Skip to main content

As fear 'grips' right liberals, Arvind Panagariya, too, would be declared anti-national?

Mahesh Vyas
By Rajiv Shah
It is surely well-known by now that India's top people in the power-that-be have been castigating all those who disagree with them as "anti-nationals". Nothing unusual. If till yesterday only "secular liberals", and "left-liberals" were declared anti-national, facts, however, appear to have begun surfacing that, now, guns are being trained against those who could be qualified as right liberals, too. Let me be specific.
The other day, a former bureaucrat of the Gujarat government, an IAS official, known for his keen perceptions of the state of the economy, whether India's or Gujarat's forwarded to me a video – an interview with Mahesh Vyas, managing director and CEO of India's topmost private sector data company, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).
Interviewed by the news portal “The Wire”, long dubbed as "left liberal" by critics, of late Vyas has made a niche for himself by strongly asserting how unemployment rates in the country have been continuously on the rise under Modi. Now, in the video interview he says, joblessness among the educated youth is anywhere between 20 and 25 per cent, highest in decades. 
Enough reason for him to be called "anti-national"? Maybe, but first let me try to summarize what all he said.
Vyas says, the situation is particularly bad in Delhi and Haryana (which “houses” India’s top urban centres Gurgaon and Faridabad), where unemployment has reached “around 30 per cent”, adding things have turned nearly as bad in Tamil Nadu. Vyas concurs with a study published by the Azim Premji University about a year ago – which I, like many others, reported in Counterview – that had made somewhat similar claims.
According to Vyas, India experienced high unemployment rate among the urban educated youth also in 1970s, insisting, the rate is high because of thee major reasons: One, the educated youth refuse to do menial jobs as they are “qualified”; two, they are dependent on parents for housing and monetary needs; and three, enough jobs aren’t available in the market that would lure them into taking up jobs they would like to do.
Vyas’ solution for unemployment is: Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis, Adanis etc. should come up with huge projects across the country to create jobs
Alongside, Vyas says, the poorer sections of the population –  semi-literate and illiterate – are "less unemployed” because they are forced to pick up any job they can do: They would readily push a hand cart or be a street vendor in order to survive. Not without reason, he argues, Bihar has “very low” employment rate.
So far so good. However, the solution he suggests bewildered me. In fact, it was news to me that a top economist and statistician pins all hopes in the big business. He admits, the small and medium sized industries suffered a major setback following the demonetisation move in November 2016, followed by “haphazard” implementation of the goods and services tax (GST).
Vyas notes, while the small and medium industries suffered a collapse, leading to sharp rise in unemployment rates among the urban educated youths, they can't be expected to revive, hence have little or no future. For, they were not, and will not be, internationally competitive. In fact, they don't have the inclination or the capacity do be that. So, what should be done?  Vyas provides a recipe, to which he regrets the industry or the government aren't still ready.
Arvind Panagariya
Vyas’ “solution” is this: Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis, Adanis etc. should come up with huge projects across the country that that would create employment opportunities. Also, the government public sector undertakings (PSUs) should do the needful and move in this direction.
When Mitali Mukherjee, the interviewer, asked him, does he see any such thing happening, Vyas replies in the negative, saying, not at least in the near future. He indicates, big business currently suffers from lack of confidence, and is not ready to invest. First there was imposition of more corporate taxes, then there was tax cut, for instance. 
In fact, Vyas contends, the big business has lost the propensity to invest which it had acquired in two years following Narendra Modi taking over reins of power in 2014, after which there was a sudden downslide. I was left wondering: Does this view of Vyas not put him in the category of a confirmed right-wing, conservative, albeit liberal, economist?
As the interview drew to a close, I found Vyas shaken by the way the powers-that-be, or circles close to Modi, appear to view him or persons like him, only because are critical of the way the economy is being run. Referring to massive data manipulation by the Modi government in order to project India as being on the right track, Vyas says, it was Arvind Subramanian’s paper that shook up the government to accept (unwillingly) that something is wrong on the data front.
Vyas says, quoting Subramanian’s paper, all knew that the economy, especially the industry, wasn't doing well, yet everyone, as if, waited for Subramanian’s paper to declare that the GDP growth was two to two-and-a-half lower than what the Government of India was stating – such was the level of data manipulation.
According to Vyas, following this paper, the government has begun to take things seriously, experts are putting their heads together. Here, I am tempted to quote Vyas. “It’s good that Arvind Subramanian’s paper shook up a little bit”, he says, but does not stop here. He hints how intolerant the government has become nowadays.
Wanting government to stop branding all critics and instead begin listening to what they are saying, this top expert says, “We should not have these polarized positions. Its good if there are engaging positions. We are an argumentative nation. It’s good to be argumentative. It’s good to engage, rather than call critics anti-nationals.”
One is unable to understand why Panagariya quit the government – he has been, and continues to be, outrightly pro-Modi
This was shocking, to say the least. A pro-corporate, neo-liberal economist (other acronyms for him could be liberal, conservative, right-wing) feels even he or his tribe may be called anti-national for his views, which are conceptually the same as those held by the powers-that-be!
Over the last few years, at least three liberal economists quit the government one after another – Raghuram Rajan, who was Reserve Bank of India governor, Arvind Subramanian, who was chief economic adviser to the Government of India, and Arvind Panagariya, who was vice chairman of the Niti Aayog. All of them are known for this centre-right views. Two of them, Rajan and Subramanian, have already been termed anti-national.
I am still unable to understand why Panagariya quit the government – he has been, and continues to be, outrightly pro-Modi. A senior IAS bureaucrat, who has worked in the Government of India, even abroad, for umpteen number of years, told me recently, the reason for Panagariya quitting the government was, again, "intolerance and interference" from circles around Modi.
While Rajan and Subramanian have by now been declared confirmed critics of Modi's governance, qualifying to be"anti-nationals", Panagariya, interestingly, also appears to have begun to gently but firmly begun suggesting that there are issued with Modi governance. In an editorial page article in the Times of India, which he tweeted to reach out to a wider audience, he has criticized Modi (of course, without naming him), for refusing to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Panagariya argues, “setting aside politics”, the view that India would lose out to China if it joined RCEP does not stand, as the “economic logic tells us that bilateral deficits and surpluses should not be a matter of concern.”
He says, “There are nearly 200 countries in the world and each of them strives to buy its imports from countries that charge it the lowest prices and sell its exports to countries that offer it the highest prices. It will be a wonder if these myriad transactions result in mutually balanced trade for each pair of countries.”
As for the “fears that China would flood Indian market with cheap imports”, Panagariya says, these are “exaggerated”, because “entry of cheap imports threatens local producers only if the latter remain inefficient and costly”. He insists, “Local producers that respond to competition by adopting new technologies, organising production activity better and cutting costs in other ways survive.”
In fact, Panagariya says, the officialdom must remember, trade liberalisation “is implemented gradually and in a predictable way, as we did during 1991-2007”, adding, “Accelerated growth during the past two decades owes much to trade liberalisation... We must drop our hesitations and act decisively, as we did during 1991-2007.”
So the period 1991-2007 was better than the Modi years? I am left wondering: Would Panagariya now be declared anti-national?
---
Source: www.counterview.net

