– Alok Jagdhari
One of the pitfalls of right wing fascist rulers worldwide, currently and in history, is their excessive and obsessive use of propaganda.Their entire success is based on propaganda. They fool the people by using propaganda. They rise to power using propaganda. As a result, the ruling class under any fascist rule is consisted entirely of people who are masters of propaganda. They don’t allow any realist in their midst. Realism is the kryptonite for fascist Supermen.That’s why fascists fail when it comes to governance. They can rise to power. They can rule for a few years. But they eventually fail and fall as soon as the invoice of reality comes to them.
The latest ‘Joomla’ from our Indian rulers is the Rs 20 lakh crore package. Let me be clear – I have been screaming from rooftops for a very large fiscal package for many years. I asked for 3 lakh crore in 2019. 5 lakh crore towards the end of 2019. 7.5 lakh crore a few weeks ago. And then in frustration wrote to the PMO with an excel sheet detailing a 11.25 lakh crore fiscal package. Hence, this 20 lakh crore would be the right sized package for next 12 months. IF it were real. If it was honest. If the numbers added up. And if it was implemented diligently.
Unfortunately, it’s all smoke and mirrors. The Prime Minister is shooting blank rounds (fake fiscal stimulus) at an advancing armored column (real pandemic), while his own party watches in silence and his blind followers cheer him on! If you are faced with an armored column, as we are, firing small bore weapons (even with real bullets) is a waste of time, ammo and money. It’s not going to stop the armored column, which will keep rolling and eventually crush you.
In a war against a pandemic, the cardinal rule is this – GO BIG OR GO HOME. To stop an armored column you have to fire big guns. Of caliber suitable to stop it in its tracks. Unfortunately, the Modi government is gripped with the same kind of obsession with propaganda, fake news, mind games, misinformation and disinformation that plagued the Third Reich at the end of 1943.
The Field Marshals already knew that the war was lost after Operation Barbarossa failed and the US entered the war on the side of the Allies. Yet, the entire Nazi hierarchy kept pretending that they were winning.Why did they do that? Because propaganda is all they knew. They knew nothing else. The same thing goes for this 20 lakh crore package. By including 10 lakh crore of monetary easing by the RBI into this package, the Prime Minister has made a mockery of the rescue package to begin with. Any monetary policy initiative by the RBI has absolutely nothing to do with the government.
In the measures announced, the only one that has any substance is the Rs 300,000 crore lending scheme for MSMEs. Are MSMEs an isolated island? Can they alone be rescued? Isn’t their survival linked to the survival of medium and large enterprises? Aren’t other players in the nation buyers or suppliers to these MSMEs? If you don’t help their buyers or suppliers, then how will these MSMEs survive?
The additional lending program is under the existing lines of credit. Which means that the borrowers and lenders won’t be able to untangle this additional borrowing/ lending from all other loans. Hence, this isn’t a grant. Would any entrepreneur in his right mind want to increase their debt burden at this stage if the loan isn’t a grant?3. The government isn’t shelling out a single Rupee from its own pocket. It’s all contingent liability (guarantees). It’s firing a gun from the shoulders of banks.
Essentially, it’s simply more monetary policy. To dress up income tax refunds as fiscal stimulus is a cruel joke. To dress up lower EPF contributions as a fiscal stimulus is a cruel joke when more than 12 cr jobs have been lost in last 12 months.
The key questions to ask are these: Did the middle class get anything? Did the farmers get anything? Did the landless labor get anything? Did the poor migrants get anything? Did the worst affected sectors like airlines and hospitality get anything? Is there any additional money for the Front-line workers like nurses, doctors, hospitals, policemen, soldiers, grocery store owners, pharmacies, railway workers, bid drivers, truckers? Is there any additional allocation for covid-19 testing and treatment? Is there any additional money for state governments? One can rise to power using propaganda. But you need reality and truth to govern. Mr Prime Minister, you can’t govern using propaganda in times of crisis…
( The author is CRO at AQIS LLC, Advisor to The Board at Liquidfsi, Founding Partner -92Angels. The views expressed are his own)