Misdirected neoliberal budget will further increase inequality and unemployment: Socialist Party
Contrary to the expectations raised by speeches made by Narendra Modi during his election campaign, the annual budget (2014-2015) presented by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is hardly any different from its predecessor - the Congress-led UPA government. The Congress president Smt. Sonia Gandhi herself has dubbed the budget as a ‘copy of the UPA policies’. Former finance minister P. Chidambram has, sarcastically, made the comment that “BJP sought a mandate for Congress Mukt Bharat. My friend, Arun Jaitley, would have realized that it is not possible to have even Congress Mukt Budget.”
The budget shows explicitly that the BJP follows the neoliberal economic policies similar to that of the Congress, albeit in a more aggressive manner. The government’s adherence to neoliberal policies will further increase the gap in the incomes of various social segments in violation of the basic spirit of the Constitution which, through the Directive Principles and centrality of the Public Sector, is committed to the building of a just and egalitarian India.
The few concessions in direct and indirect taxes notwithstanding, the main thrust of the budget is to whip up SEZs, Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor and similar other schemes, enhancing FDI in vital sectors like Defence and Railways and resorting to the disinvestment of profit-making PSUs.
These measures are hardly corrective in view of the ailing manufacturing sector. The sector suffers mainly due to the declining demand from the USA and the EU. If this sector is to regain its pivotal role in generation of employment the only way out is enabling the vast agriculture community to increase local demand. However, meager provisions are made for irrigation and other related areas. The announcement about soil testing arrangement is welcome but the design to bring about second agrarian revolution by harnessing high technology is fraught with great danger. The proposal to grant a ten-year tax holiday for foreign investors entering into power generation will prove harmful, taking into consideration the fate of Enron experiment.
The Socialist Party calls upon the Finance Minister to reframe his budget by according high priority to employment generation, accelerating agricultural growth, scrupulously safeguarding panchayats/municipalities rights in matters of planning, utilization of natural resources like water, land, and forest, and enhancing provisions for education and health care.
The Socialist Party finds it amusing that the Finance Minister, in his budgetary speech, has proposed a Jai Prakash Narayan National Centre for Excellence in Humanities, to be situated in Madhya Pradesh. It is an intentional attempt on his part to appropriate JP into the RSS’s communal fold. The party would like to remind the Finance Minister that JP, during the anti-emergency agitation, circulate a letter addressed to the RSS cadres advising them to shun the communal ideology and join the mainstream by internalizing secular ethos. But the RSS chief, in a quick move, tendered an unconditional apology to Smt. Indira Gandhi in order to dispel any possibility of such influence on its cadres. Later, the Janata Party was disintegrated on the issue of dual membership insisted upon by the leader of wrest while Jansangh. The minister may name the aforesaid centre after Guru Golwalkar, best suited in the vicinity of RSS ideologues Shyama Prasad Mukkherjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, as he has proposed certain schemes after their names.
Dr. Prem Singh