oppn parties White Paper & Black Paper Duel Ahead Of Lok Sabha Elections

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oppn parties
White Paper & Black Paper Duel Ahead Of Lok Sabha Elections

By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2024-02-14 03:30:49

As promised by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her interim Budget speech, the Centre came out with a white paper on the alleged mismanagement of the economy during 10 years of UPA rule between 2004 and 2014. Obviously, the paper is overtly selective and decidedly political. While there is much to condemn for what went on during those UPA years and much to recommend for what has been going on after NDA came to power in 2014, all things in both periods are not only in black and white and the UPA years also had some silver linings as the NDA years have their black spots. The white paper conveniently ignores the good things in UPA rule and glosses over the mistakes in the NDA period. Hence, while it may be good as a political statement, it is not a fully truthful report card on the state of the economy under UPA.

The paper rightly says that the UPA inherited a sound economy (but forgets to mention that it was as much due to economic liberalization under P V Narasimha Rao as due to the subsequent reforms of the Atal Behari Vajpayee government). It goes on to say that it turned the economy fragile and India began to be included in the five most fragile economies of the world. This, it says, was due to the policy paralysis under UPA as well as rampant corruption (it listed 15 major scams), leakages in welfare schemes, high inflation, low capital expenditure and indiscriminate lending by PSU banks that almost brought the financial sector to its knees. In contrast, the paper says that the NDA government, through its prudent and effective policies from 2014, has turned around most PSU banks and the Indian financial sector is one of the most stable in the world now.  This is, by and large, true. The NDA government has also rightly increased capital expenditure to build assets for the nation instead of spending money thoughtlessly in sundry schemes.

But where the white paper suffers is in comparing the job situation and the state of the people between 2004 and 2014 and then between 2014 and 2024. It is also silent on the disruption caused by demonetization. The level of joblessness was high in the first period. It has remained high in the second period also. Although there is no denying that the NDA government has had to bear the twin shocks of the pandemic and geopolitical disruptions but the state of the people has not shown any significant improvement. The Congress came up with a 'black' paper to highlight the anti-people economic policies of the NDA government which, it said, have increased joblessness, led to farmer suicides and high inflation and complete devastation of the economy.