A WTF sequel to the earlier WTF

The wife is not just apolitical — she is completely detached, by choice. On the rare occasions, I try lecturing her on the need to be more involved, she quotes an old Tamil song of which the refrain goes: “Raman aandalum Ravanan aandalum” (Loosely translated, what difference whether Ram rules or Raavan?)

But even she has been in a bit of a state these past 24 hours, marking the passage of almost every hour with “God, what do you think he is going to do?” The “he” is Modi, and her numerous invocations have to do with the speech the PM was to make today, and what new headache scheme he was likely to announce.

Domestic tranquility has been restored. Modi spoke, and it was totally unexceptionable. Some stuff about the “new India” that is about to dawn in 2022. And a new scheme — Saubhagya. As follows:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched the ‘Saubhagya scheme’ to give free electricity connections to poor families in both cities and villages by 2018 with a total outlay of Rs. 16,320 crores, which will be funded largely by the centre. No poor person will have to pay for electricity connections, the Prime Minister has said.

Phew! The relief, when we were imagining all kinds of catastrophes. (“Do you think we should stock up on some essential stuff, just in case, you know, like Nov 8” — the wife, about four hours ago. When I told her to forget it, she went “You are saying that because you got a book and don’t want to get your arse up off that sofa and do some work”.)

Also, to quote Yogi Berra, deja vu all over again! I mean, anyone remembers the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana? Under this, Minister for Electricity Piyush Goyal told us, everyone will get electricity by 2017. There was even an app – Garv — to track progress; sign, they said, of how this government is so new-age. When The Hindu checked the app out against the actual situation on the ground, though, things weren’t quite so, um, bright.

So here we are, with an old scheme renamed and a goalpost shifted. Old wine, older bottle, but at least this once, a ‘momentous announcement’ passes without turning all our lives upside down and inside out, so there’s that.

This government is an extended experiment in disproving Abraham Lincoln’s caution that ‘you cannot fool all the people all the time’.

In case you are having difficulty telling all these schemes apart, here you go: an official list.


9 thoughts on “A WTF sequel to the earlier WTF

  1. IF there is one power scheme lutyen’s media should dig into and ask questions of: it is UDAY; this mis-‘adventure’ was red flagged by Raghuram Rajan, resulting in irreparable differences between him and Goyal. Meanwhile, announcements and schemes continue to falter in BJP ruled states only to be timely repackaged for the consumption of our mass media.
    Case in point: Maharashtra.
    – Housing for all (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/State-to-hand-over-housing-project-to-‘dubious’-developer/article14001343.ece).
    – Ease of business: (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/Not-easy-to-do-business-in-State-World-Bank/article16794602.ece)
    – Accounting and finance: ((http://cij.co.in/article.php?pageID=30))

  2. Don’t want to bother you while you are reading. But one last thought – This is not the big ‘pandering to the public for 2019’ that they are looking to target. I think it will probably be the Jan Dhan accounts. Just before the EC announces the schedule and the code of conduct, maybe a few thousand rupees into each account? All from the consolidated fund of India?
    Besides, this new electricity scheme is meant to fail. So that they can then cry out aloud how good their intentions are and how there are prats along the way who foil them with their dastardly conspiracies at every step. Take care and good night. See you on Wednesday 🙂

    • Possible, but unlikely — if only because Mother Hubbard’s is bare, and getting barer. Before 2019, there is a long time to go; every indication is that the financial tightness will get worse; more people and groups are clamouring for the handouts the govt recklessly promised, and there is still a crucial budget to come — crucial, because it is the last one before the next general election. Meaning, needs lots of sops. Add the proliferating NPAs to this little lot, and the chances of any such handouts is thin to none.

      • Well, to be frank, how does it matter to them whether Mother Hubbard is bare or getting barer, as long as their purpose is served? Financial tightness will not get worse, I think, even though I am sure you are right. You said that the next budget is crucial. Absolutely so. However, what I see happening is some provision for the scheme I proposed above. What does it take, after all? Maybe around 27,000 crores? Peanuts, compared to the electoral gains. I suspect it will also encompass some grandiose sounding but hollow scheme for the farmers as well. Maybe a moratorium on loan repayments until the next election. (Waivers would be impossible. Or else, they’d have tried that too).
        Why I am banking on this is because there is no other sop to offer. If they had offered employment in the current year, if the economy had been stable, then they would not have worried so much. There is too little time to set up anything. So more empty promises and “electoral bribes” are the only opportunities open to them.
        My gut feel is that they will create other kinds of diversions at the very end – polarization, emotive issues (and here is one hare-brained idea – killing one of their expendable own a la Reichstag Fire). fomenting a small war if possible and then crying out for patriotism to overrule opposition, tension of the terrorist kind that GWB promoted during his eight years and with the DefCon alert sort of situation. The possibilities, the possibilities. Someone ought to give me a job over there in the Sangh Circus to dream up more of these hahaha.

  3. I have been brooding about your last post about 2022 and now this. However, may I ask.. this is a little confusing to me. Is not Electricity (Power) on the state list? How will the Central government do this or even be allowed to do it? Moreover, who is going to be paid for providing electricity to the poor and how will it be paid? I might sound naive and ill-informed, but I am truly confused.

Comments are closed.