Demonetisation–The Unanswered Question

Time flies.

It has been one year since that fateful day last year, when prime minister Narendra Modi, suddenly announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, would be useless, in a matter of few hours.

Modi was lauded for this “brave” decision. In a country, where politicians do not like to take decisions, here was one politician who had decided to make one.

The trouble is that nobody told us on what basis had the decision been taken. Every decision, has consequences, especially a decision as disruptive as demonetisation turned out to be. And given this, there has to be some logic behind why the decision was made in the first place.

It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that if 86.4 per cent of the currency in circulation is made useless overnight, in a country where 80-98 per cent of the transactions happen in cash (depending on which estimate you would like to believe), the buying and selling of things is bound to crash. When economic transactions crash, it leads to a slowdown of the overall economy, which is precisely what happened in India.

As Jean Drèze writes in Sense and Solidarity—Jholawala Economics for Everyone: “For instance, a study by Nidhi Aggarwal and Sudha Narayanan… shows that mandi arrivals of non-perishable agricultural commodities crashed across the board within a week of demonetisation. The declines range from 23 per cent for cotton to 87 per cent for soybean.”

This happened because agricultural markets in India operated in cash and with no cash around, the farmers were in no position to sell what they had produced. The onion market in Lasalgaon (near Nashik, and India’s largest onion market) continues to face this problem, a year later.

Many informal markets crashed in the aftermath of demonetisation and haven’t been able to revive again. The growth of the non-government part of the economy, which forms close to 90 per cent of the economy, for the period April to June 2017, fell to a little over 4 per cent, in the aftermath of demonetisation.

On top of that the total amount of deposits with banks increased dramatically and because of that the interest rates crashed. This hurt many people (especially senior citizens) who depend on interest from deposits for their survival. It also hurt those who use fixed deposits to save for the long-term. At the same time, the fall in interest rates did not lead to an increase in bank lending. In fact, bank lending in the aftermath of demonetisation has crashed.

The question that remains is on what basis was the decision to demonetise taken? Was there any logic to it or was it just taken on a whim? The closest answer to this has come from Arjun Meghwal, a junior minister in the Modi government. He told the Lok Sabha in February 2017: “RBI held a meeting of its Central Board on November 8, 2016. The agenda of the meeting, inter-alia, included the item: “Memorandum on existing banknotes in the denomination of Rs500 and Rs1000 -Legal Tender Status.””

Meghwal passed the buck on to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). A Right to Information query was filed with the RBI by a correspondent of the Press Trust of India (PTI). In the query, the central bank was asked to provide the minutes of the meeting in which the decision to demonetise Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes was taken. Over and above this, it was also asked to share its correspondence with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Finance Ministry, on the issue of demonetisation.

The RBI replied: “The information sought in the query carries sensitive background information including opinions, data, studies/ surveys etc. made prior to the completion of the process of withdrawal of legal tender character of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes… Disclosure of such information would detriment economic interest of the country from the viewpoint of the objectives sought to be achieved by such decision.”

Basically, the RBI refused to answer the RTI query. And a year later, we still don’t know on what basis was demonetisation carried out.

The column originally appeared in the Bangalore Mirror on November 8, 2017.

Advertisements

Success or Just One Thing After Another?

Chess_players
Last week I finished reading an excellent book My Adventures with Satayjit Ray—The Making of Shatranj ke Khiladi. The book has been written by Suresh Jindal, who also produced Shatranj ke Khiladi (The Chess Players). Shatranj ke Khiladi was the only movie that Ray made in Hindi/Urdu and was based on a short story of the same name written by the great writer, Premchand.

Dear Reader, before you start wondering as to why am I talking about a film and a book based upon it, let me get to the point. Among other actors, the film also starred Richard Attenborough, who played the character of General Outram.

Attenborough went on to direct the movie Gandhi. Jindal, who had produced Shatranj ke Khiladi, also happened to be one of the producers of Gandhi. While, Jindal makes no explicit mention of how he got around to producing Gandhi, in this book, it is safe to assume that he and Attenborough got acquainted during the shooting of Shatranj ke Khiladi and then one thing led to another.

Many books are written on what makes people and projects successful. A lot of academic research is carried out as well. But very little of it concentrates on the chance part of it. Allow me to elaborate.

