Friday, December 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



India’s economic balance-sheet: glitter of baraat cannot hide stark realities

There is substantial truth in Mr Hari Jaisingh's observation that we can learn a lot from China in the economic sphere ("India's economic balance-sheet: glitter of baraat cannot hide stark realities", December 21). The Chinese are a hard-headed and pragmatic people. We should learn a lesson from a country whose leaders have in abundance what Indian leaders so conspicuously lack — courage and patriotism.

During four years of 15 to 24 per cent inflation between 1993 and 1996, China's State and collective enterprises went on an investment spree as if there was no tomorrow. The day of reckoning arrived in 1998 after the inflation had finally spent itself, when China found itself with up to 60 per cent excess capacity in most industries.

China could have followed the path of orthodoxy and allowed many of the enterprises to go bankrupt. But deflation was increasing the losses of the State-owned enterprises. Nor could it close them as there were no new jobs for the retrenched workers to go to. So China's leaders decided instead to pour huge amounts into the rapid completion of the infrastructure projects that were already under implementation. They knew that this would increase imports but gambled upon the US boom continuing and pushing up their exports. The gamble paid off. Economists in Beijing and Shanghai claim that pump priming pushed up the Chinese growth rate and reduced the losses of the State-owned enterprises.


Mr Yashwant Sinha needs to assess that somewhat unprecedented demand by industrialists recently that the government should revive the economy by resorting to what is in effect pump priming, by drastically increasing the investment in infrastructure projects. He should recognise that economics is a fickle science. Sixty years ago deficit financing was seen as the deus ex matchina that could lead to economic recovery after Great Depression. Twenty years ago deficit financing became anathema. The least Mr Sinha should do is to recognise that there is no eternal truth in this science. It may be time for the fashion to change again. China has shown the way.


Alarming situation: Apropos of Mr Hari Jaisingh's article, "India's economic balance-sheet", India's stand on economic policy speaks itself about the pluses and minuses. The debit side of the economic policy is quite alarming and requires serious attention of economists with long-term strategies. It is India's bad luck that it has not come out of its sphere with a broader vision. Behind the success of any country, there is an efficient economic policy of the country.

In India, the poor are becoming poorer. I think our myopic policymakers should understand the ground realities pointed out by the writer before putting signature on any new policy, which may be educational, industrial, social, cultural etc.

We should involve every individual by creating job opportunities not with high perks but just to live on. I have met people who are ready to work with small perks.

India should strengthen its industrial production sector, which is co-related to job opportunities and economic growth with mass production to curb foreign direct investment in the country. Till we become self- sufficient, for existence in the present fast moving situation, in every sphere, there is no harm in accepting the FDI to feed the poor masses.

It has rightly been concluded that we should give up the short-term and adopt for long-term benefits, priorities and strategies.


Downsize government: Mr Hari Jaisingh deserves kudos for his illustrative, informative and thought-provoking article. Truly, the Indian economy is worsening with each passing day for which the leaders at the helm are to be blamed. They care little to bring the economic health of the country on the right track. The major chunk of the revenue goes in the payments of debts and interests to World Bank and others.

It is common knowledge that even an illiterate makes the budget. His survival is possible only if he spends less than his income. There is an old saying, "Cut your coat according to your cloth". But Indian leaders do otherwise. The leaders/politicians and bureaucrats are eating the very fabric of the national economy. They stoop to any extent to grab power. Once they are saddled, they are after spinning money. They have made India a country of scams and scandals in which they themselves are major players.

The economists of the country know best how to harass the poor. They make such policies which benefit the rich and harm the poor. The taxation structure of the country is cumbersome and anti-common man. The heavy and frequent doses of taxes are given to the people which are detrimental for even rightful development for the common man.

All the government departments are overstaffed especially with officers with high salaries and perks but with very little work. Such departments should be downsized drastically. The strength of ministers both at the Centre and in the states should be restricted to 10 per cent of the total strength of the respective houses. Perks should go and instead salaries be hiked marginally. Their assets should be periodically checked up by the Income-Tax Department. The politicians should rise above their vested interests and work exclusively for the nation and its well-being. The economic health of the country should be strengthened at any cost.

D. P. JINDAL, Mandi Gobindgarh

Veer Hanuman: a clarification

Apropos of Mr Ram Varma's November 19 article "Wearing the mantle of untruth", lines like "Dasehra has been indelibly etched on our generation's mind", "God Hanuman was perhaps the first terrorist of the world" and "the present day terrorists too are cast in Hanuman's mould" are direct attacks on Hindu religion and even on my own religious sentiments.

In these circumstances people can never be expected to write and express such filthy views. Moreover, the comparison between Veer Hanuman and the Talibanis is also shameful.


District & Sessions Courts, Rewari

Ram S. Verma replies: I am astonished that Mr Minderjeet Yadav should feel aggrieved by anything said by me in the article. I am also a Hindu and revere our Gods like Hanumanji in full measure. I would be the last person to attack our great religion or diminish the image of our Gods like Hanumanji in public mind, much less think of even remotely casting aspersions on them.

In fact, several persons who read this article have personally testified to me that my article has indeed brought greater glory to this most popular Hindu God, inasmuch as it has brought out the important difference between the modern day "jehadis" (who also swear by, and profess to act in the service of their God) and Hanumanji. I should therefore think that no apology is called for. But as it was never my intention to hurt anyone's sentiments, I have no hesitation in saying sorry to Mr Minderjeet Yadav if he has felt hurt in any manner due to any misunderstanding.

The Editor adds: The misunderstanding caused is regretted. It may, however, be pointed out what the true import and message of Mr Ram Varma's article is contained in the following words:

"But there the similarly with Hanuman ends. Hanuman would never dream of hurting, much less killing, an innocent person. Unlike the September terrorists he was not a brainwashed robot, but a discerning individual who weighted right and wrong and consciously chose the right. In the unceasing struggle that goes on in the universe between the forces of truth and untruth, he was on the side of truth, which alone triumphs. The history of mankind is like the river of truth charting out its course, whether Ramayana or the Mahabharata in our hoary past or the great conflicts and combats that shook mankind from time to time like the World Wars in the last century, the victorious armies of Rama or the Pandavas or the Allies had truth on their side.

"The fighters on both sides might have shared in equal measure unbounded courage and commitment, dedication and a willingness to die for their side. But it is the righteousness or otherwise of their cause that made all the difference."


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