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UPA-II and economy: What common people say

Last updated on: May 27, 2010 09:10 IST

UPA-II and economy: What common people say

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Indrani Roy Mitra in Kolkata

Eminent columnist Praful Bidwai wrote in rediff.com recently: 'It's no aberration that the first anniversary of the return to power of the United Progressive Alliance should coincide with a tsunami of grassroots protests: From Orissa to Maharashtra, and from Tamil Nadu to Uttarakhand, through tribal Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.'

The protests represent popular resistance to UPA-II's industrialisation and mining policies and its zealous promotion of gross domestic product growth as an end in itself. Central too this is the displacement and dispossession of vulnerable people.

How successful have been the UPA's economic policies so far? Has it been able to cater to the needs of the common people?

We went about asking citizens from different walks of life to gauge their views. So what had the aam aadmi to say about the UPA government and its handling of the economy?

Click NEXT to find out . . .


Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing a news conference.
Photographs: Richard Clement/Reuters
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'Govt should bring down the fiscal deficit'

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Ajitesh Chakraborty, LIC employee

"First and foremost, I think the United Progressive Alliance government has failed thoroughly in containing inflation. It has not been successful at curbing price-rise at all.

"People like us, with limited income, are struggling to make both ends meet these days. Whatever pay hikes we got in recent years were eaten up by inflation.

"Countering inflation should be the government's priority at this moment. We are gasping under the burden of rising prices. (Finance Minister Pranab) Mukherjee must do something about it.

"Since our honourable finance minister is a capable economist, he must come up with some urgent steps to bring down the fiscal deficit as also to bring in more revenues to India's exchequer.

"The government should also reform the income tax process so that evasion can be curbed and more funds can be generated."

"These are difficult steps no doubt but one does expect that someone of Mukherjee's calibre can achieve them in no time."

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Ajitesh Chakraborty.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'No inflation, please, Mr Prime Minister'

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Arpita Dasgupta, Student, Sammilani Mahavidyalaya (B Sc, Microbiology major)

"My father gives me Rs 1,000 a month as allowance.

"Even a couple of years back, I could save something from that amount to take care of my extra-curricular activities. But not any more. Ever since the UPA government came into power, price-rise has become a vexing issue.

"I don't understand how the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance managed to check inflation so well. I wonder why the present government does not take a leaf out of the NDA's book and do something about the issue.

"It's us, the people of India, who voted them (the UPA) to power. Therefore, it is high time they did something for us.

"My father is a medical representative and his resources are minimal. Hence, we, a family of three, have to pinch pennies these days for mere subsistence.

"Why can't an eminent economist like our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh bring about a positive anti-inflationary economic movement? He is the one who had paved the way for a new India in the early 1990s. Can't he repeat himself now?

"I beg him to do something."

Click on NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Arpita Dasgupta.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'I may have to sell my business in future'

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Pintu Saha, small-scale entrepreneur

"If you ask me, the UPA regime so far has been full of 'sound and fury', signifying nothing.

"I think the government has no right to celebrate its anniversary. It has failed us completely right from the word go. In fact, UPA-II has put in a much worse show than UPA-I.

"I am a small-scale entrepreneur, making phenyle, acids and other cleansing chemicals. But I was happy with my income till this government came into power. All of a sudden, I faced a double-pronged crisis: escalating cost of raw materials and an increase in prices of essential commodities.

"However, I could not dare raise the selling price of my products lest their demand dropped. Therefore, my income almost halved in the past few years.

"I borrowed from the bank to start this business. If the economic situation of the country does not improve, I might have to sell off my business or shut it in the recent future."

Click on NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Pintu Saha.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'The govt has done a fine job so far'

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Viswaroop Patra, travel agency owner

"I don't have much to complain about the United Progressive Alliance government.

 

"Right from inception, this government has done a commendable job as far as planning is concerned. My business has flourished under this government's tenure and I am sure, things will look even better in the days to come.

 

"Our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh , an eminent economist, has made the full use of his expertise, experience and knowledge to develop the money market also for the growth of urban and rural India.

