Sonia’s Misrule (2004-14) much More Harmful than Religious Intolerance of 2015
The surprising election of Sonia led UPA in 2004 was a poor choice made by the voters. In June 2004, India was surging ahead. The economy was in cruise mode. India was actually shining. Poverty alleviation was of course an issue which needed greater attention. Ten years of Sonia’s misrule brought the country into a miserable situation. Thankfully the UPA was ousted and Modi came to power. Over one year of NDA’s rule has improved the situation, but not drastically, owing to the poor legacy of the UPA coupled with the lack of bold actions by the Modi and Jaitley combine. Religious intolerance is greatly in news in India today, primarily because a former RSS Pracharak is the PM and the Hindu fundamentalists feel encouraged to indulge in their acts of religious intolerance against the minorities. The situation is not as grim as the reports make us feel. This blog compares the negative impacts of the ten years of Sonia’s misrule with the religious intolerance being witnessed in 2015.
Assessment of Sonia’s Misrule
In 2004 India was shining and in 2014 India had become miserable. Some major macroeconomic parameters changed in India as follows in the ten years:
- GDP growth was 8% in 2004 and had come down to 4.7 % (later revised to 6.9% by change of base year- did not appear to be true!).
- Inflation was 4% and food inflation was 2%. It had become 10.2% and 12.4 % respectively.
- Budget deficit was below 4%. It had gone up to 5.3 % in 2012-13.
- Current account was a surplus of 2% of GDP. It had become a deficit of 4.8 % of GDP in 2012-13.
- The Rupee fell against the Dollar from Rs 49 in 2004 to above Rs 60 in 2014.
- The scams and taxation regime had made India lose international confidence. International sentiment for India started improving when the world realized that Sonia would be out of power in 2014 and the market surged!
- The usually silent corporate world was heard using the term ‘policy paralysis’ to describe Sonia’s misrule.
There were several poor economic policies. If one were asked to single out the worst economic policy of Sonia, then energy subsidies – for diesel, kerosene and above all power — must be a strong contender. Consider the bad outcomes that power subsidies caused or abetted: bad crop mix in agriculture, depleted water resources, unprofitable and mismanaged state electricity boards, under-investment in power, lower economic growth and higher carbon emissions.
Rise of Religious Intolerance in India
Modi was an RSS pracharak and was the CM of Gujarat in 2002, when mass Muslim killings took place. Notwithstanding the fact that his explicit or implicit complicity could not be proved in a court, his association with the Gujarat riots cannot be wished away. He became India’s PM on the agenda of development. His rise to power has encouraged the Hindu hardliners. We are thus witnessing acts of religious intolerance. If we compare the current situation with the past data it would be clear that such acts have not increased dramatically. The negative impact of such acts is not at all comparable with what Sonia had done in ten years of misrule. However, Modi is guilty of speaking too little too late and not initiating firm action against people like Som. Modi was welcomed by the Silicon Valley in US. It would, however be hard to imagine that Google or Microsoft would even think of starting something in Muzaffarnagar, or Dadri!
Conclusion: India’s Future
The impact of rise of religious intolerance in India under Modi is to some extent over hyped. My advice to him, however, would be to not try to win the votes of this ‘Hindutva’ vote bank and act quickly and firmly against such hate mongers. He need not make statements against them. We know well that actions speak much louder than words. India needs him to do a lot of good work and this is a part of that work!