Rising above the din
The Congress happily seems to have regained its voice, lost during the tenure of the UPA-II, rather too late. It has brought out a “Report card of the Modi govt : 25 U-turns in 180 days”. After being stunned by the CAG’s implausible loss figure, of R1.76 lakh crore, in the 2G scam, the UPA-II did manage to regain its mojo for reforms fast enough to lay out a gamut of them, but what counts more in visceral politics is a loud voice. Unfortunately, the Congress was too shell-shocked by the Modi boom to realise this. Using the party’s imploding silence, the BJP went into a high-decibel campaign drive. It negated every proposal of the UPA, stalled the House and drove the government into frustration. The Congress, despite an enviable bench strength of very able and thinking ministers, lacked that one powerful transmitter that would effectively beam its policies and their positives. Each of these major thrust areas of UPA is now being pursued in earnestness by the BJP. The Congress today, could well claim poetic justice for taking such key initiatives in their watch, but must be ruing that they remained silent when they should have deservingly expounded most on them. The BJP, on the other hand, seems to be seeing too much virtue in talking non-stop, for six months now!
Apropos of the column “India’s two-speed economy”, the author, Dhiraj Nayyar, is only partly correct in holding that poor states are poor because of bad leadership. While bad state-level leadership does indeed impair growth prospects for the likes of the BIMARU, it has to be noted that central leadership also does play its part in the sorry state of such states. While state-specific planning is one of the key requirements for development, the Centre, for as long as the federal structure has existed, has forced centralised development planning down the throats of state governments. There has also been a continued disregard for the industrialisation of resource-rich states and even when there have been efforts it has been through central PSUs. SAIL in Odisha and Jharkhand is one example. Instead of fostering state-PSUs to undertake industrial activity in such states (with emoluments to the Centre), the Centre has relied on its own instruments with its own coffers in mind. The result is a disproportionate distribution of real wealth. Even so, for every Lalu Prasad in Bihar and Janaki Ballabh Pattnaik in Odisha there has been a Nitish Kumar and a Biju Patnaik, respectively. But, despite the latter’s best efforts, there has been precious little to show because the states have been retarded by central policies which ironically were designed with the intent of helping them. And as for the McKinsey report Nayyar cites, such reports have never presented a holistic picture as they are designed to push an agenda suited to corporate interests, not state or national interests.
Get parking space to buy car
Apropos of your edit “Park it” (December 1), there is definitely a logic to asking for proof of parking space for a car purchase. As it is, cities like Delhi and Mumbai are running out of parking space while the number of cars keeps increasing. Car-buyers must rent (even in public parking facilities) or create parking space as a mandatory condition for making the purchase.
Prahlad Bhasin, Mumbai
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