RUIN OF INDIAN ECONOMY

Major Policy Decisions Since 2014 Responsible for Economic Ruin

Economics cannot be delinked from politics. Policy formation and way India is governed does impact the economy. The major aspects which have affected the economy have been briefly highlighted here.

Over Centralization. Arun Shourie had called Indian government as that of 2 ½ men, which included late Jaitley. I would call it a government of 4 men: Modi, Shah, Adani and Ambani. The idea of running a diverse country of almost 140 crores by 4 men is a joke. Some of the readers may ask as to why I have included Adani and Ambani as people running the government. I would request them to spend some time in understanding as to how Jio became so big so quickly, how the wealth of Adani has increased exponentially to understand the point I am making. The central government had no business formulating the farm laws to benefit their friends. This subject, in a diverse country like India, is best left to the states. The center did not live up to the promise as regards sharing of GST with the states. There are times when the Center treats the opposition ruled states as if they were a part of alien country. The fractured center-state relations as per WEF is one of the biggest threats to Indian economy. Accusing the investigation agency of running political vendetta, eight states — Punjab, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram — have withdrawn consent to the CBI to probe cases in their respective states. MHA increased the jurisdiction of the BSF up to 50 km from the border in Assam, Punjab and West Bengal. This was rightly resisted by Punjab and Bengal. The apparent aim of this policy was to indicate that Modi and BJP are the real guardians of Indian security and safe-guarding of national interests and opposition parties are not.

Alienation of Muslims. Muslims constitute approximately 15% of India. The majority are poor, poorly educated and under-represented in governance. They stand alienated today. I request the reader to read the cases of lynching of Muslims, the handling of anti-CAA protests by the MHA and UP government, the false propaganda of Muslims as spreaders of Covid through the Tablighi Jamaat case to understand the point. The creation of a false image of innocent Hindu girls being abducted by Muslim criminals (if people like Modi and Yogi are not there) is a big election winning formula for the Modi government. By alienating 15% of the population a government can remain in power but a divided India cannot be a progressive India.

False Creation of Internal Enemies

An incompetent ruler has to keep scaring the majority from someone, real or imaginary, to stay in power. Modi led BJP has been doing so consistently and very successfully. “The new frontier of war, what you call the fourth-generation warfare, is civil society… that can be… manipulated to hurt the interest of a nation,” Doval, NSA, said at an IPS passing-out parade at the National Police Academy, Hyderabad. The false idea being promoted among Police officers was that Modi led BJP is the sole saviour of the majority Hindus and those opposing Modi’s policies and voicing opinions against his incompetence are “enemies” and to be treated accordingly.

Role of Women in Governance and Participation in Economy. Women are inadequately represented in governance and their participation in the economy is very poor. As per latest report less than 6% women were employed. The employment rate had fallen from around 10% in 2016 to this level in Feb 2021. India ranked 69th with 30% of women in ministerial positions, and 122nd with 17% of women in parliament. The ndex also fails to factor in state-level leadership, where significant powers sits. Of India’s 28 states, currently only West Bengal has a female Chief Minister.

Focus Only Elections and Propaganda. The government’s prime focus is winning elections by using headlines and propaganda to do so. Since the focus is not on performance governance and economy have both suffered. I request the doubters of my statement to just check as to what happened to big announcements like, “Make in India”, “Doubling farmers’ income by 2022”, “5 trillion economy”, “Beti bachao, beti padhao” (a scheme of which 80% of the budget was spent on propaganda!).

Demonetization. Demonetization caused a loss of approximately 4-5 lac crores in 2016 and the carry forward impact of the loss is difficult to assess. It rendered approximately three crore people jobless while delivering a body blow to the unorganized sector, which houses a substantial portion of the MSMEs in India.

Poor Implementation of GST. The architectural framework of the GST favours the formal sector and adversely affected the informal sector. I could not find any expert opinion on the estimated loss of wealth and jobs it caused but it has been considerable.

