of wasted opportunity. There is structural problem in governance. The Prime Minister who should have the last word on policy-making isn’t in control. There is the root cause of policy paralysis.”

“Not only policy paralysis, the governance is extremely poor. The coal scam and 2G scams have revealed that 5 mistakes, which the government has committed. I list them as under:”

Fraud on revenue: By selling licenses at a low price

Violation of Law

Contempt of court - By destroying the evidence due to missing file

Breach of privilege - by lying to the parliament

Conflict of interest - By blatantly favouring relatives in some deals

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'Crores spent on populist schemes hits the economy'

Image: Arun Jaitley.
Photographs: Courtesy, Arun Jaitley website.

Why does the government not collaborate with Opposition

“On the issues of national security, terrorism and on some economic issues like the falling rupee, the government and opposition can cooperate but the government is too arrogant to involve the principal opposition.”

Biggest challenges to India 2020

 “When crores are spent not on asset creation but on populist schemes, it disturbs the economy of the country.”

“Corruption in land deals and mineral allocations is hurting the economy. This new facet of corruption is a huge challenge.”

Internal Security

“The menace of terror of Maoists is one of the biggest challenges as we prepare for 2020. Some of the Human Rights’ Groups are nothing but the above ground faces of underground so-called revolutionaries.”

“One of the biggest challenges is the Jehadi modules operating inside India. The recent case of Kistwar where the shops of just one community was burnt down is something that is alarming. The completely changed demographics of some areas in Bengal, Assam and Bihar are reasons for worry. If something untoward happens in Assam, its repercussions are seen in Dongri. This is a huge concern.”

“There is a serious crisis of leadership which is not able to grapple with these challenges. People are very angry and they will vote out the government. The government faces anti-incumbency of two terms”

“Finally the challenge to India is if the world’s largest democracy chooses leadership on the basis of proven ability or India will become a dynastic democracy”

Sudhir Bisht is an author and a freelance writer. He can be contacted at