To you and me, 100 crores is a lot of money, much beyond our immediate comprehension.
By- Kp Aravindan
1000 crores? It is huge.
Each All india Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to be built in various parts of India costs about that much. Well, The state of Gujarat with one of the worst records in child malnutrition is building a Patel statue with central help at the cost of 3 AIIMS institutes! Not to be outdone Maharashtra ruled by an RSS pracharak, is building a Shivaji statue for the cost of another 3 institutes. The malnourished children can go gawk at the Sardar or the Maharaj when they are really hungry!
Now what about 10000 crores? Astronomical? To put it in perspective, it is the amount set apart by the Government of India in 2017 for recapitalization of all public sector banks. Do you know what is the entire health budget of the Indian government? 37000 crores. And for the National Rural Employment Generation program (NREGA) benefiting some 7.5 crore people they spend 40000 crores. The average central government expenditure for the entire R&D per year was about 24000 crores during the 12th plan period. This included expenditure for departments of Space, Atomic energy, Biotechnology, Science & Technology, CSIR etc. And all these departments have now been asked to tighten their belts.
The growth rate is plummeting. There is virtually no employment generation. Massive amounts need to be infused into the economy to spur growth and employment once again. Alas, no such thing is in sight.
But astoundingly, we are making a commitment for a high speed rail line, 500 km long at a cost of… Well brace yourself: 110000 crores (1.1 lakh crores)! It will reduce the speed of travel from Ahmedabad to Mumbai from 7 hours to 3 hours! The ticket will be something like Rs 5000, more than air travel which takes less time!
Whom is it going to benefit? Maybe a handful of Gujarati businessmen with flight phobia. And of course Japan. It is the Japanese technology coming with a loan of 88000 crores that will be used for the bullet train. They have been desperately seeking to sell this technology to others in face of stiff competition from Chinese technology which is cheaper. So far, only Taiwan has opted for the Japanese version, and they wouldn’t want to buy it from their arch enemy, China. How does India benefit? Of course, we can say we too have a bullet train! Those who would try to club it with the Mars project (Mangalyan) as an S&T boost should desist. Mangalyan was development of indigenous technology. The bullet train is just buying a curio to display on the shelf.
Another beneficiary may be the Modi – Amit Shah team, desperately needing to put on a display to a wary Gujarat electorate and cover up their mismanagement of the economy. True enough, Japan has promised further investments in Gujarat.
But why should the rest of India foot the bill for a surely loss making enterprise, eating into our opportunities for economic growth, jobs, health, education and scientific research?