Indian Economy- Present and the Future

While all news channels are busy minting their way to higher TRPs, missing the real important issues in entirety and the Twitterati and all other platforms discuss #CAA someone needs to talk about #Economy too. Employment is at a 45 decade high. Economists attribute woes to a mix of cyclical and structural slowdown, triggered by a mix of policies and quarterly moods. Some pass it off as the regular economic dip which hits the global markets every decade. India has been sailing through these economic depressions and actually growing but this time the slump is far below. With GDP at 4.5%, and core sectors suffering overwhelming target of a $3 Trillion economy by 2025 and all this amidst the shockwaves of the ‘economy bomb’, we have got to get our act right before it’s too late.

Understanding the Indian Economy:

Indian Economy is characterized as a developing market economy. It is the world’s fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). The Economist Intelligence Unit had suggested that growth in 2019-20 will be 5.2% – significantly below potential and evidently, it has turned true, as India’s GDP hangs between 4.5-5%. Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee has pointed out, household consumption has fallen since Prime Minister Modi entered office in 2014, something that hasn’t happened in “many, many, many, many years.” His advice: Get money into the hands of the rural poor and “pray.” While the ruling government’s two top leaders, the PM himself and ‘hand to the king’ Amit Shah believe otherwise. If you ask them, this is just a global slump and the BJP has, in fact, made some revolutionary economic reforms that have fulfilled decade-old demands of this industry.

Speaking at ASSOCHAM’s annual conference, Modi said that before 2014 the country was heading towards disaster. “My govt not only stopped it but brought discipline to the Indian economy,”

By far, the passage below which I read in an article on explains GDP and its manifestation in physical terms in the most simple manner. Read on then we discuss a little more of it in the Indian context.

“The rain has stopped. You step out of home to run a few errands. On the way, you find a Rs. 500 note lying on the ground. You pick it up and put it in your trouser pocket, thinking you’ll donate it to the local charity. But you give in to temptation as soon as you cross the local book-shop and buy the latest bestseller for RS. 500. The bookseller is an alcoholic and uses the money to buy his stock of alcohol for the day. The liquor shop owner takes the Rs. 500 note and walks across to the local cinema and buys a ticket for the latest movie, featuring his favourite heroine. He also buys some atrociously priced popcorn and a soft drink. The cinema owner has to go to attend a wedding at the other end of the town and he gives that very Rs.500 note to a taxi driver, given that his driver is on leave.

What’s happened here? The movement of the initial Rs. 500 has made everyone better off. The initial Rs.500 has been spent four times and has generated Rs. 2,000 worth of economic activity. In that sense, the first Rs. 500 contributed Rs. 2,000 to the Indian gross domestic product (GDP). The same wouldn’t have happened if you had taken the Rs. 500 and deposited it in the bank or simply kept it in your pocket.”

The example shared above (which is inspired by a similar example in Lanchester’s book) shows precisely how economic activity adds to the GDP. One man’s spending is, after all, another man’s income, and the income can be spent again. So, the cycle is supposed to work and add to the economic activity and the GDP.

GDP, Nominal and GDP (PPP):

GDP, in the most conventional sense of the term, is the “measure of all the goods and services produced inside a country” at current market prices. Nevertheless, as John Lanchester writes in How to Speak Money: “GDP can be thought of as a measure not so much of size… It measures the movement of money through and around the economy; it measures activity.”

GDP of a country is the value of all final goods and services in a nation in a financial year divided by the average population of the country. It is called as ‘nominal GDP’ when the value is converted to exchange market rates to US$. GDP with respect to PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) is simply the total value of all the goods divided by the average population in a given financial year.

Where the India economy stands today?

During the 2008-09 recession in the last decade, India actually registered constant growth at 6% through the 12 months of the global economic slowdown. Now this time Global impact is much larger than the last decade as India’s exposure to global economies has increased, MNCs now enjoy a bigger bite of the Indian marketplace. Weak consumer demand and credit squeeze since 2018 post demonetization and GST (Goods and Services Tax), the economy has taken a dive. The ‘core’ sectors of any economy, as they are called are the deepest hit. These include automobile, real estate, banking sector, services, and manufacturing activities. 8 core sectors fell by 5.2% from 7.3% in September 2018 to 2.1% in August 2019. Major corporations are deep in loan and foreign players are withdrawing themselves. The crucial sector of Micro, small and medium enterprises which are vital players in the Indian economy needs our special attention.

