Politics and Economics of Budget making

Radhakanta Barik

Chanakya, the ancient Indian thinker taught us to use diplomacy to maintain your relationship with your neighbors but the present government led by Modi has forgotten the lesson that they think that Chanakya as their cultural property by the Hindutva forces. The present regime has forgotten a subject like diplomacy as a part of foreign policy. Their war mongering attitude has made them blinded. Today our relation with Pakistan and China is the worst. We maintain a close relation with America and its close ally Israel for buying arms and ammunition. We are producing missiles but we went to Israel for buying missiles. Foreign policies framed by Modi government is shaping India’s position as an Israel which is surrounded by hostile countries. Israel a small country which gets a major portion of its annual budget financed by American State.  American economy is getting dominated by industrialists belonging to Jews. India’s foreign policy is shaping by politics of privatization of key industries.

Politics has transformed a traditional society with thousands of castes and hundreds of languages into one. Concept of India entered into public imagination in the second half of 19th century. With the construction of railway line across India which brought an integration of a society. Working class got formed as they came from different regions to Bombay, Calcutta and Madras to work together. India having a concept of India in public thinking is the product of working-class politics who protested against injustice and demanded for a higher wage. This is being recognized by Karl Marx in an article New York Times that ‘nobody can stop Indian revolution ' He gave credit to India railways to bring an integration of people of India. This is being recorded in the book Social Background of National movement in India by Prof A R Desai. Prof Desai’s book is being used as a classic in reading history of Indian national movement.  Today the present government has a bigger political design for privatisation of the Railways by which his friends among industrialists acquired this property. This will bring an element of disintegration as they have anger against working class and specifically the largest labour force work in the Railways. Interacting with the officials from Railways for thirty years one realized that they claim that any privatization will harm the railways as it is such a big organization unless proper coordination and planning are done it will disintegrate. Modi scrumptiously removed the Railway budget in his first term. The Railway budget has merged with the general budget.  Has Modi government has planned for disintegration of a nation which came up in the middle of 19th century by working class with an all India character. It looks that the RSS has a superficial concept of nation that in ancient times India as a concept has evolved which has no basis.

The Budget session is exposing Modi's political and economic design of future of India which looks uncertain and unclear. For the first time a budget is not aware of its revenue collection and its expenditure plan. Its growth has been left to inflow of foreign capital. Nobody does it as there is no certainty of foreign capital inflow. Resource mobilization is left to selling of public sector companies. One gets desperate then price of all these companies will fall. As he belongs to the most business minded society of India where everybody knows how to make money. As Gandhi says he is the trustee of public properties such as banks and industries which have been built for last seventy years with surplus appropriated from the farmers by giving the state by staying in distress. These are modern temples where a large number of workers work and produce wealth. America is having public sector companies to protect their economy. One does not understand the economic design of Modi 's new India. Photograph provides a political message more than words.

A photograph regarding some prominent BJP MPs including Hema Malini cleaning the campus of the Parliament House which is absolutely clean without any dust. Their commitment to sanitation is shown by their actions as Gandhi used to tell actions are hundred time valued more than words. Their actions do not have any substance as Indian cities like Delhi is full of garbage which they could have gone to clean with their jadhus. Their approach to sanitation is like their approach to Indian economy. From the date they came back to power from 2014 economic growth is declining combining with a high rate of unemployment. In recent budget they have not discussed the issues confronting the economy. They are not discussing the issues confronting the economy where garbage has got piled up which needs a cleaning but in the recent budget they have touched like the BJP MPs cleaning the Parliament House. There is another photograph where the most poorest and simple politician Sarangi a minister of Modi cabinet is cleaning a clean place with some of his supporters by holding Jhadus.

