In this episode of The NDTV Dialogues, we debate why India has the largest number of poor people in the world and the correct course of action the country needs to follow. Here's the full transcript of the show.
NDTV: Hello and welcome to the NDTV Dialogues, a conversation of ideas. Tonight we focus on what is India's biggest issue at the moment, yet not discussed enough. When will we be able to end poverty? Currently, of course, in India we have the largest number of poor people in the world, 1/3rd of the world's extremely poor population is in India, according to the UN report. When will we move ahead from 'gareebi hatao, sabka saath, sabke vikas' election slogans over the years, that have focused on poverty? When will we actually see action? For more on that I am joined by the Union Minister of State for Finance Mr Jayant Sinha. I am also joined by Sachin Pilot, former Corporate Affairs Minister and currently the Chief of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress. Also, with me is Prof Yogendra Yadav, who is now of course an independent expert and analyst; he has just returned from a tour of drought hit areas in India. I am also joined by one of India's most respected industrialists, industrial voices, Narayana Murthy. Thank you all so much for coming in, Mr Sinha, the good news for India and has been of course the 12 point rise in the World Bank's ease of doing business rankings. Bad news of course remains, the recent figure that shows, that India has the largest number of malnourished children in the world. I quote the UN report, which pointed out that for the world poverty to end, India has to end poverty. Somehow ending poverty seems to be one of the retread, or those campaign slogans we have heard from Indira Gandhi's times till now. Will you actually see, this government promises it can eradicate poverty, is it just a pipe dream?
Jayant Sinha: I think we will be able to eradicate poverty Sonia, because really the initiatives that we have on the way, right now are going to be able to provide us the ability to lift all of India's poor people out of poverty and at the same time create for our young people jobs. Now, how are we going to do that? First and foremost what we are doing is, we are putting in place the platform for a universal social security system and you saw what we did with the Jandhan Yojna, in a hundred days we covered 100% of India's families, so that every Indian family today has a bank account. Now, once they have a bank account we can get to them a whole host of benefits, starting with of course, the payment of NREGA wages directly into the bank accounts. The Viklang pension and the Vridha pension, all of that can go into their bank account. The gas cylinder subsidy, obviously the Pehal programme, that is already happening. Many of the states used, you know, this platform to place a health insurance programme, so we can do that also. So, by being able to get to each individual in this fashion, by taking advantage of the Janadhan, Aadhaar and mobile, the trinity, the jam trinity, we have the ability to create a robust safety net for every single Indian. Now, think about what that means? That means every single Indian can be assured, whether it is through the PDS programme or any of these other benefit programmes, they will be able to at least keep their body and soul together. That's the end of extreme poverty, as we know it, in India right now. And we put in place the infrastructure, the platform to do that, that's very important. Secondly, the efforts that we have on the way for job creation, whether its with Make In India, whether its what we are doing with schemes in India, the Mudra Yojna, what we are doing for Start Up India. So, we are ensuring that large companies, obviously because of ease of doing business and financing and everything else, can grow and scale and small businesses whether it is a thelawala, a dukandaar, somebody that wants to start a salon, they can get through Mudra, the loan to get into business. So, for the millions and millions and crores of people, that are doing small businesses, micro enterprises, they can get loans as well, and they can get started. I was just with Snapdeal a few days ago and Kunal Bahl was telling me, that they have three hundred thousand small merchants now on that platform, and with Mudra they are able to provide them financing, so that these people can stock up, they can have inventory and they can sell through the Snapdeal platform. That's what Amazon is doing, Flipkart is doing. That's what the big businesses are doing, that's enabling the small businesses and obviously, you know, all the global businesses, Foxcon or Softbank, these people are creating jobs as well. Those are the ways through jobs, through a robust safety net, we are going to end poverty and create opportunity. For all Indians, 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'.
NDTV: I am going to get in the rest of the panel, Sachin Pilot, election slogans, and frankly that only has been one thing held against the Congress, because it began as a, for Indira Gandhi's time, we heard, "gareebi hatao", and till the end, till the end, till 2014. Your critics pointed out that for Congress it perhaps worked, to keep the poor poor, because that's almost like their vote bank, you be a nanny state, povertarian politics, as many Editors pointed out. Has the Congress failed, is it something the BJP is going to pick up on, you know identifying what the core issue is for India? Has the Government done much better than you all did?