According to Jammu and Kashmir’s leading trading body Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), the imposition of curbs, spontaneous shutdowns and internet blockade in the Valley since August 5 has dealt a major blow to Kashmir’s economy as it suffered losses between Rs 14,295 and Rs 17,878 crore. This is just one state while there are several other cities losing trade and commerce due to conflicts.

The various reasons and discussions on the Indian economy clearly indicate that the usual market operations have been hindered which could be a fluctuation indicating an adjustment to change in systems of trade and taxation. However, the transition period should be shortened to ensure a good lift-off from here. Some external factors like America’s trade sanctions on China, India’s trade embargo with Pakistan and the global economic shockwaves have a major role to play in weakening India’s economy.

How to fix this?

In the recent rankings, India ranked 63rd in Ease of Doing Business Index and ranked 68th in the Global Competitiveness Report. The market is idling away in the hope of a demand boost which won’t be easy without reforms. While the supply side is focussed on by government demand creation remains grossly ignored. Indian markets are no good if supply growth and logistics management are bolstered but demand slumps. Generating more jobs would do the trick as it will help in generating income that will, in turn, boost the GDP. The government must shift focus towards MSME and controlling NPAs which are over Rs. 8 lakh crores now.

The Silver Lining: Why Now is the Time for Growth?

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, India stands to become the largest growth engine in the world in the upcoming global economic shift. The top companies have grown at 25-39% per year, banks grew north of 20% a year for over 2 decades. Urbanization rate which is a core structural growth driver in states and districts is north of 35%. India is not just a country it is a continent with 69 mega-cities with a million-plus population each. These smart cities possess immense growth opportunities. Agriculture, education and power sector have yet to see their due piece of growth and expansion. Programs like Digital India, Startup India, and Skill India have started showing their effects in the job market.

The Superhero India Needs and Deserves- Press Ombudsman 

‘My country is diverse’, perhaps, every Indian has said it aloud but never understood what it really means. Here I am, and I repeat ,”My country is diverse.” and when I say so, I understand the fact there are multiple religions, castes, sub-castes, ethnicities, religious, regional, geographical and racial diversity. I acknowledge each and every one of them with equal integrity. I know and understand that India has a long history and a longer background of events which keep revisiting the present repeatedly.

With over 22 major languages and over 720 dialects India publishes over a hundred thousand magazines, newspapers and other periodicals. We definitely need someone to monitor these media houses and these newspapers which open and close ever day.  The Press Council has indeed done a great job in uplifting media to its influential status and launching Press Commissions to save Media from the clutches of emergency. Perhaps we need another Press Commission which shall highlight the need for ‘Press Ombudsman’ in Indian media-scape. A Press Ombudsman can be understood as a Press Police, an office which monitors the media and points out their mistakes. Ombudsman which provide feedback to the management about the press.

The current scenario of Indian media is that of a parrot who can’t stop talking. Every news channel out there or newspapers have been accused of being controlled by their owners. Biased news, misinformation, paid news syndrome and mixing opinions with information is common among newspapers. I myself have spotted several mistakes of factual nature and logic in news reports of TOI etc..

As a student of journalism I currently observe the media divulging from the idea of objective journalism. The advertisement-news ratio is very high, the content too poor. Quality of news and words is satisfactory. Even the readers and viewers are able to recognize the patterns of their corporate media houses which breathe on Oxygen provided by ‘political backing’ and ‘wealth of shareholders’.  According to a journalist who chooses to remain anonymous, ‘every newspaper or media channel has an agenda to satisfy, an owner to answer to and a political power to bank upon.’ It is very true of my country.

Now is the time to introduce the concept of a Press Ombudsman who ensures that among the noises of these shouting journalists, the voice of people doesn’t get drowned. He will ensure that media becomes a medium for the voice of the people to be heard by the system. If media starts adding opinions of its own, the whole game is ruined and this where the Ombudsman comes in. He should be a vigilante who keeps a sharp lookout for crime made by media. A press Ombudsman will truly be an institution that belongs to people and only people. He must be unbiased and free of associations and stereotypes. Correcting inaccuracies, or pointing insensitivity in reporting are just the beginning of an Ombudsman’s task, the real task for him  is to read between the lines of editorial pieces and expose the agenda that hides behind a reporter’s words.

