In 2015, India was ecstatic over then IMF chief Christine Lagarde’s description of India as “a bright spot on a cloudy global horizon”. This remark was a rare validation of India’s prowess by none other than one of the Bretton Woods institutions that treated it with contempt in the past. It would have been great if India had managed to sustain the aura. But in less than five years, India fettered away the opportunity and ended up as a drag on the global economy.
Following a series of missteps and a misplaced focus of the government, Indian economic growth has lost its momentum and is forecast to slow down by 1.3 percentage points in the current financial year. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered India’s economic growth to 4.8 per cent from the earlier 6.1 per cent, citing more than expected decline in consumer demand, stress in the non-banking finance sector and low credit off-take. The IMF has also indicted the Indian economic slowdown for slowing down global economic growth by 50 basis points from 3.3 per cent to 2.9 per cent.
Though the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been lowering India’s economic growth projection for every two months, the IMF’s statement is accorded more seriousness by foreign investors than local warnings. But none of ministers or officials of the Narendra Modi government have reacted to the IMF forecast. This is not responsible behaviour, especially when one wants the global community to treat India with the respect that it deserves.
If one reads statements issued by the ministers of the Narendra Modi government, it seems as if they are more focused on furthering controversial issues like the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, etc. Days ahead of the presentation of the crucial Union Budget, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is interacting with people on the CAA rather than focusing all her attention on Budget preparation — leading to speculation in industry circles that Budget-making has been outsourced to the Prime Minister’s Office along with finance ministry officials. Internal strife is the enemy of prosperity. But home minister Amit Shah continues to remain in confrontation mode.
Perhaps Opposition parties and people themselves also should be blamed for the government losing its focus on the economy. Opposition parties, especially the Congress, confine themselves to a tweet or a statement whenever reports of bad economic numbers emerge and thereafter they go into deep slumber. At the most, they organise protests and shutdowns, which further maul the economy. But they would never seriously try to engage youngsters, who have more at stake in a poor economy. People are also responsible for the government’s misplaced priorities because most Indians — especially Hindus — seem to believe that their penury is a result of their past life’s karma rather than the acts of the government. So until we, the people, want economic progress in our lives, nothing will change and we will get what we had sown.