Sunday, March 3, 2013


The budget 2013 has been announced. The treasury benches have gone gaga over the provisions contained in the budget with comments which appear to have been rehearsed over and over again much before the actual event. Similarly the opposition has also not lagged behind in going ahead with totally rehearsed  comments describing the whole effort as an exercise in futility. So far so good, both are going ahead with the 'religion (dharma ) of politics' and expecting them to imbibe 'religion of concern for the country and its hapless masses' is perhaps asking for a little too much as they are self centered, power hungry conceited individuals who will not even wink or sneeze until it promises them votes and subsequent power.
In the light of all this publicly recognition of high inflation rate, high current account and fiscal deficits by the polity as the major stumbling blocks in India's march to prosperity and the immediate need to address these persisting problems seem to be the only worth mentioning aspect of the budget. Why these have been allowed to grow to these menacing levels and what were the factors responsible for this is nobody's concern? However conceding the inefficacy of monetary measures on the part of Reserve Bank of India  alone in tackling high inflation has prompted the ruling polity to accept the need to improve the supply side of food articles and other goods. This along with measures to reduce oil subsidies, making Aadhar based payments for many of the social welfare schemes to check bogus beneficiaries and allied thefts is a welcome step towards addressing the ground realities of Indian economic health. Similarly allocations for skill improvement of blue collar workers, medical needs of the poor and announcements on Mumbai-Delhi, Mumbai-Bangalore and Bangalore-Chennai industrial corridors are some other noteworthy steps which will go a long way in Indian growth story. But has India recognized the fact that it has failed to deliver prosperity to its citizenry not because big ticket announcements were not made earlier but because of lack of governance/ governance deficit which has been plaguing the nation for the last few decades.In fact Indian government is a government sans governance and unless or until Indian governments manage to shrug off this tag, any effort from the budget or policy will go poorly rewarded. India's thrust on power failed to kick off because of scam in allocation of coal fields, impediments in augmenting the production of coal because of environmental concerns. Similarly building up of road infrastructure with a promised 20 Kilometers per day  finally ended up with 700 odd Kilometers in the first nine months of the current financial year because of land acquisition problems. These two along with innumerable other examples are perfect examples of governance deficit and lack of vision, foresight and far sight.
No two men can have the same set of priorities for achieving a given goal and the UPA II and the finance minister are entitled to their line of action. Similarly a politician must look into the political value of his actions particularly when the elections are due next year. So we cannot blame the finance minister of having concentrated on three pillars of Indian vote banks i.e. poor, women and youth till such time he has not given any extraneous doles to them. We must laud his efforts of doing all this in a constructive manner though in a  small manner along with seeing to to it that Indian rating in the eyes of foreign investors does not suffer.
However, one cannot help but wishing for the following big value additive programs for a speedy march to prosperity.

  • Blueprint for bringing in a vast majority of workers into the lap of organised sector as fast as possible.
  • River linking program with rural employment guarantee (NREGA) to mitigate the ruinous effects of floods, droughts etc., taking care of depleting water table and contributing to cheap transportation system based on waterways.
  • Blue print for energy security based on a promise to have up to 90% from renewable energy sources in the coming decade and a half.
  • Effective steps to fight and mitigate the menace of corruption and black money.
  • A comprehensive road map for cutting down the three main subsidies i.e. food, fertilizers and petroleum linked up with per capita income growth.