Tag Archives: India

India 1989-2014 and after — a paradigm shift

“Why China, why not India?” is a question debated in India without a credible answer.

By S Gurumurthy for The New Indian Express

Why China, why not India?” is a question debated in India without a credible answer. Asking an identical question, “Why China flew, India just grew?” Forbes magazine (2019) answered that it was because of the barrier-free autocracy in China and nightmare democracy in India. Forbes pointed out that in the 1980s India and China were on par, but by 2018, China’s per capita income grew to 3.5 times India’s. To drive home its point, Forbes compared how China constructed the Three Gorges Dam on Yangtze river with how India built the Narmada Dam.

Yangtze vs Narmada

The Three Gorges Dam flooded 13 cities, 140 towns, 1,350 villages and displaced 1.2 million people. Yet, China completed it in a decade. In contrast, the Narmada Dam flooded no city. Inundated no town. Impacted far less villages, just 178. And displaced less than 1/10 of the people the Chinese dam had. But how long did India take to complete the Narmada Dam? 48 years! Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation for it in 1961. The World Bank agreed to fund it in 1985, but went back after Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) began its agitation.

The NBA moved the Supreme Court, which stayed construction in 1995. In 1999, the Court lifted the stay, limited the dam height to 88 metres, but later over 19 years, raised the height in five painful instalments — in 2000 to 90 metres, in 2002 to 95 metres, in 2004 to 110 metres, in 2006 to 122 metres, and in 2019 to 139 metres, its full capacity. Democratic India’s Narmada Dam took five times longer to build compared to autocratic China’s. Why, then, wouldn’t China fly over just growing India, asked Forbes. But the magazine missed the wood for the trees. For 25 years (1989-2014) India had only rickety, compromising coalitions, which had debilitated the economy. This is what Forbes sadly missed. 
4 elections, 7 PMs in 10 years

In 10 years, 1989-1999, when globalisation was opening the lucrative Western markets to the rest, India saw four parliamentary polls and as many governments with seven prime ministers. V P Singh, 11 months. Chandrashekhar, 4 months. Narasimha Rao, 5 years. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 13 days. Deve Gowda, 11 months. Inder Gujral, 11 months. And Vajpayee again, 13 months. Would the West look at India, the duration of whose governments were measured in months and days, instead of China, which was firmly under one man, Deng Xiaoping? Hoping to make the stable China a democracy rather than attempt to make the Indian democracy stable, the US began “positive engagement” with China in 1993.

Things did improve for India between 1999 and 2014 when India had multi-party coalition governments for full terms. Vajpayee, who had better control over his coalition, had earlier even boldly opted for the Pokhran II explosion. But according to Sanjaya Baru, Dr Manmohan Singh’s media advisor, Singh was just a proxy for Sonia Gandhi who exercised real power. How long would the 10 Indian governments that ruled between 1989 and 2104 last in office was always a question. Result, a whole generation of Indians had lost hope that India could ever have a stable government with absolute majority under a strong leader, like say Indira Gandhi. And so did the world. This swung the world to China.

Paradigm shift

In 2014, when Narendra Modi won an absolute majority after 30 years, the paradigm shifted  and stunned the world. Not just Modi, Indian democracy gained the world’s confidence to the extent that in 2019, US magazine Foreign Policy even said Indian democracy “is the silver lining, even golden lining of democracies” in the world. Had an elected Indian government with a majority of its own been in power in the 1990s, like in 2014, autocratic China would not have been the default choice of the West. When India changed hands from one PM to another seven times in 10 years, would the West need a better reason to turn to China? Result? The early bird China wrapped up 70 strategic partnerships by 2020. But including the US-India nuclear deal by Dr Singh in 2008 risking his government and Sonia’s wrath, the late entrant India could manage only 20. No nation would choose India — whose government could fall the next day — as a long-term partner. This is what changed in 2014. The result was instant. Modi soon emerged as a global leader.

According to the monthly survey of US-based Morning Consult, since January 2020 till now, Modi remains at the top among 13 leaders from the US to Australia in the global leadership approval ratings. Long used to be led by others, India is now playing the lead role in the multilateral fora. The latest G7-plus, G20 meetings and the COP26 conclave testify to India’s lead role. The world is now undoubtedly turning to India like it was turning to China in the 1990s. The UBS Evidence Lab CFO Study, Information Technology and Innovation Fund research, Bloomberg report and Qina Report point to the US and the West shifting away from China to India. Japan-Australia-India trade ministers held a virtual meeting in April 2021 to move away from China in 5G and semiconductor tech businesses. By the strategic Pokhran II, India shed its reservation about global power play. With the people of India giving him full majority, Modi has actually led India into the global power play. 

