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India: GOODBYE TO 2014

, December 31, 2014, 0 Comments

india economy goodbye 2014-MarketExpress-inThe year 2014 was notable as the election year when the BJP government came to power at the centre with a clear majority. Expectations about a Modi government had sky rocketed soon after the government came to power. As people watch the performance of the government they are gradually toning down their expectations towards more realistic levels.

On the economic front the people expected the government to bring back home black money stacked abroad, revive growth rates in the economy, bring down the rate of inflation, kick start infrastructure investment and so on. Of these four goals the government has been able to fulfill expectations only with respect to bringing down the rate of inflation. The other three goals are still well beyond the reach of the government. In the matter of bringing down inflation the success of the government was more due to its good fortune (international oil prices having come down by almost half) than due to measures taken by it.

Initially people expected efforts of the government to start showing results within 100 days. When this didn’t happen supporters justified the government’s efforts saying that that the government didn’t want to introduce big bang reforms but was following an incremental approach. When results were not produced in the first 100 days people extended their expectations threshold to 6 months. Now people are waiting for the general budget of 2015 when they expect significant reform measures will be launched by the government.

The decline in international crude oil price was a great bonanza for the government. It not only brought down the level of prices of key commodities but was also beneficial in tackling the level of subsidies and also helps in bringing down the levels of the fiscal deficit and the current account deficit.

The government is working on a fiscal deficit target of 4.1 per cent of GDP. This is also the deficit set for it by the previous government. Revenue earnings from taxes have not been as buoyant as the government would have wanted it to be. There has been savings on account of petroleum subsidies. But in any other respect the government is not in a position to be much happy about. Perhaps as happened during the time of the previous government the target of fiscal deficit can be achieved only through expenditure compression measures.

The government has been all along expecting a rebound in economic growth rates. But any improvement in growth rate has so far eluded the government. The latest indication in growth rates of the IIP and the manufacturing sector in particular has been dismal. There is also no indication of a pick-up in industrial or capital investment so far.

While the government’s efforts on the economic front are yet to bear fruit its mis-adventures on the political front has brought it a great deal of discredit. The leadership of the BJP has been totally unable to exercise any control over the fringe elements in the party. Yogi Adityanath made anti-Muslim remarks in parliament. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti described non Hindus as illegitimate. There is a move to glorify the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi as a patriot. The BJP does not issue any statement condemning or supporting these moves.

The HRD minister of BJP has proved to be a disaster. Her appointment had itself come as a controversy with respect to her academic qualifications. Time and again she had done something or the other which invites controversy bringing in allegations that she is undermining academic freedom and autonomy of respected educational institutions. Whether it is controversy over serving non-vegetarian food in IIT canteens or issue of promoting Sanskrit at the cost of German she has always been in the news for the wrong reasons.

There is nothing wrong in religious conversions as such. Freedom to choose or change ones religion is a fundamental right of every citizen. There is nothing wrong in conversions so long as it is voluntary and not a forced conversion. Mass conversions as is now being carried out by certain fringe elements of BJP are more likely to be falling under the realm of forced conversions. Yet the PM fails to make a statement on the subject in Rajya Sabha when so demanded by the opposition parties and this led to boycott of proceedings in Parliament.

Does the failure of the PM to make a statement in Parliament on this key issue, point to the fact that he is in support of the conversion drive being carried out by the BJP fringe elements? While there is a move to cleanse the countryside and towns and cities of waste and garbage a new type of garbage is being added to our social fabric which will destroy communal harmony.

2014 was a volatile year for India. It started with abusive politics in our election campaigns. The communal temperature had run uncomfortably high during our election campaigns. Then came the election results with a clear mandate.

One would have expected the victorious party to calm down political temperature and promote communal peace. The reverse seems to be happening. New communal flames are being lit and functioning of Parliament is being disrupted. Let us condemn the wrong doings of 2014 and hope for a better 2015.