An Unpleasant Gift by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (MAY 26, 2012)

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam's perspective on UPA-II's three years in office and the beginning of the fourth.

UPA-II's anniversary celebrations seem to have come at an inopportune time. Caught up in a media blizzard, seemingly orchestrated to facilitate a transition in 2014, the Congress Party led UPA has few options.

Cornered and desperate to wriggle out of a sticky situation, the coalition is taking one mis-step after the other. Even measures that could make some economic sense would be political disasters as they do not go well with the voter.

A considerably large lobby within India and the United States is busy projecting Narendra Modi as the future prime minister of India a business-friendly, no nonsense guy, who thinks he is some kind of a reincarnation of the Iron Man, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Recently, the American news magazine Time did a transparently dishonest cover story on him with the title, Modi Means Business.

The woman who did the story (Jyoti Thottam) did not ask the opinion of the sufferers of 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom or the activists who are fighting for their cause. For her, the sorrow of Muslims did not matter, and it had to be either excised out of the narrative or to be given an insignificant play. The net result was that the victims voices were silenced in the story.

Modi suits the global corporate agenda of overpowering the state systems of developing countries, silence the people's voices and subvert their independent political agenda. A part of the propaganda against UPA is driven by this powerful lobby.

Not that UPA has not contributed to this in generous measure. It has always wanted to be seen doing things without really doing them. One example is a senior government minister claiming in public that 80 per cent of the Sachar Committee recommendations had been implemented.

The government's chief economist, Kaushik Basu, has admitted in an interview to the Times of India that decision-making has stalled in the UPA in the aftermath of repeated scams and an excessively cautious bureaucracy.

The economy is sputtering, causing worried foreign investors to withdraw their money. The rupees fall vis--vis the dollar is seemingly unstoppable. In that wake comes the Rs 7.5 hike per litre in petrol prices. Diesel and gas have soon to follow. Then will come the turn of other petroleum products like naptha, urea and all kinds of polymers and polyester yarn.

All this is going to create a havoc on the lives of common people because this will drive prices of every commodity in turn, pushing the cost of living for all of us. This is not a pleasant anniversary gift from the UPA-II.


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