Jindal wasn’t an established Hindi film producer. He had produced one slightly offbeat movie Rajnigandha, which had become the sleeper hit of 1974. After this, he got the idea of making a movie with the great man Ray.

He approached Ray through his friend Tinnu Anand, who had been Ray’s assistant for five years. “”Tinnu, I have a strong feeling that Manik-da [as people close to Ray called him] will do a film in Hindi soon,” Jindal writes in the book. Anand, agreed. They approached Ray. And he agreed to direct a film, telling them: “Actually… I have been thinking of doing a film in Hindi.”

Now this wasn’t the first time that Ray had been approached to make a film in Hindi. Legendary Hindi film producers like Raj Kapoor, SS Vasan and Tarachand Barjatya, had approached Ray in the past to make a Hindi movie for them and he had refused.

Nevertheless, he said yes, to a rookie Hindi film producer, who had just produced one film before Shatranj ke Khiladi. If Ray hadn’t agreed, the film wouldn’t have got made. And if the film wouldn’t have got made, Jindal and Attenborough wouldn’t have met and possibly Gandhi wouldn’t have been made either.

Of course, there is another side to it. While, Attenborough agreed to act in Shatranj ke Khiladi, he also happened to want to make a movie on Gandhi. And he ended up meeting Jindal. What do they say about, being at the right place at the right time?

Gandhi was nominated for Oscars (the Academy Awards) in 11 categories and won eight of them, including best director, best film and best actor. It also had the rare instance of an Indian winning an Oscar (Bhanu Athaiya shared the Oscar for best costume design).

The larger point here is that a lot of success in life is about people meeting by chance and then going on to do great things. The trouble is that this aspect doesn’t get talked about at all, when analysing the reasons behind the success of a person or a project or a company or simply even an idea.

While, we do talk a lot about hard-work and planning and everything else, which are also necessary for success, we don’t like to talk about chance. And the reason for that is very simple. The moment we start mixing chance with success, it dilutes all the hard work and the planning that has gone behind the success. And that is why we don’t like talking about it.

The column was originally published on November 1, 2017.

Will a Keynesian Road Building Programme Put India On the Growth Path?

road

When in trouble, politicians and countries go back to the British economist John Maynard Keynes. Keynes in his magnum opus The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money suggested that the way out of a low-growth or recessionary economic environment was for someone to spend more. In such a situation, citizens and businesses were not willing to spend more, given the state of the economy. So, the only way out of this situation was for the government to spend more on public works and other programmes.

The Indian government has decided to do just that. On October 24, 2017, the finance minister Arun Jaitley, announced a Rs 6.92 trillion ($107 billion assuming one dollar equals Rs 64.7) road building programme for 83,677 km of roads, over the next five years.

Out of this, the Bharatmala Pariyojana is to be implemented with Rs 5.35 trillion being spent on it for building 34,800 kilometre of roads. Economist Mihir Swarup Sharma writes in a column on NDTV: “Bharat Mala” is basically a reworked and updated form of the National Highways Development Programme that is almost two decades old.” The programme has been in the works for a while now. In fact, in an answer to a question raised in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian Parliament, the government had said: “The Public Investment Board has cleared the proposal for BHARATMALA Pariyojana Phase-I in its meeting held on 16 June 2017.”

In fact, there is nothing new about this. The Narendra Modi government, in the past, has shown a tendency to portray old schemes as new ones.

Let’s leave that aside and concentrate on how this programme will be implemented. The government said that substantial delegation of powers has been provided to the National Highways Authority of India and other authorities and government departments.

Over and above the Bharatmala Pariyojana, roads of length 48,877 km will be built under other current with an outlay of Rs .57 lakhs crores.

This road building should help a significant portion of the one million youth entering the Indian workforce every month, find jobs. A large portion of this workforce is unskilled and semi-skilled and road building projects will help cater to this completive advantage of access to cheap labour, that India has. Just the Bharatmala Pariyojana is expected to create 14.2 crores mandays of jobs, according to the government.