Comments

Uma said…
Everyone in the government interferes with the working of quasi-government bodies as they want to show their powers. It is not surprising that Panagariya, Nilekanni, and others suffered in such an environment.

TRENDING

Hold your breath! UK ex-Muslims to celebrate Blasphemy Day on September 30

Soheil Arabi The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), in a suprise move, has decided to observe September 30 as the Blasphemy Day. In an email alert, Maryam Namazie, CEMB spokesperson, has asked anyone interested to join CEMB in celebrating blasphemy by " uploading your photo into our #blasphemyday frame and sharing on social media."

What this veteran Gandhian witnessed at Rajghat is indeed intensely disturbing

Renowned Gandhian, activist and physicist Professor VK Tripathi witnessed an “intensely worrisome” event at the Gandhi Samadhi on his birthday on October 2, 2021. “The children of the Hindutva criminals who assassinated him have captured places which are supposed to keep Gandhiji's heritage alive”, says Deepak Joshi in a Faceook post, insisting, “We should strongly protest against it. It is already too late.”

Forthcoming book explodes Western myth: Personal qualities are biologically inherited

Jonathan Latham, PhD, Executive Director, The Bioscience Resource Project, New York, has said in an email alert via JanVikalp that his forthcoming book about genetics and genetic determinism, provisionally titled "The Myth of The Master Molecule: DNA and the Social Order" criticises the notion that personal qualities are biologically inherited: *** The contention of the book is that the key organising principle of Western thought is the seemingly innocuous and seemingly simple idea that our personal qualities are biologically inherited. That is, our character derives from our ancestors rather than being an always-adapting product of our own experiences, decisions, and education. The book makes the case, first, that genetic determinism is a scientific fallacy. Organisms are self-organised systems and therefore are not genetically determined. Second, the explanation for the myth, which predates Mesopotamian cities of 6,000 years ago, is its utility. Genetic determinism rationa

