Home > india > In response to “Budge it”

In response to “Budge it”

G posted recently on her blog about the Indian budget and her reaction to it. I commented, saying I would respond with a post! So here goes.

At the outset, I must mention that I detest centralized planning, hence the central government spending craploads of money is not desirable. That said, it is how it is.

Note: Points beginning with # are from G’s original post. Stuff below that is my response!

# So why make so much noise about it? Most aam-aadmis are not going to feel much.

This begs the question of who the aam-aadmi really is. I am at a loss to understand this much bandied about word in the Indian media. Let us assume for now that any person who travels by local train in Mumbai is an aam aadmi (this is as arbitrary a definition as any other). How will this person be affected by the budget? Presumably some aam aadmi’s are salaried professionals who will be affected by changes in tax rates. All aam-aadmis are consumers who will be affected by indirect taxes, duties, subsidies and such which affect prices of goods and services. Budgets have an impact on inflation, so the rupees in the aam aadmis pockets might lose value due to the budget and so on. Effectively, aam aadmi’s are directly affected by central budgets. Whether they think they are or not is another question.

# A negative ball is sent rolling by the media and it amasses so much mass along the way that it might fatally alter the original intent and actually have a negative impact versus the projected negative impact.

The mainstream media will pass judgment on the budget and impart a positive or negative spin on it depending on what they believe to be true. Given that a country like India has a relatively free press, I think this is desirable if not a must. The press must objectively judge the State and its decisions and criticize or praise them. The impact of a budget decision is never totally deterministic given the complexities of economics (hence my dislike for central planning), however I agree that opinion makers influence decision makers, thereby having an impact of their own.

# The point is, most people, especially the aam-aadmi, have very little clue as to how to interpret the budget.

This is precisely why a free and objective press is necessary.

# Hence, a good thing for the govt. to do would be to step in the media and influence it to say good things about the budget. By hook or by crook.

ZOMG, here G gets into Orwell territory. If the government starts controlling the press, then all hell breaks loose (in my philosophical world). For starters, the italicized free press in the previous statements implied freedom from government control. The press must be free because only then can the aam-aadmi expect to understand what is truly being done with his money. If the government has to be “for the people”, it must be questioned repeatedly and pointedly as to how its decisions are “for the people”.  This can only be done if the press is indeed free of government control. In addition, in today’s electronic/social media world, the press is an aggregate of all free speech and free speech is integral to a functional democracy. As T. Jefferson says,

“There are rights which it is useless to surrender to the government and which governments have yet always been found to invade. These are the rights of thinking and publishing our thoughts by speaking or writing; the right of free commerce; the right of personal freedom. There are instruments for administering the government so peculiarly trustworthy that we should never leave the legislature at liberty to change them.

#Don’t we want this? Don’t we want to perceive that their govt. is on our side?  …  then why not shove a positive opinion about the budget up people’s a##?

We want the government to actually BE on our side, not create the perception that it is. The government is us! There is no us and them. We need to fight this perception of the government as some sort of magical being that does things that we cannot control. The only tool we have to do this is free speech. Take stands, make your voices heard – the platforms exist, use them!

# In any case, the aam-aadmi will be a happy even if he’s got a highly frustrating educational system and repressive social system to deal with.

Again, who is the aam aadmi? Are *you* an aam aadmi? Even so, if enough aam aadmis are frustrated then change will come, though – in my humble opinion – in spite of the government, not because of it.

Comments and debate welcomed!

Categories: india Tags: , ,
  1. July 13, 2009 at 9:36 am

    i was actually kinda, umm, waiting for somebody to comment here, so i dont sound too ignorant, and i have something to follow up on..but altho’ no one has commented yet and this is such a nice post, i cant resist commenting now..

    I have never been a particular fan of following politics, maybe becoz I’m not one of those ppl who claim to understand the real logic behind all the shady deals these ppl strike all the time, or all the tangled webs they weave..but the budget is something that has always been hyped as some kind of a goodybag that they throw at us mid year so I suppose I shud atleast feign more concern..

    The media, as the name suggests, needs to be a real go-between in most cases, explaining and simplifying ideas and policies for the rest of us to understand..but the whole we’re-good-for-the-aam aadmi side of the government that the media showcases when reporting the budget while claiming to give an ‘incisive dissection’ of the changes that it’ll bring just doesnt make it enticing enuff for me to try and understand.

    I wish they were more believable and objective..but perhaps too much to hope for from tv channels that tend to sensationalise when “packaging” news..

    I, too, am glad we have a “relatively free press system” but I wish the quality of coverage and the manner of reporting news wud improve tho’..

    as for the government creating the impression of being all warm fuzzy and on our side..well, they wont really ever stop doing that..but I suppose enuff of us have learned to see thru that facade..

  2. July 15, 2009 at 12:27 am

    “I have never been a particular fan of following politics,”
    You should because its your vote and your taxes!

    “The media … needs to be”
    We cant expect the media to be altruistic. If the people demand objective unbiased news that’s what they will get. If they demand sensational crap, that’s what they will get.

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