Reinstalling Gadkari at the top will do BJP no good

Nitin Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari

Just why the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has graced Nitin Gadkari with a second term as its president, even going to the extent of amending the party constitution for this purpose, is a mystery.

Since the party's inception in 1980, no president has served two consecutive three-year terms.

A second term wasn't even given to L.K. Advani under whose presidency the party staged a dramatic recovery in national politics, increasing its tally from a pathetic two seats in the 1984 general elections to 86 in 1989.

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Indian politics can say that Mr Gadkari is not a patch on Mr Advani, both in terms of achievements as party president, or in terms of stature.

It seems clear that the reason behind Mr Gadkari's re-appointment is not his personal charisma or leadership skills, but the diktat of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) mandarins in Nagpur.

Being an RSS man from the same city, Mr Gadkari is obviously more acceptable to the organisation's top brass, which seems to consider itself as the BJP's version of the Congress high command.

The few decisions that the BJP president has taken on his own accord, such as deploying Uma Bharti and Sanjay Joshi in the electoral battle for Uttar Pradesh, as well as his support for nondescript industrialist Anshuman Mishra for the Jharkhand Rajya Sabha elections, have been disasters.

What the BJP and RSS fail to realise is that Mr Gadkari will be leading the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, which is for the BJP to lose, given the mess the ruling United Progressive Alliance is in.

It is unfortunate that at a time when the government is plagued by policy paralysis, the main alternative has chosen to put its most uninspiring face forward.

Dismal industrial growth

The 3.5 per cent contraction in the country's industrial production during March has come as major jolt on the economic front.

The government has been optimistic about pulling through with a 6.9 per cent GDP growth rate for the current financial year, despite the economic slowdown.

However, the disappointing numbers for the industrial growth rate seem to suggest that the economy may fall short of this target.

The fact that the production of capital goods has shrunk by as much as 21.3 per cent indicates that real investment is not taking place in the economy.

This is particularly disturbing as it is these capital goods that are installed in factories to produce more goods and determine the rate of growth in the future.

The government has until now been quite content with the fact that India's growth rate has been much higher than that of the western countries.

The slowdown has also been attributed to the slump in the demand for Indian goods in the western markets.

However, the latest figures have come as an eye opener and highlight the problem within. If investment has to take place then the government will have to work on a war footing and push through reforms that will create a conducive environment.

Interest rates also need to be brought down more aggressively so that corporates can step up investments and consumers get easier loans to buy goods and keep the wheels of industry moving.

Ban gifts to doctors

The unethical marketing practices of drug companies have finally caught the attention of our lawmakers. The latest report of the parliamentary standing committee on health has taken a strong position on companies 'bribing' doctors with costly gifts such as gold chains and foreign junkets in return for obliging them with prescriptions of their drugs marketed by them.

Promotional costs are loaded into the price of prescription drugs and constitute a major part of price of drugs, the committee has concluded.

The Department of Pharmaceuticals, which deals with drug industry, should have come down heavily on this practice. Instead, it is dangling a meek, industry-friendly code of conduct which is voluntary in nature.

Similarly the Medical Council of India has a code of ethics for doctors, which, again is tilted in favour of industry. It prohibits doctors from accepting gifts or hospitality but allows funding by drug companies for vague purposes such as 'medical research' and 'study'.

Unless both the codes are made mandatory and enforced stringently, the unholy nexus between drug industry and doctors would continue to flourish.


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