“Three years for the corporate, two for the RSS”, this was how I had summed up the likely Modi policy just after the election results. The first 100 days of the new government are not yet over, but the indications are that the corporate agenda is already in full swing. The latest Budget is an ample proof that the government has totally sold itself to the Corporate India, which is being repaid in multiples what it did for securing the victory for the NDA. The budget has nothing, which can reduce inflation, bridge the economic disparity and remove poverty. It has done a lot for the Corporate. After giving them the Bullet Trains and share in many railway projects, it has not only opened Defence and Insurance for FDI but has also brought the wonderful news of one hundred smart cities to them. The excise duties on certain market products have also been reduced, which will of course boost the industry. What an irony that when it comes to agricultural products, hoarding and profiteering remain big concerns for the government but when it comes to the market products, the government does nothing to reduce the margins of the profits the companies make at the cost of the common people. If the government learns the difference between the “interests of the business as a whole” and “the interests of the businessmen”, favouring the former and not the latter, the economy will have a big boost, and the whole nation will benefit. But it favours only the business class and that too selectively, which is mostly at the expense of the consumers.
The Budget speech of the Finance Minister has been conspicuously silent on the allocation made to the Minority Ministry. In all probability, this does not mean that there is no allocation at all because that would amount to the scrapping of the ministry itself. If it continues what it was in the last budget, it is still surprising because the last budget was an interim budget for a few months. If it did not think it necessary to mention it in the speech, it speaks of his lack of sensitivity towards minorities. Even if it is in the same range as it was in the last full budget, this is pathetic. Compare the 3000 crores allocations for minorities with 50000 cr each for the SC/ST development and SC/ST welfare, and it tells you how much minorities are ignored by the successive governments. The only funds allocated for minorities are 100 crores for the “modernization” of madrasas. This of course is the NDA plan for minorities and not the demand made by minorities. Muslims will feel concerned about this allocation because it gives an idea of how BJP government wants to impose its agenda on Muslims and their institutions. There are no announcements for any minority institutions or any programmes related to developmental activities in Muslim areas.
For last three years, I have been recurrently demanding introduction of Economic Disparity Index (General, Urban-Rural, State to State and Community to Community) so that we can know the status of different regions and communities and how the government proposes to bridge them. But no one is listening. The latest budget and the Economic Survey that preceded it are also silent on the issue.
The indications are clear. The corporate will strangulate whatever is left in the economy for the poor. Sooner or later, programmes like MNREGA and Food Security Act will get diluted. Health sector particularly the preventive part will remain neglected. The better days have begun to come for those who already have good days. For others days will continue to be worse than before.
* Dr Javed Jamil is a thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”. Other works include “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Essence of the Divine Verses”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe”. He can be contacted at: email@example.com or 91-8130340339