Speeches

Highlights of Former Union Minister, Shri.R. Prabhu ‘s speech at the
United Malaya National Organization,”UMNO” Conference in Kuala Lumpur on 19th October 2010

Forum discussion on becoming a Global citizen, Media Liberalisation and New Political Realities.

Prabhu Speeches We have heard with great awe, Tun Dr.Mahathir bin Mohamed’s , very inspiring and informative Keynote address Yesterday, on how to become A Global citizen and Media liberalization and new Political Realities Challenging us . We have also been hearing the views of delegates from  Various countries for the last two days.
 
I would like to speak on these subjects, with specific reference to  India.
The founding Father of India’s republic always put the country’s Quest for freedom in the context of the lager struggle against colonialism and imperialism. So whether it was Mahatma Gandhi, who earned his spurs by taking on the racist regime in south Africa or Pandit  Jawahar Lal Nehru  Expressing solidarity with the Spanish Civil War against the anti democratic

Fascist forces and other anti imperial struggles, India leaders were always cognizant of their for. Responsibilities as global citizens.

Even during the second world war, the Indian leadership agreed to Support the allies against Hitler’s Germany, despite being under the British
Rule, due to the realization that fascism could present a greater danger to

  It was during the days of the cold war that country’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru realized how the gains of its new found Independence could get frittered away if India was compelled to join
One of the military blocs. It could distort economic and foreign policy
 In a manner that could be detrimental to its people and the nation core
Values Nehru with the support of other world leaders led a non-aligned movement (NAM) to ensure that small nation were able to stand their ground against pressure from the Eastern or the Western bloc.

My purpose of talking about the Nehruvian model is to underline the Simple fact that India’s economic and foreign policy has always been drive By global values that have survived the test of time.
 

Countries have become much closer today because of the explosion in Communication  and  Information Technology. Today we can sit in the comfort of our living room and watch alive tennis match being played at Wimbledon or a would cup cricket match being played in England or Australia. The invention of the personal computer and the internet have Opened up a whole of information, which can be accessed sitting in Your office room or study places.
 

Economic liberalization and globalization has integrated all the global Economic.

 Dr. Mahathir, in his address, explained to us about how President Bush Waged an unnecessary was in Iraq and also said that in today’s nuclear  World disputes between countries are best settled by negotiation or by
Appealing to a world court with the necessary jurisdiction
 

Prabhu Speeches  I would like to say further on that subject that the wrong economic  Policies of the Bush administration lead to the sub prime crisis in the \  United states of America and this affected all the world economic. But  Fortunately for India, because of  bank nationalization by prime minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi in the late 60’s, India was insulated the global Economic melt down of 2008. In fact prime Minister Mrs.Indira Gandhi’s intension of nationalization banks was to see that poorest of the poor could avail of the banking system .

India has a vast population of 120 billon people of various castes,  Creed and religion, but our founding father and makers of modern India Have integrated all these different religious and castes and made one  united India In fact , this unity in diversity is the strength of India . 

 
  I am glad that the honorable delegated from philippines has raised the subject of poverty in the developing countries.

 

In India, we still have 35% people below  the poverty line.  It has been the continuing endeavor of the Indian national Congress   Government To transform the various human resources from the Liabilities side
  Of  the Indian Balance sheet to the Assets side.

 United the guidance of our president of the Indian National Congress , the chairperson of the United progressive Alliance , and chairperson of the National Advisory Council ,smt. Sonia Gandhi , our prime Minister Dr. Manmohan singh  and his Government have embarked on very ambitious poverty eradication programmes. 

  Smt. Sonia Gandhi had the opportunity to see for herself the problems And the difficulties of poor people living in rural India when she traveled Extensively through the length and breadth of  India with her husband ,late
Prime Minister Sri .Rajiv Gandhi in the later half of the 80’s.
   
