Even though the PM clearly specified that the approach is to be self-reliant by actively participating and leading the global value chains without being self-centred or inward-looking, the Opposition resorted to scaremongering about MNCs being shown the door when the exact opposite is being attempted by the government.(PTI)
Even though the PM clearly specified that the approach is to be self-reliant by actively participating and leading the global value chains without being self-centred or inward-looking, the Opposition resorted to scaremongering about MNCs being shown the door when the exact opposite is being attempted by the government.(PTI)

Why the stimulus will boost the Indian economy, writes Hardeep Puri

Even as the government has proactively dealt with the crisis, the Opposition has engaged in baseless criticism
By Hardeep Puri
UPDATED ON MAY 17, 2020 08:15 PM IST

Since March 26, Operation Lifeline Udan has carried 885 tonnes of critical medical supplies and essential cargo over 500,000 km through 546 flights to the remotest destinations in the country. Under the Vande Bharat Mission, as the first schedule dovetails into the second schedule of flights, the Government of India (GoI) plans to bring 50,000 stranded Indians back to the country by the end of May. These are some of the responsibilities that the GoI has been engaged in as a response to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis, even as we contemplate reopening domestic aviation. But what has the Opposition been engaged in during this critical time?

A credible Opposition is imperative for democratic functioning. This becomes even more important in times of crises. The challenges of governance to deal with the pandemic are setting a new template. The changing stances of the Opposition that seek to use this humanitarian crisis as an opportunity to reclaim their lost political relevance will be scrutinised with the same care that the government’s activities will be subjected to.

India was among the first to wake up to the threat of the pandemic by screening passengers, stopping flights and enforcing a nationwide lockdown. When the nation emerged as a prescient and responsible nation globally in having taken pre-emptive measures to stop the spread of the virus, the Opposition called the lockdown sudden, harsh and unilateral. If it was not for the lockdown, we would have found ourselves in the same boat as many of the more developed nations where more than thousands have been dying every day.

Even as GoI initiated immediate support to farmers, construction workers, poor women, elderly, labourers, low-salaried workers and other vulnerable sections under the ~1.7-lakh crore Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan package, the Opposition suggested that the government doesn’t care for the poor. Several facts such as the approval of 6.3 million loans worth ~86,600 crore in agriculture between March 1 to April 30, and an additional allocation of ~40,000 crore under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme as compared to last year, to benefit wage seekers fly in the face of such falsehood.

The Opposition’s response to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-reliant India Campaign) has been particularly surprising. Before the announcement, the Opposition talked of improving liquidity and extending support to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

When the details of the ambitious and holistic package extending several innovative measures for MSMEs, at the cost of over ~6 lakh crore were announced, prominent members of the Opposition changed the goalpost, suggesting that no measures had been taken for migrant workers. In their zeal to criticise, they were perhaps blind to the fact that most migrant workers are in fact employed in MSMEs, and these steps would benefit them.

The next day, when specific measures to assist our migrant workers by giving them one-nation, one-ration card for access to Public Distribution Scheme (PDS), affordable rental housing through public-private partnership, interest subvention for the Mudra Shishu Loans and credit for street vendors were announced, some Opposition members tried to belittle them by suggesting that street vendors do not go to banks for credit and take loans at 1% per day.

Through the several initiatives over the past six years such as the Jan Dhan Yojna, direct benefit transfer, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Ayushman Bharat Yojana and Ujjwala Yojana, the Centre has used technology to provide the benefits of governance to the most vulnerable sections. The government will partner with non-banking financial companies, microfinance institutions and banks to extend working capital loans to street vendors, and interest subvention scheme under the Deendayal Antoyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission will be worked out to reward vendors for good repayment behaviour and upscale their entitlement for bigger loans. Under the one-nation, one-ration card initiative, 670 million beneficiaries in 23 states, covering 83% of PDS population, will be covered by national portability by August.

Changing track, some Opposition members have held that easy loans for MSMEs do not constitute a stimulus as a loan is normal banking practice and only fiscal measures count. But people understand that a stimulus is anything that helps people, especially getting their businesses back on their feet. By giving credit guarantees, the government is trying to stop companies from going bankrupt and improving liquidity to MSMEs will help them to restart activities quickly. If this is not a stimulus, what is?

