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Gurcharan Das explains why only the Modi govt can fast-forward reforms



New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) Top corporate executive of the yesteryear and now an acclaimed author and public intellectual, Gurcharan Das, has laid out a feast for thought in ‘The Dilemma Of An Indian Liberal’ (Speaking Tiger), which was formally released here on Wednesday evening.

Known for consistently advocating liberal values, Das began by explaining etymologically what the word ‘liberal’ stands for.

He noted that out of the three-fold guiding principle of the French revolution — Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity — fraternity seems to have been forgotten today, even as the noise around liberty gets louder.

Making no bones about the journey of his ‘evolved’ socialist values, he said that “the liberal is always suspicious” of those who wield religious, military, economic, or political power.

Talking about his liberal “heroes” — Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru — and pointing out that the country’s first prime minister introduced the word ‘socialism’ in our national vocabulary, turning the author and his family into socialists, he shared an anecdote from the time when he worked for the US multinational, Procter & Gamble, that produced Vicks Vaporub.

There was a year of the flu and “we produced a hell of a lot of Vicks Veporub”. But in those days of the Licence Raj, the companies produced way more than they were permitted to. As a result, far from celebrating what they thought was a great job done during an epidemic, they had to deal with the government’s summons accusing them of breaking the law.

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Informed of a possible three-year jail sentence for breaking the law (by overproducing for consumers in need), his interaction with the bureaucrat led Das to change his mind and he became a libertarian from a classical liberal. And he joined the Swatantra Party.

Recalling his “moment of conversion”, Das emphasised the fundamental importance of a market economy. “Nehru was a creature of his times and all were socialists then, but by the time of Indira Gandhi, the world saw the rise of Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, that had already become Asian Tigers or were in the process of becoming that,” he said.

Das pointed out that they became a middle-class country from a poor country on the basis of labour-intensive manufacture; and by the time Indira Gandhi could see that there was an alternate path, the world, which admired Nehru and India for safeguarding liberal democracy, began to regard the country’s experiments with a socialist mixed economy as being pathetic.

The cardinal error was that although Nehru wanted compassionate socialism, the bureaucracy toppled it with Licence Raj. India achieved political freedom in 1947, but it was in 1991 that India got its economic freedom, emphasised Das.

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Recounting another story about the ‘steel frame’ of the nation, Das mentioned an unsung hero, Amar Nath Varma, who was Principal Secretary to Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, who held a meeting every Thursday. It was called the ‘Thursday Committee’. The secretaries of all economic ministries attended the committee meetings and one new reform was discussed every week.

The meeting’s minutes were discussed in the subsequent Cabinet meeting and press notes were released that evening. And in the weekend edition of popular business dailies, “It was Diwali.”

The Congress government is believed to have ushered in Liberalisation in 1991, yet it fell foul of reforms in the long run. “The mistake was that none of the reformers sold the reforms to the public,” Das said.

Quoting examples of Deng Xiaoping, who spoke every day about the market, and Margaret Thatcher, who said she spent 20 per cent of her time reforming and 80 per cent of her time selling reforms, the author said: “We were doing reforms ‘chupkey chupkey’ (furtively).”

And none of the future reformers, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and “even Modi, none of the reformers have taken the trouble to sell the reforms, which means that people still believe that reforms make the rich richer and the poor poorer. They still believe there is no difference between being pro-market and pro-business.”

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Noting that manufacturing represents less than 17 per cent of the GDP when it should be double of that, and the exports of any manufactured commodity are less than 2 per cent of the total production, Das said: “If we increase that by 2-3 per cent, we will have an industrial revolution.”

So, what went wrong? We did not create that industrial revolution, “but we are in a far better position right now to create it because our infrastructure is far better that it was in 1991”.

In 2014, when the author was fed up because of the absence of real reform, what attracted him most to the change promised by Narendra Modi was his slogan of ‘Minimum government, maximum governance’.

Landmark events such as demonetisation and its flawed execution began to make Das lose faith in Prime Minister Modi, but he’s now convinced that it is only the Modi government that can truly fast forward necessary reforms.

(Kavya Dubey may be reached at



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Amaravati works to be completed in 2.5 years, says Andhra minister




Amaravati, June 16 (IANS) Works relating to the development of Amaravati as Andhra Pradesh’s capital will be completed in two-and-a-half years, said P. Narayana on Sunday after taking charge as the Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development.

