When a Parliamentarian Endorses an Ill-informed Article

T minus 3 hours,  a friend of mine shares an article on FB on the U-Turns made by Modi Government in last 3 years. The post was originally shared by Shashi Tharoor, a noted parliamentarian from Kerala. So I decided to take a look at what these U-turns were. I wasn’t surprised by the content. It was as hollow as the Anti-Modi Brigade. In fact, It was from a website which has “joke” in its very name.

Read here: http://www.rajnikantvscidjokes.in/10-big-u-turns-bjp-taken-coming-power-modi-fans-need-read/

*Quickly scroll through the above link. It’ll help you relate with my article*

The original post from Tharoor had about 9000 likes and about 2700 shares. I felt, like the author of the article, the one’s who shared it are either bankrupt of knowledge or were simply propagandists like Dr. Tharoor himself. I decided to provide a rebuttal and hence penned down this piece.

My arguments are based on three underlying beliefs:

  1. Like Individuals. Political Parties grow and learn as they evolve (No. I haven’t started being Defensive . I’ll answer all these U-turns coherently)
  2. Personalities Do Matter, but it is wrong to Confuse personality themselves as the sole representative of the Party.
  3. Facts and Figures tell far more convincing stories than those told by ones who bestow little significance to the same.

Now, coming to the article. Firstly, it’s a popcorn tabloid with an author who seems to be a dilettante with an impeccable lean towards left.  Hence, such a ill-informed, center left article with no credible proof requires zero attention but for the need  to inform you and others who consumed the article as is. Let’s bust each “U-turn”  one by one.

  1. FDI

Yes it was suggested for the first time in 2002 by a “Group” of Ministers, when NDA was in power. This group had 5 ministers, headed by the then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and later Jaswanth Singh. Off the 5, it was Murasoli Maran of the DMK who had proposed  100 FDI in Retail. While the GoM considered it important, many BJP leaders had opposed the move even back then. Subsequently, in BJP’s 2004 Election’s Vision Document, FDI did not find a place although it was mentioned in NDA’s poll manifesto.

Cut to 2011, when BJP opposed FDI in Multi-Brand retail, it was primarily against the majority 51 % investment that government had provisioned. Also, there was a fear of large scale exit of domestic businesses and Kirana shops due to the new entrants like Walmart and Tesco. But over the years, this notion has been negated by co-existence of MBR’s like Big Bazaar and More Outlets with the local Kirana shops. The wise learn from experience and so did BJP.

As far as current allegation is concerned, it doesn’t even speak of the sector in which BJP opposed FDI. Such clarity, you see? Yes, Modi Government has made provisions for 49% in Retail, 100% FDI in Railways, 49% FDI in Defence, 100 % FDI in projects relating to Food processing, 100 % FDI in e-commerce space – all these involve transfer of technology and asset creation and not just hiring of  cheap labour as envisioned by UPA.

  1. AADHAR

After 1999 Kargil War, a Group of Ministers, again, had prepared a report on “Review of National Security”, where it was clearly mentioned that, to tackle illegal immigration, there needs to be a Multi-Purpose National Identity Card. See the below image.

GoM
Snippet from the report

So the claim that Aadhar was introduced by UPA is not right one bit. Secondly, before 2014 polls, all that BJP said was there are security concerns in the Aadhar. That It will review the same and if required, make necessary changes to it. Apart from this, BJP had always argued for National Population Registry Number to transfer benefits directly to its rightful owner. So the credit of success of the DBT also should go to the idea and not the means through which it got implemented.

  1. Indo Bangla Land Swap Deal

I agree, this was initiated by Mrs Gandhi way back in 1970s but still had to be steered and implemented in a mutually agreeable manner. When Dr. Manmohan Singh first introduced the deal in 2013, BJP supported its primary opponents, Trinamool Congress and Asom Gana Parishad, both regional parties from West Bengal and Assam.

The reason why TMC and AGP ganged up against the deal was majorly because of its Populist stands and the impending Elections. Although BJP opposed it initially, It supported the Deal in winter session of 2013 after understanding and valuing the larger national interest involved. So the U turn, if you still want to call it that way, happened well before Modi.

