By Prarthana Mitra
Economist and former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Friday issued a scathing criticism of the NDA’s government’s policies, pertaining to demonetisation, implementation of GST and unfounded employment data. He further clarified that the sorry state of affairs around the country was indictment and evidence enough for the inefficacy of the BJP-led government, which is trying to stage a return for a second term.
Taking on the successor
Singh questioned the accuracy and methodology of collecting the data on jobs, which the BJP-led NDA government is basing its successes on. “People are not impressed with the figures that are being put out by the Modi government to justify the creation of large number of jobs,” he said, pointing to the discrepancy in the figures put out by the government, and the opposite reality project by the labour market.
“Nothing concrete has been done to bring back the promised billions of dollars allegedly held abroad as black money,” Singh said, attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet demonetisation drive in 2016. The former PM who has never shied from lampooning the ill-conceived project, calls it “not concrete” this time, just within weeks of Reserve Bank of India’s report claiming over 99% of the banned cash has returned to the system.
He has also severely criticised the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the past. These “coercive steps” cost the nation hugely and broke the backs of businesses, he said last year. On Friday, he blamed the government again, for the “bad implementation” which has disrupted and hurt small businesses in the country heavily.
“Programmes like Make in India and Stand Up India are yet to make a meaningful impact on industrial production growth,” Singh said, adding, “Small and marginal enterprises are yet to derive significant benefit from the ease of doing business schemes. The hasty implementation of demonetisation and GST has hurt enterprises.”
On the raging issue of decreasing autonomy of college and university boards, Singh attacked the government for curbing dissent and academic freedom, and for failing to address issues relating to a creative use of science and technology for national transformation, saying, “The environment in our universities is being vitiated.”
“Our neighbourhood is far less secure than it was in 2014. Our relations with neighbours have deteriorated in the last four years,” he said, with reference of foreign policies with Bangladesh, China, and Pakistan. They all constitute “a powerful indictment of the Modi government’s performance,” Singh concluded, with a call for a meaningful national debate on various issues plaguing the nation.
Obama talks about the dangers of rising nationalism too
On the same day in Illinois, former United States President Barack Obama delivered a rousing keynote address at the state university, criticising everyone from Trump to those who have fanned the resentment that politicians today are capitalising on. This is the first time he named the 45th president by name in a public speech and comes right before the crucial midterm elections, and during a turbulent, rather unprecedented point in the history of US politics.
Speaking on an issue close to home, Obama spoke of the growing culture of militant and racial supremacy in America, which finds expression in lynching and caste-based violence in our own country. Singh’s statement on the role of dissent is important because the BJP has lately shown unreserved antipathy for any opposition to its Hindutva ideologies, either by jailing activists or by targeting free media and cartoonists.
Both speeches, made by previous heads of state, on the current trend of growing right-wing fervour in both countries, make for urgent cases on the plight of democracy, before both nations go to vote.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.