Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Editorial: "ANNUAL EXTRAVAGANZAS?" in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 28 February 2011 issue (Vol. 7, Part 1, No. 4)

‘Advantage IndiaInc with a few sops to the common man, to be gulped up by rising prices to control which no arrangement exists’ appears to be the crux of the 2011-12 Union Budget (annual financial statement) submitted by Pranab Mukherjee, preceded by a Railway Budget with no definite innovations or progress but with a lot of blessings to Mamata’s home-state obviously with an eye on the coming Assembly elections there, though fortunately with no further burdens on the common passengers imposed either. But the question looms large in one’s mind as to whether these budgets and their presentations have become routine annual extravaganzas. The enormous amounts of effort, time, stationery etc. that go into the preparation and presentation of such budgets are unthinkable for the common man. Could alternatives not be devised, say, to start with, biennial budgets? True, only 20 odd states in America retain this system now, but currently under Obama’s presidency even the federal Congress there is seriously seized of this idea which can give a lot of time to the parliamentarians to concentrate on other more pressing issues and needs of the people. And then the stress on the gross national product (GDP) and claiming growth rates at 8 or 9% etc. are also quite confusing, to say the least. In an acutely class divided society with the bulk of the population in marginalized situations, these statistics can be very deceptive with the growth of the elite and the neo-rich easily/usually mixed up with the decline of the disadvantaged sections of the people to make it appear ‘all is well’. Instead, the Gross National Happiness indicator mooted by the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, and now catching the imagination of many a socio-economic expert/activist all over the world, may be a better option. At least the relevant GNH statistics may be compiled and presented before every budget so that the progress towards the ultimate ideal of people’s welfare can be regularly checked up. Hope our readers give some serious consideration to these random thoughts §§§

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