By Randeep Singh Surjewala, President, Youth Congress : ‘Hunger, Unemployment and Corruption’ have become bane of Indian economy under BJP led NDA alliance. Prior assuming power, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee promised freedom from ‘fear and want’. Guided by Sangh parivar and its many ‘avtaars’, he delivered exactly the opposite i.e. ‘poverty, unemployement and negative growth of core agricultural sector’.
‘Shine India’ or ‘Sheer India’?
Driven by advertisement oriented media hype, BJP is in a self congratulatory overdrive mode over 8% growth rate achieved in one quarter of current year (July to September 2003).
LPG (Liberalisation, privatization and globalisation) of BJP has conveniently abdicted the ‘real economy’ – employment and agriculture. Prime Minister has forgotten that economy’s performance must be viewed in terms of ‘employment – livelihood security’. This is the touch stone of constitutionally sanctified national objective of justice – social, economics and political – for all sections of society.
NDA’s myopic vision on these core issues coupled with corruption scams worth over 50 thousand crore in five years of governance has amply shorn the ‘myth of morality’, leaving the ‘real India’ lagging behind.
Unemployment – BJP’s Half Truths
Not since pre-independence India, unemployment has been this steep. Under BJP, unemployment rate has seen a quantum jump from 5.99% in 1993-94 to 7.32% in 1999-2000. Add to it the drastic decrease in total employment – from 282.45 lac in 1996-97 to 277.89 lac in 2001-01. ‘Feel Good’ driven BJP’s policies have ensured that ‘public sector employment’ has been reduced from policies have ensured that ‘public sector employment’ has been reduced from 195.60 lac in 1996-97 to 191.38 lac in 2000-01 while thereforms oriented and concessions driven ‘private sector’ has also seen job reductions from 86.85 lac in 1996-97 to 86.52 in 2001 (Economic survey, CSO survey Government of India).
Pace of employment slowed down from 2.07% to 1.07% over last decade ending 1999-2000. What is even more worrisome is that over last six years, we have added 84 lac unemployed every year while only 30 lac have found jobs.
9th Five Year Plan (1997-2002) promised 5.40 crore jobs. Prime Minister promptly declared creation of one crore jobs per year. It turned out to be white lie. NDA has again announced its grandiose plans of creating five crore jobs in the just released 10th Five Year Plan document (2002-2007). Its record of promises and delivery has, however, never matched.
Poverty Alleviation/ Employment Generation Schemes Perjury of People’s Faith
Government statistics reveal rank callousness, failure to utilize funds meant for employment generation schemes and even a certain amount of political dishonesty.
Prime Minister, Shri Vajpayee launched ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna’ with great fan fare on his own birthday i.e. 25th December 2000 for providing 1,60,000 roads to unconnected habitations at a cost of Rs. 60,000 crore by April, 2007. To finance the scheme, a diesel cess of Rs. 1 per liter was imposed resulting into a collection of over Rs. 10,000 crore till date. As against this, only 10,882 roads have been constructed uptill December 2002 at a cost of Rs. 3321.59 crore meeting only 6.8% of the target in two years.
Economic Survey reflects a total of 26.3 crore ppor in India. At 5 persons per family, it is 5.20 crore poor families. Prime Minister, Shri Vajpayee launched ‘Antoyada Anna Yojna’ on his own birthday i.e. 25th December 2001 for providing 25kg. of foodgrains per family per month (300 Kgs. Per annum) in order to cover 1 crore poorest family out of BPL families 2002-03 figures reveal that only 16.78 lac ton foodgrains have been lifted. It clearly establishes that scheme failed to reach 44.1% of targeted families (16.78 lac ton / 300=55.93 lac families) in the very first year.
In ‘Swaran Jayanti Gram Swarojgar yojna’, an amount of Rs. 838.84 crore remains unutilized for over 3 ½ years (April 1999 to December 2002) indicative of government’s priorities.
In ‘Swaran Jayanti Shehri Rojgar Yojna’, an amount of Rs. 128.79 crores remained unutilized out of a total budgetary allocation of Rs. 168 crores in 2001-02. In 2002-03, an amount of Rs. 73.61 crore only has been utilized in this scheme as against budgetary allocation of Rs. 105 crore.
In ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya yojna’ for providing rural shelter, an amount of Rs. 135.34 crore has not been inexplicably released by Government out of a total Central allocation of Rs. 406.85 crore in 2001-02. Similarly, despite a budgetary allocation of Rs. 256.85 crore for ‘Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojna’, a sum of Rs. 44.98 crore has been withheld by Government of India.
Pronouncement then performance seen to be the key to poverty alleviation by NDA.
Agricultural Growth – A Systematic Deception
Agriculture runs the giant wheel called India. Agriculture contributed 25% of gross domestic product (GDP), employs 59.8% of total work force and supports 2/3rd of 105 crore population.
Under BJP’s rule, we have seen a shocking reduction of Central Plan outlay for ‘Agriculture and Allied Sector’ from 3.38% of the Central plan outlay in 1996-97 to 1.62% in 2002-03. Similar reduction has been seen for ‘Irrigation and Flood Control’ from 1.05% of Central plan outlay in 1996-97 to 0.28% in 2002-03. Even Public Sector investment in agriculture has grossly reduced from Rs. 24,524 crore (in the period 1991-96) to Rs. 13,596 crore (in the period 1998-2001).
GDP – Agricultural Sector Rate has, thus, seen a decline from 4.8% (in the period 1992-93 to 1996-97) to 1.7% (in the period 1997-98 to 2001-02). Share of agriculture in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been reduced from 34.93% in 1990-91 to 25% in 2002-03. Share of agriculture as a percentage of India’s exports has been reduced from 20.33% in 1996-97 to 14.04% in 2001- 02.
Slump in this prime mover of development engine resulted in a marked reduction of growth rate in ‘Agricultural Employment’ from 2.47% (in the period 1987-88 to 1993-94) to 0.14% (in the period 1993-94 to 1999-2000). A natural corollary of the above is that percentage of work force dependant on agriculture as an avocation has been reduced from 63.9% in 1993-94 to 59.8% in 1999-2000.
Even in this blessed monsoon year, Kharif output of foodgrains is lower than two years ago. Rabi predictions are no better. Under 1991-96 Congress regime, India became a net exporter of edible oils. Under BJP, edible oil import bill has zoomed to $ 2000 million. Lopsided anti-farmer policies, unabashed rise in input costs, rising indebtedness, failure to link cost of production to minimum support price and designed abolition of minimum support price mechanism has caused a spate of suicides putting a question mark on the very future of Indian agriculture.
Finance Minister’s Capitalistic outpourings – A post-dated Cheque of a Failed Bank.
By-passing Parliament once again, Finance Minister announced freebies including huge tax cuts on the capitalistic/luxurious goods for nouveau-riche an upper middle class, on 8th and 9th January, 2004. These announcements levy an admitted burden of 11,000 crore rupees as per Finance Ministry. Rural India including lower middle class, poor, unemployed, farmers and farm labourers were once again given a go-bye. While BJP reduced excise duty on aviation fuel to half, scraped the inland as also outbound air travel tax, cut duty on non-farm goods to 20% on Digital Video Discs to 0%, on mobile phone to as low as 9% prices of diesel – life line of 72.2% people living in rural India – were increased by agricultural goods. What is shocking is that not even a rupee has been increased in MSP of wheat and other Rabi crops.
Now that BJP is on the edge of being voted out, they announced a media driven agricultural reform package of Rs. 50,000 crore for agricultural sector and Rs. 10,000 crore for small scale Industries. Where were they all these six year? Finance Minister knows that there is absolutely no money in the kitty. It will not be necessary for BJP – led NDA to produce the money – or admit they don’t have it – till after the elections. It is a post-dated cheque on a failed bank.
‘Feel Good’ is ‘Feel Deceived’
‘Marketing Gurus’ designed, advertisement propelled, publicity driven, CII/FII’s inspired and power hungry ‘feel good’ of Shri Vajpayee led NDA is ‘feel deceived’ for the poor, unemployed youth, farmer and farm labourer of India comprising of over 800 million. It is time to call the hoax.