The specter is hunting Indian ruling classes. That is the specter of no further reforms. This is what crossed my mind while I am gluing to the TV channels on the day the Honorable Prime Minister addressed the nation and the panel discussions that were followed the Address. After carefully following the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Address to the Nation, I felt that in the name of cautioning the people from getting carried away by misinformation campaign, the government itself unleashed such a campaign at the national level. The whole logic of the Prime Minister, well prepared by a team of properly qualified economists, ask us to believe that the rapid growth is required which will increase the government resources and in turn those resources will be spent to embark upon the inclusive growth trajectory. Let me come back point by point. Encouraged by the Prime Minister’s vitriolic, his argumentative cabinet colleagues such as Kapil Sibal and Salman Kursheed, Chidambaram are on the high way gunning for the heads who opposes the recent measures. Now it is clear that the UPA – II came under pressure from domestic and international pressure groups that are self styled ‘ Think Tanks’ which played their role in molding the opinion with in the policy circles who are hesitant to proceed with the reforms with pace. The neo-liberal think tanks asks to believe that unless the government goes for overhauling reforms, the country won’t sustain its course of development and has to face the 1991 like situation or a situation similar to that of European Union nations.
First of all, the so called inclusive growth trajectory which became a campaign slogan for UPA during the 11th Plan failed in showing the desired effect. At the outset, the inclusive trajectory, after considering all the plans to expand the financial markets, products, financialisation of economy, is merely in the direction of expanding the clutches of finance capital on day to day life. Except this there is no other reason in substituting the food subsidy and fertilizer subsidy with the cash transfers. This change necessitates the beneficiaries to get involve themselves with the financial products that will surely circumvent the advantages of being in the net of financial inclusion. Another point also needs to be mentioned here. Since the day when the government adopted market linked pricing mechanism for petroleum products, on number of occasions, the government hiked the prices of petroleum products, at all occasions its argument runs in the similar lines. This is reinforced by the argument extended by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the blue eyed boy of Manmohan Singh. Over the last one year due to such price hikes, government / OMCs scaled up their incomes. Despite that in the last budget, government refused to share these incomes generated in this manner with the public be extending the subsidies. This shows how the government is playing with the notions on subsidy to reassert its class interests and also lso, the attempt to lure the public by saying that all these burdens will in turn comes back to them at a later point of time, would defy the sound logic.
While expressing the willingness to shoulder the responsibility to save out the world from economic crisis, the Prime Minister categorically states, that these steps are necessary in order to restore the confidence of investors, (the sensitized term for the class rule represented by global MNCs in collaboration with indigenous companies that have enhanced their financial influence beyond the boarders) domestic and international. In line with this contention, on Saturday while addressing a conference on Economic Growth in Asia, he attempts to enthuse confidence that, “ As Asian governments, we in the have responsibility to ensure that corporate laws match up to international standards.” He even went on to say, “ the regulation of our stock exchanges comes up to the expectations of global investors and that our banking and financial sectors are examples of both efficiency and stability.” He also eulogizes the fact that but because of his daring initiation of reforms, the Indian companies today are competing with their big brothers across the world to garner the markets. Also he cries foul by saying that unless the government opts for the increasing the prices of petroleum products, the under recoveries will reach to the level of 2 lakh crores. Similarly he extends the argument that all the diesel is being consumed by the rich class which roams around black cobra like sprawling national high ways. On the face of it, it looks that the government is sensitive to the class bias of the diesel subsidies. There is an underlying fault line to this argument and also an attempt to shield the siphoning of much more valuable national treasures by the so called Big Boys in the form of Public Private Partnerships.
Even for a moment, if we accepts that the oil marketing companies are experiencing under recoveries, there is a public utility aspect to that. Let us accept the fact that 2 lakhs crores of income that should come to the oil marketing companies if they opt for market based pricing mechanism with out any subsidy component, all these 2 lakhs crores is being directly apportioned by crores of people who uses the petroleum products such as diesel, kerosene, petrol and LPG in the form of using the public, private transport as well as using the diesel to fuel the pump sets that brings out water from the bore wells. In that sense whole nation is getting benefit from the non-earnings of oil marketing companies. Means in effect, each Indian got benefit of a minimum 2000 rupees. Against this the whole policy establishment is up its ante and cry foul and they won’t subside till the complete elimination of subsidies. In this context Hon’ble Prime Minister is asking the nation “ Where does money come from? It does not grow on trees.”
Now let us consider other avenues of under recoveries. As we know over the last five years since the beginning of the crisis of Global Capitalism, the government extended 5.50 lakh crores concessions “( here the policy makers are careful to replace the term subsidy with concession) to the industrial classes. Another 1.76 lakh crores of under recoveries has been proved by the CAG in case of Telecom scam and another 1.86 lakh crores is lost and can effective termed as under recovery from the Coalgate scam. Adding to this another 29000 crore income is lost which should have been accrued to the government coffers from Ulta Mega Power Projects coal allocation and 24000 from DIAL Airport income sharing mechanism, which adds up to a whopping sum of 9.65 lakh crores of rupees. Except in the case of under recoveries by oil companies, in the remaining all cases the beneficiaries can be head counted and won’t cross more than a 10,000 in numbers in majority cases. Particularly in case of 2G and Coalgate scams the beneficiaries are below 50. Even if we assume that there are hundred beneficiaries per capita benefit handed over to them comes to 8000 crores on an average per beneficiary. Mr. Prime Minister, will you please dare to tell now, “Where would the money for this have come from? Money does not grow on trees.” !!!