Sachin Pilot: I think let's forget about slogans now, this is time for the government to perform and it's time for us to analyse the UPS tenure
NDTV: You are saying one and a half years versus your almost 60 years?
Sachin Pilot: Fair enough, fair enough, it's not 60 years, first of all and mind you Sonia, every time we got elected it was because people voted for us. Not that we stayed in power because we wanted to stay in power. Of course we want to work and help the people, 140 million people were removed from the clutches of poverty when we were in government. Social security, social network, spending on those sectors was actually one of the things that I am very proud of, what the government did. You can win and lose elections, but the intent of the government is in its actions, not slogans. Slogans are good for elections. Now we talk about poverty, I think Mr Sinha has done a great job in articulating his government's stance on and I think he is doing a fair job, personally. But poverty, what does that mean? It's okay to think about creating more jobs, that's essential for any large country like ours. But what about children who are malnourished, what about kids who are not going to school, primary health care?
NDTV: Let me actually ask Prof Yadav, because he has actually been touring India in drought hit areas and I think the issue of farmers suicide, that's being something, whether it's the UPA government alliance or the NDA government. It doesn't seem to have improved. In fact it has worsened. The irony of course is that there are some states, which cannot survive. There are some poorest states where the suicides are high. You have seen it in Maharashtra. You have seen it now in Andhra Pradesh or Telangana. But farmers' suicides are still high despite the fact that the state might have a quite robust economy
Yogendra Yadav: Absolutely. We have been into a limited debate so far, which is to say how much NDA should take credit of blame and how much Congress should get credit of blame. I thought we are asking a bigger question here today about our country. Is our country responding to the challenge of poverty? And as you mentioned, I travelled across the country, across all the drought prone areas from Karnataka to Haryana, and many of the things that we talk about simply don't exist on the ground. Yes poverty reduction is taking place in absolute numbers. And everyone has to acknowledge that this has happened across the governments. But when we look at agriculture for example, any serious poverty reduction has to address agriculture. I did not share one single item in whatever Mr Sinha listed, honestly I did not hear any clear agricultural policy and to be fair to you, neither did UPA. We simply have not had any equivalent policy on agriculture. The only time we wake up is when we find suicides. Remember suicide is the end point of a long unfolding tragedy. For every 1 person who commits suicide, at least 99 more reach the brink but don't muster the courage to do that. Our agrarian system is in crisis. We don't merely have a distress. This particular year is a distress year because of drought. But what we don't recognise is that we are in an agrarian crisis. Whatever may have grown, agriculture hasn't grown over the years. Whether it was the UPA regime or it's NDA, we have reached a dead end. Farmers basically are in a situation where the price of their products is not rising. The costs of agriculture and the other costs are rapidly rising. They find themselves in a debt-trap and that is what leads to suicides. Unless we have any coherent response to agrarian crisis, how do we even begin talking about responding to poverty and I honestly feel there is a serious lack of political will. I am not speaking of one party or the other. As a country, there is a growing amnesia when it comes to questions of removing poverty
NDTV: I think you have put some important points. I would like to bring in Mr Narayana Murthy on that aspect. Mr Narayana Murthy, I think, even in the media when we debate farmers, it comes up over the Land Acquisition Bill and that became a kind of flash point perhaps, to talk about farmers or farmers' suicide, because we look at it as a government, as a political battle, its a clash, like who will get the land, will it be industry, will the farmers need a bad end agriculture? But we never look our farmers as Indians, as citizens with equal rights perhaps, as say industrialists would demand, citizens of India would demand. Why is it that it's often seen that the tag may be, if you say 'suit boot ki sarkar', it is seen as a bad word? Or for a government, which is pro-corporate, that is its death wish politically? But in reality, there is much more interaction or its change as it were between industrialists and governments, than there are between a farmer and government, except at election time
Narayana Murthy: Sonia, first of all let me say that, it is indeed a great privilege to be with such distinguished people. In the last week or so, I have been reading several books and I have also been looking at internet, for how economic progress takes place in a nation. The data over the last 300 years says that the first requirement for the economic progress, for speedy economic progress, is a peaceful, harmonious, trustworthy, confident, enthusiastic and energetic environment among the people. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I am not a politician. I am not interested in politics. Therefore, I don't want to comment on that. But the reality today is that there is considerable fear in the minds of minority in India. There is considerable fear in the minds of people of one region living in another region. For example, like in 67', South Indians were treated very badly by the Shiv Sena in Mumbai. Today there is lot of that worry. I get lots of emails. I get lot of people talking to me, even though I stay at home because of my leg. So I would say Sonia, the first priority of this government or for that matter any government, both at the central level and the state level, to bring back the confidence, the energy, the enthusiasm, the trust in the minds of every Indian, that this is our country. I have all the rights here. I am very safe and therefore I will work towards the betterment of India. I think that is the first requirement. I have studied lots of books. I have looked at lots of articles on internet and over the last 300 years, data and facts tell me that no country has ever made speedy economic progress unless there is no strife, there is no distress, there is no fear, unless the majority community, you know, doesn't oppress the minority community, doesn't want the minority community to do what it wants, etc, etc. It doesn't matter which government is in position. It is true whether UPA is in government or NDA
NDTV: Yes because of course you're in Karnataka and interestingly there's a Congress government in Karnataka and a BJP government at the center, so you're saying you're facing the worst of both governments, is your point?
