Narendra Modi and Dr Man Mohan Singh:
A comparative approach

Radhakanta Barik

Former Prime Minister Prof Man Mohan Singh was in ICU when the economy is in ICU and many covid patients are in ICU. He went to the public hospital for treatment. He had a major heart operation when he was the Prime Minister. It was done in the public hospital. He is a gentle soul and concerned of the problems of people of India. As Professor he worked over the problems of people for his research work. When he was the Prime Minister once we were waiting to hear Prof Amartya Sen who was his colleague and friend and he was supposed to chair the meeting. He had some official works for which he came around 10 PM in the night although meeting was fixed at 6 PM in the evening. He was speaking in fresh mood as if he was not tired at all and gave a speech on role of education and accepted the point that because of education he was there. Prof Sen gave a speech on the role of education. Prof Singh nurtured Indian universities and started many central universities all over India and started many AIMS in many states. His class mate was a colleague of mine in IIPA and they used to talk to each other. Some days he used to go for buying vegetables with his wife when he was the Finance Minister. A man with nobility who became a Prime Minister for ten years and handled some difficult situations in a careful manner without witch hurting any dissident intellectual or activists in minorities. But yes he went with creating a front with the left and left them as their pro American policy. He did many things for the welfare of people such as NREGA and Food Security Act and Educational Guarantee Act which have got demolished by the BJP government.

Those days the middle class started listening to the media controlled by Ambani and spoke against him as 'Maun Prime Minister" but his silence is golden whereas present Prime Minister is speaking a lot without any substance. Prof Yogendra Singh says that anxieties of middle class made them against the Congress government. Furthermore, he added that the pro poor policies made the middle class averse to Man Mohan Singh. But it looks like it is not true. Campaign by the media and hunger strike by Kejriwal against corruption made them unhappy with his government. How Prof Man Mohan Sigh the former Prime Minister would have handled the Covid19 today. He was pro poor politician and a scholar. He was open to ideas from the scholars and medical scientists who would have advised him to go for a partial lockdown as the cities are experiencing the Corona virus. There was no necessity of closing down the rural India as Modi did to show his power rules all over India. Then he would have provided the financial assistance to all laboring classes including the migrant labour. He would have had a close discussion with the all the chief ministers and the political leaders of all political parties to go for a decision on Covid 19. He would have started a new medical college in the city of capital and perhaps one hospital in each state. He would have gone for starting of works under the NREGA by fixing the minimum wage by each state which would have financed by the centre. Today it is fixed by Modi government at Rs 210 which is much lower than  wage fixed by the governments of state governments. He would have allowed the migrant labour to go home by allowing trains to move for a week before the Lockdown got declared which Modi did not do. This resulted in deaths of so many workers including children and women. He would have gone for universal food supply for guaranteeing that nobody dies of hunger in the Lockdown period. He would have allowed Rs 5000 thousand into each hand instead of Rs 500 into Jan Dhan account by Modi government.

They would have handled the economic slow down in a more meaningful manner by consulting with many economists. He would have realized the problem quiet early. He would have not gone for demonetization as he said, “it is a monumental disaster.’ This slowed down the economy by two percentages. He could have handled the problem in a rational manner as it is the problem of demand in economy. He could have implemented the manifesto of the Congress government that in every poor family would have given Rs 7000 which would have created demand in economy. It would have created production system moving. It is a structural crisis as capitalism is facing all over world. He could have handled the crisis in a meaningful manner. Today economy is down from ten percentages of production to 4.5 which are the lowest in the last two decades.  He would have made announcement in the press prior to declaration of Lockdown as he is press friendly.
Man Mohan Singh consulted Dreze in many occasion for making pro poor public policies. The way the workers got treatment from the Modi government they might not go back to work. Here Dreze is right. Prof Dreze says if migrant labour do not return back which  is a million dollar question. They have come back in troubles and many have to walk miles and miles. Many came on cycles and many came on rickshaws and trucks and many more vehicles whichever available to them. Some after reaching the railway station in Patna touched the ground and bowed down the ground with their heads and promised not to come back. Their cheap labour is the basis of Gujarati model of economic growth.  As Prof Bremen says that the long distance migration has helped the Gujarat model to prosper as these labour hail from outside it is easy for controlling them. They work hard at low wage and no rest and no holiday these industrialists have made money and they are known as the industrialists who support the candidature of Modi as Prime Minister in 2014 general election. They paid money for his election fund and they worked hard for him winning the election. The best way that workers must boycott these industrialists and do not go back to Gujarat at least sometime. In 2002 riots of Gujarat workers fled away from Gujarat and came back to Odisha and the Minister of Labour was sent by Modi to campaign for their returns. Will this happen this time?

