This is the 13th time in 13 years that I am presenting my Alternative Budget. There have been few, rare occasions when finance ministers have unveiled proposals that have made me hopeful about the future of India. On most occasions, the budgets have been spectacular and persistent failures. When he became prime minister in 2004, Dr Manmohan Singh came with unparalleled experience in administration and economics.
So what went wrong? Not only has Dr Singh repeatedly failed to say no to some really crazy and harebrained schemes cooked by Jholawala members of the National Advisory Council, he has also been so mysteriously silent over the last nine years that none of us knows exactly how much he cares. Now, people have even begun to question his integrity and timidity.
So what options does Dr Singh really have for India? I hate saying this: but not a single, major step to accelerate economic growth has been taken by the UPA government since 2004. Our GDP growth rate has crashed. Latest estimates indicate that the GDP growth rates fiscal 2012-13 will be a dismal 5.4 per cent.
My main proposal in this ‘last chance budget is crystal clear tackle corruption and make the judicial system of this country functional. The outrage is too huge and people are in no mood to forgive anymore. The key to making this country devoid of economic and physical rapes is a functional judiciary that will also solve the key problem of corruption in India.
Corruption and greed are globally prevalent, yet it touches far less lives in the USA than in India simply because the American judicial system is functional they have ten times more judges per million people than in India. If we have to achieve such standards, we need to have about 100,000 more judges.
To have 20,000 additional judges per year, we have to budget for an additional amount of approximately Rs6,000 crores per year, assuming that the expenses around a judge and his office assistants will not be more than Rs 30,00,000 per year.
I would thus propose that we keep aside a minimum of Rs 6,000 crore to immediately set up special fast track courts. These courts should try corruption cases against government officials and politicians; and should complete the hearings and deliver their verdicts in one year. If convicted, the politicians and senior officials must be forever barred from public life and their assets seized.
My request to Dr Manmohan Singh is very simple: for nine years, you have carried on with the tag of being a non performer and a non leader. You also know that there will be no more budgets with you as Prime Minister after this 2013 exercise since the one presented in 2014 before the Lok Sabha elections would be a vote on account. I appeal not just to your sense of duty and patriotism but also to your sense of history and your ego. This really is the last chance for you to redeem yourself.
The author is a Management Guru and Honorary Director of IIPM Think tank