The fate of the Indian economy had never been as awful as it is today. The onslaught of the pandemic exacerbated the downturn which was reeling from the ill-conceived policies of the Govt. It was only also for the first time in the history of an independent India that India’s economy contracted. And, as per Ministry of Statistics and Implementation official data, India’s GDP had fallen by 23.9% April-June period quarter of 2020. The PM’s unforeseen imposition of national-wide lockdown had cast cascading effect on the fragile economy; rendering millions of people unemployed and plunging the vulnerable into poverty. Those who lost their livelihood, haven’t yet coped up with the situation. On the other hand, during the lockdown, the wealth of the billionaires grew by 35% in India, according to Oxfam’s ‘The Inequality Virus’ report. Oxfam’s report also highlights, the amount of wealth India’s 100 billionaires gained during the lockdown, if distributed to the poorest 138 million Indians could result in each of them receiving a sum of Rs 94,045.
Amidst this, the Govt’s sadist policies wreak havoc on the common man. The burgeoning fuel prices, despite any increase, in the International crude oil price in an aberration. This Modi Govt has been maximalist in squeezing the common man to fill its coffer and the petroleum prices have come in handy in its realisation. The petrol and diesel prices have been rising unabated in the country and have breached the century mark in almost all the states and Union Territories.
The same Petroleum Minister who happened to be in charge since the ascension of PM Modi, until shunned away to a different ministry, remained in oblivion. When asked, he had retorted by shifting the blame on International prices, not knowing even when the International Crude oil price was at a nadir, the fuel prices in India had not dropped. The average price of the imported crude oil was lower than 50$ barrels in the period between April and December 2020. Saudi Arabia’s power called the bluff of India’s oil Minister by urging India to use the oil purchased cheap last year from them when he was pining the blame of increasing petrol prices in India on international dynamics. The biggest question is if the price of petrol was 76 rupees in 2013 when the international crude oil price per barrel was 110$ then why are we paying 100 rupees for petrol now when the Govt is buying crude oil at 55 $ a barrel.
In a span of just seven months, the price of the domestic cooking gas cylinder has risen by 250 rupees and all these happened without any fluctuation in the international crude price. It is the only commodity in India that is taxed twice actual its prices. The taxes on fuel in India is the highest in the world, accounting for 69% of the retail price. One of the conventions of them had been placing the onus of the ill on the previous regime. All these have to be borne in mind because fuel prices have a direct bearing on inflation. The rise in the prices of commodities is a corollary of rising transportation costs.
Ever since it assumed power at the centre, the Modi-led BJP Govt has inflicted the generation Y the most with unemployment. It is in this dispensation that the country suffered the worst of unemployment in 45 years. Underemployment continues to fester the youth today. People with a doctorate degree applying for a peon job is the crudest manifestation of it.
The number of employed people in India has been constantly declining since 2016, reveals CMEI data, compiled since 2016. It shows the fall from 407.3 million in 2016-17 to 405.9 million in 2017-18 and 400.9 million in 2018-2019.
As per CMIE, unemployment has risen to 6.9% in the month of February 2021. According to a private agency, COVID-induced lockdown ejected 122 million Indians out of the work. Following the lockdown, unemployment soared to 26.2% in April 2020. The unemployment rate had continued to rise even after India embarked upon its economic recovery. According to CMIE, (Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy) the unemployment rate was highest in the month of December 2020 standing at 9.1%, since June 2020, after the economic activities had started. Not to forget, 90% of India’s workforce is employed in the unorganised sectors with no social security.
PM Modi not only floundered to delivery on the economic front but aggravated the economy with his injudicious demonetisation and GST. The wrath of which is still borne by the country. The Pew Research report revealed that India’s middle class was the worst by the pandemic as 32 million people in India were pushed out of the middle class. While over 75 million people in the country were pushed into poverty, which accounts for nearly 60% of the global increase in poverty in 2020.
The Govt provides solace to the economic woes through its well-crafted slogan and acronyms. Make in India, Vocal for Local, and the latest in the line of it is ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ or a self-reliant India. The ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ package of 20 Lakh, crores which the Govt televised over the week for its enumeration had not provided direct benefit to the common man as other nation’s stimulus had. The USA granted 1200 $ per adult, Japan paid 100,000 yen to its citizen and Germany paid each family 300 euros per child whereas in India the Govt in lieu solicited funds from the common public by setting up PM CARES fund, which till today is out of public scrutiny and it is not subjected to scrutiny. Many corporate houses funded crores of rupees just to be in the good book of the Govt but have not paid the salaries to their employees. The MPLAD was suspended for a period of two years further to deal with the pandemic.
This whereas not getting translated in immunisation of the citizens. India has the second-largest pandemic outbreak in the world but is one of the least immunised countries in the world. As of July 11, 2021, only 5.4% of India’s population is fully vaccinated whereas around 22 % of them have received the first dose.
The Union Budget was presented post the lockdown was platitudinous; it did not lay out any specific for the economic recovery battered by the pandemic nor provided any relief to the middle class. Having failed to get in the foreign investments, the Govt is now resorting to privatisation of even the profitable entity in pursuit of its aggrandisement and hyperbole. Laying the foundational stone for a new parliament building, costing a whopping 20,000 crores, when the economy is in tailspin leaves nothing to say for this professed Modinomics.
India’s savings plummeted to 30.1% in the fiscal year 2019 from 34.6% in the fiscal year 2012, and 36% in 2007-08, indicates Central Statistical Organisation data. It is the lowest in 15 years. Indian households which contribute to 60% of India’s savings are also seeing a continuous decline.
Devoid of any policies for job creation, Modi has fallen back on the same MNREGA which he had once ridiculed as a “living monument of Congress-led UPA’s failure”. If the course correction is not taken, BJP’s jingoism will become a jinx for the nation.