Monday, 19 August 2013

A Greek Tragedy In India

What is the difference between a mistake and a crime?

A mistake is when your office, hoodwinks you to sell spectrum at throwaway prices. A crime is when you know a mistake has been committed and compound it by removing the evidence (read the coalgate files). A mistake can be condoned by an apology, but a crime must call for a befitting punishment.

 For UPA, spectrum allocation can be called a mistake (a crime by an ally), but coalgate is surely an offence and the jury of the public shall announce the verdict within 200 days, when they cast a vote during the next general elections.

The Prime Minister would be feeling like the hero of a greek tragedy (like Oedipus and Antigone). All his actions that he did as a Finance Minister, and which made him famous are being undone by his own inaction. He pulled India from the brink of bankruptcy, by the steps that increased the dollar inflows and the investor confidence into the economy.

On the other hand, the government’s inaction has led the rupee into a comatose state. When India achieved independence, a rupee was worth a dollar. Today after 66 years, a dollar is worth 63 rupees. The poetic justice does not end here. In fact, the statistics on the table are chilling. The current fiscal deficit is close to $175 billion and counting. The RBI has about 7 months of foreign exchange to cover our imports, after which we may have to go to the IMF with a begging bowl.

The government has alibis but no solutions. In fact, it is selling dreams by making outrageous plans like food security bill. Somebody has to explain (Raghuram Rajan can be a good choice) that food security cannot come by making beggars out of hard working men.

The dreams of future have to be paid in the hard cash of reality. The poor, for whom UPA made schemes like MGNREGA, are at the receiving end of inflation. They may not understand current account deficit (CAD), but surely understand that the prices of goods are just not going down. The prices are up when there is a drought, but even a good current monsoon cannot make the prices go south. That is precisely their translation of the government’s economic record.

History suggests that change and economic lapse have a symbiotic relationship. Leon Trotsky suggested that people do not change governments, and consequently their lives, when they found an alternative; they did so when they were fed up. It is a season of revolutions across the world; I hope if there is one in India, it is one that is bought by a ballot and not by the bullet.

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