In an impassioned article published in the Hindu newspaper today, former prime minister Manmohan Singh writes: “The fire of social tensions is rapidly spreading across the nation and threatens to char the soul of our nation. It can only be extinguished by the same people that lit it.” He goes on to add: “It is with a very heavy heart that I write this…I deeply worry that this potent combination of risks may not only rupture the soul of India but also diminish our global standing as an economic and democratic power in the world.”
Referring to the riots in Delhi, Dr Singh writes: “Institutions of law and order had abandoned their dharma to protect citizens and institutions of justice and media “have also failed us. With no checks, the fire of social tensions is rapidly spreading across the nation and threatens to char the soul of our nation. It can only be extinguished by the same people that lit it.”
As a renowned economist, his views on the economy carry considerable weight. As he writes: “Just in a matter of few years, India has slid rapidly from being a global showcase of a model of economic development through liberal democratic methods to a strife ridden majoritarian state in economic despair,” adding: “No amount of tweaking of tax rates, showering of corporate incentives or goading will propel Indian or foreign businesses to invest, when the risk of eruption of sudden violence in one’s neighbourhood looms large.”
He prescribes a three-point plan for the government — “First, it should focus all energies and efforts on containing the COVID-19 threat and prepare adequately. Two, it should withdraw or amend the Citizenship Act, end the toxic social climate and foster national unity. Three, it should put together a detailed and meticulous fiscal stimulus plan to boost consumption demand and revive the economy.