  In the true tradition of the Nehru Gandhi family, Sri .Rahul Gandhi,  General secretary of Indian National Congress has many a time stayed and  Spent the night in the Dalit homes, to learn first, hand their difficulties,
  problems in their daily life . He has also given various ground reality inputs  to design the anti –poverty programmes .
 
  The Government of India is spending nearly Rs.8 lakh Crores or $120 Billion in anti-poverty programmes and educational programmes in the year 2010.

  Imparting education probably is the most important system approach to cradicate  poverty, by making the individual aware of what is going on around him and make him aware of his rights and how to fulfill his desires.

 

  It is in this context that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi after his   Bharath Darshan ,(travel throughout the length and breadth of the India)  Realized that there were millions of Indians who are illiterate and do not  Know how to read or write. so,they only method he felt was to impart  Knowledge  and education to them through the electronic media. 

That is why in 1986 Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi introduced the scheme Where every panchayat in this country would be provided with at least one   Community television .in fact,some states in India have expended this
  Scheme and are providing free television sets to people below the poverty  line .

  The Forest Rights Act2006,The Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment  Guarantee Act, which India is implementing has got praises from the United  Nations and the United Nations has passed resolution of congratulations and have asked other developing countries to emulate this example. There are
  Many other programmes  to ensure inclusive growth.
 
  The chairperson of National Advisory Council, Smt .Sonia Gandhi Is now finalizing scheme like a revised Food security system where wheat And rice are given to millions of  Indians at cheap controlled  price.she is   Also formulating a scheme Education for all in India,where free education  Is imparted upto high school level .These two far reaching poverty   Eradication and imparting knowledge schemes are likely to be passed in  The Indian parliament very soon.


  India is a  large country with 1.2billion growing at an average Rate of  9% Our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has reached $1.25  Trillion and Foreign Exchange reserves are nearly $300 billion.
 

  Today , an Indian is truly a global citizen .wherever we travel.  Whether in the USA ,the UK , the middle east south East Asia , we  Find Indians In fact , even Malaysia there about 9%Indian population .  Indian have reached great heights in most of the places they are .In Fact Two top Multinational Companies in the world are headed by Indians Citi Bank and pepsi Cola have Indians CEOs . They were born, brought Up and educated in India . Thereafter they have reached the pinnacle  Of their employment in the United states .

  There are certain still certain barriers to global trade ,which are trying to be eased by the WTO talks and the Doha rounds of negotiation , But  unfortunately , due to the economic melt down and unemployment in the United states ,certain restrictions in the BPO operations and other IT systems are trying to be brought about by the United states . I am  Sure when  president  Obama  come to India in the first week of  November, these kind of problems would be addressed to him,

Before I conclude I would like to say a few words about Media Liberalization and new political realities.

The press in India has always been free and freedom of speech has Always been protected. In the last 63 Year,after we achieved  independence The Indian National Congress Government has governed India for 53 years And other parties have formed Government for 10 years. But there is a Unwritten national consensus among political parties to protect the freedom of speech and allow the media ,both print and electronic to be free and independent.
 

there are now nearly 1400 Television stations in the country .we have 100 million internet connection and this is growing by nearly 15% every year .In Fact we are trying to provide cheap high speed internet services to most of rural Indians . 

 

Prime Minister Mr. Najib of Malaysia came to India early this year and has concluded some far reaching trade agreements with India. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan singh is coming to Malaysia in the last of this Month and I am sure that this co-operation and trade will be taken to the Next level.  

 

  Yesterday in a press interview some journalists asked me what I though about Malaysians going to Indonesia and creating problems in that Country .They asked me that in this context, how could global citizenship Be workable .
 

  I took a page out of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ‘s thoughts ,After  Independence when  panditji  had  gone abroad , Indian citizens there  Approached him and poured out the problem they were facing .Panditji Told them that they had left India and settled down in country and their  First loyalty should be the country that they had adopted , if they were  expecting India to take up their problems with the respective countries then think Expatriates in various countries should follow this advice .

