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Letters: Falling into a trap

Lack of transparency is an area where both the governments have failed

Business Standard 

With reference to T N Ninan’s piece, “Failure in the good times” (September 23), some countries face much more difficult times than India, which is in the throes of a decline in is a recent example.
Decline in economic growth, one hopes, is reversible. The reason being cited for the slump is lack of action by the previous government as well as the current one, as Ninan’s piece notes.

Lack of transparency is an area where both the governments have failed. Except for a few big infrastructure non-performing assets (NPA), seeds for the others were sown in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis. They were visible to all senior bankers and nominee directors of the Reserve Bank of India and officials of the government. The honest principle of putting the problem on the table was not followed in that case; it is still not being followed in most economic areas. When the entire world was fortifying its banks with bags full of capital, we were celebrating that misfortune had bypassed our banks!
In economic management, the present government fell into the trap of picking up low hanging fruits without appreciating that time and efforts, like any organisation, are limited and these can wean attention away from the critical and deep issues of the economy that need long-term efforts. Progress made in the financial sector such as Aadhaar, Jan-Dhan Yojana, Jan-Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile, Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency and digital transactions will all vanish moment the government turns its gaze away.
The low-level government machinery, banks included, has perfected the art of showing all targets achieved, even when these are unachievable ab initio.
Having two eminent and respected lawyers as successive finance ministers could have something to do with the current state of the economy.
The government in a democracy needs to realise that nation-building is like running a marathon. Respectfully receiving the baton from the previous government is a vital step. After the massive election victory of 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party viciously and scornfully criticised the previous government, even abroad, and thus failed to obtain the support of nationalists with long stints in economy management, who are sitting on the other side of the aisle. The result is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi (pictured) has made even the smallest economic failures singularly his own. This should not have been so.
Y P Issar   Karnal
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First Published: Sun, September 24 2017. 22:34 IST