International Energy Agency floats new plan to end oil, gas, and coal expansion

In major shift, International Energy Agency (IEA)’s World Energy Outlook has mainstreamed 1.5°C pathway, showing need to end oil, gas, and coal expansion, insisting on new fossil fuel phase-out benchmarks in order to test government ambition ahead of COP26. A report by Oil Change International, distributed by BankTrack: *** For the first time, the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s flagship annual report on global energy pathways, used worldwide to influence trillions of dollars in investment, details an achievable roadmap to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C). By making a 1.5°C scenario the benchmark of this year’s World Energy Outlook (WEO), the IEA challenges governments and companies to back up lagging Paris pledges with immediate action to shift the energy system away from fossil fuels. Notably, this year’s WEO solidifies the policy conclusion, first presented by the IEA in May , that no new oil, gas, and coal extraction projects should be approved under a 1.5°C-

Gujarat cadre woman IAS official who objected to Modi remark on sleeveless blouse

By Rajiv Shah Two days back, a veteran journalist based in Patna, previously with the Times of India, Ahmedabad, phoned me up to inform me that he had a sad news: Swarnakanta Varma, a retired Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat, who was acting chief secretary on the dastardly Godhra train burning day, February 27, 2002, which triggered one of the worst ever communal riots in Gujarat, has passed away due to Covid. “I have been informed about this from a friend in Jaipur, where she breathed her last”, Law Kumar Mishra said.

Known to have assissinated O'Dwyer, Udham Singh chose not to apologise to the British

Udham Singh (26 December 1899 – 31 July 1940), best known for assassinating Michael O'Dwyer , the former lieutenant governor of the Punjab in India , on 13 March 1940, done in revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919, for which O'Dwyer was responsible, was subsequently tried and convicted of murder and hanged in July 1940. While in custody, he used the name Ram Mohammad Singh Azad, which represents the three major religions of India and his anti-colonial sentiment. Writes a well-known analyst, "He too could have apologised. He chose the noose instead!" Udham Singh's speech prior to sentencing in UK: *** “I say down with British Imperialism. You say India do not have peace. We have only slavery Generations of so called civilisation has brought us everything filthy and degenerating. known to the human race. All you have to do is read your own history. If you have any human decency about you, you should die with shame. The brutality and blood

Diaspora protest as Biden failed to publicly address persecution of minorities in India

As Modi addressed UN, human rights groups decried “monstrosity” of persecution of Muslims, Christians, Dalits, and other minorities in India. Demonstrators gathered outside UN to protest fascism, hate campaigns, weaponized rape, apartheid, lynchings, unlawful arrests, attacks on the media, and other abuses in India: A report distributed by the diaspora group Hindus for Human Rights: *** While observers said it was “shameful” that President Biden failed to publicly address widespread persecution of religious minorities in India when he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 24, more than 100 members of interfaith and human rights groups spoke out as Modi addressed the United Nations General Assembly. Speakers condemned the egregious human rights violations and murders of religious minorities in India under a government that openly supports Hindu supremacy. The rally was sponsored by 21 organizations, including Ambedkar International Center, Ambedkar King S

Indian Doctors for Truth want Modi to stop overzealous universal vaccination drive

At a time when there is a huge demand to ensure that vaccination should be universal in order to gain immunity against the pandemic, an organisation called Indian Doctors for Truth, have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the “urgent need to stop the overzealous universal vaccination drive against Covid-19.  Read the letter, signed by 18 doctors and a health expert: ***

Non-entity 6 yrs ago, Indian state turned Fr Stan into world class human rights defender

Jharkhand's Adivasi women  By Rajiv Shah A lot is being written on Father Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest who is known more for his work for tribal rights in Jharkhand. His death at the age of 84, even when he was an under trial prisoner for his alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence three years go, has, not without reason, evoked sharp reaction, not just in India but across the world.

Ex-official: Why not offer Vaishnaw loss making BSNL, Air India to prove his worth?

By Rajiv Shah A senior chartered accountant, whom I have known intimately (I am not naming him, as I don’t have his permission), has forwarded me an Indian Express (IE) story (July 18), “Ashwini Vaishnaw: The man in the chair”, which, he says, “contradicts” the blog (July 17), "Will Vaishnaw, close to Modi since Vajpayee days, ever be turnaround man for Railways?" I had written a day earlier and forwarded it to many of my friends.