P Chidambaram is former Finance minister of India.
When Nani Palkhivala propounded the theory of an unalterable and unamendable “basic structure” of Constitution, legal experts scoffed at the argument. How can the power of a sovereign Parliament to amend the Constitution (Article 368) be curtailed or subjected to a review by judges appointed by the Executive, they asked.
In the last two months, BJP was dented in Haryana, denied in Maharashtra and defeated in Jharkhand. This success can be taken forward if non-BJP parties rally around the strongest party in each state. That would mean Congress in Puducherry, Assam and Kerala; DMK in Tamil Nadu; and state-specific arrangements for Bihar and West Bengal.
Budget 2019-20 is unique. I know of no budget in recent memory where, after making the Budget, the Finance Minister consciously unmade the Budget.
Project Hindu Rashtra is gaining speed. The engine is the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi; at the wheel is the Home Minister, Mr Amit Shah. The designer/engineer, the RSS, is watching with great interest.
Chidambaram writes: The government has acknowledged that the economy is in a slowdown, but denied that there were ‘structural’ issues that need to be addressed. The government has described the problems as ‘cyclical’. It is a small mercy that they did not identify the causes as ‘seasonal’!
The economy is one area where muscular nationalism will not work. On the contrary, it may work to the detriment of the economy.
If the precedent is followed, it is only a matter of time before Darjeeling will be carved out as a Union Territory out of West Bengal. The routine will be to ask the state Assembly to “express its views” or impose President’s rule and dissolve the Assembly.
The BJP government’s commitment to federalism can be gauged by the manner in which Bills are passed in the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha is the House of the People while the Rajya Sabha is the Council of States.
Like there were serious questions about the Budget, there are serious questions about the Finance Bill.
The CEA has good reason to be worried about the insufficiency of domestic resources. Government/ public investment can be made only out of tax revenues and public sector surpluses. Of these, tax revenues are under pressure. 2018-19 was a particularly dismal year; yet the government has set aggressive targets for tax revenues in 2019-20. Evidently, the CEA does not share the government’s optimism.
Seven per cent growth will be totally insufficient to create wealth or enhance welfare. Seven per cent growth will not generate the millions of jobs that are required. Seven per cent growth will not raise the per capita income of the lowest deciles (the bottom 20 per cent) of the population.
The government has chosen to do incremental reforms. The 13 economists — all Indians or of Indian origin — will be disappointed. So will be many who were rooting for radical reforms.
Mr Narendra Modi successfully fused Pulwama and Balakot. Anyone questioning the intelligence failure in Pulwama (and the tragic loss of 40 lives) was mischievously interpreted as if he was questioning the IAF’s success in Balakot, and labelled an anti-national.
There is a huge gap between intention and implementation. Why? We are hesitant to say it, but it must be said: within the Government (with a capital G) there is another government (with a small g). It is the small-g government that has failed the big-G government as well as the people.
The slate is always full of writing — some helpful, some harmless, some a headache and some a hindrance!
There is something that Modi has discerned which, perhaps, others in his party have failed to grasp: that it is not enough to get the votes of the Dalits, the Muslims, the Christians and the very poor, it is necessary to win their trust.
The key idea — and the one that will be most disruptive — is decentralisation. The short-term results may be unsatisfactory but in the medium to long term, better governed states will deliver better outcomes than at present and that will make the people demand better governance at the state level.
The results of Election 2019 cannot be regarded as a decisive choice of one vision over the others. Even more true, religion can never trump language or culture.
There is no denying that abuses and epithets were hurled across the net but, in the melee, even sarcasm and allusion were labelled unparliamentary!
Managing India’s economy is playing in a different league. Successful chief ministers have floundered when appointed finance minister.