India has slid from being a global showcase of liberal democracy to a majoritarian state in economic despair, writes Manmohan Singh.
New Delhi| India faces imminent danger from the trinity of social disharmony, economic slowdown and a global health epidemic. Social unrest and economic ruin are self-inflicted while the health contagion of COVID-19 disease, caused by the novel coronavirus, is an external shock, former PM Manmohan Singh wrote in The Hindu.
“I deeply worry that this potent combination of risks may not only rupture the soul of India but also diminish our global standing as an economic and democratic power in the world,” he wrote.
The former PM further wrote, “Delhi has been subjected to extreme violence over the past few weeks. We have lost nearly 50 of our fellow Indians for no reason. Several hundred people have suffered injuries. Communal tensions have been stoked and flames of religious intolerance fanned by unruly sections of our society, including the political class. University campuses, public places and private homes are bearing the brunt of communal outbursts of violence, reminiscent of the dark periods in India’s history. Institutions of law and order have abandoned their dharma to protect citizens. Institutions of justice and the fourth pillar of democracy, the media, have also failed us.”
“It is both futile and puerile to point to past instances of such violence in India’s history to justify the present violence in the country. Every act of sectarian violence is a blemish on Mahatma Gandhi’s India. Just in a matter of few years, India has slid rapidly from being a global showcase of a model of economic development through liberal democratic methods to a strife-ridden majoritarian state in economic despair,” he wrote while expressing grief.
“At a time when our economy is floundering, the impact of such social unrest will only exacerbate the economic slowdown. It is now well accepted that the scourge of India’s economy currently is the lack of new investment by the private sector. Investors, industrialists and entrepreneurs are unwilling to undertake new projects and have lost their risk appetite. Social disruptions and communal tensions only compound their fears and risk aversion. Social harmony, the bedrock of economic development, is now under peril,” he wrote.
“Adding to these self-inflicted woes is the real threat of the COVID-19 epidemic that has originated in China. It is still unclear how far this global health hazard will spread and impact the world. But it is very clear that we should be fully prepared and ready to counter it. A health epidemic is one of the most dangerous threats that a nation can face.”
“Regardless of whether this virus will enter our shores on a large scale or not, it is now evident that the economic impact of COVID-19 will be very big,” Manmohan Singh warns about the outbreak.
“It is my belief that the government must quickly embark on a three-point plan. First, it should focus all energies and efforts on containing the COVID-19 threat and prepare adequately. Two, it should withdraw or amend the Citizenship Act, end the toxic social climate and foster national unity. Three, it should put together a detailed and meticulous fiscal stimulus plan to boost consumption demand and revive the economy,” Dr. Manmohan Singh wrote.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi must convince the nation, not merely through words but by deeds, that he is cognisant of the dangers we face and reassure the nation that he can help us tide over this as smoothly as we can. He must immediately provide details of the contingency plan for the threat of the COVID-19 scare.”
“It is time to confront the harsh reality of the grave risks we face as a nation and address them squarely and sufficiently,” Former PM Manmohan Singh concluded.