The Blue Circle discussion: Narendra Modi's note ban, GST implementation criticised, Doka La approach lauded

In what could have been an another soporific lecture session or a regular one-sided discussion to mark the launch of a company or product, The Blue Circle’s day-long panel discussions on Wednesday on ‘Indian Political, Social and Economic Barometer’ in the backdrop of social media was not only in depth but engaging as well to the audience.

Differences in opinion, disagreements and contrarian views backed by arguments acted as a barometer to analyse the success and lacunas of the Narendra Modi government.

In a threadbare analysis, the panellists tried to delve into the policies of the NDA government — from geo-political to impact of economic reforms.

While on one hand, Modi's policies of demonetisation and implementation of GST were criticised, on the other, his tackling of the recent Doka La stand-off and cross-border terrorism with an iron fist received wide applause.

The first anniversary of the decision of ‘Demonetisation or Note ban’ on Wednesday made the discussion -- ‘Will the remedies work the system or poison it?’ -- in the Business and Economy session particularly interesting; the debate ranged from demonetisation, GST implementation, Modi’s economic policies to his efforts to curb corruption.

Making a scathing attack on the impact of demonetisation and GST implementation, lawyer and founder member of Swaraj Abhiyan, Prashant Bhushan said, “There’s no doubt the PM is a very hardworking man, so is Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. But, both have a common trait as both take decisions unilaterally without consulting others, which are purely political and electorally beneficial. As a result, the note ban decision brought disaster in the lives of people. Though GST itself is not bad and had been under consideration for a long time, its implementation was faulty and the process is cumbersome. It has left small traders in great distress. Every data, survey and study show that inequality in economy and income has increased in the last three years.”

 The Blue Circle discussion: Narendra Modis note ban, GST implementation criticised, Doka La approach lauded

A panel discussion in progress. Image: Debobrat Ghose

“There has been no progress in appointment of Lokpal to bring transparency. Why does the government not make public the names of bank loan defaulters?” he asked.

In defence, BJP national spokesperson on economic affairs, Gopal Krishna Agarwal said, “Based on two main promises, PM Modi came to power -- uproot corruption and economic development. He was elected as PM not to manage things but to bring structural reforms. Several steps have been taken to curb black money generation and corruption, through Benami Property Act, for example, and prevent leakages in deliverance of social sector schemes through Jan Dhan accounts. People have started accepting policies of the Modi government, as they’re able to find equal participation in the development process. Action has been taken against 2.11 lakh shell companies created during the UPA regime for money laundering.”

“Both GST and demonetisation were mammoth exercises, and the latter pushed business transaction into banking channel. The government has identified 50 to 55 major bank defaulters and action would be taken in due course. It’s Modi, who, by setting goals, has taken accountability of his commitments made during the election. Next election will be a real test of acceptability of our policy by public,” he added.

Addressing the geo-political session, Bharat Karnard, research professor, Centre for Policy Research, argued that Pakistan was neither a threat in the past nor at present and it won’t be in future. “Pakistan’s GDP is one-sixth to one-seventh of the market cap of the Bombay Stock Exchange. It’s our problem when we see threat in Pakistan. Earlier also, I had said that nuclear installations across western border be removed to gain trust.”

Referring to the issue of Doka La stand-off, Karnard added, “India needs to have targeted and calibrated use of hard power and it should be used as a cutting edge. India needs to go for strong infrastructure building.”

On whether wealth played a decisive factor in war, Hindustan Times foreign editor, Pramit Pal Chaudhuri said, “Economic power is very important along with technology, military power and political will, but not the only decisive factor.”

When asked whether the geo-politic moves of the current government will benefit India or will we pay a price, former commander-in-chief, Indian Army, Lt Gen Arun Kumar Sahni, observed from the audience, “The Modi government is doing well on geo-political front. The PM through his policies has taken bold steps to ensure India’s strong position at the global level. As far as discourse on restructuring of military is concerned, it should be left on army personnel rather than on panel experts with no military background.”

Referring to the impact of social media on an individual, host/ moderator Pavan Choudary, managing director, Vygon asked panelists Madhu Purnima Kishwar and Nitin Pai, “Are we better off today or was yesterday better?”

Finding interaction on social media better, founding editor of Manushi and professor at CSDS, Kishwar said, “It helps me to engage with various kinds of people. Unlike in the past, social media is not restricted only to the elite. It’s for all to air their views and opinions freely. When I had criticised a few decisions of Modi, his followers on social media attacked me. But, simultaneously there was a larger group that came in my support. It’s real democracy. If someone is extremely malicious and sulphurous, you can block him, unlike in real life or in society.”

Pai, founder of Takshashila Institution, argued, “There’s lot of rudeness in society against women, against those who are below our class; and it’s reflected on social media as well. If you are liberal, you have to respect others’ views as well, rather than being abusive. A section of society or group can enforce anyone to follow certain things. It’s for the state to decide and protect one’s freedom through law.”

Kishwar expressed serious concern over easy access to pornography on social media. “If we raise voice against it and ask for a ban, a section including the media opposes it, in the name of liberalism. However, social media can be best used to gain global knowledge,” she observed.

Both panelists agreed that there might be sharp disagreements in public discourse like on social media, but it brings out more dimensions.

Firstpost was media partner for the event organised in New Delhi on Wednesday.

In his concluding remarks, Siddharth Anand, co-founder and director, The Blue Circle, said, “The Blue Circle will hold similar meaningful panel discussions round the year. The Community will learn, network and bond together through the platforms we curate for them. Members will be chosen through a careful screening process, through a Credibility Scoring Test that we’ve developed. Our objective is to assist the leader in collaborating with people of their kind to learn and grow together.”

The Blue Circle, a new virtual gymkhana, hopes to serve as a platform for top honchos to network, relax and channelize their personal and professional growth among like-minded company.

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Updated Date: Nov 09, 2017 12:14:05 IST

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