The banking system is creaky, LIC’s coffers were rifled to shore up public sector units as disinvestment was a flop, and foreign direct investment, which reflects the confidence that foreign investors have in the economy, is at a five-year low. Terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir were up 176 per cent even though the harebrained demonetisation drive was to cut off terror funding. Truce violations by Pakistan have increased by 100 per cent in the last five years.
This partial glimpse of the report card of Narendra Modi’s five-year rule underscores the accusation of his predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh, that he (Mr Modi) has left the economy in dire straits and it’s time to show him the exit door.
Dr Singh is echoing the pain and suffering of vast sections of the population, particularly in rural India, where farmers were promised the cost of production plus 50 per cent bonus on their produce, but got nothing. One of the biggest failures of the Modi government has been on the employment front, where unemployment is at a 45-year high at 6.1 per cent. Mr Modi had promised two crore jobs a year, but barely a few lakhs have been created. Among the worst victims of Mr Modi reneging on his promise of jobs are the 7-10 million youth and others who enter the job market annually. In fact, five million jobs were lost due to the demonetisation of `1,000 and `500 currency notes. What is more deplorable is that Mr Modi tried to scuttle the release of the report on the labour situation by National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).
Every Indian should now be concerned at the finance ministry’s latest report which indicates that the economy is in a slowdown mode. The GDP for the January-April quarter is at 6.5 per cent, down from the earlier 7-8 per cent. Added to this, growth in the core sector (infrastructure), which is a job creator, is at a two-year low. This means even fewer jobs.
Interestingly Mr Modi rode to power hammering at the fact that the second UPA government suffered from “policy paralysis”. The tables have been turned now as he faces the same accusation from Dr Singh.
There have been more than murmurs that decision- making on economic issues is concentrated in the Prime Minister’s Office, with even senior ministers being mere rubber stamps — justifying the lack of economic vision that Dr Singh accuses Mr Modi of. The face-off with the Reserve Bank on the use of its reserves is well known following the resignation of then RBI governor Urjit Patel, who objected to the RBI’s autonomy being trampled upon. Mr Modi has not left a single institution untouched, including educational institutions, where the ideology of the Sangh Parivar is being pedalled.