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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 20, New Delhi, May 2, 2020

The need is not to avoid Fiscal Deficit but to save lives

Sunday 3 May 2020

by Akhilendra Pratap Singh

 The country has entered the second round of the lockdown. This time too, if some economic activities are omitted, then there is nothing special in the guidelines issued by the government for the relief of the common man. Whatever the reasoning, the truth is that the Prime Minister had announced the lockdown last time without any preparation and this time also there is no roadmap to deal with the hardships of the people created by this epidemic. Despite being urgent, it is not a cure to avoid the disease. For the treatment, it is necessary to test and treat more and more people by marking the hotspots. Our record on this front is very poor; we are far behind in giving personal protection equipment to health workers including doctors. Modi does not say anything about this preparation of the medical system, yes, he does make sure that, to get the approval of his program, he gets the thali and bell to be played by the public and sometimes candles and lamps are lit. This use of symbols can divert public attention but a disease like Kovid-19 cannot be dealt with by it.

 It is also not good to say that India is doing better than America and Europe because our comparison with them is absurd for many reasons. We should also keep an eye on the countries of our neighbourhood. There is a need to learn from our neighbour Bangladesh which is also doing well. How China has controlled this epidemic can also be learnt from it. What is the use of giving the example of America, which privatized facilities like education, health for profit and gave a big boost to the arms industry, finance and forward trading economy at its cost? It is also true that the first case of Corona arrived in Kerala on January 30 and the central government had no concrete policy and program to deal with it till mid-March. After all, what was the rationale for doing programs like ’Namaste Trump’ in this dangerous phase of the epidemic? However, these are old things; there is no use of going into it now.

 The point is that now it should be seen what the government can do and should do? What is the reason for what she is not doing? And what could be our role as a movement, as a political voice? Many liberal people are worried that if about 77 million tonnes of food grains are in the godowns of the country and in the coming days more grains will be coming to the godowns, then why this government is not distributing it to the poor and the needy. There is not going to be any financial loss from this, even then why is the government not doing it.

 Actually, it is to understand that governments are neither formed in the air nor their attitude is spontaneous. In spite of such large grain storage under normal conditions, if the government does not distribute the grain to the poor sections, despite knowing that the grains are being eaten by rats, then in this time of crisis, it will not develop a sudden love for the working people. Governments are publicising more relief than what they are actually doing. No matter how much we deny, the government has a class character, it has a vision and selfishness and it works under that. As the debate has arisen from the Tabligi Jamaat that people are victims of bigotry and doctors and health workers are being attacked. But it is not debated that in the seventy years who are those who put faith against logic and science in raising religiosity and who are they who believe in science and logic and what is their role in running the governance system. Its interest still remains to villainies a community on one pretext and alienate it. This is also a good way to get the government acquitted by turning the debate over the responsibilities of the government!

 At a time when there is a deep national crisis in the country, there is a deep concern about the safety of the people; there is a concern about the economy of the country. Even at that time, an attempt is being made to institutionalize a deep gap between Hindus and Muslims. In this, from news channels of arms dealers to other corporate family controlled channels, they are working in a systematic manner whereas it is a fact that even after living together for more than a thousand years, the unity that was to be formed in the Hindu-Muslim people has not been achieved. Communal discrimination at this time is being presented as a value, as a permanent division which has never been in the history of India.

 Many big economists of the country say that the government has to come out of fear of fiscal deficit and it should give at least 6-7 percent of GDP i.e. 6-7 lakh crore rupees in cash. Still the government is not going to accept it. One is its commitment to be bound by anti-people economic-industrial policy and the fear that if we allow the fiscal deficit to increase and this deficit to 6-7 per cent, then global capital may fly away from India. It is the responsibility of any sovereign government to protect the interests of its country and spend on the needs of the people. If foreign capital tries to flee the country, then ban it and declare that for three years to five years no capital will go outside the country and in some form or the other it will continue to invest in the industries here. In the meantime, freeing itself from the pressure of foreign capital, build its economy on its farming and resources. The economy of this forward trading and the corruption that is developing from it can also be controlled by stopping the exit of foreign capital.

 But this capability does not lie in the government of those parties which are dependent on market and financial capital. There is nothing more in this government of Hindutva which connects everything with patriotism and nationalism. It cannot control deficit finance, so to increase the financial deficit; it does not want to spend money for the betterment of the public. We need to maintain our right to criticism and pressure even while supporting the good work the government does to deal with the Corona epidemic.

 Just see now what happens more? The crisis is so deep that not only common life but also the corporate houses of the country are going through a deep crisis. Foreign capital has started swallowing them; it is difficult to say how long their autonomy will remain. However, they have been raised under the umbrella of foreign capital. Corporate houses are also demanding a package of Rs 14 to 15 lakh crore for relief. How the government does them bailout will be seen in the coming days. If they are bailed out from the national capital, then there is a need to create a demand to declare that property as national property.

 Here, one thing has come in vogue that we should not do politics in times of crisis. The entire nation should stand together and fight. After all, what is the point of raising such things on the question of politics and to make politics stand against the selfishness of the nation? The ruling class of the country does not desist from profit politics even in the deep crisis. In this era too many people are engaged in making profits, otherwise people engaged in hoarding, black marketing, adulterated medicine should not take the refuge of political parties. All those people who are engaged in the politics of their deceit, they put politics against the service of the nation, whereas public politics is only for the service of the nation, which is going on continuously.

 The Government of Kerala has done a good job, there are no two opinions. But a civil society that has been created in Kerala in 70 years has also played a big role in it; there are politically conscious people there. There civil society is discharging its role and that is why Kerala is successful in dealing with the disease in a better way. But in states like Uttar Pradesh, instead of taking public support to deal with the Corona infection, taking wide public participation, it is being dealt with in a bureaucratic manner. Inhuman treatments of migrant labourers by police-administration, lawsuits against those who have been giving public support in this epidemic and journalists who are warning the public and criticizing the government are being harassed. Due to this attitude, the barbaric way is being adopted to deal with the mess that is happening due to the backwardness present in the public, is making the problem even more complicated.

 However, the people who do all the way Hindu-Muslim, Pakistan and China, they will equally say that spend on weapons because they get big commission in it. But for those people who are actually going through a virus like Kovid-19 and a lot of diseases, we need to pressurize the government in this period to change its policies and stand on public policies because this era of Corona epidemic has changed the country and the world rapidly. Until the vaccine is made of this virus, its risk will remain. Therefore, we have to remain engaged in the long-term struggle and keep the pressure on the government by doing whatever public cooperation is possible in the present era, with special emphasis on cleanliness, educating people against the danger of fascist politics.

 At this juncture, we will have to insist on the government that it spends at least 6-7 lakh crores in cash and food grains to ensure the livelihood of the public and reorganize its entire economy in such a way, irrespective of the financial deficit in which more and more part of the budget is spent on health, education, employment and agricultural development. The Prime Minister’s Care Fund should be made transparent and the central government should help the state governments which have become financially weak due to GST. Most important is that the government should spend more and more on testing to deal with Corona infection, identify hotspots, provide life-saving kits to health workers and Corona warriors, facilitate quarantine centres and give better treatment to the sick by strengthening government medical system.

Dated 17.04.2020

Akhilendra Pratap Singh is associated with Swaraj Abhiyan

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