Issue :   
December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Dec' 2017


Democracy well defined

In your pieces on right governance (Power Politics, November 2017) you have very rightly defined democracy as supposed to be foster nationbuilding, an emotional integration, with the multifaceted development of all sections of society in a state. I would not but absolutely share with your observation that the successive dispensations at the Centre and in the States in our Republic have cared little to accomplish this task. The grand principle our Constitution to ensure economic justice in the country is hardly in sight. Of late, inequality has rather increased in the country. New socio-economic frictions have surfaced following varied crimes, including communal and caste-related violence and aggressive cow vigilantism. The perverted minds within the ruling cliques have developed a prism of divisive politics to retain their grip over political power.
You have rightly counselled the Government to invoke the spirit of India and abandon all kinds of parochialism in its perception and development strategies. I hope this would enlighten those at the helm in our decision-making to honour democracy in real sense of the term.
I will take this opportunity also to share your conviction that no democracy can prosper without a strong Opposition. However, I wonder if the growing popularity of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in the recent past really generates any rays of optimism in our otherwise grim political scenario today. We have already experienced how the leadership in the Congress, too, has degenerated morally and intellectually since Nehru years. It speaks volumes about the party today that it sees no alternative to the Nehru family when it comes to its leadership.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has no base in India's society and politics. Yet she has remained unchallenged as the supreme leader of the party for such a long time. Before she took over the reins of the party, never had it happened in the history of the Congress Party that someone retained the party's leadership in this fashion. Now her son, the young Gandhi, is likely to assume the reins of the party. Though he has learnt a lot in the recent past, his sole qualification for this post remains that he is the son of former Congress Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The party today lacks democratic spirit. Without this no effective Opposition can ever be conceived.

J Christopher

Economy in bad shape

Dr Manmohan Singh Demonetisation and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) have proved disastrous for our economy. The other day former, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh rightly said, "Demonetisation has proved to be mere bluster to reap political dividends while the real offenders have escaped. I repeat, this was organised loot and legalised plunder." Singh said that the country needed to tackle the menace of black money and tax evasion. But demonetisation was not the pill to be prescribed for the same. He said, "One must remember that nowhere in the world has any democracy undertaken such a coercive move, withdrawing 86 per cent of legal tender in one single swoop."
Singh stressed that none of the stated objectives of the currency ban had been achieved. Yet the Central government, instead of drawing any lesson from its monumental mistake, went ahead and implemented GST. The former Prime Minster has said it has adversely hit the economy and the growth rate. It has broken the back of small and medium businesses in the country. The textile industry in Surat and the ceramic plants in Morbi have been affected. The GST is a badly designed and hastily implemented tax system. The GST — as envisioned by the UPA — was supposed to simplify taxation, with a single tax capped at 18%, to make life easier for businessmen. But the current GST is a great departure from that vision. It has transformed into a complicated mess, with multiple slabs and rates as high as 28%, along with additional cesses.

Krishna Chatterjee

Future of road project

Recently, the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre has announced an ambitious roads project. But its future is highly uncertain. The plan of the Government is said to be to spend almost Rs 7 lakh crore to build 83,677 km of highways. According to an estimate, Rs 2.09 lakh crore of its 5.35 lakh crore investment will be funded by market borrowings. Over Rs 1 lakh crore is expected to come in the form of private investment. Currently, private infrastructure companies are in trouble. The growth in private investment is at a 25-year low.

P Ramalingam

Greater cooperation

Narendra Modi It is good that Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the Japan-proposed, U.S.- endorsed plan for a "Quadrilateral" grouping, including Australia to provide alternative debt financing for countries in the Indo-Pacific. This will benefit India a lot. India today is a growing economy with ambitious domestic targets. Its needs often clash with those of its neighbours. With more connectivity India will have more space to serve itself and its neighbours in their development. India's contribution to its neighbours development projects can now be shared by other partners in the Quadrilateral group. It will also help India to counter China's growing influence in the region. The only problem is India may find it difficult now to object to an increase in U.S. naval warships and Japanese presence in the region. New Delhi would have to be careful about it.

Mahesh Barua

Uncertain path

Rex Tillerson It is heartening to note that during his recent visit to India, American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talked of the road ahead for New Delhi and Washington together for "the next 100 years". Tillerson also talked of India's role in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific. I am, however, not sure if this Indo-American path is certain. Knowledgeable sources say Tillerson talked of tackling Pakistan's support to terrorist safe havens. But the groups he referred to are not those that directly threaten India. They threaten Afghanistan and the American soldiers there. Besides, New Delhi wants to increase trade and development aid to Afghanistan through the Chabahar route. It is to be seen whether India can now increase its cooperation with Iran in this direction. The Trump administration seems to be hell bent on isolating the current Iranian leadership. Both New Delhi and Washington today talk of building an alternative coalition to China's Belt and Road Initiative as well as its moves in the South China Sea. But it is not clear where the funding would come from in this area.

J Mohapathi