Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An agenda to stop India's progress

In an earlier post, I mentioned how easy it was for India to vault to a 12% annual growth rate. The government only had to get its governance right. I emphasized the role of the government. I forgot to mention the role of the people.....that the people of the country need to have the desire to grow fast.....and have the maturity to decide what's good for them.

The opposition's approach these days is to block all governmental programs. Take the example of the power sector. Everyone cribs about the shortage of power. So the government (and I am not holding the brief for any one political party) goes about launching coal based power projects.....because India is a massive producer of coal. But suddenly the brakes are put because coal mining is a huge issue. Someone or the other is being displaced. And that's enough for our socialist mindset to get active and start complaining. Solution: Import the coal. Problem: Takes a long time; proves expensive; raises cost of power; slows down the economy.

Take nuclear power. The entire Jaitapur controversy. An ambitious program that is sought to be scuttled. TV channels put together a panel of "experts".....who argue both for and against. Agreed.....there is an environmental issue here. But should we so openly doubt the integrity of the experts who are still in service?....think they have fudged the environmental impact assessment? Those who have retired - do they necessarily have more credibility than the current scientists - or are they trying to remain relevant in any way possible? Does anyone think that the current Environment minister - jairam ramesh - is one who is too lenient on environment issues? If his ministry has cleared Jaitapur, is there reason to doubt the action? And yet, there is a raging debate about whether India should go ahead with Jaitapur or not. Innovation false accusations - that the reactor designs havent been tested - are being hurled.

In short.....there is a very serious habit of complaining about anything and everything. For any step the government takes, there are going to be cribbers all around. This can cripple economic growth.

That brings me again to the role of media. Again, in the search for sensationalism, media loves anything that creates discord. A smoothly progressing country hardly makes for good TRPs.

What's the end result? A complete stoppage of all government work. With the opposition having boycotted Parliament for the entire session....there is hardly any legislative work happening. But now, even government work is being stopped.

The real truth is that there are too many vested interests against letting a government perform. Its already proven now.....that a performing government secures a 2nd or 3rd term. The opposition dreads a performing government. So they block everything. Its partner in crime is media....esp TV media. Politicians know the media's need for sensationalism. TV channels would lose all TRPs if they show-cased the good work being done by the government. Opposition and media - clearly partners in the crime. Neither of them cares for the country. Both are playing a parochial self serving game.

Which brings me to the point I raised earlier. Do people have the maturity to put a stop to all this? Will people force TV to stop the spread of such negativity ? Will they tell their politicians to lay off? Their response will determine whether we grow at 12% or slump down to the infamous 5% Hindu rate of growth. It will also prove whether democracy is a strength or a huge weakness of country trying to come out of poverty and scale the heights of progress.

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