March 1, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

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CONJURING A CATHARSIS: ON THE GOVERNMENT’S WHITE PAPER ON THE ECONOMY

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THE CONTEXT:

According to the White Paper released by the Finance Ministry, the UPA is accused of economic mismanagement, while the NDA’s reforms are praised. However, the Black Paper presented by the Congress criticizes the NDA’s policies, citing issues such as unemployment and distress among farmers.

THE ISSUES:

  • Scams and Corruption: The White Paper lists 15 “high-profile” UPA scams as alleged economic mismanagement, including coal, 2G spectrum, the Commonwealth Games, and a misappropriation case in the Jammu & Kashmir cricket board.
  • Governance Issues: The finance minister criticized the UPA’s ‘extra-constitutional’ governance system and failed to undertake pending reforms after the 1991 liberalization.
  • GST and Aadhaar: The White Paper credits the NDA government for delivering on GST and effectively using Aadhaar, despite some BJP states, including Gujarat, having reservations about them.
  • Pending Reforms: The NDA government has not found a consilient approach to critical pending factor markets reforms, such as land and labour, and has had to backtrack on farm sector reforms.
  • Economic Blunders: The Congress’s Black Paper highlights the NDA government’s economic blunders, such as demonetization, the flawed GST regime, unemployment with stagnant wage growth, farmers’ distress, and high inflation.
  • Oil Prices and Inflation: The Black Paper points out the high inflation rates despite lower crude oil prices than the UPA’s tenure.
  • GDP Growth and Employment Rates: The White Paper does not include real GDP growth and employment rates from the UPA and NDA years, which could be crucial economic performance indicators.
  • Reform Journey: India’s reform journey has been marked by successive governments building on past efforts, with many opportunities considered missed or bungled in hindsight.
  • Voter Expectations: The White Paper attempts to temper voters’ expectations from a government with a majority mandate.

THE WAY FORWARD:

  • Transparent and Inclusive Policymaking: Enhance transparency in economic policymaking by involving a broader range of stakeholders, including opposition parties, industry experts, and civil society, to ensure well-rounded policies and consider diverse perspectives.
  • Comprehensive Economic Reforms: Continue and deepen economic reforms in critical areas such as land, labour, and capital markets to improve India’s business environment and attract more investment. Addressing various states’ and stakeholders’ concerns and reservations about reforms like GST and Aadhaar is crucial for their successful implementation.
  • Accountability and Oversight: Enhance the accountability of public officials and institutions through regular audits, transparency initiatives, and public reporting to reduce the wastage of public resources and improve governance.
  • Focus on Inclusive Growth: Prioritize policies that promote inclusive growth, such as affordable housing, healthcare, and education, to ensure the benefits of economic growth are widely shared.
  • Addressing Unemployment and Wage Stagnation: Implement targeted programs to create jobs and support skill development to address unemployment and wage stagnation. Encourage private sector investment in labour-intensive sectors.
  • Prudent Fiscal Management: Maintain fiscal discipline by managing public expenditure and enhancing revenue collection to support sustainable economic growth and manage inflation effectively.
  • Digital Infrastructure and Services: Continue to invest in and expand digital infrastructure to improve public service delivery, enhance government efficiency, and foster innovation.
  • Data-Driven Policy Making: Utilize data analytics and technology to inform policy decisions, monitor implementation, and evaluate the impact of government programs and initiatives.
  • Acknowledging and Building on Previous Achievements: Recognize the contributions of previous governments and build on successful policies and programs, ensuring continuity and stability in governance.

THE CONCLUSION:

UPA and NDA have different views on shaping public opinion. NDA emphasizes reforms, while UPA highlights policy failures. Both have published White and Black Papers before elections to convince voters of their economic stewardship and criticize the other’s failings.

UPSC PAST YEAR QUESTIONS:

Q.1) Two parallel-run schemes of the government, viz. the Adhaar Card and NPR, one voluntary and the other compulsory, have led to debates and litigations at national levels. On merits, discuss whether both schemes need to run concurrently. Analyze the potential of the schemes to achieve developmental benefits and equitable growth. (2014)

Q.2) Effectiveness of the government system at various levels and people’s participation in the governance system are interdependent.” Discuss their relationship with each other in the context of India. (2016)

MAINS PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q.1) Examine the role of economic policies and reforms in shaping India’s growth trajectory over the last two decades. Discuss the impact of these policies on various sectors of the economy and suggest measures for sustainable and inclusive economic development.

SOURCE:

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/conjuring-a-catharsis-the-hindu-editorial-on-the-governments-white-paper-on-the-economy/article67835416.ece

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