Plans, to develop

Backed by the absolute majority from the people, Modi set such long-term goals, planned on such scales as not imagined in India earlier. Result, in the seven years from 2014, he succeeded in executing massive schemes like opening bank accounts for 43.81 cr unbanked poor; installing 11.5 cr public and private toilets; achieving six lakh-plus open defecation-free villages; building 2.33 lakh-km long rural roads; constructing 2.13 crore houses for the poor; electrifying all villages; providing electric connections to 2.81 cr homes; fixing 37.8 LED bulbs to reduce power consumption; laying optical fibre to 1.69 lakh villages; giving free cooking gas connections to 8.7 cr homes; extending medical insurance to 25.6 cr people, life insurance to 11.16 cr, crop insurance to 11.6 cr farms; putting cash directly in 11.77 cr farmers’ bank accounts; issuing 22.81 cr soil health cards; lending to 33.8 cr micro businesses; bringing 3.42 cr people, plus 55 lakh self-employed under pension schemes; linking 1.71 cr farmers under e-market; connecting 1.85 cr students and youth with online courses for skilling; arranging 1.46 lakh post office payment banks in villages; issuing 129.5 cr Aadhaar identity cards to every Indian resident and 4.9 cr biometric identity certificates. The list goes on.

The speed with which he worked his plans is measured by just one fact. Till 2014 — in 64 years — the length of national highways built was 91,287 km; but in Modi’s seven years alone it was 46,338 km — 50% more. Modi’s development plans are intensely integrated. He could not have opened tens of crores of bank accounts for the unbanked without providing Aadhaar card to all, without connecting lakhs of villages by optical fibre, without lakhs of doorstep post office banks or without laying lakhs of kms of village roads. Nor without these could he have provided several tens of crores in medical insurance, crop insurance, life insurance, soil health cards, toilets, cooking gas connections, health cards or put cash in tens of crores of farmers’ bank accounts. One would not have been possible without the other or others.

Purgatives, to detoxify

He also administered unpopular purgatives to the economy like demonetisation (DM), GST, bankruptcy law, privatisation of PSUs to make his long-term development plans work. Many fault DM for failing to catch black money hoarders red handed while exposing people to hardship. But what was missed was that DM was a multidimensional venture. It brought the informal and black trade into registered accounts. But for DM, the taxpayer base of India which was 3.79 cr till 2016, would not have shot up to 6.84 cr in 2018 — a rise of 80%. The tax-GDP ratio, too, would not have gone up. Had the parallel black trade continued as before DM, GST mop-up could have failed miserably. That could have threatened states’ finances and the federal structure itself, even caused financial emergency. State Bank of India’s two latest Ecowrap research reports (Nov 1 & Nov 8) have brought out the truth about the unpopular DM. It says because of DM, the Jan Dhan bank accounts rose by 5.7 cr; digital transitions from 182 per 10K in 2014 to 13,615 in 2020 — by 135 times; ATM network growth, that indicated cash drawls, has flattened; the savings in the Jan Dhan accounts has risen to Rs 1.40 lakh cr.

It also says DM, GST and digital transactions have reduced the share of the informal economy from 54% in 2014 to 15-20% in 2020-21. The formalisation extended to 36 lakh jobs, says the Employee Provident Fund office, and to 5.7 cr unorganised workers — mostly in Bengal, Odisha, UP and Bihar in that order — as per government’s E-Shram portal. Cash use of Rs 1.2 lakh cr, agricultural credit of Rs 4.6 lakh cr, and petrol/diesel purchase of Rs 1 lakh cr have also been formalised through bank or digital transactions. The outcome of the formalisation is higher GST collections. For October 2021, GST collection is Rs 1.30 lakh cr. Ecowrap (8.11.2021) also brings out the social benefits of the rise in Jan Dhan accounts and says it has reduced alcohol & tobacco consumption, wasteful spending and crime rates! Truth always emerges, but late.

Forbes went wrong

Integrating development plans with purgatives to detoxify and formalise the Indian economy reflected the Modi government’s long term vision. But neither could have been possible without the other. And, both would have been impossible without bold leadership. Nothing would have been possible had Modi not won absolute majority for the second time. Forbes was wrong in faulting democracy. As the dynasty-led Congress declined, Indian democracy was in distress for a quarter century. Narration of what an absolute majority rule with bold leadership could do cannot be complete without saying how India handled the Covid challenge. 