 An average JNU student knows four things such as political economy, political sociology, History of national movement and international politics. That is the JNU intellectual culture. It happens through public debates and discussions which happen in the campus both in schools and after dinner discussions. These ingredients help them to get a civil service job to journalist job. Those who join the teaching jobs have to do a rigorous course on a smaller problem according to his or her discipline. It happens so that former Prime Minister of Nepal did his Ph D in centre of Regional planning whose work related to Nepali Servants in Delhi. It is thesis of thousand pages recording the interviews of pains and sufferings of Nepali servants. One finds the strangeness of the Finance Minister of India who has been awarded by JNU association but having lack of knowledge of an average JNU student. Her budget speech perhaps of the poor in quality and based on fudgy figures and without any proper road map how to achieve the 5 trillion dollar wealth in five years period. She is a Tamilian who are strong in Mathematics and her figures in various pages of the budget document are a mismatch. I feel sorry for my old JNUite.

Another leading industrialist belonging to powerful community from Bombay Adi Godrej openly speaks out that rising intolerance and hate crimes can seriously affect the economic growth. How far it is true? I got a chance to interview industrialists belonging Kanpur while the Babri Masjid - Ram Mandir politics was going on. They were of a single opinion that communal politics and hate crimes against the minority has destroyed their economic activities. They all belong to UP bania community but could not take a stand openly as things went out of control. Their industries got closed because of regular communal riots which resulted in closure of the city by declaration of 144. That was the only industrial town of UP which has been closed and most of the workers have gone back to rural economy. There was a tremendous pressure on rural economy as the per unit of production the number of labour has got increased. UP has got ruralised after the inception of Ram Mandir politics as many industries got shifted to MP and Rajasthan. There are articles on Indian capitalist class and national movement by Prof Bipan Chandra and Prof Sabyasachi Bhattacharya show that Capitalist class was very small but played a decisive role during national movement. Specifically from 1936 to 1947 those industrialists came forward to participate in the planning process. Their thinking created a map of industrialisation in India known as Bombay Plan. They came forward to support political leader like Gandhi, Nehru and Patel. Nehru's planning cell started working in 1936 which gave foundation for modern planning. Today some industrialists have taken a stand in defense of the foundational values of Indian State specifically secularism, democracy and justice a great welcome in present day politics. They are not unknown faces of Indian capitalism. Narayan Murti a modern industrialist with a vision of egalitarian society has spoken boldly regarding those values of secularism, democracy and socialism. Some Gujarati industrialists like Ambani and Adani should not be allowed to hijack Indian democracy for furthering their interests by destroying the concept of planning and democracy and justice.

Teaching democracy in India to undergraduate students here I used to quote from Prof Sen's book The Argumentative India that India's democracy has another dimension that Indians are very fond of Adda or debating with each other and tolerating each other's view point. So many countries, after the second world war, went for democracy and collapsed after some time except three. India is a member of this group of three. But by looking at the present debate with the Central Board of Censorship with a documentary on him The Argumentative India where three words: cow, Hindutva and Gujarat need to be deleted by the film maker, I have to change my opinion that we are no more a debating country and we are not fond of adda at chhaks of each town in Odisha. We are forced to close our minds to one opinion and one idea. We are no more tolerant to laughter and joyful life of Indian people by imposing a slogan Jai Shri Ram which creates intolerance and conflicts. Amartya Sen, the only Nobel laureate from India living abroad in the best universities of the world but has kept his eyes open and ears open to the reality of India. Yesterday in Calcutta he has given a statement that Jai Shri Ram is not a symbol of Bengal culture. I wrote an article on Culture of Odisha two years back published in Frontier where I argue the same point that Lord Ram is a God from Northern India not from the Eastern India. The Hindutva forces found that without these symbols they cannot enter into cultural world of Odisha and Bengal for which for last some years they are building the Ram Mandir and Hanuman Mandir in Odisha by which they can easily give a slogan Jai Bajrangwali a political slogan. Religion and culture have an interface in a society like ours but we should be careful that our culture does not decline under the pressures from the Hindutva forces because of political reason.