Reduction in Corporate Tax

In Sep 2019 corporate tax was reduced from 30 percent to 22 percent which caused a loss of Rs 1.45 lac crore to the exchequer. This was done at a time when demand was slipping and practically all sensible economists were advising actions to focus on job creation and putting money in the hands of the poor. The false propaganda regarding this decision was that it will attract private investment and thus increase jobs. Since the capacity utilization of industry was below 70 percent the big corporates used the savings to reduce debt, improve profits and maybe buy electoral bonds of BJP. Private investment did not increase or jobs got created either in 2019-20 or subsequently. Since the profits of big corporates have increased considerably the cumulative loss of this policy can be assessed as over Rs 5 lac crore till the end of financial year 2021-22.

Sudden Lockdown

The ill planned and sudden lockdown in Mar 20 caused immense loss to the economy, jobs and created the tragic migrant crisis. There is no expert opinion on the quantum of loss it caused. The fall in GDP to Rs 135.13 lakh crore from 2019-20 to 145.69 lakh crore (approximately Rs 10 lac crores) was primarily caused by the lockdown.

Promotion of Corruption

The government has legalized corruption by policies like “Electoral Bonds”, “PM CARES Fund” and routinely indulges in corrupt practices like, “Operation Lotus” which is an umbrella term for buying MLAs and MPs through bribing, threatening or whatever. Overall, since 2014 black money in India has increased. When the government itself indulges in unclean economic practices and allows the big economic offenders to get away economy is bound to suffer. Moreover, there is incentive for people close to the government to create wealth through dubious means. For those doubting the veracity of my statement I would request them to do a little research on how Saffron “Langoti” wearing Ramdev has become so rich in a little time and how he got away by attacking medical experts and promotion of his dubious medicines. 

Misuse of National Agencies to Promote Modi’s Agenda. 

It is common knowledge as to how the Judiciary, EC, media and other supposedly independent institutions have been subverted by the present government. All these actions adversely impact the economy as well.

Fraud Rs 20 Lac Crore Stimulus Package in 2020. When the world was suffering the impact of Covid Pandemic and India the twin impact of the Pandemic plus the Modi imposed lockdown, most countries were providing stimulus to revive the economy. Modi also announced a stimulus package of Rs 20 lac crore in May 2020. As usual it was a fraud package.

What had been included was additional liquidity injected into the system through a number of steps and measures taken by the RBI from February to March adding up to more than 8 lakh crores. It also included the 1.7 lakh crore package announced in March. Thus, a Rs 2 lac crore stimulus package could only do what Rs 2 lac crore can do for a population of around 140 crores. Poverty increased, MSMEs died, unemployment rose, demand for MGNREGA increased and domestic demand remained depressed.

Fleecing of Masses through Tax on Petroleum Products

Modi government has collected Rs 22.34 lac crore through taxes on petroleum products since 2014. This fleecing of the masses may have been difficult for even a colonial government. This is one major cause of inflation, reduction in the disposable income of the masses and thus depression of domestic demand.

Fudged Data or No Data

In the Parliament Chidambaram famously called NDA as No Data Government. He said, “No data available on ‘tukde tukde gang’, on oxygen shortage deaths, on bodies flowing in rivers, on migrants walking back to homes. It’s ‘No Data Available’ govt-NDA govt.” As per Modi’s policy, all information which shows the government in poor light is to be concealed from the public eye. Thus, we cannot get any official data on the state of poverty, farmers’ suicides and numerous other important issues vital for planning in addition to what Chidambaram had stated. With the non-availability of data policy making is poor.

Poor Handling of Coal and Telecom Sectors

India has decent coal reserves, yet we import coal. Our telecom sector is in a bad state.