The government plans to raise finance for these road projects through a variety of measures. For the Bharatmala Pariyojana, Rs 2.09 trillion will be raised as debt from the financial market. Rs 1.06 trillion will be mobilised as private investments through the public private partnership. The remaining Rs 2.2 trillion will be provided out of accruals to the central road fund, toll collections of National Highways Authority, etc.

For the other road projects Rs 0.97 trillion will come from the central road fund and Rs 0.59 million will come from the annual budget expenditures of the government in the years to come.

Hence, on paper this sounds like a fool proof idea. The government will build roads. It will employ many people in the process and pay them. This income when spent will spur the businesses as well as the economy and India will grow at a fast-economic growth rate. QED.

Only, if things were as simple as that.

The government plans to build a total of 83,677 km of roads over five years. This implies building 16,735.4 km of roads on an average in each of the five years. Is that possible? Let’s look at the record for the last three years.

In 2014-2015, the government built 4,410 km of roads in total. In 2015-2016, this jumped to 6,061 km in total. In 2016-2017 (up to December 2016), the government had built 4,699 km of roads. This data is from the annual report of the ministry of road transport and highways. A report in The Hindustan Times suggests that in 2016-2017, the government built 8,200 km of roads. If the government has to achieve the road building target that it has set for itself over the next five years, it has to more than double the speed at which built roads in the last financial year. And then maintain it for five years. This, seems like a tall order.

Over and above this, acquiring land to build roads will not be an easy task. Nitin Gadkari, the minister of Road Transport and Highways told the Press Trust of India in an interview that even though land acquisition is “tough and complicated“, “it is not a problem for the ministry as farmers and others were making a beeline to offer their land for the highway projects after enhanced compensation.”

But this is not going to anywhere as easy as the minister made it sound. Take the case of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor which was announced almost a decade back. While work has started on it, most of the corridor is still plagued by land acquisition issues.

To conclude, building roads to drive economic growth is a very old idea. In fact, it was put in action even before Keynes wrote about it in an indirect sort of way in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.

While Keynes was expounding on his theory, it was al­ready being practiced by Adolf Hitler, who had deployed 100,000 workers for the construction of the Autobahn, a nationally coor­dinated motorway system in Germany which was supposed to have no speed limits.

Hitler first came to power in 1933. By 1936, the German economy was chugging along nicely, having recovered from a devastating slump and unemployment. Italy and Japan had also followed a similar strategy.

How well will things work out in the Indian context? It will all depend on how well the government is able to execute the building of roads. The good bit is that Nitin Gadkari, one of the better performing ministers in the Modi government, is in charge. The bad part is that good execution is not something India is known for.

The column originally appeared on BBC.com on October 28, 2017.

जल्द आ रहा है — पंडित दीन दयाल उपाध्याय बैंक बचाओ सेस

हमारे एक मित्र हैं, जो किन्ही कारणों से सोशल मीडिया से ज़रा बच कर रहते हैं. उनके बचपन और जवानी के दिन थोड़े रंगीन थे. एक आधी गर्ल फ्रेंड ज़्यादा बना ली. अब शादी शुदा हैं. और बीवी से थोड़ा ज़्यादा ही प्रेम करते हैं, या ये कहिये के डरते हैं, या फिर ये कहिये के अब भी खुद पर भरोसा नहीं, कभी कोई पुराणी यादाश फिर से ताज़ा हो जाये, तो फिर क्या करेंगे?

खैर इन बातों को रहने दीजिये.आज सुबह सुबह उन्होंने पुछा, के आज PDDU के बारे में तुमने कुछ नहीं लिखा? मैंने कहां, शाम तक रुकिए सरकार ज़रूर मौका देगी. और कुछ ऐसा ही हुआ. दोपहर को 4-4.30 जब मैं बहुत ही मीठी सी नींद सो रहा था, वित्त मंत्री अरुण भाई जेटली ने Rs 2,11,000 करोड़ के बैंक recapitalisation प्लान की घोषणा की.

कोई भी धंदा करने के लिए अपना पैसा लगता है. इस पैसे को कैपिटल कहते हैं. जब धंदे में नुकसान होता है, तब कैपिटल जो है वो कम होता जाता है. अगर नुक्सान बरकरार रहे, तो एक समय के बाद ये स्थिति आ जाती है के धंदा कम करना पड़ता है, या फिर बंद भी.

