Saturday, May 23, 2009

Communists' role in saving Indian economy

Ever since the Communists withdrew their support to the UPA government over Nuclear deal, the Left has received more than it’s share of criticism.

They aren’t given due credit for their role in keeping Congress government in check over the liberalization but are accused of wielding power without responsibility.

However, the positive aspects of the impact of CPI (M)-CPI in the earlier government have been forgotten. In fact, left-bashing is a favourite exercise among several sections.

Left may have suffered a drubbing in the polls and Prakash Karat may seem arrogant but at the same time, they shouldn’t be condemned just for the heck of it.

Ironically, it seems a fashion to find faults with the Leftists without realizing that they did play an important part in the early years of coalition, in saving Indian economy that might have collapsed during the global financial crisis.

A senior journalist, who doesn’t want to be identified, and prefers to be called ‘Pandit Ji’ has sent me a note on the role of the Left. Incidentally, he has not been a communist sympathizer and was more pro-capitalism. In this context, what he writes is more important. Pandit Ji writes:

Manmohan Singh and his blue-eyed boys in his government love to take credit for
saving India, and particularly, our strong PSU banks from going American banks
way. The reality is that those who understood economics and finance well, tried
to embrace the superficially attractive yet dangerous Uncle Sam’s model of

Thank your stars and Communists, who stonewalled Uncle
Sam-struck so-called experts attempts. These so-called experts mouthed the
importance of American private banks style of functioning and the sweet fruits
the US is picking from it. Well, the sweets fruits are there for all of us to

Imagine the situation if it had become the reality. If Manmohans
team of economists had its way, the PSU banks hard-earned assets would have
eroded. Getting two square meals is still a big luxury for close to half of the
population in this country.

There was time, when they were holding forth
on reducing government’s share in these banks. Perhaps none of them realised
that the tide would turn so quickly, proving them wide off mark in their
prognosis of malady afflicting our economy…

Pandit Ji has made a lot of other valid observations. It’s true that Left is unable to market itself and it has it’s own problems but the Congress must learn its lessons well. However, it was shocking to see a couple of newspapers that are also reeling under the impact of meltdown, lobbying for Montek Singh Ahluwalia to be the Finance Minister.

Ahluwalia may be a brilliant person and an economist but his World Bank vision couldn’t have saved India. What we need is reforms with a humane face and pro-people policies. Pampering India Inc alone won’t work in this nation where hundreds of millions are still below poverty line.

I was most relieved after the oath taking ceremony. Pranab Mukherjee has lately travelled far and wide in his constituency Jangipur and saved lakhs of bidi workers' jobs. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi seems to have realized that what works in US doesn’t exactly work the same way in India.

Blame Lalu Prasad Yadav for all the ills that plague Bihar. But imagine what would have happened in this poor country had the railway been privatised and sold, which was almost becoming a reality before Lalu. In this poor country it would have dealt a huge blow to 75% of population.

Left was dead against it. And those who are aware of the great Indian railways works, it is well-known that only a state-run organisation can keep it going. The huge workforce that is responsible for safety of millions of passengers every day, is no joke. The chain of command, responsibility and the unique hierarchy is only possible in the government-run behemoth.

However, Congress shouldn’t get arrogant after the landslide victory and must keep in mind that left and its allies have had a role in policies that led to its victory. Go to any village and you will find that every villager talks about job cards.

They may not get the entire wage. But yes, NREGS, has made a difference. It is one of the most unique schemes in the world and may be it brought a turnaround. Congress should try to be more pro-people. It shouldn't forget that it was basically the pressure of Left that led to the implementation of NREGS, the RTI or the Tribal Forests Right Act and other pro-people schemes.

But does BJP have any plan to think for the welfare of the common man? If they really want to fight the Congress, they must devise a work plan and start from the grassroots to ensure that the citizens get benefited—either in the form of employment, health, financial security or other basic needs.

What about a strong anti-corruption and anti-bribe campaign? BJP does have millions of workers and sympathisers and if it launches such a drive, that will help it and the citizens equally.