Monday, May 12, 2008

Buddhadeb criticizes Governance by Prime Minister

The Congress is used to a sense of getting scolded from the Left parties on a regular note on a frequent basis; after all, the Congress does not want to give up power and is willing to face as many words of threats and scoldings as necessary as long as the Left continues to support them. The Congress has rolled back so many initiatives in the past, that people no longer expect much reform from the Congress anymore - pension reforms, labour reforms, SEZ (to some extent), the strategically important nuclear bill, and so on. And the Congress does not only pander to the wishes of the Left, even an insignificant party such as the PMK can make the PM face censure, and yet is unable to say anything. Hence, even when the AIIMS bill (pushed through by the PMK and passed by the Union Cabinet) is thrown by the Supreme Court, the Health Minister (of the PMK) will face no shame since this was after all a bill of the Government; and it is the Prime Minister who faces censure by the media of bad governance and unable to even control misadvances by his allies.
But even with all this, the criticism by a Left Chief Minister who was once seen as the blue-eyed boy of the Prime Minister must have pinched; and especially when he blames the Government for the inflation levels.
The Government has constantly blamed global factors for the high inflation levels, and it is true that commodity problems are there in the whole world. However, once you start breaking down the various elements of these commodities, then you realize that so many of the problems are due to Government oversight or inability to take decisions:
- Food prices are seen to be a problem worldwide, and India is seen to be getting affected. However, this is contingent on accepting that India cannot grow all the food that it required. This is a statement that should not be accepted. Instead, it must be accepted that this Government has really not taken any concrete steps to increase foodgrain production, instead there has been almost stagnation. The Government has a responsible Minister Sharad Pawar who has a vested interest in the whole subject, and who shows more interest in being the President of a cash-rich cricket board. Hence, the Government, instead of trying to curtail the massive losses of foodgrains from production to the consumption path through trying to ensure more cold storage, a better distribution system, and letting the efficiency of private sector contacts with the farming industry, has instead dashed from one short term solution to another, blaming almost everyone for this current state.
- Oil is seen as a major problem because of high oil prices. India launched great plans to encourage production, but recent reports have indicated that ONGC has failed to make the strikes of oil and natural gas in the areas that they were allocated, and then there was a lot of skirmish between the then Minister and the oil chief, resulting in a decrease in the efficiency in this area. Further, the Government has really not tried to make alternative plans, with almost no focus on incentives for industries to reduce their energy consumption. As to promoting alternate energy policies, there is almost no movement in this regard. Piblic transport, that can reduce oil usage in the transport sector in the cities, is mostly a shame (except for some exception such as the Metro, and the locals in Mumbai).
- Mining. India has immense mining resources, as the states of Jharkand, Orissa and Chhatisgarh have discovered; however, there has been a inordinate amount of discussion and debate (most of it unproductive) about mining policies, and as a result, there has been an inefficient use of these precious resources
One could go and on, but the net result is that the Government has setup committees for most issues as a way to put off the discussions, and as a result, things keep on hanging on and on, and now we see the way that the Government has not been able to plan for eventualities.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:40 AM