अगर इस परिस्थिति को बदलना हो तो धंदे में नया पैसा यानि की नया कैपिटल लगाना पडता है. भारत सरकार 21 बैंकों की मालिक है. इन बैंकों की हालत ख़राब है. आज सरकार ने ये निर्णय लिया के इन बैंकों में और पैसा डाला जाए, की वो ठीक से धंदा कर सके.

प्रॉब्लम ये है, के इन में से काफी बैंक ऐसे है, जो इतना ज़्यादा नुकसान पहले ही उठा चुके हैं, के इनको बैंकिंग के धंधे में होना ही नहीं चाहिए.

और इस से बड़ी बात इतना ज़्यादा पैसा, Rs 2,11,000 करोड़, आएगा कहाँ से? सरकार के पास तो अपना पैसा कुछ होता नहीं। वो ये पैसा आपसे और मुझसे लेंगी. इस लिए एक नया टैक्स, पंडित दीन दयाल उपाध्याय बैंक बचाओ सेस, आना तय है. बस इंतज़ार कीजिये. क्योंकि, जैसा के जावेद अख्तर साहब कह गए हैं, इंतज़ार मोहब्बत का नसीब है.

एक बात और याद दिला दूँ, “there is no free lunch in economics”. किसी न किसी को तो भरपाई करनी पडती है. इस केस में भरपाई करेंगे मैं और आप, ताकि सरकारी दामाद लोगों की नौकरियां बरकरार रहे.

Postscript:

मित्र Manjul का कहना है, के हमारे देश में लोगों को satire समझ नहीं आता, इसलिए मेरी पिटाई जल्द ही होने वाले ही.

कुछ लोगों ने ये पुछा के मैं केवल ;पंडित दीन दयाल उपाध्याय का नाम क्यों लेता हूँ. बार बार उनका ही मज़ाक क्यों उडाता हूँ?

तो उनको मैं ये कहना चाहता हूँ, के पंडित जी का मज़ाक बिलकुल भी नहीं उड़ा रहा हूँ. ये कटाक्ष उन लोगों पर है, जो उनका नाम हर जगह घुसाने में लगे हुए हैं.

ये कटाक्ष उन लोगों पर भी है, जिनको पंडित जी से पहले, केवल तीन और नाम सूझते थे, जवाहर, इंदिरा और राजीव.

बहुत बड़ा देश है हमारा और बहुत सारे नामचीन लोग हुए हैं. थोड़ा उनके नामों का भी इस्तेमाल हो? जैसे के महिंद्रा सिंह धोनी रांची एयरपोर्ट? क्या ख्याल है?

Mr Adhia, GST Needs “Complete Overhauling”, “Some Rejig” Just Won’t Help

Yscissor

Yesterday evening, the social media was abuzz with a statement that Hasmukh Adhia, the revenue secretary, had given in an interview to the Press Trust of India (PTI) regarding the Goods and Services Tax (GST). As he said: “There is a complete overhauling that is required… it is possible that some items in the same chapter are divided.”

The website of The Hindu still has this report. You can also read it on Scroll.in.
This statement was later changed to: “There is need for some rejig in rates… it is possible that some items in the same chapter are divided.” The interview on the PTI website, currently has this statement and not the earlier one.

The phrase complete overhauling [of GST] has been replaced by some rejig in [GST] rates, by the PTI. Of course, a complete overhauling is majorly different from some rejig, but this is the closest that someone senior in the Modi government has publicly admitted that the implementation of the GST has been a disaster.

There are questions that need to be asked, even though the chances of getting any answers from the Modi government, remain nil.

1) Why was the government in such a hurry to launch the GST, when it was clearly not ready for it. This lack of preparation was already visible even before GST became the order of the day.

As Navin Kumar, the chairman of the GST network, in an interview published on June 27, 2017, told Business Standard: “It should be a stable system. Problems that surfaced during the first phase of the testing have been resolved. We did the testing on the basis of the rules that came in December. After that, some changes were made to the rules. Those changes we have absorbed now, so there is no time to do beta testing for that.”

Here is the Chairman of the network on which the GST is implemented saying that they haven’t had the time to test it properly. What more evidence is needed for the system not being completely ready?