Covid challenge

Modi’s greatest challenge came within months of winning the 2019 elections. The mysterious Covid-19 hit India. With no textbook model to counter it, Modi had to innovate, experiment with risky, unorthodox, unpopular ways to stop it, but failed. That disturbed the people, crashed the economy, inviting the Opposition to go ballistic. Seeing a golden chance to cow him down and India, China began spilling blood on the borders. Facing the worst challenge from within and outside, which was exploited every minute by the Opposition, he focussed on his Indradhanush Mission to produce Made in India vaccines for Indians.

How important it is can be measured by the fact that in the past, foreign made vaccines took as long as 17 to 60 years to reach India. Had India depended on foreign-made Covid vaccines, first it would have become bankrupt paying for it, and next, it could never ever think of relief from Covid. Millions would have died. As Modi doggedly rooted for Made in India vaccines, the Opposition even cast doubts on its efficacy, causing vaccine hesitancy. Finally, India, one of the earliest, now the largest, producers of Covid vaccines, has vaccinated the largest number of people fully and partially. India has well confronted Covid compared to the best of the world. If the Indian economy is looking up today, credit should go to the Made in India vaccine. 

This is where post-2014 India stands. Imagine a rickety, compromising coalition in its place with some proxy prime minister. Where would India have been with the Covid devastation from within and China firing at the border? This is the difference between India during 1989-2014 and after.

S Gurumurthy
Editor, Thuglak, and commentator on economic and political affairs

Rising Bharat International News Feed: October 27th 2020

  • Relation with US
  1. India-US 2+2 dialogue: US stands with India, says Pompeo; mentions killing of Army soldiers in Galwan

(Live Mint, 27 October 2020) News Link

  • India-US 2+2 dialogue: BECA signed – Details of the pact

(Times Now News, 27 October 2020) News Link

  • India-US 2+2 dialogue: BECA signed – Details of the pact

(Times Now News, 27 October 2020) News Link

  • India, US engaging intensively on matters of national security: Jaishankar in opening remarks at 2+2 ministerial dialogue

(Hindustan Times, 27 October 2020) News Link

  • Third India-US 2+2 dialogue: Bilateral ties must focus on maximising convergences on strategic interests

(First Post, 27 October 2020) News Link

  • European countries
  1. Macron Faces Heat for ‘Attacking’ Islam, ‘I Stand With France’ Trends in India

 (News 18, 27 October 2020) News Link

  1. India, Russia To Develop Advance Version Of BrahMos Missiles Especially For Targeting AWACS – Reports

(Eurasian Times, 27 October 2020) News Link

  1. India Urges Concerned Parties In Middle East To Stop Support To Terrorist Groups Like ISIL

(Business World, 27 October 2020) News Link

  1. NRIs in New Zealand Protest Against Hathras Brutality, Farm Laws and Decline of Rights in India

(The Wire, 27 October 2020) News Link

  • Relation with African countries
    • India Goes Roaring Into Africa; Looks To Ink Defence & Other Key Pacts With Morocco

(Euraisan Times, 27 October 2020) News Link

  • India sends aid to four African countries to deal with COVID-19 crisis

(Zee News, 27 October 2020) News Link

  1. EXCLUSIVE: HCL Tech is expanding operations in Canada as H-1B visa issues persist

(Business Insider, 27 October 2020) News Link

Rising Bharat International News Feed: October 17th 2020

  1. Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar to visit Russia to hold talks on various ongoing projects

(Times Now News, 17 October, 2020) News Link

  • Covid-19 vaccine: Sputnik V to undergo trial in India, Dr Reddy’s gets DCGI approval

(Hindustan Times, 17 October, 2020) News Link

  • Relation with Bhutan
  1. Bhutan Foreign Minister Extends Greetings To Indians On Navratri

(Business World, 17 October 2020) News Link

  • Looking for common ground on the borderline

(Tribune India, 17 October 2020) News Link

  • India allows market access for 5 Bhutanese agriculture products to boost bilateral trade

(DNA India, 17 October 2020) News Link

  • Global Hunger Index
    • India Ranks 94 Among 107 Countries in Global Hunger Index 2020

