BUDGET SPEECH 2013-14
BUDGET SPEECH 2013-14
BY DR. KANWAR DEEP SINGH
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
(RAJYA SABHA, JHARKHAND)
ALL INDIA TRINAMOOL CONGRESS
Chairman Sir, I rise in front of this august house to present the views of the Aam Aadmi. I speak for him because I strongly believe that he has not been adequately represented in the budget presented by the honorable Finance Minister.
West Bengal Moratorium Issue
Let me begin with the plight of the Aam Aadmi of West Bengal. Sir, after 34 years of governance-or may I say mis-governance -by the left front government, the state was won over by our party in 2011. Because ‘the Left, left the state in a fiscal mess’
We inherited a massive debt of more than 2 lac crore.
The debt servicing alone cost 22000 crore rupees every year. The Left front Govt. of west Bengal kept on borrowing and the Union Govt. kept on pleasing them without any regard to the fiscal indiscipline in that state. Sir, from 2004 to 2008 when the Left front was the part of the UPA, West Bengal came down from the 6th worst state to the second worst state in terms of outstanding liabilities/ Gross GDP.
This was the level of disregard towards fiscal discipline. Sir, if I may draw an analogy from the Mahabharata-it looks like the Union Govt. was acting
Like Dhritrashtra with blind folds, even as West Bengal was being stripped off her economic sheen and dignity owing to the fiscal mis-deeds of the then West Bengal State Govt. Otherwise, how can one explain the fact that he state Govt. could borrow 5173 crores within 28 days just a few days before our party took office in West Bengal?
Since the time our Govt. took office the state Govt has been continuously requesting for a moratorium on the annual debt servicing cost of Rs. 22000 crores. Sir, I must clarify that the state Govt. is only asking for a moratorium of few years, not a waiver and yet till today, nothing has been done for the Aam Aadmi of West Bengal. Sir I would like to highlight a very interesting factor here that even as the legitimate request of the people of West Bengal has been ignored with disdain, at the same time the Union Govt. pledged 10 billion dollars to the IMF for helping the Euro Crisis in 2012. Sir, through you I ask the Hon. Finance Minister, is this fair? Should the land that sparked the first War of Independence in 1857 and gave us our national anthem be treated with such humiliating levels of disrespect and contempt?
Sir, I would now like to highlight the omissions from this budget towards the Manufacturing Sector. Sir, we all know that the manufacturing sector has the capacity to generate jobs and the Govt. keeps on talking about the need to create 10 million jobs every year, and yet this budget seems to provide no priority to this sector. Sir, studies of the progress of other countries around the world show that economies progress from Agriculture to Manufacturing to Services. But in our case we have missed to notice that we as a country have skipped the step of manufacturing and gone to services.
Therefore, we are feeling the pinch of widespread unemployment. It pains me to say that only 16% of the country’s GDP comes from manufacturing sector where as this number is much higher for countries like China (30%) and South Korea (31%). It is further shocking when I look around to our small immediate neighbors like Pakistan (19%), Sri Lanka (18%) and Bangladesh (18%)whose manufacturing sectors contribute more to their GDP than ours. This shows, Sir, that there is something wrong in our planning process and the budget does not address this issue.
The amount of young population we have can prove
to be a big asset, but if enough jobs are not created, then this young workforce, which could have otherwise yielded Demographic dividends, may well turn into a Demographic Disaster. Though the finance minister has allocated an amount for skill development programs,but lack of opportunities to absorb such skilled workforces will only lead to unemployment-driven frustration amongst the youth.
Defence Budget Cut
1. As the Hon’ble Finance Minister scrambles to cut costs, due to the dismal growth rate of our economy, defence spending has been hit the highest with the reduced allocation of defence budget, which is barely 1.79% of the GDP. This is a record low for India in three decades with the figure dropping from 3.16% of GDP in 1987 to 1.79% for 2013-14.
2. The defence budget for 2013-14 (Rs 203,000 Crores) has increased by only 5% over the previous year (Rs 1,93,000 Crores), which has actually resulted in the decrease of expenditure in real terms. Sir, let me explain that a 5% increase in the budget will not cover even the cost of inflation. I must highlight here that Rupee has depreciated more than 10% and it is continuing to do so, while 75% of our defense purchase are from foreign countries. So, a 5% increase will not allow us to maintain the same spending as of the previous year.
3. The war clouds may not exactly be hovering over India, but the seeds of war lay overwhelmingly on our borders with Pakistan occupied Kashmir and China occupied Tibet. China and Pakistan single or in collisivity /collusion, constitute a potent military threat to our National Security. Since the war can suddenly erupt on our turbulent borders, as it happened on a limited scale during the Kargil conflict, such threats dictate the imperatives of high state of war preparedness at all times.
General Douglas Mac Arthur said, I quote,
“Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons”
And yet the budget cut by one stroke of the pen on defence spending by the honorable Finance Minister will have very serious implications as it will further increase the critical shortages of weapons, equipment and ammunition in the Armed Forces. I must apprise the house that for almost 25 years, the Indian Artillery has not been upgraded. We may recollect that the Kargil war was a limited war in the true sense. Yet, the Indian Army had to use all available arty guns bought in 1987and muster them to the War Zone in Kargil for achieving a very limited scale degradation of the enemy. Since our ammunition arsenals were empty, the Govt. had to run ‘helter skelter’ to buy ammunition during the course of war from foreign countries at 3 to 4 times higher rate. Such was the extent of fire fighting for only Artillery.