Bharat Goenka, the managing director of Tally Solutions, one of the companies which has made a software for customers to help them file the GST returns, made a similar

In an interview with the Business Standard published on June 23, 2017, he was asked: “Is the problem essentially with the cramped timeline? Is July 1 too optimistic?” He answered: “It is indeed very cramped. While it is easy to add a new feature to software with respect to its functioning, developing robust software takes time. Whenever you make a change, you need to harden the software and that takes time. If you do not give it time, you end up with fragile software and get potentially surprising results. It is a high-risk environment. So, it is not sensible to try and do such mega rollouts without robust backing.

Obviously, the government was in a hurry to launch the GST without adequate preparation. In the process, it ended up creating the mess that currently prevails. And given that concerns were raised by people who were part of the process of the launch, this is clearly not benefit of hindsight.

2) Nearly four months after the launch, a lot of confusion prevails on many fronts. Even the chartered accountants lack clarity on issues. This tells us again that there wasn’t enough communication from the government on this front. In countries where GST (or value added tax as it is more popularly called) has been successfully implemented, an adequate amount of time is spent in training those who will be a part of the system implementing the GST (both inside and outside the government). This, has clearly not happened in India.

3) In fact, much before the GST was launched, analysts had pointed out that there were way too many GST rates, and that made the entire system fairly complicated, for those who need to follow the system.

The examples are now out.  A newreport in The Times of India quotes a supermarket chain owner as saying: “Tax on snacks like aloo bhujia, potato chips, samosa, kachori is 12%. Now the tax rate for cashews is 5%, but I can’t figure out if masala cashew is a snack or a standalone item.”

Similar issues have cropped up when it comes to sweets. Milk sweets come under the 5 per cent bracket, but the moment a silver foil is put on it, tax shoots up to 18 per cent. As Congress leader Veerapa Moily put it: “For example, is Kitkat a chocolate or a biscuit? Is coconut oil considered as hair oil or cooking oil?

A ministry of finance press release towards the end of September 2017 pointed out: “The total number of tax payers who were required to file monthly returns for August 2017 is 68.20 lakhs, of which, as on 25th September, 2017, 37.63 lakh GSTR 3B returns have been filed.” Around 55 per cent of those who needed to file GST returns, actually filed it.

Given the way, in which the system has been designed, this isn’t surprising at all. What this has also brought out is the fact that Indian traders are digitally challenged, and it will take time for them to catch up to GST. Meanwhile, the economy will have to suffer because of this.

4) The multiplicity of tax rates has led to a situation where the tax rates on different products make very little sense.  While the GST on condoms is 0 per cent, that on sanitary napkins is 12 per cent. One explanation provided for this is that only branded sanitary napkins invite a GST. But why even make this distinction? Does the GST apply only on branded condoms? Or more importantly, is there anything like an unbranded condom? These issues will simply not arise if there were fewer rates of tax.

Another explanation provided is that the mandate of the GST Council which decided on the GST rates, was fitment of taxes i.e. the GST rate on a product must be close to the existing taxes on it.

This is a rather silly observation given the status of the GST Council. If the idea was mere fitment any junior level bureaucrat could have done it. The fact that GST Council comprised of the finance ministers of all states and the finance minister of the central government, means that such anomalies could have been easily corrected.

There are several such inconsistencies, for the lack of a better word. The GST on environmentally friendly hybrid cars as well as fossil fuel guzzling SUVs is the same at 43 per cent (28 per cent GST and 15 per cent surcharge). Before GST became the order of the day, the total taxes on SUVs added to around 50 per cent.[i] In case of hybrids the tax before GST was around 29 per cent.[ii] This has led to the companies increasing the prices of the hybrid models of their cars.

And there is more. The GST rates on diamonds and gold are at 0.25 per cent and 3 per cent respectively. But the GST on something as useful as matchboxes (handmade ones) is 5 per cent. Why is this the case? Is it because those who run diamond and gold firms have deeper pockets funding political parties, than those running firms making matchboxes?