 

I would like to conclude by thanking Prime Minister  Mr. Najib (who is also the President of UMNO) and the organizers of this UMNO Forum discussion for making excellent arrangement and for selecting this subject, Which will be very relevant in the times to come .



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SHRI R. PRABHU (NILGRIS):Mr.Deputy-Speaker, Sir, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak.

I rise to support the Interim Budget as presented to this House by Shri Pranab Mukherjee who, in the words of the leader of the BJP,is the senior most parliamentarian in India and also one of the most competent Ministers in the UPA Government. I was quiet pained to hear unnecessary remarks by the previous speaker,Shri Ananth Kumar. He started by saying that Shri Pranab Mukherjee was like a night watchman in cricket.

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I do not know how many cricket matches he has watched. But i can tell him that many night watchman have scored centuries the next day and won matches. That is what this Budget is all about. When you formulate an Interim Budget, there are many constraints of precedence, of convention and of issues of propriety. So, you cannot tweak tax rates and you cannot give a Budget which is populous or what people are expecting.

Shri Ananth Kumar said that this Budget is like Satyam's Balance Sheet. I can only come to the conclusion that he does not know how to read the balnce sheet of a company nor does he know how to read a Budget document. I take responsibility for saying this because I am going to explain what I mean. There have been a lot of criticisms of this Interim Budget, both in the newspapers and elsewhere. Whenever a Finance Minister presents a Budget in this august House, the people immediately expect some tax breaks, some raising the threshold limit of income-tax or some concessions for big industries. These are the things that people watch. The Press plays up these things. This is not the Press's opinion, but the opinion of the people who give their opinions to the Press. So, I am not blaming the Press for it. I am just saying that the people have not understood the import of this Budget.

We will have to go to the backdrop on which this Budget was formulated. There is an international financial meltdown. Whether we have been insulated or not, I will come to that point. The American Economy has collapsed; the European economy has collapsed. In most other countries, the people of those countries have lost confidence in their banking systems because a company like Lehman Brothers, which was a very big investment banker and had dealt in billions of dollars had finally would up. So, the people are worried to keep their money in the banks.But in this country we do not have that problem. It is because Smt.Indira Gandhi, four decades back, had nationalized the banks so that the poor people of this country would get justice from banks and would be taken care of.

We have seen President Obama in America. He has also devised an economic package for revival. Of course, I am not comparing that with this Budget. But when you have to revive an economy, what is the best way? The Government has to spend more money. The Government has to put more money in poor people's hands. If you get more money in poor people's hands, you will get a stimulus because consumption starts. When you give money to a poor man, he immediately goes to buy food for his family. If you give money to a man from the middle-class or a reasonably rich man, he saves it, which also is a good idea. If you give money to a very rich man, he will put it in tax havens or buy islands, yachts or cricket clubs or stuff like that.

This Budget has allocated a lot of money to rural India. It is the beat Aam Admi Budget which any Government has formulated till now. I will explain why I said that. An amount of Rs.2,00,000 crore have been allocated to social programmes. I am coming to allocations in a few minutes. This Budget does not concentrate on making millionaires of the Fortune 500 kind. It concentrates on making slum dog millionaires, the people living in rural areas who will get health, education and other facilities.

Unfortunately, Shri Ananth Kumar is not here to hear this. I would like to state that we a very big country with a large population of 1.15 billion people. We are growing at an average rate, in the last five years, of 8.9 per cent. This year the growth has gone down to seven per cent. He was giving a lot of figures. I am not going in to those figures because as you know it requires me to go through the Budget documents again. I would like to state that most of his figures are awry. I do not say he has falsified the figures. But he has interpreted them wrongly. We have such a big economy. In 2007-08 the GDP was Rs.47 lakh crore;in 2008-09,it was Rs.54,26,277 crore;in 2009-10, the prohection is Rs.60,21,426 crore, at a growth rate of 10.95 per cent.

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So, that is how this GDP grows. He said that "fiscal deficit was 6 per cent and 5.5 per cent and he said that it is untenable; it cannot be achieved to help our economy and it cannot be sustained". I differ with that.

