New Delhi: The Modi government’s policies to attract foreign investment and “humongous” tax concessions to corporates will not work because it will not create productive capacity and there is no purchasing power with the people, says CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury.
Its policies have given the opportunity to opposition parties to get together because it has failed to fulfil the people’s aspirations the BJP had generated during the Lok Sabha election campaign and its steps have further worsened the situation, he said. Yechury, who was recently elected the CPI(M) General Secretary, took on the government on its ‘Make in India’ slogan and said “the slogan should be ‘Make for India’, that is by India and for India”.
“It (policies) cannot work. I will give you the reasons. You are giving concessions to attract more foreign investments. You are also giving concessions to Indian corporates to invest more. “The logic given by the government, even the ManmohanSingh government earlier, is that greater investments will create new job opportunities and thereby greater economic growth. But there is a serious flaw in this argument, why this can’t work,” he told PTI in an interview.
Even if this investment comes in, it would be “meaningful only if it comes into productive sector and not to loot our resources and expand their profits, without creating productive capacities in India.” “If they produce goods, these need to be sold. But where will you sell them? There is global stagnation, our exports have declined by 26 per cent last year. You can’t sell these goods abroad, you can’t sell them in India because the people’s purchasing power is declining as a result of these policies and growing unemployment.
“So greater investment does not create greater growth, unless you economically empower our own people, which can only be done through a very high dose of public investment which has stopped for a long time,” Yechury said. Opposing the “huge, humungous tax concessions” being given to foreign capital and the corporate houses, the CPI(M) leader said “we say collect the legitimate taxes”. “We are not asking you raise the rates, but collect the taxes (from corporates). It is huge, it amounts to Rs 5 lakh crore. Collect (in accordance with) the rates agreed in Parliament, decided in every Finance Bill every year.
“Collect these resources and invest them in both social and economic infrastructure, that is health and education and in roads and canals,” he said. This, Yechury said, will create huge new employment opportunities and the salaries paid to these youths will generate domestic demand on which Indian manufacturing and industry can thrive, he said. “This government has not been able to put in place any process of materialising the aspirations that their electoral campaign had generated among the people. So, one year down the line, though it is a short period to measure results, are there any process towards this direction? Unfortunately, the answer is ‘No’.
“Further, on the contrary, the government is taking measures which, we think, only worsens the situation,” the CPI(M) leader said. This, he said, was “giving the opportunity for well- meaning opposition parties to come together and oppose such legislations or measures which actually worsen the situation for the people.” He said the current policies, which were followed by the earlier Congress-led UPA government, were now being “more aggressively” pursued by the Modi government”. Maintaining that the fresh amendments to the land acquisition Act was an instance, he said the Modi government was “trying desperately” to get this passed.
“Last time, they could not bring this bill but managed to get the mines and minerals and coal block allocation bills passed. We opposed both and still maintain that these are not in India’s interest. “You are allowing your mineral resources to be exploited, without any value addition inside our country. If you (foreign investor) want our iron ore, then set up a factory. Why should we export iron ore,” Yechury asked, questioning the reform measure. On the new amendments to the land bill, which the government proposes to get passed in Parliament, he said the original Land Acquisition Act had come “after a big political battle” inside Parliament and in the corridors of power.
The CPI(M) had moved an amendment in 2013, seeking to make the land owner (farmer) a stakeholder in the future escalation of the value of the land. This amendment “was defeated by the Congress and the BJP coming together. Now the Modi government is further diluting even what was agreed upon in 2013 which they (BJP) had supported then,” Yechury said. He said the amendments were being brought even when there was a deficient monsoon. While the sown acreage has declined during the Kharif season, the Rabi crop has been destroyed by unseasonal rains and hailstorm, with the distress suicide rate of farmers growing.
He quoted National Crime Records Bureau figures to say that one farmer was killing himself every 36th minute. “In this background of agrarian distress, the land bill is being brought. Where are you leading to? Your food self-sufficiency, food security is being jeopardised. “One kilometre along the national highways will be taken for industrial corridors (under this bill). That amounts to 39.1 per cent of our entire cultivable land. If you minus your cultivation from this land, where is your food security? If the ‘annadata’ is pushed to commit suicide, where are you leading to?”
Asked about the relevance of the Left in the era of globalisation, the CPI(M) leader said “the Left’s relevance is dependent upon its ability and strength to develop its popular interventions. “The Left’s relevance is that we are the party of the future in the sense that we recognise that India demographically is one of the youngest countries of the world. Look at the Silicon Valley, NASA or the Sub Laboratory in Switzerland where they are carrying out experiments on ‘God Particle’. The Indian scientists, our youth are in the forefront there, working there.
“If this can be achieved with only 15 per cent of the youth getting into higher education, if we increase that percentage to 30 or 40, then nobody can stop India from becoming a leader of the world’s knowledge society.” “Now, what are the policies which can ensure this? The youth requires proper health, proper education and job opportunities. Who can give them this or what policies can give them this? That is where our relevance comes in,” the Marxist leader said.