Atanu Dey On India's Development

Subramanian Swamy — excerpts from a March 5th interview

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I admire Dr Subramanian Swamy immensely. He is among a handful of people who have the guts, the intelligence, the commitment, the dedication and the stamina to fix what’s broken in India. I agree with him on all the substantive issues and where I do disagree, I am sure that there’s room for reasonable people to disagree on. I came across an interview of his on Hans India. Below some excerpts from it, for the record. (Image stolen from Hans India.)

The interviewer is K Ramachandra Murthy. (Please note that I have concatenated the excerpts from the original text. I have highlighted a few bits to indicate my notes. The last note is worth reading very carefully.)

What according to you will happen in UP?

If there are no Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), the Congress will stand in the fourth position. It will not get more than 25 seats. Probably Mulayam Singh’s party will be number one. Mulayam may also be close to the majority, he may not need any other party. But the consequence is that in the Presidential elections opposition President will be elected. Then I think mid-term poll will be held very soon for the Lok Sabha.

If there must be mid-term poll who do you think will gain – NDA or UPA?

NDA has to enthuse its party workers, particularly the BJP, their party workers are disheartened. In fact some people suggested that I should align with NDA and I have said I am ready. But I wonder what we shall say to people. Congress says development and secularism. Are we going to say the same thing? Then people may not give us much chance. I think we have a better chance if we say we will unite the country on the basis of Hindutva. Because today there is a feeling in Hindus that nobody is talking about them. So that sentiment needs to be captured. If there is an honest projection with a new set of faces, there may be a chance.

It means no Advani?

It means none of them. All those who were there in NDA government. People will not believe them.

It also means no Jaitley, Sushma and all the second rung leaders?

They can be the ministers. But to be the Prime Minister, it has to be a new face. It could be Modi. The problem with him is that, he will not get the majority and other allies will not come with him.

The killings of Muslims in Gujarat will also go against him. Do you think people in South India would vote for Modi?

(laughs) That’s what I mean. He can deliver Gujarat but whether he can deliver in other places, we don’t know. That’s why even BJP also is hesitating to project him as prime ministerial candidate May be. But they don’t have anyone else.

There are predictions that if the Congress gets about 100 seats in Uttar Pradesh, Rahul will take over from Manmohan Singh and if the Congress gets around 50 seats, Rahul will remain as an MP, Manmohan will continue. What do you have to say?

(Laughs) They say a lot of new changes are going to take place in the Congress. Sonia Gandhi has terminal cancer. Rahul is not a very intelligent person, neither is Sonia Gandhi. But Sonia has the backing of Vatican.

That’s what Morarji said of Rajiv Gandhi, that he is not burdened by brains.

Yes, that’s true. But he (Rajiv) was a nationalist.

From the day you appeared in the Rajya Sabha during Emergency and created a sensation and then disappeared, till now, you have fought many a battle. What do you think of yourself and your position in Indian history when you look back?

When I came into politics, I said India needs three or four things to be done. Number one – It must give up socialism. When I said this, everyone was shocked. Ultimately, as a Minister, I got it done. Then, I said that we must have good and strong relations with Israel, which I ensured and it has since happened.

The third thing was that we must improve relations with China, and we should not be so dependent on the Soviet Union. When Morarji Desai became Prime Minister I had got Kailash Manasa sarovar opened. The fourth thing is that India can become a united country if you have a renaissance in Hinduism. I would like people to think of themselves more as Hindus than as Brahmins, Kshatriyas, North Indians or South Indians. I think that in contemporary history maybe things will not be so kind to me, because journalists get influenced by business houses. But when history gets recorded, it will be something like the improvement of the image of Sardar Patel – when he was alive nobody gave him much credit.

But Sardar Patel was considered the modern Bismark of India?

Yes, but those are after words. During his time nobody said so, as people were afraid that it might displease Jawaharlal Nehru.

Nehru-Gandhi dynasty minus Rajiv?

(Laughs) That’s a big minus. I did not know Jawaharlal Nehru. But as a historian, I think he was a bad Prime Minister. But to Indira Gandhi I was opposed because she was a socialist, pro-Soviet Union and then the Emergency. So, I had every reason to oppose her, and Sonia Gandhi naturally you know she had done a lot of harm to our country.

