Skip to main content

Modi's revdi culture? 'Freebie' to Vedanta-Foxconn ahead of Gujarat, Himachal polls

By Prasanna Mohanty*  

Two shocking revelations have hit recently: Vedanta-Foxconn cornering an entire sectoral subsidy of Rs 76,000 crore to build chips and a wrong Hyundai group getting the PLI to make EV batteries.
The superficial and partisan debate over “freebies” sparked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself now stands exposed more than ever, in multiple ways.
For one, the Union Cabinet led by him extended “free” ration to 62.5% of households – over and above “subsidized” ration to the very same population – by another three months to December 31, 2022. Not just the festival season, but more importantly, the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections are coming. So, the Union Cabinet ignored the Finance Ministry’s objections to such an extension the previous day.
The ministry was opposed on two grounds: (i) the additional fiscal outgo of Rs 44,762 crore would add to fiscal stress caused by the war in Europe and the rise in fuel and other commodity prices and (ii) given that the pandemic, which sparked the “free” ration scheme in April 2020, has subsided considerably, there is little justification for an extension.
It is pertinent here to recall the role the “free” ration had played in the BJP’s victory in four of ffive states earlier this year – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur – despite strong anti-incumbency against the party. 
Both the Lokniti-CDSC and Axis-My India had found in their surveys that the BJP owed its victory significantly to a new voters’ bloc it had built around the Modi government’s welfare schemes, called the “labharthi varg”, to win votes.
When the Prime Minister started the “freebie” debate, he denounced welfare schemes of state government as “revdi culture” to win votes. That was in July this year, just around the time he started campaigning for the Gujarat election.
The obvious target was the Aam Admi Party (AAP), the main challenger in Gujarat, which is known for giving free electricity and water in Delhi and Punjab. But the Prime Minister skipped his own freebies – “free” ration, PM-Kisan, subsidized LPG connections etc. and also, numerous freebies to industry (corporate tax cut, corporate loan write-offs and other tax and fiscal subsidies).
His “freebie” debate led the Supreme Court to urgently hear a PIL on it, filed earlier by BJP member Ashwini Upadhyaya, for nearly half of August. The then Chief Justice of India Justice NV Ramana himself heard it virtually daily till his retirement day, but there was no result. The court left the matter for a future three-judge bench to take forward.
Two recent instances throw up how mindless Modi government’s freebies for the industry can be (apart from being generous).
A week after Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde lamented (September 14) that despite offering Rs 39,000 crore “subsidy” the Vedanta’s semiconductor venture Vedanta-Foxconn shifted to Gujarat (Gujaratis going to poll soon), the Union Cabinet “modified” fiscal subsidy for the semiconductor sector by offering a uniform “50% incentives” on “project cost” and “capital cost” covering the entire gamut of sectoral activities on September 21.
With a 50% subsidy, the Foxconn-Vedanta will corner the entire Rs 76,000 crore subsidy allotted for the semiconductor sector – it being a $20 billion venture and a 50% subsidy would mean $10 billion – more than Rs 76,000 crore or $9.5 billion (at Rs 80). There would be no other player or competitor in the sector, allowing monopoly control to Vedanta.
Vedanta-Foxconn has been allowed to corner an entire sectoral subsidy of Rs 76,000 crore to build chips
There are other “freebies” too. Like, the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme. It offers subsidies of 1% to 20% in 14 sectors to promote “Make in India”. The 2021 budget allocated Rs 1.97 lakh crore for 13 sectors and later, Rs 120 crore was added for drones (14h sector). Many projects have been cleared under it, but there is no knowing how the freebies are being used because there is simply no mechanism to track and monitor their progress.
Here too the same mindless exercise is evident.
In March 2022, the Centre awarded PLIs (freebie) of Rs 18,000 crore to four companies to make EV batteries, one of which was Hyundai Global Motors Company Limited (HGMCL). In mid-July, the South Korean major Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) issued a public statement saying that the HGMCL had nothing to do with it (not an affiliate, subsidiary or group company). On August 29, this wrong Hyundai withdrew from the PLI and the Centre said it was re-examining how the goof-up happened and would find a new one to replace it.
There is actually a pattern to such mindless acts.
Earlier this year, the Centre cancelled two privatization deals – another freebie to private businesses as such deals are known to be at throwaway prices – Central Electronics Limited (CEL) and Pawan Hans Limited (PHL).
The cancellations came after (i) the employees of the prized PSUs protested against cheap valuations and (ii) investigative reports revealed that the CEL was sold to a furniture and furnishing firm run by BJP leaders and the PHL to a defaulting tax haven-based finance company.
How do such deals go through in the first place? What motivates such deals? The answers to these questions carry the secrets to the Centre’s love for “revdi culture”.
---
Source: Centre for Financial Accountability

Comments

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Corporate-political party nexus? Rise and rise of Gautam Adani under Modi regime