Narayana Murthy: So it doesn't matter which government is in possession. This is true whether NDA is in government or UPA
NDTV: And a BJP government at the center so you're saying you're facing the worst of both governments, is your point?
Narayana Murthy: No, but the reality is doesn't matter. What happened, what happened to Mr Kalburgi is a great example
Narayana Murthy: So I don't care whether it is UPA, NDA, Congress, BJP. I am not interested in politics. I have no interest in politics. Therefore I am not worried about what concoction of government is where, but the reality is we have to create an environment of peace, harmony, trust, enthusiasm and energy etc. and then we can get to economic matters. Let me assure you that unless we sort that problem out I don't think we will be able to bring back growth, I don't think we will be able to solve the problem of poverty. I don't think we will be able to eliminate the sad cases of poor farmers committing suicide. For all of that the first requirement us is to create an environment of positivism, environment of confidence, environment of trust, environment of I belong to India
NDTV: I'm going to get Mr Sinha to respond because, yes, because Mr Sinha, of course Mr Narayana Murthy there speaking, an apolitical voice, a very respected voice; but you had a former friend, a former BJP supporter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi supporter, Arun Shourie speak very strongly this week of how the NDA is a Congress government plus a cow. In fact he even said that the people are missing the days of Shri Manmohan Singh. That it's not about what'll effect investment or what it looks like to the outside world, but what does an Indian feel? Mr Narayana Murthy said this so strongly and again this discussion is on poverty. So it's quite unexpected that he brought that up. Mr Narayana Murthy says this so strongly we can imagine what perhaps an average person is saying
Jayant Sinha: No I think Mr Murthy is exactly right. I think all of us as citizens are concerned about law and order, but I think all citizens of India should be very reassured with what the honorable Prime Minister has said, many senior leaders of the BJP and of the NDA have said, and obviously what Rashtrapati has said, which is that Constitutional rights are going to be protected, they are non-negotiable and inviolable. We are sworn by oath to protect the Constitution. So everybody has the freedom of expression, the freedom to travel where they want, the freedom to live where they want, the freedom to eat what they want. That is non-negotiable in our country. And if there is any violation of Constitutional rights of these universal human rights, then the full force of the law has to be applied so that we protect that. And if there is a sense that the people have, that they are living in an atmosphere of intolerance, then it should not be because we are not fully and 100% in support of the Constitution. It is because the law and order situation is not allowing people to express themselves freely, or do what they need to do to go about their lives. So let's make this absolutely crystal clear. I think the conversation can stop right there because there is no question, that Constitutional rights have to be fully protected with the full force of the law. Otherwise you know we shouldn't be in governance. It's as simple as that. And I think that's exactly what our Party has said, that's exactly what the Prime Minister has said, that's exactly what Rashtrapati ji has said. So that I think is absolutely crystal clear. Now I just want to come back very quickly to a point that Shri Yadav made about not having an agricultural policy. I'm sorry I will have to reject that. I think our agricultural policy is absolutely crystal clear. It starts with the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, the soil health card, more agricultural credit, national crop insurance and all the work that we're doing to liberalize agricultural markets. We have a very clear, well-defined agricultural policy. Yes there is significant distress in agriculture right now because of a variety of reasons, most of which have related to the monsoon, in fact which we know is very erratic and variable now because of global climate change. But we have a very clear framework in terms of what we are thinking as far as agricultural policy is concerned
NDTV: But I just want to pick up on that theme because of what you just said, because while the Prime Minister did speak about two weeks after the Dadri incident, the point is why has the issue of beef politics come up in the Bihar election campaign? We've had the BJP President Mr Amit Shah say that if the BJP loses in Bihar there will be celebrations in Pakistan. So in that sense there are different voices speaking out. The Prime Minister will say this but then a Minister will say this. You've had the BJP President making this remark about celebrations in Pakistan if the BJP loses, so what, in that sense, there is a double message, contradictory message going out for a Party which prides itself on communication
