A Silent Revolution Took Place, While We Were Silent…

By Rachit Seth


I have great respect for India’s leading intellectuals like Pratap Bhanu Mehta. I never miss to read his columns and his opinion. Immensely enjoyed his penultimate column – ‘The new Galapagos’ (Published in Indian Express on July, 4, 2013 ) which I found as the perfect commentary on the Socio-Political of Lutyens Delhi


Today, I am attempting the difficult task of replying to an intellectual par excellence- Pratap Bhanu Mehta, but since I have the conviction – like David had in taking on Goliath, I will do it.

Opinions and views change. Facts remain constant. Opinions can be subjectified; Facts are Indisputable and cannot be objectified to the least. Mr. Mehta in his Column ‘While we were silent’ (Published in Indian Express on July, 11, 2013) lambasts the UPA Government with rhetorical flourish of repeated invocations of “their misdeeds”


Mr. Mehta begins with the Road and Highways

“They slowed down road construction. They left highways half built. We did not speak out. After all, the only reason the NDA could have started the golden quadrilateral is because they wanted to spread Hindutva.”

Facts – 

  1. The much touted Golden Quadrilateral Highways Project of the NDA Government was to be completed by December 2004 (RefLink), However It was only 23% Complete (Ref Link) by April, 2003 And Only 37% -2198kms out of 5846kms was completed when the Planning Commission did a mid-term appraisal of the 10th Plan in September, 2004 (Ref Link)
  2. 100 % of Golden Quadrilateral completed by UPA –97% during UPA-1 itself (Ref Link)
  3. 100 % of Phase II of NHDP completed in 2009 (Ref Link)
  4. NHDP Phase-III involves four-laning of 12,109 km of national highways, having high density corridor connecting state capitals, important tourist places, economically important areas, etc.
  5. 52 % of Phase III of NHDP completed as on Feb 2013 (Ref Link)
  6. If the Congress, was destroying the Nation as alleged by Mr. Mehta, India wouldn’t have 3.34 million kilometers of road network, which is the second largest in the world.
  7. Also, More than 2 lakh kilometers of new roads have been added to the rural road network in 9 years – under UPA
  8. It must however, be agreed that Mr. Mehta’s is damn right in pointing out that the speed of road construction in this country has slowed down due to various bottlenecks and this has a lot of scope for improvement.

Next, Mr. Mehta goes to the Airline Sector – “They let Air India suck more money from taxpayers. They let bad regulation destroy the private sector. They let crony banking sustain bad bets.”

Facts –

  1. During NDA (1999-2000) Almost 55-% to 60% equity in  Air India was about to be sold to a Private player, Disinvestment of Air India was cleared, despite lack of transparency
  2. Although it might have made some sense, if done in a transparent manner, Arun Shourie- the then disinvestment minister did burn his fingers then.
  3. Fact is Air India is a loss making enterprise – primarily because of mismanagement and freebies, so much so that even in 2012, Former Civil Aviation Minister- Rajiv Pratap Rudy  does not have any solution. The BJP’s view point is “The government has to decide whether the airline should be privatised, corporatised or completely shut down. Only the government is best placed to take a call on that” (Ref Link)
  4. Fact is – Currently India is the 9th largest aviation market handling 121 million domestic and 41 million international passengers. (Ref Link)
  5. Fact is – India would be the third largest aviation market by 2020
  6. The single most important policy decision which may transform the civil aviation sector in India has been, to allow 49% FDI by the foreign carriers in domestic airlines, and this has been taken by UPA

Mr. Mehta’s attack on UPA goes on – “Then they came for the power sector. They confused creation of mega capacities with actual generation. They had no rational pricing plans. They were arbitrary in the awarding of licences. They could not make up their mind whether they wanted to protect the environment or destroy it”


Power Sector Facts-

  1. A capacity of 54,964 MW has been added in the 11th Plan which has a significant contribution from the private sector and the government is making serious efforts to achieve a much higher capacity addition of about 88,000 MW in 12th plan
  2. UPA has launched Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reform Program (R-APDRP) to strengthen the Power Sector
  3. As a new initiative for improving the power distribution infrastructure in the country, UPA  approved setting up of a National Electricity Fund that would provide interest subsidy on loans disbursed to the Power Distribution Companies in the public as well as private sector
  4. While we were silent , More than 20,500 MW of power capacity was added in India during the year 2012-13 itself (Ref Link)
  5. While Mr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta was panning and damning the Indo-US Nuclear Deal (Ref Link) or writing Pro- Karat, Pro-Left articles in Outlook, UPA – under Dr. Manmohan Singh signed a string of Civil Nuclear Agreements with record number of countries – Russia France, Germany, UK, US, S. Korea, Mongolia, (Japan in Pipeline)
  6. The country raised its Civil Nuclear Capacity to almost 6000MW and in 2012 produced 32863 million units of electricity – the highest ever by Nuclear Energy