The strategy of Hindutva has changed from 2014-19 to 2019 -2025. They applied a strategy by using their political workers to attack the members of minority and Dalits in a selected basis in the name of cow vigilantes. Today they have changed to attack people in the name of Jai Shri Ram. They used to take cow politics from 1925 to create communal riots over beef and do their political mobilisation of Hindu community. Towards the fag end of their first term they started in attacking left wing intellectuals in the name of urban Naxals whom the government has arrested under the Sedition Act. Today they have changed a strategy to fight against rationalists and humanists: lawyers, professors and journalists by harassing them with the attacks on them by the central agencies such CBI, ED and Income Tax. These people are not individuals but a force in our intellectual world who spread ideas of honesty, ethical public life and take up common cause. In this context one has to place the CBI attack on a prominent lawyer Indira Jaising and she is not an ordinary lawyer as she fights for democratization of the Indian judiciary in terms of appointment of judges for women, SC and ST. She is a leader whom a thousand of lawyers follow her. Her slogan 'once you put on your lawyer's dress you have no caste or community and you have to fight your client's case without bothering his or her identity' This slogan created echo in the most conservative place in Jammu where her trainee Deepika Singh Rajawat is an Advocate at Jammu and Kashmir High Court. She is famous for handling the Kathua Rape Case in Kashmir which led to punishment of Hindutva activists in the death of an eight-year girl. The Hindutva forces are attacking on Indira Jaising is symbolic for warning most our intellectuals and activists to be careful of the political design of the present regime after 2019.

Yesterday's cricket match between India vs News land was not taken by the public as a cricket match. As there was a cricket commentary which appealed Indian cricket lovers. The cricket lovers used to offer a political commentary at the time of fag end of the match just 18 runs to win. That Indian team needs Amit Shah now for saving the match. At the last moment when there was no hope for winning then cricket lovers told Indian team needs Modi to save the match. The present government's attitude to cricket is the same as their approach to politics and economy. Amit Shah is known as a micro manager who was required by the management team of Indian team. Modi is a hero by using whatever means he can turn the wind in favour of the party. Moreover they think that match between India Pakistan is a war against Pakistan. If anybody appreciates the players of Pakistan then one is branded as anti-national. These double commentaries have intercepted at various moments. In the end one team loses to the other as it is a game. Then the commentary talks of Indian team collapses like Indian economy collapses today.

After Modi came to power for the second time the stock exchange market for MLAs has been boomed. Each MLA costs now forty crores. Each voter has been paid in Odisha Rs 5000 bribe for casting vote for the BJP. Political market is always in boom stage after new government has come. This is going to be death knell for political democracy. The present slogan is this that you get elected as MLA and we will form the government. This is happening with the slogan of one nation and one election. BJP coffers are flooded with money and they want to realise the slogan by buying the MLAs in every state which is being ruled by the opposition parties. The Supreme Court must look at its own judgement that donations for the BJP need to be referred to the Election Commission by which no action has been taken yet. It must step in to check the role of money power otherwise there is no hope for political democracy.

The budget is an important political and economic document for the year of 2019-20. The basic characteristics of the budget remains the same as how the government mobilizes resources for annual expenditure. The present government has no resource but to sell the public sector companies which is the backbone of the Indian economy. Even in American economy where private players move freely they have adopted public sector companies for supplying public goods. As Hindutva is anti-Nehru and they want to dismantle the basic industrial policy pursued by Nehru and in changed policy during Manmohan Singh where public sector companies known as Nabaratna companies kept in public sector. The present government is interested to sell everything to private players who can ruin an economy which has suffered from low growth rate and a high rate of unemployment which have not been addressed in the present budget. This explains that the present government lacked competence which Vajpayee government had. Prime Minister Modi gave a statement of making Indian economy of 5 trillion dollars.  The presentation of economic survey shows how to achieve it. Private investment is the key to economic growth and export oriented growth model has been accepted to achieve the target. Indian economy has been shaped like a small economy which is oriented its economic activities towards export. This is basically many export oriented economies of Latin America and islands of Indian Ocean. Many Latin American economies are known as the banana economy as they produce banana but is being consumed by Americans. There is a poem by famous poet Neruda regarding the banana. Pablo Neruda is from Chile and gives a voice to Latin America in his poetry (Bleiker 1129). “The United Fruit Co.,” the poem by Pablo Neruda that will be analyzed in this essay, is enriched with symbolism, metaphors, and allusions. The metaphor of banana explains tragic plight of products produced on this soil and consumed by American consumers. This brings another concept 'Banana Republic' which works for the interests of USA. This indicates the present policy is meant for not indigenous consumers but for outsiders who are wealthy and prosperous living in USA or other developed countries. Our democratic Republic has already reduced to Banana Republic in framing policies to satisfy the interests of outsiders and their nominee.

