Pauperizing the people

The Centre has announced that subsidy on cooking gas will be discontinued from March next. Meanwhile, every month, the cost of a gas cylinder will go up by four rupees. Simultaneously, the State Bank has announced reduction of interest rate on savings accounts from 4 to 3.5 per cent. Other banks may soon follow suit. Few remember now that once savings account deposits earned five per cent interest. Earlier, interest rates on term deposits, including those made by senior citizens, were reduced repeatedly. Banks are now charging their customers for cash deposits and withdrawals in various ways. You deposit your money in your bank account, you are charged. You withdraw your own money, you are charged. Rising prices and falling incomes go hand in hand.
One explanation for the banks charging their customers for rendering services which were free all along and the reduction of interest rates by doses is that the massive cheating of the banks by the dishonest corporate bosses who took loans of thousands of crores of rupees but did not pay back either the principal or the interest, driving most public sector banks to red, is being sought to be recovered by charging the honest citizens who neither conceal their income nor earn by dishonest means. In other words, the common people are being fleeced to make good the cumulative losses (NPAs) to the banks caused by the super-rich crorepatis. None of the promises made by the BJP at the time of the general elections in 2014 (like depositing fifteen lakh rupees in every bank account holder’s account) has been fulfilled. But things are being done which the people were never told the party would do if it came to power.
Naturally, discontent is growing. Mass discontent is a cause of worry for every ruling party. If the cause of the discontent cannot be removed then its expression has to be prevented. So an atmosphere is being created that criticism -- any criticism – of the Government is motivated and biased and those doing it are unpatriotic and anti-national. Democracy acts as a safety valve because it allows people’s feelings to be expressed openly and fearlessly. But if discontent is not allowed to be expressed but is suppressed, over a period of time it creates a situation that threatens democracy itself. That is a prospect that nobody should want. If the rulers cannot gauge the feelings of the people they will endanger our democratic polity and ultimately themselves.

Wednesday, 2 August, 2017