 

"In its second innings too, I am quite sure the UPA government will be as good.

 

"Having said that, as someone who makes a living out of tourism, I would appeal to the government to resolve issues like the Gorkhaland, Maoist insurgency, political unrest in Assam and Meghalaya so that tourism industry gets a new filip.

 

"People at the top are astute politicians and I am certain they would soon come up with effective measures. I wish this government the very best."

Click on NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Viswaroop Patra.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'Where are the roads, Mr Prime Minister?'

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Pijush Kanti Moitra, retired central government employee 

"The biggest drawback of this government has been its policy towards petroleum prices. The government could not do anything to contain the prices of the petrol and diesel. As a result, the prices of all essential commodities went beyond people's means.

"What surprises me is that we have two renowned economist at the helm -- Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Yet the economy of the country is in a shambles.

"At times I feel the government is deliberately not doing anything. Perhaps, it wants the lower middle class and the poor to die of starvation. Its so-called job scheme and rural welfare plans are but an eyewash. They are mere election planks and nothing else.

"The government completed a year of its second term. In all these years, it could not provide the basic infrastructure to its people. Where are the roads? Where is the power? Where is the money?

"How are the taxes that, we, the citizens of India, pay being utilised? Who will listen to our woes?"

Click on NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Pijush Kanti Moitra.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'It's the govt's duty to feed its people'

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Azizul Hawk Molla, vegetable vendor

"I am an illiterate person who makes a living by selling vegetables. I don't understand the tall talks of the politicians. Analysis and economic theories hardly make any sense to me.

"However, I do understand one thing. We live in a democracy which ensures that we elect our government. Therefore, I know it is the duty of the government to feed its own people. And if it fails to do so, it must step down.

"The UPA government has been a complete failure in this respect. It has not only been unsuccessful in curbing price rise but also has cut a sorry figure in bringing about useful economic reforms.

"Things were not this bad under the National Democratic Alliance. Poor people's misery never reached this level during Bharatiya Janata Party-led government. Prices of essential commodities, as it stands now, are totally out of our reach.

"I have a feeling that the government wants to eradicate the poor from India. It wants them to die of starvation."

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Ajijul Hawk Molla.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'Is the govt deaf or blind?'

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Tapas Bose, taxi driver

"I am a small man. I am in no way qualified to criticise the government. But I do vote and thereby contribute, in a meagre way though, towards the formation of the government.

"I don't know the full form of UPA. But I do know that it is led by the Congress. My father often used to say that the Congress is a pro-rich party. It has no concern for the poor. I never took his words seriously until now. Now I know why he said that. This government has made a mess of India's economy.

"Its policies have only made the rich richer and poor poorer. As I get up in the morning every day, I pray to God that I get to earn enough to buy food for my family of three. On days, my prayer goes unanswered and we are forced to go to bed hungry.

"The going was never this tough even a few years back. People at the top are a qualified lot. They are learned fellows. Yet then, why can't they addres the woes of simpletons like us?

"Do they deliberately ignore the issues that plague us? Are they deaf? Or are they blind? Is someone listening?"

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Tapas Bose.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'This govt is a bad housekeeper'

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Rina Dasgupta, homemaker

"The government at the Centre rules this country. I rule my home.

"This country consists of many homes like mine and, therefore, one gets a rough idea of the state of this country by analysing the condition of one such home.

"The UPA government so far has put in a rather poor show. It has not been able to take care of the basic needs of its people. Be it infrastructure, growth or industrialiation, it has scored pretty low.

"Reasons? Poor planning, I think.

"It surprises me that despite having such brilliant minds like Dr Manmohan Singh and Pranab Mukherjee at the top, the government has failed so miserably to deliver.

"Is it callousness or mere indifference? What irks me is the fact why till now the government could not come up with an effective measure to either contain inflation or to bring down the fiscal deficit?

"Or are we to suppose that the government is deliberately not taking effective measures? Maybe it is the UPA's well thought out political strategy to make the poor poorer and the rich richer.

"If I may say so, this government is indeed a bad housekeeper."


Image: Rina Dasgupta.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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