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NDA Vs UPA : Let's debate growth
BJP's PM-in-waiting has fired a fresh salvo at the UPA government in his own characteristic style selecting and throwing convenient figures from the NDA regime to denounce the flattering GDP growth rates during the UPA rule.

On the expected lines, firstly the Congress leader Digvijay Singh and then Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram challenged Modi. Chidambaram called the Modi's claim as fake encounter with facts. This point of petty politics should actually be a big debate for the country before it goes to elect its next government for five years.

There is no denial that the NDA signed off as a ruling coalition on a higher note of 8.5% GDP growth rate in 2004 and that the UPA is about to sign off at 4.4% or a maximum of 4.8% growth rate in 2014.

On average growth rate, NDA stood at around 6% during its six years' tenure, while the UPA stands at 8.4% during its first term and is expected to get the figure between 6.5-7% for its second term.

Economics in perspective

One needs to put economics in perspective. It is widely known and accepted that economic reforms takes time to deliver results and this time-lag may be of a few years. India throws a recent history to support this assumption.

As finance minister, Manmohan Singh initiated structural changes in Indian economy during 1991-96, the average GDP growth rate for the period was 5.24%. Interestingly enough, the GDP growth rate for the previous five years, without economic reforms of Manmohan Singh, was at 5%. So, Manmohanomics brought a difference of mere 0.24%. What a big deal!

After 1996, Deve Gowda and IK Gujral formed tentative governments, which were incapable of carrying out any reforms. Though, Gujral was bold enough to formulate a commendable foreign policy, which is yet to be followed earnestly.

But, the beauty of economics is that even without any ensuing economic reforms India registered better GDP growth rate under 'weak' governments of Gowda and Gujral than achieved during PV Narsimha Rao?s pime ministership.

The average growth rate was 6.15%. It was a growth rate above the average growth rate achieved during the NDA regime and is a figure that would please the UPA-2, if miraculously achieved from somewhere.

In this backdrop, many consider, the six-year NDA period as a period of good economics, which showed its better results during the UPA-1 regime. The average growth rate between 1998 and 2004 was 6.0% with its last financial year clocking a figure of 8.5%. The number looks good enough considering that there was the great Asian financial crisis and also there were severe economic sanctions after the Pokharan tests.

The NDA undertook several reforms and invested in many growth oriented projects. The Golden Quadrilateral was a big project, which gave impetus to industrial sector and also helped revive rural economy. Much criticized disinvestment policy was another factor that helped create a sound business environment.

Privatization of Maruti, VSNL, IPCL IBP, Balco and Air India?s hotels subsidiary was right on the money in terms of economic reforms. On the front of legislation, the NDA government seems to have made better contribution during its six years than UPA's almost ten years.

The Electricity Act and the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act were among the legislation that freed government from excessive expenditure to some extent. The overall result of some prudent economic policies during the NDA was a current account surplus when it was voted out of power.

The benefits of the NDA's policies started showing up during UPA-1, which was also assisted by USA's economic policies. George W Bush adopted expansionist policies, which helped UPA double up its reward and register an average growth rate of nearly 9%.

But, as the US plunged into crisis around 2008, and by the time the inaction of the UPA-1 had undone the NDA's reforms, the economy of India started showing trends of decline.

UPA-2 bore the brunt of UPA-1 and USA-driven global economic slowdown. Now, the market's confidence is so low in India that even a reviving trend in the USA is causing a negative effect on Indian economy. The mismanaged and unabated inflation particularly of food articles stands out at the biggest challenge to the government.

UPA's populist but poorly managed and loophole-stricken scheme MNREGA undid whatever good was supposed to come in by the economic reforms. The Food Security Act and the Land Acquisition Act are other measures that may hamper the growth statistics of the next government, whosoever forms that.

If it is the UPA-3, they may continue to keep blaming the global crisis and also an obstructionist opposition, but if it is non-UPA, then the same P Chidambaram and the like will argue that the UPA registered better statistics forgetting that his government would be the real author of slowdown and ruined economy.

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 In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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