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Covid economic crisis: How left wing experts wanted to nationalize assets and impose a maximum salary cap

What I do know is that I am glad that India is run by the elected government of Narendra Modi and not by left wing experts like these. Are you?

In January of 2021, GST collections rose to an all time high of Rs 1.2 lakh crore. Even more significantly, this is up 8% compared to January of 2020. Note that there was no fear of Covid and no lockdown back in Jan 2020 and therefore no cushion of a low base effect. Despite 2020 being a year of unprecedented global economic disaster, FDI into India rose sharply by 13%. This was not just the highest among all major economies, India was among just two countries to see positive growth in FDI inflows. The other country was of course China, which lagged far behind at 4%, but showed positive growth nevertheless. For this year, the IMF projects India’s GDP growth around 11%, again the highest in the world.

We can always disagree about the extent, but you cannot deny the fact that India has posted a smart economic recovery. By all accounts, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has presented a bold, reformist budget. Privatization of two public sector banks, FDI limit in insurance hiked to 74%, a massive infra push by means of a Development Finance Institution (DFI) and a “bad bank” to gather up stressed assets and clean up the balance sheets of our banks. The market has cheered it too, going up 7% by the time of writing. Now, markets go up and down, but 7% is definitely an outlier.

As India gets on the road to recovery and reform, here is just a small reminder of how the great liberal intellectuals of India wanted to tackle the Covid situation. Who remembers how liberals wanted to use this opportunity to impose a 1930s style Stalinist collectivization on the Indian economy?

Here is the liberal plan for tackling the Covid induced economic crisis, in writing.

7-point agenda of ‘liberal economists’

Read point no. 7.1: They wanted to treat *all resources* (cash, real estate, property, bonds, etc) with citizens or within the borders of the country as “national resources.”

Chilling. Absolutely chilling. Do you remember who came up with this?

Those who endorsed this ‘Mission Jai Hind’

What a star cast! Those are some of the most “brilliant” economists in the world, who have worked at places from JNU to NYU to the London School of Economics. On any average day, you can find media liberals demanding that we pay homage to these experts and their supposed expertise.

Then, there was an outcry. You and I may have only studied at Whatsapp University. You and I were never “Associate Professor of Journalism” at Harvard. But when we heard that the big experts want the state to take away our cash, property, real estate everything (however little we may have), we protested.

We said NO! Comrade Stalin, go back! Not here. Not today.

One by one, the experts backed out. Apparently, there was some confusion. Some said stuff like they didn’t get to see the proposal or did not mean it that way. The great Yogendra Yadav backtracked too. He explained they were just talking about raising taxes. I suppose it was too hard to use the three letter word “tax” in a sentence.

This entire proposal was barely the length of a high school essay. Even if you give them the benefit of doubt, you have to accept that a bunch of the world’s leading economists could not compose one single page properly on a subject of their own expertise. And media says we should bow down before these experts?

Better go to Whatsapp university and learn how to compose tweets at least. What use is the London School of Economics if you cannot write even a coherent one page proposal on economic policy?

By the way, the government did not raise any taxes in the Budget yesterday. Let alone nationalize people’s property and cash, they have decided to privatize public sector banks. And India is still recovering sharply. In other words, folks like Yogendra Yadav did not know the way forward. What a surprise!

This was by no means the only time when liberals suggested using the pandemic to turn India into a nation of 1930s Soviet style collective farms. Have you seen this opinion piece in The Wire?

The Wire’s hot take on economics

Turning businesses into trusts working as non-profits? Yes, it is exactly as terrifying as it sounds.

All private companies could be converted to trusts with a board of trustees replacing the board of directors and a managing trustee replacing the owner. Everybody working for the company could be paid salaries decent enough for survival. 

It gets worse. They event wanted to set a maximum salary limit for individuals.

If the minimum daily wages under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is Rs. 202 in UP, then the maximum salary anybody should draw in government or private sector in UP should not exceed Rs. 2020 per day or Rs. 60,600 in a month.

A salary limit of Rs 60,600 per month for any person. And what happens to profits?

Any profit above total expenditure of private companies for the next three years  should go to the government treasury and the government could waive income tax for this duration. “

Can you imagine what would happen if the government actually tried to seize the profits of all private companies. Investors would flee India immediately. The stock market would collapse in half a second, turning everyone into a pauper. Whoever had any capital would try to escape and would never come back.

Ah, but I’m almost sure the authors of this brilliant proposal have factored that in. I suppose they would want the policy implemented by surprise, putting capital controls. In an instant, I guess the workers would seize the “means of production.” And the kulaks — counter-revolutionaries trying to protect their cash, assets, homes, chickens, anything .. would have to be rounded up and arrested. Did I guess correctly?

Who are the authors of this proposal, by the way? Apparently, they are “Lucknow based activists” Arundhati Dhuru and Sandeep Pandey. Could this be the same Sandeep Pandey who received a Ramon Magsasay award in 2002? I have no idea.

What I do know is that I am glad that India is run by the elected government of Narendra Modi and not by left wing experts like these. Are you?

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

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