Riding on a hobby horse
Apropos of the Corridors of Power column “Strong PM, weak PMO” (FE, November 25), one of the primary factors that has induced a palpable drift in the government could be traced to BJP’s visceral dislike of the UPA, and its singular fixation on a Congress-mukt Bharat. Having deliberately cold-shouldered Aadhaar, it soon realised its folly to then pursue it with doubled vigour. Welfare schemes were first sneered at as being the machinations of the left-wing coterie in the erstwhile NAC, but then without having alternative plans to combat rural want, only to resurrect them under new cover titles. It was infra dig for the BJP, to address the ongoing UPA schemes by tuning up institutional delivery mechanisms. But then the BJP never had much fascination for institutions. The dismantling of the Planning Commission was part of that mindset. Its pretender, the NITI Aayog, has remained dormant after cutting the ribbon. As were interfering in the IITs/IIMs, tilting at the judiciary or at the elected Delhi government. The stamp of an ascendant bureaucracy is apparent. In all this the PMO has too many irons in the fire to control disparate approaches by a vast babudom, that on retrospective tax alone, had managed to put external investments in a bind. A larger-than-life PM dwarfs the role of central ministers in figuring out and setting long perspectives on vital segments of socio-economic policies. The BJP is out to learn the hard way. But that is so incongruous in a nation that has little option but to rapidly chase inclusive growth.
The column “The world is not ready for Gross National Happiness” (FE, November 24) by Noah Smith is an interesting read. It is a complex task to technically define a happy person, and more so defining a happy society. Indeed, happiness differs from society to society and from individual to individual. Even the degree of economic development is not a criteria for happy society. For example, the high suicide rate in Kerala—which is considered as a progressive state with high per capita income—reflects the unhappiness scenario. On the other hand, Bihar—with a very high poverty rate—has ranked among the lowest as far as suicide rates in India are concerned. The author rightly points out that a new way of identifying and measuring happiness is needed to shape the future society.
Central Leather Research Institute, Chennai