Despite the extremely fluid political and business climate throughout the last twelve months, the new fiscal year 2001-2002 has started on some fresh and happy notes. The political wrangle did not block the passage of the Vote on Accounts Bill. So, the bureaucracy has the budget to carry out its activities. The business community too has formed a new consensus leadership in its apex chamber despite the threats of a split. On top all this is the fact that the new budget is welcomed by all the sectors with some minor reservations notwithstanding. And the most important development was the change in the country’s political leadership as demanded by the opposition for the last six months holding the whole country at ransom. Everything now seems changed and alright. The threat of Maoist insurgency seems to be coming to an end.
Unprecedented cordiality developed overnight between the government and the opposition. All these make the situation ‘too good to be believed’. To establish that it is the truth, the challenge now is in carrying out the activities by all the players with honesty. If the provisions of the budget are truly implemented that in itself will go a long way in history because that will do away with many of the criticisms labelled against the budget. As one may recall, most of the reservations about the budgetary proposals are based on the traditional doubt about their honest implementation. And the doubt is valid given the track record of the bureaucracy. If the money allocated to the villages actually reaches there and it is put to the respective uses it is meant for many of the reasons why people are siding with Maoists will vanish.
But the onus does not rest entirely on the bureaucracy. In fact, if the business community keeps quiet and opens mouth only after the government fails to deliver something it will remain as a ‘reactionary force’ (to borrow from one of the most popular leftist phrases). What is needed is a proaction, and that requires strong lobbying and advocacy from the new leadership in FNCCI. This is all the more important now so as to establish that while the bureaucracy is the producer of the services, the private sector and the general people are the buyers and thus they have all the legitimate right to demand quality service from the bureaucracy. In doing so, it would be effective if the private sector can join hands with civil society, thus garnering more widespread support in its lobbying activities. The efforts have to start with the identification of issues of common interests. This will also help in dispelling the wrong image of a profiteer that the private sector has in the minds of the general people.