"Economist" tells Modi, propaganda can't solve India's social lag, seeks market policy reforms as alternative

A BJP-sponsored Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign
By Our Representative
Influential British journal “The Economist”, known to have been highly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governance, has suggested that no amount of propaganda by him and his team can help overcome India’s social lag. Seeking policy interventions instead, it insists on privatizing every aspect of social service provided by the Government of India.
Taking on how Modi’s intervention in the social sector is largely limited to propaganda, the top journal gives the example of Panipat in Haryana, where dedicated 60% of the budget for “Beti Bachao, a national scheme meant to correct gender imbalances by fostering and educating girls”, went into “erecting a ‘themed gate’ at the entrance to the town that proclaims Panipat’s bold commitment to this worthy goal.”
According to the journal, “Such wasteful boasting is not unique. Since today’s national government took office in 2014 it has, by official count, spent some $643m (twice what the previous one did) on publicising its own programmes and achievements in TV spots, billboards and full-page newspaper ads that typically feature the smiling image of Modi.”
Policy prescriptions “The Economist” suggests relate to a “model” developed by Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg, known to be a major critic of climate change framework and Kyoto Protocol, underlining, all policy proposals of the government should be selected and based on “cost-benefit analyses, not the whims of politicians.”
Recognized as one of "the 10 most-respected global warming skeptics" in 2009 by the Business Insider, Lomborg campaigned against the Kyoto Protocol and other measures to cut carbon emissions, but has been a strong advocate for focusing attention and resources on what he perceives as far more pressing world problems, such as AIDS, malaria and malnutrition.
In his critique of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Lomborg stated: "Global warming is by no means our main environmental threat." In 2011 and 2012, Lomborg was named a Top 100 Global Thinker by Foreign Policy "for looking more right than ever on the politics of climate change".
The journal asks, “What if, instead of promoting favoured schemes, Indian governments instead challenged experts to propose the cleverest interventions they could think of? What if they then got economists to calculate, as objectively and scientifically as possible, their likely cost-benefit ratios? And what if they then compared these numbers and adopted policies based on which projects promised the biggest bang for the buck?”
Basing on the Danish economist’s model, operating in two of Indian states, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, with funding from the corporate social responsibility body of the Tatas, Tata Trusts, experiments worked out by Lomborg, says “The Economist”, show that “potential returns are astonishing”.
Thus, believes the journal, quoting an article by Nimalan Arinaminpathy, an epidemiologist at Imperial College, London, “Interventions to combat tuberculosis (TB), a disease that kills 30,000 people a year in Rajasthan alone, could bring a return of up to 179 rupees for every rupee of government spending.”
According to the journal, “This is not because India makes no efforts to deal with TB. The trouble is that the government’s hitherto highly successful anti-tuberculosis campaign, the world’s largest such effort, is struggling to reach the country’s poorest and most vulnerable.”
“The rate of new infections could be cut drastically by enlisting private village doctors and chemists, using better diagnostics and seeking out cases in places where they are likely to occur rather than waiting for them to be reported. The biggest savings would come from a steep drop in future costs for treating patients with multi-drug-resistant forms of the disease, a group that makes up only 4% of TB patients but accounts for 40% of the government’s bill”, the journal believes.
Insisting that Arinaminpathy’s numbers are “not fantasy” but are “backed by robust statistics and match similar findings in Bangladesh”, and “India’s government has, in fact, already begun to push its TB programme in the direction he has suggested”, the journal adds, “Other proposals with big payoffs include computer-assisted learning, cheap treatment of non-communicable diseases and educating mothers on hygiene and nutrition.”


Uma Sheth said…
All governments spend money on self-promotion, but it is our misfortune that the present one outdoes all