Similar intellectual ineptitude has been shown in response to the prime minister’s call to undertake far-reaching land, labour, liquidity and legal reforms to make India self-reliant by leveraging demand in the country. Even though the prime minister specified that the approach is to be self-reliant by participating and leading the global value chains without being self-centred or inward-looking, the Opposition resorted to scaremongering about multinational corporations being shown the door when the exact opposite is being attempted by the government.

As more steps are announced for the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan , the Opposition will be further exposed. In a democracy, when the main Opposition party fails to win even 10% of the seats in the Lok Sabha, a certain level of desperation is understandable. But, if it loses its ability to engage in constructive criticism in this haste to weave false narratives, it further compromises its relevance in the political system.

Hardeep Puri is a Union minister

The views expressed are personal

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Elections in Kerala are punctuated by several controversies, both past and present (File Photo)
Elections in Kerala are punctuated by several controversies, both past and present (File Photo)

Espionage to smuggling, scandals spice up every poll in Kerala

By Ramesh Babu, Thiruvanathapuram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 07:26 PM IST
  • controversies and scandals were part of the state polity in the last three decades and mushrooming digital media also played its part in amplifying them, said a political observer.
Close
The 1962 baggage at the turn of century was such that for 40 years, subsequent governments did not dare build border roads on the ground that these could be used by the Chinese army to enter the hinterland in case of a conflict.(PTI)
The 1962 baggage at the turn of century was such that for 40 years, subsequent governments did not dare build border roads on the ground that these could be used by the Chinese army to enter the hinterland in case of a conflict.(PTI)

Why 2021 political rhetoric is no match for 1962 fighting in Ladakh

By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 02:15 PM IST
  • India and China came close to war last year after Indian army commanders atop Rezang La-Rechin La ridge threatened to fire at the advancing PLA tank regiment that sought to dislodge the Indian troopers.
Close
Approximately half of the countries use population for delimitation, while another third use registered voters. Nowhere is it based on area and for good reasons (HTPHOTO)
Approximately half of the countries use population for delimitation, while another third use registered voters. Nowhere is it based on area and for good reasons (HTPHOTO)

J&K delimitation: Go by the population rule

By Haseeb Drabu
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:39 PM IST
Having already decided on the number of electors as well as the number of elected, the only part of delimitation that has been left to the Commission is the electoral cartography — the redrawing of boundaries and enclosing people within the constituency framework. Notwithstanding these debilitating infirmities in the context of J&K, the redrawing of the constituencies is an extraordinarily complex and highly contentious exercise. It can potentially alter the electoral demographic balance.
Close
Representational image. (AFP)
Representational image. (AFP)

Congress needs to worry more about rebels than opponents in Puducherry

By Abhishek Jha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:32 PM IST
The only time the Congress has lost Puducherry, it has been because of a rebel. The Congress and DMK together have won over 50% seats in every assembly elections in Puducherry since 1980, except in 2011
Close
At a January meeting to review projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed displeasure at the process-driven bureaucracy (ANI)
At a January meeting to review projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed displeasure at the process-driven bureaucracy (ANI)

Behind PM Modi’s stinging critique of the IAS, a Jan meeting holds the clue

By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 17, 2021 09:35 AM IST
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given bureaucrats an earful at a January meeting of the country's top officials and underlined the price that India paid for their slow pace.
Close
PM Narendra Modi was emotional while giving a farewell to Ghulam Nabi Azad from Rajya Sabha.
PM Narendra Modi was emotional while giving a farewell to Ghulam Nabi Azad from Rajya Sabha.

Salute to Ghulam Nabi Azad underlined PM Modi’s personal ties with rivals

By Saubhadra Chatterji | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 14, 2021 03:37 PM IST
  • Leaders from the Congress and other Opposition parties have many stories to show that the Prime Minister has maintained personal rapport with leaders cutting across political boundaries.
Close
Officials carry out search and rescue operation at Tapovan Tunnel, after a glacier broke off in Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district causing a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river on Sunday. (File photo)
Officials carry out search and rescue operation at Tapovan Tunnel, after a glacier broke off in Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district causing a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river on Sunday. (File photo)