Sachin Pilot: I think it's a very flimsy argument to make, that you being a full majority government at the center in Delhi, can just shrug off all your Constitutional, social, moral, political responsibility by saying its a state level incident. I think all these are happening, Sonia, I know we are diverting from the poverty issue, but these things are happening because there is a very large shadow protecting such voices. Now whatever Mr Sinha may say or may not say about curbing and respecting the Constitution, the fact is that the deed and the action of the people that his Party and his Party supports or are affiliated with, are absolutely doing the wrong thing. Now the fact that the people are returning the awards, the historians, filmmakers, the artists, it is not because they are Congress supporters. In fact some people have been critical of the Congress Party in the past. So its wrong to say that with respect to these people's background, they ought not to do this because they belong to A or Y or Z ideology. The fact is that there is a vitiating atmosphere, whether its Bihar elections, I don't know. The fact is that what Mr Murthy says, unless you have a stable, peaceful co-existence in a society that boasts itself of its pluralism you really can't have all these GDP numbers and investments etc. And who will take responsibility? I am sorry, the first person to speak against this was the President of India and then the Prime Minister spoke. So I think it's not the party or the President or the Prime Minister, it's the President first. It took time for him, the President of India to talk about these things
Jayant Sinha: See, Sachin Pilot is not right. Factually, Shri Jaitley ji, Shri Rajnath ji had already spoken about it before the President
Sachin Pilot: I am talking about the Prime Minister
Jayant Sinha: Well, I am saying that there were many senior leaders of the BJP
Sachin Pilot: There was only one Prime Minister and he spoke after the President
Jayant Sinha: Well, the senior leaders of the Party had spoken on this matter in a very categorical way, in a very clear manner on this issue
NDTV: Prof. Yadav, on the ground do you find this debate, as I said, whether it's about beef, whether it's about what you should eat, when the irony again remains that so many people in India go to sleep hungry. So, in that sense, it's often the rhetoric and the reality seems so disconnected from each other and I think maybe people in government also find that. We know the economy will do this, but the rhetoric becomes all about something else. Is this particularly the Indian problem, why is it that? This is what dominates campaigns. You of course had a political thing, put on a political guru hat as well here
Yogendra Yadav: The disconnect is so much, not merely because the debates taking place in Delhi have no connection to what's happening on the ground, but honestly it has no connection to the cow. I mean travelling through this, what we don't realize is currently the country is passing through a very serious crisis for cattle. Thousands and thousands of cattle are being driven out. These are cows. I mean if anyone loves cows, please stop this debate in Delhi. Please go and do something for these cows who are being driven out and I don't know if our animal sciences or something has done. Please Mr Sinha, get someone to check this out. This could be a period where millions of cattle are facing crisis of life. We should be discussing that, rather than some of these questions. I think let's not undervalue the significance of the point that Mr Murthy, I think he has made a profound and a very serious statement, coming from the sober person like him, which is that the overall climate right now is not conducive. Let's not drag it down to BJP, Congress or whatever, you know, you sometimes, think that the things that parties do, when they are irresponsible and in opposition. But when it happens with direct set of, in a sense, go ahead, from a ruling party at the centre, that's a very, very serious situation
NDTV: These are all political allegations Mr Yadav because they would contest that very strongly
Yogendra Yadav: See, what's happening Sonia is this. We have a crowd sourcing of communal violence. It's not coming directly from the top. The whole model has changed. It's outsourcing where, what you have to do, and that's the point I have been making for some time. Now the kind of communalism that we see, the kind of intolerance that we see is not something, which is directed from above. With a certain kind of regime in power, all you need is a wink, all you need is a nod and the local SHO does the rest. So it's happening at the local level. I don't want this debate to become or to get diverted from poverty debate to this. But let's only note the significance of the point that Mr Murthy made and that this message is being noticed all over the world. And Mr Sinha, what matters are not abstract statements that PM makes, those Heads of State, who really want to make a difference, heads of government, they talk about specifics. That's not what we have heard from our PM
Jayant Sinha: Actually Sonia. The PM has made that statement. He has said over and over again that his religion is India and his only holy book is the Constitution. I repeat the Constitution. He has said that multiple times. So I think the honourable PM has been absolutely crystal clear on this matter
NDTV: Well, let me just bring, as I said, let's leave that aside because I don't want to derail this debate. But to bring back one strand of what we are talking about earlier, one allegation of the Congress and that it's a suit-boot sarkar and the BJP government went on to say that we are not suit-boot sarkar. Why is that being seen as a pro-corporate and anti-poor? Most governments, when they come to power, they are much more accessible to industrialists, corporate India than they are to the poor of India. The Congress makes the statement that why doesn't Mr. Modi take selfies with farmers? Why is Mr Modi not listening to farmers rather than global tours?