Now, can I say that your target is Sonia Gandhi?

She is the root cause of all problems. People blame Manmohan Singh, but it is Sonia Gandhi who prevented him from stopping Raja. And she got the biggest share of the bribe amount – of about Rs 36,000 crore.

What do you think about Anna Hazare’s movement or his fight against corruption?

Anna Hazare said corruption will be eliminated only if Jan Lokpal Bill is passed. I did not agree with that.

Do you think Jan Lok pal will come?

No, How can congress commit suicide?

You were close to PV Narasimha Rao. Do you think that he was treated properly by the Congress? Actually PV once told me that he had asked the ministers to do whatever Sonia’s secretary (George) asks them to… But what went wrong? Why had they become enemies?

He should have got Bharatratna for what he did. The economic reforms blue print was prepared by me and he gave political support. Manmohan Singh only implemented it.[1] But everybody gives Manmohan Singh the credit. I think Sonia Gandhi was unhappy with PV because he wouldn’t give up party presidentship for her. She wanted him to remain as Prime Minister and give her the party presidentship. He told her that it has been the Congress tradition to have the Party President as the Prime Minister.

But journalists also say that the Father of Indian economic reforms is Manmohan Singh.[2]

That’s wrong. If he could do all those big economic reforms then as a Finance Minister, what stops him now? So obviously it means that they have been Narasimha Rao’s reforms.

What do you expect the people of India to do now?

We are a very young population with over 70 percent below the age of 35. People have to take more risks. I want the people not to think of money as the final goal. You can’t sacrifice your whole life for making money. The desire for more money is the reason for increased corruption.[3] I will say don’t imitate the West. Learn from our tradition and have the correct view of the history. Don’t learn the British version of our history. I want people to take interest in politics…clean it up…don’t complain!

Where will India be 20 years from now?

India will overtake China in ten years of time.[4] China is going to have very big financial crisis. We will have a budgetary crisis but we are a democratic country so we can improve ourselves. When there is food crisis we had Green Revolution and when there was foreign exchange crisis we had economic reforms and so when we have a budgetary crisis we will have a more efficient government.

NOTES:

[1] Dr Manmohan Singh takes credit for reforms. That is one blatant example of how despicably dishonest Dr Singh is.

[2] Actually Indian journalists do get a lot of things wrong. They are trapped in an echo chamber and they just repeat what they have heard. Critical evaluation of evidence and investigative journalism is not very common among them.

[3] I disagree with Dr Swamy. It is not the desire for money that is the root of corruption. Desire for money (which is a proxy for desire for material goods and for power) is not unnatural or necessarily bad. It’s a mistake to confuse the desire for material gain with unethical and immoral behavior. Corruption is unethical and immoral, and in many cases it is also illegal. The root cause of public corruption is economic control without accountability and transparency.

[4] Actually India overtaking China in 10 years is plainly impossible. So what Dr Swamy says is nonsense. As I always say, a lot of nonsense can be avoided if you just do the arithmetic. Here’s a bit of arithmetic.

Today China’s economy is four times India’s economy. If China continues to grow at 10 percent per year (which it has been doing for the last few decades), in 7 years its economy will be double its current size — or eight times the size of India today. In 10 years, China’s economy will be 10.4 times India’s current economy.

Therefore to overtake China in 10 year’s time, India’s economy will have to expand to say 10.5 times it current size. What’s that rate of growth? That’s a growth rate of over 25 percent per year for 10 years!

The word impossible does not even come close to describing that growth rate. India at the best of times does around 10 percent per year growth rate. The Nehru rate of growth was around 3 percent — and the UPA is doing its best to drag India back to the Nehru rate of growth with its socialist policies.

At 7 percent growth rate, in 10 years India’s economy will be double its current size. China would have increased the lead it has over India. In 10 years, India will continue to be a Third world impoverished nation, and China will be in a different league entirely. You have a fairly large number of Indian voter to thank for that — they vote the Congress & the UPA & and the Nehru-Gandhi-Maino family to bring the country to ruin.

  • RC

    The thinking that pursuit of material wealth is somehow negative is so pervasive in India it will take a long time before people even consider the argument profit is charity (post by Dipinder Sekhon on Shantanu Bhagwat’s blog)

    The whole Gandhian austerity did not help in this. Austerity by rich and well to do people in my view condemns the poor in the society to perpetual poverty.

