Stirring Plans

Just a week in office and they start announcing crowd-pleasing decisions.

Written by Pratik Kanjilal | Published: May 31, 2014 1:52 am

Faking News alleges that the government’s first initiative is not the still-vague 10-point plan but a project to dot the landscape with politics deaddiction centres. Indeed, is there any point in even trying to keep up when Smriti Irani’s Wikipedia page listed her as HRD minister even as she was taking the oath of office on Lok Sabha TV? And NDTV is now predicting a cabinet expansion within weeks. Within weeks of the media celebrating a compact cabinet.

Other government initiatives include a six-point Ganga action plan, whose most interesting proposal is to use it as a commercial waterway from Uttar Pradesh to Kolkata. Mrs Gandhi had an even more stirring plan to interlink all of India’s watercourses for surface transport, starting with the great rivers. That was in the ’70s. Right, we’ll stop being cynical now.

NewsX offered a ready reckoner of all of this week’s plans. Most tantalising was the proposal to review the security cover and privileges granted to Robert Vadra. Just a week in office and they start announcing crowd-pleasing decisions. Imagine.

But what could move hearts and minds more forcefully than the idea of bringing back black money? Only bringing back kidnapped babies from barbarian shores could offer more satisfaction, and fortunately there aren’t any. Times Now has been in hot pursuit of this story since way back when. When black money was the only emotive issue that the BJP could offer the electorate.

Arnab Goswami found it ironic that the last thing that Manhoman Singh and Sonia Gandhi (names named) had wanted had become the first item on the BJP government’s agenda. Sanjay Jha tried to steal his retributive thunder: the government’s hand was forced by the Supreme Court, so no credit to them, but it was a case of judicial overreach so, so… So we were headed for one of those poorly illuminated, mazily confusing places that Sanjay Jha flourishes in. And Arnab Goswami was well within his rights to scream, “Oh, my God!”

But gentle reader, do put yourself in the shoes of the black money-wallah, who has allegedly salted away $1.5 trillion. Would you stash it in a European bank where a return of 3 per cent looks fantastic, or in an Indian real estate project where 25 per cent is boring? When shall we see a programme on black money which asks why it must be recovered dramatically from foreign shores, when most of it is obviously here in India?

Even before the government has begun to function, the electronic media is amplifying issues and putting them in its face, just as it had done for the last government. The complex issue of Article 370 is being settled in TV studios, where the decibel level has been so high that Karan Singh sent out an anguished cease and desist letter. And the controversy over Smriti Irani’s academic qualifications began to mean many things to many people. There is only one logical question here: did she fib? And if so, only one speculative question follows: how will she justify it? But the TV debate wandered into irrelevant issues, such as: is education classist? And, why do so few MPs understand game theory or the Lusiads?

They could have taken the opposite tack and asked: why is it so easy for Indians, even middle class Indians, to elude a formal education? As for Irani, you only had to see her perform in the 21st anniversary show of Aap ki Adalat a couple of months ago, where she spoke unsentimentally of her middle class origins, to appreciate why education may not have been a central concern of her early life, and why it may not matter.

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More From Pratik Kanjilal
  1. J
    Jayant Dwarkadas
    May 31, 2014 at 5:47 am
    I totally agree with you on the black money issue. First of all if that much money went out of the country then how did it go? Surely not in suitcases. If they say it is hawala, then an equal amount of money should have come into India, since hawala is a 2 way street. The only other avenue is overvaluing imports and under invoicing exports. I don't have the figures but I believe that the govt. of India is the largest importer in the country (oil imports). This forms a major chunk of India's foreign trade and keeps up our trade deficit. Surely the govt. of India is not evading taxes. Thus, either the numbers are highly exaggerated or there is something going on which no one knows about.You have rightly pointed out that money made from undisclosed income is sitting here in India, invested in real estate. If parked in Swiss banks, the businessman's gains which he makes from evading taxes would be wiped out in a couple of years due to close to zero interest rates. What sort of businessman would that be who would take such a call? However the govt. is not going to do a thing about it since most of the ill gotten gains of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats are parked in this et cl. They would thus be shooting themselves in the foot if they took any action against this. Mr. Subrata Roy has now proven this fact.As regards Smriti Irani, it is baffling as to why everyone, including the media, is not focussing on the fact that she has to have lied on oath on at least one occasion and which would mean that she would be disqualified. Is it a conspiracy?
    1. B
      May 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm
      What an ic argument writer is making. According to him if you have been seeing a snake (black money) for the last ten years, then do not kill it when you (BJP) has power to kill it. Wait for another 10 years just like the friends of snake did?Writer has problems with the very decisive, constructive and fair decision that are taken by Modi let ministers. Only communal people see Hindu, muslim etc., truly secular see it as 125 crore proud Indians.