India needs a strict culture of watching the press, the editors of various news channels ought to know what to discuss and what to avoid. This is a matter of common sense and cannot be taught to everyone. India is on the path to development, so they tell me. At this time our duty as journalists is to show India in a good light, keep correcting us from the inside, but outside we should look presentable and always focus on the positive. The Hindu introduced the readers’ editor which works more or less the same way but is not so efficient.  The 1 lakh publications need an eye which can watch them and their words. IT would be criminal not too, because the content they now show on news channels and TV is simply not tolerable.

The ombudsman will ensure that the press does not uses its rights to its own advantage. Abuse of press rights will be punished by forceful action. There should be no tolerance of those who have no code of ethics. A better media will make a better India. A Press Ombudsman is the superhero that India needs and its media deserves right now.

The Face of the Indian Crowd

Notions and notions about peace, intolerance, security, nationalism and sedition have been hurled to and fro for a long time. More disappointing is the fact that this whole game is being played by a few players, who at the end of the game win a lot of fame and newfound publicity overnight. The whole air reeks of selfishness and hidden agenda. If we were so worried about the integrity of our nation the scene would have been completely different. This noise is comparable to the ramble of attention seekers who are only there to hog the attention and never when they are needed.
     There is no freedom in our country, none which I can relate with an ordinary person who just wants to survive for a day and doesn’t know much about nationalism or agendas of any particular group. This man still finds himself being pulled into debates, forced to discuss “Rajneeti” over his meagre dinner which he procured by fighting those very propaganda. He has to choose a party, a flag , a colour. His identity is bartered in different pieces and ways as suited by the system. This man has to reluctantly  give his opinions over these issues which carry no importance to his petty existence. He only thinks of ‘live and let live’ and wants to be left alone. The whole scene is like a comic tragedy. It makes me laugh and cry at the same time.
    In a country which is fighting economic battles and issues ranging from ‘overpopulation’ to ‘gender inequality’, we are still far behind in the line of discussion to be bringing up matters of ‘nationalism’ and ‘sedition.’
The whole matter about Dadri, JNU or any other case lies in a frustration. Our actions, that of media and other important people of the country have not become so overnight. Rather this melodrama is the result of an old mistake which we Indians have been committing blindly over the centuries.
The current India is a fireball of youth energy. It lacks the experience which it hasn’t the time to get from the old ones.  The youth has fluctuating ideals and no firm base to put their beliefs in. The ideologies have become obsolete and the elders have failed to point in a right direction. The result is the youth making their own path. As an observer I have seen that we are simply addressing our issues the wrong way since a long time. This has resulted in violence and outbursts. Our problems are simple and so are the solutions, it is the hyped portrayal of it all which is delaying it. 

 If we look back in history we have always suffered because we were ruled by ideologies and not physically. The truth and depth of the matter is that in my country there is nothing like individual free thought. If there is any,it is too faint to be heard. In the words of Shakespeare it is a ‘fickle minded mob’, believing anything it is told. This is not a big problem, we only need to find a way to give each Indian a voice. A voice which will not be subdued under the noises of media channels, a voice which will be heard over the loud harangues of ‘netas’ and ‘andolankaris.’ The hungry, uneducated Indian cares less for nationalism and lesser for foreign policies. He just wants to live peacefully in a world where his child gets education and employment.
  Our political atmosphere is clouded by high floating ideals which we as commoners cannot connect to. It has always meant differently for each of us, it always will. The world works relatively and my only advice to the people is to strike a balance. It is the only way to survive.
    Perhaps we all need to rehear the famous speech of Charlie Chaplin. We need to revisit our ideals, be strong in our minds and free in our thoughts. 
– Mayank Mishra

The Quiet American- A novel by Graham Greene

This is Alden Pyle’s narrative of the protagonist Thomas Fowler. 
‘The Quiet American’ is a classic thriller novel on Indochina conflict which revolves around two characters. The  practical Thomas Fowler, and the idealist Alden Pyle. The book runs as a commentary by Fowler. I tried to look at the story from another angle, that of Pyle’s. 
So here it is : 