 Prime Minister Modi is facing the problem of 'sab janata' or all knowledge with him. This brings the question they do not want to learn from people with wisdom be the experts in economic affairs or health problems. On both fronts he is living in the world of ignorance which Lord Buddha says the ignorance is the root cause of sufferings. Millions of workers are suffering in distress without food without work and money but no answer to such a problem in his announcement of 10 percentages of GDP which is a misnomer. Once these working people do not have money in their pockets how can they help in boosting the economy. For that some money needs to put to their hands. In an interview with workers from Surat to Odisha they are telling their painful stories that they have no money for going home and they have borrowed money from their homes as they do not have any income for the last two months. They are going back homes.

Banks are ready to give credit to small and medium industries which may not create a demand on economy. These ten percentages of GDP announced by Prime Minister seems like going to the drainage as proper planning and economic imagination have not worked out by Prime Minister who spoke of many things about Hindu gods and goddess with that announced the package of 10pecentages of GDP which come around Rs20 Lakha crores. There is a Sanskrit proverb that "one should not be poor in words" As he is guided by the Hindutva mentality which explains that please do not talk less and always talk big things and Indians would be puzzled by these words. They have not heard these crores and Lakhs and once they hear these words and they will feel that they may get a share of it. It is like in 2014 general election that Modi told the Indian public that he would get 15 lakhs into each account. Many people opened the account in the banks by paying one hundred rupees but no payment came back and their hundred rupees are locked in the banks. They are not going back. With the declaration of demonetization he announced there would be no black money and he wanted 50days for this work but five years have gone and black money has not come back. Now he has shifted from15 lakhs to end of black money to new bluff that Rs 20 Lakh crores.

Majority of people demanded for going back home to be provided trains but no trains for 50 days. They demanded just food but no food for them. After fifty days there is going to be ration of some rice and dal for a labour in the towns who have already fled away. They wanted a package of some thousands which can protect them from their unemployment for three months but no such package came. They all are forced to walk back homes and on the way they died and now they hear the language of crores which has created a magician's puzzle and he takes one from each and after thousand people pay him and he will bring out of box and hundred rupee note which makes people laugh. Modi is working as a magician in Indian politics.

