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Modi govt is clueless about Indian economy, lacks talent to fix it, says Shekhar Gupta

At ThePrint’s Democracy Wall in Sonipat, Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta spoke on a wide range of topics — free speech, Pakistan & Delhi’s notorious smog.

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Sonipat: The Narendra Modi government is currently clueless about the economy and needs help, as it “lacks talent in economic management”, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta said Monday.

Speaking at ThePrint’s free speech campus initiative Democracy Wall, organised at the O.P. Jindal Global University in Sonipat, Haryana, Gupta said the government lost all its qualified economists as it is “talent averse”, attributing this talent deficit to the likes of BJP leaders who disregarded Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee’s scholarship.

But he also said that just because someone has won a Nobel Prize that does not mean one has to agree on everything. “I don’t agree with Abhijit Banerjee on many things,” he said.

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On free speech

The audience at the event mainly comprised law and journalism students, who had several questions for Gupta. 

Asked about a quality that good leaders should have, Gupta quipped: “I am no Kautilya who can think of an idea for a Chandragupta.”

A student asked Gupta to explain where free speech ends and hate speech begins. He replied it’s extremely easy to distinguish the two, and characterised hate speech as incitement to violence and hatred against someone. 

Gupta also said there is a huge difference between hate speech and criticism, saying: “I have never blocked, reported or muted anyone.”

He further said that values like free speech, democracy and equality come under threat when society starts taking them for granted. “There is a constant need for reminders… the Emergency was one such reminder,” he added.

‘Pakistan is no threat to India’

Speaking about Pakistan and its dominance as an issue in Indian politics, Gupta explained that the issue is not with foreign policy, but India’s domestic policy.

He said: “In today’s world, to think you will completely black out a country, that too a nuclear weapon state and a neighbour, is unsustainable.” 

Gupta also explained that people are bored of Pakistan as it is no threat to India, and that it is a cheque that has been encashed, which is why in the recent Haryana and Maharashtra elections, issues like Pakistan and Article 370 did not have any resonance. 

“People are emotional but not stupid,” he added.

On Delhi’s notorious smog, Gupta said it cannot be reduced by only asking Haryana and Punjab to stop stubble burning, but by sitting down and talking to Pakistan, as the air moves from west to east.

Talking about the world order and India’s place in it, Gupta explained that for India to have a place on top, it needs to work on its strengths. 

He listed three main strengths — India’s social composition and diversity, the talent of its population, and its democratic system and institutions. Gupta stressed on the need to develop and focus on these strengths to become a key player in the world. 

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  1. For once agree with Mr Shekar Gupta, that too only on economy.

    In his second term despite having such a huge mandate, Mr. Modi is behaving like a new born socialist. He started with the slogan “Minimum Government & Maximum Governance”, but even now they’re not doing much for giving up control on most areas.

    Is it the job of the Govt to run hotels and airlines. How is it justified to have more than one Oil PSU. If he doesn’t do this now – at the beginning of his second term, with such huge majority when he’s going to do it. By doing it the govt can get revenue which can be used for infrastruture etc. and generate employment.

    Wish some better sense prevails & the govt really move in that direction

  2. It is easy to comment adversely about the economy. Mr.Guptha is very good at it being a seasoned journalist and commentator.
    The government has initiated many measures and it takes time to see the put ome and result.
    There has been huge investments over a period of time but private investments are slow to come by despite the favourable climate created.
    Banking is fixed more or less and availability of credit should improve now.

  3. Shekhar Gupta is an antinational corrupt person and working against this govt since say one as this govt has tightened the corrupt practices and he has suffered huge losses .Such journalists get money from enemy countries and tarnish the image of india.

  4. Many years ago, I met a very senior air force officer at a party in Karachi, and asked him about our use of jihadi militants in Kashmir. “You civilians don’t understand,” he said in an obnoxiously superior tone. “With about 5,000 fighters, we have tied up several divisions of the Indian army in Kashmir. Had it not been for our boys, these divisions would have been on our border.”
    But as our negotiating team has discovered, the rest of the world is neither blind nor stupid. In fact, Pakistan has been given a lot of time on the grey list to block channels of terrorist financing. Now, the vice is tightening, and if our tottering economy is to avoid a mortal blow, the authorities had better deliver on their promises. Irfan Hussain in DAWN 16/3/19

    And still Shekhar would tell us Pakistan is no danger to us. And we have to believe him!

  5. In any objective evaluation of the situation, it must be admitted that it is Pakistan that has pioneered the use of non-state actors to further its agenda in the region. And, more often than not, it has used faith as a rallying cry. Irfan Hussain in Dawn

    And still Shekhar Gupta says, pakistan is not a danger to India.

  6. Shekar Gupta know BJP critic. He was the person who wrote on army movement to Delhi. Looks like paid emissary

  7. Neither is there talent nor is there any intent. Present government is determined to take India down the same path of failed socialist policies of the last 60 odd years. Once this government is finished India will reclaim it’s place as the world’s poorest country with rock bottom HDI.

  8. When opportunity is available to Indian librandus to show their talent and satisfy the rising aspirations of new India, they miserably fail to deliver. However, their mind runs at lightening speed to abuse Modi whatever he does and doesn’t. Shekhar Gupta is no exception to wishful thinking.

  9. There is hardly any aspect of national achievement and progress that can be detached from the strength and resilience of the economy. For that matter, continuing political and electoral success can also be sustained only when the vast majority of a Indians see continuing improvement of their standard of living. This should have been the central focus in the first one hundred days after the magnificent victory of May 2014. All else is salad leaves.

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