There are a lot of similarities between the policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Franklin Roosevelt. President United States Roosevelt took office in 1933 amidst the worst economic crisis of history – the Great Depression. He introduced an array of policies to revive the economy of the United States in what is known as ‘New Deal’. The New Deal gave the idea of a welfare state to US citizens. PM Khan also during Pakistan’s economic crises introduced policies that promise a welfare state.
PM Khan’s Idea of Naya Pakistan, A Welfare State
PM Khan says he wants to establish a Naya Pakistan on the model of Madina which he believes was a welfare state. PM Khan’s policies aim to reduce poverty and lift the living standards of the poor. He introduced the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme to boost the construction industry largely employing poor working class to create jobs and housing for poor. He introduced health insurance in the form of Sehat Insaf. His attention towards Ehsaas program shows his interest in the welfare of the poor. Ehsaas is social security program consisting of 134 policies and programs aim to eradicate poverty. Its emergency cash program during COVID-19 lockdown proved very successful. Led by visionary leader Dr Sania Nishtar, it continues to drive the welfare state policies of PM Khan.
How PM Khan Led the Economy Out of Crisis with Vision of Welfare State?
PM Khan-led Pakistan out of economic crises twice. First, when he came to power, the country was facing a balance of payment crisis. According to PM Khan, “There were only two weeks worth of forex reserves for imports in late 2018.” Today, Pakistan’s current account deficit has subsided with approx. $200 million of surplus in international payments during August 2020.
Second, Pakistan along with the entire globe was hit with COVID-19 economic recession. Thanks to PM Khan’s insights, he emphasized on the economic life of the poor and led Pakistan out of another economic crisis. In simple, he turned down the proposal of prolonged lockdown in the country which in turn helped in reviving the economy. Where our neighbour India with strict lockdown witnessed a staggering 24 per cent decline in the economy in the first half of 2020, Pakistan’s economy shrunk only by 3 per cent in the same period. At the moment, PM Khan’s vision of the welfare state seems to have helped.
President Roosevelt’s New Deal, A Welfare State
In 1933, US President Franklin Roosevelt came with the promise to fight the Great Depression. He called his policy the ‘New Deal’, which aimed to transform the US into a welfare state. Great Depression, starting in 1929, is considered the worst economic crisis of history. It was sparked by the crash of Wall Street which resulted in a huge financial crisis. Companies and banks started to fail across the US and unemployment skyrocketed. Millions were on the streets. At this time, a man disabled by polio promised Americans revival of the economy which by then had spread to Europe. The man, Franklin Roosevelt was elected President of the US. He introduced policies that of a welfare state.
He introduced a pension scheme, health insurance, a minimum wage standard, regulation of work conditions, promotion of labour unions and retirement security. He initiated public works across America. A network of road and railways was laid. New schools, hospitals and houses were constructed. This construction activity led to the creation of millions of jobs. As late as 1935, 90 per cent of rural homes had no electricity.
By 1940, 40 per cent of rural America had electricity—a rise of 30 per cent in only a few years. The electrification led consumers to buy electronic goods which also boosted the economy. All these steps encouraged huge investments that helped in the creation of wealth. President Roosevelt successfully fought the Great Depression. Lastly, the war economy during WWII, helped the US to become the largest economy with the doubling of its GDP in real terms. By 1950, 90 per cent of rural US was electrified.
It was because of this, President Roosevelt is considered the most successful president in the history of the United States. He is also the one who led the allies’ victory during World War II alongside British PM Sir Winston Churchill. No wonder, he is the only US president to have won more than two consecutive terms that is four in total from 1933 to 1945. Despite his physical disabilities, he was able to stand for his nation. He said, “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.
PM Khan’s policies focusing on social security, construction industry, job and wealth creation for the poor are aligned with that of President Roosevelt. So does PM Khan follow President Roosevelt?