Divided nation suffers from economic distress

By Brij Bhardwaj. Dated: 9/23/2019 2:05:04 AM

October two, Gandhi Jayanti, anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, father of nation, will be observed by both who claim to be nationalists and parties in opposition who are dubbed as anti-national. They include those who question government policies, secularists and left leaning politicians.
For the first time after getting the budget approved within few months, the Government has undertaken large scale cutting down of taxes and other changes in the regulations. It shows that Government has accepted the fact that economy is in crisis and needs major changes to revive it. The combined impact of demonetisation, hasty implementation of GST and China United States trade war has hurt us very badly. One hopes that with current steps consumer confidence will be revived and present slow down will end.
There are no differences as far as Mahatma Gandhi is concerned as both sides uphold him as a national idol who worked for freedom of the country. It is different that he sought freedom through a non-violent struggle while others felt an armed struggle could speed up the process of freedom struggle. To the core followers of Mahatma Gandhi means were as important as the ends and at the height of 1942 non-cooperation movement he called off the struggle because of violence in one part of the country.
It is strange that while the world-wide concept of non-violent struggle was described as game changer and adopted in Africa and by colored people in U.S, in India itself doubts have arisen about it. The lathi-wielding followers of RSS have advocated arms training in some cases. They also made distinction between Jawahar Lal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India and Sardar Patel, first Deputy Prime Minister of India. As they felt Sardar did not follow Gandhi totally and was closer to thinking of RSS and BJP.
From this arises the concept of nationalists and anti-nationals. According to Saffron Brigade, the secularists, socialists or left thinking persons are anti-national. I wonder when the present Government will take steps to amend the Constitution to remove expressions like secular and socialist as has been done in case of Article 370 which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. In this form of thinking, public sector role in economic development is being diluted. Many rich companies in public sector are being liquidated.
Companies like Hindustan Aeronautics, BHEL are struggling in the absence of orders, their reserves depleted and denied any advantages as compared to private firms. Another target is defence sector. The work force in this sector is shrinking every day. If the current trend continues after defence, Railways, the largest public sector will come under hammer as its land assets are a great attraction for private sector as was the case in case of Airports Authority of India and ITDC whose hotels were given to private companies at throw away prices.
One wonders how far this program of selling family silver to meet the growing budget deficits will go after land assets the reserves of companies like Life Insurance Corporation of India, Oil and natural Gas Commission are being used to help companies running losses. The result is that Government is not satisfied with dipping into Reserve Bank of India is also making rich public sector companies part with their assets.
The gains which are expected to be used for the benefit of clients and investors is being used to rescue badly managed companies. A stage has come when any voice against the Government is dubbed as anti-national in an attempt to silence it. Such a trend is not only dividing the nation and creating fear in the minds of large section of people. In view of the growing economic distress, lack of jobs and poor GDP growth, attention of people is diverted to emotional issues like temple, and non-Indians flooding the country.
If one were to closely check the rate of growth in our neighbourhood we will find we are falling behind. It will be better if present Government works to tackle economic issues which require careful nursing because of stress world over and trade war between USA and China. India at present needs peace, unity and not division to come out of present crisis, peace implies no lynching or rapes and in case they happen strong action against them.
*(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)
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