oppn parties The Economy Is In Severe Distress And Needs Major Intervention

News Snippets

  • After both candidates got 34 votes in HP. Congress' Abhishek Singhvi lost in the draw of lots as the BJP candidate was declared winner
  • ED issues 8th summons to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in the excise policy scam case
  • Prime Minister Modi introduced the three IAF group captains - Prashanth Nai, Ajit Kirshnan and Angad Pratap - and Wing Commander Shubhangshu Shukla, who have been shortlisted for the first manned space mission of ISRO
  • Centre appointed former SC judge A M Khanwilkar as the new Lokpal. It also named three judicial and three non-judicial members of the Lokpal panel
  • A 9-judge Supreme Court bench started hearings on whether states are entitled to tax mineral-rich land in their respective states
  • Taking note of the huge disparity in charges in government and private hospitals for most treatment procedures, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to strictly enforce the CGHS rates or warned that the court would have to step in
  • Calcutta HC ruled that regardless of a woman employee being regualr or on contract and whether her contract permitted maternity leave, employers cannot deny childbirth and maternity leave to any women employee as it 'seeks to create a class within a class which is not permissible'
  • Sebi asks MF companies to disclose more risks associated with their small and mid cap funds
  • Vodafone Idea board approves Rs 45000cr funding infusion
  • NCLT clears Hinduja acquisition of Reliance Capital at Rs 9650cr upfront payment within 90 days of approval of resolution plan
  • Stocks returned to winning ways on Tuesday: Sensex gained 305 points to 73095 and Nifty 76 points to 22198
  • Commonwealth Chess championships: Mitrabha Guha wins title by scoring 7.5 points in 9 rounds
  • WPL: RCB beat Gujarat Giants by 8 wickets
  • Bengal starts paying MNREGA workers out of own funds as Central disbursement is stopped due to alleged 'discrepancies' in accounts
  • ISC chemistry paper postponed to March 21 just hours before start of exam due to "unforeseen circumstances"
Cross-voting in Rajya Sabha elections enables BJP to snatch seats in UP & Himachal /////// Congress government in Himachal in trouble as some MLAs revolt
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The Economy Is In Severe Distress And Needs Major Intervention

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator.

There are many options available with the government to revive an economy in distress. Accordingly, a pro-active government should be ready with a Plan A, and an efficient government will add Plan B, C and D to it, when first signs of distress appear. In any given situation, the first requirement is to identify the type of economic distress and then design the revival plan accordingly. The government has a pool of brilliant economists at its disposal and it can always requisition help from outside experts. The only requirement to act is political will.

But India is different. Here, when signs of economic distress rear their head, the ruling dispensation spends months denying it. Ever since jobs became scarce in India from the middle of the NDA's last term, the government was in a denial mode. It published various data, in colourful infographics to boot, to show that it was opposition propaganda, backed by a section of the media that was against it, and jobs were in fact expanding.

In its second term too, the government has chosen to ignore the warning signals, like falling auto sales, severe contraction in manufacturing activity and almost no demand for bank loans. It is still denying that there is something seriously wrong. Most government spokespersons pointed to the "strong fundamentals" of the Indian economy and said that it will bounce back. Others tried to show that even at 5%, the economy was growing at a faster rate than many other countries.

But that is not the ground reality. There is severe economic distress all over the country. Most automakers have reduced production and laid-off workers. Many auto dealerships have closed. The auto industry is the bellwether of manufacturing activity because it, along with downstream auto component units, employs nearly 50% of the workers engaged in the manufacturing sector. Hence, if they start shedding people from the workforce, the chain effect is disastrous for the economy. The common man has started feeling the pinch and has now become vocal as his or her income goes down due to lack of business.

Apart from removing a ban on the purchase of new vehicles in government departments, the government has done little to address the problems being faced by the industry. The result has been that auto sales have continued to decline and August was the 10th straight month they have gone down. The situation has reached a critical level. This is all the more distressing as India was emerging as the go-to destination for the auto industry in the last few years and major car manufacturers were ready to invest in manufacturing facilities in the country. The dream is souring fast.

The government has to act fast to reverse the downtrend. The time for cosmetic, short-term or knee-jerk response is over. There have to be major investments by the government in the infrastructure sector. This will result in increased demand for steel and cement. There will be a cascading effect on other industries. Once money starts flowing in the economy, sentiment will improve. Then, the government needs to look at structural reforms. Deep structural reforms in multiple sectors are required to give the economy a direction and prod the private sector to start investing again. These reforms must necessarily include measures to cut red tape and ease the process of doing business in India. That is absolutely necessary to attract FDI as foreign investors were not impressed by taking back of the tax imposed on their earnings in the budget or the economic package announced recently. The government has to do all this and more if the economy is to grow at 7 to 8% and become a $5 trillion economy in five to seven years.