Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Where nothing is what it appears to be. And what appears to be is clearly not.

I see a trend which is catching up fast so i felt the need to write this blog.I apologize for an emotional tone, but can`t help it because it is my nation who suffers and not them.

My Nation:Where nothing is what it appears to be. And what appears to be is clearly not.

We are right in the midst of an awful inflation which has hit food prices the most. As we all know, 40% Indians barely get by eating whatever they can lay their hands on. Many of them starve for days on end. Their plight has become much worse and, if migration stats are any clue, most of them are leaving their homes to come to the city to get any work that can fetch them two meals a day. Yet the much acclaimed budget, which ran up the bourses and got rah-rah ratings from the media, did nothing to bring down prices. In fact, it did the exact opposite. It increased fuel prices which will worsen inflation as even the most amateur economist will tell you. I may be stupid but I am yet to discover anything about the budget that will take India forward, as is being claimed. All I see is a scary lack of focus on what are the screaming needs of the day. No nation, not even the richest, can afford to live with 18% food inflation.

The Agriculture Minister is renowned for his administrative skills. Yet agricultural production falls every year, more farmers commit suicide because they simply can't afford to keep going. Rains have been poor. They don't get the right prices for what they produce. Yet curiously, price of food keeps steadily rising to benefit a gaggle of middlemen. If anything is seriously hurting the current Government, it's the terrible mismanagement on the food front. Instead of doing anything about this, we hear homilies from the State on how sugar (which costs Rs 50 per kg) is bad for health and we would do well to consume less. The IPL spectacle, brand value: Rs 19,000 crore, is the Agriculture Minister's supreme gift to the nation precisely during those three years when farmer suicides have reached their peak.

We have heard a great deal of talk about economic reforms, the need for the State to exit businesses where it need not be. Leave alone exit, the Government has been sloth to even disinvest in public undertakings, the very issue on which they once fought the Left. The simplest example is the much glamorised new Air India with its shining new logo. A parliamentary committee, no less, has now criticised the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines which saw the creation of a spectacular new Rs 5500 crore loss making behemoth. Compare this with the meagre Rs 200 crore loss of Indian Airlines and Rs 400 crore loss of Air India before they merged. Can you imagine a more ridiculous financial merger where Rs 600 crore of combined losses become Rs 5500 crore overnight? Why not simply disinvest a bit and allow real professionals to run the business instead of running it from the Ministry?

There are too many cases where we replace a problem with a shining, nonsensical spectacle. You can't afford food? No worries, we will give you a stunning cricket extravaganza with lots of movie stars and pretty cheerleaders. You feel insecure because Maoists are now in 20 states and have killed more people than the jihadis? Don't bother, we will buy you a $2.35 billion refurbished old Russian warship. Your cities are crumbling under the pressure of migration because agriculture's no longer a sustainable profession? No stress, we will build you fancy bridges and flyovers and walkways where no one will ever walk. You can't find a job despite all your education? No sweat, we promise 30% reservations for women in the Lok Sabha. Increasing terrorist strikes are scaring you? Chill yaar, we will give you the perfect Indo-US nuclear deal. Public transportation in the cities is on the verge of collapsing? Not an issue, we are building helipads at prominent locations.

This is truly the wonderland i found myself in....