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Protesters Need Economic Education, Mr Bhagwat

There is no escape from misery unless teams of economic educators convince all sections of society socialism is the cause of their distress


While RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat has rightly lamented the fact that now every section of society seems to be up in arms against the state, bitten by a bug of āndolan (revolution), his diagnosis went a bit awry when he wondered why so much of material richness is still causing stress in the people. It is because, Mr Bhagwat, the education in basic economics that the liberalisation of 1991-92 should have accompanied never reached the people. The way veterans of the freedom struggle sighed on observing the generations that followed that the children had taken their independence for granted as they did not have to fight for it, today’s breed did not fight for the economic riches it enjoys either. It has no idea how life was until the era of PV Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee when the richest government servant was the President of India whose basic salary was Rs 9,999 per month and the second richest, the IAS officers, earned a few thousands less. These children have not waited for months and years for a telephone connection, a cooking gas connection or a scooter after booking each. And then, when they began getting things off the shelf, they were never told what revised policies of the government turned the poor into middle class, the movers of the economy, within a span of a decade.

What is worse, those in their 60s who head governments of the day, be it central or provincial, and the learned judges of different courts, are no better educated. The India of today is a socialist hell hole where a vicious cycle of high tax and demonisation of the rich result in the closure of companies and fear to make fresh investments. Then the youth complain of shrinking employment opportunities! If it is now fashionable to the media for the duplicity of advocating pro-market policies on the one hand and cheerleading disruptors of the economy like activists on the other, the chief executive of the country covers himself in no glory either. From the third year of his rule as the prime minister, has increasingly come across as a tax-collecting freak. To the tax obsession of the state, add the stricture of the judiciary to aggravate the crisis. Vodafone-Idea reaching the verge of closure due to the unfair regime called adjusted gross revenue is a case in point. One of the most successful examples of open competition, which not only brought down tariffs for the end-user to the lowest level in the world but also provided lakhs with well-paid employment, is on the brink of collapse. Remember, the ordinary citizen bears a cost even before the marauding socialist state, manned by bullying taxmen, kills enterprises. For, before a company dies, it tries its best to survive by extracting more from its customers.

From Delhi in north India to Tamil Nadu in the south, the party that offers maximum freebies wins elections. This populism has created an environment where the innovator, the manufacturer and the seller will not be paid for the product or service they provide. The entrepreneur will be vilified and hounded as though he were evil personified, as Arvind Kejriwal did to the Ambani brothers to grab headlines and gain whistles and catcalls from the audience of his rallies during the first two years of his AAP. And if the people thought they had an alternative in the form of the BJP, the party ruling at the centre is pulled back with as much zeal by three unions of the same ‘parivar‘ floated by a former communist Dattopant Thengadi: Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh. Whereas parties that are proud to be socialist do not want people to pay for the services they avail, the saffron, apologetic, closet communists do not want competition in the market. Thus, the state has created an atmosphere where a handful of companies will thrive partly off the revenue from the sales but a lot from the subsidy with which government reimburses their cost annually. The consumer will buy substandard products at higher prices because the shopkeeper knows the customer has no other shop to go to. Mind you, this consumer constitutes the most populous section of society. Squeezed from all quarters in a scenario where he would not get a job or lose it if he has one, as the company chased by the government cannot afford him anymore, the streets are where he must vent his frustration. And when the union government is told that the middle class, from where that activist comes, is angry, it tinkers with income tax slabs as though that is the only cost of living a citizen bears with!

In the irony that is India, where a socialist Jayaprakash Narayan ousts from power another socialist Indira Gandhi, there is no escape from this labyrinth unless hundreds of teams of economic educators are created that reach all sections of the population to explain how the vicious cycle of socialism has brought them to this rut. They have to be told what caused the balance of payment crisis when Chandrashekhar’s government gave way to Rao’s. Nearer in the past, the example of UPA II that paid for the profligacy of UPA I, which was supported by 60 communist MPs, will serve as a necessary lesson. They must learn from global examples what happened in Greece and what transpired in Venezuela if the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is too distant in the past. They must study what economic model China adopted within its communist framework to survive and excel. Even the disciplinarian Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore not by state socialism but by state capitalism. Unless people know the better model and then demand it, no political party from the BJP to the CPM, from the INC to the TMC, from the NCP to the AGP will dare sell the idea at the hustings. The RSS is known to boast of its massive size which, according to the sarsanghchalak, can also aid the army in times of war. As the clouds of war do not cover the horizons at present thankfully, can it not create an army of economic educators? What is the use of 18 crore members of the BJP if none can volunteer to reach out to villagers and the urban poor to tell them their success lies in their economic freedom, not in walking on state-provided crutches? The party surely has the money to finance such teams that would spread across the country and teach the people at large that their āndolans to demand more of the policy that is the cause of their misery in the first place is taking them nowhere. Until that happens, Prime Minister Modi can seize some of the numerous opportunities he gets to deliver speeches to tell the people that, from France to Russia to Hungary, a ‘revolution’ never brought achchhe din (good/better days) anywhere in the world.

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