Government on Sunday came under attack from 'in-house critic' Mani Shankar Aiyar who tried to raise questions over implementation of major schemes like MNREGA and accused it of "relentlessly" supporting the stock market thinking its health reflects the people's health.
Aiyar also sought to punch holes into the government's emphasis on higher education, echoing his party colleague Digvijay Singh who wants the HRD Ministry to focus on primary education.
In his nearly one hour lecture on the status of the UN Millennium Development Goals in India, the Rajya Sabha member said the authorities were not taking enough steps to bridge the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Quoting the figures of Rural Development Ministry, Aiyar said the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act has provided 100 days of job only to 36.6 per cent of all entitled households in Tripura.
"Far more upsetting is that in the most poverty-stricken states of India the share drops to a mere 14 per cent in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and to eight per cent or less in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar and even further below six per cent in Orissa and Uttaranchal," he said.
Many of these states are precisely those most seriously afflicted with "Left-Wing Extremism", as the "Ministry of Home Affairs archly describes the Naxalite or Maoist menace." The "pathetic performance" of this key programme for the attainment of the key MDG goal in the country with the largest number of the extremely poor in the world makes "one despair of the present system of delivering development ever attaining the much-desired Millennium Development Goals."
Aiyar, who had criticised the functioning of the UPA-I though he was part of it, went on to say that if the situation continues like this India will not attain the MDG goals in this century, leave alone by 2015. The former diplomat also said in a lighter vein if things have to change on "certain areas" he has to be made the Prime Minister which is not feasible.
Aiyar said the stock-market is being "relentlessly" supported by the Government which "believes that the health of the stock market reflects the health of the people and has facilitated non-taxable capital" into the stock market. He also claimed that 44 per cent of the capital in India's stock market is from Mauritius. "We seem to be replacing land-based feudalism with stock-market based feudalism. Accelerated growth is not so much a tide that raises all boats as a tsunami that raises all yachts," he said.