The widening gap between rich and poor testifies to the fact that the leaders got their business model wrong
Recently, the Union budget was presented to Parliament. It was generally hailed by the various industrial and commercial bodies and by the captains of industry. But the common man still wonders what’s in it for him other than a few development programs and a lot of spectacular jargon. The question is why there is not even mention of much-needed programs to solve the long-standing problems that afflict our country. Certainly, we the people have the power to determine our future by our vote, and the people need only vote for such a government that works for their welfare and takes the nation to new heights of prosperity and of progress.
Henry David Thoreau in his famous essay titled “Civil Disobedience” wrote: “Let everyone let it be known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be a step toward obtaining it. Can’t there be a government in which the majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but the conscience? ” . Certainly, in a democracy, governments must act in the general interest of every section of the population, but instead, when they begin to act primarily to protect the interests of the rich and powerful, they obviously demand less government. Hence the slogan “Less government and more governance”. The problem arises when in the name of a government that governs the least, an attempt is made to set up a system where people must be controlled and governed, not by governments, but by monopolies, corporations, organized groups and wealthy people who are accountable to only a tiny number of shareholders but still want to determine the direction the country should take.
Raising the bogeyman of government interference, incompetence and pervasive corruption, sustained efforts have been made in the past, and are still being made today, to shift an increasing number of functions out of its domain and place them under the control of monopolies, oligopolies and set the narrative that only corporations and monopolies can improve the public interest. What happens when the neoliberal economic model takes over is now well recorded and understood across the world. The recently released data on the income inequality that is prevalent in our country is eye-opening. The growing gap between the rich and the poor in our country testifies to the fact that we have been terribly wrong in the choice of our economic model.
Current neoliberal economic policies are the dominant economic policy prescription that most nations must follow. They are always good for the wealthy, the organized and the powerful. The common man exercises his authority only through the government he elects and tries to influence the course of his life and that of the nation by the power of his solitary vote. By removing an increasing number of functions from the purview of government, in various forms, the ordinary man is made less and less relevant in the process of deciding his future and that of his country.
Undoubtedly, for more than 80% of the population with minimal financial resources, the commercialization of the education and health sector in our country has had a devastating impact and this type of political recipe has caused untold misery in millions of people. of discord for those who govern us. Issues such as rising prices, employment programs, policy direction in the utility sectors are all crucial for the general population. According to media reports, we have achieved the unique distinction of being the most privatized healthcare system in the world. And our education sector is also being brazenly pushed in this direction.
How can a system first be labeled as corrupt and then be made to divest itself of its legitimate functions instead of making concerted efforts to rid the system of its malaise? Can we claim that the monopolies will be less corrupt than the system? Does the common man know what is going on in the name of big business? Put them under the scanner, too, and the revelations are likely to outweigh the reported misdeeds against corrupt elements within governments. This is not about defending corrupt politicians or bureaucrats. They must be severely punished for their misdeeds. But their corruption should not be used as a means to weaken governments by making them increasingly irrelevant in guiding the course of the future of the masses. If allowed, people will begin to feel helpless.
With the growing influence of money at all levels, those with no responsibility to the public have begun to have a disproportionate say in all matters directly affecting the common man. Unfortunately, the means of influencing public opinion also depends on the wealthy. In the name of the people, the media propagate the thought of the group which controls them. All of this propaganda needs to be countered and a people-centered narrative needs to be brought forward. People need to realize that they need to enforce accountability and ask questions about their own future. To build their future, they must stop voting blindly on caste and religion criteria and reject all those who use money and muscle power to muzzle our democracy.
The writer is the former Indian Government Secretary