Now comes Education, on which Mr. Mehta  rather interestingly writes  “Then they came for education. They promulgated the RTE after 100 per cent enrolment. They expanded capacity, but cut-offs still rose. They regulated in such a way that there was a glut in some subjects and a shortage in others. They confused university buildings with building universities.”

    1. RTE was promulgated when the Gross Enrolment in Primary Education was 98.3% (2003-4)What was the Primary Enrolment Percentage in 2003-04? (When there was  No “destructive governance of UPA) , Mr. Mehta should answer this,please. UPA increased the numbers to 116% by 2010-11 itself.
    2. These are Planning Commission figures. In my humble opinion, RTE is a much needed reform and better implementation is needed. I still doubt any of the 90’s figures – But Mr. Mehta infact credits UPA with 100% Marks !
    3. Lets also examine the Gross Enrolment in Secondary Education, In 2003-04, when the Non “ destructive government” NDA was in power- the percentage was a measly 62.5%, which increased to as much 85.5% in 2010-11, when a “destructive” UPA is in power
    4. Expansion of Capacity in Higher Education should be a welcome step – UPA  Added 7 New IIM’S , 8 New IIT’S, 10 New NITs , 16 New Central Universities (Total 27 New), 2 NID’s, 2 SPA’s, 5 New National Law Universities and 10000 ITI’s  along with 6 New AIIMS
    5. Expansion of Capacity in Higher Education should be a welcome step – UPA  Added 7 New IIM’S , 8 New IIT’S, 10 New NITs , 16 New Central Universities (Total 27 New), 2 NID’s, 2 SPA’s, 5 New National Law Universities and 10000 ITI’s  along with 6 New AIIMS
    6. We do not need rocket science to ascertain that each of these institution will take its own good time to germinate into full fledged centre of learning, only after a decade of establishment .
    7. Co-relating Cut-Off’s with expansion of Education, in my humble opinion is bumpkin. It just makes interesting reading and nothing else.
    8. Gross enrolment in higher education, which was 12.3 % in 2006-07, has gone up to 18 % in 2011-12.

Then came Industry – and the wise Mr. Mehta tells us “Then they came for industry. They turned the clock back in every way and waged open war. Ensure that regulations become more complex and uncertain. Ensure that input costs rise. Ensure crummy infrastructure.”

The wise Mr. Mehta knows about Global Economic Crises in 2007-08. Mr. Mehta wrote such eulogies for the UPA-1 Government Here – in 2007 , So what myself, a  lesser mortal can understand is that he is unhappy with UPA-2 and not particularly with UPA-1 and its Economic management. Although one can argue that, in the paper presented above, Mr. Mehta was just talking about India and its part in Globalization and nothing else, not even the 8% growth rate which he witnessed during UPA-1 and the 40% increase in Government revenue in that year. Mind you, all this was being written in 2007, few months before the world started suffering its Global Economic Crises

Although in subsequent interviews and articles, Mr. Mehta has been rather harsh on the Congress party and its “mismanagement” after the crises got subdued.

But, let us examine how the UPA fared during the crises and after that. It is not a secret, that Government in its present context is facing similar crises of investment, specially with respect to Infrastructure, but No one dared to even speak a word against the then Finance Minister and his “voodoo” economics . All intellectuals only commented on his political management, but no one commented on his economic management. For this UPA has to take the blame.

Coming back to how, India fared during the crises, here are certain graphs, which tell us the India story in Investment and Infrastructure. Facts are sacred. They Speak. They do the talking


Courtesy –


Facts –

  1. The Delhi –Mumbai Industrial Corridor  Project being developed on either side of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor as a global manufacturing and investment destination, has made significant strides since inception.
  2. The average rate of economic growth during the self-declared India Shining period of the BJP was just 5.8% per year, as compared to 8.5% during the five year tenure of the Congress-led UPA government.
  3. The Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) has been set up to monitor investment proposals has taken a number of decisions since its inception to clear bottlenecks in investment- Anyone can go through it here – , Specially who remained “silent”

For Mr. Mehta, the only silver lining in this giant dark cloud called the UPA seems to be NREGA and Employment, but that also comes up with a sting in a tail , as he alludes

“Then they came for employment. There was some growth. But they decided that the only good employment is that which has the hand of the state. So the NREGA’s expansion was seen as a sign of success, not failure. By its own logic, if more people need the NREGA, the economy has failed.”