Import Reduction

Our Current Account Deficit (CAD) in the coming financial year may be around 1.5-2% of GDP. This needs to be reduced. Policies should be created to reduce petroleum imports by increased use of sugarcane made ethanol and bio-diesel. Growth of mustard and other edible oil producing crops should be promoted to reduce our import bill.

Dependence on Chinese Goods

Our dependence on Chinese products is unacceptably high. We export raw materials and import finished goods. This is bad economics and should end.

Effective Functioning of Competition Commission 

Even a layperson can discern that when things are going bad for the masses, it seems incredible that a select few are adding crores to their wealth every day. I am implying the Modi favourites Adani and Ambani in particular. It definitely indicates that the Competition Commission of India has not been functioning properly or the policy formulation is ineffective.

Under Utilized Public Assets

The privatization drive has not worked well. There are a large number of public assets which can be monetized to improve infrastructure and public expenditure. 

Mismanagement of Banks and Financial Institutions

The mismanagement of banks and financial institutions has caused an increase of NPAs to the tune of Rs 7 lac crores in Modi’s misrule.

Preference to Sycophants and Political Affiliation Above Merit

No one can locate the degree of PM Modi. The head of RBI was a student of history. Modi ridiculed Amratya Sen for being “Harvard” educated. Most competent people have left the government because the government has no use for them because Modi, as per his own belief and the sycophants like Justice Arun Mishra, knows everything. Since this blog would be subject to the scrutiny of “andh-bhakts” I must add the names of competent people who left the government to substantiate what I am stating. I have given four names here:

  • Raghuram Rajan.
  • Subramanian.
  • Urjit Patel.
  • Panagriya.

Disrespect for Scientific Knowledge and Analysis  

When the PM talks of Lord Ganesh as a case of plastic surgery and Ramdev lectures India on medicine, the Education Minister rates astrology above science a sane person can realize as to where India is heading.

OPACITY OF ELECTORAL BOND SCHEME:

It is argued that the electoral bond scheme works solely through banking channels and can be utilised only with KYC-compliant entities. 

However, the crux of the issue is the anonymity given to corporate donors in combination with the absence of any ceiling. This means that the right to know of voters, recognised as a constitutional right in past rulings, is abridged. 

Further, the link between contributions and policy-making remains impenetrable to the citizen. Any number of shell companies can be created, and their bank accounts used for making anonymous contributions.

Political funding is a contentious issue in India.

Indian political parties have traditionally been raising funds through donations from citizens and corporations. A donor could donate up to Rs 20,000 in cash to any party, and the latter was not required to declare the source of cash donations received within this limit. Donations exceeding this had to be made through cheque or DD. In this case, the party had to declare the source in their contribution reports submitted to the ECI. A significant drawback of this funding system was the predominance of cash donations. To bypass disclosure to the ECI, even donations above `20,000 were accepted in cash by dividing them up into several smaller ones. Cash donations allow anonymity of the donor and the flow of unaccounted money into the political system.

Despite a 2013 ruling by the Central Information Commissioner about political parties falling under the RTI Act, most parties have resisted being classified as public authorities under the transparency law.

Through an amendment to the Finance Act 2017, the Centre exempted political parties from disclosing donations received through electoral bonds. Before the introduction of the bonds, parties had to disclose details of all donors who donated more than Rs 20,000. The secrecy clause, transparency activists allege, goes against the citizens’ right to know and makes political parties even more unaccountable. 

In 2017, the Election Commission had described this clause as a retrograde step and asked the government to annul it. The Reserve Bank of India too had expressed concerns about the scheme.

Union government notified the electoral bond scheme in 2018 and as per its provisions electoral bonds may be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. As per the scheme, political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which have secured not less than 1% of the votes polled in the last general election to the Lok Sabha or a state assembly are eligible to receive electoral bonds and then get them en-cashed through a bank account.

It is said that the removal of a limit on corporate donations that existed earlier, and allowed donation of only 7.5% of three-year average net profit, has since allowed businesses to make anonymous political donations.

