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Indian economy needs urgent attention, wordplay can wait

At times one gets the feeling that our PM believes in the magical power of the mantras to the exclusion of all other forms of policymaking and implementation.

Published: 11th July 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th July 2021 12:32 PM   |  A+A-

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At times one gets the feeling that our PM believes in the magical power of the mantras to the exclusion of all other forms of policymaking and implementation. His penchant for coining acronyms and alliterations is well known.

The latest gem that has been gifted to a nation groaning under crippling price rise is 'Technade' - a hybrid ungainly creature spawned by forced marriage between technology and decade. (The 'rhyming reasoning' recalls the saying 'When it Rains Lemons Make Lemonade!') 

To begin with, there are many who think that we should be grateful for small mercies. No longer are our leaders unveiling millennial visions. Who can wait a hundred years? Better to set shorter targets and plant our flag in a decade.

Easier said than done. Where is the Indian technology that will mark its imprint on the decade we claim as ours? We have heard a lot about atmanirbharta (self-reliance) in the last six-seven years. Our boasts about teaching the world a thing or two have begun to ring a bit hollow.

The Covid pandemic has exposed the harsh reality of our dependence on others, including China, from manufacturing vaccines and life-saving drugs to equipme - ventilators and PPE kits etc. 'Made in India' and 'Make in India' are catchy slogans to adorn factory shop floors or exhortations written on the walls; they can’t automatically accomplish self-reliance overnight.

It’s the same story in IT and telecom. Indian companies have scarcely any earthshaking patents, inventions covering hardware and software to justify the claim that India is an emerging IT power hub if not a superpower.

Of course, the chant of caged parrots continues that soon we shall have 5G roll-out all on our own but keeping in mind the state of internet connectivity it's difficult to believe this chatter. The courts have encountered glitches and the Parliament hasn't met virtually because confidentiality couldn’t be ensured by our IT whiz kids.

The digital divide has created dangerous fault lines between those who can study and work from home, and those who can't. On Doctor’s Day, the PM didn't forget to remind the doctors who have been frontline warriors in the battle against the deadly virus to research yoga.

Now, no one can dispute that yoga is a priceless part of our heritage but shouldn’t the doctors, virologists, pulmonologists, and critical care specialists be left free to concentrate on the task at hand? There are others who can devote their expertise and energies to the revival of yoga, and launch the campaign for Global Conquest it can prepare the way for.

Patanjali (not even distantly related to Baba Ramdev’s enterprises) in his Yoga Sutras has an aphorism: yogas chitta vritti nirodhah. This translates as controlling the natural tendency of the mind to get distracted and stray.

Can anyone succeed in doing this sitting in a sukhasan or lying on one's back in shavasana when the mind is tormented by problems of survival? The petrol and cooking gas prices have entered the stratosphere, the grossly mismanaged economy is in a nosedive. 

Soothing mantras have lost their magic. Who can believe that the 'fundamentals are sound' and 'we are on track to become a three trillion dollar economy soon'. All that the common man knows is that the handful of billionaires are getting richer with each passing day and the poor are getting poorer.

The middle classes keep groaning about DA and arrears but the daily wage earners are the ones who are bearing the brunt of runaway inflation. Steadily rising petrol and diesel prices have had a cascading effect on food grains, vegetables, lentils etc. 

There is no transparency about what the government has spent on coping with Corona. Measures to create livelihood and generate employment are priority only for the Central Vista Project. The chorus of ministerial sycophants never ceases blaming the Congress for all the failures. Little do these little men realise that they have no stature and no credibility. 

Forget flogging the dead horse. The management of the economy has been in the hands of this government for the past seven years. The economic downturn started with the dramatic note bandi and the confused implementation of the GST has only aggravated the problem.  

No one is going to buy the explanation that hadn’t Corona struck us we would be sailing smoothly. India had naively thought that it could charm Xi Jinping to reset Sino-Indian relations. The gamble misfired disastrously and the clash of arms in the Galwan Valley has imposed a great economic burden on the country to face up to the aggressor militarily.  

It has been said by wise men before and, it is worth repeating, that the real strength of any country is measured by the state of its economy. It’s the Indian economy that needs everyone’s urgent attention. There will be plenty of time for wordplay later.

The writer is a former professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University can be contacted at pushpeshpant@gmail.com)



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