  1. Bangladeshi Immigrants

I have already talked about BJP’s long standing concern of illegal immigration, earlier in this article. I need not repeat it. But, I’ll surely add. Look up how Government of Assam, a BJP led one,  is dealing with illegal immigrants in Assam.

  1. Civil Nuclear Deal

India has had the good fortune of having leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee who held India’s Interests high and propelled India towards being a Nuclear Weapons State. Right after the Pokhran test, It was NDA government which propounded “No-First- Use” Policy. This step greatly convinced the world about India’s role as Protector of its Citizens and not as an Aggressor. If not entirely, this policy contributed in its own way to the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

BJP’s concern was always about Nuclear Sovereignty. UPA had proposed to gradually place 90% of India’s  nuclear installations under the safeguards of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which was unacceptable to BJP. Also, the safeguard was devoid of the agreement. So if US broke the agreement anytime in future, India would still be keeping its installations under IAEA’s vigil.

There were also other important issues that BJP fought for, like, clauses on Civil-Military Classification of Installations, reprocessing of the nuclear fuel etc., the debate on which bettered the deal as whole. Again, Modi wasn’t even there in the picture. That said, he has single handedly won confidence and agreements from countries like Australia and Canada which have agreed to supply Uranium to India despite India not being a NSG member state.

  1. Black Money

Those of you who back Congress don’t even have the moral right to ask what Modi ji has done about black money. So Sshhh. Others who are only curious to know What has been done by BJP about Black Money post 2014, read on. In the very first cabinet meeting, the government appointed the SIT, which the Supreme Court had been asking for since 2011. There have been a series of steps taken after that.

Income Declaration Scheme, intended to unearth Black money, saw deposits of the order of Rs.4170 Cr. of which government intends to collect Rs. 2500 Cr as taxes. A total of 774 cases have been registered till 2016. To penalise and punish Black Money Holders, Black Money and Imposition of Tax Act was passed in 2015. So far Rs. 16000 Cr of Black Money has been uprooted.

With US, Government signed Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act has been signed to seek cooperation and information in nabbing the defaulters. Automatic Exchange of Information norm has also been signed with Switzerland. The efforts will bear fruits come 2018 when the actual cooperation begins.

Demonitization, cannot be called a hit or failure as yet. It is largely because neither there is a Economic theory or a case study which talks about Demonitization nor there is an empirical model which can measure the success of such an exercise. So the yardstick to quantity the performance of Demonitization is yet to be formulated. I am sure there are economists who are working on it as I type this. But it is believed  to have positively helped in curbing menace of Black Money. The regulations for Bank transactions laid out in Finance Bill 2017 and increased thrust given to Digital Payments will only add strength to this effort.

  1. Electricity Fares

When Modi govt. took over, about 2/3rd of our nations power plants were running dry of Coal. Today, India is Coal Surplus, the import bills have come down by Rs. 28000 Cr. and for the first time after Independence, India is also Power Surplus. How does this help? In Power Pricing, experts monitor two important indices namely Average Cost of Supply (ACS) and Average Revenue Generation (ARG).

The average gap between the two indices,  nationwide,  is about 20 %. Meaning year after year,  the state run distribution companies DISCOMs have been incurring great losses. In 2016, the losses amounted to Rs. 3.4 lakh Cr. while debts stood at Rs. 4.3 lakh Cr. It is these DISCOMS which decide the price, not the Central government.

But with such losses, how does one reduce tariffs? To address this issue, Modi Government has come up with a scheme called UDAY. The government is trying to bail them out of losses and eventually lead to price reduction. To further add, government has distributed over 20 cr. LED bulbs under UJALA which in itself will contribute a great deal in reducing the electricity bill while also cutting down CO2 emissions by 44,000 tonnes. Modi Govt. never talked about reducing electricity fares, it only said, Electricity for all. So the last allegation too, holds no ground.

As for the Point on Rao Inderjeet Singh, it is purely nit picking. The Author must have shoved it in just to complete the list.

If you read all the above, congrats! If you have found reason with my reasons, do share the post and comment.

By the way, pardon me for any errors. Also, not written as eloquently as I would  like.shashi tharoor

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