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My problem with anti-government sentiment

Prerna Koul Mishra
Prerna Koul MishraJun 25, 2017 | 15:56

My problem with anti-government sentiment

I am exasperated - actually full up to my eyeballs - with this new fad of being anti-establishment, if not anti-national. 

The space is split down the middle. And the polarisation has come to a pass where by the time you would have read my last sentence, you would already have typified me in your mind. This without having the patience to hear me out.

My concern about the present dispensation of critics and columnists stems from my memories of an India that was moving neither forward nor backward. This was only a few years ago. The then intellectuals called it "policy paralysis". 

Interestingly, both eras have many critics in common which brings us to the point - what is their trip in life? To be anti-establishment or to be on the other side.

To me, the safest action is inaction. In the earlier regime, there were no teething troubles, no birth pains, no faux pas, because there was no action. Back then, the establishment was actually sitting on India's destiny as a nation.

If you ask me, I was more worried then than I am now (barring a couple of aching points around the way the cow business is proceeding and something that I call hyper-nationalism donning saffron hues). 

Bad politics apart, take moves like digitisation. I completely agree that we are ill-prepared for it. But we have been ill-prepared for almost 70 years now for anything that would help India to get on to the other side of the development chasm. We can wait for another 70 to feel prepared to take the plunge. It is a choice we must make.

My selfish purpose in supporting digitisation is simple. I want transparency for the next generation. I do not want our children to have the option of skirting taxes, do underhand deals, bribe people as a way of life.

If the digital trail makes Indians more conscientious (which it is bound to if you study it closely) it would be a generational transformation worth all the pain. 

For most, the Goods and Services Tax is the next agony in waiting. The intent to rationalise the tax structure has been a requirement sans politics across parties. It has not come as unannounced as demonetisation. But when it is upon us, we are crying ad hocism, unpreparedness and everything to go with it.

Rationally thinking, by now prudent businesses should be ready to take the leap - be it the mighty Tatas or our corner shop.

gstnew-embed_062517032842.jpgFor most, the Goods and Services Tax is the next agony in waiting. 

The real pain is that for years our unorganised sector has shied away from getting mainstream. We are so used to no bills or "back of brown paperbag bills" that a demand to come onboard a more transparent system, which is good for business and consumers in the long run, is being made to sound like the Emergency!

It will be painful but if that is what it takes to be more efficient and transparent, it is high time we dived head first into it. It is an investment in future that we must make. 

Next, when we sit in judgment, we also need to see some moves through the prism of statecraft and not economics. To the number crunching, white-collared economists, analysts’ and bankers, demonetisation was a disaster. 

What if was rolled out only to dissipate the Opposition? A one-time, sudden jerk, that helped BJP suck out the money muscle and pull the rug from beneath the feet of even the most well-grounded opposition just around the elections.

The next tsunami is already unleashed on the benami properties. There is also some economic precipitate in terms of tax collection. Also, random people who deposited beyond the limit have come on the radar, etc etc.

But let us presume all that was incidental and not the core objective. 

So for you and me, demonetisation may have looked like a disaster but for some it may go down in history as a case study in statecraft.

You will agree that the BJP today is favourably placed against the Opposition vis-a-vis the pre-demonetisation era. Conjecture at its best this. But it falls under the ambit of FOE that we so vehemently support these days.

Finally, to make a clean breast of things, my opinion wouldn't falter irrespective of the party in power.

This is because, as a citizen, I would live with the imperfections of action compared to perfect inaction. 

Last updated: June 25, 2017 | 15:56
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