Since, Mr. Mehta has partially accepted that viability of NREGA only few facts are to be placed.

  1. 12.7 Crore Job cards were issued under NREGA until 8th April, 2013, Employing such a huge amount of people tells us that UPA is doing something right.
  2. Its noteworthy  that the average wages of NREGA workers have also been increased.
  1. Rural real wages increased 6.8 per cent per year in the Eleventh Plan (2007-08 to 2011-12) compared to an average 1.1. per cent per year in the previous decade, led largely by the government’s rural policies and initiatives.

But Employment, is not about NREGA, Its much more

One simple fact is here, and the wise Mr. Mehta can let me know its credibility.

The rate of unemployment declined from 8.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 6.6 per cent in 2009-10 reversing the trend observed in the earlier period when it had actually increased from 6.1 per cent in 1993-94 to 8.2 per cent in 2004-05.

As a humble submission, I must concede that UPA-2 faced greater Economic stress and could not deliver on growth because of a host of internal and external factors, which we all are familiar with, but that does not mean, that the Government did not take measures. They did pitch in for some long pending ones and passed it, despite losing allies on issues like FDI in retail

Now Mr. Mehta comes to Agriculture and remarks “Then they came for agriculture. First, they create artificial shortages through irrigation scams. Then they have a myopic policy for technology adoption. Then they decide India shall remain largely a wheat and rice economy; we will have shortages for everything else”

If UPA wanted to keep India a Rice and Wheat Economy – Why would it launch a Pulses Mission, Horticulture Mission, Seeds Mission, National Mission on Protein Supplements- For Dairy, Fisheries, Piggery , Livestock Insurance Schemes, Special Purpose Tea Fund , Rainfall insurance for coffee plantations etc and so on (The List is endless)

It is true that the thrust is on Rice and Wheat, but can we forget that UPA’s incentive to Rice Production in Eastern India –2nd Green Revolution has started yielding results?
Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal have increased their contribution to rice production

The total rice production in the 7 implementing states is estimated at 55.62 million tonnes out of the all-India production of 101.80 million tones

Food Security Act is a necessity in a country like India. The Supreme Court had appointed the Food Security Commissioners in 2003. 10 years have passed, and a lot of deliberation has taken place. The Bill was introduced in Parliament on 22nd December 2011. It was subsequently examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee. The NAC had also given its suggestions along with activists of various campaigns like – ‘Right to Food’. Every concerned ministry, including the Planning Commission deliberated for a long time on this Bill.

I do not understand the hypocrisy of people who are against this legal right, My simple question to them is If you enjoy subsidy on Petrol, Diesel, Education and Health (Medicines) – Why shouldn’t the poor enjoy that subsidy on Food ?

Agricultural credit is the driver of agricultural production. Under UPA, India will exceed the target of Rs 575,000crore fixed for 2012-13. Budget 2013-14 proposes to increase the target to Rs 700,000 crore

Mr. Mehta now talks about Institutions –“Then they came for institutions. They always had. This has been Congress DNA for four decades. They drew up a list of institutions that remained unscathed: Parliament, the IB, bureaucracy and you name it. They then went after those. They used institutions as instruments of their political design”

Since Parliament tops the list, let us remind ourselves about these quotable quotes
1. We will not let Government to pass any Bill: Sushma Swaraj –

2. “Each morning the [BJP] core parliamentary committee meets and takes a decision whether to allow Parliament to function that day” – Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha

3.  The month-long Winter session was a complete washout as a determined NDA and other Opposition parties said nothing less than a JPC probe

4. Don’t want debate, we want JPC, says BJP

5. Cash-for-Vote Scam: Amar Singh, 2 Ex-BJP MPs Jailed

6. Delhi Police Chargesheets BJP MP Argal In Cash-For-Vote Scam

Since, the primary responsibility of letting the Parliament function lies with the Government, Mr. Mehta conveniently forgets the obstructionist attitude of the Opposition in doing so. There can be hundreds of examples

I won’t go further than this, since the case for IB is still sub-judice, and it only adds to maligning of institutions if we start throwing mud on each one of them, although have enough substance to defend every institution including the CBI

Next comes Inflation, Mr. Mehta writes “Then they came for inflation. They confused a GDP target of 10 per cent with an inflation target. Inflation will come down next quarter, we were told. Then they tried to buy us out. Inflation: no problem”

In my limited economic knowledge, I know that Inflation is linked to many aspects- Consumption, Monetary Factors, and Heavy Doze of Stimulus etc.  It is not a secret that all these factors as well as some external factors like crude oil prices and subsequent deregulation of petrol and calibrated increase in diesel prices to link it with market prices etc are all responsible for Inflation.

