Professor Prasanta -da (PD)was invited by Ghanashyam Goswami Memorial Foundation to deliver a keynote address on Keynesian Economics , Tantric Buddhism and the Tolerant Traditions of Santana Dhamma. The winter birds usually return by end of January and he is booked on the 30th flight back. He is headed for Nebraska. The Correspondent of Grossly Happy Magazine Shri Pundarikakkho Pakrashi (PP) managed to corner him for an interview.
PP: Thank you for agreeing to the interview
PD: Absolutely, my pleasure. However, please confine your questions to Economics because that is my area of expertise and that should be the lakhsman rekha.
PP: What do you think are the two mistakes Modi made?
PD: You are making my task difficult by asking me to pick just two. To recount a Bengali saying , I am like "a burning ghat technician"who becomes visually challenged in a bamboo forest , difficult to choose, he has made so many blunders. But if you ask me to pick two they are obviously demonetization and GST. Demonetization has rendered millions of people unemployed, destroyed thousands of small industries and sent a flame through the economy such that our GDP has nosedived as never before.
PP : If it has been so bad how it is that he won in all successive elections-Gujarat, HP and Uttar Pradesh?
PD: Well that is not an economic question but, what the hell, I know the answers, and I must tell you.
He has been able to inject among the poor a schadenfreude for the plight of the rich who allegedly have suffered from demonetization more and that has converted into votes.
PP : But it is no longer a burning issue, right?
PD: For us in Nebraska University and amongst the diaspora in the US it will continue to be a research topic. As you know I am writing a book called India: 2020 -the post-Modi Vision. There will be a chapter on demonetization -an evil act that destroyed the economy.
PP: But it seems Professors Rogoff and Thaler do not agree with you?
PD: But Thaler said Damn in his Tweet and Rogoff prescribed a much slower demonetization.
PP: Well I did not quite read it that way. Thaler supported the nudge of demonetization but said damn to Rs 2000 note when this was pointed out to him. Saying damn to a big denomination note does not mean he reversed his main postulate. Rogoff has been pleasantly surprised that it did not do as much damage to the economy as his Indian colleagues in US Universities had told him. Ditto for Paul Krugman. OK now are you against GST?
PD: In principle I am in favour of GST but Modi botched it up with multiple rates.
PP: But surely you understand that the rates are an outcome of a compromise and a political process. The rates are determined by a GST Council where all state Finance Ministers are represented, it is not decided by Modi. Why did you have a government shutdown in the US-because of bi-partisan negotiation on issues, right?
PD: You are trying to drag me into political waters. As a US citizen I decline to comment on US politics sitting in India.
PP: How will US protectionist politics impact the Indian economy?
PD: I decline to comment on US politics sitting in India.
PP: Will the corporate tax cut in the US impact the Indian tax competitiveness?
PD : This is a highly charged political question disguised as economics and I decline to comment on US politics sitting in India.
PP: Do you support the tweaking of H1B visa rules in particular and tightening of the immigration laws vis-à-vis India
PD: Immigration is political with a polarization across party lines. I decline to comment on US politics sitting in India.
PP: Who is Stormy Daniels?
PD: That is the code name for a Category 5 hurricane which was pre-empted from making landfall near Florida by disaster control experts
PP: What do you think about protests against Padmavaat film in India?
PD: It is emanating from the hate politics preached by RSS and Modi
PP: But Karni Sena at best is a caste-based organization, nothing to do with Hindutva. Both Dalits and Rajputs are hindus.
PD: But this the hate politics of Modi. You cannot say I am not Cinna the conspirator, I am Cinna the poet. If you say so I will proclaim that the poet must be hanged for his bad verses.
PP: What about inter-faith marriages
PD: Attacks on so-called Love Jihad is shameful -this is all Modi’s hate politics
PP: What about banning of instant triple talaq?
PD: The personal laws of minorities must be respected. Modi is not trying to empower Muslim women he is trying teach the Muslims a lesson. It is hate politics.
PP: Do you support nika halalah and polygamy?
PD: Who am I? I live in Nebraska. This is for the Muslim community in India to decide.
PP: How about child marriage and sati amongst Hindus?
PD: I think the culprits should be severely punished.
PP: Do you realize that the above Q&A has no bearing on your subject of expertise : economics and you are a US citizen giving unsolicited gyan to India but declining to comment on the US?
PD: Well I was born in India. I understand India. And we in the US understand India and its problems much better than you guys here.
PP: You come to Calcutta and Santiniketan every year but you write on Gujarat model but never on Bengal model. Why?
PD: It is very well researched and documented that the Gujarat model is an unmitigated disaster.
PP: Since it is so well researched let us talk about Bengal? Do you think industrialization is picking up rapidly?
PD: This is a political question masked as an economic one? I decline to comment on Bengal politics as I am a US citizen.
PP: In the recently concluded BGBS investors have committed nearly Rs 2.35 trillion of new investments creating 2 million new jobs on top of 8 million already created-do you believe this is a credible claim?
PD: I am an economist not an astrologer, I cannot comment on forward looking statements.
PP: What is your view of crony capitalism?
PD: The Ambanis and Adanis are sucking this country dry -they must be brought under severe regulation
PP: Incidentally Ambani and Adani were the star attractions in BGBS-would you like to change your assertion?
PD: I would like to study their proposal in greater detail .For now, please don’t print my comments.
PP: Do you have any suggestions for India and Bengal?
PD: Yes Modi must be removed. He is stuffing the academia with charlatans and buffons. One of his Education Ministers want to rewrite Darwin’s theory
PP: I think you have read that the senior minister has asked the junior to shut up. Be that as it may,what are your views on awarding an honorary D.Litt to a sitting Chief Minister?
PD: This is a political and not an academic question. I decline to comment on Bengal politics as I am a US citizen. Thank you very much my friend is calling me for dinner -he is a fellow academic and a leading politician of the ruling party. I must go. Take care.