With the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) back in power, work is set to resume in Amaravati, where it had come to a standstill in 2019 after the YSR Congress Party government had announced its plans to build three state capitals.

The TDP, which stormed to power along with its allies Jana Sena and BJP, has made it clear that Amaravati will be developed as the sole state capital as planned earlier.

After assuming office at the state Secretariat, Narayana said the works in Amaravati would resume soon.

“We will do a review in 15 days and decide on a time-bound programme,” he said while making clear that Amaravati will be developed as the old master plan.

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Narayana said that the development of Amaravati in three phases will cost Rs.1 lakh crore.

The first phase was taken up by the earlier TDP government at a cost of Rs 48,000 crore. He recalled that tenders were called to undertake works to provide basic amenities covering a major part of the capital and to construct residential quarters for ministers, secretaries, officials and other employees. The then government had also made payments to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore. He claimed that 90 per cent of the works relating to residential blocks of ministers, secretaries and officials were completed.

The minister said Amaravati was designed as one of the five best capitals in the world. The design was prepared with the assistance from the Singapore government. A team of ministers and officials had also visited Singapore, China, Japan, Russia, and Malaysia to prepare the design. He recalled that the then government had issued a land pooling notification on January 1, 2015, to acquire land required for the state capital and by February 28, farmers had handed over 34,000 acres of land to the government without any litigation.

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Narayana said since he gained experience by undertaking various studies for the development of state capital during the earlier TDP government, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has once again entrusted the portfolio of Municipal Administration and Urban Development to him.

Narayana also announced that 100 Anna canteens will be re-opened in the next 21 days.

After assuming office as the minister, he held the first review meeting on Anna canteens. He said the government would examine the proposal of awarding food supply work to the Akshaya Patra Foundation. The government was studying the agreement signed and the orders issued in the past. The Foundation has conveyed that it is ready to start the food supply to canteens in three weeks. The minister said like in the past these canteens will supply meals for five rupees.

After coming to power in 2019, the YSR Congress government had shut down Anna canteens.


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Municipal officer shunted out after demolitions in front of Jagan’s house in Hyderabad




Hyderabad, June 16 (IANS) A top municipal official of Hyderabad was transferred on Sunday, a day after the demolition of a few structures in front of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s house in Hyderabad.

IAS officer Bhorkade Hemant Sahadeorao, Zonal Commissioner (Khairatabad Zone), Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), was relieved from his post.

GHMC Commissioner K. Amrapali has directed him to report before the General Administration Department.

The action by the GHMC Commissioner came after the Telangana government took serious note of the demolitions without approval from the higher-ups.

The GHMC Zonal Commissioner, however, was reported to have ordered demolitions on a direction from a Telangana minister who resides near Jagan Mohan Reddy’s house at Lotus Pond in Jubilee Hills.

A few structures erected on the footpath in front of Jagan Mohan Reddy’s house were demolished on Saturday, triggering a controversy. The Town Planning staff of the GHMC used excavator machinery to bring down the structures, which were being used by security personnel, especially during Jagan Mohan Reddy’s visits to Hyderabad. These structures were constructed in 2019 after he became the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. The demolition was carried out a few days after Jagan Mohan Reddy lost power in the neighbouring state. His YSR Congress Party suffered the worst defeat as the TDP-Jana Sena-BJP alliance stormed to power with a landslide victory.

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Dharavi Redevelopment Project: Debunking myths vs revealing reality




Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) The allegations made by Mumbai North Central MP Varsha Gaikwad about a supposed land grabbing scam and the Maharashtra government granting land to Adani Group under the Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP) have been refuted.

According to sources, no land is going to be handed over to SPV or Adani Group. It will be transferred by the state government to their own department, Redevelopment Project/Slum Rehabilitation Authority (DRP/SRA).

The Dharavi Redevelopment Project Private Ltd (DRPPL) will pay for the land in lieu of development rights and build facilities like housing, commercials and handover back to government of Maharashtra’s DRP for allotment as per the government scheme.

The state support agreement, which is part of the tender, clearly states that the government of Maharashtra has an obligation to provide land to their own DRP/SRA department.

Here are the real facts that debunk all the myths surrounding this issue:

The allegation is that the government land is given at a highly concessional rate to Adani Group.

