A welcome initiative from Rahul Gandhi

– Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Rahul Gandhi’s conversation with Raghuram Rajan is interesting as well as informative. The initiative too is good at the time when our leaders rarely believe in conversations and mostly like to be ‘interviewed’, good to see a political figure speaking to an economist who also happen to be the former Governor of RBI. This conversations gave us lots of ideas and how government can handle the massive impending economic crisis once the lock down is unlocked. Millions of unorganised sector workers have returned home without any social security. The charities of governments as well as organisation will not be able to feed them for ever and at certain point of time, they will have to find a job for their survival. Charities are important during emergencies but you cant keep a country in emergency for too long when economy is already in shambles and need strong measures for revival.

An important point made by Dr Raghuram Rajan was that we need Rs 65,000 crore to help the poor immediately to protect them from further marginalisation. Rahul Gandhi has been speaking about these issues for long and I think the issue of minimum income for all during the last election was part of his conversations with other economists. It also gives us an idea about the enormity of the issue and where the government is failing so far for its inability to respond to the people’s need.
Question is not about money as India can definitely afford much bigger amount to push economy going but whether there is a will for doing so or not.

Both Rahul Gandhi and Raghuram Rajan wanted that the government do more and more testing to ensure that things are in control as far as Covid 19 are concern but it is important for the government to strengthen India’s federal structure. Before becoming the prime minister, Narendra Modi has been speaking about the more power to the states and that center must allow state to flourish but now he seems to be enjoying the concentration of power at his hands. Sadly, the forces who should have raised this issue of cooperative federalism are silent. Media is silent and in fact has become the ‘proud’ ‘cheer leader’ of the Prime Minister and his party. Even a president in the United State has to face a critical media but in India the Prime Minister has kept media miles away from his thought process. He like to speak like a ‘spiritual guru’ and not as a political leader who would like to take questions from journalists. Gurus are habitual of devotees who are in ‘awe’ with their personality. Look at the enlightening press briefing being done regularly by 10 Downing Street in London. They bring experts who speak. Every day, there is a no person who speak and the language is that of solidarity and assuring unlike the ‘diktats’ here.

Economy cant be discussed in isolation in purely ‘economic’ terms but collectively with our socio-political issues. The country will go nowhere as long as its minorities and those on the margins are treated as obstacles. World over, we have seen how the political leaders who have shown maturity by seeking to reassure their minorities and immigrants, have performed much better than those who have encouraged divisions and hatred. Look at the Canadian Prime Minister and his persistent approach of inclusive polity. New-Zealand prime minister too have spoken in similar terms. France, Italy as well as UK have affirmed their faith in their minorities and immigrants. The leadership in these countries have never tried to communalise the issue. Media too has worked responsibly in these countries unlike here where media’s sole agenda was to create a villain in the crisis.

Rahul Gandhi should continue with such dialogue on vital issues and not merely on Economy but also our polity too. He spoke to Raghuram Rajan, let him continue to take this deliberations with not merely ‘professionals’ but also intellectuals and activists. I am sure, we will see a new debate on important national issues and it will help us get a better understanding on these issues.

Let us see how he move ahead but at the moment we can only appreciate Rahul Gandhi and his approach. Democracy means dialogue and discussions for performing better and India need that desperately.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat
May 2nd, 2020