Skip to main content

"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.”

Comments

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

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.

Story of a foot soldier of Gujarat riots coming from a vulnerable community, Chharas

By Rajiv Shah
He is one of the more prominent "foot soldiers" of the 2002 Gujarat riots. Suresh Jadeja, alias Langdo, alias Richard, is indeed a well-known name in the Naroda Patiya massacre case, in which 97 persons were killed on February 28, 2002, the first day of the riots that shook the nation. Ordinarily, such a person should have been subjected to sociological scrutiny. What have here is a keen journalistic account, with clear political-ideological overtone.