The UPA government has turned everybody into ‘cynics’,dancer-activist Mallika Sarabhai said on Wednesday. She added that allowing corruption in a scheme like MNREGA,which is meant for the poorest of the poor,was a ‘breach of faith’.
Sarabhai was speaking at Express Adda,along with chairman of McKinsey India Adil Zainulbhai,and Centre for Policy Research president Pratap Bhanu Mehta. The thought-provoking conversation was moderated by Shekhar Gupta,Editor-in-Chief of The Express Group.
Mehta said that the destruction of the basic architecture of government by the UPA would ‘haunt’ the country. The first thing the next government would have to do is “restoring the office of the Prime Minister”.
Agreeing with Mehta,Gupta said,”No government in the history of India has damaged the PM’s office the way this government has.”
Zainulbhai made the point that there is no single entity called the ‘government’ there are,instead,”many different governments’ in India.
The Adda,organised as assembly elections are on in five states,and ahead of Lok Sabha polls next year,saw discussions revolve largely around socio-political issues. Reimagining India: Unlocking the Potential of Asia’s Next Superpower,a collection of 60 essays by leading analysts and commentators,formed an important theme.
Zainulbhai said some industries had done extremely well over the last decade,including IT services,pharma and auto. He said it was wrong to say foreign investors were running away; ‘they are just not euphoric about India’ at the moment.
Mehta counted the recent Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition,Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act as a significant achievement for the government; Sarabhai named the RTI Act in this context.
On Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi,Sarabhai said leadership was a much “deeper question than what we are reducing it to”.
“India is at a point where we need a leader with a vision for India. No leader in running has any vision except for himself,” she said. Sarabhai said she found “Modi’s rise worrying”.
Mehta said both Rahul and Modi were “taking refuge in counter-factual history”,adding,however,that Modi “seemed to be ahead of the game”,and that there was “nothing static about what he is doing”.
Gupta said Kejriwal had succeeded in ‘disrupting the Congress’ fossilized approach in Delhi’s slums where it took votes for granted.”
Zainulbhai pointed to the things India had done right. “We don’t have as many starvation deaths as we did 50 years back,” he said.
Also,the UPA government’s view that every individual had the right to education,information and healthcare was very important,he said,irrespective of the implementation of that vision.