Monday, May 17, 2010

Year 1 of UPA 2

Watching the PM address a press conference where answers have been smaller than those on Twitter, one wonders if the PM really means what he is saying because one year performance actually shows something else.

UPA2 started with a lot of expectations since Congress had won sizeable seats and there was no dependence on Left, Laloo, Mulayam etc. It was claimed in media that now Manmohan Singh will be allowed to implement his economic reforms, Sonia Gandhi her social ideas and Rahul Gandhi his vision for the future. Also one felt that this tenure around, PM will ensure clean cabinet. But has it really happened? Today we have a PM and his senior colleagues battling their own partymen, allies fighting other ministers, some allies making pots of loads of money, an ally working more as a regional satrap that national minister. So what has been done well and what has failed in last one year?

  • Right to Education - One of the positive steps one has seen government take is on education with right to education bill. Kapil Sibal has put a lot of effort on this reform which if implemented well can ensure a greater future.
  • Women's Reservation Bill - The Women's Reservation Bill giving women 33% reservations was passed by the Rajya Sabha. One hopes the passage of the bill allows political empowerment of women. Though one has to credit the BJP and Left Parties without whose support this would not have been possible as some allies if the UPA looked certain to stop this bill. They did succeed in preventing the final passage of this bill by bartering their support in cut motions in lieu of postponement of the Bill in Lok Sabha
Apart from this, the government has made some right noises in Food Security Bill but that has been shelved for the time being due to differences between Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.


  • Naxal Violence- When P Chidambaram took over as the Home Minister, there was lot of expectation. Partly because the man he replaced was a total disaster and PC too showed quick learning abilities. So when post election, we moved into a phase where he started acting swift against naxals, he was supported by opposition too. But then came the big betrayal. First Mamata and her party played spoilsport when it came to taking on Maoists in WB and then the 10, Janpath ganang led by Digvijay Singh and backed by Gandhi loyalists. It is a shame that today on a crucial issue like Naxal violence, while opposition is standing strong with the Home Minister, his hands and legs too are being tied by his own people. And it only makes the matter worse that both PM and UPA Chairperson are silent over this sensitive issue.
  • International Affairs - Pakistan still keeps poking us in the eye because it knows we dont have a will to hit back hard.The Mumbai attack masterminds are roaming freely in Pakistan, India continues it dossier diplomacy. At Sharm al Sheikh, while we absolved Pakistan govt of promoting terror, we threw our interests away with the acceptance on Baluchistan. One summit did not teach us a lesson and so we allowed them to delink terror from talks.A price to pay for PM's single minded obsession to come across as a statesman in Vajpayee mode. With China continuing it aggressive postures on the borders, we saw our union ministers like jairam Ramesh throw away national interests and lobby for Chinese telecom equipment companies. US on one hand makes allright noises with the show of mutual respect between Obama and Manmohan, and on other hand provides military aid to Pakistan as usual. The same US admin does not allow India to further its national interests and play a role in redevelopment of Afghanistan.
  • Economy- The PM last during the elections last year promised to curb price rise within 100 days of coming to power. It is end of year one and prices have just increased. Specially sugar, pulses and other essential commodities. Agri Minsiter Pawar said prices to be controlled by June, then Finance Minister Pranabda said inflation will be controlled by Sept and in his press conference, PM said prices to come down by December. The governemtn seems to be playing a game of procastination while the poor man suffers and fights for 2 full meals. utOn commerce and growth many say India did not fare as badly in recession as others but what they forget is that India is an emerging power and so in that state, the systems are still strong to take punches. What surprises one is that the government in last six years has been silent on divestment of PSUs and on FDI. While one can blame Left for this not happening earlier, PM now has no excuse. Due to this the growth has been more subdued than it should be. This is the worst one could have expected from an economist minister.
  • Corruption - If there is one point where this government seems to be totally in control, it is on corruption. They have allowed their ministers to go scotfree and almost institunionalised corruption. Telecom Minister Raja has broken all records when it comes to corruption. His multi-million crore telecom scam has hit the nation real hard but no one in UPA is complaining and even the 'oh so decent' PM is speechless. Add to this the IPL scam and the fingers pointed at Shashi Tharoor, Praful Patel, Sharad Pawar. While Tharoor being a lightweight had to go, the others are making merry. The pulses scam, the BT scam are all out in open but no action taken.
  • Infrastructure - When NDA government was in powe under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the amount of road development that used to take place was more than 15kms a day on an average and today, this is lower than 10lkms a day at the best. Now with Congress govts like Maharashtra, AP and others like UP showing no signs of ingrastructre developement, the road project seems to be heading nowhere. Very interestingly when it comes to infrasturcture like roads, ports, power etc, the states doing the best are all NDA ruled states like Gujarat (all over infrastructure), MP (Roads), Karnataka (Ports), Bihar (Roads, Power). All this while Sonia and Rahul go around the country lamenting lack of development.
  • Other lows -The list of other lows would be Non-implementation of NREGS due to corruption and lack of infra projects. Telengana issue being mishandled completely leading to virtual shut down of a state for weeks. North East is reeling with violence and Manipur is on verge of being cutoff from the country due to blockade. The divisive voices have gathered momentum after government has spoken about implementing Sachar and Mishra committee reports. Only in the 70s and 80s, that CBI, IB, IT Dept etc were used to blackmail and pressure political allies and opponents to support the government. This is a throwback to the draconian days.

Many channels have done their ratings and most of it has been average with some of it saying that the PM has not delivered on his promise yet. This one year has been a year of broken promises and more mess. UPA 2 so far is lucky because opposition is still finging its feet.

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