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Opinion: The Monetisation Pipeline Will Be Taught In Schools As An Economic Blunder

The fundamental objective of any policy is not only to establish world-class infrastructure, or to build a vibrant start-ups ecosystem or to attract massive foreign capital. Well, these are necessary for the economy.

But, the most important aspect which needs to be met by a policy is transforming the lives of the people, uplifting people from poverty, and most importantly given the present state of economic affairs in India, creating demand.

On August 23, 2021, the finance minister of India announced the “national monetisation pipeline” (NMP), under which the government aims to collect ₹6 lakh crore (₹1.5 lakh crore every year, for the next four years) via rent, by leasing out the government’s assets and PSUs (public sector undertakings).

Representational image. Photo credit:

The assets which will be leased out are under the domain of roads, railways, electricity, telecom, ports, warehouse, airports, and stadiums.

If we go into the details, the list includes:

  • 26,700 km of roads;
  • 28,698 ckt km of power transmission assets,
  • 6,000 MW of hydel and solar power assets,
  • 8,154 km of natural gas pipelines,
  • 3,930 km of petroleum products pipeline,
  • 2,10,00,000 mt of warehousing assets,
  • 400 railway stations, 90 passenger train operations, 265 goods sheds,
  • Konkan railways and dedicated freight corridor,
  • 2,86,000 km of fiber and 14,917 telecom towers,
  • 25 airports and 31 projects in nine major ports, and
  • Two national stadiums.

By reading the provisions it looks like the most effective plan for this government, but only on paper. The Modi-led NDA (national democratic alliance) government has a standard of incompetence when it comes to the effective implementation of policies.

We, as Indians, have witnessed implementations from this government which has completely paralysed the policies which looked promising on papers, be it in case of demonetisation, and GST (goods and services tax).

And, in this particular case of the NMP, even minute mismanagement on implementation can massively cost India’s growth prospects.

The Devil Is In The Details

There is absolutely no clarity whether the ₹6 lakh crore ($80 billion) is the market value of the assets to be monetized.

But, if it is as per the government’s claim, then the total rental value it can expect from such exercise given normal cutting rates of 45% in such cases (100% return on capital), the government should expect no more than ₹1 lakh crore.

Here, the government is planning to lease out assets worth more than the rental amount the government is expecting to receive. The government should have spelled out what are its criteria and objectives.

The government is planning to get ₹1.5 lakh crore every year, for the next four years.

The finance ministry said that this exercise is to fund the national infrastructure pipeline. This infrastructure pipeline was first announced by the prime minister on August 15, 2019, worth ₹100 lakh crore. Then, it was updated again on August 15, 2020, to ₹110 lakh crore.

This year, it was repeated again on August 15. Now, the worth of the pipeline is ₹100 lakh crore.

So, the PM has announced this three times… Thinking no one will remember! So, the government is collecting ₹6 lakh crore to build an infrastructure worth ₹100 lakh crore. What mathematics is the government doing?. This is a complete scandal that needs to be discussed.

With a fiscal deficit of about 9.4% of GDP (gross domestic product) in 2020, and debt at 90% of GDP in the current year, the finance minister has no option left other than to fill up the government revenue through leasing our assets built over 70 years.

There is absolute vagueness on numbers on this policy, with which the government plans to operate to revive the economy.

What About Welfare? 

There has not been any provision by the government to categorise the assets on the basis of their utilities, revenue-generating capabilities, and on what basis were they chosen to monetised?

There are many assets under the arm of the government which is under utilised due to the low people dependency matrix.

But, such assets still continue to contribute majorly to the employment and welfare of the poorest people of the country, e.g. the railways. When the number of poor in India (with income of $2 per day or less in purchasing power parity) has more than doubled to 134 million from 60 million, in just a year.

The government has not bothered to look at its own responsibility of providing welfare to these people.