5) The rate of tax for most services has gone up from 12.36 per cent in 2014 and 15 per cent till June 30, 2017, to 18 per cent under GST. Of course, a part of this jump was supposed to be neutralised because of the input tax credit available under GST. But anecdotal evidence clearly suggests that the price of services has gone up because of GST. The government needs to study this and if this is true, it needs to cut the rate of tax on services to 15 per cent.

6) Also, the Modi government has tried to implement a convoluted and a complicated GST, which has “privatised compliance”. This has hit the small and medium enterprises(SMEs) the hardest. This also shows that we haven’t really learnt the lessons from our past.

One reason for India’s big black economy has been the high income tax rates over the years. In the early 1970s, the highest marginal rate of tax was as high as 97 per cent. Of course, at such a high rate most people who should have been paying income tax, did not. Not surprising, why would anyone give away Rs 97 out of every Rs 100 that he earned over a certain level, to the government.

The point being that tax compliance is always better at lower rates. At 28 per cent and higher, the peak Indian GST rate is among the highest in the world. Hopefully, as the number of tax rates under GST gets slashed in the years to come, the higher rates will go.

To conclude, GST has hit the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which were already reeling under the negative impacts of demonetisation very hard. This is something that needs to be corrected very quickly, simply because it is the SMEs which create jobs in any growing economy. As finance minister Arun Jaitley recently told ET Now“Bulk of the jobs in India are created by SMEs, by the micro industries, by self employment. Gone are the days where only the government sector created jobs in the government or the organised sector created jobs.”

And given that one million Indian youth are entering the workforce every month, the country needs SMEs to create jobs more than it ever did before. Given this, the GST needs complete overhauling, in order make it simple and uncomplicated. A simple rejig won’t do. Hope Mr Adhia and his boss in the finance ministry are listening.

[i] A.Modi, Planning to buy a luxury car or an SUV? GST may save you up to Rs 85,000, http://www.business-standard.com, May 21, 2017.

[ii] A. Khan, Hybrid Cars May Become A Thing Of The Past Because Of GST, www.businessworld.in, July 4, 2017.

The column originally appeared in the Huffington Post on October 23, 2017.

Of Nida Fazli, David Foster Wallace and Occam’s Razor.

David_Foster_Wallace

बहुत साल हमारे प्रिय मित्र Vijay (जो के दीनानाथ चौहान हाइन नहीं है) ने निदा फ़ाज़ली साहब का एक शेर सुनाया था. बड़ा ही ज़बरदस्त शेर है.

के कुछ तबियत मिली थी ऐसी चैन से जीने की सूरत न हुई, 
जिस को चाहा उसे अपना न सके जो मिला उस से मोहब्बत न हुई.

अभी करीब आधे घंटे पहले, लेखक Mayank Tewari के पसंदिता राइटर David Foster Wallace का लिखा, कुछ पढ़ा.

“I tend to be interested in women that I turn out not to get along very well with. And the ones that I get along very well with, I’m not interested in in a kind of romantic way. So that I’ve got a lot of really good women friends. But I tend to have a really hard time with girlfriends, because the ones I’m attracted to are a lot of fun you know for, in the standard ways, for like a couple of weeks. But in terms of the daily, let’s-go-shopping stuff, that we tend not to get along really well.” (from “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace” by David Lipsky)

जो फ़ाज़ली साहब ने दो पंक्तियों में कहा, वही कहने में David Foster Wallace ने छे-सात पंक्तियाँ लगा दी.

अगर आज की सोच लगायी जाये, तो कौन किस से इंस्पायर हुआ होगा? क्या फ़ाज़ली साहब मुंबई की बरसाती रातों में David Foster Wallace को पढ़ते थे?

या David Foster Wallace ने देवनागिरी/उर्दू सीख रखी थी?

दोनों ही इस दुनिया से कूच कर चुकें हैं, इस लिए इस सवाल का जवाब दे पाना मुश्किल है.

पर अगर कांस्पीरेसी थ्योरी से दूर रहे है और Occam’s Razor लगाया जाए, तो शायद दोनों को ये काफी सिमिलर सा ख्याल, अलग अलग ही आया होगा.

अब आप सोचेंगे के ये मैंने क्यों लिखा? तो कभी कभी बैठे बैठे खाली खुरापाती दिमाग में बस ऐसे ही ख्याल आते हैं.