Jayant Sinha: Sonia, if anybody could be accused of suit-boot person, it should be me, because I spent 30 years in the private sector, 22 years in America wearing a suit and a boot. The fact that you see me in a kurta pyjama now and that's what I wear, tells you very clearly that we are certainly not a suit-boot sarkar. We are the representatives of the people of India and those of us that have the responsibility to represent the people of India, to understand their pain, to understand their anguish and their suffering and constantly tour their people, understand what it is to be able to help people, so and you can come up as you know, Pilot was saying slogans, this and that. But at the end of the day, we, as the electoral representatives of the people of India, have to find a way of helping them, of solving their day-to-day problems and lifting them out of the deprivation that they face
NDTV: Sachin Pilot, in a sense what it means if somebody is comfortable wearing a suit, what's wrong with wearing a suit? What's wrong with meeting corporates? There is an aspiration in India who wants to wear suits
Sachin Pilot: I think the context in which the statement was made was very pertinent. It wasn't exactly about the attire that you wear whether it's the trouser, the jacket or a kurta. The fact was that the debate in the Parliament was about the Land Bill and the BJP, while in Opposition, supported the Land Acquisition Bill as it is today. Then they put Ordinances to change it. Now we, in the Congress, perhaps most political parties opposed it. Now finally after a year and a half after trying they realise that it has stuck, the psychological perception of this government being anti-poor, anti-farmer. Actually it has stuck and took shape and ground and that's why the PM had to retract and now they are going back on the same Bill, that was first passed by the UPA government. The statement was made because the majority of people who live in rural areas felt that this government is not doing what it promised, for farmers, for agrarian crisis, for suicides and on top of that there was an attempt to dilute the Land Bill that was passed. So the context was that this was not a helpful, pro-farmer, pro-poor government as they themselves have promised
NDTV: But the irony is we say the farmers of the country have won but I think, as Mr Yadav has pointed out, that the farmers are in the worst state. But I just wanted to bring Mr Murthy on that aspect specifically. Mr Murthy, why is it bad to be a suit-boot sarkar? Why is it bad to wear suit-boot? Do you find sometimes the irony, any hypocrisy in it?