The most scared one in public institutions is the electronic media .Let us examine the coverage by these channels are giving to MLAs of Goa and Karnataka who are crossing over from the Congress to BJP. In today's politics, the MLA or MPs of the Congress Party have no business or ideological leanings with the Hindutva forces. Then the question arises why they are crossing over to the BJP. Here there is a story told some years back by Jas Pal Bhati and a great humorist and a script writer for the Doordarshan. His play talks of buying and selling of MLAs and MPs and the price fluctuation in the market. Bhati has created jokes in the story that he is the middle man for buying and selling MLAs. His wife questions him that how a MLA can be bought or sold. Is he a cow or a buffalo to be sold in the animal market? He could show this programme in Doordarshan which was controlled by the government. Today media is totally free and there are hundred and odd channels which speak in unison that there is a political event which draws a coverage from their reporters. They knowingly do not report regarding the buying and selling of MLAs. They are scared a lot or a lazy lot who do not have patience to do some homework for finding the truth. Media's fear can be explained with a Hindi film song by Jonie Walker “Jaane Kahan Mera Jigar Gaya” and in answering to him his girlfriend answered " bade ankho ese dara gaye ki’. This is happening to our leading journalists who are scared of the gaze of the Modi and Amit Shah.

In UP administration there is a concept of Shivpalganj where somebody requires justice from the court and police then first get shoe beating an indigenous concept of justice having a brand according to the above village. As Sakshi Mishra and her husband wanted justice from the High Court of Allahabad and police protection from her powerful father BJP MLA. In front of the court they got justice according to Shivpalganj described in the novel Rag Darbari by Srilal Shukla. Goonds gave a good beating to Sakshi's husband as he belongs to Dalit as the BJP claims that they are Hindus but no marriage with them. Let us examine the case in Kerala where an inter community marriage happened which got a disapproval from her parents. They went to the court to get justice and nobody gave a beating to boy or girl as boy belongs to Muslim Community. This brings a critical question that Yogi government is an extension of Shivpalganj where justice means shoe beating of your opponent. This indigenous concept of justice getting a brand of UP works against modern constitutional system of justice.

The year 1972 I visited Jammu and Kashmir for a month and felt the generosity and magnanimity of people of Kashmir while moving from one village to another. They are really exhibiting their Kashmiriat which is a blending of Ruffianism and paganism. The variety of non vege food which I relished and their friendly approach to me as an outsider. They always look people from other places as outsiders but with respect. Their cultural identity is being nurtured in Indian Federation by giving a special provision of Art 370. In those day every village there was a primary school and every family has little land because of implementation of land reforms. In Dal lake one meets women without any burqa and moving and enjoying the beauty of lake. I have visited many times but I felt things have changed. Ten years back I went with a friend to his house where a young sister of his was trying to cover her face. Her grandmother told her bluntly,' I have not worn any burqa in my life time but my daughter has not but my granddaughter is wearing." She told this with a lot of pains. The way Indian state has treated Kashmir during the Vajpayee regime when their nominee as governor Jagmohan ordered firing at the unarmed crowd which has changed the mass psychology of Kashmiri people. The UPA's time there were many attempts by the government to constitute a committee to look into their problems but no follow up actions have been taken. The present government has been guided by their fundamentalist friends from Jammu with whom I have interacted often where I found them as the supporters of Hindutva. Today a young actor of Hindi film world is leaving her acting career and going back to Kashmir to enjoy her freedom as defined by her community tortured by the central government can explain her choice to take to faith than profession.

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Jul 19, 2019

Prof. Radhakanta Barik [email protected]

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