 

दीन दयाल उपाध्याय रोज़गार योजना

दो एक दिनों से दिल्ली में हूँ और सुप्रीम कोर्ट की कृपा से छींक नहीं रहा हूँ.

पिछले छे आठ महीने से पिताजी जिस सोसाइटी में रहते हैं दिल्ली में, उधर सारी बिल्डिंगों की मरम्मत चल रही है है.
अब आप भी सोचेंगे के किस पुरानी खंडर किस्म की बिल्डिंग में वो रहते हैं. ऐसे तो बिल्डिंग ज़्यादा पुरानी नहीं है, बने हुए केवल दस-बारह साल हुए हैं.

तो फिर मरम्मत क्यों? बिल्डर ने सीमेंट से ज़्यादा रेती मिलाई ? या उसने जहाँ जहाँ ईटें लगानी थी, वहां भूसा भरा? अब ये तो बड़ी आम बात है, इसपर क्या टिपण्णी की जाए.

पर ये भी कहना ज़रूरी है, के वो बिल्डर बहुत बड़ा देश भक्त था (शायद अब भी हो, कौन जानता है).
और देश भकत होने के अलावा वो बहुत दूरदर्शी भी था.

अब आप पूछेंगे कैसे? तो देखिये, जब ये बिल्डिंग पहले बनी तो इस पर काफी लोगों ने काम किया. इस से रोज़गार पैदा हुआ. अब क्योंकि बिल्डर ने रेती ज़्यादा मिलाई और भूसा ज़्यादा भरा, एक दशक के बाद, बिल्डिंग पे फिर से काम हो रहा है. और फिर से काम हो रहा है तो फिर से रोज़गार भी पैदा हो रहा है.  बस रोज़गार ही नहीं, फिर से सीमेंट भी खाईदा जाएगा। उस में रेती भी मिले जाएगी.

और रोज़गार को इस देश को बहुत ज़रुरत है. आसानी से मिलता नहीं.

तो था न हमारा बिल्डर देशभक्त और दूरदर्शी? अब ये अलग बात है के इस बार जो रोज़गार पैदा हो रहा है उस में बिल्डर का एक नया पैसा नहीं खर्च हो रहा है.

अब ये कहाँ की बात हुई, के देश भक्ति भी करें और साथ में पैसा भी खर्च हो? न जी न.

काफी लोग जो अंग्रेजी में मेरा विश्लेषण पढ़ते है, उनका ये कहना के, ये सब तो ठीक है, पर ये बताएं के इसका solution क्या है? लगता है केमिस्ट्री खूब पढ़ी है इन लोगों ने.

अब ये जो कहानी हमने यहाँ बताई है, इस से इस देश के लिए बहुत बड़ा solution निकल सकता है — दीन दयाल उपाध्याय रोज़गार योजना (अरे आप को क्या लग रहा था, के मैंने हैडलाइन बस ऐवें ही आपका ध्यान आकर्षित करने के लिए लगाई है…)

केंद्रीय सरकार और राज्य सरकारों को ये नियम बना देना चाहिए, के हर बिल्डिंग की मरम्मत, पांच साल के बाद होनी चाहिए. इस से रोज़गार पैदा होगा, और वो भी सेल्फ-एम्प्लॉयमेंट वाला, जिसकी आजकल काफी चर्चा है (और बस चर्चा ही है).

अब इस में रिस्क ये है, के बिल्डर लोग सीमेंट कम और भूसा ज़्यादा वाला फार्मूला लगाएंगे, जिस से के कुछ एक बिल्डिंगें बनते बनते ही गिर जाएँगी.

अब इतनी बड़ी जमूरियत है, एक आधी बिल्डिंग तो गिरती रहती है, इस में परेशां होने की कोई खास बात नहीं. बड़े बड़े देशों में अक्सर छोटी छोटी बातें होती ही रहती है.

और अगर बिल्डिंग जल्दी गिरी तो रोज़गार भी जल्दी पैदा होगा.

हाँ हाँ हो सकता हैं, नौ महीने में ही. नहीं तो 2019 तक तो बिलकुल पक्का…

अरे क्या? 2019, 2022 तक स्थगित कर दिया गया है? तो चलिए फिर 2022 ही सही.