(The Wire, 17 October 2020) News Link

  1. Presence of Chinese troops with weapons at LAC a critical security challenge: Jaishankar

(Times of India, 17 October 2020) News Link

  • China insists Indians vacate Chushul heights, India says clear Pangong north

(Indian Express, 17 October 2020) News Link

  1. Pakistan still harbouring terrorism, difficult to have normal ties, says Jaishankar

(India Today, 17 October 2020) News Link

  • Pakistan law mantri attends virtual meet hosted by India

(Times of India, 17 October 2020) News Link

  • India asks Pakistan court for return of its 4 convicts

(Times of India, 17 October 2020) News Link

  • Army restores grave of Pakistan officer

(Times of India, 17 October 2020) News Link

  1. Clusters that could turn into Covid-19 hotspots need to be identified: Sowmya Swaminathan

(Deccan Herald, 17 October 2020) News Link

Rising Bharat International News Feed: October 11th 2020

  1. पाकिस्तान में मौलाना की हत्या, इमरान खान ने बिना सबूतों के भारत पर लगाया आरोप

(Amar Ujala, 11 October 2020) News Link

  1. 18-Year-Old Steps Into Shoes Of UK’s Senior-Most Diplomat In India For A Day

(NDTV,11 October 2020) News Link

  • Relation with Bangladesh
  1. Madhya Pradesh police: Over 500 Bangladeshi women trafficked to India, forced into sex racket

(Dhaka Tribune, 11 October 2020) News Link

  • Relation with Afghanistan
  1. ‘Afghan leadership won’t have concerns if India engages with Taliban’: Abdullah Abdullah

(Hindustan Times, 11 October 2020) News Link

  • Abdullah Abdullah concludes visit in India

(Hindustan Times, 11 October 2020) News Link

  • Relation with Indonesia
  1. 3 Aceh fishermen home after year stuck in India

 (Jakarta Post, 11 October 2020) News Link

  1. China occupies Nepal territory less than 70 km from India border

(Sunday Guardian Live, 11 October 2020) News Link

  1. No indication of any tactical military help from China to Pakistan: Indian Army

(deccanchronicle, 11 October 2020) News Link.

Rising Bharat National News Feed: October 7th 2020

  • POJKOutrage against Pakistan’s attempt to make Gilgit Baltistan its fifth province

Key points:

  1. Anger is mounting high in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan against Islamabad’s attempt to change the political status of the occupied region.
  2. Recently, Pakistan’s minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, Ali Amin Gandapur, reignited the contentious issue of grant of provincial status to Gilgit Baltistan. He also revealed about the commencement of work on Moqpondass Special Economic Zone under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This is fuelled resentment among the people of occupied PoK and Gilgit Baltistan.
  3. Gilgit-Baltistan, earlier known as Northern Areas has been governed by “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009”, that established an electoral framework.
  4. Elections have been held in the region under the Order that provides for only limited autonomy. The sudden announcement of the inclusion of Gilgit-Baltistan as the fifth province of Pakistan and underlying reasons for the same are much wider and its implications are bound to set the tone for exacerbating tensions, that is already being played out in the east along the LAC on Indo-China border.
  5. Located on a strategic location, Gilgit Baltistan has a large landmass and covers an area of over 70 thousand km. The Area has been under illegal occupation of Pakistan along with a part of Kashmir that lies to its South.

(Times of India,7 October 2020) News Link

  • China’s helping hand to Pak: New surface-to-air missile sites spotted in PoK

Key points:

  1. China is helping Pakistan set up sites for surface-to-air missiles as troops from two armies are carrying out joint patrols in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, recent Indian intelligence reports say.
  2. “The construction work for the installation of surface-to-air missile defence system was being carried out by Pakistan Army and PLA at Pauli Pir near Lasadanna Dhok of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” said an intelligence report.
  3. The control room for the missile system is to be located at Bdel Bagh.

(India Today,7 October 2020) News Link

  1. राम मंदिर के लिए तमिलनाडु से पहुंचा 613 किलो का घंटा, 10 किमी तक सुनाई देगी आवाज, निकलेगीकी ध्वनि

Key Points:

  1. राम मंदिर के लिए तमिलनाडु से चलकर अयोध्या पहुंचा 613 किलो का घंटा
  2. बजने पर 10 किलोमीटर तक सुनाई देगी आवाजा, घंटे से निकलेगी ओम् की ध्वनि
  3. 4500 किमी की यात्रा तय करके अयोध्या पहुंचा घंटा, 10 राज्यों से होकर गुजरा
  4. तमिलनाडु की लीगल राइट काउंसिल की ओर से राम मंदिर को किया गया भेंट
  5. वर्ल्ड रेकॉर्ड बना चुकी बुलेट रानी के नाम से प्रसिद्ध राजलक्ष्मी माडा रामरथ चला कर घंटे को लकर अयोध्या पहुंची हैं। तमिलनाडु की रहने वाली राजलक्ष्मी मांडा विश्व में दूसरी महिला हैं जिन्होंने 9.5 टन वजन खींचने का वर्ल्ड रेकॉर्ड बनाया है। रामराम रथ में जहां एक ओर कांस्य से बना 613 किलो वजनी विशेष घंटा रखा गया है, वहीं भगवान श्रीराम, मां सीता, लक्ष्मण, हनुमान जी के साथ गणपति की कांस्य से बनी प्रतिमाएं रख कर लाई गई हैं।
  6. विशेष आकार के घंटे का वजन 613 किलो है। यह विशेष कांस्य से बना हुआ है। इसकी चौड़ाई 3.9 फीट है और इसकी हाइट 4 फीट है। राजलक्ष्मी मांडा का कहना है कि भगवान श्रीराम के रथ को वे तमिलनाडु से अयोध्या तक खुद ड्राइव करके आई हैं। उनको बहुत खुशी है कि बुधवार को वह रामलला के दरबार में इस विशेष घंटा और मूर्तियों को भेंट करेंगी। उनका कहना है कि उनका जीवन धन्य हो गया है।

