An Open Letter to the Prime Minister
Prime Minister Sir,
I am writing this letter as a citizen of India after listening to your speech in Parliament which made me feel sad, feel very angry about the way you responded by either skirting the issue or blaming external factors and the favorite whipping boy of your govt. -the main opposition party.
First thing that struck me was, you didn’t even express any sense of gratitude towards the main opposition party for letting you pass FSB, LAB bills in the last week. A bit of grace wouldn’t have harmed anyone.
To start with, on the rupee slide you blamed the external factors, FED tapering its quantitative easing, looming possibility of war in Syria, Oil, Coal, Gold imports.
During the 2008 financial crisis – we were told by you and your govt. that we were being hit by the US financial crisis. And now you seem to be suggesting because the US economy is recovering, fed is tapering Quantitative easing, and therefore its impacting us. Sir, assuming that all these are true – what has your govt. done to remove this global dependency?
Aren’t these mere excuses for your inability to handle things? That too in the 9th year of your tenure.
You mentioned that the falling rupee helps exports by encouraging exports, manufacturing. The latest GDP data for Q2 of 2013 shows 4.4%, lowest in the last 4 years. Manufacturing and mining activities decreased by 1.2 percent and 2.8 percent respectively. Coal imports have gone up by 33% in the quarter ending June 2013 (YOY); 27.7 million tonnes of coal was imported from the period from April – June. Estimated imports for FY 2014 are 180 MT. clearly nothing has changed till June.
Isn’t it your responsibility to give a clear picture and roadmap to the country on what you are planning to do? What makes us cringe is we have coal reserves which can cater for a 100 yrs if not more. We still end up importing it.
You have referred to our ‘hunger’ for gold and the need to reduce it, there are two categories here- one the gold bars and the other Jewelry. Import figures in Apr-Jun were Bars-122 MT and jewelry-188 MT. this is more than double compared to last year Apr-Jun quarter. This surge is happening in India when global demand is at a 4 yr low. This shows that, it’s not just the jewelery gold that people buy during festival seasons, but it’s also the fact the people are not finding any other reliable investment opportunities with real interest rates in the economy being almost in negative territory and stock markets crashing.
Instead of making a sweeping statement on the ‘hunger’, would it not have been a good signal to us, to talk about how you are planning to provide reliable investment opportunities for people so that the demand for gold will reduce?
You made an important point that the judiciary should take care of corruption and parliament should be allowed to run and blamed the opposition for not allowing the parliament to run. It looks fine as a principle but none of what you or your govt. has done in the last 9 yrs gives any sense of credibility to your statement. Let us look at some examples on how you didn’t keep the promises you made to the Parliament. I can’t think of any important instance where you kept the promises made to the Parliament by pursuing corruption cases or any other issues. We only heard clichés “We will not let the corrupt go unpunished”, or “we’ll do whatever we can”.
The biggest problem we face in day-to-day lives today is the price rise. The consumer price index has been in double digits for 5 yrs. CPI was 192 in Jul-2011, reached 231 in Jul-2013. Which is a 20% rise in 2 yrs. There was a ‘sense of the house’ resolution in Parliament in 2010 to tackle the price rise issue. You formed a committee of CMs headed by Narendra Modi to give recommendations on the steps to be taken
By early 2011, the committee came up with a report containing the list of steps that can be these steps included, keeping the essential commodities out of futures market temporarily, setting up of a price stabilization fund, and unbundling of FCI operations (procurement, storage and distribution). It is now 2 yrs and we have no clue on what happened to that report. Isn’t it your responsibility to inform the house on the action taken?
How and why should we believe on anything you tell us sir? Where is the credibility? Surely, you can’t blame the opposition for this. In spite of all the current problems, an improvement in CPI would have created lot of ‘feel good’ atmosphere amongst the poor and middle class people.
On the CWG scam, after lot of discussions and debates in Parliament you agreed for to form a committee headed by the respected former CAG head Mr. Shunglu to look into the irregularities. You made a thumping statement “we’ll not let the corrupt go unpunished”. Shunglu committee came up with a report primarily blaming Kalmadi. All the findings of the committee were rejected by the cabinet and Kalmadi’s name doesn’t find a mention in the CBI’s report.
You kept quiet during all this fiasco, as if this insult to the country wasn’t enough - recently when IOA banned India citing the corrupt practices, we all felt ashamed as citizens of India. Aren’t you directly responsible for this sir? How will you blame the opposition here?
Isn’t it because of the opposition and the civil society that you took some action in 2G and constituted a JPC – but eventually the whole country saw how you undermined the JPC? On the floor of the house, you defended Raja several times.
If this is the situation, where the country is being taken for a ride for years by false promises, inaction – how do you expect the opposition to ‘cooperate’ in running the Parliament?
The other stunning statement from you was “I am not a store keeper of the files” on the missing Coal files. One Reputed bureaucrat recently said – “it is almost impossible for any files to go completely missing, there may be instances of manipulated or misplaced files, even if they go missing, if the PMO wants, it can track them back in 24 hrs”.
We expected you to say “I take accountability for this being the coal minister, I will track down the files ” , that is what we expect from our leader sir, not evasive and irresponsible statements like “I am not a store keeper”, what kind of leader are you, if you make comments out of frustration and evade responsibility?. Is it enough for a leader to be personally honest and let everything slip out of control under his watch? Where does the buck stop sir?
You had everything going for you when you returned back to power in 2009 after a thumping mandate, fresh from a ‘principled’ stance on nuclear deal. You always have an amazingly lenient media, which even today always looks for opportunities to praise you and your ‘personal integrity’. Isn’t it time to do some plain introspection on what has gone wrong instead of blaming opposition, global factors etc.? There are many other things I could mention here like how you and your govt. messed up my state of A.P for 4 yrs when the separate state agitation was going on.
We all appreciate your tenure as FM during 1992 – 96 where you repeatedly spoke in Parliament about fiscal responsibility, the need to reduce subsidies. Just look at what happened during the last few years. Subsidies were growing at 12% per annum till 2009 (which was bad enough), but since 2009 till date, subsidies grew at 30% per year, I am sure you know things were slipping out of hand, and all current mess in the economy is because of that. Why didn’t you do anything to stop the govt. from reducing the spending in the last 5 yrs? Shouldn’t you answer these questions in Parliament instead of blaming ‘others’ for the mess? Surely, you can’t blame the opposition for this mindless spending, may be its time for you to admit that you failed to reign in the NAC.
You also mentioned that the growth for the current fiscal will be 6% and fiscal deficit target of 4.8% of GDP won’t be breached. Growth in Q1 FY14 was merely 4.4%, for us to reach 6% for the whole year, the remaining quarters have to see a dramatic improvement in growth to the tune of 6.5%. where is this going to come from sir under the prevailing circumstances?, Isn’t this going to be one more of your many false promises?.
Now the situation is out of control, nobody believes anything you or your govt. says, there is no credibility on any aspect. Domestic, global investors are scared away. Unemployment is rising; general moral fiber in the society is eroding, Law and order has also become a big issue, India’s image is hit globally. Though you can’t undo the damage of the last 9 yrs, you can salvage the situation to some extent by taking decisive actions, by being honest to the country people in the next 8 months. You have nothing to lose.
A battered and bruised citizen of India.