By Sandeep Pandey*  In last five years Rs 10,09,510 crore taken as loans by various companies from banks in India have been declared as Non Performing Assets, an euphemism for writing them off. Out of this State Bank of India alone wrote off Rs 2,04,486 crore. Only about 13% of the total written off amount was recovered. Identity of the defaulting borrowers, most of whom are influential corporates, is not revealed. Compare this to the loans taken by farmers. The names of defaulting farmers is displayed on walls in tehsil offices to shame them and some unlucky ones also land up in lock-ups there. On the contrary, a few corporate defaulters have fled the country and quite curiously the authorities didn’t seize their passports like they do with some dissenting intellectuals or activists booked under mostly false cases. Now consider the donations received by political parties in the form of electoral bonds. The identity of the donor need not be revealed even to the Election Commission or i

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

BJP-RSS trap opposition in 'futile row' around Savarkar, freedom movement

By Prem Singh*  Everything in this article is just a repetition. I have been saying all this since 1991-92. It is obvious that the Congress and the RSS/BJP do not like my ideas. But most socialists, advocates of social justice and communists also dislike my thoughts. I watch their measures and efforts to deal with the present crisis with interest. I respect them and also participate. Yet, the fact it, we fall behind again and again, and the crisis goes ahead. Instead of being a solution-providers, we are seen to be a part of the crisis. How long will this last? Perhaps, if the new generation thinks differently, things may turn for better! 1 To say that modern Indian society and politics are passing through the deepest crisis ever will surely be a repetition. The crisis is deeper than the spreading of communal hatred we witness around us. In fact, the business of communal hatred is flourishing by taking its manure and water from the deep crisis. The crisis of neo-colonial slavery is pro

Carbon abatement to tackle climate change: India's failure has 'outpaced' its success

By Satorupa Karmakar*  On November 01, 2021, India took a pledge of reaching a carbon-zero stage by 2070, at the COP-26 held in Glasgow, UK. As ‘ambitious’ and dubious it may sound to some, with a short-term delay in renewable energy generation (which gained the pace post-September 2020) and drastic fall in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission level as COVID-19 emerged as a ‘necessary evil’ , the path of India’s clean energy mission could be seen being paved throughout this time. Currently ranked as the third largest GHG emitter in the world, India is projected to demand more energy in coming years due to a large population base (1.3 billion as per 2011 Census data) and primarily coal-based fast-growing economy. Rapid industrialisation in post-colonial developing countries like India, stimulated by a larger and cheaper pool of fossil fuels and labour-force depicted a continuous upsurge in temperature, heavy precipitation in some places with an overall declining rainfall and a burgeoning soc

Demand to withdraw 'anti-environment, anti-adivasi' forest conservation rules 2022

By Gopinath Majhi*  The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a coalition of adivasis and forest dwellers’ organisations, has sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) raising serious concerns over Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, notified by the Centre on June 29.  Contending that recent amendments and a host of executive orders/guidelines issued by the ministry undermine and dilute the FRA and threaten the rights of adivasis and forest dwellers, CSD demands that the 2022 FC Rules should be rescinded forthwith. Demanding withdrawal of such anti-people and anti-environment rules CSD Odisha organised a protest Dharana in front of State Assembly today on 25th November 2022 and submitted memorandums to the Hon’ble Governor of Odisha, Chief Secretary and Commissioner-cum-Secretary, ST & SC Development Department for conveying our concerns against the FC Rules 2022 to the Central Government for its withdrawal. The memorandums w

GM mustard not swadeshi, it's a patent of MNC Bayer, GoI 'misleading' SC: Modi told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 42 farmers’ organisations though their representatives , backed by senior scientists and experts, have said that the Government of India (GoI) should stop misleading the Supreme Court “with untrue and incorrect” statements on GM mustard. Insisting that India does not need unsafe GM mustard, in their representation, they urged the Supreme Court to order immediate uprooting of GM mustard crop in various locations. The representation comes even as a penal of experts, coming down heavily on the GoI for refusing to see how in less than a week’s time the pollen from GM mustard will “start contaminating” non-GM mustard fields with transgenes, including male sterility and herbicide tolerant traits. Alleging that the GoI is actively misleading the Supreme Court with untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where Gov

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w

'Extremist' US Hindu global group funding hate against Indian Churches: NGO groups

Counterview Desk  As many as 14 civil rights and faith-based organizations in co-signing a letter to the US Senators, Representatives, State Governor, and other elected officials have demanded the FBI, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Department of Justice should investigate into Texas-based organization Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) a fundraiser campaign for demolishing churches in India. Co-signed by Federation of Indian American Christian Organization in North America (FIACONA), North American Church of God, Southern Methodist University (SMU) Human Rights Program, Amnesty International - Dallas, World Without Genocide, Center for Pluralism, Genocide Watch, The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Limitless Church, Justice for All, Hindu for Human Rights, North Texas Peace Advocates, Good Citizens of DFW, and the North Texas Islamic Council, the letter has been sent to Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; Representatives Michael C Burgess, Pat Fallon, Van Taylor, Terr