With the disastrous effects of the second wave being felt in all parts of the country, we hear the incessant tales told by joyous idiots, of stumbling down steps without guardrails, knowing that the hurt is going to be enduring. When death and certainty of the grief needs the calming touch of a Mother Teresa, of a loved one, of a soothing serene hand on the shoulder, what is provided are opinionated experts and politicians, vying to shrilly let each other down, their cacophonous insincere voices full of sound and fury signifying their visceral delight in decisions gone wrong, of a nation in decline and seemingly knowing better in hindsight, the proverbial termites emerging from the woodwork. To the citizen like me, it connotes an almost failed democracy by way of poor governance, particularly at the district and state levels.
To look at the push of the current Central Government, it is worth studying the thoughts of their ideologue, Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwalkar or Guruji, as he is known to their rank and file. His thinking was to have a unitary form of Government, which would strengthen the fabric of the nation. It had an outlook that had room for all minorities as long as they considered the nation an entity above themselves. It considered the state being an agent of common good, above partisan interests. When the honourable Prime Minister referred to India being a Vishwa Guru, it was perhaps in the context of Indian thoughts and practices, to provide a way of life for the complex patterns of modern lifestyles.
To state that it is ‘The end of Modi’s Global dreams’, is therefore an argument without merit, for the dreams are based on the engine of a strong economy, a developing technological base, ease of investment, efficient and quick disposal of judicial matters, a strong military, a high-quality foreign service, a charismatic leader, a unified and harmonious political party, a sound education system. Of these factors, the pandemic has once again slowed down the economy, the judicial system is overloaded and is unchanged, and the education system continues to be fairly decrepit, with optimism being put into the reforms through the New Education Policy. How that will happen is still to be seen, as education is in the concurrent list, and managed in the states in accordance with their whims.
Health, law and order, education and civic services are basically state subjects, with the states squarely responsible for providing these to the citizens. The state governments are elected, take the money from the taxpayer, and are seen to embark on a systematic distribution of financial benefits, principally to the non-taxpayers to garner votes, with no economic return, leaving a pittance for the development of the state. Can India therefore realistically expect to have quality health infrastructure which will cater to provide for half decent health care from the kasbahs to the cities, forget about catering for a pandemic?
Nothing stopped the states from exercising caution in February when the cases started rising. None made a hula-boo of the slow pace of vaccination. The vaccination drive was near absent in the hinterland, and none were seen to be willing to learn from the experiences in Europe, North America or South America, continents where a multitude of lessons of the manner of the pandemic spread and the penalties of a lack of control and infrastructure were there to be studied.
They completely ignored and forgot that it all started with just one case in China, and in 16 months affected 16 crore people the world over, with over 3.3 million reported deaths. Such is the virulence of the contagion. The manufacturer of vaccines too was aware of the impending need for a large steady flow of inexpensive vaccinations and a need for expansion of the production facilities, required Rupees three thousand crores, and was waiting for the taxpayer to give him the money! That it could be easily raised in the market was apparently a chasm too wide to cross. Then the manufacturer finds it lucrative to invest abroad, flies away, and does so, too timid to face ground realities in the country.
Based on the continued decline in the case load and economic recovery, the Interational Monetary Fund (IMF) had forecast India’s growth rate at 12.5% for 2021-22. Obviously, this is not going to happen as the economic activity slows and funds and energies are diverted to the control of the pandemic. With a population of about 1.4 billion, India has an estimated nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of United States Dollar (USD) 3.1 trillion or a per capita GDP of USD 2215. Even if a 5 trillion-dollar economy is achieved in about 4-5 years, the per capita GDP increases to about USD 3570. South Africa has a per capita GDP of USD 6374, Argentina USD 11,684, Italy USD 34,250, and USA USD 63000.
So, as far as the impact of the economy on the population which needs it is concerned, there is a long way to go. It just suggests that given the appropriate conditions and opportunities, India can develop into a favoured investment destination. The concern will remain benefits and opportunities percolating to the bottom of the pyramid, as in 2020, despite the uncertainty in the global market, and a downturn in the Indian economy of about 7.5%, ultra-wealthy Indians in 2020 experienced a 59% increase in their wealth. In 2021, 91% of Indian Ultra high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI) expect to see an increase in wealth with the start of a new economic cycle. In fact, the billionaires club in India is expected to grow by 40% in the next four years.
To conclude, let’s just put our hands to the oars and pull collectively, the country is in kadam taal, and will soon start her march forward, once the pandemic abates.
About the Author
RAdm Vineet Bakhshi, an alumni of NDA, served as Commanding Officer INS Shivaji, Director General Naval Projects (Mumbai) and Chairman and Managing Director of Goa Shipyard Ltd. He can be reached at [email protected] Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')
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