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Where did the Congress go wrong?

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 The collapse of the Indian National Congress as a political apparatus after ruling India for five decades was in two weaknesses of its regimes. It overindulged in managing scarcities only. It could never learn to encourage the generation of wealth for redistribution under the belief that entry of private individuals in economic activities would lead to exploitation of resources for personal gains rather than for social development. Indians were not given any role in development processes as Nehru believed he could rebuild strong India with his administration and planned economic development. However, his planning process suffered from short sights and in meeting hand to mouth needs only instead of generating surpluses.

 For twenty years, the emphasis was on metal and machine for development process instead of revolving it around humans to extract best of their creative abilities. No attention was devoted to agriculture development through shortfalls in grain production to meet needs were huge. Scarcity was managed by begging from others till the introduction of Green Revolution in 1966 that ended dependence on others on feeding its hungry millions.

Wheat farming

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Attention was devoted to building the top layers of skilled personnel for industries but not to imparting skills to hands that operate means of production. Job scarcity for the deprived was sought to be met with reservation of a small portion for the deprived. A deficiency was found to be achieved by depriving others of opportunities in the same proportion. The policy benefitted neither but bred corruption.

Tax levels were kept so high that it reduced opportunities and urges for everyone to create more wealth. Other wealthy nations were encouraging the generation of wealth. Even Communist regimes were generating more wealth and India was discouraging it through its taxation system. Gurcharan Das, known executive, wrote in his book of JRD Tata’s complaint that government was extracting from him 8 per cent more than his incomes by way of income tax and wealth tax each year during the Nehru era. Was it not an encouragement to indulge in tax evasion and black wealth generation?

Another example of narrow vision was in denial of permission to the Birla House to double its’ installed capacity for carbon production because it would lead to the monopoly in the manufacture of coal. The Birla House went to Egypt and set up the Carbon plant to provide jobs too few thousand Egyptians. The authority with ample power for intervention could not visualize the benefits that would accrue from doubling production capacity in India concerning more jobs nor could see that no industrialist would venture to set up a new position without assurance of its viability.


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The Indira Gandhi regime swung emphasis to even more to the left and nationalized many sectors to turn them into white elephants. She even proposed nationalization of wheat trade in India in 1972. Vasant Sathe, her minister, pointed out that coal mine workers were being paid more imagesin salaries than their production each year since the nationalization of coal mining sector. Public Sector enterprises were turned into employment centres to meet political needs of providing jobs to maintain vote banks. PSUs became unviable units gorging on national resources. Fear of adverse consequences of their closure kept governments to keep white elephants by feeding them from domestic resources from their losses instead of using resources for other sectors’ development.

Sathe gave another glaring example. India and Korea both got the technology from the same source for their five million tonne capacity steel plants. Indian bokaro-plant-photoplant Bokaro could not produce more than 1.1 million tonnes while Korean plant worked at full capacity with imported ore and coal from India. It was able to sell its product at 20 percent lower price than Indian cost of production. The reason for the difference was in its workforce. The Bokaro plant had the worked force of over 42000 heads and the Korean plant produced to the full capacity of the labour force of fewer than 14000 heads.  Many of Public Sector Enterprises were invariably rendered unviable commercial ventures due to overstaffing that resulted in overlapping of work responsibilities. Corruption was added a contributory factor to turn them into white elephants in backyards of the government.

The Congress government provided the classic example of scarcity management mentality in Delhi. Even though more than three lakh applicants rush for admissions to 54000 seats in Delhi University Colleges each year, no projects were undertaken in 15 years of the Congress regime for adding seats to meet the demand. The consequence is that admissions are a thriving business for corrupt elements. The Narasimha Rao government introduced the policy of reservations of the specific number of seats in higher technical education institutes in 1993. Education minister Arjun Singh desired to build a vote bank among the deprived classes by holding out a carrot that did not solve the major issue but sliced out the number of seats from the total. It only added to breeding corruption and lowering of teaching standards to keep students lacking social support to their teaching along with the rest. Besides it resulted in flourishing new education institutes in private more as business ventures.nehru pariwar

The deprived also ought to be given benefits of higher education. Instead of creating more institutions with additional training and teaching facilities for students without social support to their teaching,  the regimes found it easier to slice out numbers from existing lots and throw crumbs at the deprived instead of finding a viable solution to their needs.

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 The Judiciary went a step further by reserving twenty-five per cent seats in all schools across Delhi for economically weaker sections. Instead of ensuring more standard education institutes come up, availability of seats for others was drastically reduced through reservations. The consequence was in breeding corruption and fake certificates of the social and economic status of families. These are examples of breeding corruption at every level through faulty policy framework for managing scarcity instead of creating wealth through a proper and long term vision. It can now lead only to the smug satisfaction that rulers have solved the problem. Voters think differently, and the Congress was uprooted from Delhi after ruling it for 15 continued years and boasting that Delhi developed under its rule. A close look will tell that it did not serve poor but sliced benefits of the middle class and paid the price.

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Vijay Sanghvi
Vijay Sanghvi
Political Commentator and Analyst Vijay Sanghvi, 81 has created a niche for himself as a seasoned media person with proven credentials and political, economic and social analyst since 1962. Sanghvi worked for five years in Mumbai for Gujarati papers before shifting to Delhi and continued to work for various dailies in Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi and English as well as for international media. He has many newsbreaks to his credit as well as inside view of many epoch making events. He covered parliamentary proceedings from 1967 till 2007.


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