Let our economy be a core part of national discourse at grassroots level
Freedom from hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty can’t be achieved without adopting an integrated approach, setting out the targets in sync with the people’s aspirations
Instead of influencing the masses, let them influence the policies and decisions meant for them. They are the most important stakeholder in the nation building exercise, which must be encouraged and engaged. Let them play a crucial role during the 'Amrit Kaal' so that a vibrant India is built where the dignity and worth of every citizen is recognized and protected well
The Indian economy is set for a huge expansion. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), a London-based consultancy entity, has forecast in a report that in 2022 Indian economy will surpass the economy of France and will trump British economy in 2023 to be the world's sixth biggest economy. BofA Securities foresees India emerging as the world's third largest economy in the 2031-2032 fiscal. IHS Markit Ltd says that India's nominal GDP measured in USD terms is likely to rise from $2.7 trillion in 2021 to $8.4 trillion by 2030. This rapid pace of economic expansion will result in the size of Indian GDP exceeding that of Japan by 2030, making India the second largest economy in the Asia-Pacific region, feels IHS Markit Ltd. By 2030, the Indian economy will be larger in size than the largest Western European economies of Germany, France and the UK. At present, India is the sixth largest economy in the world, behind the US, China, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.
India is also emerging as an attractive and preferred investment destination among global investors thanks to various measures taken by the Central government over the years on the front of policy reforms for foreign direct investment (FDI), investment facilitation and ease of doing business. According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, India attracted $ 60,220 million FDI in 2016-17, $ 60,974 million in 2017-18, $ 62,001 million in 2018-19; and $ 81,973 million in 2021-21. Needless to say that FDI is one of the important drivers of economic growth and a source of non-debt finance for the economic development of the country. It complements and supplements domestic investment. The country's foreign exchange or forex reserves also reached $ 631.953 billion during the week ended February 4, according to weekly RBI data, though the previous week ending January 28, the forex kitty logged a decline of $4.531 billion to be at $ 629.755 billion. There is resilience in the country's forex reserves. It is a happier situation, indeed, which indicates towards positivity in our collective approach with which the economy is being consolidated against all odds and challenges.
Unfortunately or for some unknown reasons, India's economic resilience has not become a part of national discourse at the grassroots level. Lots of issues are discussed and debated among influencers and other stakeholders but little efforts or no efforts have ever been made to put economic issues at the core of our national discourse at the grassroots level. Over the years, the impression has been given that only the people with a fair understanding of economics can talk and debate about the country's economy, while the masses are expected to focus on their routine chores or believe what is being served to them. It has created a huge gap between economic realities and masses of the country. When they are told that the economy is growing and there will be happiness in their lives as they get better facilities and well paid jobs, they react with a sense of ecstasy. Similarly, when they are told that poor economic growth means more woes for them, they are least bothered. It is not a happy situation at all. It is rather full of risks. Gaps in economic communication with the countrymen amount to keeping them in the dark though they should be kept well informed.
India, which is so diverse economically, politically, socially and culturally, cannot afford gaps in terms of communication related to economic issues. The economic discourse taking place among academics, policy makers and think tanks is certainly of great importance and an integral part of futuristic planning. But masses must be engaged as well in unravelling the importance of India becoming the sixth largest economy of the world and how it is going to change their life. People have their own sets of aspirations, priorities and considerations which must be reflected in that of the nation and the states as well. This should be done in a wholesome manner. Since elections are of great interest and importance in the country, all political parties – national and regional – must do their best to make their economic vision a part of their poll campaign. It is high time to take growing income disparities seriously. It can no longer be ignored. Repercussions of economic and income disparities will have a multi-faceted adverse impact on the country's overall health. It is becoming quite difficult for the masses to accept the cannon of per capita income as an indicator of their economic well-being.
The right to life with dignity is not a tall order but a goal to be collectively achieved. India is celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, that is, 75 years of Independence. It is also the time to pause, introspect and proceed with fresh verve and zeal to empower the masses, which won't be possible without listening to them and making them a party to mainstream intellectual discourse. There is a huge cost when we adopt a dismissive approach and negate the idea of engagement with target groups in a wholesome manner. There is a tendency to go to town about what has been given and done for the people but not knowing what exactly they need. Freedom from hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty cannot be achieved without adopting an integrated approach, setting out the targets in sync with the people's aspirations. It is dangerous to attach too much importance to acquired knowledge of the minority at the cost of spontaneous communication from the masses! Instead of influencing the masses, let them influence the policies and decisions meant for them. They are the most important stakeholder in the nation building exercise, which must be encouraged and engaged. Let them play a crucial role during the 'Amrit Kaal' so that a vibrant India is built where the dignity and worth of every citizen is recognized and protected well.
(The writer is a senior journalist and author. The views expressed are strictly personal)