Good news is that Inflation is now at a 30 month low, would Mr. Mehta still blame the UPA – for not talking? Wasn’t deregulation of petrol – a long pending reform? Didn’t the government pump in stimulus in 2008-09 and increased consumption?

Mr. Mehta, now talks about the Telecom Sector – in other words the 2G scam and Vodafone tax “Then they came for the telecom sector. They got greedy and milked it. They got arbitrary and retrospectively taxed it.”

While the latter, is indefensible, but the Government might have their genuine legal reasons to do it, The Former needs a wider debate

The whole mess of 2G was started by Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Govt. He bailed out private players in Telecom through a Govt package when his Govt was just a caretaker Govt (as elections were already declared)

  1. Vajpayee bails out private telecom operators
  2. Vajpayee knew of telecom scam, charges Surjeet –
  3. The whole ‘TELECOM TANGLE’ of the Vajpayee regime
  4. Then his ministers the royal highness Pramod Mahajan, Arun Shourie got involved and Vajpayee continued shuffling ministers to hide facts. Not even an FIR was lodged for the Money Pramod Mahajan made from Reliance
  5. Many Flip-Flops in Telecom During BJP Rule: Tata

  1. Former Union Minister Pramod Mahajan is in the dock as the Supreme Court issues notice on a petition seeking an investigation into an allegation of corruption against him.
  2. Also the PMO wanted to probe Pramod Mahajan for his role in Reliance Infocom shares
  3. Arun Shourie proceeded with the TARIFF SCAM::Governmental intervention reduces partly the TRAI-mandated tariff burden on the users of BSNL and MTNL landlines, but the two state-owned companies are being increasingly disabled by a policy regime designed to promote private operators.
  4. The ABC of Telecom Scams
  5. Chronology of telecom controversies
  6. CBI filed the first FIR in 2G scam on 21st October 2009 itself
  7.  On 15  December 2010, CBI raided Nira Radia’s office. Yes the same Nira Radia who has conversations taped with several Corporates, Politicians including BJP leaders and even Journalists like Barkha Dutt and Prabhu Chawla

a)      Nira Radia posing with Atal Bihari Vajpayee|

b) Nira Radia tapes with Several Corporate Honchos who had a ‘role’ in 2G Scam

c) The Nira Radia tapes and the BJP

d) L K Advani had inagurated the office of Nira Radia trust

e) Nira Radia’s proximity with Ananth Kumar is well known|

13. The CAG Report which was handed to the PAC with BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi as chairman Prime Minister offers to appear before PAC, opposition cries foul

14. On14 November 2010, A Raja (Cabinet Minister)resigned and subsequently sent to Tihar Jail

15. The Shivraj Committee report which was appointed to probe procedural lapses submitted its report–Probe-finds-procedur.html

16.  The Supreme Court then starts monitering the 2G investigation through a special court on day to day basis

17. Several Top Bureaucrats are in Tihar Jail- Siddhartha Behura( Ex Telecom Sec),Pradip Baijal ( Ex TRAI head),R K Chandolia( Sec of Raja)

18. Several Top Corporate Honchos are arrested- Vice chairman of a joint venture between a local firm and Abu Dhabi’s Etisalat, Shahid Usman Balwa (Swan Telecom),Sanjay Chandra (MD,Unitech Ltd ),Vinod Goenka( MD, DB Reality), Gautam Doshi (Group MD- Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group),Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara ( VP of ADAG)

19.  CBI Arrests Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief’s daughter K. Kanimozhi, Rajya Sabha MP–CBI-action-stains-DM.html

20. A JPC is already formed and now out with a report

“Then they came for financial stability. They produced a large deficit. They brought the current account deficit close to an unsustainable point. They nearly wrecked the banking sector. They created every macro-economic instability you can imagine”, writes Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Economics, like Politics is Transient. It is an accepted fact that current account deficit is high.