“Thomas takes me for a fellow who lives in his own utopian world of ideals and principles. He thinks I am ignorant to the ground realities and the practical perspective of life. He believes he has seen too much as a reporter and overestimates his point of view to the point where he gets personally involved. He cannot stay away, he has to be there, even with Phuong. For once I had found love which was already crushed under his crude practicality and utterly simple notions. Phuong is a kid who doesn’t understand right from wrong. All of Fowler’s cynicism is for naught because it originates from something that is not factual or even practical. He is sensible most of the times and logical always but Thomas doesn’t want to accept he has emotions because it will make him feel vulnerable. He despises me for being a thought experiment for Harding, thinks I am a guinea pig in Harding’s research which he berates extremely superficial and far from reality and truth. Fowler with all his logicalities doesn’t realize the shortest way to end suffering is through pain. He claims to know the problem from deep down below but he couldn’t be farther from the truth. 
    He treats Phuong the way he has treated every moment of his life, the way he has treated nations and people of high honour, as they passed under his ink. Fowler thinks everybody owes him a piece of their lives and he has always taken people the same way, handled them like objects. He longs for happiness while throwing it away for what he believes is the truth about the world. Fowler has a distinctive eye through which he sees a distorted world that he thinks he can change by his own indulgence, he doesn’t care about the killing of conscience of many as long as their bodies remain unharmed. 
  He has been a part of Saigon for the last two years, never truly understanding the way it all works. He doesn’t believe it is the war until he is neck deep in the midst of action and bombing. He poses to be tough and informed, but deep down he is beaten by fear and conflict. Fowler has been in here too long lying dormant and motionless while the enemy slithers around him. He has submitted to the comforts of physical love when he must seek mental peace. He has replaced love with sex, emotions with logic and plays a dangerous game where he loses everything and ultimately that which he loves most.”

The Hanging Question ?

Everytime someone is about to be hanged, the whole nation goes in a heated debate over the discontinuation of Capital Punishment or the Death Penalty.  The question haunts us forever and our capacity to forgive and our desire for vengeful retribution hangs in balance. This time, however when the fate of ’93 Bombay Bomb Blast mastermind Tiger Memmon’s brother Yakub Memmon was up for trial, the nation was reminded of the past horrors and were in the mood for retribution without mercy. The opinion of masses shifted once after much discussion over Salman Khan’s Tweet, but finally it is done and the matter has been laid to rest. Probabaly with the faint fear that the debate will surface once again when some one else is sent to the gallows. 

  We never look at the root cause of problems, just applying a quick ointment of death penalty is not going to heal our scars. We will heal only when we prevent future scars. It’s the shortest way to kill a perpetrator of heinous crimes, but we always kill the criminal and never the crime. We think that hanging people will scare the criminals and deter them from their ways, but we can not be more wrong. It is not the fear of capital punishment but the fear of swift, accurate and certain punishment that provides the largest deterrant to crime.

  Those who favour death penalty can easily come up with arguments like, ” a person who commits a murder has forfeited his own right to live by taking a life”, and that “the punishment must always be in proportion with the seriousnesss of the crime.” There is no simple way to go from the need for proportionality to the appropriateness of death. There are two types of arguments for death penalty or two kinds of ways to approach it. Retributivist and consequentianalist.  The retributivist is backward looking , with focus on the deeds of crime and believes that harming those who engage in culpable wrongdoing is intrinsic good.

 A consequentionalist approach is forward looking and focusses on future punishment. It claims harming those who engage in culpable wrongdoing serves any number of worldly justifiable ends,such as deterring future wrongdoing, rehabillitating the offender or protecting social order. Imposing death penalty projects the same mentality as the murderer. Retribution is undeterminative. According to Kant, ‘a punishment is retribution in legal form.”

 Statistically, the countries who have done away with the gallows have lesser crime rates compared to those who still impart death sentences.

  It beats the basic idea of humanity, the whole legal process works on the idea of defeating and ending the crime and not the criminal.  Who wants to take the responsibility for the order of those hangings , poison syringes and electrocutions? What new way would the lawmakers devise to punish those who commit war crimes, serial murders and genocides ? Should they be executed, resuscitated and executed again.

  There is already death and destruction everywhere, killing a thousand criminals can never make the impact that a single rehabilitated criminal will.