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The reality is the Railway land is allocated to DRP for which Dharavi Redevelopment Project Private Ltd (DRPPL), which is a joint venture between the Maharashtra Government and Adani Group, has paid a hefty premium of 170 per cent to prevailing market rates to the Central government.

As per the tender, DRPPL will have to pay for all lands allocated to DRP/SRA, at rates to be decided by the government.

The allegation is why allocate land across Mumbai to Adani Group when everyone in Dharavi wants in-situ rehabilitation.

The reality is as per the tender norms, no Dharavikar will be displaced. The state GRs (Government Resolutions) of 2018, 2022 and tender conditions clearly spell out eligibility for in-situ rehabilitation.

Holders of tenements in existence on or before January 1, 2000, will be eligible for in-situ rehabilitation.

Those existing between January 2000 and January 1, 2011, will be allotted homes under PMAY (Prime Minister Awas Yojana) outside Dharavi anywhere in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) for just Rs 2.5 lakh or via rental housing.

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The tenements which exist post January 1, 2011, till the cut-off date (to be declared by the government) will get homes under the state government’s proposed affordable rental home policy with an option of hire-purchase.

The allegation is that green cover is to be destroyed in the name of Dharavi redevelopment on Railway land.

However, the reality is the project envisages stringent ESG (environmental, social and governance) and environmentally friendly development.

No deforestation is envisaged. In addition, several thousand plants and trees will be added. So far, Adani Group has planted 4.4 million plus trees across India and has committed to add one trillion trees.

The allegation is that no due process was followed by the state government while issuing GR for allotting Kurla Mother Dairy land to Adani Group.

The reality is the land is being allocated to DRP and not Adani Group.

The prescribed process under Maharashtra land Revenue (Disposal of Government Lands) Rules, 1971 was followed before GR was issued.

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The allegation is that there should be a 50:50 partnership between the state government and Adani Group in the SPV.

The reality is the tender clearly mentions that the lead partner will bring in 80 per cent equity and the remaining 20 per cent equity will rest with the government.

The allegation is that the survey should be conducted by the government and not by the Adani Group.

The reality is, like in all other SRA projects, DRP/SRA of the government of Maharashtra is conducting the survey, via third party experts and DRPPL is a mere facilitator.



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Yogi Adityanath tells MPs, MLAs to constantly monitor work on public welfare projects




Gorakhpur, June 16 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has urged all MPs, MLAs, and other public representatives to consistently monitor development and welfare projects in their constituencies.

He said that public representatives should ensure that eligible individuals in their areas benefit from government welfare schemes. He also encouraged them to propose new development initiatives to enhance the progress of the state further.

Addressing public representatives from the Gorakhpur division on Sunday, the Chief Minister congratulated the newly elected MPs and commended the efforts of MLAs who worked diligently during the Lok Sabha elections.

He received updates from all the MLAs present regarding the progress of ongoing development and welfare projects in their respective regions.

Emphasising that development is an ongoing process, he urged the representatives to proactively prepare proposals to cover all potential areas for development.

He highlighted the importance of ensuring that eligible individuals who have not yet benefited from any government scheme are identified and connected to both Central and State government initiatives.

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Yogi Adityanath also discussed the assembly-wise performance of the party in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections and appealed to all the public representatives to start working on the upcoming target from now on.

The Chief Minister emphasised that in a democracy, the people hold supreme importance.

He underscored the responsibility of representatives to attentively address public issues and expectations, and to propel development and welfare initiatives accordingly.

He noted that public satisfaction is the true measure of a representative’s work and urged them to build and maintain the trust of the people.



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Dharavi Redevelopment: 'Land transfer is to Maha govt, not the developer Adani Group'




Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) The ongoing Dharavi redevelopment project does not involve any land transfer to Adani Group but it was only to the Maharashtra government’s Dharavi Redevelopment Project/Slum Rehabilitation Authority (DRP/SRA).

The Dharavi Redevelopment Project Private Ltd (DRPPL), which is a joint venture between the Maharashtra Government and Adani Group, is a developer of housing and commercial tenements and it will hand over the same to DRP/SRA of the state government to allocate as per survey findings.

Sources have strongly denied the recent allegations made by Mumbai North Central MP Varsha Gaikwad over the allotment of land for rehabilitation of Dharavi residents within Mumbai.