Is there any provision or any law being introduced by the government in this new plan, to keep a minimum limit on the investment or on the maintenance of the asset so as to continue the welfare and employment propositions of these assets?

Most importantly, can the government guarantee reservations (for marginalised communities) will continue under this new policy?

The private players will only look at the assets which can drive more value-linked profit propositions on their investments and lastly, at welfare.

Let us understand this with the help of an example. The highway from Delhi to Mumbai is one among the busiest roadway of our country, and certainly attracts more revenue from tolls and other business premises, an eye-catcher of the private players.

And if we compare Delhi to Mumbai highway with Delhi to Lucknow highway, the former has more revenue generation capabilities. But the latter has the adequacy to safeguard the employment and generate revenue for the development of its adjacent areas.

The governments from the beginning have played the role of an invisible force to maintain equality and provided penetrated welfare to the society. Has the NDA government done anything with NMP to safeguard the welfare credentials of our economy?

Where Are The Profit-Making Assets?

During the announcement of NMP by the finance ministry, there was no clarity on what basis these domains were selected for monetisation. There was no proper detailing on what aspects these assets will be monetised.

And, the fundamental question which remained unanswered by the finance minister is that are we monetising the assets or industries, which are profit positive or have the capacity to turn profitable after government intervention?

If yes, then certainly the backbone of our economy will go for a complete toss. The private players are inherited to show interest in assets that are bound to generate revenues with minimum or zero investments.

It will be a blunder on part of the finance ministry to lease out such assets to private players which could be managed properly and can be turned into profit-generating establishments.

If this happens then the entire objective of the government will collapse. Such assets could be used by the government to generate employment, to inject direct demand into the economy. Not to mention, it could introduce investments to encourage other industries to follow suit.

The Vicious Circle Of Time

The most nonsensical thing which the government has done which will surely prove to be ignominious is that there are no objective-based reasoning to lease out assets for 25 years, or in some cases more than 25 years, without any legal framework to guarantee the safe and sound state of the asset after the proposed tenure.

If the assets are leased out to private players without any legal framework to protect the utilities of the said assets. The exercise will result in tremendous wear and tear of the public property. This is a very general concept of an owner versus renter.

A legal framework should have been there to protect the assets built over 70 years with the sweat and blood of Indians. Do we have any mechanism to hold the private entity responsible if after the said stated tenure the condition of the asset, particularly profit-making asset depreciates?

If no, then this policy will prove as the last nail in the coffin of the Indian economy.

Heading Towards Another Modi-Made Blunder!

There is not even a single economist in India apart from bureaucrats working in this mysterious organisation called NITI Ayog, who believes that this plan can help revive the Indian economy. Many developmental experts are suggesting that the only way this policy can work is if the government has robust regulations and complete transparency.

The former may prove a disaster for private players, as the private sector in India is not happy with the effective regulations. It may have the potential to restrict the profit and growth premises of the private players.

It may also lead to hurdles in the process, proving as an obstacle in receiving further investments, and eventually turning it into a complete state of paralysis.

About the latter, this government has made a name for itself on the face of the earth when it comes to dismantling transparency, hiding official facts and figures (remember, we still don’t have the official count of doctors who died saving us from Covid-19, as per the response to a question asked in parliament), deviating from the agendas, and creating narratives with the help of their mouthpieces.

A frontliner tests a villager for Covid-19 in Rajasthan. Representational image. Photo credit: IMPRI.

This policy is by no means addressing the immediate concern of the economy. The economic cycle in India can only be put back on track by encouraging the demand. Infrastructural investments are only there for the next 40-50 years. Such investments do not have a multiplier effect on demand.  Which the government should understand before it’s too late.

Overall this policy has no means to an end. It will prove disastrous, a vicious circle of 25 years operated by few monopolies with no social security.

By implementing this policy, India, unfortunately, will witness massive job cuts, unbearable inflation, and the emergence of monopolies which can one day get bigger than the state.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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