Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Its the Economy, Stupid!

No, I am not merely recalling Bill Clinton's unofficial slogan for his presidential re-election bid of 1996. This is what I want to tell a host of mandarins (elected and unelected ones, ruling and opposing ones) sitting in South and North Block who have decided to bury their heads like ostriches into the sand. If I do not see the hunter, he is not there. Similarly, they can wish all that they want to, but any complaints about the more than 7 rupee hike in petrol prices is just a signal of the financial mess that we have created for ourselves right now, thanks to myopic work done by the ruling dispensation. Add to that the oversell of Manmohan Singh, Kaushik Basu and Montek Singh Ahluwalia. three 'progressive' economists who just seem to be warming chairs, and outsiders fail to understand where we went so horribly wrong.
If one wants to put the economy on track, we need economic reforms. That does not stand only for FDI in retail (which by the way does NOT need Parliament's approval - it can be brought out as a notification, and Mamata Bannerjee can cry herslef hoarse about Monmon Shing, but she will not pull out of the government). What about divesting stake of PSUs and selling off stake in those where it is already in a minority? (case in point - Maruti Suzuki, BALCO)  Piyush Goyal's argument in Rajya Sabha was bang on when he said that the low hanging fruit that need to be gathered first. What about inviting FDI in such sectors as aviation and perhaps selling off Air India? (since it does not manage to find a way to run the airline professionally) Nope, and here again is a case of political bluffs that scare people in their trousers.
Petrol hike will not save the oil companies (another sector where the government is hell bent on bleeding itself). It is a much needed diesel hike that will save them, for diesel consumption is far higher in India.What is really needed instead is to hike diesel prices and raise standards for fuel efficiency in the trucks while modernizing railways by making it the source of transporting goods. What stops the government from enforcing better efficiency standards in the heavy moving vehicles? That will help prevent the skew in balance. Moreover it is time that we all realize that public transportation is the way to go. 
It is high time people got some sense. If the economy does not survive, this country won't either. After all, its all about the economy stupid.

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