4. There were extreme shortages in all 3 wings of the Defence Forces due to which we were ill prepared for a full scale war and were facing acute deficiencies in opening up other fronts with Pakistan for reducing enemy pressure in the Kargil sector. As a result, the Govt. ordered the Army not to cross the LOC. By not crossing the LOC, the Army could not follow the basic teachings of first isolating the enemy locality from all directions, particularly blocking its routes for reinforcements as this could only be done by crossing the LOC.
Our soldiers had to thus launch the tactics of frontal attacks, which is a suicidal method of assaulting the enemy defences. The Officers and Jawans were being used as Cannon fodder due to frontal assaults. They knew very well that only few of them would survive a frontal attack, as the enemy would focus all weapons on them when they are climbing the high mountains and yet, their patriotism for the Nation made them charge blindly on the high peaks, following the political mandate of not crossing the LOC and the military weakness of not being equipped for an all out war. Sir, let me read the letter written by a 21 years old young officer, Lt. Vijayant Thapar to his father, just before going in for the attack on an enemy position during the Kargil war. You can make out from the letter that our young soldiers knew that returning from a frontal attack is almost impossible, yet they were fearless and they dedicated their lives to the Nation.
“Dearest Papa, Mama, Birdie and Grany,
By the time you get this letter I will be observing you all from the sky enjoying the hospitability of Apsaras. I have no regrets; in fact even if I become a human again I will join the Army and fight for my Nation. If you can, please come and see where the Indian Army fought for your tomorrow. As far as the unit is concerned the new chaps should be told about this sacrifice. I hope my photo will be kept in the ‘A’ Coy Mandir with Karni Mata. Contribute some money to orphanage and keep on givingRs 50/- per month to Ruksana (Ruksana was a 5 year old Girl whose father was killed by the militants in the Kashmir Valley) and meet Yogi Baba. Best of luck to Birdie, never forget the sacrifice of these men. Papa you should feel proud. Mama so should you” It is time for me to join assault party.
Best of luck to you all.
Robin (Nick Name of Lt. Vijayant Thapar)”
5. I ask this house, for how long will the Govt. keep ignoring the importance of full scale defence preparedness and keep sacrificing our soldiers due to a sheer neglect and understanding of defence related issues. The threat appreciation on our nation envisages a simultaneous “two and a half front war”, against Pakistan, China as well as the internal insurgency and terrorism. Army has bought not even half the equipment it planned to acquire during the 11th Five year plan (2007-2012). The Former Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor told the CCS after the 26/11 Mumbai attack that the “Army was not ready for war”.
6. Today, China is giving an open threat to us by claiming the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh, by claiming large parts of Eastern Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Their
Navy is dominating in the International waters and posing a direct threat to our oil exploration plans and our sea trade routes. Gwador port in Pakistan is entirely under their control; they have influence on all Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) countries and thus surrounded us by a “String of Pearls” policy. As a result of defence cuts, the Naval strength will not be able to protect our oil interests and protect our Island territories. The Indian Air Force is also woefully short of Combat squadrons. Their contracted deal of 126 Fighter aircraft from France will get delayed and also the deal for 123 helicopters to replace the age old Cheetas and Chetaks may no more see the light of the day. As per a study carried out 50% of the Air Force equipment is obsolete.
7. As we go to a low of 1.79% defence budget allocation in terms of GDP, Pakistan remains at over 4% and China at 3.2% (though China is known to spend 60% more than the revealed budget). For 2013-14China has increased its defence budget and now stands at more than $ 115 billion. Chinese defence budget is now about 3 times the Indian defence budget, which stands at $ 37 billion.
8. Before and during the outbreak of war, heavy war machinery is required to move up on roads leading to the border. I will request the Hon’ble members to go once by road to Leh through the NH 1A Srinagar – Zozila- Leh road and particularly the NH – 21 – Manali – Leh Road. The state of roads is so pathetic that for miles together, road patches are missing or are completely broken. The Border Roads is incapable of either constructing or maintaining the roads. New technologies for road construction are not adopted due to the age-old mind set. These roads are unfit for taking the load of large scale war movement of men, material and logistics. If we have to move our heavy guns, rocket artillery, ammunition, tanks, heavy engineering vehicles, these would be taken as ‘pot shots’ by enemy Air Force as everywhere along the route their heavy columns would get stuck. Though China has deployed its tactical missiles opposite our border, the width of our roads cannot take the traffic of Prithvi/Brahmos/Agni missile systems and they also cannot be lifted by air along with their ground launch systems. There are some strategic areas on our borders which have extremely good quality Roads constructed from the Chinese side but own side is either devoid of any road (the locality being linked only by air) or we have very poor quality ground tracks which cannot take on the traffic of war accretions. Hence, even if we have manpower and weapons, we stand to loose because our infrastructure does not permit a seamless build up for war. For some I may sound like an alarmist, who is seeing war clouds in the horizon. But Sir I am only trying to highlight the inadequacies and how under prepared we are, in case of a full-scale war.
In conclusion, therefore, Sir, by neglecting the 90 million plus population of West Bengal and ignoring an employment-intensive sector like manufacturing, not only has the honorable Finance Minister presented an “anti-Aam Aadmi” budget, but by cutting down allocations on defense, he has put national security in danger. I sincerely urge the Minister to consider these points and take appropriate action to address them.