Not just climate change, Chamoli disaster was human-induced

UPDATED ON FEB 08, 2021 12:15 PM IST
Stone quarrying, blasting of mountains and digging of tunnels in the base of the mountain system for two dams on Rishi Ganga and Dhauli Ganga rivers played havoc with the local ecology
Close
In this file photo, a man hangs on to pole holding a Sikh religious flag along with a farm union flag at the historic Red Fort monument during a farmers protest against new farm laws in New Delhi(AP)
In this file photo, a man hangs on to pole holding a Sikh religious flag along with a farm union flag at the historic Red Fort monument during a farmers protest against new farm laws in New Delhi(AP)

Perception is the truth in information warfare over farm laws

By Shishir Gupta, New Delhi, Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON FEB 04, 2021 01:42 PM IST
  • The Chinese were among the first to recognise the role of information warfare to weaken the adversary from within
Close
Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman. (Ajay Aggarwal /HT PHOTO)
Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman. (Ajay Aggarwal /HT PHOTO)

A new confidence about India reflects in a bold Budget 2021

By Monika Halan
UPDATED ON FEB 01, 2021 09:59 PM IST
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has chosen to spend on generating future income using the higher capital spending, which has gone up by 35.4% over the previous year
Close
Shaibal Gupta also made a pioneering contribution in explaining the historical roots and the evolution of Bihar’s politics, which have today become the staple of everyday political analysis. (FACEBOOK)
Shaibal Gupta also made a pioneering contribution in explaining the historical roots and the evolution of Bihar’s politics, which have today become the staple of everyday political analysis. (FACEBOOK)

The life and times of a Patna intellectual

UPDATED ON JAN 31, 2021 06:20 AM IST
Shaibal Gupta was rooted and cosmopolitan; idealistic and pragmatic; and an insider and outsider — all at the same time. Patna’s public life will not the same without him.
Close
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar's address on India-China ties is a reminder to Beijing that the bilateral relationship between the two Asian powers is not a one-way street.(AP/File)
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar's address on India-China ties is a reminder to Beijing that the bilateral relationship between the two Asian powers is not a one-way street.(AP/File)

Jaishankar yellow-cards China for violating pacts, spells out the India way

By Shishir Gupta, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2021 03:02 PM IST
  • S Jaishankar’s speech on India-China ties signals India’s determination to continue to stand up to Xi Jinping’s expansionist plans for Asia as an equal and makes it clear that nothing that Beijing does against India will be overlooked, or allowed to go unpunished.
Close
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of China's Alibaba Group, in Chiba, Japan, June 18, 2015 (REUTERS)
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of China's Alibaba Group, in Chiba, Japan, June 18, 2015 (REUTERS)

Jack Ma story: China’s deep strategic ambition

By Manoj Kewalramani
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2021 04:50 AM IST
This statist vision of the future is very different from the government creating a level-playing field for private capital to compete and the market to do its job. It is about the State guiding capital and private entities towards what it believes are national strategic priorities, rather than allowing them to simply focus on generating greater revenue.
Close
A Nihang Sikh aboard a horse inside Red Fort on Tuesday.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
A Nihang Sikh aboard a horse inside Red Fort on Tuesday.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

Republic Day raid was pre-meditated, planned well in advance

UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 02:17 PM IST
With Delhi Police under firm orders not to open fire, the armed Nihang Sikhs provided the cover for the tractors to roll towards Red Fort.
Close
A video of an unruly tractor moving waywardly towards police personnel at ITO emerged on Tuesday as farmers protesting against farm laws deviated from their route and moved inside the Capital.
A video of an unruly tractor moving waywardly towards police personnel at ITO emerged on Tuesday as farmers protesting against farm laws deviated from their route and moved inside the Capital.

How unruly farmers tried to embarrass India on Republic Day

UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 02:09 PM IST
The tractor-borne unruly farmers were minutes away from India Gate when they were blocked by New Delhi Range police.
Close
How do we address this cyclical pattern of hailing and rubbishing financiers? It is time for an honest review of the entire issue (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
How do we address this cyclical pattern of hailing and rubbishing financiers? It is time for an honest review of the entire issue (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The policy landscape around digital and physical micro-lending

By Amol Agrawal
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2021 06:08 AM IST
In 1870s, a similar backlash emerged in Poona and Ahmednagar districts of the Bombay presidency. The agriculture boom in the early 1860s led farmers to take loans from moneylenders
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP