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Manmohan sounds poll bugle, will people listen?
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presented his government's report card on Wednesday on completion of four years of staying in power. Adding his previous regime, the UPA government is in power for nine years.

One thing is clear that no prime minister can be honest enough to do genuine critical analysis of his own government. Those were different days when former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru came down heavily on his own ministers following allegations of nepotism and corruption. Now, it's all about cover-up business and making bold (at times foolishly bold) claims of one's own achievements. Manmohan Singh seemed one such exposed politician on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister chose to focus on four areas that were key to him in patting his back. His "four key achievements: one, the improved performance of the economy; two, making the growth process more inclusive; three, delivery of better governance, and welfare and development programmes; and, four, improved relations with a changing and challenging  world." Singh insisted that his government has "taken our country forward on all these four fronts in the nine years.”

At the face of it, the claims look erroneous. The claim of fast GDP growth does not hold water in the face of all reports of increasing disparity among the populace. The constantly high inflation especially of food articles in past more than four years betrays bad financial and monetary management of the country. The last year's GDP growth rate of less than five percent was attributed to a global phenomenon.

The Prime Minister cited China's slowdown as collateral proof and also recalled a lower average growth rate during NDA regime. But, the economist-turned-politician failed to notice that India did not grow at the rate at which China grew and also not on the similar fundamentals of economy. Secondly, many economists believed that the first two years of UPA's nine-year rule benefitted from the policies of NDA regime.

Moreover, could Manmohan Singh have done well by speaking the truth behind stagnating economy? He should have explained why his government is suffering from policy paralysis, why several infrastructural projects have been stalled, why investment projects are not taking off, why corruption has become a rule in his government and most importantly, why governance has been receding for four-five years.

The government's claim of making growth more inclusive is debatable. Many communities in India are sulking under the present regime. Tribals in the east and the north-east feel deeply alienated. It finds expression in the spreading network of Naxal insurgency. The Naxalism has successfully found foot soldiers in Assam for the first time since it started in late 1960s in West Bengal. The only state where Naxal violence has been curbed is Andhra Pradesh but the state is embroiled in nothing less than what could be termed as a 'mini civil-war' with Telangana simmering to have its separate identity and Rayalseema hoping to gain some lateral benefits. There is none to deny that Telangana has been mismanaged by the Manmohan Singh government.

Singh's third claim of better governance and ensuring welfare of people can be easily reviewed in the chorus of 2G, Coal, Defence, MNREGS and many other scams. Most of the scams were examined and verified by the Comptroller and Auditor General's office, which came under sharp criticism from the government. Thankfully, the judicial decisions have not gone against the claims of the CAG. Now, the same constitutional body's independence is reportedly being compromised with the UPA's decision to appoint defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma as the next CAG of India. Sharma will be examining and auditing the deals he cleared as the defence secretary as part of the UPA government's machinery.

Combine this with reports suggesting government's neglect of intelligence gathering resulting in terror attacks climaxed in 2008-killings in Mumbai, and one will get a scary picture of governance and compromising condition of the welfare of people.

The welfare schemes of the government, chiefly under the right to education, the right to employment and proposed schemes under right to food and the right to health are all fraught with serious economic danger. The right to education has not helped to improve education.

The need of the hour is not simply bringing kids to school but to empower them with quality and competitive education. Only then will the teeming millions can take on the dominating world economies. The drop-out rates and declining quality of education must be wrested immediately. For this to achieve, the prime minister and his ministers should have worked in close coordination with the state governments but the politics prevailed over good 'welfare' sense.

Right to employment through MNREGS has only encouraged corruption and eaten up taxpayers' money. Food security and health bills will aggravate the situation only. These two politically ambitious schemes will in all probability fall flat as there is an absolute lack of adequate administrative machinery to deliver the goods. The end result will be fleecing the taxpayers, which include even those who may be the targeted beneficiary.

Finally, the Prime Minister feels that India's relation with the comity of nations has improved. This holds true only if one excludes everything except business. The neighbours constantly keep teasing India. China has made at least four serious incursions into Indian territories during UPA's rule, the latest being in Despang area, wherein China forced India to compromise on border security vigil. Pakistan has not shown any intent of assuaging India's concerns. Bangladesh does not shy away from challenging India.

Nepal keeps pricking it and uses China threat to counter its southern neighour. Sri Lanka has openly contested India's rights in the sea waters. India too has failed to grab the opportunities to cement ties with the island nation in recent past paving way for greater cooperation between Sri Lanka and China. India remained practically a mute spectator while Maldives plunged into a chaos.

India has faced many diplomatic embarrassments at the hands of Italy, Argentina, Iran and a host of other nations in past nine years, a period which the Prime Minister chose to reflect upon. The only bright diplomatic spot that is visible on the UPA's face is nuclear deal with the US and subsequent approval by the nuclear suppliers group. But, the deal is still controversial and can be judged only in longer term.

Considering that the UPA-2 has entered into its final year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's claims may not go down well with people, who can see through the veil of numbers and phrases. The UPA has sounded the poll bugle; it is now for people to prepare for voting next year.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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