Ex-PM Explains Real Reason Why RSS Arthashastra Isn't Working

Raman Swamy

When Manmohan Singh says that the Modi government is “systematically dismantling the economy of the country” it isn’t just one more Opposition leader indulging in routine BJP-bashing. 

Nor was the former Prime Minister merely repeating in Bengaluru what he had said earlier about monumental blunders like demonetization and other epic errors of omission and commission.

Dr. Manmohan Singh was echoing the growing concerns of many economists and market analysts in the last three weeks alone.  He was relying on the latest figures, trends and projections emerging from the government itself as also the minutes of the RBI’s monetary policy committee meeting held in April.

The numbers are not reassuring. The economy is in a constipated mode. This has nothing to do with Karnataka election campaign rhetoric. It pertains to the basic parameters of financial stability and growth prospects - income and expenditure, savings and investment, inflation and growth.  

When Dr. Singh says that “our country today is experiencing difficult times”, he is not talking only about the plight of the farmers and unemployed youth. He is drawing meaningful attention to financial and monetary danger signals like the current account deficit spiralling out of control, the volatility in foreign capital inflows and outgoes, the sinking value of the rupee, the paralysis in domestic investment and the grim forecasts of rising food inflation over the coming months.

These are such oft-repeated concepts that nowadays even moderately alert citizens are aware of their significance and consequences. Regrettably nobody knows how to effectively manage them and bring them back to even keel – least of all the highly-educated, highly-paid government economists. 

The crux of the problem is that the rigid culture under the Modi dispensation does not permit bold suggestions and free flow of ideas. Decision-making powers have become so closely-held and strictly-regulated through the Prime Minister’s Office and/or the RSS headquarters in Nagpur that top bureaucrats and learned advisors alike are hesitant to arouse suspicions of ideological disloyalty. 

The crowds that throng the election rallies addressed by Narendra Modi and the masses of voters who are apparently captivated by the colourful language of the Prime Minister can hardly be expected to distinguish between democratic and autocratic styles of governance.  

Nor can the common man be expected to sense the dangers inherent in forcibly trying to superimpose and inject an unproven socio-cultural ideology onto an existing multi-dimensional economic superstructure that has been in existence for decades.   

This is what the RSS-BJP government under Modi is attempting to do.  It is consciously disrupting the prevalent system at every level - social, spiritual, cultural and economic.   It is seeking to wrench existing institutional models into a new shape and configuration in tune with the untried and untested ideas of Sangh thinkers and mentors like Golwalkar, Savarkar and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya.  

It is not working.   It is not only causing gigantic disruption in every sphere of national life – from education to judiciary to religion -  but it is also leading to enormous suffering.   The single act of demonetization is a classic example.  The upheaval in schools, colleges and universities is another.  The tectonic rumblings shaking the very foundations of the judicial system are yet another outcome.   

Similarly, the entire spectrum of economic activity in the country is undergoing serious disruption – partly because of the fact that the RSS thinkers had not thought through their theory of Swadeshi economics and mainly because the present rulers have not been able to work out a coherent model of development suited to the existing eco-system in place. 

Hence, when Dr.  Manmohan Singh made his scathing critique of the BJP government’s "disastrous policies" and "economic mismanagement", he was referring to a much deeper malaise and a much greater danger than many would have grasped.  What many observers may have missed was his tone – he was not criticizing Modi for his mistakes alone but was pointing a finger at the horrendously misplaced intentions behind Modi’s Quixotic concept of new India. 

The former Prime Minister added a profound comment in a tone of deep sadness - He said the "unfortunate truth” was that the looming economic crisis was "entirely avoidable".   

Noting that economic policy has a significant impact on the lives of people, he said it was essential that those tasked with decision making pay careful attention to policies and programmes and not act on whims and fancies and half-baked theories of development.  

India, he said, “is a complex and diverse country and no one person can be the repository of all wisdom".   He added:  "All we hear is that the intentions are virtuous".   But even if intentions are good, they result in massive losses for the country and untold misery for the people if they are based on narrow schools of thought and faulty theories of development.

May 12, 2018

Raman Swamy [email protected]

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