[op-ed snap] The governance dashboard

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Evaluation of Government's policies in last 5 years


CONTEXT

The current regime has failed to deliver on its promises of development and clean government.

Disappointment with previous regime

  • Towards the end of the second term of the United Progressive Alliance government (UPA-II), from 2009 to 2014, the corporate sector (captains of industry) had become thoroughly disappointed with the slow rate of “progress” being made.
  • The reputation of UPA-II had been tarnished by several high-profile corruption scandals.
  • Significant sections of the Indian elite, both urban and rural, were also upset about the government’s modest welfare schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) and also rights and entitlements such as the Right to Information, Right to Education and the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.

Lack of data to evaluate the Current progress

  • it is very difficult to imagine how a reasoned debate can occur without adequate evidence.
  • Since Independence, India has carefully built an enviable reputation in terms of the integrity of its statistical organisations and the quality of its economic data.
  • Currently Government destroyed this reputation by meddling in the work of statistical organisations, changing the methodology of computation of key figures (such as GDP), and by suppressing important data.

Parameters For Evaluation

  • Two issues that are important in evaluating any regime are economic growth and distribution. India, of course, has been celebrated along with China as the growth engine of the world in recent decades.
  • Recent changes in methodology by the Central Statistics Office have rendered such comparisons very difficult.

Inequal Growth

  • In terms of distribution, researches (for the period 1991-2011) indicates that the Indian economy, after economic liberalisation, was largely driven by inequality-heightening rapid urban growth.
  • Farmers and informal workers in the urban areas have faced acute distress and witnessed losses in their income shares.
  • Given this, the volume draws upon other sources of data such as income taxes and the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Database to make a persuasive case that Indian inequality has continued to rise.

Rise in inequality

  • The share of the top 10% of income-tax payers has increased at the expense of the bottom half. The wealthiest group (top 1%) owns more than half the nation’s wealth today and has consolidated itself during 2014-2018.
  • Crimes against Scheduled Castes have increased during the period 2014-16. What is noteworthy is that both overall crimes and crimes registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act have increased.

Impact of signature Policies

  • The two major signature policies that the government undertook — demonetisation (ostensibly to root out corruption) and the goods and services tax (GST) — have proved to be colossal disasters for the economy and the vast majority of Indians
  • Comparing the periods before and after demonetisation, while the world economy witnessed improved growth (2.6% to 3.1%), the Indian economy suffered a growth decline from 7.8% to 6.8%

Conclusion

As Rabindranath Tagore reflected, if the choice is between a nation that is fundamentally exclusionary, and a society that stands for basic human values and espouses tolerance among a multiplicity of cultures and identities, the path forward is clear.

Issues related to Economic growth
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