Sir, what has this Budget done? I am going back by a few decades when late Shri Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India. He went to the North, South, East and West and visited places where no other Indian has visited and along with him, he took his wife,Shrimati Sonia Gandhi. There is a reason of my mentioning this as she has learnt a lot from those visits because she has seen how rural India lives and what people in rural India need. That is why, iam sure, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has taken some ideas from her and from Dr.Manmohan Singh and formulated an 'Aam Aadmi' Budget,a udget which will uplift the whole of rural India and also give a fillip and a kick start our economy

Sir, I would just like to quote a few figures because Shri Ananth Kumar waxed eloquent when he quoted a lot of figures. This Budget has given nearly Rs. 2 lakh crores for social sector. Bharat Nirman has been allotted Rs.40,900 crore.Bharat Nirman is having a lot of programmes in rural Indial. NEREGA, which is the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act,has an allocation of Rs.30,100 crore and fertilizer subsidy is Rs. 20,000 for the farmers. Sir, under that National Rural Health Programme, the allocation is Rs.12, 070 crore. He was saying that it is 0.25 per cent or 0.1 per cent. I do not know what figure he was quoting because if you take four per cent average, it is for five years and it is not as if we have to give every year four per cent. So, the total figure will probably come to four per cent.

Then i come to Mid-Day Meal Scheme. This is the scheme which was started by our late Chief Minister, respected Shri.Kamraj Nadar who wanted people's children not only to get education but also benefit from helth and education at the same time. Now, this Government under the leadership of Dr.Manmohan Singh has extended this Mid-Day Meal Scheme to all schools in India and for that they have given Rs.8, 000 crore in this Budget.

Now, I come to farmer's loan waiver scheme. Ha was saying that it is a very small scheme A total of approx. three and a half crore farmers have benefitted from this scheme. The allocation this year is Rs.30,100 crore. The total allocation in the last two years, when this programme came into being, is Rs.60,000 crore. I think this is a phenomenal boost to rural economy and the farmers.

Now, I come to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). He was talking very loosely about it. Sir, education is a very important thing for development in this country because imparting education to people in the rural areas is making them from just people who consume to people who perform. As you know, recently in many fields, including Cricket, people from rural areas have done wonders and we have won many Cricket matches because of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Then, he was saying that there was nothing for the middle-class and people in Urban India. I think some time earlier, the Hon. Minister of Labour, Shri Oscar Fernandes was talking about in a calling Attention Where Shri Rupchand Pal and others also participated. I would like to tell you that a very revolutionary scheme called Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission has been given to India and a sum of Rs.11,840 crore has been given this year.

Sir, my own home town of Coimbatore, for the last three or four years, has been allotted Rs.3,000 crore for the upliftment of district rban Coimbatore. I think this is phenomenal. You cannot have a better scheme than this for Urban areas.

Now, I would like to come to the Forests Rights Act which is the brain Child of Madam Shrimati Sonia Gandhi. Iam very happy to say that the United Nations has passed a resolution saying that this is very unique Act and this kind of Act should be followed by other countries. This is on record. Where can you have better schemes than this? What about the Self-Help Group scheme?

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You can find thousands of self-employed ladies, lakhs of self-employed ladies. They have transformed from just timid housewives to people who can earn their own living. That gives dignity to women, empowerment to women. What more can you do? I am very unhappy that Shri Ananth Kumar, who is the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance, talks in this manner very frivolously. I think, that is not right because this is something which the whole country is watching. We cannot score mere political points for political differences. I condemn him for saying that the Hon. Speaker said something yesterday. He does not know that the Hon. Speaker has apologised today and reversed whatever he said. So, I hope, the people of India reverse whatever Shri Ananth Kumar wants.

