Monday, December 21, 2015

Mahesh Murthy's liberty with facts

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.

Since it was the season where everyone was dissing Modi, I didn’t pay much attention to a post by Mahesh Murthy that was making rounds on Facebook. And then I saw it was gaining traction, and read it. I was aghast to see a post that was filled with so many lies, gaining so much traction. But that’s what perhaps happens when one is defeated and therefore all and sundry can give advice. And today, after I saw this same post on Huffington Post, I realized that this lie (no actually, this post with multiple lies in it) has gone too far, with no one countering it at all.

So I am making this humble attempt. In his own words – Dear Mahesh Murthy – here’s why your analysis is flawed to the core.
“Reforms haven’t happened.”
A sweeping statement like this, with zero data points, has now become a norm amongst those criticizing Modi government. Not a single commentator writes what exact reforms were they hoping will be done, and why they haven’t been done yet. “Reforms” have been initiated through various financial inclusion schemeslike Jan Dhan and Insurance schemes; reforms have been initiated through various changes in the banking sector – MUDRA bank, Gold monetization schemes etc; reforms have been announced recently on FDI in various sectors; reforms have been initiated and implemented in the Infrastructure sector; some commentators have even called many steps as “small big reforms”. I can go on and on – but maybe you can take a detailed look of various graphics in this link. And then maybe, maybe you can rebut the facts in these graphics?
Reforms are yet to be initiated in the tax structure; there are still bureaucratic road blocks that at times become major hurdles; reforms are yet to be fully implemented in ease of doing businesses – these have to be focus areas and therefore would have been good if “experts” like you dwell on these. Instead what do we get? A sweeping statement – “Reforms haven’t happened”.
Corruption may have come down a bit but hasn’t disappeared.
Again, zero data points. What does “may have come down a bit” even mean? There are multiple avenues of corruption – right from the lowest levels of government to the highest. The anger amongst people during the 2011-2013 phase was primarily because of the massive corruption at the highest levels.
Narendra Modi has also attempted to curb corruption at the lower levels, which is what affects you and me. Ever tried getting signatures of gazette officers for your certificates? Ever tried attending an interview for lower rung posts in the government? You think all these were not hotbeds of corruption? Modi has made a good beginning by starting to identify these issues and removing them from the system. Digital India, once it begins to become a reality, will help curb this corruption too.
Modi also the enormous task of filling the bureaucracy with confidence – that any decision taken in the right spirit will not be enquired upon. Post the UPA debacle, we know the bureaucracy was afraid to take critical decision, fearing backlash. There has not been a single case of corruption that has senior levels of the establishment involved. And wherever there was a whiff of such corruption, officers were transferred promptly.
There is considerable anger amongst people that the wrong-doers of the UPA era are still at large. This in no way implies that no action is being taken against corruption.
“Your promises about black money have largely proven to be a joke.”
I had an argument with an editor in The Hindu on this too. But as usual, the cabal likes to spread as much lies as possible on this. The promise was to initiate the process to start retrieving black money within 100 days. It started within 3 days of government formation. In his Independence day address, the PM has claimed that they have retrieved 11,000 crores of black money so far. And through various other initiatives, the government has generated nearly 3 lakh rupees of revenue. The below graphic explains it better.
Now, do you or your ilk have any answers to this? Have you or your ilk countered this information by the PM with counter-statistics? The answer I have so far is a resounding No.
Banning beef
This was countered earlier too. But maybe the ilk is lazy to read, so let’s paste a graphic.
The slaughter of cattle is banned in many states in India – some from as far back as 1955. Narendra Modi was 5 years old then.
After coming to power, Modi did not pass a single order for “banning beef” – then why does the ilk shamelessly peddle this lie?
Having pure veg days
Whoa – where did this come from? Modi actually announced something like this?! What is this fetish to spread lies, and then lecture Modi on avoiding doing such things? I mean, how does one undo things that one has not done in the first place?
Shutting down International NGOs 
I think you are referring to Greenpeace. Greenpeace was found to be violating the law. They have shown a typographical error to be the basis of missing 6 crore rupees. How exactly does one write 0 instead of 60,000,000? If you have a specific grouse, why don’t you mention it? Are you and your ilk advocating the government go easy on those who violate the law?
Spending more time visiting places outside India than being in India itself. Stop the bloody foreign tours except when it’s part of the economic agenda.
I am not surprised that you haven’t bothered to explain which foreign tour of his was not related to an economic agenda? Some statistics I want to throw at you. In 2009 – 2010, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travelled for 47 days. In 2014-2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled for 53 days.
I saw another statistic that said that the Chinese President Hu Jintao travelled for 63 days in the first 16 months of his office. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spent 66 days in the same period.
So far, the statistic available is that nearly 20 billion worth of FDI inflows have happened from the countries that the Prime Minister has visited.
Leave all this aside – the Prime Minister of the country *needs to travel* if we want to make a global impact. Every single trip of his will be associated with economy and security related stuff only. And plus there are many unique aspects to his visits too. Your flawed understanding of foreign policy doesn’t give you the right to ask the PM to stop the “bloody foreign” tours.
“Deal with the opposition nicely”
I am pretty sure you haven’t watched a single hour of any parliament session in Modi’s term. If you have, you would have also seen how baselessly the opposition has been trying to stone-wall the government’s agenda. You would also have seen how leaders like Sitaram Yechury and Anand Sharma stand up every single day, and bring in lofty rhetoric to stone wall bills. In spite of this, Modi government has passed many landmark bills. The only bills on which there has been an impasse was the GST and the LAB. LAB has been retracted. Congress is being adamant on GST and is opposing the exact same things they proposed earlier. But hey – let’s ask Modi to be more humble. Sonia Gandhi can continue to be arrogant, but Modi must show humility.
Whether it was you not condemning the Dadri Murder, or looking-the-other-way when orange-clad swami-type idiots in your party made ridiculous statements
The Prime Minister has spoken up against loose statements by political leaders earlier. He has spoken about the caste and communal poison that affects our country – yet, your ilk has never bothered to talk then.
I am still trying to figure out how another statement by the PM when the Dadri violence has happened, would have helped matters. Caste and religion based violence is a bane of this country. These exist in almost every single state of this country. But Modi’s opponents only focus on religion based violence and try to spread canards regarding this. Unfortunate that such agenda has been allowed to peddle.
Lastly, Mr. Mahesh Murthy – please learn some simple mathematics. Here is your statement –“your national vote share in 2014 was 31%, and it’s dropped to 24% in Bihar. So primarily you’ve lost a quarter of your earlier fan base in just 18 months.” I am still trying to figure out how you linked a 24% share in Bihar and 31% share in India as a drop of “quarter of your fan base”. I mean, did you really think your readers are so ignorant?
The “bhakts” are a derided lot. Yet, most articles that critique Modi government based on facts and give policy based advice, come from them. It is a matter of serious concern that the BJP has totally messed up its messaging and communication – that is one of the things Prime Minister Modi has to fix. Else, we will have the likes of Mahesh Murthy spread more lies and get away with them.


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