Narayana Murthy: No, I, I, that is in some way hypocritical because at the end of the day, let's remember that we have to integrate with the rest of the world, If our economy has to progress, we have to export, we have to import. I had discussions with intellectuals abroad, we have to communicate with various cultures, and the reality of today is that most of the developed nations, including even Japan and China, they have adopted suit and boot, whatever right, wrong, that's not the issue. They vote a certain section of the Indian population finds that you can reduce friction to these if they are dressed in a certain way. They are not any less patriotic than anybody else who wears a dhoti kurta. I don't think these are important. What is important is to ensure that we leverage the part of these suit and boot fellows to create more and more jobs. We have to reduce friction to businesses, so that we can create more and more jobs. That is the only way Sonia, we can solve the problem of poverty. As it is, agriculture attributes to only 15% of our GDP, and about 60-65% of our people are depending on that. So, therefore it doesn't matter what UPA says, what NDA says, what anybody says. There is no hope at all of our trying to solve the problem of poverty for these poor people, by simply improving agriculture. We have to improve agriculture there is no doubt about it. We have to encourage them. The only solution, if you want to improve the per capita productivity, per capita GDP of people in agriculture, is to take away people from agriculture and put them in manufacturing, in services and in other areas of the economy. That's the only way all countries, that have made progress, have done that. They want to say, suit boot and not suit boot. All of this I think is juvenile and I don't think we should be wasting our time with such discussions. The reality of the matter is we have to reduce friction to business. Let me give you one data point about this, both UPA and NDA are responsible in this. Companies like Infosys, HDFC, ICICI, these are the three star companies of India today. We have been put under FCRA. It is a shame for the country that we have to get FCRA clearances thanks to of course what the UPA government did in 2010, and thanks to silence of the NDA government today. It's a shame that we are considered a foreign company, that we are being monitored who we give money to even in our Corporate Social Responsible activity. Will Jayant take responsibility to ensure that companies like Infosys, ICICI, HDFC, which were born in India, which have headquarters here, which are 80% of the employees, 90% of the employees in India be removed from the FCRA list, if Jayant was to take responsibility for this, on this, I would then say, salute to you
Jayant Sinha: I take full responsibility Shri Murthy, please send me you know this whole issue in writing
Narayana Murthy: No, I have sent it to Arun, I have sent it to Rajnath Singh, directly talk to Arun Jaitley and he will give you all the data
Jayant Sinha: Okay, okay. I will get all the data from him and I will follow up and you can hold me accountable for that
Narayana Murthy: Thank you
Yogendra Yadav: When I listen to a conversation like this, I really, really wish some farmer could do this to the Finance Minister, straight away
Jayant Sinha: They do all the time, they do. Farmers all the time
Yogendra Yadav: Honestly?
Jayant Sinha: Honestly, farmers
Yogendra Yadav: When a farmer could say, "hey can you promise me that this fraud call the National Insurance Policy is stopped", I have traveled 7 states and I can say, I don't use such strong words, its a fraud on the farmers. They are, they do not know that they are being insured, premium is being taken away from them and there is no question of any payment when they get crops failed. Anyway, I do not want....
NDTV: We can organise a programme like that, and I am sure Mr Sinha, would you come back with farmers? We will organise a programme
Yogendra Yadav: I do, I really would
Jayant Sinha: I am sure - does it, when he goes to his constituency and he faces farmers and deals with their questions, I have people lining up at my door every day in the morning in Delhi as well. I have an open office at that time, I meet people all the time, so everybody gets a chance
NDTV: So, let's get back. I just want to bring back on the fundamentals, really when we look at tackling poverty, because that's really been an interesting aspect, that the difference as I said, Mr Shourie was, perhaps he said, "NDA is a Congress plus a cow. Is there a fundamental way that both governments or both ideologies, whether it's left, right or center, and your government has on how to tackle poverty? Because we have seen, the Prime Minister believes the technology will be a great aid to actually lifting India out of poverty. Technology, he has talked about education. You have said that we don't want to be a nanny state, we don't want to go the MNREGA way to actually lift people out of poverty, though of course in drought times, this government also increased the number of MNREGA days
Jayant Sinha: No, no, so there is obviously...
NDTV: What's the fundamental difference between UPA and the...
Jayant Sinha: No, no, that's a great question, and let me answer that very directly. Which is we believe in a safety net, not in an entitlement state. There is a very big difference, the notion of the safety net is to ensure that every single individual in India is protected, they have the food security that they need in terms of being able to make a, you know, at least their ends meet, and keep body and soul together. So, that says nobody should go hungry, nobody should go without medical coverage, nobody should go without education, those are the essential public services that are part of any modern day social safety net. Those have to be in place
NDTV: Sachin Pilot, because in that sense, there are flaws perhaps in schemes like MNREGA, pointed out by the Planning Commission under your government extensively, that you can't have people digging wells and wells again and in the sense, you all just kept throwing money at the problem and then there was some reduction but it is much, much below expectations
Sachin Pilot: You look at any study globally or in India. The MNREGA programme actually gave safety net that Mr Sinha talked about. But the fact is that this government, and I want to come back to a point he made earlier, about how the evolution of finance has gone to the states. That's true they have increased the share of money going to the states, but what they have done is washed their hands off all the centrally sponsored schemes. So now the state has to fund the state government scheme and the government of India scheme. Taking 2 and you know, giving 1.9 away. I think it's just a play of numbers. The fact is, no matter what he may say today, the numbers of his budget that was presented by the Finance Minister of the state, very clearly shows that we have reduced the money for women, childcare, nutrition, for midday meal, for schools, for whatever, One lakh crore. If you don't have the money, how are the states, especially the poor and backward; now every state is different. Mizoram has different issues perhaps than Maharashtra. But there are many states and within the states of backward regions, the funding has stopped. So its choking the bare minimum that these states need to fight these issues. You can talk about creating jobs and investments, but I think what's far more important is to have money for women, for pregnant women, for children, for Infants, for under five, for school going kids, for mid-day programmes. Unless you have that you can't have a healthy society. And this poverty cannot be tackled with people who do not have enough to eat and unless the government steps in, whether it is Europe or America, Mind you, no government can pull its hands out of feeding the poor. Now if you say MNREGA is a bad programme, this current government, and I know the Prime Minister made a very satirical remark on MNREGA in front of the House, but they can't pull it back because its the only network they have for making sure there is a security net financially, for the haves not, for the people who migrate for droughts and floods
NDTV: Do you want to respond?
