Government can bare its pro-industry fangs
many epithets, dripping with political morality a-characteristic of the event, were used to describe what transpired in Parliament on July 22, 2008, when the Congress-led upa managed to win a life-saving vote of trust in the Lok Sabha. But everyone acknowledged this day would change a lot of things for the country. Talk of bribery, intimidation and horse-trading was rife in the build-up to July 22. The day ended with bundles of currencies being tabled inside the Lok Sabha.
The Congress party was successfully able to project the crisis as one that took place because of differences on the Indo- us nuclear deal. But it was anything but the nuclear deal. What was strange was the Left parties also fell into this trap. More to the purpose, "All those economic reforms will be carried out now," asserted our finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram soon after the trust vote ended in the upa's favour. He did not waste any time in revealing the bigger agenda. The very next day he was talking about reforms in the insurance sector, raising the limit of foreign direct investment there.
The Left parties, for the last four and a half years, have acted as a vital check to pro-reforms forces within the government. It is ironic they lost out over the nuclear issue, bizarrely projected by Congress as the only energy security solution for India's people. The Left vetoed various policies heavily tilted in favour of industry. But now, who will play that role? Within the Congress, India's oldest political party, there does not seem to be any debate on industry-centric policies. Is it only a few key people within that decide the party line on economic policies? Does nobody within object?
No one contends India needs to grow. But who grows? At what cost? Industry-centric policies have been met with widespread protests; people are angry because they are losing their land and because only a few benefit, leaving the majority impoverished.
And now that dissonant voice in decision-making, that crucial corrective, no longer exists. The next nine months might change this country forever.
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