  1. In September, 2012, Government accepted the main recommendations of the Dr. Vijay Kelkar Committee.  A new fiscal consolidation path was announced. Red lines were drawn for the fiscal deficit at 4.8 percent of GDP in 2013-14.
  2. By June 2013, The Fiscal Deficit has come down to 4.9% as promised by  Finance Minister P Chidambaram (Ref Link)
  3. India’s fiscal deficit down at 4.89% on higher revenues (Ref Link)
  4. The worry is Current Account Deficit and the falling Rupee- The Prime Minister has recently called up a meeting with India Inc. in this respect too and there would be a way out of this transient crises –
  5. As far as Macro- Economics and its so called Mismanagement is concerned, a graph depicting strong fundamentals of India should be worth seeing


6.       Despite crises, India under UPA has shown an  exemplary rate of growth 

Despite Slowdown Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at factor cost, over the decade ending 2012-13 is 7.9 %


  1. Global economic growth slowed from 3.9 percent in 2011 to 3.2 percent in 2012.India is part of the global economy: our exports and imports amount to 43 percent of GDP and two-way external sector transactions have risen to 108 percent of GDP.
  2. Between 2004 and 2008, and again in 2009-10 and 2010-11, the growth rate was over 8 percent and, in fact, crossed 9 percent in four of those six years
  3. Agricultural GDP growth accelerated in the Eleventh Plan, to an average rate of 3.3. per cent, compared with 2.4 per cent in the Tenth Plan, and 2.5 per cent in the Ninth Plan.
  4. The percentage of the population below the poverty line declined at the rate of 1.5 percentage points (ppt) per year in the period 2004-05 to 2009-10, twice the rate at which it declined in the previous period 1993-94 to 2004-05

Subsequently, Mr. Mehta writes about a number of things specially Freedom and Citizens

Dear Mr. Mehta, the UPA does not have Law and Order under its control, It is a state subject, so as far sedition charges are concerned, please plead to the relevant state government in this regard. Whether it was Binayak Sen or Aseem Trivedi, or people arrested for posting “objectionable” content on the internet- State Governments and people who complain are responsible. Yes, UPA leaders have time and again said that provisions of 66A under the IT act needs to be examined and debated, but When do we have a Parliament debate?

As far Communal politics is concerned, It is again your opinion, In my Opinion- Mr. Digvijaya Singh is doing great service to the Nation- when he takes on internal threats like RSS, Bajrang Dal or SIMI. Do not forget that he was the first one to ban SIMI in his state. Do not forget that innocent Muslims have been arrested in various crimes by the Police, By the NIA and later found innocent. “Communal-Pot” is being boiled by people who have now started their Old Raga’s of Ayodhya- Ram Temple , Article 370, Uniform Civil Code and so on. “Communal –Pot” has been kept boiled by regional players who beat innocent Biharis in the streets of Bombay or by those who have no qualms in indulging in fake encounters and getting as many as a dozen of his state police officers jailed.

Secularism is not a  blackmail, Secularism is a value. Did  Gujarat 2002 took place during 9 years of UPA? Or any such incident? Gujarat 2002 has divided the polity so much so that a Party which had 23 allies has now only 2 Bigoted Partners ! Lets assume that the Congress party is Communal , then what about all the others – except SAD, BJP, SENA? Why are they not aligning with the BJP? And Why most are aligning with the Congress? Answer is simple. People of India are Liberal (like you) and Secular (by heart)

Citizens – Yes Last, and the Most Important aspect of this debate.

I would suggest you to kindly refresh your memory and let me know whether you know about these simple anti-corruption bills which UPA wants to pass – because all of them have been sent to Standing Committee, have gone through the requisite process just needs to be passed.

They are –

  1. The Lokpal and the Lokayukta Bill has been already introduced in the Parliament.
  2. The Public Procurement Bill, 2012 already introduced in Parliament
  3. Grievances Redressal Bill already introduced in Parliament
  4. Foreign Bribery Bill already introduced in Parliament
  5. Judicial Accountability Bill already introduced in Parliament
  6. The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, 2011 already introduced in Parliament
  7. The Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2011 already introduced in Parliament
  8. The Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Act passed by UPA
  9. The Electronic Delivery of Services Bill already introduced in Parliament


And Dear Mr. Mehta, Why no comment on UPA’s Historic Scheme to ensure better delivery and transparency – Direct Benefits Transfer through “Aadhaar” – UID, which  has just last month completed 1 million successful transactions- transferring benefits of more than Rs 5 Crore in its pilot form?

If these are the traits of a “destructive government”, then I would be happy to have one

Thank you, for your patience.

(The writer is an Architect based in New Delhi and his intellect is nowhere close to Mr. Mehta)

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