Jayant Sinha: Yes, I do want to respond, I think Shri Pilot needs to fiscal arithmetic a little bit better. The reality is that these programmes are going to be done by the state. The same amount of revenue that existed earlier exists right now, it's just been directed to the states rather than the center. There has been no cut back on these social sector programmes. Responsibility and the accountability have been shifted to the states, which is where it should be. This was discussed in thorough detail in the Parliament. We went through all the numbers. The Budget numbers are in front of everyone. They can look at that. Yet some of the central ministries have seen a cut back in their budgets because, that money has gone to the states, but it is with states right now
Sachin Pilot: Tied, or untied?
Jayant Sinha: No, these are both untied and tied funds and in fact there is a community of Chief Ministers right now that is working out exactly how the sharing agreement would work between the center and the states, is being done... But please, I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression on television right now, that funds have been cut back. They have not. They have just been shifted. That's quite obvious if you look at the fiscal arithmetic. So I want to make sure that people are clear about that
NDTV: Final thoughts on The Dialogues, Prof Yadav. What Sachin Pilot said that was in a sense an economic switch the electorate rejected in 2014. We don't know, of course the elections keep changing, in this sense, or the government and political parties and government campaign mode. Because every year here there is an election. But in that sense, this seems to be a disillusionment, with that rhetoric, there was hope for a change, what do you think? Do you think the programme outlined by Jayant Sinha is something that perhaps is seen as a more efficient way, that is there a hope or a relief that things are going to change, can actually be an improvement in people's lives?
Yogendra Yadav: I wish I could believe that, I really think there is a paradigmatic failure, something that cuts across UPA, NDA, and everyone else. You know, we actually don't have an overall model of development that would address poverty, so our model of development actually increases poverty and we say, oh my God, there are so many poor, so let's think of a MNREGA, let's think of a quick fix, let's think of something of this kind
NDTV: That's an interesting point, because in our best growth years we know that our malnutrition is still of sub-Saharan Africa
Yogendra Yadav: And jobs did not increase
NDTV: Yes, that was when our GDP was at...
Yogendra Yadav: What we really...
Jayant Sinha: I have to say, this is absolutely not right
NDTV: But I am going to come back to you on that, I am going to come back
Yogendra Yadav: Can I just, can I....
