(1) Two days ago, TCA had a piece in BS asking Rahul Gandhi to step down soon. Not a bad advice, in my view. Well, actually good advice. Soon, the newspaper wrote an edit criticising the Congress leader’s anti-business rhetoric in the Gujarat campaign.
This must worry Indians beyond partisan politics. It is not time to gloat that Rahul is helping BJP win or stay ahead in the race. His campaign, just as his remarks on ‘Suit boot ki Sarkar’ did, would propel a policy race to the bottom. Further, it tells us that the Congress has not gone beyond sloganeering and has not absorbed any lessons from its disastrous rule from 2004 to 2014 (and earlier too).
India needs to grow the pie and help the poor get out of poverty. India needs to deal with criminals-promoters and yet make way for entrepreneurship and competition. India needs to collect taxes but also make the tax system and rates reasonable. India needs to enforce laws but laws should be transparent, clear and be made clear and accessible to the public.
In other words, India needs leaders who understand the need for a multiplicity of approaches, interventions and seemingly contradictory thinking. It is only ‘seemingly’. There is nothing really contradictory about them.
The Congress leader has given us no hint that he understands this and, unfortunately, increasingly, nor has the BJP.
Therefore, the question really is if both of them are making India lose.
There is a race to the populist bottom that both the parties are practising. Now, Arun Jaitley is defending that the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code does not reward capitalists. On that note, actually, this government has done quite well. Perhaps, according to Andy Mukherjee, too well. But, I disagree with Andy Mukherjee and agree with Sunil Jain and Debashis Basu. The government has done the right thing.
However, in the light of the (wrong and unjustified) criticisms that it is soft on capitalists, the government may go overboard with either even more anti-business policy decisions or seemingly pro-poor and pro-farmer policies or both.
Separately, in the light of what I wrote in MINT on Tuesday about how solar panels are being deliberately reclassified as ‘DC generators’ and charged customs duty, the PM’s appeal for investment into India is amusing.
(2) THE HINDU has featured an article by a writer who has raised the red flag on the ‘bail-in’ clause in the new Financial Resolution draft bill that has gone to the Parliament select committee.
It is an enabling provision and the government and the regulator will decide on which creditors would be ‘bailed in’ and in what amounts, etc. There is a long way to go but uncertainties have cropped up. The article in THE HINDU engages in needless fear-mongering. Two friends have raised the issue with me and asked me to study it and recommend whether they should pull their deposits out of the banks!
I did spend some time on it last night and find that there is no immediate concern but there is plenty of scope for mischief and uncertainty. Those who wish to assuage themselves should check out www.prsindia.org and peruse the documents here, here and here. These two documents might be useful too.
(3) For the future of India, there is a latent need for a genuine centre-Right/Right discourse. BJP is nowhere near that. As I wrote some seven months ago, there is single party rule in India when it comes to economic policymaking. But, I doubt if the people of the country too are ready for a centre-Right/Right discourse. By and large, people do not appreciate – yet – that the populist discourse and policies are superficial and short-term with deleterious long-term consequences.
The state of the political and policy discourse on either side of the aisle should worry Indians – a lot.