(Navbharat Times, 7 October 2020) News Link

  1. Inland Waterways: Environment and Coastal Livelihoods Sidelined for Modi Government’s Pet Project

Key points:

  1. Over the past six years, the Modi government has actively pushed for environmental overhauls, with the latest being the draft Environmental Impact Assessment notification. While there has been a furore about the draft EIA notification, another government project has attracted the ire of activists.
  2. Activists say that the adverse environmental impact due to the waterways and their intervention into the depleting fresh water systems of India deserves more attention and  scrutiny. One of the major concerns being raised is the ability of private players to surpass environmental clearances. The recently-proposed draft EIA notification puts inland waterways in Category ‘B2’ projects, which only need an Environmental Permission, with or without  appraisal and a public hearing. An expert committee of the environment ministry in 2017 recommended inland waterways to be slotted into Category A. However, this has not been done.
  3. Avli Verma, a researcher at Manthan said that the project was launched with “grand claims and promises. It was claimed that national waterways were ideally suited for bulk and hazardous cargo and that these are more cost-effective and environment friendly as compared to railways or roadways. But these claims are not universal for all waterways. The development and maintenance of waterways and movement of large barges on the rivers represent massive interventions in the riverine ecosystem. Dredging, noise generated by vessels, leakage of fuel, accidental spills – all of these adversely impact the fish population, thereby directly affecting the livelihood of inland fishworkers.”

(News Click, 7 October 2020) News Link

  • Future shock: The leaning towers of Najafgarh Jheel

Key points:

  1. Almost 85 per cent of the world’s wetlands have disappeared owing to anthropogenic pressures. Without immediate intervention, the Najafgarh jheel too will join this ignominious list.
  2. As one moves around the jheel, two narratives are evident. The Delhi side, separated by an embankment for the most part, has been earmarked in the Delhi Master Plan. No largescale construction activity is permitted in this zone.
  3. However, on the Haryana side of the jheel, an altogether different story emerges. Globally, no construction activity is permitted within the High Flood Level (HFL) line attained in a water body in the last 100 years.
  4. While similar views have been enunciated in the guidelines of the state environment impact assessment authority of Haryana, it omits to mention the HFL value of 212.5 metres above mean sea level (mamsl) for the jheel, as recorded by the department of irrigation and flood control of Delhi. This omission enables project proponents to affirm compliance to this clause in letter, without adhering to it in spirit.

(Down to Earth, 7 October 2020) News Link

  1. SCERT conducts 2nd Webinar on NEP-2020

Key points:

  1. State Council of Educational Research and Training Jammu and Kashmir conducted its 2nd Webinar on National Education Policy-2020, Challenges and Opportunities vis-à-vis J&K.
  2. Both the presentations discussed the challenges and bottlenecks in implementation of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy in J&K.
  3. The Chairperson of the session, Prof Usha Sharma deliberated too on the topic and laid emphasis on the implementation of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy that contributes directly in transforming India into a vibrant knowledge society by providing quality education to our future generation.

(The Kashmir Images, 7 October 2020) News Link

  1. NEP 2020 will be implemented in phased manner, says Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra

Key points:

  1. Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra said the inclusion of national sentiments and nationalities necessary for education is being reflected in the National Education Policy (NEP)-2020.
  2. Mishra said a preliminary blueprint has been prepared for implementing the new National Education Policy in the state universities. Feedback will be taken from the vice-chancellors of all universities and a three-day chancellor dialogue will be held from October 21 to 23. The new NEP approved by the Union Cabinet in July replaces the National Policy on Education framed in 1986 and is aimed at paving the way for ‘‘transformational reforms’‘ in schools and higher education systems to make India a ‘‘global knowledge superpower’‘

(Hindustan Times, 7 October 2020) News Link