Economy Politics

Indian Polity Moves to Peril Under Modi Rule: Economic Situation Worsening

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Rich are becoming richer. ‘Barclay’s Hurun India’ has published the ‘Rich list for 2018’. It is a list that carries the names of individuals with net worth exceeding Rs.1000 crore. The wealth of India’s top 100 richest people has jumped by Rs.3.08 lakh crore in 2018 to Rs.30.59 lakh crore, from Rs.27.51 lakh crore in 2017, a jump of 10.1 per cent. Mukesh Ambani has topped the list with an estimated wealth of Rs.3,71,000 crore. There are in all about 800 superrich in India. A report for Different Truths.

Inequality and income disparities are growing. Rich are becoming richer. ‘Barclay’s Hurun India’ has published the ‘Rich list for 2018’. It is a list that carries the names of individuals with net worth exceeding Rs.1000 crore. The wealth of India’s top 100 richest people has jumped by Rs.3.08 lakh crore in 2018 to Rs.30.59 lakh crore, from Rs.27.51 lakh crore in 2017, a jump of 10.1 per cent. Mukesh Ambani has topped the list with an estimated wealth of Rs.3,71,000 crore. There are in all about 800 superrich in India. Of these, 233 individuals are in Mumbai, 163 in New Delhi and 70 in Bangalore – in the first three places. Achhe din for the super crorepatis.

The Supreme Court has held that criminalisation of politics was “an extremely disastrous and lamentable situation” in a constitutional democracy. The Apex Court has observed that in the present scenario, the multitude of voters in the constituency really do not know about the antecedents of the candidates. “Their right to have information suffers”. If the right to get proper information was scuttled, it may lead to the destruction of democracy because he/she will not be an informed voter. Right to information is paramount in a democracy. The Supreme Court was of the view that criminalization of the polity “is a termite to the citadel of democracy”. Law Commission analysis of Lok Sabha and assembly elections between 2004 and 2013 gives a stark picture of the criminal lawmakers in India. One in every five candidates who contested the elections had a criminal record and one in every nine, had serious charges against them. Among the elected representatives, one in every 14 had a criminal charge. Of 62,847, 11,063 (18 per cent) candidates had criminal cases pending against them. Among these, 5,253 (8.4 per cent) had serious charges.

In addition to Law Commission Analysis, we have the figures published by the Association for Democratic Rights (ADR) (Analysis of election affidavits of 4,852 of the total 4,896 MPs and MLAs in 2017). Of the present MPs, 993 (20 per cent) of the present MPs and MLAs have serious criminal charges pending against them. At least 87 lawmakers have murder charges against them while 190 have attempt to murder charges. A total of 13,984 (13.5 per cent) candidates had serious charges. Thirty one per cent had murder and murder-related offences, four per cent had rape and offences against women, seven per cent related to kidnapping and abduction, another seven per cent related to robbery and dacoity, 14 per cent related to forgery and counterfeiting including of government seals and five per cent related to breaking the law during elections. And 1,187 of such candidates won the elections! That criminalization of polity has hit India’s democracy is a grim reality. Even four years after being in power, BJP government has failed to appoint a Lokpal! We need to face the facts. According to the present law, only the convicted are debarred from contesting in the elections. Will the Modi government bring a legislation to ban those facing criminal cases from contesting the elections?

LIC of India, the prime driver of the country’s economy, is being increasingly exploited as the milch cow for the financial (mis)adventures of the Central government. The insurance giant appears to be buckling under pressures from the Vitta Mantralay (Finance ministry)! LIC has already initiated the process of acquiring 51 per cent shares in IDBI Bank, which is in deep crisis. Fifty one per cent shares will cost the LIC Rs.13,000 crore and when the deal is completed, LIC will inherit the huge NPA of IDBI Bank which is of the order of Rs.55,000 crore. Squandering policyholders money and trying to privatise IDBI Bank through the back-door! The media in India and the leading economists have criticized the LIC-IDBI bank deal. The employees unions in the two institutions have opposed the deal too. The All India IDBI Bank Officers Association (AIIDBIBOA) has raised a dispute in the Delhi high court. Such investments by the LIC in sick and vulnerable entities can push the LIC’s NPA figures north-wards. At present the gross NPA in LIC hovers around six per cent, which calls for serious introspection. But the BJP government remains unconcerned and arrogant. It is directing LIC to increase its stakes in the debt-ridden IL&FS Ltd. Let us have a peep into the IL&FS affair.

IL&FS Ltd., stands for Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited which is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) company, incorporated in 1987. IL&FS says, “We develop high quality infrastructure and financial solutions to catalyse India’s growth.” It further boasts, “we are demonstrating the potential of the private sector in achieving national goals”. It’s infrastructure services include roads, water, power, ports, area development and social and environmental infrastructure. It also offers competitive financial solutions for infrastructure development.

For instance, construction of certain portions of Bangalore Metro is undertaken by the IL&FS. IL&FS was initially promoted by Central Bank of India, HDFC Ltd., and UTI. Subsequently, stakeholding was broad-based. At present LIC owns 25.34 per cent stake, Japan’s Orix Corporation 23.54 per cent, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority 12.56 per cent, HDFC 9.02 per cent, Central Bank of India 7.67 per cent and State Bank of India 6.42 per cent. IL&FS has strategic relations with 22 state governments and Union Territories. It has offices at Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Gurgaon and head office in Mumbai.

At present IL&FS is in serious financial crisis. It is faced with a debt burden of Rs.91,000 crore in its books and is saddled with a severe liquidity crunch. Since majority of the shares are held by the LIC and other state-owned entities, public money is at risk. Equity markets are volatile. The LIC chairman who had a meeting with the finance minister Arun Jaitley on September 25, 2018 told the mediapersons, “All efforts will be made to ensure IL&FS does not go bankrupt”. LIC chairman was perhaps speaking for the Finance Minister. IL&FS needs an immediate capital infusion of Rs. 3,000 crore.

The finance minister said that the government was closely monitoring the situation. The indications are, LIC may buy more stake in IL&FS, which means more money of the LIC policy-holders could be diverted to keep afloat a crisis-ridden private entity. Which way the LIC is moving? Or to be more precise, which way LIC is being directed by the BJP government? Does LIC really has the control over its investments? LIC is the repository of monies of the policy-holders and surely they cannot be put into risk. There is no greater nation-builder than the LIC. Public Private partnership will not work and it is more of a hoax. The people shall not allow LIC to be squeezed and hurt. As we have been repeatedly saying, a bleeding LIC is unthinkable. If IL&FS has to go, let it go.

The Centre has given notice to Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund (JNMF) to vacate the Teen Murti Bhavan. It does not come as a surprise. As Zoya Hassan, the eminent academician says, “There has been a concerted attempt to isolate and dilute the Nehruvian institutions and Nehruvian legacy by the current establishment”. India is being led on the fast-track towards the fascist legacy. Anyone who criticises Modi rule becomes anti-national. And anyone who questions Rafale deal is a China-Pak agent!

The situation in the Kashmir valley is growing tense. The PDP and the National Conference, the two regional parties, are boycotting the ULB elections, which is really unfortunate. The people are getting restive and a sense of alienation is steadily creeping in. Azadi slogans are heard here and there, which cannot be termed sporadic. No purpose will be served by camouflaging the incidents in Kashmir. And Army Chief General Rawat advocates surgical strikes across the Pakistan border to counter terrorism. These developments are not in the interest of the nation.

N Sundaramurthy
©IPA Service

Photo from the Internet

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