Saturday, June 8, 2024

Policy moves by new governments must be in public interest : Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

 Policy moves by new governments must be in public interest

Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

The Hans India (09-06-2024)

{Narendra Modi continued liberalization and introduced new economic policies to boost manufacturing (Make in India), digitalization (Digital India), and financial inclusion (Jan Dhan Yojana). MGNREGA, initiated by the Congress-led government, was continued despite political differences. In contrast, Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy is perceived as abandoning policies, changing names of the schemes and programs implemented during KCR’s regime. New governments must adopt a rational approach to deviation and continuity of schemes, programs, and policies of previous regimes, which reflect public interest.} – Hans India Editor Synoptic Note

A few policy deviations, and nonconformities in first and second terms, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, might have caused reduced mandate to BJP and NDA. ‘Demonetization’ resulting in disruption in economy, affecting small businesses and daily wage workers who relied on cash transactions, and ‘GST’ leading to compliance burdens, impacting small and medium enterprises, ‘Agnipath’ that is supposed to have exposed risk of undercutting stability and professional expertise of Armed Forces, ‘One Nation One Poll’ felt to be undermining Cooperative Federalism etc. were among them. These policies, depicted with hallucination as accruing long-term benefits, turned out to be economic hardship, and creating doubts among people. They not only reduced BJP seats but also elevated Congress and INDIA, in the 2024 elections!!!

Indifference to prioritize ‘Public Welfare and Domestic Problems,’ and overemphasis on global matters, also caused discontent among voters. Campaign Mode ‘Eccentric Hindutva Political Ideology of Modi was another adversary. Compared to 2019 elections, BJP seats in 2024 are reduced from 303 to 240 and that of NDA from 353 to 292. Congress Party tally impressively doubled from 52 to 99 and that of INDIA (UPA) from 91 to 234. Voters gave an ‘Electric Shock’ to Modi, BJP, and NDA, and cautioned Modi to initiate Immediate Corrective Measures in Policy Decisions and Schemes Formulation in his third term. The message is clear: ‘Modiji you aren’t Invincible, but your Leadership is Essential.’

Speaking after his election as Leader of the NDA Parliamentary Party, Modi acknowledged the reduced poll mandate with humility, emphasized need for self-introspection and echoed electors’ constructive caution. In this context, apprehensions of BRS Leaders that Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy slated to abandon policies, changing names of schemes and programs implemented during ten years of ‘Good Governance’ of former CM K Chandrashekhar Rao, sound judicious. Schemes, it is alleged, may have ‘Congress Party Mark’ by suffix or prefix of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi names, and the Party Symbol of hand.

Political Parties in democracies do make promises during polls, to cast aside, remodel or rename, add additional benefit to existing Schemes or Programs and to formulate fresh schemes (Freebies), to suit to the changing needs of people. Fair Enough.

Likewise, in the 2023 Assembly Elections in Telangana, A Revanth Reddy led Congress Party tactfully, strategically, and intelligently placed before voters the largely publicized and campaigned ‘Six Guarantees’ namely, ‘Mahalakshmi, Rythu Bharosa, Indiramma, Yuva Vikasam, Gruha Jyothi, Cheyutha’ and positively established credibility with voters. It defeated BRS, may be narrowly. But people do watch cautiously to what extent these schemes will be dovetailed with earlier ones of KCR regime.

Globally, democratic practices, conventions, deviations, and conformities by succeeding governments, regarding policies, schemes, and programs of predecessor, vary significantly rather erratically too, by and large influenced by political, economic, and social considerations. Nevertheless, policy continuity to ensure stability and predictability has always been preferred. ‘Long-Term Infrastructure Projects’ and ‘Social Welfare Measures’ benefiting vulnerable sections beyond cheap political considerations, were generally continued irrespective of party preferences and differences. ‘Policy Review and Modification’ with suitable adjustments may be made to align with ‘Priorities of New Government’ but abandoning ‘Lock Stock and Barrel’ proved to be undesirable and unpleasant.

Decision making on these aspects in democracies is a ‘Complex Interplay of Ideology, Public Opinion, and Economic Conditions,’ coupled with personal considerations of leader. Continuity though preferred for constancy, deviations too necessarily occur, with change in government, to fulfill electoral mandates or requirement to respond to changing needs. Analysts’ feel that, ‘Deviations and or Conformities,’ by and large have been ‘One of Degree and not of Kind,’ and are to be viewed in different dimensions. Examples regarding these, from Democracies, Parliamentary (UK), Presidential (USA), and Oligarchic Systems (Erstwhile Soviet Union), as well as from India, the largest democracy, are fascinating.

