Congress a sinking ship

Editor

I have been a patron of various local vernacular and English newspapers related to various political news going around. As an admirer and a staunch supporter of the Congress I am appalled at the undemocratic way the AICC had to undertake in appointing the President to the MPCC without taking the views of party members and grassroots workers. Such an attitude instead of expanding the party’s base has begun to erode due to the indifference of the party officials towards the needs of the people. The childish statement by the new MPCC President on his remarks to Dr. Mukul Sangma who was once a close party colleague, shows that Mr Pala has no real interest in resolving matters amicably but has exposed party matters in public domain. Petty politics within the Congress has hurt the feelings of party workers and has now casts doubts on whether there is any chance for the Congress to win leave alone forming a government as a single majority party. The remarks by the MLA of Laitumkhrah Constituency that the Congress would be willing to form a coalition with any party including the NPP if there is mutual understanding, has itself cast doubts. This raises the question of party principles and if in 2023 such a tie-up does evolve then why should people vote for the Congress; they would better vote for NPP or BJP or any other Party rather than the Congress knowing fully well the plans of the party to form a coalition which is absurd. Hope people will realise this treachery before it’s too late.

Yours etc.,

Patrick Wann,

Shillong-14

India needs less government, not more

Editor,

The lifting of millions of Indians out of poverty after the country’s economic reforms in 1991 should have delivered a decisive blow to those who argue that capitalism exploits the poor. Thanks to deregulation, there has been a significant rise in India’s standard of living during the past 15 years. Unfortunately, the same arguments against the free-market persist. Yet the problem is government, not the market.
If governments faced the same discipline that private corporations face, the next election would result in all of India’s politicians being voted out. In spite of grandiose promises, hardly anyone doubts that India continues to remain near the top of the world in corruption and inefficiency. The sad reality is that India has fallen behind the East Asian nations. The subcontinent holds the dubious distinction of having the world’s largest number of poor people, despite the crores of rupees spent to “stimulate” development. The reforms of 1991 allowed many a chance at life for the middle-class. For the average person, the relaxation of investment laws has meant access to a wider variety of goods and services at cheaper prices. In the past Indians faced restrictions on the import of foreign cars, and were forced to buy inferior local models such as the Ambassador. Now they have the freedom to choose a Toyota, a Honda or even a BMW, if they so desire. The influx of new brands has meant more productive jobs, as foreign companies have set up factories locally.
Especially now when the government-induced financial crisis has made Indians a great deal poorer, the urgent need is to examine why it is that – 70 years after independence – Bharat still remains a Third World nation. The answer boils down to this: petty bureaucrats and gangster politicians have ruined India. They are the reason why this diverse nation of 1.3 billion isn’t yet an “Asian tiger”. Only if we honestly confront the problems India faces can we devise proper solutions. For sure, India’s economy is galloping along at about 6% per year. This is a significant improvement from the so-called “Hindu” rate of 3.5% before 1991. However, there is also much that the growth figures conceal.
Consider, for instance, the fact that no government in India has been able to guarantee a reliable supply of electricity, water or gas. Roads (including many national highways) are in a pitiful state. Ports constantly experience bottlenecks, and train stations and airports are run-down. Underneath the statistics lies a hot-bed of infrastructure and governance problems. Although economic growth is progressing, it is hardly based on sound foundations.
The train system is a good example. Indian Railways, a government company, owns and operates most of the rail network. Indian Railways holds a virtual monopoly, so there’s no incentive for it to improve the quality of its services. Competition is a wonderful thing: it can push businesses to serve the consumer better by lowering prices and improving quality. Yet when government restricts competition, as in the case of India’s railways, the result is inefficiency and a lack of concern for what the customer thinks.
The story is much the same across a whole range of industries in India. Whereas developed nations have privatised some of their utilities (for example, electricity) and opened up markets to competition, the governments of India remain wedded to power and refuse to give up control. But instead of everything being owned by the government, it’d make a lot more sense to let the people of India run their own businesses.
The mistake socialists make is to equate ownership by the government with ownership by “the people”. That is a fallacy. Government does not equal “the people”; to the contrary, it is made up of an elite group that often selfishly pursues its own interests. How many times have we heard of politicians lining their Swiss bank accounts with money illegally stolen from taxpayers? This pervasive corruption is an indictment on the theory that politicians care about those they govern – the reality is they couldn’t care less.
Private businesses, not governments, are the most direct representation of the community. This is because anyone, including you and me, can set up a business. More importantly, private enterprise is voluntary. No business can force you to buy their products. But government, by stripping away alternatives, can take away your freedom of choice. Therefore, we should be encouraging more private enterprise and less government.

Yours etc.,

Sukrit Sabhlok

New South Wales,

Australia

Survey of domestic workers

Editor,

For the first time in independent India, a survey is being conducted by the Centre on domestic workers. It is estimated that 20 to 80 million people work as domestic workers in India. The survey by the Centre includes all types of services like cooks, drivers, house-keeping, tutors and watchmen. The survey will collect different kinds of information related to domestic work. Domestic workers constitute a significant portion of total employment in informal sector. They are the third largest category of workers after agriculture and construction.
Despite the fact that millions of workers are employed in this sector, they do not get the recognition they deserve and there are no laws and policies to deal with the problems faced by these workers. Furthermore, in the wake of Covid -19 outbreak, life became harder for them. Domestic workers, especially maids, are forced to do hard work. They are often poorly paid and fed. Most of them struggle to make both ends meet. They find it hard to manage household expenses with their meagre income. They are not paid for doing overtime work. Their health needs are not met either.
Although the number of domestic workers is very high, the government lacks data on them. The survey will help understand the issues related to them and formulate effective policies. When authentic data is available, it would be easier to protect domestic workers from exploitation.

Yours etc.,

Venu GS

Kollam

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