Jayant Sinha: Please go ahead
Yogendra Yadav: My only point was that what we need is a model of development, which includes the poor in wealth generation. In creating production you cannot first have a model of development, that excludes them and end of it say, oh my God they are left out. Think of a quick fix solution for that, and the difference between NDA and UPA to my mind, both of them had exactly the same model. NDA. UPA practiced it with some degree of guilt and therefore there were some sops which were added on to it. And to my mind, NDA is practicing it without that guilt, in a sense, in a somewhat brazen way. That's the only difference. What I like about those numbers, that yes, those were shifted, but some of you did a very careful calculation and added up the two and actually came to a conclusion, that the numbers have indeed gone down, once you add up the states as well. So, its, its growth without guilt, which is happening right now, what we need is a different model, Mr Narayana Murthy made a point about agriculture being shifted to industry, to my mind, I'd make a slight change there, it has to be agriculture plus in rural India. What we need is industry in rural India, what we need is for farmers, rural population to be able to do things other than farming as well
NDTV: And of course Bihar illustrates that, there are so many people, who can't go back to vote, because they are working in other parts of India. Mr Narayana Murthy, final thoughts, the new model of development needed and perhaps, the one that any of our governments had come up with, the paradigm shift in including poor in India's development discourse
Narayana Murthy: Oh I entirely agree with what Mr Yadav said. I think they are very thoughtful words, therefore agriculture plus other sectors of the economy, if we want to make farmers prosper, plus if we want to ensure that every farmer can take care of his or her family matter, then the reality that the agricultural productivity has to increase, which means number of people that depend on agriculture, has to go down. That is what I would say. Second important, important thing that all of us have to remember is this, ever since the excesses of Sanjay Gandhi days, no Prime Minister has stood up and said, first priority is reduce our population growth, and that has been given up, almost 40 years. Therefore the manifestation of this is, one poverty, second, malnutrition, third, land acquisition problems, etc, etc. This country, if you look at, it is, you know, China has times the land mass of India, it has 1.3 times of our population or 1.2 times of population, Brazil has a 6th of our population and 3 times the land mass, therefore the reality is simply this, that all of us together as a nation, have to take up family planning as number one priority and at this point of time, we have to, as Mr Yadav said, come out with a model of development which gives priority to agriculture, but with a view to improving the per capita revenue, per capita GDP in agriculture. And we have to reduce friction to business, therefore more and more people can invest, more and more people can produce, more and more people can create jobs, and that's the only way this country can become better
NDTV: Mr Sinha, final, final thoughts with you tonight. Jaitley has said again that the only way, that the socio economic census came out with the dismal figures of rural poor, he said the only way to solve this is the growth rate of above 8%. In that sense have we not learnt perhaps from some of the mistakes when the Vajpayee government, when your father was Finance Minister, when the Manmohan Singh government, when the growth of the record is highest? But as social indicators are worse than Bangladesh, growth alone cannot solve poverty
Jayant Sinha: Yes, you are absolutely right, growth alone cannot solve poverty and it's not just about one GDP number, as Shri Murthy has said and I agree with him 100%. There is in fact a development model, that is endorsed, validated and verified by all economic thinkers and economic historians and that has worked in every country and the path that we have to follow with our own sort of, permutation and flavouring of it, because it is India after all, that model is that of higher agricultural productivity, moving people from agriculture, strengthening agriculture, increasing our food production and so on. Bringing people into urban areas, giving them high quality jobs, that is the way economic development has worked around the world. And in fact if we are able to bring them into cities, then we have critical mass in these cities, we can provide them the services that they need, health education, and a much better quality of life. And if you look at what our programme is...
NDTV: But then cities will explode. The point he made the cities will explode if you bring in more people
Jayant Sinha: No, no, but that's what I'm saying, that's what I'm saying if you look at our development model what we are suggesting for India and that's why I rejected what Prof Yadav was saying when he said that there is no paradigm. There is very clear paradigm, and that clear paradigm follows exactly the manner in which economic development has happened around the world, which is what Shri Murthy is saying, which is, as I said, you move people out of the agricultural into the cities. Now as we are doing it in terms of our own planning and our thinking of course we are seeing higher production in agriculture, as I said, irrigation, soil health card, fertilizers, all those things, but we are also talking about a hundred smart cities. We are also talking about 500 better cities through AMRUT. So we are looking at urbanisation, what we can do in urbanisation. We are looking in fact at what we can do for manufacturing. We are looking for the growth of services, we are looking for Start Up India and in fact you know we talk about the land reform and...
NDTV: And GST...
Jayant Sinha: Absolutely!
NDTV: Bad in Opposition, good in government
Jayant Sinha: No, no, no. In fact they were not able to build a consensus on GST when they were in power. We built the consensus
Sachin Pilot: You were rejecting it, now you want to...
Jayant Sinha: No, no, no, we built the consensus. We agreed to the 1 %, which we were disagreeing, that is, those are the kinds of things you have to do in practical politics, to move forward and make it happen. But I'm saying there is a very clear development model that has been tested, verified, proven by all of the other countries that have developed quickly and we are facilitating all of that and we are trying to make it happen as quickly as possible. If indeed Congress would help us pass GST we can make it happen even faster.
NDTV: Well we have to end this debate here. As I said its not something which can be solved in a studio or solved perhaps just in South Block or North Block, but it is something, which is the biggest issue for India in the next years and decades ahead. Thank you so much Mr Jayant Sinha for coming in, Mr Sachin Pilot, Prof Yadav and Mr Narayana Murthy, thank you.