For instance, UK’s Prime Minister for a record term of 11 years, ‘Iron Lady,’ Margaret Thatcher of Conservative Party, pioneered globally acclaimed Economic Policies (Thatcherism) and ‘Reforms on Public Sector Undertakings in UK.’ These were followed up by her successor Labor Party Prime Minister Tony Blair, with slight modernizations (Third Way Approach) balancing market efficiency with social justice. Conservative PM David Cameron initiated the ‘Brexit Referendum,’ which was carried out by his successor, Theresa May, and Boris Johnson, showcasing policy continuity despite leadership changes.

Similarly, the ‘Food Coupon Program’ or the present ‘Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’ in the USA, originated eight and half decades ago, when Franklin D Roosevelt was President, despite subtle criticisms, is being continued, irrespective of which party is in power, and remains as a cornerstone of the social safety net in USA, adapting to changing economic conditions and policy priorities. ‘Affordable Health Care of Obama,’ in spite of momentous opposition, Trump Administration continued by making necessary modifications. But a noteworthy deviation of Trump from previous administration was withdrawing USA from Paris Agreement. Biden however, reversed this decision.

In erstwhile Communist (Oligarchy) USSR, Stalin not only denounced Lenin, despite he being the Leader of Bolshevik Revolution responsible for establishing Soviet Union, but also shifted away from his ‘New Economic Policy,’ which itself was a noteworthy shift in Soviet Economic Strategy which relaxed state control over economy, and allowed some private enterprise. Stalin preferred centralized, planned economy, rapid industrialization, collectivization, and authoritarian regime. Khrushchev’s ‘De-Stalinization,’ condemned Stalin's personality cult, and stressed on slight liberalization of Soviet Policies.

India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, initiated Five-Year Plans, Industrialization, Non-Aligned Movement etc. Lal Bahadur Shastri building on these policies of Nehru, initiated Green Revolution to increase food production. Indira Gandhi intensified efforts to enhance Agricultural Productivity and Public Sector Expansion. In a policy shift from her predecessors, she ‘Nationalized Major Banks.’ Janata Party PM Morarji Desai, continued Indira Gandhi’s ‘Basic Economic Framework.’ Indira Gandhi in her second term, reemphasized, and reinforced earlier policies on industrialization and public sector dominance. Rajiv Gandhi Laid foundation for IT and Telecom Revolution and initiated early economic liberalization measures. VP Singh implemented Mandal Commission Recommendations.  

PV Narasimha Rao introduced ‘Economic Reforms,’ shifting from ‘Socialist Framework to Liberalization, Privatization, and Globalization.’ His New Industrial Policy reduced substantially the role of Public Sector by promoting private enterprise. Atal Bihari Vajpayee continued liberalization policies, introduced significant reforms in infrastructure, telecom, and insurance. Manmohan Singh while continuing economic liberalization reforms, introduced significant social welfare schemes like MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and Right to Information.

Narendra Modi continued liberalization and introduced new economic policies to boost manufacturing (Make in India), digitalization (Digital India), and financial inclusion (Jan Dhan Yojana). Two significant welfare measures implemented by Modi include the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and the Ayushman Bharat scheme. MGNREGA, initiated by the Congress-led government was continued despite political differences. Thus, Modi’s Vote Bank was intact.

 Liberalization and Market-Driven Growth, forming part of Economic Reforms zealously emphasized by PV, are continued by NDA and UPA. In India, the interplay between continuity and deviation in policy is influenced by political ideologies, economic imperatives, and social needs keeping public interest on top. While ‘Economic Liberalization and Demonetization’ represent Landmark Deviations, ‘Social Welfare and Infrastructure Initiative,’ exhibited Outstanding Continuity irrespective of political ideologies, reflecting uniqueness of Indian Democracy.

Continuation or deviation suiting to evolving socio-economic challenges, in erstwhile AP and Tealnagana reflected a blend of both in addressing core issues like agriculture, welfare, and infrastructure, alongside introducing innovations by addressing emerging needs. People-Centric, and Highly Popular Programs like 108 Ambulance Services and Arogyasri have never been stopped either in AP or in Telangana!!!

Better, if CM Telangana A Revanth Reddy, and AP CM Designate N Chandrababu Naidu who are known for their ‘Shrewd and Teamwork Approach’ to decision making, adhere to ‘Best Practices’ and ‘Well-Established Conventions’ towards a ‘Rational Approach to Deviation and Continuity of Schemes, Programs, and Policies’ of previous regimes, which reflect Public Interest.  

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