Then, he was saying that we are going to get into a debt trap. He has given out all sorts of figures. I am not going into those figures just now but i would like to point out something. Looking at them very simplistically, we can find that we have assets over the years. Right since Independence, a lot of money has been spent on assets which are created like in railways, airports, aircraft companies, public sector companies. Other big companies have been created. But if you take the assets and look at the liabilities for the last two years, you will find one thing. If somebody like Shri Ananth Kumar says that India is going to burst, it does not burst like that. For the year 2007-08, the difference between liabilities and assets is Rs.12,65,000 crore. The liabilities are higher than the assets. For the year 2008-09, it is Rs.15,54,000 crore.For 2009-10, it is projected at Rs.17,67,000 crore, I agree here that it is alarming prima facie. But then you would have to understand what has happened to all these things, where was this all spent, how it was spent and when it was spent.

Here, I would like to make a point that these assets today are valued at historical values, when it was invested. Suppose Rs.100 was invested five years back. Today, that asset is valued only at Rs.100 in our Budget document. Looking at this kind of a balance sheet, we have people like this saying that India is going to burst and India is no good, the congress rule is no good and they should come back to power. I do not know about it. When they were there, people have rejected them. That is why, the congress is sitting here. Tomorrow, elections come and the people have to decide.

Trying to minus assets and liabilities is trying to minus a full apple from a grape! I say this because when you have assets at historical values and liabilities at today's value, how can you match them? You cannot just match them. I will give you a very simple example to understand. When the LIC was formed, it was formed with a capital of Rs.5 crore. Now, we are trying to increase the capital to Rs.100 crore.Shri Rupchand Pal had also objected in some other Committee that it should not be done. But, Sir, the turn-over is rupees eight lakh crore. So, if you say that the LIC is valued at Rs.5 crore, then it is ridiculous. So, I would request the Government at this time that we should have another column in the Budget document where we re-value our assets and give realistic values. I know it may be statutorily not correct because in the company's balance sheet, you cannot do that. But ultimately in the case of the company balance sheet, after five years, you can do it. Similarly, in respect of the country, it must be done. Why I am saying this is because of the sovereign rating of the country. Looking at the assets and liabilities, some people, prima facie, say that this country is not going to perform well, our sovereign rating comes down. If we have to increase our sovereign rating, than, we should have another column with re-valued assets and then these liabilities are nothing. When a country is growing at the rate of 9 per cent, these liabilities are nothing. These are the assets and the liabilities that have been created. But there is something else which are externals.

Now, we are spending so much on the social welfare and social schemes where does all this money go? It goes as liability only. What are the assets that they create? We educate the people in rural India. We are stopping migration from rural India to the Urban India for job-seeking because we give them jobs there. Whenever we educate somebody, the whole family gets educated after that. That is the development on India, rural India. So, all the money that is going to be spent on these schemes is going to give a multiplier affect and exponential growth and we are going to get the benefit in the years to come.

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For example, if a man gets educated, he gets a better job and once he gets a better job, he earns money, he spends that money, he pays income tax and he pays service tax. so, the Government also benefits slowly from this. It is not as if all these expenditures are going down the drain. It is creating human assets and from the liability side of the balance-sheet of India, the human resources are going to the assets side. So, this is what this Budget aims at and it is a total Aam Aadmi Budget.

Shri Ananth Kumar was also criticising that prices of some commodities have gone up. I accept that there has been rise in prices in the past. But the inflation which was at 13.5 per cent has been brought down to 3.7 per cent. It did not happen automatically. It is because of the fiscal measures that have been taken, it is because of the stimulus packages which have been given and monitoring by the Central Government these things have happened.

Sir, the minimum Support Price for paddy and wheat has been raised to unprecedented levels and I am sure, sir, you being from Punjab will understand this more than anybody else and because of the two stimulus packages announced by the Prime Minister in December and January, the economy has now turned around in sectors like steel, cement, automobiles, fast moving commercial goods, food and beverages. In some other sectors also this has happened.