  • vikram

    Now Atanu, be fair and equal in judging people. Had it been one of those congees or commies to declare materialism to be root of corruption, you would have taken them to task, holding such thinking responsible for Nehru growth rate and declare them peddlers of poverty. But in case of Swamy you are happy to ‘respectfully’ disagree and move on. I see bias.

  • Lavanya

    actually, I think what SS says when he means India will overtake China is more because of China’s debacle than India’s growth – anything can happen, all it takes is a small accident.

  • Early bird

    All said and done. let’s keep all our good & evil thoughts & differences aside. Subramanian Swamy has the required stuff. If Past 64 years we have tried many, Currently Let us give this gentleman a chance, let us see what he can do with this thank less masses of India in next 3 to 5 years under him. Let us Elect him as our Next Prime Minister. You may like him or hate him, but you cannot ignore him was said by some one else recently & I agree by it & to be tested by the Nation of INDIA. He has certain unique, viable ideas. Only thing is he should see that he does not upset none of the section of the people or societies within the country, after all most are all of Indian origin by birth & not by Registration. The right to worship is an individual private issue & should not be negotiable. Or enforced against any ones will, this will make Mr. Swamy a total WINNER. Perhaps he will be known as the CITIZEN OF THE WORLD. Jai Hind

  • Muthu

    On your Note 4, your condescension on Swamy is unwarranted! That man does know his arithmetic quite well.. Here is my take; pls hear out fully…

    1. China is 2.5x India’s GDP on PPP terms. Refer link below.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)

    2. The way Chinese currency is manipulated today may not be sustainable over the next 10 years. Hence, a sharper appreciation is likely, which means on PPP terms, the GDP on global PPP terms may weaken compared to India, whose currency is reasonably free-float.

    3. Swamy is also predicting 1 or 2 years of serious implosion in China because of a potential time bomb in their financial sector. So, if one assumes that China has one or two years of 3% degrowth and thereafter grows at 7%, compared to a 10% growth rate by India over the next 10 years, the GDP numbers will be comparable; add currency appreciation effects and in PPP terms, India CAN overtake China..

    Agreed there are lots of ifs and buts! But then, it is his call that there is an implosion waiting!

  • Jagadees

    I also disagree with this comparison nonsense between India and China.

    But i can see loads of critical evaluation of evidence and investigation in your assumptions (pun intended):
    1. If China continues to grow at 10 percent per year (which it has been doing for the last few decades), in 7 years its economy will be double its current size — or eight times the size of India today.
    2. In 10 years, China’s economy will be 10.4 times India’s current economy.

    For this to happen i guess they should annex whole of asia and start building roads, rails and airports etc in lightening speed as they do now.
    Please read Nasim Taleb’s “Black Swan of Cairo” to get better perspective.

  • Mallikarjuna

    Dr Swamy comes as a whiff of fresh air, amidst all the lawyers we have today.
    He got the courts to deliver some justice, while other lawyers (Chidam, Salman, Kapil, ……) are busy twisting & spinning words.

    Courts have become more of talking chamber, than “Go-to” place to get justice.

    What a pity, we cannot get folks like Dr Swamy & Arun Shourie to lead & guider the policies of our country.

    Might be India, as a country has descended into depths, like the leaders we have.

  • RC

    Anyone who claims that India can overtake China in 10 years is either an Indian politician or someone who has never set a foot in China.

    I can understand why Dr Subramaniam Swamy made that claim. He was just being optimistic. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact you want your leaders to be optimistic.

  • http://janamejayan.wordpress.com janamejayan

    Dear Atanu Dey,

    I published this article from http://www.deeshaa.org/2012/03/09/subramanian-swamy-excerpts-from-a-march-5th-interview/ and did acknowledge it as the source. If you still want me to remove it please let me know and I would be happy to do so.

  • allwyn

    Atanu

    pls explain the china part – You both are economists and good one at that then how can there be so entirely different views on china’s growth(i agree with you)?? but Why is swamy being so foolish then, he doesn’t know math you think?

    and if NDA wants to come to power shouldn’t their agenda be reforms instead of hindutva and then next point swamy only says give up socialism!!