Another report by NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in August this year had stated that over 70% of the income of the political parties was coming through unknown sources, including electoral bonds. It said the political parties garnered Rs 3,377.41 crore from such sources in 2019-20, which amounted to 70.98% of their total income.

The unknown income was generated through various means such as ‘donations through Electoral Bonds’, ‘sale of coupons’, ‘relief fund’, ‘miscellaneous income’, ‘voluntary contributions’, and ‘contribution from meetings/morchas’.

Only big companies eyeing bigger returns would buy electoral bonds of Rs 1 crore.

Think of who can buy electoral bonds of Rs 1 crore denomination. It is not ordinary citizens like you or me but only big companies who have eyes on bigger returns. And that is where corruption begins.

Another major concern raised by the RBI committee pertained to national security. It cautioned that “EBs in scrip form could also be exposed to the risk of forgery and cross-border counterfeiting besides offering a convenient vehicle for abuse by `aggregators’.

Proponents of the bond mechanism argue that if donor disclosure is made, then the system of financing through cash would return. Though this concern is valid, it doesn’t make electoral bonds a clean instrument. In the absence of donor disclosure, the dominant view that the bonds scheme was designed to facilitate the flow of unaccounted or black money for political parties holds.

OPACITY IN PM CARES FUND:

There is something about the nature of the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund that has led to demands for its scrutiny.

While the Supreme Court has rejected a writ petition calling for a funds diversion from this fund to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and also denied the petitioners’ demand that the “public charitable trust” be audited by the CAG, questions remain about its need, operation and its persisting lack of transparency.

Since the PM CARES Fund existed independent of budgetary support or government money, the Court’s reasoning was that there was “no occasion” for a CAG audit. However, the concern is not about the legal basis or the absence of a CAG audit, or whether it is superfluous or indeed essential. As responses to RTI queries on the Fund reveal, the government is not forthcoming on questions on its transparency or accountability. Queries on the trust deed for the Fund, and its creation and operation have been summarily dismissed by arguing that the Fund was not a “public authority” even though the PM is its ex-officio chairman and three Cabinet ministers are its trustees.

The government said: “The PM-CARES Fund comprises voluntary donations made by individuals and institutions and is not a part of business or function of the central government in any manner. PM-CARES Fund is not a part of any government scheme or business of the central government and being a public trust, it is also not subject to audit of Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). PM CARES Fund is not a ‘public authority’ under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act and therefore the present petition is liable to be dismissed,” the Centre said in its affidavit submitted on September 14, 2020. It added that there is no control of either the central government or any state government/s, either direct or indirect, in functioning of the Trust in any manner whatsoever.

The matter is pending before the court.

Since the trust was created, lakhs of public and private sector employees have donated a day’s salary to it, with some of them claiming that this deduction was done without their explicit consent. Many public sector units and corporate entities too have made donations because of a proviso allowing uncapped corporate donations that would qualify as corporate social responsibility (CSR) expenditure.

Reportedly, the Indian Railway donated Rs 151 crore. The army, navy and air force, defence PSUs and employees of the defence ministry have collectively donated Rs 500 crore. While a significant portion of these contributions has been voluntary, it appears that many government employees weren’t given much of a choice.

Circulars were being issued in various government departments, “urging” employees to contribute one day’s salary each month or give their objection in writing. The implication seemed ominous: Anyone objecting to this “voluntary contribution” could find themselves in a spot, even face retaliatory action.

States have led the response to COVID-19 and their resources have increasingly been stretched by the continuing rise in infections and deaths.

At the very least, RTI requests that seek to understand how funds are being received and how they are being disbursed so far should be seen as legitimate. Also, more needs to be done by the government to publicise donations to the more accountable NDRF which allows for a transfer of funds to States.

