On Friday, stating that the Centre has announced a stimulus package that virtually ignores the urgent need for economic support to citizines whose lives and livelihoods have been shattered by the COVID-19 induced lockdown, leading economists, intellectuals and activists proposed Mission Jai Hind - a 7-point plan of action to respond to the present economic, health and humanitarian crisis.
Apparently, the plan was endorsed by intellectuals like Abhijit Sen, Yogendra Yadav, Ramchandra Guha, Deepak Nayyar, Harsh Mander, Ashutosh Varshney, Bezwada Wilsom and Amit Basole among others.
Well, the seven-point plan includes;
Migrants must be helped to go back home within 10 days
Universal and free health care for all Covid patients
Universal access to expanded ration for six months
Enhance the job guarantee in rural and urban India
Cash compensation for loss of job or livelihood
Three months interest waiver for farmers, small business, house loans
National revival mission not to be constrained by lack of resources
However, it seems that the endorsers of the plan don't quite agree with what has been published.
Under the plan that proposes the principle of "Whatever it takes" to raise resources for Mission Jai Hind, it has been stated that "All the resources (cash, real estate, property, bonds, etc) with the citizens or within the nation must be treated as national resources available during this crisis."
The second clause to this plan is that the "Central government to share at least 50% of the additional revenue raised for the purpose with the state governments. The third clause says that the "Expenses under the mission to be the first charge on the exchequer, everything else follows; complete ban on all wasteful and non-essential public expenditure and subsidies."
While the proposed plan made headlines, Indian historian Ramchandra Guha quickly disassociated himself from the plan and said that the published version of the plan had a radically different clause which he never endorsed.
In a series of tweet, he said, "The Mission Jai Hind Statement that was sent to me had this broad statement of principle as clause 7.1, which I approved, namely: “All resources within the nation are national resources, available for this mission.”
"The published version had a radically different clause 7.1: “All the resources (cash, real estate, property, bonds, etc) with the citizens or within the nation must be treated as national resources available during this crisis.” I have not and do not endorse this."
"This clause, that has become deeply tendentious with the major changes made without the consent of some signatories, has taken attention away from the many sensible suggestions made in the Statement."
Well, Guha's statement brings us to the question: How can a plan be proposed without the endorser's final views on the plan? Weren't they given a copy of the plan they were endorsing?
We are not sure what happened but the "endorsers" of the plan don't seem to agree with what has been published.
And now, experts in the field are criticising the aforementioned intellectuals and their genius plan. Many even said that the plan proposed is a threat to right to property.
A Twitter user criticising the plan said, "One of the points, 7.1 calls for nationalising cash, property, bonds, assets of ALL citizens. So, Govt takes away everything you have: Cash, bank account, house, gold, savings. And clowns like these will decide how to spend that. No country needs such economists and intellectuals."
Prof. Shamika Ravi took to Twitter and said "Such “leading economists” have done enough damage already in this country. This document is an assault on private property in India."
Prof. Ravi added, "All the resources(cash, real estate, property, bonds etc.) with the citizens ...must be treated as national resources available..." - what is evident here is that for such "leading intellectuals" individual rights have no meaning."
However, Ashutosh Varshney, Professor of Political Science at Brown University, quickly responded to Ravi's comments and said that the clause in the plan is not an attack on the right to property.
In a series of tweet, He said, "3 comments. 1. I am not an economist, but economists need to subject themselves to a public scrutiny in a moment like this. The penchant of so many economists for fiscal restraint is right for normal times, but shouldn’t one try Keynesian ways in such a crisis?"
He went on to clarify, "Economic theory remains embedded in a utilitarian logic. Political theory after JS Mill has moved from utility to rights. Citizens should not die of hunger, especially if public stocks have a surplus. The migrants have a right to be fed. 7.1 is not an attack on private property."
Varshney explained that “Nationalization” is equal to public ownership of private resources. "I have never been for that. “National resources”, perhaps awkwardly phrased, only means that these resources can be taxed to generate revenue at a higher rate, if needed for emergency needs. No public ownership," he clarifies.
While it seems that the statement has been challenged in the published version, Vershney responding to tweet by Journalist Shekhar Gupta said that " the writers of the statement are returning to the original draft."
Well, who's behind changing the statement still remains unknown but we know one thing for sure: It would have been a good idea to hand over a copy of the plan before it was published. This would have surely helped the team to avoid a ruckus.