The ‘Sardar’ in Trouble

Manmohan Singh, our ex-PM was always media shy but somehow the opposition (BJP) during his 10 year term as PM and his foreign and neo-liberal economic policies, the nuke deal with US always  kept him in limelight in the media. Now when Mr. Singh was away from politics and bureaucracy, he still hasn’t been able to shake the old cobwebs off him. A special CBI court has summoned Mr. Singh, Kumar Mangalam Birla,  P C Parakh (Former coal secretary) two executives of Hindalco in relation to the coalgate scandal of  2005.

     On Oct 1st 2005, Mr. Singh approved the allocation of mine named TALABIRA-II to Hindalco of Aditya Birla Group. The special judge Bharat Parashar said that KM Birla ”played an active role” by ”tapping his bureaucratic and political channels” to secure the coal blocks. It is already verified that CM Navin Patnaik also wrote to Mr. Singh pushing Hindalco’s case. The five accused have been summoned over charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust by a public official. If convicted we can expect a life sentence.

 Dr. Singh has expressed his regret,”I am upset but this is part of life.” He further stated ”I am open for legal scrutiny. I am sure the truth will prevail and I will get a chance to put forward my case with all the facts.”

   Given above are the facts  of this case till today, the hearing is on April 8 2015, where Mr. Singh along with four others will defend his case, Birla group has declared to use ‘legal procedures’. Since the  beginning of  the case 157 important files  have gone missing and some important facts will surely surface in this hearing.

  Manmohan Singh has been a man of integrity during his two terms as PM, though UPA-2 was full of scandals like 2G spectrum, botched up Commonwealth Games, dsagreement of CPI(m) over the Nuclear Deal with US, various accusations on Mr. Singh imposed by Rahul Gandhi who was trying to establish his image before the country. It can be said with confidence that though Mr. Singh was himself not corrupt or biased, he did tolerate such things to some level in his cabinet. It  was not in his nature to mind othes,he only believed in doing his  work  properly and with full honesty. In the book “The Accidental Prime Minister’, written by Mr. Singh’s media adviser Sanjaya Baru, Manmohan Singh comes across as a decent politician who does not like controversies and neither does he involve himself in any. However no one is above the law and even ex-PM has to obey and follow it. Whatever is the truth,it will emerge and the guilty will be punished, all we have to do is  wait.

Majestic MODI !

Since 26 May 2014, the day Mr. Narendra Modi took oath as Prime Minister of India, he has continued to surprise us every single day with his charisma and magic. Today, on 26th January 2015 it is eight months and he has put on a spectacular show at the Rajghat celebrating the 66th Republic Day of India and the journey has been nothing less than commendable so far. As US president Mr. Barack Obama attended the event on the request of Mr. Modi and the two leaders were seen chatting candidly and discussing issues, it appeared as if the not only the two of them were embarking on a long lasting friendship but the nations of India and US separated by the seven oceans were coming together to shake a hand of friendship and a long lasting cordial and mutual relationship.
Modi has always been enigmatic in his own way, by setting little things right he hopes to accomplish great tasks for India as the PM and certainly he is on the right track. Obama has been supportive as expected and has offered a lot in this visit, he has agreed to bolster India’s defence, agreed to counter the power problem in India, signed a nuke deal and also supports and encourages Modi’s Clean India and Digital India campaigns.
Sometimes I think of Modi as a magician whose bag of tricks is infinitely deep and right now he is just setting the stage, I am sure once he begins the real show he will surprise and amaze us even more. Those are just thoughts, but in reality he has done only what a leader(PM) of India should do. Why the previous PMs were so reluctant to befriend the most powerful nation still escapes my mind. Modi is a clever person and wants to be friendly and cordial with everyone. His approach is completely informal and frankly thats what is the need of the hour.
It would not be wrong to say that Modi has achieved enough in 8 months to silence the opposition for the remaining 4 years and 4 months of his tenure. It is only the future that will tell us what is in store for us, but the way Mr.Modi is working in the present, future is certainly bright and it will be here faster than we think.
Before I sign off I just want to say hats off to Modi for bringing professional attitude in the PM office and integrating it with an approach which makes things lucid and moves the gears without much friction. I only wish that all the politicians should learn a lesson or two from our prime minister. He only sleeps 4 hours a day !