When donations are made from taxpayer funds by government bodies, the public has the right to know where the money is going. This is where the most problematic issue with PM CARES arises — its lack of transparency. The Modi government has stated that the CAG will not audit the fund. Rather, it will be audited by independent auditors appointed by the trust. The PMO has also refused to make the documents related to the PM CARES fund public. If the government has nothing to hide, why not allow the CAG to audit it?

Millions of migrant labourers were stranded in cities with no savings to survive. The people waited for PM Modi to use the PM CARES funds to help these migrants. No such announcement came. An estimated 12.2 crore have lost their jobs since the lockdown was announced. No funds from PM CARES were allocated to create jobs for them.

A recent analysis by IndiaSpend estimated that at least Rs 9,677.90 crore has been collected in the PM CARES fund so far. Of this, Rs 4,308 crore has been donated by government agencies and staff. Yet, the only announcement to be made till date about the usage of the funds is the allocation of Rs 3,100 crore for COVID-19 work, made on May 13 — Rs 2,000 crore of which is mired in controversy.

The PM CARES fund has announced that it would be spending Rs 2,000 crore for the purchase of 50,000 “Made in India” ventilators. It is to be hoped that they do not prove to be substandard.

PM CARES comes with a litany of problems. The decision-makers at its helm belong to one political party. Besides, there is total lack of transparency about the use of the funds. The allegations of cronyism and favouritism with regard to spending are particularly of concern. The most worrying part, however, is the fund has clearly not benefited the people who needed help. 

FLEECING CITIZENS THROUGH TAXES ON OIL:

The oil tax burden can shore up cost-push inflation, adversely affect relative prices and generally misallocate resources economy-wide. Note that excise collection from petrol and diesel alone is up as much as 88% at ₹3 lakh crore, thanks to last year’s ramp-up in oil taxes. The Centre did raise excise duty by ₹13 per litre of petrol and ₹16 per litre on diesel between March-end and May 2020, when global crude oil tanked due to Covid-19. 

The price of petrol in New Delhi is Rs 105.84 per litre, up Rs 4.65 per litre over the last three weeks while the price of diesel is at Rs 94.6 per litre, up Rs 5.75 per litre over the same period.

In June 2021, buying petrol in Mumbai cost almost twice as much as it would have in New York.

One popular narrative is that the middle-class should bear its suffering in silence as the revenue is needed to fund infrastructure or ‘free’ vaccines. Another defence trotted out is that the previous Congress government left the Indian state’s finances in such a bad shape that the current government has no choice but to keep taxes high on petrol and diesel.

petrol and diesel are also used to power two-wheelers, a form of transportation used across the country by many lower-income Indian households. 

Yes, two-wheelers consume less petrol and diesel than cars, but it’s also more likely that owners of scooters and motorbikes were adversely impacted by the economic slowdown and found themselves hit by a double whammy just as the economy is starting to recover. 

Rising diesel prices increase the cost of crop cultivation, even over and above the subsidy that some farmers get for fuel.

In theory, petrol and diesel retail prices in India are linked to the global crude prices, which in effect would mean that if crude prices fall in the international market—as has been the trend since February—then domestic retail prices should come down too. 

But, in practice, oil price decontrol seems to be rigid/sticky downwards. This happens because every time the (global) prices fall, the government imposes fresh taxes and levies to rake up extra revenues. Eventually, the consumers are short-changed and continue paying either what they were paying previously or end up paying even more. 

India, in spite of importing almost 82% of its oil, is not going to benefit much from the falling global crude oil prices … the government has already increased excise duties and taxes on auto fuels to supplement its revenue collections, which prevents any sharp decline in retail prices. So, the common man is not going to benefit from the falling crude oil prices, and price of petrol and diesel will not go down in the foreseeable period. 

The consumers lose out no matter what the global market conditions—they face the burden of high global prices but the benefits of lower prices are lapped up by the government through taxes and do not pass on to them. Low international prices per se do not translate into lower prices for petrol and diesel in India as long as the centre and states levy exorbitant taxes on these products. The interstate variation in the prices of petrol and diesel is also significantly explained by the differentials in taxes imposed. 