Sources said that as per the tender, while land remains and stands allocated to DRP/SRA at rates decided by the government, DRPPL has to pay to the government as per demand just for development.

This is as per tender scheme.

In return, DRPPL will get development rights.

The state support agreement, which is part of the tender document, clearly states that, state government will support the project by giving land to their own DRP/SRA department.

The details of multiple and important government resolutions on Dharavi Redevelopment have been conveyed multiple times to the concerned MP.

These include GRs (government resolutions) of 2018 and later of 2022, which gives absolute clarity about the proposed redevelopment of Dharavi and the ensuing rehabilitation of Dharavikars.

As far as the Railway land is concerned, it was allocated to DRP even before tendering for which DRPPL has paid a whopping premium of 170 per cent to the prevailing ready reckoner rates.

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And additionally, is developing a world class township there. The allegations that Dharavikars will be thrown out of Dharavi and rendered homeless are pure fiction and a mere figment to create anxiety among masses.

The government’s GR of 2022 depicts a unique condition that each and every tenement holder of Dharavi, eligible or ineligible, will be given a home, a copy of which is also publicly available.

“No Dharavikar will be displaced under the DRP/SRA scheme. This is a unique provision compared to regular SRA scheme wherein only eligible tenement holders were provided a house of up to 300 square feet and it remains in all previous government dispensations,” a source said.

Under the Dharavi redevelopment project, the tenement holders will be provided a house of 350 square feet, which is 17 per cent more than any other SRA scheme in Mumbai.

According to sources, the Dharavi Redevelopment Tender is one of the most progressive in terms of its outlook towards informal settlers of Dharavi.

It is completely pro-people which includes free and highly concessional housing, stamp duty and property tax exemption, ten-year free maintenance and a ten percent commercial area in residential premises to enable the prospective housing societies to have a sustainable revenue stream in addition to the corpus being provided, sources submitted.

The GRs of 2018, 2022 and the tender clearly spells out eligibility for in-situ rehabilitation for tenements in existence on ground floor before January 1, 2000.

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Those existing on higher floors and beyond, up to January 1, 2011, will be allotted homes under PMAY outside Dharavi anywhere within MMR for just Rs 2.5 lakh or rental housing as per policy of government of Maharashtra.

Tenements which came into existence between January 1, 2011 and date to be announced by the government of Maharashtra will get homes under state government’s proposed affordable rental home policy with an option of hire-purchase.

The demand for 500 square feet for an informal settlement has no such precedence in Mumbai’s slum redevelopment schemes and thus is only being promoted to cause anxiety among people.

For the eligible tenements of businesses, the government scheme provides for a proper free of cost business place as also a five-year state GST rebate is offered which will result in boosting their profitability, usher them into the formal economy, make them more competitive and offer them multiple growth opportunities.

On deliverables, the tender has put stringent timelines and any violation will attract penalties.

On the allegation that the allotment of a Kurla land was done without following due process by the state government, sources clarified that the facts are otherwise.

Firstly, the land is going to be given to DRP and not Adani Group nor DRPPL.

The process under Maharashtra land Revenue (Disposal of Government Lands) Rules, 1971 was duly followed before issuance of the relevant GR.

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“The actual concern and fear of the MP is not for the people of Dharavi or their betterment. The opposition and spreading of such fake narratives is being driven only for electoral ambition to keep the people of Dharavi stay the way they have been with poor or little to almost zero access to basic amenities to lead a dignified life. That is the reason why for so many decades no action was taken to build proper housing for Dharavikars,” said a source.

The MP (referring to Varsha Gaikwad) is also attempting to build a false narrative and throw a spanner in the works of the state government’s scheme to redevelop Dharavi even as its residents are waiting for better houses with world-class amenities for several decades, sources added.

The Dharavi Redevelopment Project is a first-of-its-kind initiative that seeks to transform the locality into a world-class city, creating a sustainable and thriving neighborhood while preserving its timeless essence.

The project seeks to improve the quality of life for over one million residents of Dharavi through a human-centric approach.

Also, a number of additional initiatives are being integrated towards sustainable multi modal transport systems, state of art infra on utilities.

Additionally, vocational based skilling is being planned for youth and other wage aspirants of Dharavi to improve their earning potential and facilitate them jobs, which will give them opportunities which are more eco-friendly and benign.



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