The COVID 19 has created an opportunity for a government to bring laws which are anti people and anti-working class. The present government wanted to go for anti-farmer and anti labour policies without going through Parliament and judiciary. They have decided to ignore the law passed by the Parliament that is the Land Acquisition Act 2014 which we teach our students as a balanced public policy protecting the interests of peasants and Industrialists. The announcement has come today that it will be non-operative for helping the industrialists to acquire land from the peasants directly without taking the provisions of the laws. According to the law the compensation needs to paid to the owners of land and non-owners who are losing their livelihoods such as a pastoral community. In making the law the BJP was a party but today Modi has replaced the BJP. Furthermore the labour laws have been made during colonial period and by Independent state for protecting the working class. In Covid 19 they are failing to protect people from Coronavirus but spreading a virus against the working class that these laws will not be operative in the states ruled by the BJP. This brings the question of working day from 6AM to 6PM for a period of 12 hours. This got reduced up to 8 hours in the second half 19th century for which May Day gets celebrated all over world. This year it was not celebrated because of the LOCK Down. It seems that the present government did not allow celebrating the day with a wish they have to work for 12hours. We are returning back to slavery of worst form under Modi rule in the name of COVID 19. The Prime Minister Modi is behaving like the King Lear who handed over the kingdom to his first two daughters who spoke of their love for him and then shows his powerless. It seems that Modi showed his love for Trump and held the reception in the stadium where people gathered there and today because of the incident the spread of Corona has gone deep into Gujarat which cannot be handled by the normal administration. They have handed power to the paramilitary forces two days before. Yesterday the situation is worse he sent specialists from Delhi specifically Prof Guleria the Director of AIMS to control the situation. His helplessness exhibits his powerlessness today in handling Corona and he is behaving like King Lear in the context of economy which is going on down slide and on the health front the same situation. His powerlessness shows King Lear of 16th century of England. The way the rulers of India after getting just 30 percentages of votes are able to ignore two most important social groups such as Working class and Muslims I personally feel that the 1935 act created provision for the representation of workers and Muslims which was better than the present representation system based on based single vote and single person . Yes our democracy could not be social democracy as the representation of this may help the Hindutva to grow as the upper castes are able to mobilize in the name of nationalism today. They have ruined the working class and their governments of UP and MP have decided to remove all rights of working class. They are trying to disfranchise the Muslims and working class. Let us reconsider the representation system in India which is not democratic as it speaks for the high caste Hindus who monopolize the bureaucracy, capitalist class and political executive and judiciary and academia and lawyers.

Industrial Disputes Act helps the Indian state to bring negotiation table the various parties working in industrial relations. Both industries and trade unions are working together to bring peace whenever there is a dispute which cannot be settled which needs special intervention such as the Labour Commissioner who is an officer from the state for   thrashing out issues of conflict. Otherwise the Labour courts play a decisive role in going for bringing settlement to disputes. Then the various institutional frameworks encourage the settlement disputes. Democracy believes in dialogue and discussion for settling disputes. This is the life line of democracy. But the BJP ruled states want to keep the act suspended with other labour laws such as the Trade Union Act which gives the workers to form a union. Public Administration wants various viewpoints to have a healthy administration which various views come from the trade unions and Industrial association such as FICCI and other associations. These states ignoring the basic underlying philosophy of democracy brings out truth that the BJP does not believe in dialogue and discussion to bring reconciliation among diverse classes as it is a class society.

Modi as a magician is getting exposed on every day basis. He spoke of so many gods and goddesses then came back to his package some days back. His finance Minister is rolling down the programme for various sections of a society. For the migrant labour there is nothing. But there is some food of 5Kg of rice or wheat and a kg of dal for the poor who are living in the cities. This is not going to solve their hunger. What happens to food for all families which ensures food for all distributed under the PDS. When hunger haunts somebody the magician does not work as people want food. There is a package for small and medium industries which may not work as their industries do not have demand which needs on the part of government to put money into poor and vulnerable sections of society. The bubble which has created by him has burst out. Hindutva has a social network working from poorer communities to rich communities but poor are forced to leave them. For instance in Delhi washer men community are the great supporters of the Hindutva and they work on the streets of Delhi and earn Rs2 per kapada for ironing whereas in Bhubaneswar per kapada they demand Rs7. For last two months they do not have work and they remain unemployed and hungry which have pushed them out of the Hindutva. The social network of castes and communities standing behind the Hindutva are slowly disappearing from the pyramid of power structure they built over the time. Modi has destroyed the pyramid.

Hindutva is getting dismantled at a faster pace and no new ideas are getting reproduced by the ruling party which are going to create legitimacy for Modi Shah rule in India. Once legitimacy gets eroded then there is a possibility of wide spread protest all over India against Modi. It has already started prior to declaration of Lockdown.  Students, workers and Muslims all were on the streets and protesting against the government. It seems that all other classes and communities might join the rank the moment withdrawal gets announced by Modi.

Back to Home Page

May 18, 2020

Prof. Radhakanta Barik

Your Comment if any