The oil sector has been an easy pick for governments mainly because demand for oil is price inelastic and it falls on the ultimate consumers making it less distortionary. More importantly, the middle class that bears the immediate brunt of oil price increases, from disproportionate increases in their transport costs, has very little political heft to resist such price hikes. 

A rise in the price of crude oil gets passed on to the price of petroleum products and as a consequence from the consumer standpoint, the energy bill of the economic agents (households, industry and government) grows, whereas from the production standpoint, companies have to contend with a rise in unit costs. In terms of demand, this slows down consumption expenditures.
 
In terms of supply of goods and services, a rise in the energy price causes a drop in productivity, which is passed on to real wages and employment, selling prices and core inflation, profits and investment, as well as stock market capitalisation.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das too has urged the government for a calibrated unwinding of fuel taxes to reduce price pressure in the economy after consumer price inflation refused to ebb since the beginning of the year.


Prices of petrol and diesel in the neighbouring countries of China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar are much less than that of India, according to globalpetrolprices.com.

RS. 20 LAKH CRORE STIMULUS PACKAGE:

Breaking Down India’s Rs 20 Lakh Crore COVID Stimulus Package

Economic Package ComponentAnnounced Amount (Rs crore)
Earlier Stimulus Measures1,92,800
RBI’s Measures (Actual)8,01,603
Tranche 1 (MSME + NBFC + Power)5,94,550
Tranche 2 (Migrants, KCC, Nabard, MUDRA etc)3,10,000
Tranche 3 (Agriculture)1,50,000
Tranche 4 + 548,100
Total20,97,053

In May 2020, when the Centre announced a massive Rs 20 lakh-crore economic stimulus package, it was enthusiastically applauded by the Covid-ravaged country, at the height of the pandemic lockdown.

Even though the announcements made are worth over Rs 20 lakh crore, the actual cash outlay by the government this year and the impact on the fiscal deficit will be far less. This is because many of the government’s proposals are credit-focused or are aimed at easing liquidity concerns for many affected sectors. In some of these cases, any costs incurred will be initially covered through banks or other financial institutions and thus not result in actual cash outgo by the Centre.

The Prime Minister chose to play with statistics when he announced that the package was 20 lakh crore rupees. It was not. What had been included was additional liquidity injected into the system through a number of steps and measures taken by the RBI from February to March adding up to more than 8 lakh crores. It also included the 1.7 lakh crore package announced in March. So, it was not 20 lakh crores but half that amount. 

But the  question is even of this entire amount of 20 lakh crores, how much is actual expenditure of the government as opposed to the “stimulus” package which is going to be entirely born by public sector banks and institutions like NABARD? For example, in the announcement for workers made by the Finance Minister, the additional expenditure of direct benefit to the poor is just 3,500 crore rupees. 

This is the amount for the additional  free foodgrains for an estimated 8 crore migrant workers who do not have ration cards. Here too lies a story. The government had earlier cancelled over 3 crore ration cards, mostly of genuine card-holders belonging to the poorer sections, without any physical verification, terming them “bogus” as they did not match Aadhar biometric standards. Now the same government claims it is a generous gesture to give those without ration cards free foodgrains!

Another method the government has used to inflate the amount it claims to be spending is to include in its expenditure money to which it has no claim. For example, the expenditure from the Construction Workers Fund, the District Mineral Fund or the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAMPA). As far as CAMPA funds are concerned, the irony of claiming it as an indication of government care for Adivasis was lost on the Finance Minister but not on India’s tribals. 

First, the government grants permission for takeover of forest land to corporates, the felling of trees, and the displacement of Adivasis, all without their consent; having done so, it uses what is akin to blood money to give them jobs in plantations which are being grown on their usurped land! The government also has no problem with recycling its schemes and allocations already accounted for in budgetary allocations and claiming them as part of the Covid package. For example, the money spent for cash transfers of 2,000 rupees to kisans mentioned in the March package. The Finance Minister admitted that this was so but declined to give more details.