I spoke last time on the global meltdown. At this time, I made a very important point. The Government, from time to time comes out with stimulus packages, the Reserve Bank of India, which is monitoring the monetary policy, comes out with notifications, comes out with clarifications to the banks on these issues and i find that the banks do not follow the Goverment's notifications, Goverment's stimulus packages and RBI directions in letter and spirit. I am happy that as soon as Pranab Da became the Finance Minister, he called the Chairmen of all the banks and told them that whatever changes are announced by the Reserve Bank of India in its Monetary Policy, you should follow them in letter and spirit. I have to say that some banks are following them in letter and spirit, but some banks are still charging high rate of Interest. The Reserve Bank of India has brought down the repo rates, it has brought down SLR etc. and so the interest rate should automatically come down. But some banks are still keeping the interest rate at 13.5 per cent or 14 per cent. The ideal rate of interest today should be 9.5 per cent as it is being charged by the State Bank of India.

I am saying this specifically for the industry because people were talking about job losses. What happened in the industrial sector? Due to global meltdown what has happened in India? We have lost exports. The IT sector, which was booming, has lost exports. But what about local industries and local consumption? It has not come down. Export-oriented jobs have been lost. I know this personally because I am near to Tiruppur. Tiruppur is only 40 KMs from Coimbatore. From Tiruppur, garment export was to the tune of Rs. 6,000 crore. Today it is not even half of that, but that is a specific sector of export. What can India do for that and what can the UPA Government do? There is slow down in America and slow down in Europe and so orders are stopped. The Government is trying to give some packages, some incentives for them and it will take time for the jobs to come back.

Sir, I would like to focus- I have said it many times in this House before -on our traditional industries. Pranab Da should keep an eye and monitor that our traditional industries like textiles, plantation industry, sugar industry which are all larger employers of people are taken care of by the banks. The banks should help them in this time of need because jobs should not be lost. Small tweaking is required. I am sure that with his experience and knowledge it will be easy for him to do it. In the Interim Budget, I saw a paragraph that Non-Performing Assets by banks have come down significantly. I am very happy because the banks will be flush with funds. The Hon. Finance Minister, in his Budget Speech, said that he was going to recapitalize banks, give banks more capitals and like President Obama, we should lay down some rules and conditions for people who are taking packages from the Government, I would request the Hon.Finance Minister also to make it clear to the banks that they are getting stimulus packages from the Government, they are getting capital from the Government and so they should help the industries which are suffering, especially the job-oriented industries and also in bringing down NPAs, no mala fide action should be taken.

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Sir, there are banks which do all sorts of funny things when they reduce the NPAs. They just set off assets and NPAs to asset restructuring companies which have started to come up in the last two years. I know a particular case which I brought to the attention of the Hon. Finance Minister. This was a case where the NPA was Rs.1,500 and the company by negotiation sold the NPA at Rs.180 crore to an asset restructuring company.

Sir, it is my duty because it is for the last time I have stood from present constituency as it has been become reserved in the delimitation exercise. There is a public sector company called Hindustan Photo Films at Ooty. This is a pride of Asia. There is only one of its kind of company in the public sector in the whole of South-East Asia. It produces x-ray films, it produces films for CAT scan, it produces films for MRIs and also black and white photographic films

Unfortunately, it has become sick because of reasons beyond its control. Now, the Government has formulated revived plans for it and also it is coming befor the Board for revival next week. The total cost of revival is Rs.300 crore and cash outflow is only Rs.150 crore. So, I would request the Hon. Finance Minister to see that this proposal is pushed through at the earliest.

Before I Conclude, I have a wish list for the Hon. Finance Minister. He said that he was going to give another stimulus package if it was necessary. But i would also like him to consider reducing the LPG prices by another Rs.25 and aslo try to reduce the service tax from 12 per cent to 8 per cent so that the prices will come down.

Thank You, Sir. I would like to support this Budget wholeheartedly and i sai that it is an aam aadmi Budget and could be presented only by such an experienced and knowledgeable Finance Minister like Pranab Da.

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