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India’s Economic Independence Under Threat

Three reports of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India were placed on the table of the parliament today. They reveal big stories of corruption of the Government of India under the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.The Coal scam relates to the Ministry of Coal, which was under the direct charge of the Prime Minister for three years. It surpasses the earlier historic case of corruption in the allocation of 2 G licences by another 100 million rupees. All the scams of the past 8 years of the Manmohan Singh government total a few trillion of rupees. That should jolt any person of slightest integrity. The government in India does not act unless compelled by the courts. Why did these scams happen in the first place?

The answer lies in a systematic agenda to ruin the economic independence of India. From our national policy of “self-reliance”, we are being systematically converted into simply a market for the goods of other countries. We had built a few giant industrial units in the government sector. They are known as Public Sector Undertakings (PSU). These industries needed huge capital investments, which the private sector was not in a position to arrange in the decades of the 1950s or 1960s. The scale of technology, infrastructure, machines and man power etc needed direct government funding. It goes to the credit of India that she was successful in creating a very impressive chain of industrial undertakings in the public sector. If India is counted as a potential candidate for joining the club of the economic super powers, it is basically because of the achievements of the PSUs. Their growth spurred private initiative and investment. The two together have put India on the industrial map of  the world. As happens in life, this success excited hostile attitudes of many countries, who never wanted India to become an industrialized country or an economic super power. Under the influence of the international agencies, the government of India  started  “disinvestment” in the PSUs in the past 12 years. The PSUs were fully financed government entities, with the President of India holding 100% equity. So the governments started divesting their shareholding and infusing public equity by way of going to the stock market. Uptil that stage there was no threat to the existence of these PSUs. But the formation of the UPA-I (United Progressive Alliance), under the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched a devious programme to make these undertakings loss making or defunct. The first assault was on the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam and the Bharat Sanchar MNigam, the two state undertakings in the telephone sector. These were harmed  only to help private companies make windfall profits. While these units have suffered, the scandal has caused serious problems to the minister concerned and other authorities. This technique was first adopted earlier when the Reliance was granted licences for manufacture of polyster fabric. At that time it was argued that the man-made fibre would be cheap and available in plenty to clothe the huge Indian population. The programme directly hit the cloth mills, especially those under the government control  in the name of the NTC (National Textile Corporation). Indira Gandhi became an instant national leader by nationalizing textile mills and banks. The NTC has been a scandal of its own kind till today: it neither makes profit nor de-nationalizes! But Indian Airlines & Air India have been destroyed only to promote private airlines. The deliberate policy of the UPA government to destroy and give away for a pittance all valuable national assets falls in the category of threat to economic independence of India. Besides the CAG report on allocation of coal blocks causing an estimated loss to the public exchequer to the tune of Rupees 1,86000 crores, surpassing the 2 G scandal figure of 1,76000 crores, the biggest so far, the other report is on losses caused to the Indian Airlines/Air India running into another more than 100000 crore of rupees. These horror stories should have got the culprits the maximum exemplary punishment, but they are smirking about it most arrogantly.

The CAG is the national auditor of accounts of the government, a constitutional office,whose report is taken seriously by the government. But ever since the CAG reports exposed the grave corruption activities and  losses to the exchequer, the government has adopted a hostile attitude towards the institution. The UPA I & II have scored the highest rankings in corruption in India- such scales of corruption were never logged before the UPA government nor shall ever be after them. The situation is so bad that the Chairman & Managing Director of the Indian Airlines and Air India had written to the Cabinet Secretary in 2005 about the deliberate attempts of his superior officers and minister to cause losses to the two companies. Fearing threat to his life & security of his family, he had requested the Cabinet Secretary to ensure that the contents of his letter were seen only by the Prime Minister and none else. This letter has become public only today the 17th August 2012. The Cabinet Secretary is the highest ranking civil servant in India. His juniors look to him for protection, guidance and advice. There used to be Cabinet Secretaries who could fearlessly tell the Prime Minister if anything wrong was being done by any minister or even the Prime Minister. What is the position today? The Cabinet Secretary is no more than a “Barra Babu/Head Clerk”. The office of the Cabinet Secretary, an institution in public administration, has been damaged for ever. Today the incumbent is happy if he can use the designation on his business card after retirement. When independence is threatened, it starts with systemic destruction of the institutions and infrastructure.