A cruel blow was against farmers. At a time of crop losses, of added expenditures, of sales below MSP prices, the Government refused to give a waiver of loans or to increase the MSP. To add insult to injury, statistics were trotted out to show how much the government has done for rural workers during the lockdown period.  For example, the Finance Minister claimed that there was a 40-50 percent increase in workdays provided under MNREGA during the lockdown. 

A quick look at the official site shows an opposite picture: there was a reduction of 59 percent in workdays and 46 percent in households covered in the month of April compared to the same period last year – a case described by the old saying, “statistics, damn statistics and lies”. 

Even in the 5.4 lakh crore package announced for the MSMEs, the actual cost to the government is estimated at just 25,000 crores. The Finance Minister was put in a spot when she was asked how much was owed to this sector. Nitin Gadkari had in an earlier interview revealed that MSMEs were owed more than five lakh crore rupees, almost the exact equivalent of the package!

Why is the government being so coy about giving the figures? In fact, it has refused to do so. When asked at today’s press conference what the cash outflow would be and why it was not being given separately, the Finance Secretary answered this was the practice all over the world. 

Even if this were true, if other governments do not believe in transparency, why mimic a bad practice? The reluctance to give the actual expenditure is because even the highest estimate puts cost to government at just 4 lakh crores or 20 per cent of the package. This too seems an overestimate. It is based on the statement issued on May 8, that central government borrowings for the year will be increased by 4.2 lakh crores, which therefore is the amount the government would be spending on the Covid package. It is more likely, however, that the increased borrowing is to cover the huge revenue shortfall which is going to occur because of the lockdown. 

The truth is that the entire package is designed not to help workers and the poor but to push forward the government agenda of pro-corporate reforms. This was encapsulated by the Prime Minister’s coinage of the four Ls: labour, land, laws and liquidity. The lockdown is being used to promote further concentration in the control over the nation’s economic resources and to reverse basic rights of the working people. 

Nine state governments have diluted labour laws, including the extension of working hours to 12 by some. Three governments led by the BJP have suspended many labour laws for three years, basically turning workers into slaves. 

The dilution of the framework of environmental impact assessments in the new draft posted on the MOEFCC website, as well as the liberalization of regulations related to mining, presages a new phase of forcible acquisition of land, including forest land. 

The so-called reforms in the agricultural sector will make farmers more vulnerable to the manipulations of prices by big agribusinesses while weakening the system of government procurement at a guaranteed MSP. It is a strange definition of self-reliance that the government  is liberalizing all sectors to allow foreign investment, putting up the public sector for sale, smashing the core of India’s self-reliance.

The package is a hoax. Soon enough, the workers and kisans of India will, like the child in the fable, exclaim that the emperor has no clothes.

Refrences:

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/opacity-rules-the-hindu-editorial-on-how-electoral-bonds-undermines-voters-right-to-know-about-political-funding/article59778478.ece
https://thewire.in/government/as-electoral-bonds-go-on-sale-again-concerns-on-schemes-opacity-remain-unheard
https://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/2021/dec/22/electoral-bonds-have-been-a-mixed-bag-2398246.html
https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/narendra-modi-pm-cares-covid-19-relief-fund-6451071/
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/et-editorial/roll-back-some-fuel-taxes-to-feed-growth/articleshow/86760687.cms?from=mdr
https://thewire.in/economy/explainer-narendra-modi-fuel-price-taxed-upendra-tiwari
https://www.epw.in/engage/article/petrol-diesel-government-taxes-keep-retail-prices-high
https://www.ndtv.com/opinion/in-20-lakh-crore-package-strange-approach-to-self-reliance-2230258

World Economic Forum: Youth Disillusionment Among Top Risks For India (ndtv.com)

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