  • Early bird

    Alwyn Saab,
    Mr. Swamy will know & will adjust ones he sits on the hot Chair. He won’t be foolish to tell the citizens what to do in their bed rooms, he will be wiser by the day. No need to panic. He is artound 74, he is a wise person. Yes he is very much pro the only Super power today & that is a good sign Sir. He is not confused keeping his legs on 2 horses & call him self Non Alligned.

  • SS

    I dont think he means India’s GDP will overtake China’s GDP in 10 yrs,its obvious to anyone thats not possible.He means that India’s growth rate and profile will become what China is today.

    After studying public policy making and a bit of economics,I agree with his contention(not in this interview thoh) that good policies and cleanup of India will ‘transform India within 10 yrs.Look at Bihar under Nitish Kumar has emerged(not size wise yet) within 5 years and UP is likely to fade away under SP…It doesnt take too long for good to be reversed and good policies to reverse a bad situation.

    I do however,disagree with globalisation,unless someone can assure me that there tax havens,wall street & Fed are all not part of some global conspiracy to a new world order,wittingly or unwittingly.

  • allwyn

    Early Bird

    I respect and admire Dr.Swamy immensely. I have been following him ever since the 2G spectrum case and I’ve seen plenty of his YouTube videos too I have no doubt is capability to lead India. All I’m saying is that the voters don’t want to mix religion and politics hence his election manifesto should be around reforms and not hindutva. We have seen in the past it has not worked.

  • Early bird

    Mr. Alwyn You are a gentleman & a Scholar. I assure you Mr. Swamy knows it well too. You have candidly pointed it out, which is your right. He will put his ideas & efforts where his mouth is, not else where. He is too good, one must be able to read between lines with his write ups, he is a born genius. No Politician today weighs 50% of his capacity I feel. When he knows the truth he is just Assertive. No mincing words. I think India needed a leader of that type since long. Any way better late than never.

  • Ganesh

    Subramanian Swamy is quite a character. His home was situated in the same street as mine a few years back. While there is no one like him in the indian political arena in taking the congressmen to task, he is also a bit of a lunatic. He regularly exaggerates, and sometimes I think he supports a particular stand just because he favoured it in the past. For eg: His stance in supporting the Sri Lankan government for taking on the LTTE. While LTTE maybe a terrorist organisation, the war crimes committed by Sri Lanka are just unforgivable – and how does he defend his stance? by asking the Indian Govt to award the sri lankan president a Bharat Ratna award.

    • abhi

      have u heard the word collateral damage…dont u know in was there are innocent killed..name me one war that innocent werent killed.????

  • Krish

    A lot of what Dr Swamy says makes sense. But 10 years is too short a time for Indian economy to overtake China’s.May be in 50 years it may be possible.China’s growth is likely to slow down substantially in next five years but India’s is likely to go up.
    Dr Swamy claims authorship of the reforms of 1991. Does he have any proof in support, may be an acknowledgement in PV Narsimha Rao’s autobiography?

    • abhi

      the way manmohan has brought economic downfall…can u beliv that he brought economic reform….

  • allwyn

    http://www.janataparty.org.in/members/

    Swamy started online membership for his janata party. here is what his primary membership oath or whatever it is says :

    “I subscribe to the values and ideals set before the country by Mahatma Gandhi, and dedicate myself to the task of building up a democratic, secular and socialist state in India ,drawing inspiration from India’s rich heritage and the noble traditions of the struggle for national independence;”

    and here’s for the active members :

    I am of the age 18 years or over,

    I am a habitual wearer of hand-spun and hand-woven khadi

    I abstain from alcoholic drinks and intoxicant drugs,

    I do not observe or recognize untouchability in any shape or form,

    I am a believer in communal unity and have respect for the faiths of others,

    I undertake to have minimum training and to perform the minimum task ,as laid down from time to time by the National Executive

    this is scary shit now – he wants socialism and has problems with drinking

  • Allwyn Mascarenhas

    Sanjeev Sabhlok : This man Swamy is taking credit for what IMF forced down India’s throat. Neither Swamy nor N.Rao (nor of course MMS) are in any way responsible for India’s 1991 reforms. It was IMF. Yes, N.Rao allowed these things to happen.