There are problems and challenges. But we are on course to overcome them
Democratic governments welcome criticism, because it helps to know what the people are thinking when they are not thinking well of you. Constructive criticism is particularly welcome, since it encourages the self-correction that is at the heart of all positive reform. But the recent diatribes in this space against the performance of the UPA government, particularly from two regular writers I know and respect, Pratap Bhanu Mehta (‘While we were silent’, July 11, http://bit.ly/174IPzt) and Shekhar Gupta (‘The deformists’, July 20, http://bit.ly/1aZZ9au), have not only not been constructive, they are so sweepingly denunciatory, they leave no possibility of discussion or redemption.
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Mehta would have us believe that nine years of UPA rule have decimated the country’s roads, airlines, telecom and power sectors, undermined education and employment, destroyed agriculture and industry, wrecked institutions, ruined financial stability and spurred inflation, and burdened the country with regulation. In a spasm of extravagant phrase-making, he also sees the government as threatening virtue, freedom and the citizenry, no less. To this over-the-top indictment, Gupta adds his own: the UPA’s “welfarism” has betrayed the promise of reform and created a doctrine of “povertarianism”, which condemns Indians to perpetual poverty.
Now these are such travesties of reasoned debate that it might seem almost unnecessary to take them on except that both Mehta and Gupta have justifiably earned, over the years, admiration for their views, and their lapsing from their usual standards should not be allowed to go unchallenged. They have apparently failed to notice that today’s India boasts a thriving, entrepreneurial and globalised economy, with a dynamic and creative business culture, engaging with the world on its own terms and pulling over 10 million people a year above the poverty line.