Destruction of MTNL, BSNL, Air India, Indian Airlines etc are examples for illustrating the point. Other PSUs are suffering the same fate. Damage to the steel frame of public administration has achieved more than all these scams worth a few zillions of rupees could ever do. The watchmen, the guards, the protectors of public interest have been effectively neutralized. They don’t get promoted or posted on merit, but for compromises made before actual orders are passed. Expecting such bureaucrats to take an honest stand on issues like 2G or coal blocks allotment or mining licences etc is futile. So is the expectation of protection, guidance or advice. They don’t protect any more, for advice they make you vice and asking for guidance from them is requesting to be misguided. Each bureaucrat looks after his own personal interests, as the institution called bureaucracy stands damaged irreparably and subdued for ever. It is essential to destroy the dreams of economic independence, because all resistance emanates from bureaucrats, because they are educated, well trained and experienced people. They apply their mind. That exactly is what corruption never tolerates. It likes bureaucrats who simply sign on dotted lines. Officers showing a spine are set right in no time by suspension(which is not punishment under service rules), APO (Awaiting Posting Order), compulsory wait and leave. In their place pliable officers are posted, who are practice corruption in day to day public service delivery in every agency of the government. It was for this reason that the Anna Hazare led movement against corruption in India found such public support.

Bureaucracy is one casualty, but the political institution called parliament and legislative assembly has also been damaged. The members of these legislatures are perceived to be corrupt. Many of them are real criminals. Many have unaccounted wealth. Ministers are generally corrupt. They cause scandals of the notoriety of 2G, S Band, Adarsh, Defence Lands, Railways, Highways, Airlines, Telephones, Coal, minerals,trade and commerce. Such is the loss of trust between the politicians and the public, that the institution called the legislature stands compromised greatly.  The trust deficit results in governance deficit, which spawns corruption and leads to public paroxysm. That is what India is afflicted with today. All thanks to the UPA government.

Actually, the UPA has two governments. Two Prime Ministers. A shadow government and a real government. A de facto Prime Minister and a de jure Prime Minister. It is neither sanctioned by the constitution of India nor by any other law on the subject. The Prime Minister appears in news papers as number two . All photographs of the Prime Minister in government advertisements are shorty by a few millimeter in size compared to another figure on whose left the PM photo appears. As if to highlight the size and thus silently convey the Prime Minister’s position, his junior minister’s photograph is visibly smaller in size. Such inappropriate depiction of the Prime Minister of India is a bold declaration of the damage of an institution called the government & the prime minister and a  direct threat to the economic independence of India.

There is something more to damage the economic interests of a country. Destruction of its agriculture can make it subservient in no time. The Green Revolution needs to be tamed. GM crops are meant to do exactly that. In spite of complaints from farmers and state authorities, field trials of GM crops are going on even outside the earmarked areas. Indian agriculture is facing tribulations because of mismanagement and meagre investment. The farmer is not receiving the desired support. On top of that GM crops threaten to destroy crops and crop patterns. The government has betrayed lack of leadership on this front. If Indian agriculture suffers for more than two consecutive seasons, Indian economy can crash.

Added to these institutional damage is the deliberate attempt at social destabilization. The Indian society stands terribly divided today as never before. Politicians might talk of national unity and integrity, but this government has deliberately divided the country socially. Building unity and integrity in such diversity will be next to impossible. Consequently, the electoral verdict is bound to be fractured repeatedly irrespective of the ubiquitous corruption. The government in such a situation takes recourse to mass bribing of the electorate by distributing freebies like laptops, colour TV or food processor etc or food grains at nominal price. Such tactics make the workforce lazy and dependent on government doles. The independence of such a society is difficult to preserve. Corrupt governments exploit such situations by privatizing most public services like hospitals, schools, colleges and professional institutions, all in the name of enhancing resources for funding doles. It is worse than the vicious debt cycle. Government doesn’t pay anything out of its pocket or by printing currency notes. It increases taxes, leading to inflation and corruption. In the process governance gets reduced to negligible and economic independence gets compromised for good.

The daily  count of scandals in India is corruption that is unmatched. Even corruption will be ashamed to call it corruption. It is Economic Aggression on India. Damage to government, bureaucracy, agriculture, parliament, political  institutions and social institutions threaten economic independence of India. The zeal of this government in pushing the FDI in multi-brand retail is a direct assault on India’s economic independence. The economists ruling the country for the past 8 years are pursuing the agenda of multinational entities, including international institutions, who know nothing about real India and remain under the illusion that they can make a success of it through their votaries in India. They shall fail. Economic relations with India can be established on the basis of equality and mutual benefit only.

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